If the content you’ve been publishing on your own has attracted you an engaged audience, then it makes sense that you might be curious about finding ways to turn your hobby into a source of revenue.
The internet is full of people claiming it’s easy to make money as a digital content creator, yet much of the advice out there can be misleading and send people down the wrong path.
You should especially be careful of content older than a few years, as what worked back then often won’t work today. There is far greater competition than there was, and the overall quality level has increased. On top of this, new platforms spring up, and the existing ones significantly change their rules.
The brutal truth is that 52% of side hustlers make less than $100 a month. If you hope to make more than this then you need to avoid many of the common mistakes that plague creators. You must shift to a mindset where you believe you deserve to make money, with all of your business moves emanating from this knowledge.
You may be limiting yourself without realizing it, falling into the mindset pitfalls listed below.
Waiting for your full website
When the world wide web first went mainstream, everyone bought up their own domains to create their own sites, as that was the only real option available. Today, there are many better options that require far less time investment. It can be easy for a creator to delay monetizing because you think you need a full website, but consider how many of your favorite creators actually link to a microsite instead.
Lightricks’s Link In Bio is the top choice for a free microsite builder. It allows you to link to all your content in one convenient place and gives you the options to make it look beautiful. The best bit is you can add a tip jar so your superfans can send you money directly.
Rather than taking on the costs of building and running a traditional website, you can immediately use your microsite as a revenue source.
Once you have the revenue coming in, you can then invest in someone to build a website for you. Yet you may find you don’t need a full website as much as you thought you did.
Focusing only on quantity
Many “internet gurus” will tell you to focus on consistency over everything else. They say you need to pump out 100 articles or 100 videos before you should ever think about making money.
Don’t believe them. It’s an easy way to waste your time, because when you’re focused on the volume game, there’s no real content strategy.
With everything you post, you should add value to your audience’s lives. This is the most important thing – otherwise they’ll quickly learn to skip over content whenever they see your name. Repetition does help but you need to be critical and look at ways to improve. If you want to monetize quickly, it could be worth investing in a coach who can shorten your learning curve.
Create a schedule that is sustainable for you, where you can produce high-quality content that can win you new followers. If you have another job then you could try batching, whereby you create your content in a short burst then spread it out over time using a scheduling program like Later. This makes your schedule less frantic each week, and you can think about the bigger picture.
Thinking too small
Unless you’re a proper celebrity, you’re going to have a small audience to start with. All the people you see with millions of followers, started at the same point you did. However, the tactics they use once they’ve made it big time are different to what you should do with your more humble following.
People often start by selling cheap digital products because they lack the conviction in themselves to think they are worth charging higher prices. Yet if you price your courses, premium downloads or NFTs at $5 to your 200 followers, you’d need every single person to buy for you to make $1000. This is highly unlikely, to say the least. On the other hand, if you offered a package at $1000, you’d only need one person to buy it.
That’s why it’s so important to change your mindset from one of mass sales to one of high-ticket sales if you want to make meaningful money as an early-stage creator. When you fulfill these orders, you’ll grow in confidence which will attract more people to your community. You can consider cheaper products once you have the scale to make the return on investment worth it.
Many creators are brilliant at what they do and love the creative side. However, it’s the people who marry this passion with sound marketing sense who actually see most of the success. The truth is that it doesn’t matter how great your content is if no one ever finds it.
If you want to monetize on YouTube, you’ll need 4000 hours of watch time. This is far more than you can ask your friends and family to watch as a favor. If you want to reach this threshold, you’ll need strangers to organically find your content, and the best way is through search engine optimisation.
On YouTube, you can use a tool like TubeBuddy to make the process easier. This service suggests the correct wording you should use to create content that people want to see and are likely to find on your page. This will increase your watch time significantly and eventually your income too.
Being afraid to find sponsors
Creators can greatly undervalue themselves if they aren’t familiar with the world of sponsorships for micro-influencers.
Even if your audience is small, if it is highly niched, you may find a lucrative sponsorship deal. This is because sponsors would prefer paying a micro-influencer with a high-intent audience than a larger one with a disengaged audience. It works for both parties, as you can earn good money, and they save on sponsorship fees, compared to what they’d need to spend working with creators who have more established accounts.
What’s even better is that studies have shown micro-influencers have a much higher engagement rate than large influencers. On Instagram, for example, it’s more than three times higher (3.86% vs 1.1%) for people with less than 15,000 followers compared to those with over 1 million.
Today there are sponsorship marketplaces specializing in every niche, so it’s worth exploring to see what brands might be interested in a collaboration.
The big takeaway is you can monetize successfully even if your follower count is small. You don’t need to hang around and wait until you have a perfect website or a giant following. Start monetizing today instead, and you can scale up as you go.