Wondering how to become a content creator? Read my tips for planning, shooting, editing and sharing so that you can post consistently and grow your personal brand.
HOW TO BE A CONTENT CREATOR
Learning how to be a content creator can be a tedious game. Understanding the constantly changing algorithm, identifying your personal brand and slowly building a community are not things that happen overnight.
For the first year after creating my Instagram page, I was only posting a few times a week. During this time my account was growing, albeit very slowly. Around one year ago I decided if I really wanted to see more growth with my page that I needed to start posting, engaging and showing up EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.
If you’re a fellow content creator who also works full time, you know how challenging it can be to show up daily. Running my blog and Instagram account feels like a second full time job. I’ve learned how to appropriately manage my time so that I don’t get burnt out. Now I can continue to do what I love while still having my career.
I’ve summarized all of my PLANNING & BATCHING tips below that have helped me grow my brand. This translates into working with more brands, growing my blog traffic and creating a community online.
I’m a travel blogger so the most important part of my content is always the location of my shoots. I could be wearing the prettiest, most flowy dress but if it’s shot in a location that isn’t inspiring to my travel-based audience, the post will not perform well.
When I first started my Instagram, I was guilty of posting content in poorly planned locations for the sake of posting. Not only was I not providing value to my travel focused audience, I wasn’t staying true to my own brand. I recall doing a partnership with a makeup brand where I posed in my bedroom against the plain wall with a tube of lipstick in my hand. I also recall it being one of my worst performing photos ever. Never again!
This first thing I always prioritize now is my location. I have a list saved in the notes section of my iPhone of places I want to shoot at in Chicago. I organize it between indoor and outdoor locations so I can quickly prioritize spots depending on the weather during the day of my shoot. Of course, you can choose to prioritize any other way you’d like (by neighborhood, bar vs. restaurant, city vs. suburbs, etc.)
Take advantage of the “save” feature on Instagram. I have a folder created for my home base of Chicago since most of my content is shot there. I also create folders for cities that I have upcoming trips to, poses that are inspiring, seasonal content, etc.
A huge part of being a content creator, at least in my niche, is outfit planning. After I have my locations organized for my day of shooting, my outfit choices fall into place more easily. Even though fashion comes secondary to travel locations, I think it’s an important part of expressing myself through my content. I wouldn’t shoot inside a coffee shop with a ball gown on. Similarly, I wouldn’t shoot inside a gorgeous hotel lobby in jean shorts and a tank top. I always make sure my outfit matches the vibe of the location.
As I put together my location itinerary in my phone, I’ll also write out the outfit(s) for each spot. This helps me stay organized while I’m on the go that day. It also saves me time so when I show up to a location I know exactly which outfit to change into and don’t waste time pondering.
I also keep my brand collaborations organized in a separate excel file which helps me stay organized with payments, invoices and follow-ups. Staying organized is great for paid collaborations – the quicker you post, the quicker you get paid!
This tip is a build on tip #1 of this blog post. It is the only possible way I’m able to keep up with daily posting on social. Always, always, always shoot in bulk! When I started my Instagram, I was often sharing the same location twice in a week with a slightly different pose because I had nothing new to share. While this strategy works for some accounts, it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I wanted to share unique locations throughout the week.
When I’m in between trips and need “filler” content, I aim to shoot 3-5 locations in one day. This means if I shoot on a Saturday and a Sunday, I have enough content to last the entire week. If you add in more locations, even better! You’ll have more content lined up in your queue and can take a weekend off from shooting.
I’m lucky to have so many friends in the Chicago blogging community. I almost always have someone to take photos with. We typically go out in groups of 3-4 and spend anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour at a location.
Thank goodness for so many apps that help make content planning more efficient. When it comes to the editing process, two apps that have become my best friends are LIGHTROOM and PREVIEW.
I do 99.9% of my editing in Lightroom (a product of Adobe) with additional editing in Photoshop and Snapseed. There are tons of other photo editing apps but I’ve found Lightroom to be the most user friendly. You can download the mobile version for free or pay for a monthly subscription which also includes a desktop application. I pay for the $20 monthly subscription so I can have the extra storage space. However, I do almost all my editing on my phone since it’s easier for me to use and I can do it on the go (road trips, flights, my morning commute on the train, etc.)
The best part about Lightroom is using my own saved preset. It’s a huge time saver! I can rip and reapply to every photo of mine that I bring into the app. So what is a preset? It’s a pre-determined combination of the various editing tools/options inside Lightroom. This means the same level of lighting, color hues and sharpness will be applied to all your photos. It helps creates a clean, cohesive feed as you post on Instagram.
I cannot tell you how much of a time saver this has been! If you are new to Lightroom or don’t want to create your own presets, you can also purchase them. A lot of content creators sell their presets. If there’s a blogger who’s theme you love, there is no shame in purchasing their presets to get you started!
Many content creators also change their editing style with the seasons or by travel location. If you’re sharing photos from a tropical location with a lot of ocean in the background then you may opt for cooler (more blue) tones. If you’re sharing photos from a desert location, you might opt for warmer (more yellow/orange) tones.
It’s ok to change your editing style over time but I would suggest keeping at least the first 9 photos of your feed within the same theme before changing it up. When someone comes to your profile, they decide in 3 seconds if they want to follow you or not. Make those 3 seconds count with something aesthetically pleasing!
After you’ve edited a large set of photos, I recommend mass uploading them all into an app where you can see what your future feed will look like. I use Preview but just like photo editing, there are many apps to choose from. Find what works best for you!
Preview allows you to upload photos in advance of posting them live on Instagram so you can see what they will look like next to each other. Other than using the same preset, there are other aspects of your photos that need to be considered when building a nice feed. Do your photos have more landscape or cityscape? What poses are you doing? What colors are in the background? You’ll want build out a feed that keeps these different elements nicely spaced out. You don’t have to keep to an exact pattern but try to always mix it up!
BATCH CAPTION WRITING
This is one piece of advice I received early on but still need to do a better job at. When you’re posting every single day, you will inevitably run out of something to write in your caption sometimes. I have seen a variety of caption themes on Instagram over the years – talking about your day, talking about the location of the photo you posted, some are very punny, some have inspiration quotes, the list goes on!
It doesn’t matter what your caption is about, as long as you stay true to yourself. I find that thought provoking captions (ie: asking your audience a question) receive better engagement as it encourages your followers to be a part of a conversation with you and with others.
Once I know what my next week of content will look like, I try to write my captions for those posts in advance. This can actually be done inside the Preview app that I talked about before, but I have never used that feature of the app. I prefer to write mine out in the notes section of my iPhone. Keeping my captions organized in my notes section also helps with assigning the correct set of hashtags I plan to use on that post as well.
If you’re new to this whole content creation game and feel overwhelmed by everything, just know you are not alone. Everyone has those feelings when they first start out and we all have learned to navigate the time management portion of it.
Hopefully you find these tips on how to be a content creator helpful! Let me know in the comments if you have questions or other tips to share!
RELATED: New to blogging? Read my tips for new bloggers here or about my blogging photography equipment here.
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