Turning your content hobby into a successful, full time business is hard. Maybe you've done a brand deal here or there, and have a small community of followers. But how do you take it up a level? How do you go from part-timer to professional? Influencer coach Kahlea Nicole reveals all.
1. Break through your limiting beliefs
A limiting belief is something that's internally holding you back from reaching your highest potential as a creative.
If you've ever heard yourself say things like:
- "The influencer marketing industry is too saturated.”
- “I don't have enough followers for brands to be interested in working with me."
- “Becoming a content creator can only be a hobby, not a full time job."
Then you have some limiting beliefs to break through.
One way for you to shatter them is through an exchange with the truth.
- Example #1: "The influencer marketing industry is too saturated.”
You could be exactly who a brand is looking for, they just haven't found you yet
- Example #2: "I don't have enough followers for brands to be interested in working with me."
More and more brands are beginning to work with nano and micro influencers because of the community they've built and the conversions they drive
- Example #3: “Becoming a content creator can only be a hobby, not a full time job."
Brands are increasing their influencer marketing budget's year over year which means there's truly never been a better time than now to go full time.
If working with brands is something you're serious about, you have to first work on your mindset. Otherwise, you could be learning and applying all the right tips and strategies, but still find yourself hitting a wall because internally you don't believe your goals are possible to achieve.
You might be interested in: 5 golden rules for creators to be irresistible to brands
2. Determine your target community and content buckets
For starters, you want to identify your target community. Meredith Hill once said, "when you speak to everyone, you speak to no one” and I couldn’t agree more.
As you consider who your target community is, ask yourself two overarching questions:
- Who do you want to serve?
- What problems do you want to solve through your content?
You can even take this a step further by specifically identifying your ideal audience member through answering questions like:
- Where do they work? Do they enjoy it?
- What are some of their dreams and goals?
- What's their biggest struggle right now?
- Who are they inspired by and why?
- What kind of personality do they have?
Next, you want to determine your content buckets.
“Niche” is the word you’ll often hear in association with discussions about the type of content you create, but oftentimes picking a "niche" can feel like this box we have to fit ourselves into.
We may not feel total peace about choosing just one thing because in reality, we are all made up of more than just one thing or one interest.
A more valuable way to consider the question of "what is your niche?" is in terms of content buckets.
A content bucket is going to be full of main topics and subtopics that you cover through your content.
For example, your main topic may be fashion, but your subtopics may be affordable fashion, midsize finds, or dresses and pants for women over 6ft tall. Or maybe your main topic is health, but your subtopics are eating healthy when you're a working mom or meal prepping for entrepreneurs.
Thinking of your content this way will allow you more freedom to play around with different ideas and not feel like you have to fit inside a certain box in order to succeed in this industry.
3. Create a consistent content calendar
The key word here is consistent, not frequent.
Consistency for you and I could look very different. We're likely in different stages of life, with varying responsibilities, so it would be unfair to assume our consistency could look the exact same (and it's unfair for you to put that expectation on yourself too).
The most important thing to remember here is that consistency is more important than frequency. There's no "magical" posting number you need to hit to be successful.
It's better for you to post 3x a week on Instagram consistently than shoot for 6x a week but in reality, it looks like 1x a week here, 3x a week there, and maybe 6x a week everyone once in a blue moon.
It's vital to consider what consistency looks like for you because it's also one of the ways you can avoid getting burnt out with social media.
If you want some additional ways you can avoid burnout, consider these:
- Plan intentional periods of rest and margin into your weekly calendar. I suggest at least 1 full day off a week and incorporating margin into your day to day.
- Unfollow or mute anyone you follow on social media that makes you feel like you're “behind” in life or business which triggers you into feeling like you need to push yourself to move faster.
- Take periodic social media breaks when needed. If it’s beginning to feel like too much, give yourself grace to take a step back and regroup.
4. Establish standard operating procedures (SOP's) that work for you
Think of these as workflows or systems in your business for tasks that you do often. SOP’s are great for helping you maximize your time and stay as productive as possible!
For example, when it comes to content creation, here is my workflow:
- Step 1: Brainstorm content ideas
- Step 2: Batch film or shoot content
- Step 3: Batch edit the content
- Step 4: Batch write captions
- Step 5: Schedule to go live on social
It helps me have a system I always fall back on and truly allows me to create that consistent content schedule we were just chatting about above.
What are some daily, weekly, or monthly tasks you do in your business that you could turn into a workflow or system?
5. Identify your income goals + make a plan for hitting them
When you're looking at income goals, you want to consider what you need to make as well as what you want to make.
First you want to take your monthly expenses into account. How much do you spend on Bills? Food? Gas? Rent? Mortgage? This is going to be the amount you need to make month to month.
Next, think about what you want to be making. Do you want to travel more? Spend more time out with friends? Invest more into your business? Save more?
What additional amount do you need to make on a monthly basis in order to have that additional financial margin to do what you want to?
Now, you want to make a plan for how you're going to hit these income goals.
For example: If my expenses are $1,000/month and I want to have $500 a month to go towards extra things (like fun activities or savings), I need to be making at least $1,500/month.
I could go about making that in many different ways. I could land 3 brand partnerships for $1,000/each. I could do 2 brand partnerships for $1,500 each. I could even go for one $3,000 deal.
Overall, knowing what you need and want to make gives you more tangible goals to reach after as you turn your hobby into a business.
6. Manage your taxes as an independent creator
A huge mistake I see creatives make is getting so overwhelmed by the tax side of business that they put it off until tax season. Then they are incredibly stressed when that time comes because they have to drop a large cash payment for their taxes. Don’t let that be you!
Pro Tip: You should be making estimated quarterly tax payments to the IRS if you expect to owe over $1,000 in taxes (which is most creatives) when your return is filed.
This is not only the legal thing to do, but also the wise thing because then you don't have to make one giant payment at the end of the year. You pay as you go!
You could also open up a savings account where once a month you deposit money towards what you owe for taxes so that when a payment comes up it's not as alarming.
Keep in mind, you're able to take a lot of tax deductions as well since you're running a business. For example, if I have to buy props to shoot content for a brand, I can write that off. Or if I have to travel to a location for a brand collaboration, I can write off that mileage.
When it comes to finances and taxes as a creative, don’t let it be something that you put off until the last minute. By staying on top of things, you’ll actually begin to get ahead with your business.
Did you know Notch's insurance for Instagram accounts is a deductible cost? Learn more
7. File to become an LLC to separate your business and personal assets + expenses
If you don't file as an LLC, you're going to be classified as a sole proprietor.
A huge benefit of being a sole proprietor is it's more affordable than becoming an LLC. The big con though is that you're not able to separate your business and personal assets and expenses.
This is a con because if someone were to sue you, for example, they could come after all your assets, business and personal, because there is no separation for the two. Whereas, with an LLC you're protected personally because your business is considered a separate entity.
You may be wondering, “well how do I know if I’m ready to become an LLC?” Here’s how:
01. You've proven your business idea and you know that it works
02. It makes sense for you financially to pay the filing fee and annual report fee
03. You have something to lose if someone were to sue you
You want to check the box off on all 3 of these things before deciding to personally make the switch from sole proprietor to LLC.
8. Get insurance against hacks
These days it’s unfortunately becoming more and more common to get your IG account hacked or deactivated no matter what your follower count looks like. It’s one of those things you don’t think will happen to you (until it does).
Potentially losing access to a platform you worked so hard on building and having to start all over again is scary! Not to mention the loss of income you’d face from not having access to your account.
The good news is there is finally a game changing solution to alleviate this fear and make sure you're covered if anything were to happen!
It’s Notch: the world's first insurance for your Instagram account.
Getting insurance from Notch means that you can finally have peace of mind with your Instagram account because you know there’s a financial safety net waiting for you if your account gets hacked, as well as a team helping you get your account access back fast.
This is also great for the brand partners you work with because they know that your account is covered if anything were to go awry. In fact, 85% of influencer marketers would pay extra to work with influencers with social media insurance, according to a Notch survey.
I wanted to leave you with some final pieces of advice for dealing with brands for the first time and making sure you don't get screwed over:
01. Read your contracts in detail and don't be afraid to ask about something you don't understand. Don't make the mistake of being so excited to work with a brand that you skim the contract over and sign it immediately. Brands write contracts with their best interests in mind so you want to make sure you’re being fully protected as well.
02. Be wary of the impersonalized emails you get. If an email starts with addressing you by your social media handle, "hey babe!", or "hey beautiful!", that's a red flag. Brands should be addressing you by your first name and within the email there should be some sort of personalization specific to you.
03. Don't pay the brand to promote them. It's a huge red flag if a brand wants you to buy the product and then talk about it. Or pay for the shipping of a product to you. You should not be paying the brand for promotions they're looking for.
To wrap up, turning your content creation hobby into a serious business is completely achievable. It’s all about setting yourself up for success from the start, and by following these 8 steps you’re well on your way to making it happen!