Creative content is taking over because creators now have the variety and availability of technology platforms to easily fuel their creativity. Areas of passions turn into profitable businesses (e.g., YouTube star Lilly Singh). YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and even Oculus Medium are channels where people are curating and creating content in areas they're most passionate, from virtual reality to cooking, photography and more.
These platforms serve as discovery tools to help people with similar interests connect. When today's biggest digital businesses are all focused on rich content to drive engagement, it begs the question: How can I turn my own ideas into a successful business?
There are three steps to start and grow a creative idea into a profitable, digital business.
1. Nurture your creativity.
Inspiration for a business idea can come from anything: a unique personal experience, witnessing a problem and seeing the possibility for a better solution, even walking down the street. Everyone harbors inner creativity, but the question is: How do I nurture that inspiration and take the next step?
First and foremost, write your ideas down. Productivity experts suggest writing things down helps us not only remember information better, but also turns "abstract goals into concrete work." For me, I make an effort to write in a journal a few times a week -- documenting ideas as they form -- so they become less siloed, and consequently, I can see connections between those ideas and other pieces of outside information.
Another effective way to nurture your creativity is to turn to the people around you. As the CEO of a digital media company, I ran into a situation where a product feature didn't gain as much traction as we anticipated, and we needed to find a way to make it more available to users. We held brainstorms across the company to prototype, then iterate, then continually refine, until we finally reached a viable (and successful) solution. Similarly, by using your community to reiterate and refine on your creative ideas, it can make those ideas (and your content) even better.
2. Find your niche.
Building a business is about creating an experience and connecting it with people who care. Once you've fed your creativity, the next step is to define your business value, or niche. What differentiates your ideas and content from others in the space? If you can define your niche correctly, that's where the money is -- people will pay for access to content that's unique and aligned with their passions.
An important framework to remember is: the more specific the content, the more opportunity to build the business. Take publications like Cranes Today Magazine -- the leading journal for the crane and lifting industries -- or Tom Tom Magazine, the only magazine in the world dedicated to female drummers.
They both have international followings and extremely successful digital sales models. These creators understood that by producing high-quality content focused on a unique, but passionate community, they could grow their audiences.
How can you find your niche? Start looking within relevant communities that would be interested in your content.
Platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Reddit can seem overwhelming at first, but you can use them to your advantage: engage with shared content enthusiasts and discover subcommunities through hashtags, explore pages, liked posts and more. By leveraging these enthusiast groups -- Reddit alone has over 600,000 SubReddits -- you can identify what direction to take your ideas to create the most value for the right people.
3. Leverage the right tech.
Technology plays a crucial role in helping creators build their businesses by distributing and monetizing their content.
First, identify the right tools that will help you share your content with your audience. A lot of this depends on what space you're working in.
To design visual content, many choose Adobe for easy sharing; to create objects in virtual reality, Oculus Medium is a popular choice and community; for game developers, Unity is a platform with tools that help "artists and developers create cinematic content and gameplay sequences"; of course, there's YouTube to share video content. Whatever the platform, make sure it's helping you get more eyeballs on your content.
Your last and critical step is to identify the platform that will help you monetize, whether it's through ads, subscriptions, individual sales, patronage, commerce, or another channel.
Making a profit as an artist and creator from your content is not selling out -- it's helping your business grow while connecting with others and doing what you love.