Independent digital content creators are influencers, entertainers, artists, educators, writers, thought leaders, and more who make their living by using their skills or knowledge to create online digital content. In the influencer age, this is an enticing career path that many people are trying their hand at.
But being a digital content creator doesn’t come without its challenges. Below, we explore the top three challenges independent creators report facing along with tips to overcome them.
1. Lack of Predictable Income
Lack of predictable income is the top challenge for independent creators—48% report struggling with predictable income. This is a challenge that is common among all independent workers. When you are your own boss, you become responsible for finding work in addition to completing that work and running your own business. That can be a lot! Here are a few ways to create more predictable income streams as an independent.
Use a marketplace
An online marketplace can be a great tool to find work. with a marketplace, you can create a profile that highlights your skills and experience and then search for job opportunities. Companies can also search your profile and reach out if they have a project they think you’d be a good fit for.
Expand your network
Networking is not always the most glamorous part of running your own business, but it’s nevertheless important. Building relationships is often a great way to find work and can help keep you feeling motivated. Even if you don’t get a lead right away from a networking connection, getting your name out there now often pays off down the line when a client needs someone with your skillset and has your contact information.
Partner with other creators
Being an independent creator requires a wide variety of skills and partnering with another creator is a great way to expand those skills and find more work. Almost half of independent creators say they’ve teamed up with other creators on projects and 68% plan to do so over the next year. Teaming up can open the door to higher-value clients, allow you to work on multiple projects at once, and potentially boost your pay rate.
2. Creating a Pipeline/Marketing
Creating a pipeline and marketing their business is a challenge for 37% of content creators. Content creation can often feel very fluid and in-the-moment, but at its core it is just like any other business. Planning and marketing are key to success. Here are a few ideas to consider.
Tap into referrals
If you’ve already made a few key client connections, put those relationships to use by asking for a referral. Remind your client about the work you did together and ask them if they might know someone else who is looking for similar work. Referrals can be a great networking tool to get your name out there among industry leaders.
Create a professional website
If your particular brand of content creation aligns with it, creating a professional website can be a helpful way to generate a pipeline of work. If people see your content and are curious to learn more about you and what you do, give them a place they can go to get the information they need. A website can be relatively simple. Let people know what you do, how they can get in touch, and provide some examples of your work.
Re-evaluate your social presence
Social media is a core part of most independent creators’ businesses. The vast majority—97%—say social media is very important or somewhat important for building their online reputation and brand. If you’re struggling with marketing your business or finding work, take a close look at your social media presence. Is your brand consistent across channels? Where are you receiving the most interaction and feedback? Direct your efforts to that channel and audience.
3. Lack of Benefits
Lack of benefits is the third challenge reported by 28% of content creators. Manny independent workers also report struggling with lack of benefits. Unfortunately, when you run your own business, you become responsible for providing your own benefits. Fortunately, what many people don’t realize, is that there are a lot of great benefit options available to independents. Here are a few to investigate.
Explore health insurance options
When it comes to health insurance as an independent, there are many different avenues available. If you are leaving your full-time job, COBRA coverage. Is a good temporary option for the first 18 months. If your partner has insurance through their employer, getting added to their plan is another route to explore. You can also look at individual plans through state-operated exchanges, a small business plan if your business has even one part-time employee, or a group or association plan. Be sure to check out MBO’s partnership with NFP for additional health insurance options.
Invest in retirement
There are similarly many retirement savings options available to you as an independent. With an SEP IRA you can contribute both as an employer and an employee. A Solo 401(k) is another option. It has no minimum annual contribution and straightforward eligibility requirements. A SIMPLE IRA allows you to contribute a certain amount from your earnings each year, and a defined benefit plan is a good option if you are nearing retirement as an independent but want to save as much as you can now.