I've written over a thousand articles and have created over a hundred videos from interviews to tutorials. I've studied the best content creators to emulate their best practices. I've been doing this for seven years because it works.
As a result, I've built a significant following across channels with 38,000 followers on Quora, a Facebook Group with 24,000+ individuals, and once having over 70,000 followers on LinkedIn. The best part is you can do this too by understanding how to become an exceptional content creator. Let's see how you can do just that.
What is a Content Creator?
A content creator is someone who produces marketing assets whether in the form of video, text, design, or audio to deliver a message. Some content creators are more purposeful than others in regards to how they produce, leverage, or distribute their content. Many content creators specialize in more than one form of content creation to produce unique marketing pieces. These marketing messages may appear in the format of tutorials or even online ads.
What Makes a Content Creator Worth Following?
When analyzing these content creators below, notice the differences and similarities in the content they create. If there's one thing that brings them all together, it's the idea that each has the ability to be successful on any platform.
YesTheory not only produces YouTube videos that get seen by millions of viewers they also have a vibrant Facebook Group with over 80,000 members.
YesTheory specializes in content that inspires people to get out of their comfort zone and take on life's biggest challenges to learn and grow.
Jay Shetty is a monk turned inspirational marketer. He has over 9 million fans on Facebook, 2 million on YouTube, and a Facebook Group with over 150,000 individuals. He produces inspirational content non-stop.
Joe Rogan went from T.V. host to YouTube host with over 5 million subscribers and one of the most popular podcasts. He's interviewed over a thousand guests about their wild stories while always finding a way to keep things interesting.
If you want to understand how online SEO works, which is fundamental for creating companies on a foundation of content, then you want to follow Brian Dean. He's the foremost thought leader in SEO and his blog's statistics prove just that.
The Best Tools for Content Creators
There aren't many tools content creators need to be successful. When I started writing and producing videos, all I had was a laptop and an iPhone. It's about being resourceful more than anything else. With that said, once you're ready to level-up, here are some tools to add to your arsenal:
Video Editing Software
I love using Screenflow because it has a quick learning curve. It's also great at capturing what's on your screen so that you can churn out tutorials and other types of video fast.
Lumen5 is more than a video maker and online video editor. It's free software that enables you to take text-based content and turn it into a video within minutes. They have a huge library of audio, Gifs, photos, and videos that you can add to your videos in seconds. There's nothing quite like it.
Adobe Premiere is the number one tool for video editors. I recommend this tool if you're looking to do YouTube videos full-time. There's a significant investment in learning Adobe Premiere so you want to ensure it's worth it. Today, it's the industry standard among video editors.
Graphic Design Software
Before you jump into advanced design tools like Sketch and Figma, you need to have a strong grasp of basic design skills. You can get these basic fundamentals by adopting Canva and PicMonkey.
Canva is a free image editing software that has over 50,000 templates you can use for YouTube cover art to infographic designs. The possibilities are limitless. Designing social media posts from scratch has almost become a thing of the past because of how many templates are available.
I use PicMonkey to crop and implement drop shadows on all my blog post images. It's an easy tool to use if you're looking for quick photo adjustments.
A couple other recommendations I'd make is using tools like TextBroker for content marketing and Design Pickle for graphic design services at scale. With these two tools, you could run a twenty person agency without having any overhead. In fact, I've done it.
Web Design Software
Webflow is the best tool for web design and you can pair it with hosting and a custom content management system. It's more than powerful as you can build websites visually without using code, including adding payments and even a simple backend database in minutes.
Airtable is a free way to organize database records. I like to refer to it as Google Sheets on steroids. It works as a relational database as well where it can link related records and data enabling users to directly access the records in one database from another database and vice versa.
With Airtable, you can implement different types of records: texts, attachments, checkboxes, photos, long notes, barcodes, and more. Furthermore, Airtable allows users to share their records and databases with the other members of their team or organization.
If you're a content creator, you can use Airtable to manage your entire team and create a content calendar schedule as I do. It's well worth it to organize your thoughts and keep yourself in check.
Google Drive has become a necessity for most content creators. If you want an upgraded version, I recommend Planable. The folders here are invaluable for storing your documents whether docs or slide presentations. I use Google Drive to store hundreds of how-to guides as in the screenshot below:
Squibler is a book writing software that enables you to write faster and organize all your notes in one place. I use it to write all my books. Full disclosure: I'm one of the founders of this tool.
You can't go wrong with Google Docs. It syncs with Grammarly and has a nifty outlining feature which helps you organize all your notes fast.
I use Descript to turn all my audio recording into text. This is especially helpful when I'm interviewing people for stories and don't want to crunch away on my laptop for hours. It only takes a few minutes to translate an hour of audio into text - that's impressive.
How do You Become a High-Level Content Creator?
I ask this question all the time to keep me on track. The reason is high-level content creation is about self-awareness. In other words, it's just as much about understanding yourself as it about using the tools to help create and distribute your content. To understand what content you like to create, you need to experiment.
Experimenting starts with prototyping your content creation career. This only works if you know what you’re searching for. The answer to that is found in the Hedgehog Concept. This concept is based on an ancient Greek parable by poet Archilochus that states, “The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.”
See, the fox tries many ways to catch the hedgehog as its prey. It runs around, jumps, sneaks up and even plays dead. However, it always loses because it can’t break through the hedgehog’s spines. The fox with all of its trying never understands that the hedgehog survives because it does one thing exceptionally well: defends itself.
This idea was elaborated on by Philosopher Isaiah Berlin who took this story and applied it to the reason behind successful people in his 1953 essay, "The Hedgehog and the Fox." He divided people into two groups: foxes and hedgehogs. Foxes pursue many goals and interests which result in a lack of clarity; therefore, little success. On the other hand, hedgehogs focus on one single, overarching vision.
The content creators who succeed? They're the hedgehogs.
This idea hit mainstream popularity when famous author and researcher, Jim Collins, expanded upon the idea in his classic 2001 book, Good to Great. Collins argued that companies succeed if they can identify what they can do best and grab onto it by devoting all energy and resources to pursue it. These are the companies that survive in the long run. But there’s a lot that goes into pursuing what you can be the best at. Jim Collins noted that you need passion and understanding of the economic engine that will drive it.
How does this idea play into being an exceptional content creator? It’s because you need to find the middle ground between passion, your ability to become the best, and making money. I’ve been writing almost every day for seven years. The only way to make that possible is to first believe that there’s a balance, then find it. The belief came when I founded an online publication and realized I enjoyed the process of writing. Finding the balance came when I started working for a software company and discovered my passion for writing about technology tools.
For many, taking that first step as a content creator is seeing if you're passionate about the industry whether that's the self-help industry like Jay Shetty or technical marketing like Brian Dean.
From there, it's focusing on something more specific and tangible that you can be the best at within that industry. That's why Brian Dean focuses on SEO within technical marketing. It's why YesTheory focuses on overcoming huge obstacles within motivation.
How Content Creators Identify Content Opportunities
As a content creator, you need to listen to your audience in order to identify the best opportunities for content creation. Here are a few steps to become a better listener that will give you a head start:
Use Ahrefs to Identify SEO Opportunities
By using Ahrefs Keyword explorer, you can find opportunities where people need content but aren't getting it. For example, if I create content around freelance digital marketing, Ahrefs tells me there's little competition and a high bid amount on that keyword phrase because it's valuable. That means if I have an audience of marketers or solo-entrepreneurs, then 1) they haven't received a lot of content on this subject, and 2) they really want it.
One of my favorite ways to identify content opportunities is to run polls and post statuses asking for feedback in Facebook Groups. For example, I posted this question and got over 60 answers providing me a huge knowledge base of ideas.
Here's another example of when I posted a question and got over 50 answers about how people are using one of my favorite technical tools to streamline their workflow.
Finding opportunities from Reddit
My last strategy is using Reddit to find content. I wrote an entire post about it here. It works wonders, to say the least.
Types of Content that Turn Visitors in Customers
The one thing content creators struggle with the most is building businesses. They often get stuck in producing social content. For example, YesTheory produces social content that motivates people.
To stay relevant, YesTheory needs to produce this content over and again. The reason is this content doesn't have a lot of SEO juice to keep attracting new viewers since the content isn't optimized for keywords. Still, it's entertaining and they have a large audience. This means they can monetize it, but just in a different way. That's why they sell merchandise like t-shirts and sweatshirts.
What I recommend is finding a pain point that's more evergreen. This means focusing on video tutorials, educational content, courses, and templates.
Video tutorials and educational content
A prime example of video tutorials is Webflow's YouTube library. They have hundreds of video tutorials on how to use their product even for specialized use cases like portfolio sites and e-commerce.
All of this content enables Webflow to streamline their sales process. Because people now understand their product better, they're more likely to buy it or upgrade their current package.
If you want to turn a content visitor into a customer, an easy way is to provide content upgrades. Content upgrades enable you to sell more by providing more of what the consumer has shown they want. Brian Dean writes about this methodology extensively here.
Here's an example of what a content upgrade call-to-action looks like.
Another example would be if you're reading this post and you get halfway through and then see a button that says, "If you want the 10 super secrets to making money as a content creator, put your email in here:...."
Since you're halfway through, I can assume you're enjoying the post and it's solving a need for you. Offering relevant content that's "gated" - asking you for your email to get it - is the best way to curate a list of people who enjoy your content. From there, you can keep using content upgrades whether eventually asking for money or just more details on your reader to better market to them.
Do the work for them
One of the easiest ways to turn visitors into customers is to sell templates of what they believe you're an expert in. This is essentially doing the work for them. There's a reason B2C software companies like Canva, Webflow, Wix, and many others use templates as one of their main sources of customer acquisition - it works!
If you're looking to build-out course content or work with high-profile individuals, one of the best ways to do so is to interview influencers. It's a win-win. The influencers want to reach a new audience, which is yours. For you, they will 1) make you look credible 2) enable you to sell a lot more with that extra credibility.
Make Your Development a Cornerstone to Keep Momentum
As a high-level content creator, not only will your audience grow, but you will as well. It's important you take time to self-reflect on how you can best keep momentum and stay within the Hedgehog Concept. To keep your audience active and to have a sustained income from content creation, you need to focus on longevity more than anything else - even if that means taking a short-term financial hit. That may happen with a rebrand.
For example, below I rebranded my community to "Product & Growth with Josh Fechter." The reason is I'd grown up from the name "Badass Marketers & Founders." It no longer appealed to who I was as a person. By doing so, I let go of the past to gain longevity.
Ignore the Vanity to Focus
The hardest part of being a content creator is you'll see vanity metrics grow whether that's follower count or view count. The hard truth is you can have a million followers but only make as much money as someone with ten thousand better-curated followers. I see this all the time.
Focus on quality and solving your audience's pain points over everything else. That's the only way you'll build an audience who will keep coming back to you time and again. Otherwise, you won't be a content creator - you'll only believe you're one.