For many, pursuing a career as a freelance content creator is “living the dream,” because you get to spend your time doing what you love. That’s why so many people from all walks of life are embracing freelance content creation.
But along with the awesome side come the challenges. There’s a lot of competition from other content creators — at last count, there are 2 million professional content creators and even more who define themselves as amateurs — plus never-ending pressure to keep up with new trends and continuously build out your community.
If you find yourself surprised that something you love should require so much of a grind, consider that more than two-thirds of those who earn a full-time living wage from content creation got their start over three years ago. It really takes that long to build a profitable content creation business.
It’s definitely a dilemma — you want to be able to focus on what you’re really passionate about, which is content creation, but you also have to earn revenue and pay the rent. That includes taking care of the business side of things, like collecting payments due from clients, keeping financial records in order, complying with tax, legal, or financial obligations, hitting every deadline, and generating new work opportunities.
The only way to do it all is to get more efficient at business management, so we’ve gathered eight tips to help you achieve just that.
1. Get Set Up as a Proper Business
If you want to make enough money to work as a full-time content creator, you’ll need to take yourself seriously. It’s time to set yourself up as an official business, with all that entails.
- Opening a business bank account and keeping your business income separate from your personal finances
- Registering as a business at your local Chamber of Commerce
- Establishing a dedicated work space, whether that’s a home office, a hot desk in a working hub, or rented office space
- Learning what costs you can write off as business expenses, and setting up a system where you record and claim every one
2. Streamline Accounting Processes
Money management is vital, but it might not be your thing, so if that’s the case, don’t spend any more time on it than is absolutely necessary. However, you also don’t want to risk missing something important like tax deadlines, or getting paid for gigs. By streamlining your financial record-keeping, it won’t suck up valuable content creation time, and you’ll minimize your chances of overlooking something important.
A tool like vcita helps you keep on top of all your bookkeeping and accounting obligations. With vcita, you can issue and manage invoices, track payments, and offer easy payment methods for brands and sponsors. The platform stores all your financial information in one place, so you can quickly pull together the relevant documents and find the details you need for any financial reporting, tax requirements, or requests for an audit.
You can also use vcita to streamline interactions with clients, by automating re-engagement offers and making it easy for them to book appointments with you on the self-service client portal.
3. Delegate and Automate
You might be beginning your creator business on a shoestring, but it’s worth it to set up efficient systems right from the start. Fully 61% of creators experienced burnout in 2021, and you don’t want to join them, so reduce the strain of repetitive, non-creative tasks.
This involves delegating everything apart from content creation, including tax preparation, video editing, and even basic social media activities such as “liking” comments. The revenue you drive from content you create in that saved time will make back the money you spend paying their salaries, and people who actually like accounting get it done much faster than you can.
Even better, automate as much as possible. Social media content schedulers automatically repost old content; accounting software automates payment for recurring bills; social media listening tools alert you to mentions; and your banking app can automatically move funds into savings pots or your pension. Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There are already many free online resources for freelance content creators, like invoice templates, social media calendars, email newsletter templates, and more.
4. Manage Your Time Effectively
The last thing you want is to miss deadlines because you got carried away with your new creative idea, and time management only gets more important as your content creation business grows.
Tried-and-tested time management tricks include batching tasks together, like shooting all your videos for the week or planning a month’s worth of social media posts. It’s best to schedule tasks according to your natural energy levels, like brainstorming in the morning when you’re most creative, and replying to emails in the afternoon when your energy is low.
Use project management platforms to block out time for tasks like content creation, responding to social media comments, searching for work possibilities, researching new trends, etc. Flowlu’s project management software is designed specifically for content creators. It includes accounting automation, deadline reminders, time tracking, and a client portal to help you collaborate with your sponsors. Plus, there’s a free plan so even newbie creators can take advantage of it.
5. Track Your Successes
It takes time to generate new work possibilities, but you want to keep that time to a minimum. When you record your achievements, you empower yourself to quickly respond to queries about collaboration possibilities, and swiftly put together emails reaching out to potential sponsors.
Put together a portfolio of your best-performing content and update it regularly, so you can share it instantly. There are many free cloud-based portfolios, so you can save content in a few clicks, and just share a professional-looking link to new work prospects.
Track and record data about KPIs like the reach, engagement, and conversion rates of all your collaborations, brand campaigns, and most successful personal content, so you can use it to secure more work opportunities. There are plenty of ways to do this, from a simple spreadsheet to advanced data analytics for people who enjoy the techie approach.
6. Seek Out New Work Opportunities
When you’re building a freelance content creator business, you have no choice but to hustle. It takes time before brands start knocking on your door; until then, you need to identify useful work connections and actively build a relationship with them. This might involve following them so they’ll follow you back, DM-ing them to initiate a conversation, connecting on LinkedIn, etc.
Use a spreadsheet or a free CRM to keep track of the people you reach out to. Make a note of how they respond and when to follow up. For example, a brand that’s a great fit might tell you they only work with creators with a certain minimum following size, so you’ll want to get back in touch when you reach that milestone.
It’s also a good idea to make use of specialized content creator monetization platforms like ShoutCart, which help you find brands that match your voice. Whatever size your following is, you can register with the platform and market yourself to appropriate brands and sponsors.
7. Set up Smooth Communication Channels
It’s vital to be able to communicate smoothly with your clients, brands, and sponsors, but it’s easy to lose track of conversations and get confused about agreements if your interactions are spread across several different channels.
To prevent that from happening, you need to settle on a communications system that works for you. It could be a dedicated work communication platform like Slack or your project management platform’s client portal, but a medium that you use all the time like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or good old-fashioned email works too.
What matters is that you check it regularly and are rigorous about keeping all your communications in one place.
8. Standardize Your Rates
Last but not least, give some thought to pricing. It’s the issue that all freelancers love to hate, but it’s so important for content creators who want to make a living as freelancers.
You’ll give yourself more hassle and waste more time if you work out rates for each project as it appears, so set up a standardized pricing schedule for different types of work, campaign lengths, and content types.
For example, you might set a flat rate for every Instagram post, or charge TikTok videos in 30-second increments. Make a note to review your pricing every 12 months, at least, and whenever you hit a new milestone in your follower count.
Managing a freelance content creation business doesn’t have to be a headache
Nobody works as a content creator because they love running a business. But with the right tactics such as time management capabilities, efficient business processes, wise choice of tools and supportive contractors, and excellent communication, you can cut the time you spend on business management. This allows you to focus on your real passion of content creation, and still grow your business and your income.