Dear content creators,
Content creation is not a get-rich-quick scheme.
A very common question I see online is “How can I monetize?” The problem with this question is that it never seems to come from someone who is willing to monetize their content. The reason is quite simple: when you’re ready, people usually come to you.
Do not mistake yourself. I feel. Getting into content creation can be very expensive. Microphones, cameras, and all the other gear and accessories you can think of start adding up pretty quickly. The ability to recoup some or all of that cost, if not turn a profit, is a tempting scenario for sure.
But what comes with patience is value. Contacting sponsors early gives them a chance to take advantage of you. At first (and yes, it can sometimes take years) your content is worthless. It can be great content, but until you reach a point where you have high views/listenings and engagement with your audience, to a sponsor you are worth very little to them .
So why would they say yes? There are many reasons. First, you will be cheaper than someone who is established. A lot less expensive. But also, they have you on a roll. They can make demands of you that they wouldn’t dare to do if you were taller. The types of things they ask for are things that would cost them even more to ask bigger content creators.
So why would you say yes? If you would say yes to an agreement that binds you to a company, forcing you to heavily feature their products to a point where your content stops being your content and becomes complete advertising for your sponsor, that’s probably one of two reasons. You were looking for them too soon and maybe you’re a little desperate, or you’re so excited to officially be a professional content creator, that you don’t think about what you’re getting versus what you’re giving.
Always know your worth!
Part of knowing your worth is being truly aware of yourself. Know when you’re being taken advantage of, know when your content provides value, and most importantly, know when you’re not ready.
Remember that your content should be of a quality that is valuable to someone who would give you money. In sponsor terms, that means content with lots of eyes and ears on it. People who want to discover your content. If someone stumbles across your content and an ad pops up, they may turn you off. People are fickle like that.
This is where your engagement comes in. Using YouTube as an example, sponsors need to know that people watching your content are there for the long haul. So if your videos usually don’t get watched beyond thirty seconds or if no one likes or comments on them, then you’re usually not what they’re looking for.
This value also applies to content creators like streamers. To get someone to donate, deposit bits, or subscribe to your channel, you have to give them something. You can get Peacock or Apple TV+ for the price of a Twitch Sub, or for a buck or two more you can get Hulu, Disney+, or Paramount+. There is no doubt that these services give you value for your money. What makes you worth that? Are you so good at a video game that they have to watch you? Are you so fun and compelling that you’re better than every season of The Mandalorian? Maybe, but probably not.
“When you get to a certain point, as content creators, agents, or business owners may be in order. If you’re ready, they usually find you.
The real answer is personal connection. People may love you enough to want to support you at a price that can give you access to every season of Office, but you have to give them something back that goes beyond just saying their name in the chat. You have to have a product that appeals to them and be the kind of person they want to come back to see, but more than that (because they can watch you for free) they have to believe you are worth the support.
Another place where value is everything is when it comes to representation. When you get to a certain point, as content creators, agents, or business owners may be in order. If you’re ready, they usually find you. If you’re not ready, you’ll probably have to go find them. The difference? Who should sell to whom?
If an agent approaches you, he must convince you to sign with him. They should entice you to sign with them rather than the next person who calls. This means more money in your pocket and less in theirs. If you are looking for your agent, all he has to do is say yes. You’ll end up with the shortest part of the deal, guaranteed.
There are always exceptions to the rule for content creators. You could have the number one podcast after just one month. You may have gotten 50,000 YouTube subscribers after just a few videos. It might get you the sponsors you want for a worthwhile price, but that’s not the case for almost everyone, and it might not last. Fame is fleeting.
Let’s say that we have overcome all these obstacles. So you’re in the money, right? Not if you’re smart. You can take that money and buy yourself toys or pay bills, but the money you make from creating content really needs to go into creating more and better content. Hire an editor. Buy hardware or software that will increase the quality of content for your audience. This attracts more (and potentially bigger) sponsors and this cycle continues until the money is there to support both the channel and yourself.
Content creation as a career is not a sprint. It’s a marathon. Any attempt to reach the finish line too quickly means either you’ve taken too many shortcuts or you may find yourself gassed and unable to make it in the long run. If you want this to be your career, then you have the time. Use it well.