3 Major Ways Content Creators Are Hurting Their Brand

There are 3 major ways that content creators hurt their brand:

  • Not having a properly-defined niche
  • Giving away content for free or below value
  • Affiliating with off-brand products and services

In this article I cover each of these three concepts so that you can define your brand and protect its value. Whether you are just starting out or are a veteran content creator, it is never too early or too late to get this right!

Content Creators Who Do Not Have a Properly-Defined Niche

Drawing the boundaries between what your niche is and (just as importantly) what it is not, is challenging. But it is crucial.

Defining your niche is similar to Goldilocks’ porridge – it takes a lot of thought and often trial and error to get it “just right”. Not too broad, nor too narrow. Not jumbled with differing concepts. I am still working on the latter as I like to do many different things! Does this sound like you too?

flat lay japan
Some content creators have made a brand out of the perfect flat-lay!

Let’s dig in and discuss what can go wrong with defining your niche, so that we can help things go right from the outset!

Having a Niche That’s Too Broad

Take for example the entire realm of photography. This is clearly too broad as there are so many competitors, and it is hard to stand out if your photography encompasses everything – day, night, astro, wedding, portraits, street, landscape… you get the idea.

Without a narrow niche, companies and individuals that may want to work with you won’t know what you excel at! We’ve all heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none.” It’s important to keep this concept in mind when deciding where your mastery lies.

The best way to know whether your niche is too broad is to do market research (i.e., diving into google) to see how many competitors are offering the same products / services that you are considering. If there is an overwhelming amount of competition, it may be time to narrow your niche. Which brings me to the next point…

Having a Niche That’s Too Narrow

Going along with the photography example, your content creator brand may be too narrow if you decide to specialize in waterfall wedding photography. This could be a fun specialty, but there may not be enough clients interested in having their weddings at a waterfall (go figure!).

Just like the research you need to do on your competition to see if your niche is too broad, you should also research your potential customers to see if your niche is too narrow. As you research, you’re trying to determine how many people are looking for products and services in the niche you’re considering.

Content Creator Photographer

If there are too few customers that want services / products in your potential niche, it will be difficult to earn enough to sustain your business.

Having a Niche That Is Jumbled with Differing Concepts

You’re good at many different things and are passionate about ALL of them. Lucky you! But that doesn’t mean that you have to share all of them with the world.

Focus on what your potential customers want. Where does that intersect with your skills and passions? Where can you make the biggest impact while still having a focused niche?

It took me a long time to find my niche so don’t fret if you’re in the same boat. Experiment and filter. After a lot of trial and error, my brand is finally on the right path!

Here at Course Charted, I focus on travel writing and content creation for travelers who want value and meaningful, memorable travels. My legal background helps me protect my brand and allows me to help other content creators in the travel space protect and properly value their brands.

My niche weaves these two passions travel+legal into a cohesive whole!

Content Creator Nice France
I’m also into giant floppy hats – the bigger, the better!

As a content creator, don’t consider the above process a one-time decision. Testing and refining your niche should continue for the life of your business.

Content Creators That Give Away Content for Free or Below Value

If I had a nickel for every content creator that has given away their content for free or well below its value, I’d be swimming in nickels Scrooge McDuck style!

Your written work, photography, videography, brand name / logo and the like may have value and may be protected under intellectual property laws.

What is intellectual property? It’s defined by the Legal Information Institute as “any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others.” In the United States we have four main categories of intellectual property protection – trademark, copyright, patent, and trade secrets.

To protect your brand, you need some understanding of the above so that you know what value you possess when it comes to your business. At the very least, be very careful about what rights you may be signing away when you’re presented with a blanket release / consent…

Beware of Blanket Releases and Consents

When you sign blanket releases and consents you may be hurting your content and brand value. There is a reason a business or individual is contacting you and trying to get you to sign a release. Because they want your content!

Be wary, businesses or individuals will try to get your content as cheaply as possible. The obligation is on us as content creators to properly value our content and to carefully read all documents and proposals that deal with rights to that content.

I know too many content creators that signed releases giving businesses and individuals broad rights to use their photographs, articles, videos, etc. into perpetuity. This blows my mind!

Could you imagine having your doctor sign a document saying that you’re entitled you to free medical services forever?!

If this sounds absurd, it should. It should sound equally absurd for a business to propose that you sign away all rights to your creative work.

But don’t expect those reaching out to you to do the valuation work for you. Do it yourself so that you have a counterproposal that properly values what you are providing.

If you want me to write an article discussing strategies for valuing your content, let me know in the comment section below!

Beware of the “Exposure” Tactic

Many content creators fall for the “exposure” tactic (especially when they’re starting out). This happens when a business promises “exposure” in return for your content (rather than paying you an agreed-upon fee).

As a newbie you may be excited that company X is even reaching out to you. But letting that excitement stop you from asking for proper compensation is a surefire way to undervalue your content.

Unless the company has a large, relevant audience, you should be wary of giving away your content without payment and clear release terms. In some situations accepting exposure in exchange for a narrow, tailored release can be the right decision.

At the very least, I suggest that you ask the company to provide you with evidence of their reach and audience demographics. This way, you can make an informed decision (re: the value you’ll be getting in exchange for your content).

photographer tokyo japan
I might accept payment in strawberry daifuku – make an offer!

Content Creators That Affiliate With Off-Brand Products and Services

You’ve put in significant effort into defining your brand. It’s what allows your potential customers to clearly and quickly know what they will get from you.

  • Starbucks – passable, consistent coffee
  • Apple – latest tech in a sleek form
  • Amazon – vast product selection and quick delivery

The fastest way to confuse your customers about who you are and what you stand for as a content creator? Partnering with and advertising products and services that are off-brand.

Some examples for illustration:

  • Vegan blog advertising meat products
  • Astro-photographer posting portrait photos
  • Backpacker writing about staying at the Four Seasons

Each of the above examples involves an affiliation or partnership with a company to advertise products that are off-brand. When content creators do this, they hurt the trust they’ve cultivated with their community.

It may be tempting to jump on those early offers to partner and advertise products, but it is not worth hurting the trust you’re building with your audience. Hopefully you’ve got the long-term in mind. Don’t make short-term decisions that will hurt you and your community down the line.

sunglasses beach
Are you really into sunglasses? Do you create content about warm weather destinations? Then a partnership with a sunglasses brand may be a wonderful match! And your community may be interested to know the brands that you enjoy and trust.

Great brand-match partnerships won’t necessarily fall into your lap. More likely, you’ll get emails from a random hodgepodge of diet tea, watch, alcohol, and social media app companies. Most of the emails will evidence companies that have no idea what you do or what you stand for.

They may be scanning Instagram for a certain follower count and blasting emails to everyone that fits the bill. Do you really want to work with this type of company?

A much better option – know what you stand for and reach out to companies that reflect your values. This way, you’ll be sharing products and services that are relevant to your community. Win, win!

Here’s a handy summary of the 3 major ways that content creators are hurting their brands:

  1. Not having a properly-defined niche
  2. Giving away content for free or below value
  3. Affiliating with off-brand products and services

Get the above right, and you’ve got a huge leg up on the competition!

Please let me know if you’ve found this article helpful! Did I miss anything?

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