October 10, 2022 Content Chat Recap: What It Takes to Be a Content Entrepreneur [Creator Economy Benchmark Research]

A Content Chat header image that says today's topic is what it takes to be a content entrepreneur, including insights from the 2022 Creator Economy Benchmark Research, with guest Ann Gynn, who is @AnnGynn on Twitter.

More people are finding that part- or full-time content creation work gives them much-needed flexibility and independence, and many brands need this type of support. Being a content entrepreneur in any capacity can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but there are common challenges these writers face with reaching their communities and monetizing their work.

To help you assess if becoming a content entrepreneur is the right move for you and to set you up for success, in this #ContentChat recap we explain what it takes to be a content entrepreneur with Ann Gynn, a speaker, consultant, and principal at G Force Communication.

We share our own experiences and dig into The Tilt’s 2022 Creator Economy Benchmark Research, which surveyed more than 1,000 content creators to find out what motivates them and how to build a successful content business. Read the full recap below to learn:

  • The top channels for content creators to reach their communities
  • Solutions to common content creation challenges
  • The trends that will shape the future of how we work

Q1: What motivates someone to be a full-time content creator? How or why did they get into the field?

Per the research, independence and flexibility are top motivators for full-time creators. Part-time creators more commonly view content as a passion project or hobby.

A1a: Full-time creators are motivated by independence and flexibility. They like the ability to create their own schedule and not have to follow an employer’s demands and parameters. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/oZVuh19Veg

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A1b: Part-timers are different. They usually start creating content as a hobby. It’s more of a passion project for them. Full-timers see content creation as a business, as a means to gain freedom. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

We operate in a world that didn’t exist 20 years. Thanks to the internet, people can build their own media companies. That’s really what a content business is. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

The community mirrors the research, adding that freelance writing work provides financial stability and gives us the opportunity to tell authentic stories and help people in their day-to-day—something many of us love to do.

A1a: I have a journalism degree, but when I graduated, there weren’t that many available jobs. So, I ended up having freelance writing as my extra work, while I had full-time marketing jobs. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A1b: Today, my career is split about 50/50 between being paid as a content creator and doing content marketing consulting work. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A1: I think it’s because we are all story tellers at heart. #contentchat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) October 10, 2022

A1: Overall, I enjoy teaching and hearing people’s stories. Digital marketing has expanded and I had to adapt, somewhat. #ContentChat

— Michelle Ngome 🇨🇲 (@MichelleNgome) October 10, 2022

Same! I think creators, as a whole, are pretty creative at adapting to find the right combo of work we love and paying the bills. :)#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A1a: My background is in PR, but media relations and earned media have become incredibly difficult, especially since clients are typically hesitant to pursue paid engagements. And clients can be very controlling about how they want stories positioned… [continued] #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

A1b: Content, however, you can much better control your message and timing. And I genuinely enjoy thinking through the target reader’s needs and challenges and finding ways to genuinely help them in their day-to-day. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

Q2: What are the top three channels content creators find to be most valuable for reaching their communities?

Social media, email newsletters, and blogs on a company website are the most valuable channels for reaching communities. Online events are fourth in popularity, but considerably far behind the top three.

A2a: The top three channels are social media (77%), email newsletters (61%), and blogs on their websites (60%). #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/8GG5igNl60

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A2b: Noteworthy is that these three are the most used by a high margin. The fourth most popular outreach channel is online events with just 31%. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A2bq: What’s included in online events? Webinars and conferences?#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

A3: Yes, it could be a webinar, a virtual conference, or even some paid entertainment type events that became popular during the pandemic. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Online courses are becoming more common, in part because the content can be very similar to a virtual event presentation.

A2: These are my answers too, though teaching via online courses is something on my to-do list that I think will move into the top 3 for 2023.#ContentChat https://t.co/DvkChsiUUz

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Many crave to always be learning—esp. in an engaged environment. I think that’s why online classes and events are on the top 10 channels. #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) October 10, 2022

Right?! And often, they start with online events because that’s a lower priced option. They test the waters. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Podcasts are surprisingly not on the top 10 list, possibly because podcasts take longer to monetize and create a reliable revenue stream.

Agree! Testing with a lower point of entry is amazing. Though, why did Podcasts not make the list? Aren’t podcasts the new pre-made webinars? #ContentChat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) October 10, 2022

Good question. My guess would be podcasts take time to become a revenue stream. Many creators make them, distribute them for free, and don’t have a plan to monetize them. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Most podcasts use advertising or sponsorship as the monetization method, so likely that’s where they show up. I haven’t seen a lot of paid subscription podcasts.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Social media channels vary in popularity based on industry.

A2: Twitter and LinkedIn are best for my B2B clients as far as the widest potential reach. But owned channels like an email newsletter can have more meaningful engagement. And a company blog is essential for providing in-depth content that you can promote. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

A2: Right now it’s Twitter, LinkedIn, Email. Better to try and bring the audience to every platform you’re on.#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

A2: For me, it is LinkedIn and Instagram. I would also say YouTube. #ContentChat

— Michelle Ngome 🇨🇲 (@MichelleNgome) October 10, 2022

Newsletters may make the top 10 next year.

Oh… and newsletters. Hmmm maybe they will show up on next years report? #contentchat https://t.co/4XkpX40nQC

— The Tilt (@TheTiltNews) October 10, 2022

Now, let’s look at the top revenue channels for content entrepreneurs…

A2: It’s interesting that top outreach (marketing) channels were not the same as the top revenue channels. #contentchat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Q3: Which channels do content creators use to monetize content creation?

Consulting/coaching is the top revenue stream for content entrepreneurs, followed by online courses/workshops. Books, affiliate/marketing links, and speaking engagements round out the top five channels.

A3a: Consulting/coaching is the top revenue stream, with 62% of #ContentEntrepreneurs doing that. Online courses/workshops are second, with 39% providing that service. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/wmsIMisfCE

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A3b: Books (27%), affiliate/marketing links (23%), and speaking engagements (21%) round out the top 5 monetization channels. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Erika notes that consulting is also her top revenue channel, and Michelle sees strong potential to monetize YouTube and podcasting.

A3: Consulting work is my top revenue channel, followed by sponsored content (my byline on other people’s sites) and speaking fees for webinars and live events. For my GF blog, it’s affiliate marketing. #ContentChat https://t.co/dRghChYVc6

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A3: Although I don’t have monetized platforms, I think YouTube and podcasting are the best way. #ContentChat

— Michelle Ngome 🇨🇲 (@MichelleNgome) October 10, 2022

The research focuses on content creators. What can businesses learn from this data?

Interesting – this is more for “creators” vs businesses. Wondering if and how the two could learn from each other? #contentchat

— Amy Higgins (@amywhiggins) October 10, 2022

Q4: What are the top challenges faced by content entrepreneurs?

The top challenges faced by full-time content entrepreneurs include making sure content gets found, monetizing content, and marketing their business.

A4: Creators also operate in an odd space. They do #ContentMarketing and they monetize content products. So there’s a lot of overlap. It’s very meta (not Meta). #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A4b: Full-time entrepreneurs’ most frequently cited challenges: 1. Making sure my content gets found (54%), 2. Monetizing my content (47%), 3. Marketing my business (40%). #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Part-time entrepreneurs are also challenged by making sure content gets found and monetizing content, as well as publishing regularly.

A4c: Part-time entrepreneurs’ most frequently cited challenges: 1. Making sure my content gets found (60%), 2. Publishing regularly (52%), 3. Monetizing my content (51%). #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Set realistic publishing goals to get into a better habit of content creation. If you set too aggressive of a goal and consistently fail to meet it, it can create a big mental block to overcome.

The struggle to publish regularly is something I’ve certainly had, too. When the other part of the business gets too busy, my own content creation is always what gets put on hold. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A4: I think everyone also needs to define “regularly” more realistically. If it’s once a month, that’s OK to start. The key is not to overpromise. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

This is an important point, Ann. If you promise a weekly cadence but can’t deliver on it, not only can it cause your audience to forget about it, it can give you a big mental block to overcome. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Erika agrees that it can be challenging to balance client work and business development and content creation. It can help to set aside a full day to focus solely on content for your business.

A4: It can be hard to balance working in the business with working on the business. It’s easy to let the consulting work and paid engagements take over and not have enough spark left for the content creation that drives the business. #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A4: Our research also finds full-time #ContentEntrepreneurs spend 50% of their business time on marketing/business stuff and the other half on content creation. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Yes! This is my neverending dilemma. Gotta make the $$$, but wow… it doesn’t leave time and brain power for the good stuff. #contentchat

— Jay Croft (@JayCroft) October 10, 2022

I used to try daily calendar blocks for content creation, but found I really have to set aside a full day just focused on content creation to get the right headspace + flow going.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Scaling and hiring a team is difficult.

A4: Learning what scaling looks like. Hiring a team. #ContentChat

— Michelle Ngome 🇨🇲 (@MichelleNgome) October 10, 2022

YES! It can feel scary to invest in hiring other people to take on work they can do better+faster than you can but that’s critical to scaling your business.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

And succeeding on every new social media challenge gets daunting. Pick just one channel and drive significant value on it before moving on to another channel.

A4: Mastering every new social media channel. As a content creator, you can’t just be “okay” at any social platform. You have to crush it. #ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

That’s why we’re big advocates of picking one channel and mastering it before going big on another channel. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Other challenges with content creation include measuring its value and managing client expectations.

A4: Content has many of the same challenges as public relations:
– Measuring its value (in ways the C-suite will care about)
– Managing client expectations about what is/is not appropriate to write about
– Having too little time in the day to do everything#ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

Q5: Looking toward the future of content marketing, what concept, trend, or technology do you think will make the biggest changes to how content creators work?

Web3 will give creators better control over their content and community.

A5a: It’s a core concept of #Web3. Creators can lessen or remove their dependence on third-party platforms, particularly with social media channels. They can better control their content and community. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A5b: I get it. For a lot of people, #Web3 sounds trendy or confusing or irrelevant to them. But the control concept is what makes it possible for more content creators to become content entrepreneurs. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A5c: #Web3 tech also makes it possible for creators to develop a robust community rewards system and maintain access to their buying audience long after they purchase that first product. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A5d: At @TheTiltNews, we’ve created our own blockchain-based currency for the community known as $TILT coin. We award it to new subscribers, fans who recruit new subscribers, guest bloggers, etc. We also sell NFTs as Never-Ending Tickets to the Creator Economy Expo. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Sponsorships and partnerships will be increasingly common.

Hopefully it’s deciding which brand sponsorship to go with! #ContentChat h/t @justinmooretfam https://t.co/UdSlaiRY9w

— The Tilt (@TheTiltNews) October 10, 2022

AI will help with mundane tasks and accelerate your research or planning.

A5: I’m curious to see how AI continues to shape #contentmarketing. Call me old-fashioned, but I am extremely hesitant to use AI to write copy. I understand its potential uses, but I am very skeptical of most value claims. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

A5: I think AI writing will become helpful for those mundane writing tasks. For example, if you have a blog and need to write the social media promotion or excerpts, AI tools might do OK. But in general, AI writing for the bulk of your content isn’t there. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A5: Technology trend Voice Search + AI. There are so many variables there that can affect engagement. Plus you have to consider how the algorithms will behave at the same time!#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

And authenticity will be more important than polish.

A5: Less polish, more authenticity as marketing teams continue to be influenced by how creators are communicating with their communities. #ContentChat

— Scott Sanchez (@scottsanchez) October 10, 2022

Q6: If you met someone who is starting to explore a career as a content entrepreneur, what advice would you share with them?

Build on your owned channels and get contact information from your community, like emails. Social media is rented land.

A6a: Build on your owned channels and acquire your audience’s contact information. With social media audiences, you don’t know who they are and can’t reach them without going through that third party. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

It can take almost seven months to earn your first dollar. Have enough cash saved up to navigate this.

A6b: Manage your financial expectations. Our research found it takes an average of 6.5 months to earn the first dollar. It takes an average of 17 months before the business brings in enough money to support one person. #ContentChat pic.twitter.com/HlsdkArsyJ

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

You’re building a business—act like the owner.

A6: Remember, you’re building a business. Act like the owner, not a freelance creator. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Aim for consistency, and set realistic goals.

A6c: And this should sound familiar: Don’t stop and start and stop and start. Set a minimum production threshold you can easily manage. Create a helpful content calendar to create a systematic process. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Creating and following an editorial calendar is hands-down the best way to stay on track. Having someone whose job it is to poke you about it is even better! cc @AlekIrvin #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

A6c: Excellent Advice 🔥

Advanced Set Up: Use your content calendar to automate your content creation workflows so you can focus on the content itself #ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

Remember that content creators in your niche are potential collaborators and friends, not enemies!

A6a: If you are starting out as a creator, the first thing to do is adjust your mindset to view others in your niche as potential collaborators and friends, not as your enemies! There is so much power in collaboration with others.#ContentChat https://t.co/5L99o2Hoct

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

That’s really important. You can’t build your business alone. Connect with people who have a different content tilt but a similar audience. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Develop as many skills within digital marketing as you can—it all ties back to content marketing.

A6: Try to develop knowledge in as many digital marketing areas as possible. ALL of it ties back into content marketing#ContentChat

— Sweepsify (@Sweepsify_) October 10, 2022

Work with people whose writing you admire. If you’re still working on a team, find people who are willing to help you grow as a writer.

A6: Try to work with people whose writing you admire and who are willing to help you grow as a writer. I’ve worked with many people who edit just to edit or only see their way as the best way. You won’t learn from that, and will probably just get frustrated. #ContentChat

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

Everyone makes mistakes, and you will likely receive negative feedback. Stay resilient, learn what you can, and keep creating.

A6b: Know that everyone, including you, makes mistakes, and there is inevitably someone on the Internet who wants to make sure to tell you and everyone else all about it (rather than send you a PM to be helpful). That doesn’t mean you should stop creating! #ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Most content entrepreneurs do not regret their decision—take the leap when you’re ready!

A6. You’ll have no regrets! #contentchat pic.twitter.com/ZFWA8mhmbF

— The Tilt (@TheTiltNews) October 10, 2022

Q7: What are your go-to resources or communities for learning more about content creation and thriving as a content entrepreneur?

Ann recommends Josh Spector’s For the Interested and Casey Newton’s Platformer, as well as  InboxReads to find newsletters and TubeFilter to find YouTube channels.

A7a: Among my go-to sources: @FTInterested from @JSpector for creator business help; @InboxReads for newsletters of almost any topic; @TubeFilter for YouTube, @Platformer from @CaseyNewton for topics on intersection b/n big tech and media … #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Follow @ADHutchinson for social media news and resources, @JustinMooreTFam to learn how to find and negotiate sponsorships, and @iSocialFanz for all things about NFTs.

A7b: @ADHutchinson at @SocialMedia2Day, @JustinMooreTFam for sponsorships, and @iSocialFanz for @NFT365Podcast … #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Erika recommends you attend the Creator Economy Expo and join The Tilt’s community.

A7a: I’m biased since I just signed up for the Creator Economy Expo (https://t.co/kPYTVtouuQ) and have e been a member of @TheTiltNews’s Discord for a while, but there is so much goodness there!#ContentChat https://t.co/SIIW8Py2LB

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

Food Blogger Pro has a wonderful food blogger community, and ConvertKit has many helpful resources for creators.

A7b: I’d also call out the @foodbloggerpro community and @ConvertKit for being incredibly helpful resources for the creator community.#ContentChat

— Erika Heald | Content Marketing Consultant (@SFerika) October 10, 2022

@ConvertKit has some great content in addition to their services. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

And don’t forget to check out MarketingProfs.

A7: I love to read content from @MarketingProfs and @TheTiltNews. Aside from #ContentChat, other Twitter chats like #FreelanceChat can also be helpful for finding people with similar challenges and helping you thrive as an entrepreneur.

— Alek Irvin (@AlekIrvin) October 10, 2022

Twitter can be packed with insights, too, if you follow the right people (we recommend this list of  #ContentChat community members, for starters!)

A7: I also find some great resources on Twitter. Even though I’m sick of threads, I still find some valuable. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

Q8: Tag a content entrepreneur you admire and tell us what you love about them.

Ann and the community recognize our favorite content entrepreneurs below. Who is a content entrepreneur that you admire? Tag them and tell us why they’re amazing using #ContentChat.

A8a: I’m lucky because we profile a new content entrepreneur every week (https://t.co/75l6EeU8C1). There are so many great stories to tell of creators who are making a living from it to those who balance traditional work and being an entrepreneur. Here are 3. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A8b: @RobertoBlake is a cool #ContentEntrepreneur for #ContentEntrepreneurs on @YouTube. He spent over an hour standing outside in 95-degree heat answering questions from his audience at #CEX. He just published a book to help creators. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A8c: We recently wrote about @BrokeBlackGirl_ who turned her content tilt on financial literacy for Black women into a thriving community (60K in one year) and business. Through her personal experience, she saw a gap in content and filled it. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A8d: And @hobonora is the Professional Hobo who shares how to travel long term in a financially viable way. I learned a lot from her at Creator Economy Expo last year. #ContentChat

— Ann Gynn (@anngynn) October 10, 2022

A8: It’s been amazing to see @beckyexcell’s evolution from #glutenfree + #lowfodmap Gluten Free Cuppa tea blogger to content entrepreneur. So inspiring!#ContentChat https://t.co/Uz4g8cPfdw

— Erika’s Gluten-Free Kitchen (@ErikaGlutenFree) October 10, 2022

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