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Do you want to make money by making content? You’re not alone. Most content creators would welcome the opportunity to turn their hobby into an income-generating engine.
The good news is, content is a hot commodity online. Businesses, investors, content platforms, and regular internet users are more than willing to spend a premium on quality content. Whether you’re making cartoons on YouTube, recording podcasts on SoundCloud, or streaming competitive esports matches on Twitch, there is always some way to make money with your content.
The main challenge with making money as a content creator is that you’re not the first person to come up with the idea. Content creation can be incredibly competitive, so you have to be careful about what you’re trying to sell, for how much, and to which customer.
To help you find the best way to monetize your content, check out the 10 examples we have outlined below.
How Content Creators Make Money – 10 Examples
When it comes to content monetization, there is no one-size-fits-all approach.
Some content creators like to paywall their content, others prefer to sustain themselves through voluntary donations. Some are willing to work with businesses to create sponsored content, others like to maintain their creative freedom and do everything themselves.
In practice some forms of monetization work better with certain kinds of content than with others. To help you find what works for you, here are 10 typical ways to monetize content depending on your background and skills as a content creator.
1. Sell Content Directly to Customers
The most obvious way to make money as a content creator is to sell directly to customers. This way you get to keep the majority of your earnings, and you don’t have to rely on third-party platforms to host and distribute your content. Once you agree to a price, all you have to do is send the finished product to the customer.
Selling content directly to customers is best suited for artists. Art has lasting value, and it is easy to distribute online through websites, platforms, p2p sharing, and even email. This means illustrators, animators, musicians, and other digital artists can easily earn money simply by producing content. Established artists can choose to sell their existing work, while newcomers will often have to take art commissions.
2. Sell Content to Stock Content Websites
Another way to make money by making content is to let others do the selling and distribution. This approach lets you focus on making content, while a third-party handles monetization.
Stock content websites are a typical example of this monetization model. The content creator produces content according to specifications set by the website, and in exchange they get an upfront fee and/or a percentage of sales. This approach limits what you can make in terms of content, but you also don’t have to worry about trying to appeal to individual customers.
Selling content to content resellers is best suited for photographers, illustrators, and designers. Stock photos, illustrations, and designs are most often used by businesses as a starting point to create their own custom content. Stock content might be tedious to produce, but the fact that you can sell it more than once means it can be a good source of recurring revenue for content creators.
3. Sell Content to Online Learning Platforms
A more specialized way of making money with content is through online learning platforms. In contrast to stock content websites, online learning platforms give content creators the opportunity to make a name for themselves and develop their own brand, in addition to making money.
Online learning platform content often has to fulfill higher standards than other forms of content. But this also means you can charge more for it. Knowledge is in high demand, especially knowledge that can help people learn a skill, find a job, or solve a problem.
Producing content for online learning platforms is best suited for academics, scholars, and teachers. Instead of confining yourself to producing content for a limited audience within the confines of a school or university, you can make money by sharing your knowledge with a global audience.
4. Charge for Premium Content
As a content creator, you don’t have to limit yourself to a single monetization strategy. What you can do instead is divide your content into categories and apply a different monetization model to each. The most typical way to do this is to offer both free and premium content.
Premium content comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Early access content – users pay for access to content before its officially released,
- Bonus content – users pay for access to extra bits of content, including unused material, early versions, leftovers from editing, etc.,
- Sequel content – users pay for access to parts 2 (3, 4, etc.) in a content series.
Selling premium content is best suited for established content creators. In order to be able to charge a premium for content, you need to have an existing content portfolio, as well as an established audience.
5. Set up a Donation Box
Sometimes the best way to earn money as a content creator is by giving it away for free. If you offer well-researched, well-made content without asking anything in return, you will earn great sympathy from your followers. As a result, some of these followers will want to support your work financially. All you have to do then is give them a convenient way to donate money.
This donation model has been successfully leveraged by platforms such as Kickstarter, Patreon, Ko-Fi, and Glimpse. These platforms allow users to donate directly to content creators to support their work either through one-time donations or recurring payments.
Donations are best suited for casual content creators, podcasters, and streamers. The key to leveraging donations as a monetization model is to keep your content production costs low, while maintaining a high standard of quality and releasing content frequently.
Podcasts are good example of content you can monetize effectively through donations. They cost almost nothing to produce, they can be released on a regular schedule, and they offer great value to listeners, giving them a good incentive to donate.
6. Enter a Sponsorship Deal
In addition to earning money directly through content, content creators can also perform valuable services for businesses and other clients. The most common practice here is to create sponsored content.
Sponsored content is simply content that has to fulfill an additional goal – promote a brand, a product, or a service. Some sponsored content is devoted entirely to promotion, such as reviewing products created by the sponsor. Other sponsors will only request a shout-out or a short segment mentioning their product or service. If you plan on doing sponsored content, make sure to specify all the details in a formal sponsorship agreement with the sponsor.
Sponsored content is best suited for new content creators. It’s difficult to earn money as a content creator if you’re just getting started, and you don’t have a huge portfolio or a big enough audience. Doing sponsored content will help you work on your skills as a content creator, earn money to buy better equipment, and acquire critical early followers.
7. Work as an Influencer
Another way to leverage your position as a content creator is to act as an influencer for brands, businesses, and other content creators. Being an influencer is a more informal way of doing sponsored content. You get paid to sponsor people, but you are given more leeway with how you do the promotion. The goal is to raise brand awareness for the clients you’re working with, and not to generate sales directly.
Acting as an influencer for money is best suited for social media content creators. Influencing is often a numbers game. The more followers you have, the greater your reach is, and reach is something clients are more than willing to pay for. Content made by social media content creators also has a tendency to go viral, which further increases your value to sponsors.
8. Syndicate Your Content
Traditional forms of content such as films, TV series, cartoons, etc. still command a high price on the market. If you have experience with producing this kind of content, you can earn money by selling it to content syndication networks. This gives content networks exclusive rights to use and distribute your content.
Before you can apply for content syndication, you’ll have to build up a portfolio of work. Ideally, your content should follow a common thread or theme, with episodes of roughly equal length and structure.
Making money with syndicated content is best suited for animators and film makers. Syndicated content works best in a serialized format, which is something animators and film makers have experience with.
9. Work as a Consultant
The benefits of doing content research extend further than content creation. You can make money by using what you’ve learned during research to act as a consultant on the same topic. Admittedly, this is a niche that’s difficult to get into due to the expert knowledge required, but it is possible.
For instance, if you’re a video game speedrunner, you likely have expert knowledge on how certain games and game mechanics work. There are many cases where game developers have reached out to speedrunners to hear their opinions regarding a game they’re making to make it more speedrunner-friendly. Sometimes, speedrunners even get hired as level designers, developers, or QA testers.
Making money through consulting is best suited for experts on niche topics. If you have a skill few people have, and are able to produce content with it, you are eligible to be a consultant on the topic.
10. Monetize Through Ads
We saved the easiest method to make money as a content creator for last. Platforms such as YouTube, Twitch, Facebook Live, and others allow you to monetize your content through ads. Every time someone clicks an ad in one of your videos, you get a small commission. These commissions add up over time, earning you passive income while making content.
The difficulty with making money with ads is that you need to have a significant number of followers to make it work is as a revenue stream.
Making money through ads is best suited for streamers. If you regularly stream content that has wide appeal, you will eventually hit a point where you can earn a living through ads. But getting there will take some time.
If you are an up-and-coming streamer and want to earn money off of your streams, check out our post 10 Live Streams Monetization Methods.
Learning how to monetize your work is one of the main challenges of being a content creator. The same approach won’t work for everyone, but if you try some of the methods outlined above, you’ll eventually figure out what works for your unique set of skills.