While Madonna famously sang, “We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl,” it’s quite possible that we have entered a new world: a digital world filled with digital creators and influencers. In the material world, the marketplace was saturated with physical goods and services. In this new world, there is a greater demand for virtual goods and services, as well as hybrid offerings and innovative ways to make money online. If you’re wondering what a digital creator is, if you are one, or how to become one, read on. We’ll get you up to speed, so you can thrive in this new, tech-centric era.
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What is a digital creator?
As its name suggests, a digital creator is anyone who creates digital content. That digital content can be social media posts, blog posts, images or graphics, podcasts, videos, etc. Depending on the type of content, as well as which platform the content is for, a range of different skill sets might be helpful. Graphic design experience, writing, video editing, and more can all be helpful. For instance, someone creating content for a course on Teachable might lean on experience or skills with filming video. A digital creator with a blog, on the other hand, would want to be proficient in writing and editing.
As we’ve explored, content creation is usually meant to be educational, entertaining, inspiring, and engaging. More often than not, it’s also intended to influence behavior. This brings us to influencers—are they the same as digital creators? Yes and no. While there is a lot of overlap between the two terms, which we’ll explore below, it’s important to understand their nuanced distinctions.
Difference between digital creators vs. influencers
To oversimplify these two terms, digital creators create (content) while influencers influence (their audience).
You might assume that to become an influencer you need a high number of followers, but that’s not necessarily true. An influencer is typically a social media personality and, as the title suggests, actually influences their following to make decisions. They can do this by promoting a product or service they want their followers to then purchase. In a sense, both digital creators and influencers have the aim of influencing behavior, or pursuing a certain call to action. In content creation, the specific goal is to engage with virtual material, whereas influencing is usually related more directly to conversion.
Still, some might say that their goals differ and are the same as their titles, to create and influence, respectively. And while that might sometimes be true, digital creators often have very similar motives as influencers. They want to engage with their audience, get more followers, and essentially influence or sway their audience to take an action. The true distinction lies in their function, the job they are performing, not why they are doing it.
Creators vs. influencers example
To illustrate this point, let’s travel back in time to the “material world” and use the example of a traditional brick-and-mortar retail department store. Corporate offices hire graphic designers and copywriters to create content and marketers to sell the products. The team works together with the ultimate goal of selling retail goods, but the function of the team members is very different.
Designers are hired to design, writers are hired to write, and marketers are hired to market the products. It’s up to the marketers to assign creative content and determine how to use it effectively. Similarly, even though they might work together and have similar goals, the function of digital creators is to create content, while the job of influencers is to influence an audience. Of course, as “material world” businesses evolve and adapt to the “digital world”, they will also incorporate actual digital creators and influencers into their marketing strategy through affiliate and influencer marketing, etc.
Another example is an established brand. You might liken the function of digital creators to the work brand do to uphold of the brand’s image. Meanwhile, an influencer might be the face of the brand or spokesperson. This is typically what influencers do: brand collaborations or partnerships to promote their products or services through sponsored posts.
With this in mind, it’s important to understand that these titles are not black and white. One shouldn’t assume that creators don’t influence or influencers don’t create. In fact, content creation skills are helpful to influencers, just as generating content that’s influential benefits creators. Just as we’ve pointed out that digital creators often do influence, many influencers also create their own digital content. Finally, you might consider that digital creators generally offer more original content, while influencers can lean on curated content, as they curate their lifestyle (or a part of it, such as fitness, fashion, food, beauty, etc.) on their platforms.
As a recap, the distinction between digital creators and influencers lies in their functions: one creates, the other influences. (Pop quiz: Remember which one is which?) Even if the creator’s goal is to influence a certain audience or consumer behavior, their function is simply to create content. Being persuasive might influence how the content is created, but the function—to create—remains the same.
How to become a digital creator
Now that we’ve covered what a digital creator is, as well as how it differs from an influencer, let’s explore how to become one. In another blog post, we covered how to become a content creator in eight specific steps, if you’d like a dive deeper the step-by-step process, be sure to revisit the blog post. Additionally, here are some tips for becoming a digital creator:
- Start creating! Decide what type of content you want to create, and go for it. As a reminder, digital content creation skills include writing/copywriting, social media, SEO and Google Analytics, photography, videography, graphic design, illustration, audio production, and more. You can choose what you’re naturally inclined toward, for instant graphic design or writing, but you can also choose something that challenges you creatively. Get clear about what platform you want to create on (i.e. website, specific social media channel), and make sure it aligns with the content you’re creating.
- Be consistent. Consistency is key when it comes to building an audience and earning their trust. Meanwhile, the more experience you have creating, the more likely you will get paid for your content. Whether that’s monetizing your blog, website, or social media channels or getting hired by another company or brand to digitally create content. (You can learn more about income streams here.)
- Have fun. Know that the more you create, the better you’ll get at it. You’ll learn as you go, and done is better than perfect.
What does a digital content creator do?
As its name suggests, the meaning of digital creator is someone who creates digital content. This can be social media posts, blog posts, images or graphics, podcasts, videos, etc. Depending on what type of content they’re creating, as well as which platform they’re creating for, digital creators can have a range of different skill sets. Those skills can include graphic design, writing, video editing, etc. Someone creating digital content for Teachable, for instance, might be good at making educational videos. A digital creator for a blog, on the other hand, would want to be proficient in writing and editing. Content creation is usually meant to be educational, entertaining, inspiring, and engaging. More often than not, it’s also intended to influence behavior. And yet, there are nuanced distinctions between digital creators and influencers that we explore in this blog post.
How does a digital creator make money?
Consistency is key when it comes to building an audience and earning their trust. Meanwhile, the more experience you have creating, the more likely you will get paid for your content—whether that’s monetizing your blog, website, or social media channels, or getting hired by another company or brand to digitally create content. (You can learn more about diversifying your income here.)
Can anyone become a digital creator on Facebook?
Essentially, yes. Facebook recently launched Meta for Creators, a free resource for digital content creators to upload, create, post, and manage content across Facebook and Instagram channels. The platform also allows you to monetize and get insights into how your content is performing. While anyone can create content using the platform, you will need to strategize how to effectively use their tools to be a successful (depending on your goals) digital creator.