In this article, we’ll introduce you to the concept of digital creator. We’ll define “digital creator,” help you understand the pros and cons of becoming one, walk you through some types of digital content, and finally, tell you how to become a digital creator. If you’re thinking of becoming a digital content creator, this guide is for you!
What is a digital creator?
Definition of a digital content creator
A digital creator is a person who conceptualizes, produces, and shares original content in electronic mediums; common digital creation formats include writing, videos, text, photography, and animation. Unlike people who make physical creations, digital creators have more flexibility with digital tools and can leverage massive distribution networks online to reach an audience, gain fans, and sell their digital goods.
Online content is split between content created by independent creators and content created by brands and organizations. Although content creation can look similar between these two, there are often slightly different goals:
- Individual creators often create content for artistic expression, education, to grow a following, and to monetize their work.
- Brands and organizations often hire digital creators to create customer education, build member-led growth businesses, and grow brand awareness.
The growing popularity of digital content
Digital creators are an essential part of our engagement with tech. Many of our favorite apps like Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, or LinkedIn would be nothing without digital creators to populate them.
Here are a few mind-bending statistics that tell you digital creators aren’t going anywhere anytime soon:
- At least 300 million users of social media platforms regularly post content as digital creators.
- 30% of 18-24-year-olds consider themselves creators, while 40% of 25-34-year-olds consider themselves content creators (Hubspot).
- 40% of Gen Z value influencer recommendations for purchases more than friends or family (Hubspot).
- The global value of influencer marketing is estimated to be $21.1 billion dollars.
- 46% of digital creators earn less than $1k in annual revenue (Linktree).
- 66% of digital creators consider themselves part-time (Linktree).
- Although AI is upending content creation, only 26% of people trust content created with AI (Hubspot).
These statistics are both inspiring and sobering. With so many digital content creators and so much content, it’s a shame that many creators aren’t earning much. We’ll talk below about some of the most profitable forms of digital creation.
What does a digital creator do?
Digital content creators don’t always do it all, but if you actually look at the skillset of the average creator, it’s nothing to sneeze at. While your parents might not get it (you post pictures online? Is that hard?), being a digital creator isn’t easy.
Digital creators often…
- Look at the digital content playing field and see opportunities.
- Build digital content using analogue and digital tools: design, create, build, edit.
- Have incredible creative technical skills (e.g. photography, video editing, writing, digital marketing).
- Know how to leverage social media, email, communities, etc., to get their creations seen by the world.
- Navigate interpersonal relationships (with followers, members, sponsors, brands, etc.).
Why become a digital creator?
If you thought the Italian Renaissance was the peak of human creativity, it had nothing on this. Millions of independent creators can do the work that they love, getting it in front of people with no gatekeepers.
And thanks to the internet, there's a market for pretty much anything. No matter how niche. You can find an audience.
That makes it a fantastic time to be a digital creator. Because you can pretty much express yourself any way you want.
20 years ago, making it as a writer meant getting published in a big publication. Becoming a photographer probably required a dark room, a lot of expensive equipment, and a gallery show. Painters would probably need the same thing.
But now, there are so many careers for digital creators. Whether you work for yourself and build a thriving digital business, or take your skills to one of the millions of companies that needs them, you've got the makings of a flexible career.
Digital creators made up many of the first digital nomads, taking advantage of the freedom their work offered to explore the globe.
When you're creating stuff to put online, it often doesn't matter where you live. That means that not only are there great career opportunities, but you often get location independence.
You can write blog posts from Philadelphia, Paris, or Phuket. You can take Instagram pictures on any continent–your feed would probably be better for it.
A lot of digital creators just need a laptop and they can go anywhere.
Digital content creators are in demand. With so much volume online, people who can make things that translate into views, likes, and subscribers are valued. It could be directly monetizing your digital creations; there are lots of ways to do this. But it could also mean working for a company that wants digital content–most companies are creating content to put online.
Types of digital content
Here are some examples of some types of digital content.
- Written: Blog posts, ebooks, social media, newsletters
- Multimedia: Photographs, vector graphics, memes, GIFs
- Video: Long-form video, shorts, livestreams, video templates, online courses
- Audio: Podcasts, music, sound effects
- Digitized art: Paintings, graphic designs, logos, NFTs
- Ecommerce: Product listing, knowledge base articles, reviews
- VR & Gaming: Roblox worlds, in-game purchases, game apps, quizzes
How to become a digital content creator
Find your niche
Content creation usually happens best in a niche. Even creators that eventually hit mass appeal usually start out with a specific topic or audience.
- PewDiePie (Felix Kjellberg): Started with video game content and expanded to other topics.
- Lilly Singh: The Canadian YouTuber started with skits about cultural identity and daily life, but expanded into acting for mainstream movies, and hosting a late-night show.
- John Green: Started as “The Vlogbrothers” with Hank, his brother. They talked about life and science, but eventually John branched out to other things–including a best-selling novel: The Fault in Our Stars.
- Issa Rae: Started the web show The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl. The success of that show led her to eventually create the HBO series “Insecure.”
Niching down helps creators focus on being good at one thing and building a following around that one thing.
For digital creators with a digital business in mind, the niche also helps you be more successful than trying to appeal to everyone. When we see people launch courses and communities, they always do better with a well-defined niche.
How to find your niche
There’s no ONE way to find your niche as a digital creator, but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Write down the topics you could talk about for hours. Or, ask yourself, what subject could you give a ten minute talk on without preparation?
- Ask friends and/or family what they look to you for advice or insights on.
- Look at the creators you already follow. We often follow people like us doing that stuff we care about. Do you see a space for something you could build among those people? (And don’t let imposter syndrome get you down! It’s always scary at first.)
Develop your craft
The word craft might not always be one that people jump to when they think about digital creators. But, just like all good art, digital creation is a craft. It takes excellence and expertise. And most creators have a craft they’ve honed that helps them stand out.
For example, musician JVKE exploded to TikTok stardom during the pandemic. For each of his early videos, he would pretend he was getting his mom to create a song for him. Then he’d build amazing song mashups that “his mom” had created. One of his first hits was the song “Upside Down”--which included samples of the song Hood Baby, by KBFR.
The song exploded in popularity (With a lot of commenters expressing outrage that JVKE was getting famous when it was really his talented mom “creating it all.”)
The thing is, JVKE didn’t get lucky. He was an incredibly talented musician before he started. But instead of just releasing the songs on TikTok, he created a fun hook format that always featured him asking his mom to play songs (with clips of her making music). By combining instrumentation, vocals, music production, and fun videos, JVKE went viral and is now producing Billboard hits like Golden Hour.
Whatever your content creation will be, there will be craft involved. Whether you’re writing, making videos, singing, acting, or teaching people how to use Excel, honing your craft is what will get you to content that’s good enough to get seen.
NOW, you can develop your craft sitting by yourself somewhere. But one fantastic way to develop your craft is really just to start creating stuff. If you look back in the archives of most YouTubers, you’ll see that over time they’ve improved in production, presentation, and video concepts.
So you don’t need to wait until you’re a pro. You can use content creation to experiment and learn as you go.
Learn the right skills
Every type of digital creator needs a certain type of skill set.
When we see people launch thriving online communities, they often have leadership skills to bring people together, plus the skill to create and share a vision that others catch. They have the skills to make members feel like they belong, plus the organizational skills to chart a course for the community to move forward.
Now, you don’t necessarily need all these skills right now. Learning by doing is a legitimate way of getting them.
But whether through hands-on learning or dedicated learning, most digital creators learn some skills.
- Some might take classes: for example, copywriting classes to teach you how to build writing that sells.
- Some might need to learn how to use gear: like a camera or microphone.
- Some might learn video editing, or keyword research for blog content.
There are different, valuable skills for each type of digital creator, and learning them will help you put your best stuff forward.
Choose your outlet
At some point, you’ll choose an outlet for your content creation. The list of “types of digital content” above gives you some examples of what kind of content to create, but each of these fits somewhere.
- If you love hosting conversations and engaging with members, maybe a community is the right choice. These online community website examples will get you inspired.
- If you love creating and editing entertaining videos, maybe you’re destined to be a YouTuber.
- If you have a great photography eye and you want to take beautiful photos, maybe Instagram is your place.
- If you want to spend the day writing about politics, giving analysis and opinions about what’s happening in the halls of power, maybe you’re better suited to starting a blog (or even pitching op-eds to major publications).
- If you’d love to bring a certain brand onto social media and create a space for it there, maybe you need to apply to be a social media manager.
Find the content outlet that’s going to fit what you want to create.
Build a content strategy
Your content isn’t just a flash in the pan. Digital creators who post for a week and then stop will experience… nothing. Nothing will happen.
It takes consistency, and you need to stick with it, whether you’re building a community of members, subscribers to a mailing list, or a following on social.
And the people who stick to it are the ones who see the growth with time.
Whether you’re an individual digital creator OR you work for an organization, sometimes it helps to have a content strategy! For example, when we create content for the Mighty blog, we usually have big-picture content goals for a quarter. Then, we’ll do our keyword research to see what we need from an SEO perspective, and we plan out the upcoming content on a Monday board.
This helps us keep track of what content we have on the go and keeps us accountable for building it!
Whatever type of content you’re building, a content strategy can really help. But do be realistic about your content strategy. For most new creators, it’s probably not realistic to say: “I’m going to create 10 YouTube videos a week.” Plus, you’re more likely to get discouraged with such high goals.
Instead of volume, make it a priority to stick to a content strategy over a long period of time–even just one video, post, etc. a week can add up. And building consistency is the thing that most would-be creators don’t get to.
Grow your community
“Community” is a word that gets thrown around a lot with digital content. And we’re a little biased here–as a community platform–but not every engagement on the internet is community. If you’ve got a Twitter troll adding snark under your posts, is that your community? If you’ve got the same three people liking all your Facebook posts, is that community?
Anyway, here’s what passes for community on many corners of the internet.
What they mean when they say community
For many online brands and creators, community is:
- People consistently commenting on your posts.
- People showing up to your livestreams.
- People joining your mailing list.
- People asking questions in the YouTube comments.
- People responding to a Twitter poll.
It’s weak, but many creators are searching for this. More subscribers. More followers. The desire to watch a vanity metric climb, without ever necessarily building real human connection.
What we mean when we say community
When we think about community, we think about REAL human connections. Not the surface comments, but the chance to go deep and really build meaningful engagement with people.
When we think of community, we think of:
- Members who don’t just consume your content, they create their own.
- Members who answer other members’ questions with their experiences.
- Members who make friends with each other–without you being there.
- Members who care enough to show up day after day, so that your community becomes a part of their identity.
True community isn’t the one-way relationships of fans or subscribers to a creator. True community requires connection and belonging between members.
And that’s what we’re looking for.
If you’re a digital creator, you might be looking for the first kind of community. When you’re starting, it’s exciting to get subscribers and comments. But eventually, the dopamine hits from the likes wear off. Or, you say the wrong thing and your subscribers turn on you–because they never really knew you to begin with.
Building a community of engaged members lets you do less. You still get to be a digital creator, but you’re now Hosting conversations instead of performing. And your members find something better than a dopamine hit; they find belonging.
That’s what communities do. And that’s why we love them. And–as we talk about monetization–a community can become a thriving digital business without millions and millions of followers. In fact, we’ve often seen 6- and 7- figure businesses grow out of a handful of engaged members.
Figure out how to monetize
Most–not all–creators want to monetize at some point. If that’s you, you’ll need to figure out a monetization strategy that works for you and your brand. Obviously there are a lot of different ways to do this, from advertising to selling digital products.
You’ll need to find the right thing that works for your brand.
Do check out the creator calculator, that can help you figure out how much you ’ll earn monetizing on different platforms.
Digital creator vs. influencer
We’re using the word digital content creator in this article, but what’s the difference between a digital content creator and an influencer?
If you want to know a really simple way to think about digital creator vs influencer, it’s this: digital creator is a description of input for digital content, while influencer is a description of someone’s output. In other words, a digital creator is anyone who creates digital content. An influencer is someone who’s content gets a lot of attention and followers, building enough social capital that their opinions and creations can influence the thoughts and behaviors of others. This is why influencers can earn money from their brands; while many digital creators might not yet have monetized.
To keep it really simple, you could say this: Every influencer is a digital creator, but not every digital creator is an influencer–because influencers are measured by their following.
Examples of successful digital creators
There are so many amazing examples of digital creators, let’s look at some of our favorite digital creators who have built communities on Mighty!
Adriene Mishler: Is YouTube’s top yoga instructor behind the channel Yoga with Adriene (12 million subscribers). Adriene and her team also run the Find What Feels Good and Kula communities on Mighty.
Martinus Evans: Grew his Instagram following of “back-of-the-pack runners” to 95,000 people, and launched this into a community of 20,000+ people.
Ashley Fox: Left her six-figure Wall Street job to teach financial literacy to the 99% of people big finance doesn’t help. She launched a movement called Empify that reached thousands around the world and taught financial literacy in over 50 different schools, and The Wealth Builders Community.
Sadie Robertson Huff: A best-selling author, speaker, TV star, and one of the world's most influential voices for young Christian women today, with over 4.6 million Instagram followers, national speaking tours, and a top-ranking podcast called, WHOA, That’s Good. She runs the community LO sister.
Drew Binsky: A travel YouTuber with over 5 billion views, launched a branded app–Just Go–to help people fall in love with travel.
Ready to become a digital creator?
As we’ve said in this article, it’s easy to overthink becoming a digital creator. Often the best way to do it is just to get started.
If you’re looking for a platform to build on, come build with Mighty! We bring together content, courses, community, and commerce. Mighty is G2’s top-rated community platform, and it’s the perfect place to launch your digital content and grow a business around it.
Try it free for 14 days! No credit card required.