How To Become a Content Creator: Getting Started Guide
As a member of the Web Content Creators Association I often get asked about how to get started as a Content Creator. After helping to compile a survey recently on what employers look for in content creators, I thought I’d put together this guide - based on the survey and my own experience - on how anyone can get started in content creation.
The steps to take in becoming a Content Creator are:
- Decide on a focus area, such as writing or social media
- Learn theory at university/college, by short course, or self directed study
- Learn practical software or other tools required
- Build a portfolio, consider certification
- Find a job
I’ve found ordering the steps like this to be the most helpful when giving advice to people looking to get started in content creation. They’re aimed at anyone looking to get started from 0 experience.
In this guide I’ve included more detail on each of these steps, including how a degree can work in to it. If you’re interested specifically in what degree is required to be a Content Creator, I wrote another article about that here: /content-creator-degree-types.
Step 1: Decide what to focus on
From a recent survey, we found these are some of the focus areas employers are looking for:
- Written content - this can include copywriting, blog posts, writing for SEO, or other marketing;
- Video, photography, or audio content;
- Social media - including managing social media and online communities.
I also found that graphic design and other creative skills were requested, as was an understanding of marketing.
In my case, I focussed on writing. That’s how I ended up writing for the WCCA. I also tried video and audio production, but it’s certainly not my strong suite (I’m considering learning more as part of my continuous development).
Step 2: Learn theory
There are three ways I’ve found to learn content creation:
- Study at college or university;
- Take short courses, typically online;
- Self directed learning, such as reading books or watching presentations.
Studying at college or university typically involves getting a degree. The degree to choose depends on what sort of focus for content creation you have. Some examples I found include:
- Emerging Media and Content Creation [US]
- Digital Content Creation[UK]
- Digital Communication and Social Media Major[US]
These degrees advertise they lead to Content Creator jobs such as social media management, writing, film production, or marketing.
Short courses offer a certification alternative to studying a complete degree. Studying a short course can teach a particular skill quickly and cheaply, and then also offer a certificate on that skill as evidence. Some of the online short courses I’ve found relevant include:
I also found some accredited courses:
- In Australia, the Australian Film Television and Radio School offers a short course specifically aimed at being a Content Creator (click here to see more);
- In the UK, there’s an online short course by the London College of Communication (click here for theirs).
Self directed learning is studying on your own to become a content creator, with no formal guidance from a school or university. This is how I got started:
- Reading books;
- Watching relevant Youtube channels;
- Listening to podcasts.
Practical skills, being able to demonstrate your content creation ability, is important particularly for self directed learning. I’ve looked at this further in the next section.
All of these approaches to learning also fulfil the WCCA guidelines on continuous development. Developing continuously, learning new skills, and keeping up with the industry are important pillars of being a WCCA Member and being able to show one’s quality as a Content Creator.
Step 3: Learn practical
Putting what you have learnt into practice is important for being a Content Creator. To be a Content Creator you must create content.
Practical learning means learning the tools to do the job. This could be learning WordPress and SEO for a writer; learning how to edit video for someone focussed on video; or learning the ins and outs of various social media platforms.
Some of this software can be expensive to get started with. I’ve found an alternative is to learn to use free software that accomplishes the same task. Once comfortable with the free software, it’s easier to transfer your knowledge to the expensive one (I’ve often found they have a lot in common).
|Final Cut Pro||Also Kdenlive|
Step 4: Build a portfolio, consider certification
Building your own portfolio is a great opportunity to put into practice skills that you’ve learnt; it allows you to demonstrate these skills to others.
Without a paid job, building a portfolio can be an excellent way to show future employers or clients your capabilities. This is how I got started.
To build a portfolio for content creation simply create great content.
Create great content means getting out there and practicing the skills you’ve learnt. For writers, write; for video editors, shoot and edit video; for social media gurus, create posts and build a following. At the WCCA we promote creating great content because what is a Content Creator without great content?
Great content doesn’t mean high quality or production worthy. I create great content by building things that help other people, or by doing something thought provoking or novel. As long as you feel it’s the best you can do, then as far as I’m concerned, that’s great content.
A great reference for how to build a portfolio I found was this Canadian website: alis.alberta.ca/…how-to-build-a-job-portfolio/. It has great info on how to build a portfolio for any job, and then how to use it in a job interview.
On the job experience
Working for an employer, or being employed as a freelancer, can be a great way to build a portfolio. This is experience that is learnt through the paid application of the skills you’ve developed so far. I find it a great way to learn and grow as a Content Creator.
A trick I use to grow myself in the direction I want is to keep a log of my work and what I learnt. The log forms a record of the work that I’ve done and skills that I learnt doing that work. It helps me figure out what I should learn next.
It is important to remember that your employer or client may not allow you to show the work to others. Be aware of intellectual property rights, such as copyright, when using on the job experience in a portfolio.
Independent assessment and certification is a vote of confidence in your quality as a Content Creator.
Certificates for Content Creators can include:
- Degrees from a college or university;
- Completion certificates from short courses, including examinations;
- Membership of the WCCA or similar body.
The WCCA assess everyone wishing to become a member to ensure they meet the requirements of the Code of Conduct. These requirements are a measure of quality of an individual Content Creator in their field; they also represent the individual’s commitment to bettering themselves through continuous development.
Step 5: Find a job
This is the toughest step in becoming a paid Content Creator. Finding a job (or finding a client if you’re freelance). It’s the step I’ve struggled with the most.
Write a CV, send it to potential employers, make sure to include your portfolio.
A portfolio can do a lot to demonstrate the way you create content. It can show the way you think, the way you work, and the way you solve problems, all relevant to what potential employers are looking for.
I’ve seen a portfolio used instead of having a degree, certificate, or years of experience. This is why I talk so much about having a portfolio.
The first step in getting started as a Content Creator is to decide what sort of content you want to create. That could be written, photography, video, graphic design, social media, or many others.
The next step is to learn, followed by building a portfolio, and then going out and looking for a job.
It’s possible to become a Content Creator, even without a university degree. There are alternatives that include short courses or even self-directed learning. I took the self-directed learning option.
Certification can help demonstrate your skills to potential employers and clients. Having an independent body assess your skills and provide you with a certificate gives clients and employers a vote of confidence in the experience you’re presenting them with
The WCCA offers such a vote of confidence via its Membership Scheme. Anyone joining the WCCA is assessed in accordance with our Code of Conduct and only those that demonstrate their qualities, including a commitment to continuous self development, can advertise themselves as Members of the WCCA.
The WCCA works to further the recognition, professionalism, and excellence of contact creators.
We are open to new members who seek to demonstrate the professional quality of their work, engage in the industry, and find out about new opportunities to learn, grow, and work.
Check out our Membership page for more details.