The term “creator economy” has become more popular over the last few years and there’s a good reason why. Global 500 brands have adopted the use of creators as a new form of marketing and advertising, now understanding the influence each creator has and seeing the old forms of advertising not being as effective anymore.
The origin of the creator economy tracks back to 2011 when YouTube started seeing users become famous. People began referring to these “YouTube Stars” as creators and now, over a decade later, the creator economy has grown to well over $104 billion according to Fast Company.
This is an amazing opportunity for everyone who produces content online with a community. Creators are now making a full-time living producing content for brands while continuing to grow the relationship with their audience. Many are bringing in more money as a creator than they ever did working a 9 to 5, and being able to support themselves and their families doing what they love.
I started diving into being a creator in 2011 when I started my first blog, Hello Perfect. I remember how awesome it was having a brand send me free stuff just to post about it on my social media feed.
After swapping free swag for social media posts for the first two years, I then began to charge money for this kind of work. (As we know free swag does not pay the bills.)
Over the years it has actually become increasingly easier to charge a high value for great content when your audience fits the target demographic for the brand because they see the value in this form of advertising, but it’s also become a lot more competitive.
That’s why it’s so important to understand how to position your brand online to help you rise above all the noise. Today, I now work with top Global 500 companies and have landed large 5-6 figure brand deals, but it took a lot of trial and error to navigate this industry.
If you’re a content creator and have a great audience or talent, yet haven’t been able to become a big brand ambassador yet, here are the most common reasons I see why (that you can easily shift today!)
You’re content is all over the place
Brands don’t want a jack of all trades, they want the go-to experts in their industry. There are so many creators who produce content on everything under the sun, not realizing they need to brand themselves just like a company does. Companies like to know what they are buying into, and if they can’t predict the type of content you’ll be producing, they will be hesitant to work with you as they have to ensure their brand is represented by people who embody their ethos.
If you’re producing content on relationships one day, then talking about politics the next, then showing off the hottest tech gear you just got, it’s going to be extremely hard to land a big brand deal. Pick a focus topic, niche down, and create content just in that niche for the next 2-3 years. Once you solidify a solid brand identity within a specific niche, you can grow to new types of content with your audience and you would have already created the trust brands need to see in order to land the bigger deals.
You are undervaluing your talent and work (AKA You aren’t asking for enough money!)
Most creators I coach aren’t viewing their content creation as a real business. If you want to land the bigger brand deals you need to view yourself as a real business and charge for what you produce. Don’t undervalue yourself. Don’t let imposter syndrome creep in. Today is less about the number of followers and more about the engagement and trust you have with your own community. Be confident in your work and put a higher value on your content and you’ll be setting yourself up to work with bigger brands.
You are chasing virality
So many people are producing content to chase virality. I see this all the time on TikTok. And I’ll be quite honest, I did this for the first year on the platform. I was following all the trends even if they didn’t fit within my niche. I was doing whatever it took to go viral, quickly realizing that is not going to help me create a sustainable brand for myself.
There’s a ton of people you can find on platforms with hundreds of thousands of followers but they haven’t landed one brand deal and that’s simply because they don’t have a personal brand identity.. Don’t chase virality, instead focus on creating value for your audience.
You need to learn the art of speaking
Brands are no longer looking for creators who have perfect Instagram feeds or can take the perfect photo. All of my larger brand deals are for short form video content of me talking about the brand’s products or services. Once I really leaned into my speaking voice, I started to land larger brand deals. Brands see that people like to follow people versus a company logo, so they’re looking for creators who can be a face to their company. That’s why I believe public speaking is the most powerful way to grow your brand and I teach this to entrepreneurs and influencers as the more you speak, the more credibility you’ll build and the more visible you’ll become.
You’re waiting for the opportunities to come to you
Don’t wait for opportunities to come your way, create your own! Develop that YouTube show, go live on social media, talk about products you love and create a business around it. Then, start pitching yourself to brands and get on all the creator networks to get your brand in front of these companies. There’s a ton out there but some of my favorites are IZEA, Collectively, and Impact. All are free to join as a creator and it’s one of the best ways to get seen in front of bigger brands!
Keep on creating the content you’re passionate about, put yourself out there, follow other inspiring individuals and invest in your education around the industry. The sky’s the limit!
This guest post was authored by Alexa Carlin
Alexa Carlin is a keynote speaker and CEO of Women Empower X. She is author of Adaptable: How to Lead with Curiosity, Pivot with Purpose, and Thrive through Change.
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