Success factors for content creators

Business Coaching


Here’s the attributes of content creators that contribute to success

The Tilt published The Creator Next Door and gave us all a good look at the success factors and motivation for content creators. I’ve been a content creator for the entire span of my online businesses, and even before that as a brick and mortar business owner. I believe that it helps us all to know what other content creators are doing, so I’m summarizing some of the main points from The Tilt’s excellent research. Who are we, and how do we operate for the most success?

There’s a long lead time before success for content creators

  • It takes about 17 months of consistent effort to monetize your content, which The Tilt calls the “runway.” Niche site owners often call this “being in the Google sandbox.” 
    • You need another way to support yourself financially unless you’ve got 17 months of savings available to you. 
    • The good news is that with consistent and focused strategies you can eventually support yourself as a full time content creator.
    • A good many newbie content creators quit before they get through the 17 months of lean times. 
    • You’ve got to be very consistent during that runway time, not off-again, on-again. 

Your owned channels are important if you’re in it for the long term

From my read of this report I see two separate business models, and this has also been my experience with my own clients over the past few years.

  • One model is no owned channels, build for big influence and income, and as it cools down take your money and go dark for a while. Come back to create something totally different and start over again. I see this in fashion and art more than any other niches.
  • The second model is to develop social media but at the same time pay close attention to developing your own channels because you want longer term monetization and a business with staying power. As this report says, “if you’re going to scale you pivot to owned channels.”
  • For me, your owned channels are critical to your longer term success. If you tell me you want to build a business and keep it for more than 3 years we need to talk about your strategies for building your own channels. What’s an owned channel?
    • Your email list
    • Your blog (website)
    • The events you host
    • I’ve usually counted YouTube as an owned channel but the Tilt does not. And I get that, it also can change or even disappear. The constant changes in channels like Instagram cause continued angst for many content creators. Lately the same for Facebook, which is no big surprise since they more and more are merging as one.

How do successful content creators engage?

According to this report full time creators use multiple channels for engagement, with only 1% relying only on social media to reach and grow an audience. Bottom line is that you can’t scale without going to the use of owned channels.

Different goals for different creators

Most of us are looking to use our businesses as a way to financial independence and flexible working hours, and are willing to sacrifice income for freedom. According to The Tilt, more women creators what a smaller solo business and value the flexibility and freedom. More men creators want to build a business and a team that has higher income and can support more than only one person. Fewer content creators “hit it big” with million dollar incomes. It seems that about $50,000 annually is the actual norm for someone who has come off the first 17 months and had a few years to build to success.

Content creators must be business minded for success

Full time content creators spend only about half their time creating content. The other half is spent on the business – things like promotion, marketing, sales, administration. Click To Tweet I want to highlight this because it’s the same for any solopreneur I know – you can’t just be expert at what you do. You have also to be business minded and take care of that side of things. This is where most of my clients need strategies and training. It’s not enough to have a big passion for your topic if you want to sustain over the long term. You’ve got to be as good at business as you are at your topic if you want a long term profitable business.

Where does the income come from?

The main ways creators monetize are these:

  • Consulting
  • Coaching
  • Online workshops

You might be more interested in monetizing through things like paid content subscription and membership sites but look at the numbers.

  • Paid content – 11%
  • Membership sites – 17%
  • Live events – 15%

Biggest challenges?

  • Getting your content found
  • Monetizing  your content

Summary of success factors 

I see four main pillars for content creator success. 

  • A niche that is memorable
  • Your owned channels
  • Absolute consistent action
  • Business skills in hand or be willing to learn them

Related article: Content Creation – How to Make Sure Your Content is Memorable

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