The previous week's Part 1 of this series covered the start of the Content Creation industry, what exactly "content creation" is, and why it's a topic I'm so interested in.
Like so many jobs, particularly ones that are newer or more obscure, it can be hard to envision just what exactly the day to day job of a content creator looks like. Not only that, but how does one even get their start? And how do they find clients? What kind of challenges are a part of the job?
While I obviously will share my own experiences as well, I wanted to talk with a range of content creators- ones with different styles and experience, and each with a unique perspective. In this post, I'm chatting with:
If you're not familiar with them already, take a moment to click on their links! They are each so extremely talented and have such a fresh style.
HOW DO YOU DESCRIBE WHAT YOU DO?
GIULIA: In short, I work with fashion brands to create image and video content for their particular usage. The purpose of the content I create often varies but typically includes: social media campaigns, editorials, e-commerce marketing images, look books, etc. In addition, I collaborate with brands as an “influencer” to help build brand awareness through my web and social traffic.
LIZZIE: I collaborate with lots of fun brands to create unique photos for them to share on Instagram. I’ve gotten to work with awesome companies like Benefit, Method, Dunkin Donuts, Pocky, and lots more, and it’s hard to think that would even be possible in most other careers!
ALISHA: I work with other agencies and brands directly to supplement & support the work that their internal social media teams are doing. Maybe they need a creative boost around a specific campaign that they're launching, or maybe they're looking for images and captions for an entire month at a time!
NATASHA: I work with brands and businesses to create styled photos that bring their story + products to life! Usually, they are images for social media, but often they are for websites too. I think the difference between a "photographer" (which most of us content creators are/do) and a "content creator" is that as a content creator, you're driving a lot of the creative direction and styling. I know for myself, the desire to create amazing images is what led to learning how to use a camera, so to me just saying "photographer" doesn't quite explain it all!
WHAT IS A TYPICAL DAY AND WEEK LIKE FOR YOU?
LIZZIE: It’s hard to say because every day is so different! But most days go a little something like this: wake up, check Instagram (Duh! First thing’s first! ;)), answer some emails, go prop shopping, set up the shot, decide I don’t like the original idea, go back out to the store for more prop shopping for the new idea, take more photos, spend a good while editing till my eyes hurt, pack up pin orders, round them all up and frantically head to the post office before it closes, come home, look at everything I missed on Instagram throughout the day, brainstorm some more photo ideas, realize it’s almost 9 PM, grab dinner and keep working.
Haha, that's fairly condensed but you get the idea! Content creation is a job that never really stops. But I wouldn’t have it any other way! I absolutely love how busy my days are because there’s never a dull moment. And I get to spend all day being creative and doing what I love so how could I complain! That being said, there is definitely a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on that people may not realize. A good chunk of my day is spent doing administrative tasks like responding to emails, keeping up with current clients, creating invoices — stuff that you can’t tell just from an Instagram pic.
GIULIA: Mon-Fri I’m in work mode. Phone calls, emails, always emails! I actually start everyday with returning emails because being back logged with communication is the worst. Website updates, order fulfillments, social media and of course, creating, creating, and more creating for whatever projects I’m involved in. I keep my schedule as full as possible during the week so there’s always something going on. Ideally, I like to completely disappear for the weekends... ideally.
ALISHA: I usually start and end each day with emails, so that I can have a solid block of time to work in between, but beyond that, everyday is different. I'll spend 2-4 days each week shooting, and then the other days are spent in the office. On shoot days I'm sourcing props, styling, and photographing any work that needs complete. On office days, I'm editing photos, putting estimates together, writing captions, scheduling posts and sometimes preparing strategy documents for my consulting clients.
NATASHA: Because this job and it's demands can vary so much, I try my hardest to create a schedule and stick to it- it really helps my productivity! Mornings are usually spent on email and computer editing, mid-mornings and afternoons on shoots and/or prop procuring, and then late afternoons/evenings on more email and photo editing. The weekdays are usually pretty packed because I aim to keep the weekends as work-free as possible. While that's not always possible, having some kind of balance helps with my sanity!
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START IN THIS FIELD?
LIZZIE: I studied graphic design in college because it seemed like the natural “practical” path to take after doing a lot of studio art in high school. I really enjoyed it and it felt like a good fit, but I think the whole time I knew I didn’t want to end up with a typical desk job.
In my final semester I started creating some food pun photos just for fun. It felt good to make something for me rather than for a grade, especially since the last semester of my program was so hectic and stressful; you get so wrapped up in how the professors are going to grade your project that it’s easy lose a sense of your own style. I never really saw any potential in the pictures as far as careers go, it was just a silly creative outlet for me to relieve some stress. I posted maybe one a week to my Instagram, which at that point was mainly pictures of my cats haha, zero curation or anything like that yet.
After graduation I kind of dragged my feet when it came to job hunting. Everyone I knew was freaking out and stalking job sites like crazy, but I chose to spend that time making more food puns. I had way more free time postgrad and I took full advantage of that, working on my photography and editing skills, trying new compositions and making crazier and crazier setups. I started to see my following ramp up a bit, and at the same time companies started to reach out to me asking to collaborate. One of the first brands I worked with right out of college was Method home (who, sidenote is an absolute joy to partner with!) and it made me realize that this could actually be a career. I had some worries and concerns about working for myself (How could I be my own boss?! How do I do taxes?!), but the more I looked around I started noticing more and more people on Instagram doing partnerships like that (you were one of the first true “content creators” I saw that was totally killin’ it!) and having so much FUN with it I decided I wanted to be a part of that field! There really is such a great community of content creators on Instagram; so many positive and inspiring people. I love watching my “insta” friends land big partnerships with dream companies and create such awesome work.
GIULIA: I have a background in what I do, but how I actually make a living doing it can probably only be credited to Instagram. My account started for fun but the network allowed the doors to open. Early on, a repost from a very influential account made all the difference for me and honestly the rest is history. I’ve had collaborations lined up ever since.
ALISHA: I have a degree in marketing from Virginia Tech, which allowed me to work in the advertising industry after college. I bounced around to a few different agencies in Pittsburgh, working as a writer, then as a social media strategist, and then as a creative strategist in the industry. I liked the IDEA of working at an adverting agency, but no matter where I landed, I was still unhappy. I was always looking to be more creative, to take on a greater role than the one that I was given. So I turned to instagram and started using it as a creative outlet. I was styling and photographing art prints, sprinkles, really just anything and everything that made me happy. I was also doing freelance writing and social media strategy work outside of my agency jobs. As time went on, I started to learn more about photography, my styling improved, and people really started to like what I was creating. And then, brands started reaching out wanting me to style and photograph their products, which was flattering to me! And that's kind of when it hit me that I could combine this service, with my other freelance specialites to create my very own boutique agency! I kept it quiet as I built my client base and was working in my full-time job. And in January of this year I was able to quit my agency job to work for LISH creative full-time!
NATASHA: I had worked a corporate job in the fashion/retail industry before leaving when I had my daughter. I think there had always been an itch in me to pursue a more creative path, but I wasn't really sure where my creative interests could take me. When Instagram first started to grow, I started sharing photos of my art and stationery (which I sold at the time) and got really into styling it and figuring out ways to create more interesting photos. Eventually, the styling + photography grew into a side job and I started to have companies reaching out to work with me. It clicked for me that this was something I loved to do and was most likely a service that would continue to be in demand... so I dove in headfirst and haven't looked back.
DO YOU WORK SOLO OR WITH A TEAM/PARTNER?
ALISHA: For my large retainer clients I work with a virtual assistant who acts as a community manager to help with scheduling and posting content. I have a summer intern who has been assisting on shoots, and my family and friends also help out when I need a hand model, or someone to snap a picture of me jumping in front of a crazy mural.
LIZZIE: I don’t currently but I’m definitely considering it! It would be nice to have a second pair of hands, especially during shoots. Sometimes I have these ideas for crazy setups that just aren’t realistic for one person. A couple times I’ve had to call my boyfriend in from the other room to ask him to for help straightening something in the shot since my hands are covered in paint/sprinkles/ice cream/who knows what! Haha. I think it’s probably more fun to have someone to bounce ideas off of and collaborate with, too!
GIULIA: It’s just me for now! But I desperately need an assistant, lol. I also have an awesome group of girls that contribute to my site and I’m definitely looking forward to growing that crew even larger!
NATASHA: The bulk of the work (shooting, editing, idea development) is just me, but I have two interns, who are amazing! They help with social media management, online research, and as an available set of hands on certain shoots that are just too crazy to do single-handed. One of my biggest challenges at the stage I'm at, is figuring out what to outsource and what is still essential for me to handle myself. I think most creative entrepreneurs can relate to feeling a bit "control-freak"-ish at times... you want to make sure every detail is just right! But ultimately, for long-term growth, you've got to learn to let others help.
Ok, so are you loving all of this so far?! I'm so intrigued by everything this group has to share! Next week, in Part Three, we'll continue with sharing favorite AND most challenging parts of the job, what most people don't understand about content creation, and where, exactly people find their clients.
If there is something you're dying to ask, leave it in the comments or email me!