Photo: Jenny Ueberberg
The creator economy is a fast-growing industry.
Whatever industry you’re in, whether it’s arts, music, dance, design, writing, filming or podcasting, there’s space for you to create an income in the creator economy.
When I bought my first course online, I thought that the only way to make an income online was to become a coach. The more I studied successful content creators, the more I realized that there are different ways to make an income.
From personal observations, the most common ways to make an income online from your existing skills & knowledge are:
- Self-paced online courses
- Freelancing for others
Your ultimate goal as a content creator is to make a “passive” income.
I say “passive” because there’s technically no passive income. Creating sustainable online income requires hard work. Even when you make the online course once, you still need to sell it actively. There are emerging business models in the creator economy.
And because I’ve been a part of all of them, I can attest that they’re worth learning about as an online creator.
1. Build Your Own CBC
Typical online courses are self-paced. This is when the creator has pre-recorded the lessons, made templates and worksheets for their students. They sell the course and the students learn the lessons at their own pace.
The downside with self-paced courses is the completion rates. As a creator, you depend a lot on the students’ discipline, motivation and desire to keep going through the course.
You don’t know how successful the student will be. If you’re making an online course for the sake of teaching, then this is a route that you might love.
But if you’re a creator who wants your students to go through a transformation, you might be interested in building a cohort-based course or a CBC.
“Cohort-Based Courses” refers to a group of learners who join an online course together and then move through it at the same pace. The instructor provides structure and guidance, but much of the learning happens peer-to-peer, as students share what they’re discovering real-time and encourage each other to keep going.” — Tiago Forte.
When you lead a CBC, you nurture a certain group of people moving towards a specific goal. Whether it’s writing, building an online business, or learning how to use Notion (which by the way, is a real thing).
The price range of cohort-based courses can range from $497 — $5000.
The pricing depends on the length and what the students are getting from that course.
I spent $1000 for a 4-week live writing course led by Nicolas Cole. There were live lessons twice a week. But he also offered a more premium service that went up to $3000. That included being a part of a workshop where others can get feedback and a 30-minute 1:1 with him if you paid the highest price.
As a creator, there are multiple ways to adjust your pricing strategy, from basic to premium packages.
2. Make Your Own Paid Online Community
Most online courses have a private group that the instructors create for the students to communicate with each other.
It gives the students a sense of exclusivity as a part of their private community. The problem with these groups is that the moderators manage the group. Sometimes, the creator themselves are nowhere to be seen as soon as students buy the course.
This can be a huge disappointment for your students.
If they’re buying the course from you, they might expect some involvement from you.
The alternative is to create a pure paid online community. In February, I participated in a 30-day writing challenge on Twitter along with 100+ people. I enjoyed it because although the focus was to publish for 30 days, the instructors did weekly workshops devoted to the people inside the community.
You don’t need a big audience. Right now, I have a private community of 10 people charging them $15/month. This includes a private discord channel, two biweekly zoom calls, and resources to mindset, writing and the creator economy.
I made it clear that it’s not an online course or a coaching program. It’s purely for being a small part of a community of new content creators.
3. Convert Your Knowledge into a Digital Product
Maybe it’s not new to you. But, I’ve seen many people convert their knowledge into digital products, whether it’s their knowledge about writing, Twitter or even Notion.
Creators will put all their knowledge into an eBook, email courses, or self-paced mini-courses. They then sell those digital products on platforms like Gumroad or Product Hunt.
The amazing thing about making digital products is that it’s pretty scalable. It’s most valuable and easiest to sell when you have an audience. Even if you set the price low, you’re still able to make some money.
A $10 ebook sold to 20 people is an extra $200.
In any case, there are different ways to make whatever knowledge you have into digital products.
I bought an ebook for $50 from a creator that teaches me how to start and grow a blog in 2021. The instructor also included pre-recorded live sessions as well as a Telegram community.
She can afford to sell it at a low price because she’s already done the hard work with the content. She also has 22k followers on Twitter.
You can always create an ebook first and upsell your product with a chance to have a 1:1 with you or include an online community.
The money that you can make online is abundant.
If you solved a problem and packaged it well into a service, or a product, you can guarantee that someone else will pay for the solution.
The question is how much effort you want to put into creating versus running the business. The higher your involvement, the more expensive your service/product will be. It might also be harder for you to scale.
But also, the more audience you have, the greater chance for you to sell your product at a lower price.
But, that’s not all. You can also mix and match the different ways other successful online entrepreneurs are doing it.
Ultimately, you decide how to create your own sustainable way of creating an ethical online income.