What is a Content Creator? Description, Responsibilities, and Tips
You've probably seen the phrase "content creator" thrown around a lot. Maybe you've seen it about the people on YouTube making a long-running series of videos, or perhaps you've heard it among bloggers who create new blog posts on a daily or weekly basis. Maybe you've seen it used to describe OnlyFans models in a derogatory or dismissive way.
The truth is, the world of the content creator is wildly varied. Whenever you create something that is considered a new piece of content, you're a content creator. However, there's a difference between a casual content creator and a professional content creator. It's those professionals that I'm talking about today.
Let's dig into what a content creator is and the roles that they fill.
What is a Content Creator?
A content creator is a person who creates content.
If that seems a little reductive, that's because it's not necessarily a formalized position. The job description, responsibilities, and required skills of a content creator will differ dramatically from one company to another. The people I hire as content creators have different skills from the people you hire, and those have other skills from the content creators on YouTube.
In that sense, a content creator is an overly broad role description that can apply to many different positions. You'll end up with varied specialties within the vast field of content creation. Here are just a few examples of popular content creator positions:
- Web Content Creator and Copywriter
- Video Content Creator
- Photography and Graphic Designer
- Social Media Content Creator
These are three very different roles, but they all produce content for the internet.
What's the Job Description of a Content Creator?
There's no single formalized job description for a content creator. So, rather than attempt to develop a one-size-fits-most list, I've sourced several examples from industry aggregators:
You'll notice that almost all of these job descriptions are more of a list of responsibilities than a formalized role description.
That's because, again, the list of duties is long and varied, and the definition of a content creator changes from organization to organization. They may be a writer, a photographer, a designer, a videographer, a composer, or more.
What Are the Content Creator's Responsibilities?
There's a hierarchy in the overall process of creating media, whether it's for a blog, a YouTube channel, a TV station, or something else.
Generally, at the top is the overall content strategist. This person researches topic ideas, keyword research, SEO, comparative research and competitive research, and everything else necessary to build an awareness of how their brand fits in with the rest of the industry.
The content strategist may be a blog manager, or they could be a managing editor, or they could be a director. The definition relies on their duties. They don't produce content; they create ideas that the content creator turns into the content.
Then, the content creator is responsible for converting topic briefs, pitches, and ideas into coherent and finalized content. This content might be blog posts, it might be videos, it might be podcasts, it might be infographics, and more. Thus, the duties of the content creator are varied. They include:
1. Copywriting. The content creator might produce written copy for any of a thousand channels. Copywriting examples can include but are not limited to brochures, advertising copy, website copy, blog posts, social media posts, eBooks, skyscraper content, FAQs, product descriptions, and more.
2. Research. The content creator is not necessarily an expert in their subject or any given subject. They are, however, an expert in researching a subject to write accurately on it. This process involves identifying reliable sources, digging deep into a topic, and aggregating information from various sources to develop a complete picture of an issue.
3. Distribution and Promotion. Some, though not all, content creators will handle the distribution and promotion of the content they create. Small brands often lump these duties together, while larger companies might have a dedicated distribution manager for their content. This person handles posting to social media, advertising, and outreach.
4. Pitching. In some organizations, the content creator is not managed by a blog manager or overall strategist; instead, they are tasked with coming up with their ideas themselves. In this case, the content creator pitches the topics they would like to cover, submitting a pitch to their editor or manager for approval before producing content.
5. Graphic Design. "Content" on the web applies to more than just the written word. As such, a content creator may be responsible for photography, photo manipulation, or graphic design. In many larger teams, the role of a graphic designer is handled by someone other than the primary content creator.
6. Video Recording and Editing. Again, the content creator does not necessarily limit themselves to the written word. They may be tasked with writing scripts for video and recording video, editing video, and producing finished video products. Like with graphic design, the content creator might not handle all of this themselves. The process may also involve a stand-alone videographer or a team of video producers and actors.
7. Audio Recording and Editing. Much like video creators, audio is a form of content that a content creator may produce. Writing a script, recording audio, editing audio, and creating a finished audio file – be it a radio commercial, podcast, or something else – can all fall under the purview of the content creator.
8. CMS and Publishing. Often, a content creator will be tasked with handling the content management system for their parent company. For example, a company might require the content creator to interact with WordPress to publish their content correctly, which requires familiarity with the platform.
We create blog content that converts - not just for ourselves, but for our clients, too.
We pick blog topics like hedge funds pick stocks. Then, we create articles that are 10x better to earn the top spot.
Content marketing has two ingredients - content and marketing. We've earned our black belts in both.
9. Editing and Proofreading. The content creator is responsible for polishing their content, but they may also be responsible for editing, proofing, and generally polishing the copy that other creators produce.
10. Fact-Checking. While some organizations use professional fact-checkers, and others don't do fact-checking at all, a good content creator still pays attention to the validity of the information they're producing to ensure that the facts are represented clearly.
11. Interviewing. While creating content, some content creators will need to formulate and host interviews in various formats. They may be Q&A sessions performed through email, discussions via voice or video call, or even in-person interviews, recorded and produced into new content. This content usually has to be edited and organized in a way that makes sense, but the original interview content is generally not altered much from its original form.
12. Transcription. Suppose the content creator is not responsible for interviews themselves. In that case, they may be responsible for transcribing the content of videos or audio files to use for other purposes, ranging from video subtitles to the basis of a blog post.
13. Analytics. Content creators must understand how well their content performs, how to change it to perform better, and how to develop reports on that performance to the people who make decisions above them.
All of these are responsibilities for a content creator, but there could be half a dozen or more individual roles in these responsibilities. A mid-sized company with a content creation team might have distinct individuals or groups to handle strategy, copywriting, video production, audio production, editing, and publishing, fact-checking, and analytics. It all depends on the scope of what you're doing, what you want to do, and how much you can afford to hire a team.
What Are the Requirements to Be a Content Creator?
With all of the above duties, it stands to reason that a content creator has strict requirements. However, this is not always the case. As essential as content is to the marketing, messaging, and a brand's overall presence, it's also surprisingly downplayed. Many companies underpay, hire entry-level creators for high-level roles, or otherwise underestimate the importance of the position.
While the specifics vary, here are some requirements you might expect to see for a content creator role.
- Experience. A content creator typically needs experience in creating content. Entry-level experience might include academic training, a personal blog, or time spent freelancing. Higher-level positions might ask for experience in professional content creation.
- A portfolio. Most content creator positions will ask for a portfolio of samples of the content creator's work to know what they're getting. Experience does not necessarily make a content creator good, and an inexperienced content creator might be very talented.
- SEO knowledge. Since a large part of content creation is marketing, familiarity with at least the primary and intermediate requirements of SEO is essential. SEO experience can also be specialized since video and podcast SEO are different from standard web content SEO.
- Education. Though not always required, education is often a requirement for a content creator position. Associates or Bachelors degrees are standard requirements, often in a creative/arts/English field such as journalism, creative writing, or digital communications.
- Communication skills. A content creator is an indispensable team member, and as such, they are constantly working within their organization, tying different teams and elements together. They need to be able to communicate with everyone on their team and groups outside of their team to ensure content is produced accurately and on time.
Other requirements can vary from company to company. Familiarity with WordPress is a common requirement but not necessary for companies that host their content on other platforms. The same goes for publishing on platforms like YouTube. If your company doesn't make video content, this isn't a requirement, but you'll need to know how the YouTube publisher dashboard and video SEO work if you're a video content creator.
What Are the Benefits of Hiring a Content Creator?
If you've read the responsibilities of a content creator, you already know what the value of having one on your team can be.
Of course, the strategist, editor in chief, or other top-level employees will have an overview of all of this messaging. However, a lot of subtle details are guided and controlled by the content creator. A content creator can't go wildly off the rails and distort the brand. They need to be advised to stay within the bounds of what the company wants its image to portray.
Additionally, a content creator handles a vast array of work that would otherwise be contracted out from a purely practical standpoint. By hiring a content creator or two, you reduce your reliance on freelance writers, video producers, and other third-party content agencies.
Should I Invest in a Content Creator?
The reality is, a content creator is an invaluable member of any team.
Unless you want to dedicate yourself to producing content, hire a content production agency, or hire freelancers and manage them yourself, you'll want a content creator to do it for you.
However, it's uncommon that a content creator alone is capable of running a successful content strategy. They are usually part of a small team that includes a marketing expert, a graphic designer, and a webmaster. Occasionally, a single team member can assume multiple roles.
For example, it's not uncommon for a web admin to also be a marketing expert or for a writer to also have graphic design knowledge. Rarely, a single individual will have expert-level skills in every required category to create high-performing content, but it is possible.
What Does a Content Creator Earn?
Payment is a big concern for many content creators. Compensation can vary wildly. Low-level, entry-level, and freelance content creators may be struggling to get by working minimum wage, earning below $20k per year. According to Glassdoor, mid-level content creators, including those employed full-time with a company, tend to make $48k on average. Upper-level content creators can make as much as $80-$90k per year as well.
Freelance content creators have even been known to make significantly more but might also earn considerably less. A lot depends on factors such as:
- What kind of content the creator is producing. Simple blog posts and web copy is cheaper than advanced marketing copy, which is more affordable than videos and audio. Graphics are generally not created by the same person who is writing an article.
- How often the content creator produces content. Often, especially with freelancers, content creators are paid on a per-project basis.
- Their hire type. Freelancers might earn more than employees, but employees get benefits. Contracted companies handle compensation for their roster themselves. Some employees work remotely, and remote jobs are in high demand. Candidates who must work locally in your office or relocate will likely be more challenging to find.
- Their experience level. Somebody who has a long history as a content lead at a large company like Zappos, for example, will likely require more compensation for their skills and experience than other candidates.
- Useful skills. In the section above, I discussed the rarity and value of a content creator with many different talents and areas of expertise. These individuals are in high demand and are difficult to find, and as such, they are commonly poached by other companies. They are likely seeking high-salary positions as a content lead or manager position.
These variables play a role, depending on what is being asked of them and their required skills.
Do You Have a Question?
This blog post is designed to be a robust, evergreen guide about the content creator field, so I need your help keeping it going. Just tell me what you need!
If you have any questions about content creators that I haven't covered here, feel free to leave them in the comments below. I'll add the best questions to this post and answer them in detail, along with the other listed items.