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How I Made $250,000 in One Year as a Content Creator — and Why I’ll Never Rely on It as My Main Income

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Since 2016, I’ve built a career by strategizing and producing content for creators, brands and influential figures alike. Back then, breaking into this industry carried a weighty price tag, both financially and creatively. In those early days, aspiring to become an influencer felt like striving for a rarefied form of celebrity.

The learning curve was steep, and success demanded a meticulous curation of content. It was an era characterized by exclusivity.

Then came TikTok. Suddenly, the barriers crumbled, and the entry point became accessible to all. With just a smartphone and an idea, anyone could step into the spotlight and share their creativity with the world. From overnight ‘It Girls’ to ordinary individuals transitioning from 9-5 jobs to full-time creators, TikTok has revolutionized how people achieve financial independence.

Personally, I found myself swept up in this wave of democratization, seizing the opportunity to share my knowledge and insights on marketing and entrepreneurship through my own content as “latinapreneur” and leveraging the platform to promote my services as a marketing strategist.

Not only was I able to quickly scale my service-based business, but I also started working with some of my favorite brands. In 2023, I made over $250,000 in branded content, solidifying my position as a successful content creator with the ability to go full-time if I wanted.

However, this spontaneous rise to fame and fortune is not a universal experience for every content creator. In fact, even for seasoned creators, there’s usually a drought season, with brand deals falling through and algorithm changes limiting content reach. I know the struggle all too well.

Related: I Made $389,822 In One Year On YouTube. Here’s How I Did It

One moment, you’re riding the virality wave, and the next, you’re refreshing your email, hoping that a brand rep is not actually ghosting you. The truth is, in this realm, nothing is guaranteed. Deals can fall through, campaigns can be canceled, and budgets can dry up in an instant.

So, to creatorpreneurs who are tired of being at the mercy of quarterly marketing budgets and enduring 90-days+ payment terms, here’s a roadmap for transitioning from working with brands to becoming the brand.

1. Redefine your identity

The way you speak about yourself will dictate the opportunities you get. Think beyond your current role and envision where you want to be. Start branding yourself accordingly, making your platform an added advantage rather than the sole focus.

Related: How to Create Consistent Branding That Sticks

2. Mobilize your audience

While you might be tired of hearing about it, building an email list is crucial for owning your audience. If emails aren’t your thing, consider communities like WhatsApp or Discord. Don’t wait for another potential platform ban to take action.

3. Identify winning concepts

What content of yours has generated social buzz? What are your followers constantly asking for? These are your winning concepts. Explore how you can further develop and monetize them.

Related: 4 Ways to Leverage TikTok for Startup Growth

4. Start small, scale up

You don’t have to jump straight into high-ticket offers. Begin with something simple, like lead magnets or low-ticket mini-courses. The goal is to create a product with minimal investment required. I recently launched a vision board mini-course, which generated over $8,000 in the first month. It took just four hours from ideation to publishing, including batching content for promotion.

5. Expand your horizons

While creators often focus on diversifying content types and pivoting to long-form, I believe the conversation about diversification should be broader. For instance, I recently took on a role at an entertainment company as an executive and creative mind. This move has opened up opportunities for professional growth in a whole new arena.

The creator economy may be booming, but questions linger about its long-term sustainability and fair compensation for influencers and content creators.

Most content seems to be positioning brand partnerships as this abundant and definitive marker of success in the creator economy. However, while brand partnerships can be lucrative and valuable, they are just one piece of the larger puzzle.

It’s time to broaden the conversation and recognize the multitude of pathways to success for content creators, emphasizing the importance of creativity, innovation, and entrepreneurship beyond traditional brand collaborations.