How to get started on your creator journey
First things first. Before giving you a direction of travel for our journey, we'd better answer the following question: what is an online creator? Simply put, an online creator makes and publishes digital content. But we're not talking about TikTok wigglers here. We're talking about professional content creators who take their tasks seriously and make money from what they post.
Those with a poetic flare are fond of pointing out that the journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Granted, but you'd be best advised to make sure that you point your toecaps in the right direction, from the get-go. In other words — identify your niche.
Finding your niche
Readers who think 'niche' is a German philosopher should probably skip to the next section.
For those who remember Venn diagrams, however, now's the time to fetch your old math books from the attic. Now find the intersection of the following three sets:
• Stuff you're good at.
• Stuff that sets your curiosity bone a-jangling.
• Things for which people would readily trade a Benjamin or two of their hard-earned cash.
I have to 'fess up here: my attempts at this exercise spectacularly failed. Possibly because I chose bog snorkeling for 'stuff you're good at'; for 'stuff that rattles your curiosity bone', I remembered that I'd always wanted to know whether stage magicians could saw a woman in half. And as for stuff people would readily pay for, lap dancing immediately came to mind. I don't think Salvador Dali could have populated the intersection of those three sets. However, don't let that put you off; I'm sure your answers will be sane compared to mine.
Building an audience
Be consistent. Having identified your potential niche audience, Publish stuff they want to hear online, consistently without exception. Roll your sleeves up and give it 110%. Oh, and don't charge for any of it, you cheapskate. And if you come across any fellow alpha creators on your travels, connect with them, communicate with them, offer to marry them if need be, and stay close; you are trying to build a lasting relationship here.
Again, anyone who thinks 'going viral' means being laid low with malaria should give up right now. For everyone else, posts with 100,000+ views and 1,000+ comments meet the 'viral post' criteria. Just remember, as Paul Simon once sang, "One man's ceiling is another man's floor." The term' viral' is subjective. If anything you post goes viral, be happy — you're getting noticed, and that's a part of your journey too.
How? By building a direct relationship with your audience through email. Here's what to do.
1. Start a newsletter about your niche and publish consistently (Keep up to date)
2. Offer a free digital product and put it behind an email sign-up form.
Digital products are products you sell and deliver online. As a rule of thumb, it's a digital product if you can download or stream it. By contrast, if you can hang it from a nail above your stove alongside the sepia print of your great-great-grandmother shouldering a musket at the battle of Bull Run, it isn't digital—it's analogue. Examples of digital products include ebooks, PDFs, online courses, tools, media, and reports.
Engaging your audience to build trust
If fans contact you, make sure you reply. Given a choice, I prefer 1:1 calls over general messaging. That way, you'll better understand what your audience wants. If you think you have the stamina to build an online community, just realize this is a significant commitment.
Selling a digital product
Eventually, of course, you'll want to make a return on your investment in time and energy. This is best done by selling a digital product.
Examples of digital products include, for example, on-demand courses.
On-demand courses comprise items like videos, recorded sessions, PDFs and PowerPoints. The distinguishing feature of all elements is the ability of the user to start work when they choose and then to work through the materials at their own pace. The convenience such a method offers is a strong selling point.
A variation on the on-demand learning method, known as the cohort course, offers a collegiate dimension to the learning. Cohort-based systems have a fixed syllabus and are undertaken by a group of learners (a cohort) simultaneously, either online or in a real classroom.
Two other well-known and compelling digital products are the paid newsletter and the paid community.
First, find a niche you can comfortably work within to pull everything together. Identify the audience for that niche's products and seek to grow it. Contact your audience directly and put your efforts into building their trust in your knowledge and skill. Finally, strive to monetize your project through the sale of digital products.