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The first 5 steps that helped me become a 6-figure content creator after being fired from my tech job

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Issarawat Tattong/Getty Images
  • Zulie Rane makes six figures as a content creator.

  • She says she works as little as possible and loves her life way more than workng her 9 to 5.

  • Rane recommends selecting 2 platforms and tracking your time to clarify your return on investment.

I'm a freelance content creator living my absolute dream. I work as little as I can, and I love my life so much more than I did when I was working a 9 to 5.

Since starting my journey as a content creator in 2018 after getting fired from my tech job, I've made over six-figures doing what I love.

If you want to know exactly how to start turning your passion for creation into a career, read on.

Zulie Rane in front of a brick wall
Zulie Rane now works 20 hours a week.Zulie Rane

1. Select 2 platforms to post content

To get started in your journey to become a full-time content creator, you need no more and no fewer than two platforms to publish your work on.

For me, my main two homes are YouTube and my blogging platform.

For you, they might be Twitch, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Quora. Probe your feelings — where do you feel most excited about doing a lot of work?

Consistency isn't the factor that matters. Commitment is. If you can post for a full year, every week, on a platform, you're far more likely to be successful than if you give up after a month.

Example: if you're very witty and have a good grasp of trending topics, Twitter is a good home for you. If you enjoy making polished visual content, go to Instagram or YouTube. If you like gaming, go to Twitch.

2. Create a profile

The second most important step is to create a profile where you control the narrative. Someplace where you can post your content to your own rules and not worry about any distribution, whether the platform's algorithm or SEO.

There are a lot of free options out there, and I recommend you start with one of them. For instance, I created this one on Wix in under two minutes. Your website should be:

  • Cheap. Don't spend money unless you're ready to go full-time on something.

  • Easy to manage. Don't waste time and energy learning how to manage a website if there are easier options.

  • Simple to customize later on. Give yourself room to grow.

You'll also need a social channel. You may have already chosen one of these as your platform, but I recommend selecting another if so. For example, I use Twitter and Instagram purely as part of my profile, where I post my contact information and the odd post in a strictly non-professional capacity.

Your social media here should be separate from whatever your real-life one is.

3. Design a content plan

This is the actual meat of the matter. A content plan is going to be the skeleton of your content creator income. Don't worry too much about finding a niche early on and sticking to it . This can shift as you grow.

Try to select 4–5 topics that you enjoy talking about. For example, I love writing about travel, pop culture, freelancing, and writing. I love creating videos about freelancing and blogging.

What you absolutely must keep in mind is that your topics have to be:

  • Valuable for an audience (entertaining, informational, or both), otherwise nobody outside your family and friends will consume your content.

  • Interesting to you, otherwise you'll burn out.

  • Something you have experience in, otherwise you'll be outcompeted.

The most important factor here is that it is a schedule you'll be able to keep up.

Be honest with yourself: can you post twice a week on your platform? If not, then scale back to once.

There's always a misconception that more is better. I find that's false for two reasons. First, I've found successful content creators on every platform (yes, including TikTok) who don't post as often as they "should." And they're still killing it.

4. Track your time

When you're doing what you love, it's easy to sink hours into it and not look back. Don't fall into that trap: track your time.

This is important for two reasons.

  1. You will have a much better understanding of where your time is going. When you look back, you'll be able to know whether your efforts are worth it.

  2. You will be able to value your time once you start earning income. E.g. I know I spent 20 hours on YouTube this month and earned $500. That means my time on YouTube is worth $25/hour.

I use Clockify, a free tool, to track how I spend every minute of my content creation — answering emails, meetings, actually writing or filming, editing, and so on. This helps me see what I'm actually spending time on, and finding a return on investment.

For example, I tracked all my working hours in November 2020 and found a surprising breakdown that I spent a lot of time on YouTube and not as much as I thought on writing.

Many platforms give you money through ad revenue share, like YouTube. There are also alternatives to YouTube monetization that grant income through other methods, like subscriptions.

Tracking time gives you total clarity on your return on investment.

5. Start building your mailing list

It's so cliche but honestly still true: email rules. Email is how you talk to your audience without algorithms or SEO. It's just people who want to hear from you.

Choose an easy platform. Don't overthink the beginning! Many mailing lists are free and easy to use, like ConvertKit's basic plan (up to 1000 free subscribers before you pay a penny).

There are two approaches I suggest.

1."Sign up here to hear more from me." You can offer a weekly roundup of content. Post this call-to-action at the end of all the content you post, with a hyperlink to your mailing list.

Pros: very easy to set up. People who sign up will be VERY keen to hear from you, because there's no incentive for them to join other than hearing more from you.

Cons: you probably won't get very many subscribers.

  1. "Join my mailing list to get X." You offer a freebie downloadable, like my five-day starter kit on Medium.

Pros: You'll have a much higher rate of signups, and you start your relationship by offering real, exclusive value to your subscribers.

Cons: A little harder to set up, and requires up-front work.

If you're stumped on where to start, here are three beginner-friendly options:

  • Rule of 3: Something you wrote, something you read, and a question for your followers. This helps build relationships between you and your fans as well as your peers, which never hurts. It's also a good way to start talking to your fans and understand how you can serve them.

  • Roundup: A list of all the content you created this week, an easy way to keep fans up to date.

  • Letter to a friend: This is how I started. I just wrote something I'd like to receive. I talked about what I'd been up to that week, and I discussed some of the challenges I've faced and how I overcame them.

We live in incredible times

It has never been so easy for literally anyone with a single creative bone in their body to become a content creator in 2023 or beyond. The platforms exist, the audience and appetite for content are huge, and there's a tremendous amount of free guidance out there.

Read the original article on Business Insider