In a time when 'content' is in high demand, content-creating freelancers should be reaping the rewards. Why then are so many photographers, videographers, animators, graphic designers and fellow content creators struggling to find work?

What is 'content'?

The word 'content' is one of those marketing terms that creatives tend to hate as it feels like another step towards sanitising the art that many freelancers produce. However, before we slam the marketing folk too hard, the term, at least, brings a sense of value to the work from a business perspective that may not have always been evident. Content, also known in the marketing world as 'an asset', includes photographs, video, infographics, animation, illustration or anything that a business can use to visually represent their brand or facilitate their messaging. 

Content creators are those who produce the content including photographers, videographers, or graphic designers, for example. Makeup artists, hair stylists, fashion stylists, nail artists and models are the support team required to produce much content, especially in the fashion and lifestyle industries. 

How do companies source content?

Many companies produce content both internally and externally for a variety of purposes. They may require images of their products for use on their e-commerce website, video for their social media channels or an infographic that represents their latest survey results. Typically, startups will attempt to produce their own content to save money with mixed results. 

Larger companies will generally have an in-house production department who create the majority of their content whereas smaller businesses will outsource work that they can not produce themselves, purchase through stock sites or take it from search engines.

With such demand for content, why are freelancers not inundated with work? 

Stock sites have come on leaps and bounds over the past few years and prices have plummeted. Many stock sites have started using a subscription business model making it quick, easy and cost effective for businesses to purchase bulk images to use as content. The variety of images also provides businesses with strong, general imagery, graphics and video options. 

Free stock image sites also provide companies with a good option. Their quality is more than exceptable for most businesses to use on their social channels and, best of all from a businesses perspective, it doesn't cost a penny. 

Technology has also played a significant role. It's becoming ever-easier to produce strong content using a phone and a filter app. Non-professional photographers working in companies can produce content instantly that often 'does the job'. 

In a full 360° turnaround, companies who used to produce their own images before moving to stock images have come back to using 'real' images taken by their staff or themselves as marketing statistics show a greater engagement rate for raw content. 

What can content creators do to land the job?

Offer a full service

Not all companies are able to produce their own content to a high enough standard or source the images they require from stock sites. Look for companies who require specific images to represent their products such as e-commerce sites. In addition, companies often require the content to be formatted for specific use such as web-ready images, retouched photos, infographics or HD video. Freelancers who offer a complete service can find an edge over internal production. 

Don't be good, be great

Quality also plays a big role. 10 years ago, photographers would get hired for basic shoots and produce work that was professional if not spectacular. In today's market, good photography, video, or design is no longer good enough. Content must be exceptional and trump the work that the company can produce internally. 

Evolve with technology

Content creators should be mindful of new technologies and the evolving content demands of companies. Many photographers are widening their services to include 360 video, animation or drone footage for example. A good photographer will already have 'the eye' and most probably the main piece of kit, ie: a camera, to produce video content that many companies require. Understanding how marketing teams use content will also enable content creators to offer content specific to the needs of a company. Check out Boomerang and Hyperlapse, two great Apps that facilitates unique content ideal for use on Instagram. 

Find an edge

Think of it from the perspective of a business. If they can do it themselves, why would they pay a freelancer to do it? Look at the type of content companies are using, develop your skills to be able to produce content at a level that most companies can not or content that requires specific kit or ability.