Beyond The Hustle: Building A Sustainable Career As A Content Creator
In the rapidly evolving digital media landscape, the content creation industry has emerged as an exciting and lucrative field, with Goldman Sachs estimating its market size at $250 billion. In this new era, we are witnessing a fundamental shift: content creation, once considered a side hustle or hobby, is now a legitimate career path offering many opportunities. A report from Linktree estimated that there are now more than 200 million content creators globally, highlighting the exponential growth of the creator economy.
However, transforming your passion into a sustainable career demands more than just creativity and talent. It requires strategic planning, business acumen and an understanding of digital trends and tools. At TheSoul Publishing, we’ve witnessed firsthand — and helped facilitate — creators successfully navigating this journey. Moreover, industry pioneers like Dan Weinstein, Co-Founder and Co-CEO at Underscore Talent, which TheSoul Publishing recently acquired, have been instrumental in ushering in this new age of digital content creation.
In a recent discussion with Weinstein, he shared, “In today’s attention economy, content creators have an unprecedented opportunity to turn their passion into a sustainable career. But this requires time, patience, and a 360° management approach — understanding your audience, leveraging the right platforms, forging strategic partnerships, and most importantly, treating content creation as a business, not just a hobby.”
Content creators have an unprecedented opportunity to turn their passion into a sustainable career. But this requires… treating content creation as a business, not just a hobby
Dan Weinstein, Underscore Talent
Interestingly, despite common perceptions, Gen Zers make up only 13% of content creators. Millennials are the leading generation in the creator economy, constituting 41% of all creators, followed by Gen X at 30%, and even the ‘boomers’ surpass Gen Z with 15%. This diversity of generations underlines the broad appeal and accessibility of content creation.
So, how can aspiring creators navigate this promising but challenging landscape and build a sustainable career? Here are some key strategies:
1) Set realistic goals beyond monetisation
Setting realistic and well-defined goals is the first step for content creators to transform their side hustle into a full-fledged career.
While monetisation is an important objective, it shouldn’t be the sole focus. In fact, for half of all creators, the primary motivation is self-expression; a chance to explore their passions and showcase a side of themselves that might remain hidden in their regular lives. As Weinstein states, “A successful content creator is more than a moneymaker — they are a brand in their own right.”
A successful content creator is more than a moneymaker — they are a brand in their own right.
Dan Weinstein, Underscore Talent
To build this personal brand, creators must establish a clear vision of their content and how it aligns with their values and interests. This ensures authenticity and fosters a strong connection with their audience, which is crucial for long-term success.
Furthermore, setting goals for audience engagement, growth, and personal development can provide a comprehensive roadmap for their content creation journey.
2) Engage with your target audience across platforms
For creators, understanding and engaging with their audience is central to building a sustainable content creation career.
This involves identifying who their audience is, their preferences and the platforms they use most. Once they’ve identified their target audience, tailoring content to their interests becomes easier, enhancing engagement and loyalty.
Additionally, creators must stay updated with the latest digital trends and tools. As the digital landscape evolves, new platforms and formats emerge, offering fresh opportunities to connect with your audience.
In addition, diversifying income streams is becoming increasingly important in this evolving landscape. 45% of all creators rely on multiple income streams, highlighting the importance of exploring various monetisation strategies. Weinstein advises, “Diversifying content across multiple platforms broadens a creator’s reach and creates multiple revenue streams, enhancing their career’s sustainability in the long-term.”
Diversifying content across multiple platforms broadens a creator’s reach and creates multiple revenue streams, enhancing their career’s sustainability in the long-term
Dan Weinstein, Underscore Talent
3) Build a supportive ecosystem
In the creator economy, individuals need to recognise that they are not alone.
Building a network of supportive collaborators, sponsors and an engaged fanbase can provide the resources and motivation creators need to keep creating. Collaborating with other creators can lead to innovative content, while sponsors and brand partnerships can offer financial support and exposure.
Such partnerships comprise 28% of creators’ income and could involve sponsored content on YouTube, product-specific TikToks, or brand-promoting Instagram posts. Meanwhile, an engaged fanbase can provide the invaluable feedback and advocacy needed to make this a sustainable career path.
It’s also worth noting that companies like TheSoul Publishing and Underscore Talent offer platforms and resources to support creators in their journey. They provide a personalised and scalable management experience, helping creators optimise their growth and navigate brand partnerships, content distribution, and more.
4) Craft your unique creator voice
In a saturated content market, standing out is crucial.
Crafting a unique creator voice can help individuals differentiate themselves and ensure long-term relevance. This involves honing storytelling skills, embracing a unique perspective and creating content that resonates with a specific target audience on a deeper level.
Remember, authenticity is key. Weinstein asserts, “The most successful creators remain true to themselves and consistently deliver unique and engaging content.”
5) Always adapt and evolve
Weinstein explains, “The ability to adapt is a crucial trait for a content creator. It’s not about chasing every trend, but understanding which changes align with your brand and audience and how to integrate them effectively.”
The ability to adapt is a crucial trait for a content creator. It’s not about chasing every trend, but understanding which changes align with your brand and audience and how to integrate them effectively
Dan Weinstein, Underscore Talent
This is because, in the dynamic world of content creation, adaptability is essential.
The platforms, trends, and audience preferences are constantly changing, and creators must stay agile and responsive to these shifts. This could mean experimenting with different content formats, exploring new platforms, or refining their brand identity based on audience feedback.
Adaptability also extends to the use of cutting-edge technology. A staggering 94.5% of creators leverage AI to edit content, generate visuals, create captions, and even ideate content. Not employing AI tools could place a creator at a disadvantage.
6) Invest in self-care and mental health
Lastly, it’s essential to recognise that content creation can be demanding and mentally taxing. Regularly producing content, managing a brand and engaging with an audience can lead to burnout if not managed well. Therefore, content creators need to prioritise self-care and mental health.
This might involve setting boundaries, taking regular breaks, or seeking support when needed. Weinstein emphasises, “Content creation is a marathon, not a sprint. To build a sustainable career, creators must invest in their well-being and avoid burnout.”
Overall, building a sustainable career as a content creator is an exciting yet complex journey. It requires strategic planning, continuous learning, and resilience. But with the right approach and resources, individuals can successfully navigate this dynamic landscape, transform their passion into a career, and contribute to the vibrant creator economy.
As the saying goes, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.” In the creator economy, this statement is becoming a reality for many.
As we continue to witness the growth of the creator economy, it’s clear that content creation is no longer just a hobby or side hustle-it can be a viable, fulfilling career. By setting realistic goals, understanding and engaging with their audience, building a supportive ecosystem, crafting a unique voice, learning to adapt to changes, and prioritising mental health, creators can build a sustainable and rewarding career in content creation.
After all, there may be no better time than now for talented individuals to turn their passion into their full-time profession.
About the author
Patrik Wilkens is the Vice President of Global Operations at TheSoul Publishing, where he sets, implements and drives short- and long-term operational and business development strategies across the company.
Patrik also spearheads numerous initiatives across the company. These include growing additional revenue streams via licensing and D2C products and increasing the media company’s owned and operated content portfolio through acquisitions. Based at the company headquarters in Cyprus, Patrik brings more than 14 years of experience as an executive leader in the digital and entertainment industries.
As Vice President of Mobile Operations at Spilgames, he was a key player in the business’s turnaround and subsequent sale to Azerion. At Azerion, Patrik continued as Vice President of Mobile Operations and oversaw the integration of Spilgames into Azerion.