Updated: Feb 7
How do you start your content creator journey and what are the most important steps to get you in the right direction?
Here you'll find 4 steps to get you started on your content creator journey and the reasons why these steps matters so much to become successful.
Content creation is a different world than working a corporate job and there are so many aspects of the process of creating great and valuable content as well as creating a community and not just an audience.
Let's get you started!
Establish Your Brand
Find your Niche
Start by identifying what you are most passionate about and what you are knowledgable about. Then figure out what topics are overlapping and that should be your niche. Remember to narrow it down as much as possible so your audience knows exactly what you stand for, your values and what they can expect from you but at the same time remember that you ARE your niche and it's okay to be interested in different things and sharing content about several topics.
We started out focusing 100% on travel content and then we grew an audience who were either travellers themselves or primarily interested or inspired by travel. Then we started sharing more about photography and sustainability which somehow still came back to being travel related. We started sharing photography tips as we wanted to share our knowledge so others could learn from us and essentially be able to work as content creators which involves traveling around the world. We included sustainability because we are very passionate about it and we think it's super important to be mindful of our footprint especially whilst traveling, so therefore we put more focus on conscious travel.
So to sum up, our niche is primarily travel but we have included other topics but made sure that it all leads back to travel related content. You can do this with pretty much any niche but choose something you're knowledgeable about and are interested in. That way you can share valuable content as well as share about your own interests and passions.
Find your WHY
It's important to figure out you WHY. Your WHY is your drive, your motivation and your persistency. You need to figure out why you want to become a content creator in order to have the right motivation to keep it going. This is a tough world and to make it you need to really want it, to be passionate about it!
Are you doing this because you want to break out of your 9-5 and travel around the world? Are you doing it because you want more freedom in your everyday life and to be able to enjoy more than just your weekends? Are you doing it because you have a passion for photography and want to teach people how to capture incredible moments of life? Are you doing this because you want to be location independent and work from anywhere in the world? Are you doing this because you don't want to wake up to a corporate job, doing the same things all day and all week and not be fully happy about what you do for the rest of your life? Are you doing this to inspire others to be bold enough to reach out for their dreams and start living a life that fulfils them everyday?
Establish what drives you and what gives you motivation and keep coming back to your WHY so you always have it in the back of your head because when you're down and things get tough (and this will happen!) you can focus on why you started in the first place! This is such an important step in your content creator journey so we definitely recommend you to sit down and put all your thoughts out on a piece of paper and really think deeply about why this journey is for you and why you choose this journey over anything else.
Discover your Target Audience
Your target audience are either fellow creators who're usually in the same niche as yourself or users who are inspired by your lifestyle and content, and users who have the same interests as yourself and can possibly learn from you as a creator. Create content based on what you believe and know your audience will love.
It is super important to be as authentic and real as possible and show your audience who you are and what makes you stand out from other creators in your niche. Personalise your brand and think about what separates you from others. Let your own creativity bloom and share your personal stories. Focus on what makes you unique.
Create Quality Content
Photography & Post Production
It's no secret that Instagram is a visual platform and that's why quality content matters.
Wether you shoot content with a professional camera or your smart phone, there's some basics and techniques you should keep in mind.
What we wish we knew when we first started out with photography was to shoot all photos in RAW instead of JPEG. RAW is a file format that captures more image data where JPEG on the other hand compresses and loses information. Shooting in RAW will also make post production much easier!
It's also crucial to understand the three components of basic photography which is ISO, shutter speed and aperture. ISO is how sensitive your camera is of light and will simply brighten or darken your image. Shutter speed is the amount of time the shutter is open to expose light into the sensor. Aperture is the amount of light that goes into a camera's sensor and have 2 important aspects. Brightness and blur and is also where we talk about depth of field. So essentially these all control lighting which is a super important aspect of photography and it's also important to know when to use which settings!
Composition and lighting are also important aspects of photography and there's many different techniques and ways to use lighting to your advantage!
Composition can help you achieve a more compelling and aesthetically pleasing image which is exactly what you want in order to catch the viewers’ attention. Go to our blogpost to read and learn about some of our favourite techniques.
Lighting is essentially the key factor in creating a successful image. What’s most important is to use natural light but avoiding direct sunlight as that will create very harsh light and exaggerated features but if shooting when the sun is at its’ highest point, then utilise your surroundings to create natural shadows - like finding a place with shade, the sun peaking through trees or covered by clouds.
The best time a day to be shooting is definitely at golden hour which lasts around 1 hour after sunrise and starts a couple of hours before sunset.
Phone cameras have definitely become very powerful these days and you can create great content without any fancy equipment but it still takes knowledge and practice to master it.
The ability to shoot in RAW format has been missing until now with the iPhone 12 Pro and 12 Pro Max iOS 14.3 or later you can actually shoot in RAW format just like a professional camera. Apple doesn't have a native way to shoot in RAW format aside from those two, the only other way to shoot in RAW with previous iPhone models is through a third-party app. There's heaps of different apps out there for this purpose, just search raw photos on apple store and you'll see the different possibilities. Lightroom is one of the apps that allows you to capture RAW photos and you can actually adjust the camera settings manually like a professional camera.
When filming videos you can also change the format so you'll be able to film at 4K 60fps which also makes the quality much better but the downside is that it takes up lots of space. You're also able to film in slow motion which is a really cool effect in videography!
There's many different modes to shoot in which can improve your phone photography as well.
Burst mode is a great way to capture movement in phone photography and all you have to do is hold down the shutter button and let go when you wish to stop. Thereafter you can select the photos that you like the most and delete the rest so it doesn't take up unnecessary space on your phone.
Another option is also using the self timer button. Technically this is similar to shooting with a professional camera so you can actually set up your phone on a tripod, set the timer to 3 or 10 seconds and then pose in front of it without having to hold it. This also works really well if you like to take selfies because then you can make it look like you're holding the phone by reaching your arm out without not actually holding the phone in your hands. This is more convenient and makes for better photos.
Portrait mode is one of our favourite features and adds a very professional look to your images! Basically this is like shooting with a portrait lens so the background will get blurry and place all focus on the subject. You do have to be pretty close to the camera in order for this to work so be sure to stand within 2-2,5 meters.
Panorama mode can create a really cool effect. If you turn your phone horizontally and move it upwards slowly you'll be able to capture more background. The only downside is that it might create warp in the image but you should be able to minimise that it post production.
You can adjust the exposure by tapping on the focus square on the screen and then you'll be able to see a vertical line with a sun on the side of that focus square and then all you have to do is drag the sun up or down depending if you want to brighten or darken the image.
One last trick for phone photography is to utilise the grid as a guideline to positioning your subject. This will definitely help your composition game!
You always need to edit your photos in post production and the easiest way is to use presets which will also help your photos to have a more cohesive look. What we would suggest to begin with is take a look at some of your favourite accounts and write down what you like about their stylistic style. Are you going for a moody or vibrant feed? Figure out how you would like your feed to look. Youtube is a great place to learn how to edit in different stylistic styles but it takes lots of practice to learn how to edit and to find your own stylistic style. Play around in lightroom and see how the different things work and establish your stylistic style. You can also purchase presets in the beginning to make your feed cohesive while working on developing your own style. We have a free preset available so definitely feel free to check that out following the link below!
There's a few methods we want to mention which have changed our editing game completely!
Always straighten the horizon, nobody likes a totally crocket photo.
Utilise the tone curve in lightroom to add more depth and contrast to your images - this is probably the most difficult part of the editing process but what you want to aim for is making sort of an S curve in all the different panels and the image should achieve a look as close to the original as possible.
The dodge & burn method is also a great way to add more depth and make the image look more cinematic. What you wanna do is use the selective tool in lightroom to brighten all the natural highlights in the image and darken all the natural shadows and this includes doing the same on the subject also in portrait shots. This method will give the image that extra pop!
Practise practise PRACTISE!
You should always write your captions with intention, so consider what message you're trying to send to your audience and make sure your personality and your brand values shine through your words and your intentions. There are three things to keep in mind when writing a caption which are to write either inspiring, educating or entertaining captions. A good tip is to think about what inspires you, what you would like to learn and what entertains you? It's most likely that your audience will resonate with the same topics as yourself. The goal is essentially finding like-minded people to connect with. In order to make sure that your audience will engage with your post, always put the most important information first by having an intriguing and/or captivating headline and always include a "call to action" or encourage a conversation in the end of your caption. Always include relevant hashtags in your caption or in the comment section because that will increase your reach (how many people your post is shown to).
It is more important now than ever to provide value through your content. The latest changes of instagram – reels and guides – make it very clear that the app is gravitating from aesthetics towards information and value. So put your focus on what you can teach your audience and what value you can provide to their lives. Your audience is looking to gain something from you which means that your captions and video content needs to be packed with valuable tips, tricks and advice no matter what your niche is. Instagram users are generally becoming more aware of what they consume through social media and moving away from mindless scrolling towards more intentional and informational driven content.
Utilise Instagram Features
You should aim to post at least 4-5 times a week to increase your odds of better reach and higher engagement rate. Remember to have a look at your insights to know which days and times are best to post.
We find that we generally get the highest amount of engagement when posting photos, but it's harder to reach a wider audience unless you have an efficient hashtag strategy that always works! We haven't yet seen any of our strategies work better than others even though we've tried everything! We believe it's very different what works for people but the most important aspects is to use targeted and relevant hashtags.
We usually start engaging 15 minutes prior to posting and then engage up to 3-4 hours afterwards but in order to be able to engage that long you have to make sure you aren't showing spamming behaviour! Write long reply's to other people's posts, engage with stories, new accounts and answer all your dm's. The more you utilise all of these features before and after posting, the higher engagement you'll receive!
Reels are one of the newest and hottest features on Instagram showcasing in 4 different places on the app. It is super important to utilise new features as soon and as much as possible when they are released. Instagram will reward you for that. Reels are short videos that can last between 15 - 30 seconds. TikTok went nuts in 2020 and reels was essentially created of Instagram to compete with TikTok. Using reels are super important for growth and they also have a much higher chance of going viral which means that your engagement rate will go up and your following will follow.
Showing up on stories will allow your audience to see what you're doing in your everyday life and get to know you better. It's most definitely the best way of showing the real you and make genuine, authentic connections. This is where your audience gets to know the person behind all the posts. This definitely takes some time to master as it can be quite uncomfortable and awkward to speak to your phone but remember practise will help make you more comfortable and make it easier to show up on a daily basis.
You can also use stories to share content from other accounts if you want to show your audience another page you're following and really like.
On stories there are different features as well such as adding music, polls, questionnaires and so on which can be a really good way of increasing your engagement on stories and essentially make the algorithm reward you for making your audience stay longer on the platform and on your page.
You can save all of your stories as highlights so people have the ability to rewatch your stories in case there's any particular locations they want to remember, any particular experiences you want people to be able to watch again or maybe you've done a Q&A you want to save. You can make highlights with pretty much any subject such as showing off edits, sharing photography tips, sustainability tips or recipes! Put it all in a highlight especially if it's educational and inspiring stories people could be interested in watching again!
IGTV is a feature where you can share longer videos such as travel videos, educational videos, Q&A's, vlogs etc. This is a great feature that allows you to go deeper into details and share videos similar to YouTube content.
Utilising IGTV is a great way to boost your engagement and provide long-form video content. Hashtags are still the best way to increase discoverability so make sure to use hashtags on your IGTV's as well.
Guides are the latest new feature on Instagram where you can share travel guides, photography guides and generally just super value information posts. As mentioned in the beginning Instagram is moving towards more educational and valuable content and guides are created for that reason. This is a great way to add more value to your audience.
There are 3 different ways to use this feature and the most popular one is definitely to recommend posts you've created or saved.
You can also chose to recommend places with posts others have created or your favourite products with posts created by certain brands. The last option is definitely a popular one as well!
Grow Engaged Audience
Consistency and Instagram goes hand in hand and is the key to running a successful account!
You want to post content that your audience is expecting to see from you and you need to post and show up on stories regularly. This will contribute to increase your engagement rate which is what you want in order to reach more people and grow your audience.
In order to stay consistent it's important to plan out your content. There are many great apps that makes it very easy to plan your feed out. We use Preview which is a free planning app.
Another way to stay consistent is also by knowing when your posting times are. Your posting time can be found under insights and will tell you when the highest number of your audience is online. Here you'll also be able to tell if your audience are primarily female or male as well as their age and location.
Engagement is everything! Think about it this way: you want people to engage with your account and more specifically the content you put up and if that's what you expect from your audience this is also what you have to do yourself! Treat your audience the same way you want to be treated and comment something meaningful and something that makes your stand out from the other comments so they remember you.
Engage with new accounts in your niche and be genuine. This way you will draw new accounts to your own and make you grow.
It is super important to create those real connections as that will result in higher and better engagement. Instagram is not just about likes but saves, shares and comments are what counts. Especially if you want to work with brands in the future. You need those connections if you want to promote products for brands because if your audience don't know, like or trust you then they won't buy the product you're promoting and brands don't want to work with accounts who can't increase their sales rate.
Engaging with your audience is essentially what turns them into a community and if you make sure to engage with your community's content they will be much more likely to engage with yours. The more honest and genuine connections you make the better! Always keep in mind that you want a community and not just an audience.
Jump on the trend train! Whenever there's a trend happening on Instagram then definitely jump on the train but personalise it - never copy! "This or That" was a huge trend with reels and this gives you much better chances of going viral! The same with couples challenges or reels similar to TikTok videos, jump on all the trends and don't hesitate to start a new one yourself!