What’s the difference between a content creator vs. influencer?

What’s the difference between a content creator vs. influencer?
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While we often hear the terms “content creator” and “influencer” used interchangeably, there’s actually a stark difference.

We’ll dive deeper into the differences, but one of the biggest is that a content creator is more known for the content they make, while influencers are more known for who they are and their overall “influence.”

Learn even more about what these two career paths have in common, as well as what sets them apart—plus, discover how brands can work with both content creators and influencers.

artist working on mural

What is a content creator?

A content creator is someone who, for lack of a better description, creates content. There are many different types of content they might make, like:

  • Online courses
  • Ebooks
  • YouTube videos
  • Blog content
  • Graphics
  • Other informational resources

A content creator might work only for themselves, building up their own audience by offering valuable informational content. Or, they might also create content for brands.

One great example of a content creator is Matt Shirley, or @mattsurelee on Instagram. He creates fun, colorful charts that he shares on Instagram, and has amassed a following of over 400k by doing so.

Here’s one of his charts:

He even created a book out of his charts that his followers can purchase:​​

However, Matt has also started partnering with brands to create charts in his recognizable style that they can share on their own social media platforms.

Here’s an example of a chart he created for HubSpot:

Content creators work to build up their own audience who enjoy the content they create. This then makes it valuable for brands to partner with content creators—they get great content for their own marketing purposes while also appealing to the content creator’s existing audience.

threads for content creators

What is an influencer?

An influencer does also create content—hello, photoshoots, lifestyle curating, Instagram/TikTok videos, and more. The key difference is that an influencer focuses more on building an audience around their lifestyle rather than around their content.

Influencers, well, influence. They build up an audience by sharing their lives with their followers. The connection is more between the influencer and their followers, rather than between the content and its consumers.

Danielle Carolan, @daniellecarolan on Instagram, is an influencer with over 250k followers. She regularly posts lifestyle content, like this Reel showcasing what she does on Sundays to prep for her week:

However, Danielle also partners with brands to promote their products. Here’s an example of a sponsored post from a collaboration with Brooklinen:

Influencers build up their audiences through a genuine connection. They then partner with businesses to promote said business’s products on their own social media platforms.

creators working on art

What’s the difference between a content creator vs. influencer?

The difference between a content creator vs. influencer is that a content creator’s job is to write, design, and make content to build an audience while an influencer’s job is to showcase their lifestyle and other passions to build an audience.

Both career paths are heavily reliant on social media. The use of social media platforms is invaluable for sharing their content or lifestyle and building up a large following.

However, content creators also have the advantage of bringing other platforms into the mix. Many content creators have their own websites they use to host some of their content. They use tools like Teachable to house online courses and other digital products. Many also have their own email list they’ve built to send out a recurring email newsletter.

There are also differences in how brands work with content creators and influencers.

When working with a content creator, the end goal is typically to have some piece of content created for the business to use for their marketing purposes. When working with an influencer, the goal is to boost awareness and increase sales of a product from that influencer’s audience.

Similarities between influencers vs. content creators

There are also similarities between influencers and content creators. One of those is how they go about building up their audiences.
As I mentioned, both are heavily reliant on social media. They tend to utilize several social media platforms to share a lot of content, engage with other users, and build up their audiences. The only difference here is the types of content they’re sharing.

Another similarity is that both work with brands. Content creators and influencers both want to partner with brands in order to bring in additional income. The difference here is the way each one will work with a brand. Let’s get into that a bit more.

How brands can utilize both content creators and influencers to their advantage

When it comes to partnering with a content creator and influencer, it’s not an “either/or” type of decision. Both can be equally beneficial depending on your brand’s needs.

When working with a content creator, the goal is to have a piece (or multiple pieces) of content created that your brand can share on its website, blog, social media, etc.

This could be a video to share on YouTube or TikTok. It might be a podcast episode or a blog post with educational information about your business and its product/service. It could be a chart, like we saw in our example from Matt Shirley, or high-quality product photos.

When working with an influencer, your goal is to showcase your product or service to an additional audience. Instead of working together to get a piece of content for your business, you’ll provide the influencer with your product/service and they’ll showcase it on their own social media platforms.

Influencer partnerships help to build brand awareness, improve trust in your brand, and reach a wider audience. If you provide the influencer’s audience with a discount code, you might even be able to bring in new sales from the partnership.

Working with content creators and influencers do different things for your business. You can easily find a number of content creators and influencers that you decide to partner with to both create content for your business and promote its products or services.

engaging content

Content creator vs. influencer FAQs

What is the difference in how influencers and content creators get paid?

Influencers typically get paid based on how much promotion your brand wants. They’ll usually create packages that will vary in cost and outline what you’ll get.

For example, the packages might look like:

  • Tier 1: One Instagram post
  • Tier 2: One Instagram post + one Instagram story
  • Tier 3: One Instagram post + one Instagram story + one Instagram Reel/TikTok video

They’ll vary based on which platforms the influencer uses and how long it takes to create each type of post.

Content creators are typically paid based on the projects they create. They’ll often have their own rates outlined, in which they may choose to charge by the project, word, or hour.

Brands can reach out to content creators in order to outline what kind of project they’re looking for and get a quote from the creator based on the project’s scope.

Can you be a content creator and influencer at the same time?

Absolutely! While the differences outlined throughout this article are generic, sometimes they overlap. For example, Cassey Ho from Blogilates started out as a content creator, creating pilates videos, healthy recipes, and other content on her website and YouTube channel.

She’s since amassed a huge following and has started to promote other brands alongside creating her own brand and branded products.

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