We’re all regaled with tales of YouTubers and other content creators raking it in by the millions, and it makes us rethink our day jobs, which often have much lower earnings.
For as many of us out there who wish we could make content creator money, most don’t know what it takes to get on the road to monetization.
Are you in the same position, but you’re eager to learn? You’ve come to the right place! This guide to content monetization will explain what it is, what you can hope to earn, and what’s required to get there.
What Is Content Monetization?
Before we get into that, let’s explain what it means to monetize content.
Content monetizing is earning money from online content, including videos, blog posts, infographics, webinars, podcasts, or graphics.
Here are some more examples of what you can monetize:
- Online courses
- Ads & Sponsorships
- Fan subscriptions or tips
- Affiliate links
- Fan subscriptions or tips
- Community events
Today, an increasing number of people earn their entire living or a portion of it from digital content monetization. Access to smartphones, recording and editing apps, and social media makes it easy.
So, where does the money come from? A content creator doesn’t have a boss, per se, so who pays them? It depends on the type of content in question.
For example, let’s say you create a popular online course. In this scenario, your customers pay you directly for access to the course materials.
Another scenario where your customers pay you, albeit indirectly, is through affiliate links. Affiliate links work this way: you post a link to a product online, and when a customer buys it, you get an affiliate commission.
If it's not your customers paying you as a content creator, it will be a third party. For example, you might strike a brand deal, such as a sponsorship, where you will earn X amount depending on the extent and value of the deal.
Why Monetize Your Content?
Earning money from your content may seem like a gold-platter opportunity, but as we’ll discuss more later, not all is exactly as it appears.
That said, the lure of monetizing your content is undeniable, especially when these perks await.
Between being paid by third parties and your customers, monetizing content opens the door to more revenue streams than ever.
As a content creator, you know better than to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak. If you receive the lion’s share of your money from one source and that source dries up, disappears, or decides not to work together again, you can fall into financial trouble quickly.
Monetizing your content through several resources ensures that if one revenue source drops off for any reason, you shouldn’t have to suffer a financial hit for it. You’ll have diversified your income enough that you can continue chugging along until you create another means of replacing that lost income.
The money you make from your content could be enough to supplement a full-time income from a traditional nine-to-five job. You might quit your other side hustles to focus more on content creation, or perhaps you even become a full-time content creator.
Builds Your Brand
Content creators are brands the same way any company is. One of the fastest and most reliable ways to build a brand is creating a digital presence for yourself.
Before you begin putting your stamp on the internet, ensure you understand your brand inside and out. What is your brand all about? Are you a helpful but knowledgeable tech expert? The friendly, warm cooking pro? The marketing guru who breaks down complex topics?
Your brand encompasses your online tone, color scheme, logo, and values. Once you decide what will comprise your brand, you need to keep it consistent across the various types of content you post. Otherwise, you can create discord within your audience.
Provides More High-Value Content for Your Audience
Speaking of your audience, they luck out when you commit time and energy to content creation. They get more high-value content, be it online courses, videos, webinars, tutorials, or blog posts.
This content keeps them committed to your brand, which is especially necessary if you’re relying on their purchases to keep your content creation goals going.
Lets You Share Your Expertise and Passion
The last advantage of monetizing content isn’t about earning cash at all. Instead, it’s about how you get to do what you enjoy for a living or even a portion of your living.
Your energy and vigor for the topics you discuss will come through loud and clear, and like a magnet, you’ll pull people in and keep them eagerly hanging on to your every word.
How Much Can You Earn Monetizing Your Content?
As you consider whether to monetize your content, one of the biggest factors is how much you can earn from this job.
According to Exploding Topics, the market for influencers and content creators hit $21.1 billion in 2023. That’s likely because more than 200 million people consider themselves content creators.
The money is certainly there, but only 10 percent earn $100,000+ annually. ZipRecruiter reports that a more realistic earning range is between $29,500 and $129,000 a year, with most making $36,000 to $59,000.
Factors such as your audience, name recognition, level of fame, location, number of projects you’re involved in, and your skills influence your earnings.
How to Monetize Content: All You Need to Know
Eager to dive headfirst into monetizing online courses and more content? Here are the steps required to begin
Step 1 – Determine What You’ll Sell
Before you can monetize, you need to decide what kind of content you’ll promote.
Think about your skills, passions, talents, and interests as you get underway. The content you sell should come from the heart. Today’s online consumers are smarter and savvier than ever, and if you’re only in it to make money, your audience will see right through you.
When determining what to sell, you should also consider what your audience would like. If they’re not interested in your content, that will hamper your efforts to monetize.
You should also think long-term, if possible. If you’re hopping on a bandwagon trend or product, will it still be something people will be interested in using in a year or two? If not, reconsider monetizing that type of content, or at least do so on a smaller scale.
Step 2 – Build Your Audience
There is no magic number of followers you should have when you begin monetizing content, but the more, the merrier.
Exploding Topics states that, in 2023, 23 million content creators have under 1,000 followers. You’d be in common territory if you had that few followers, but you’d also compete with 23 million other people for an audience. That sounds unnecessarily stressful!
Increasing the size of your audience also boosts the number of people who can buy your online course or other content, so it’s always worth striving to do. Even if you hit the one-million follower mark, you can always have more followers, so keep at it!
Step 3 – Convert Audience to Subscribers
Convert the followers on different social media channels into email subscribers. Its always easier to sell them directly via email to known subscribers than to unknown followers on social channels.
With platforms like FreshLearn, launch your subscribe now page or free ebook or live masterclass and convert the followers into subscribers.
Step 4 – Introduce Your Product
Now that you’ve built your audience and determined what type of content you’ll sell, it’s time to unveil it.
Don't build your course and then start selling it. Launch the waitlist sales landing page and gauge the interest of your audience before building the actual course. This will save you hours of valuable time.
With FreshLearn's AI page builder, you can launch your waitlist sales landing page for the course in just a few minutes.
The debut of your product should be anything but run-of-the-mill. Try some teaser trailers or announcements to build up hype.
sending the announcements to your email subscribers and social media followers and getting the initial buyers' intent.
When your online course is finally available, it will have a lot more excitement and buzz around it than it would if you just put it online.
Step 5 – Promote Your Product
You will probably make some sales right off the bat, especially if you did a good job building excitement for your product or if you took early-bird orders. Continue the upward momentum by promoting your online course or info product.
Referral marketing is the best channel to grow your sales with initial buyers. Share their personalized affiliate link and the referrals will receive a commission on each sale.
Setting up referral marketing is straightforward in FreshLearn. You can track commissions and pay them out periodically as well.
Paid ad campaigns are one of your most popular and reliable options. From social media ads to banner ads and PPC, you can target who will see your ad based on geographics, demographics, and psychographics.
Marketing will also help you reach a larger audience, although the results often take longer to realize. Through a combination of marketing and advertising, you should build up a good user base who will happily buy your content.
Step 6 – Build Community and Launch Memberships
Online courses are a great way to help the audience move one step up in their journey, but most of the time, they need a bit of peer learning and hand-holding as well.
This is where building a community helps to keep everyone accountable and move up the journey as a group, helping each other along the way.
Within the communities, you can charge a recurring fee. With monthly or yearly memberships, there are continuous benefits reaped by your customers.
Creating a community and launching membership is effortless in FreshLearn.
Step 7 – Repeat and Earn More
Will you make mistakes the first time you monetize content? Of course! You’re only human, after all. As you sell more content and debut different types of products, you’ll learn what works versus what doesn’t.
This will help you finetune your approach for your next campaign so you can maximize your income.
Does Monetizing Content Have Downsides?
While monetizing might seem like the path to a big future, you have to consider that it has its disadvantages, just as any career path does. Here are some to weigh carefully before proceeding.
Only a Few Make the Big Bucks
Being lured in by thoughts of becoming a millionaire is how many content creators get their start. Once they begin grinding, and then grinding some more, they realize that monetizing their content is not easy.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have stellar content. You also need an audience and an online presence to make enough money for content creation to be worthwhile. Even then, statistically, only the upper echelon makes six figures.
That doesn’t mean you can’t scale back operations, working part-time or full-time selling courses, and producing other content on the side. This will keep money flowing you can use to advertise your courses and perhaps break past the earnings plateau you’ve been stuck in.
You Can Get Burnt Out
Burnout is very real in most jobs, as today we have busier schedules and work more hours than ever. As a content creator, you don’t have a standard nine-to-five, and you don’t have the typical boss, either.
There’s no one to tell you to clock out, take a break, or go get some sleep. If you spend day after day making content, you can easily burn out.
To further compound matters, you can also become creatively bankrupt. You’ll have a classic case of writer’s block as you try to come up with material for your next course or video.
You can’t work, work, work 24/7. You need to take time away to recharge your batteries. If you don’t, you’ll find your ideas becoming more uninspired and your audience dropping like flies, as your material no longer resonates with them.
It’s Not as Passive as It Seems
The traditional view of earning passive income is sitting on a beach with your laptop at your side, sipping pina coladas as you check your latest sales or your bank balance.
However, the only way to make passive income is to continue producing. Older revenue streams will dry up as your audience loses interest, so you need to always come up with something new to keep your audience engaged.
Best Practices for Monetizing Content
As you begin digital content monetizing, keep these strategies in play to drive more success.
Bundle Your Content
Do you bundle your content together? If not, you should strongly consider it! Bundling allows customers to get a better deal, so they might give some of your content a try that they otherwise deemed too expensive.
You can also make a decent amount of money by bundling several products at once, so it also benefits your bottom line.
Always Have a Plan
You shouldn’t pull content ideas out of your back pocket. If you’re always scrambling for ideas, you might not get enough time to properly research the idea and determine if your audience is interested.
You then end up producing lower-quality content that doesn’t resonate with your audience or inspire them to buy.
Create an editorial calendar at least 30 days in advance that maps out your content plans. This will keep you productive and ensure you’re more confident in the ideas you have and the content you publish.
Do Content Audits
Monetizing content isn’t as simple as publishing and making money. You need to learn what works so you can put a new spin on an old idea or update old content to make it more valuable.
A content audit will help you do that. You’ll see how your content as a whole performs, from your website to your online courses, videos, blog posts, infographics, and more. If you find weak areas, you can improve them.
This makes your courses stronger, delivers more value to your audience, allows you to sell your content for more money, and can improve SEO if you work on your website.
Some Topical Content Is Okay
Your content should be a mix of evergreen and topical unless you’re involved in a constantly changing field like politics. For example, you might produce a course on AI in your industry, which is a topical concept, but most of your other content is evergreen.
Sticking with evergreen content ensures you don’t have to update your content too frequently to keep it up to date, which takes more time and doesn’t increase your earnings.
Personalization is an important element of content monetizing. Getting to know your audience entails learning their preferences, income, marital status, occupation, interests, and needs. You can next segment your audience based on what you know about them, then issue recommendations that speak to their needs and challenges.
Make It Valuable
Your content has to be valuable above all else. Valuable content differs by audience, but it should always be related to your customers and enhance their lives in some way. Perhaps that’s by providing information, educating your readers/viewers, or even making them smile or laugh.
Content monetization starts with having valuable, unique content your audience wants. Decide your specialty, strengthen your skills if needed, and get to know who’s in your audience to gauge what kinds of content would best connect with them (such as an online course).
If you sell engaging, covetable content, you’ll naturally increase your audience size and your earnings!