[Ask TBM] How Can Content Creators and Businesses Monetize Social Media?

There’s money in content creation, which is why we ask TikTok EduCreator Kia Abrera about how aspiring influencers can monetize their craft as creative entrepreneurs.

Social media has now become the go-to for news and the latest happenings. In fact, the Philippines is known as one of the world’s biggest social media users, and this rings true for streaming platforms like TikTok, which have 33 million users as of 2022 from the Philippines alone! Meanwhile, Instagram has over 19 million users (that’s 17% of the population!), while Facebook users encompass over 88% of the country’s entire population with over 100 million users.

With these numbers came the rise of content creators. Although they built a strong presence even before the pandemic, their following has grown in leaps and bounds during the pandemic, specifically for TikTok, with 318 million downloads, according to Sensor Tower.

On another end, companies have taken advantage of this new kind of marketing by offering paid collaboration and ex-deals in exchange for posts, videos, and stories alike. This was the birth of influencer marketing—a kind of creative entrepreneurship that aspiring content creators can monetize when they play their cards right.

In order to know more about monetizing social media, whether as a content creator or as a PR agency, we seek the help of TikTok EduCreator Kia Abrera of BraveWorks Inc to know more.

What is “creative entrepreneurship” and how can you be successful in this field?

If I am going to put it simply, creative entrepreneurship is serving clients and solving business problems using your creative and intellectual capital. This can be in any form from the creative industries: digital marketing, social media, content creation, design, videography, photography, etc.

For me, success is only possible if you love what you’re doing, you have a problem that you’re passionate about solving, and you have a relentless bias for serving people. Pick a skill that you like to develop, stick with it long enough to see results, play the long game, and always figure out how you can help people with what you love doing.

How can you leverage social media platforms such as TikTok to win clients and campaigns, and inspire creative entrepreneurs?

I didn’t really have that much of a plan when I went into TikTok. I was just curious about what the hype was all about. I started just consuming content on the platform and trying to see what audiences were responding to, [and] how people can leverage the platform in terms of communication—just really learning why people consume on TikTok.

I [then] decided to give it a try—just very sporadically, while I learned more about the algorithm and the culture. In October 2021, I decided to double down on it as I tried to get clarity on my personal brand and business under the careful guidance of my business coach, Chris Do. As I built my influence on the platform, I began to attract brands, clients and students alike—all interested to work with me because of what I brought to the table.

I just wanted to help people in terms of creative entrepreneurship—how they can get clients, how they can brand themselves, how they can leverage tools, and all that. Apparently, brands who are looking to hire someone for content creation or brand strategy, or even video production, came across my content and asked me about what I did in terms of services (because I also talked about my agency and my marketing experience).

That’s when my TikTok account became one of my best forms of social proof and my best education platform.

How can entrepreneurs upskill their creativity and apply it in their businesses?

I think creativity is all about knowing how to connect the dots. Curiosity has to be insatiable, and as I mentioned before, there has to be a relentless love of learning. I always tell my students that they have to keep nurturing their thought processes because they will be able to solve better problems when they know how to think strategically.

Thinking strategically means you’re not just throwing solutions, but you’re asking the right questions. Finding the right questions is a challenge in itself—that’s why it takes a lot of practice. Get in conversations. Read powerful books. Consume nurturing content. Ask questions from people you look up to.

When you get a concept, test it out and see if it works for you. Don’t be afraid to dip your toes in the water, or maybe even take a dive. You’ll never know what works if you only consume things—you need to test it out by taking action.

What are some concrete tips to get started?

  • Pick a core skill, not just a “trending skill”. It has to be something you like doing because the desire to learn and upskill will be relatively easier to come by.
  • Get experience. This can be through a job, an internship, paid work with a starting fee, or an exchange of value. This is important—you have to apply your fundamentals. There’s no shame in starting low, as this is your investment phase. Yes, you won’t get your monetary return right away, but your goal is to learn. Give yourself 6 months to a year—whatever time you need to make the basics second nature.
  • Learn business skills. Mastering creative skills will make you a skilled “manufacturer,” which is usually at the bottom of the chain of command (reference: Stan Shih’s smile curve). If you stay there, you will be treated as a commodity no matter how good you are. You need to learn business skills (branding, marketing, concept and research, strategy, after-sales, finance management, etc) so you don’t just apply them to your own business, but you also learn to solve business problems. Ultimately, that’s what creative entrepreneurship is about.

How can creatives be better at business?

I consider the entrepreneurial mindset essential in any field. You will always have an advantage if you are an entrepreneur. If you have this kind of mindset, this means you value your skills so you end up treating your employer as your “client.” They are investing in your skill because you can give them something that is valuable to their company’s growth.

If you have confidence in what you can do, you’d be investing in yourself and will continuously upskill to make yourself more valuable—meaning, you know how to spot opportunities in challenges, you know how to build meaningful relationships, [and] you know how to maximize and leverage any situation and build something out of your available resources. It all starts with self-efficacy—the belief that you can succeed.

When you know this, then you have to start looking at what you have and how your gift can serve people. As this motivates you, you’ll have a relentless bias for action. It all snowballs from there.

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