Are you a “writer” or “content creator”?
I’ve been a little disturbed lately by a trend of complaining about the term “content creator”. Usually the complainants are writers who feel like the term sucks the life out of what they do and reduces it to just filler. I think they’re wrong — or at least, they should be.
Not that I’m discounting their feelings, of course. They’re entitled to feel however they like. But I actually like the term — you’ve probably noticed I use it here at Learn To How-To — and I’d like to explain why so you can judge for yourself.
Now, let me preface this by saying that I am a writer. I’m other things too, such as a teacher, a programmer, a problem solver, and a bunch of other things that aren’t relevant to this conversation, but I’m primarily a writer. I work with words. I can write a book or deliver a spoken-word podcast, but anybody who’s worked with me on a project that requires it knows that when it comes to visuals, I can’t design my way out of a wet paper bag with lighted exit signs.
It’s a skill with which being a writer simply doesn’t help me.
All articles are content, but not all content is articles
The reality is that in today’s online world, articles are just one small piece of the content puzzle. Content may also include:
- Slide presentations
- Social updates (tweets, facebook posts, etc)
In addition, not all content is centered on words. Some of it is more visual, such as:
Not as prevalent today, but coming down the pike, you should also be thinking about experiences, such as:
- Interactive websites
- Augmented reality
- Virtual reality
Now, I think that we can agree that all of these things are content. But do they need writers?
You bet they do.
Think of the writer as the person who defines the information that is to be presented and the way in which it’s organized. Without the writer, these non-verbal pieces of content won’t get the point across.
Another way that “content” is becoming more prevalent is that each article or other piece of writing is — or at least, should be — repurposed, preferably multiple times for different formats.
- If you write a tutorial, you should consider also creating a video explaining how to do that particular task.
- If you do a video, consider an article that can be more easily seen by search engines.
- Break your article into multiple tweets and other social updates
- Gather blog posts into an ebook
- Break an ebook into multiple blog posts
- Make a statistics-heavy or process-heavy blog post into an infographic
I could go on, but you get the idea.
Now, writers might think, “well, sure, but I just write the blog post; it’s somebody else’s job to create the video and tweets and so on.” That’s fine, but you should still at least be involved in making sure that the final product doesn’t get away from your original vision (or meaning).
Content shouldn’t be filler
I think a lot of the reason that some writers turn their nose up at the idea of being “content creators” is because let’s face it, there’s a lot of content out there that is, well, crap. Especially now that content marketing is the norm rather than the exception, companies are cranking out — and I do mean cranking out — articles and blogs and material to the point where there is so much content out there that it’s hard to find the good stuff. And as Sturgeon’s Revelation goes, “90% of everything is crap.”
So how do you stand out? You make sure that the content you produce is valuable to your audience. Make sure you solve a problem, or provide a skill, or above all, provide some kind of benefit.
Remember; if your content isn’t useful, it’s useless.
Be the solution
At the end of the day, you are a content creator. Maybe you’re a writer as well, but you are creating content, just like your counterparts who working in less linguistic media. And don’t forget: they need you too.
So it’s up to you to make sure that you’re part of that 10% that isn’t crap. There’s enough crap out there. Just make the good stuff, and stop worrying about what it’s called.