Making mistakes is part of every journey, but if you want to level up and earn enough money to become a full time content creator, you’ll want to be mindful of what mistakes could be holding you back.
I’ve been creating content online as a blogger/influencer for over 7 years.
And though I’m grateful to now be a full-time content creator, I didn’t make money during my first 3-4 years.
And no, it’s not because I was too small or didn’t have enough followers. It’s because I was making a lot of mistakes that were hindering my journey.
But you live and learn–usually either by experience, or through the experiences of others.
Which is why in this post I will be sharing more about my journey to creating content full-time, and the missteps I made along the way.
The Biggest Mistakes I’ve Made as a Content Creator
If you want the video version of this post, where I share some visuals from my journey, check out below.
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*Some of the links included in this post are affiliate links. This means if you click on them and make a purchase, I will make a small commission at no additional cost to you.*
1. Starting Without a Strategy
If you want content creation to become a full-time business, you need to have a strong strategy. Something that is intentional and well-researched.
In January 2016, I launched my first blog, Comfy Girl With Curls.
I had recently started accepting my natural hair texture and learning to care for it, and so the only real plan I had was to document my journey.
Which isn’t a bad place to start, but you need more than that to turn content creation into a career.
My plan was to write about the products I was trying, the hairstyles I was experimenting with, and how I kept my hair moisturized and healthy… and yes… below are real photos I posted in my early days.
But that was the extent of my strategy. I had no…
- plan to get on brands radars.
- thought to what my potential audience would be interested in.
- foresight or gameplan.
I was just posting whatever, whenever.
If you need to set yourself up for success, check out this Ultimate Blog Launch Checklist.
2. Not Leveraging a Traffic Driver
This mistake builds on not having a strategy.
I was primarily creating content on a blog, I hadn’t given much thought to how I was going to get people to read it.
I was not using SEO or Pinterest to their full potential.
My early blog posts read like a diary.
They were for me even though I thought I was creating for my audience.
I would spend hours on a post, share it on Facebook, mention them on Instagram, and expected people to flock to read my opinions.
And then I would wonder why I wasn’t getting a lot of views…
In order to run a successful blog, you need a strong traffic driver. And social media for the most part is not going to cut it.
At best, our social media audience has a different media consumption preference and is unlikely to click over… at worst, they are a completely different audience.
You need to be using search engine optimization (SEO) and Pinterest to get people over to your blog. Without leveraging these two things you’re probably writing blog posts that nobody will ever see.
Related Post: 5 Mistakes Creators Make on Pinterest
3. Not Providing Value
This mistake prevented me from getting readers to my blog, and new followers and views on my Instagram content.
Yes, I was posting content that I hoped would be valuable to people, but I was also posting a lot of content that wasn’t. Again, using my platform as more of a diary.
If you want to create a community online and get more followers and viewers you need to provide value to them.
What makes them want to read? What makes them want to hit follow?
I had a hard time learning this on Instagram. Yes, I was posting some reviews and wash day tips but I also started creating visually cool content with my friends.
We would get together and spend hours doing elaborate shoots that we thought were very artsy and high quality, and they wouldn’t get much engagement.
Then I would post a selfie and the likes would skyrocket…
I would get so upset and frustrated and cry out that the world was shallow and didn’t appreciate things that took a lot of effort.
It took me years to realize that people were getting more value from my selfies than they were from the artistic content.
Again, because I was a natural hair page, people came to me looking for hairstyle inspiration.
I thought that people liking my selfies was superficial but they were probably liking it to serve as inspiration for their own hair journey.
That’s more relatable and valuable than the artsy stuff I was doing for fun with friends.
And I think that shows that we often overthink the concept of value. We think it always has to be teaching somebody something.
But value shows up in so many different ways.
4. Not Showing Up Consistently
My next mistake was not showing up consistently.
Every time I felt like I was moving one step forward, everything I built, whether it was on my blog or social media, always seemed to crumble when I dropped my consistency.
Consistency doesn’t necessarily mean posting every day at the same time. But you can’t go massive stretches of time without showing up online.
And that’s what I did, many, many times. The most notable was in 2018 when I got married.
I disappeared for most of the year and there was a massive drop in my website traffic. But there was still traffic… which is why I always recommend you have a Blog.
Find out what consistency means to you.
Whether that is once a day, once a week, or once a month.
Personally, I do not have a perfect schedule and I am still guilty of disappearing for decent stretches of time. But I do try my best to be as present as possible, on a regular basis.
5. Not Talking to the Camera
This mistake was a hard one for me to get over…
I was a blogger. Written words were my language. It was hard enough to show my face and take pictures of myself. It took a long time, and some cognitive dissonance, to even start taking selfies.
When it comes to social media, people want to get to know you. They want to build trust and rapport with you. And the easiest way to do that is to talk to them.
To get comfortable with video content I filmed a ton of content that never saw the light of day.
I still remember the first day I talked on my stories. There were people who had been following me for years who had never heard my voice.
But seriously, creating video content, and talking to the camera, is truly what helped me connect more with people and level up my authority to become a full-time content creator.
Once I overcame a lot of those mistakes I started to see real progress.
My audience started to grow, my engagement started to increase, and I started to get on brand’s radars.
6. Saying Yes to Every Gifted Opportunity
Saying yes to every gifted opportunity can be a mistake.
I started to get free products sent to me early on in my journey. They weren’t from the mega brands, but from small businesses.
I was so, so, so appreciative of them, but the more I started to grow, the more the requests started to come in, and the less I was equipped to handle the volume.
If you don’t know what I’m talking about go watch this video.
Gifted products are amazing and it still shocks me that because of what I’ve built people want to send me things for free.
But as creators, we have to realize that brands are sending us gifted products because they want promotion.
Some brands offered to send me products with no strings attached. Meaning that there was no requirement for me to post about it even though there’s the expectation that you will.
I also started receiving requests from brands explicitly asking me to create content in exchange for these gifted products. I said yes to a lot, but I quickly realized that the benefit was not worth the amount of effort.
It’s almost never worth it to commit to a job where your only compensation is the product. And so I started saying no to pretty much all gifted collaborations.
I know I’m probably going to make that mistake again but I’m hoping, I’m hoping, I don’t. And I’m hoping you don’t.
Part of saying no to all of these gifted opportunities was challenging them. Countering them with my rate anytime a brand would reach out. And this was the point when I actually started to make more money as a creator.
Learn more about determining rates as an influencer HERE.
7. Accepting Offers Below my Worth
It’s a mistake that I think we all will make till the end of time because we’re always getting better at what we do.
Our audience is always growing and by the time we learn to stand up for ourselves and say what we’re worth, we’re already behind.
8. Not Challenging Contract Terms
This piggybacks on my last mistake is one that is personal. I just made this mistake again last week.
The contract that a brand gives you is not the end-all-be-all!
And they’re often going to slip in terms that are a disservice to you if you’re not getting compensated.
There is exclusivity, usage rights, unlimited rounds of edits, things you should either challenge them to take out or give them a rate for.
And if you want more on that, read my post on how to set rates as an influencer.
I try my best to get all the terms of a partnership up front before they’ve even sent the contract. And that’s where I feel like I always mess up.
It’s when we’ve already done so much back and forth and I catch something in the contract afterward that I can’t bring myself to negotiate again. And sometimes I end up accepting those terms and am bitter afterward.
So to avoid any of that resentment, make sure you’re happy with the contract before you sign it.
Related Post: How to Negotiate Brand Deals like a Pro
9. Comparing My Day 1 to Somebody’s Day 100
This is definitely something I’m still with…
It’s so cliche but comparison is the thief of joy.
It’s easy to get fixated on what everybody else is doing and compare yourself with somebody who is at a different part of their journey.
You can’t compare your starting point to their destination.
I find it a lot easier to rein in my comparison when I realize that we’re all on different journeys and that everybody’s 24 hours looks different.
I especially needed to hold on to that when I was at my day job and I would compare what I was able to produce between 5 PM and midnight to what somebody could produce with their entire day.
I can’t be the only one who made these mistakes on my journey to become a full-time content creator. And the fact is, I’m still struggling with a ton of them today.
Go ahead and share the mistakes you have made on your journey in the comments below!
Until next time!