How to Become a Successful Content Creator While Still Working Your Day Job

Jeffrey Keefer

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Let’s face it — you are reading this article for one of two reasons.

Perhaps you want to do something beyond your regular 9–5 job, perhaps to generate a little more income, dip your toe in that entrepreneurial area, or because you keep thinking to yourself, “Hey, I can do that!”

Alternatively, you are reading this because you already are a content creator on Medium or Instagram of advice, book reviews, thought pieces, images, or something similar and are looking for some new ideas to do this even more effectively.

Sound familiar?

The Magic Bullet of Content Creation

You may be wondering what magic bullet is needed to come up with some original to say several times a week or even more frequently? Well, here is the secret . . . there are very few completely original ideas. What are there more of? Ideas that are adapted and reframed from new and interesting perspectives. 

Did Steve Jobs create the computer? No, he took what others were already doing and brought a new perspective to it. 

Did Amazon invent the bookstore or eCommerce? No, Jeff Bezos took what others were doing and did something different with it. 

How about Kylie Jenner, did she invent cosmetics? Certainly not, though she has leveraged them in a way unlike any of her competition. 

In these cases, along with many others, people took what already existed, filtered it through their own experiences, and came up with something new. Not original in the way that nobody has ever seen it before, but original in that they made things their own.

OK, to be fair, some of these people made products and services in some way, but is that really so different from content creation itself? After all, what is content creation?

Content creation is the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.

What does this mean for my content creation?

I have struggled with coming up with new ideas like everybody else has, though I have found the key is not to think about things as new ideas on their own, but rather on my own twist on something that is already out there. 

Who else can bring things to life than those who live them? That is the essence of content creation — take what is there already and share it through our own, unique perspective. 

Do what you love and do it with gusto!

Yes, you will need to do this regularly, taking enough ideas that you find and developing them in your own voice while allowing your curiosity to bring you further each day. Yes, it is a state of mind, one that in itself is the essence of content creation!

How To Implement This State of Mind

There are many examples out there of people who do this well, and while they all have their own tips and tricks, here are the ones I have developed that I find most helpful. 

  1. Start with something you know. I mean, how can we generate new content in some form if we don’t know anything about it? I know and work with professional education, learning from experience, and working within the discipline of applied research —this is where all of my work begins.
  2. Approach this from a new perspective, especially one that challenges assumptions. Why do what everybody else does . . . isn’t it more interesting to turn some small element on its head, or at least a little off-center? What are the assumptions about this film, something in the political landscape, or the common way of doing X, Y, or Z? Go on, take a stand on something and explore it regardless of what others think about it. Remember how good Elaine felt when she finally spoke her mind about The English Patient? What is itching to come out of your thoughts and perspectives?
  3. Don’t be self-conscious about doing it right — just get it out! By the simple fact you are doing something at all demonstrates you are doing it right; right or wrong when creating your own content is only a state of mind, and without some content to work with, the ideas are safely stored in your mind where nobody can react to them. Content creation is all about doing, and the best way to start is . . . just start.

These simple three steps — start with what you know, challenge assumptions to do something new with it, and just get it out—are not rocket science, but then why should they be?

You can position yourself as a content creator even while you are working at your other job, as what better place is there to have lived experiences that can form the basis of the content you will generate?

Who knows, you may become the new voice in your niche that others will look up to and wonder about your secret to success!

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Educator. Writer. Open Knowledge Advocate. Institutional Researcher. I help people navigate their learning needs and take informed action.

New York City, NY
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