There are many types of entrepreneurship — from inventing and building prototypes in your basement or garage to side hustles to raising venture capital and developing the latest new software to change the world. One of the fastest-growing is also one that got its name most recently: content entrepreneurship.
Curious? So was I. So, here's what I've learned about what content entrepreneurship is, how it's different (and similar) to blogging or being an influencer, and how you can make money as a content entrepreneur.
What is content entrepreneurship?
Historically, businesses have provided one of two things: physical goods (either as makers or resellers) or services (accountants, plumbers and virtual assistants, etc).
There are also subcategories of entrepreneurship. First is innovation entrepreneurship, which focuses on developing, implementing or commercializing novel ideas and technologies. Another growing type of entrepreneurship is social entrepreneurship, where leaders build businesses to solve social problems like access to food, money and education.
Now we add a whole new type of entrepreneurship: content entrepreneurship.
The phrase content entrepreneurship was introduced by Joe Pulizzi, who also introduced the term content marketing. A content entrepreneur creates and distributes a blog, podcast, or video series for their audience to generate revenue.
Once they have built an engaged following, content entrepreneurs monetize through several revenue streams, increasing their profitability and growth.
What it means to be a content entrepreneur (vs. influencer or blogger)
On the surface, it's easy to think that being a content entrepreneur is the same as being a blogger or an influencer. First, let's look at the similarities.
First, bloggers, influencers and content entrepreneurs all spend the bulk of their time creating content. For bloggers, the content is written, but influencers and content entrepreneurs may also leverage podcasts, video channels and social media platforms to build their reach.
All three types of entrepreneurs sell to their audience to make money. Influencers sell access to their audience through sponsorships — they recommend products and services. Bloggers often monetize their audience using affiliate programs, earning a commission on products they recommend, or through ads that appear on their site, leveraging their traffic to make money.
But there are a few things that all three types of businesses do differently.
The difference between being an influencer and a content entrepreneur has to do with the intent — an influencer does not try to generate revenue through their content; they just want to make money by influencing others. They develop content to connect with their audience. Then they make money through those audiences.
Bloggers are somewhere in between: while a blogger may also have other businesses or jobs and is generating income from that, their blog generates some revenue. Blogging can be done full-time, part-time, at night after children go to bed, during your lunch break, etc.
Content entrepreneurs focus on building a sustainable business and often tie their content to a unique niche brand.
Content entrepreneurs are focused on building a sustainable business. Their content is often tied to a unique niche brand rather than their personal brand.
Inside the business, it also often looks more like a traditional media company than an independent blogger or influencer. They leverage teams to help them build and distribute content in sustainable ways and have repeatable processes for success.
In many cases, content entrepreneurs may have started as bloggers or influencers and then expanded their business operations and processes to grow into content entrepreneurship. In fact, many of the bloggers or influencers you follow now fit the mold of content entrepreneurs.
How content entrepreneurs make money
One of the most significant differences between content entrepreneurs, bloggers and influencers is how they make money. Content entrepreneurship has an entrepreneurial approach to diversifying income streams which can include:
Placing ads on a website or in an email newsletter. These ads appear with the content the business would be creating anyway to appeal to their audience. The content entrepreneur can either make money from each placement or based on the ad’s impressions, called a CPM basis in ad sales.
Creating content from blogs and articles to videos and social media posts paid for and promoting a specific product or service. The content entrepreneur can make money for making the content and may also earn a percentage of sales.
Either working directly with brands or through programs like Amazon Associates to promote products and services. The content entrepreneur makes a commission when someone purchases a product using the affiliate link.
Donations and audience sponsorship
With the rise of services like Patreon and Buy Me a Coffee, content entrepreneurs can also earn directly from their audience. A content producer will offer bonus or premium content in exchange for subscriptions or donations.
Consulting and coaching services
When a content entrepreneur becomes a recognized expert in their niche, they can also monetize by offering to work directly with select people or organizations. This work is a premium service and typically is only available to a few people at a time.
Courses and memberships
Experts can also leverage creating courses and memberships to share their knowledge with more people at scale. Courses are offered live or asynchronously. Memberships typically provide a blend of education and community.
In some niches, content entrepreneurs develop their own products independently or through a co-branding agreement. These products may be sold directly to their audience, through partners, or through retail businesses.
From time to time, another company will pay to republish existing content on their site as part of a licensing agreement.
These arrangements are often highly lucrative for content creators, giving them both financial benefits and increased visibility.
Bloggers, influencers and content entrepreneurs can all use any combination of these tactics to generate income from their content. The difference is that content entrepreneurs typically leverage many of these.
Should you be a content entrepreneur?
If you’ve already started building a blog or have a following, you might be wondering if content entrepreneurship is a path you should take. Here are some questions to ask yourself when making this choice:
Is your business a project of passion or a project of opportunity? Content entrepreneurship is more similar to running a media company than a blog that feeds your curiosity.
Either way, it’s important to identify why you’re interested in creating this type of content.
Content entrepreneurship means you’ll be creating content around that topic for a long time.
Do you want to lead a team? To scale, content entrepreneurs often use a team to accelerate their content creation, amplify their messaging, and streamline their operations. To grow the business, you need to be willing and able to lead a team.
Is there a clear audience need? Content entrepreneurs don’t just create content because it’s what they’re passionate about. They’re producing the content to meet the needs of their ideal audience and target customers.
Which monetization paths interest you? Which of them make sense for the niche you’re considering? Successful content entrepreneurs leverage multiple income streams. Before you set a goal of building a content entrepreneurship business, identify which income streams make sense for your niche so you can set goals.
Whether content entrepreneurship is right for you now or a path you want to explore in the future, the business of content entrepreneurship is here to stay.