Not so long ago, designers were considered frivolous curiosities. YouTubers and TikTokers were seen as kids with too much free time and Instagram influencers as budding celebrities with a streak of narcissism.
Today, we know better.
Content creation is serious business. The industry was worth $13.8 billion in 2021, with brands, marketers and social media platforms relying on creators to reach critical audiences. Meanwhile, the creators themselves have proven themselves to be legit entrepreneurs with serious technical skills: photography and video editing, SEO, small business financial management, and contract negotiation. And with some, like Miss Excel Kat Norton making six figures in a single day peddling Excel advice on TikTok, it’s no wonder a majority of Gen Z and Millennials say they would consider get paid for the content they post online.
But the creators have also brought back into focus some of the “soft skills” that have taken over in recent years, as our economy and education systems have emphasized STEM skills.
From their incredible ability to build and nurture communities, to fearlessly exploring new platforms, to bravely presenting themselves as themselves day in and day out, creators continually demonstrate the value of often overlooked abilities we could all use more of. , that we’ I’m trying to create a Twitter account.
As a leader, I’ve seen how these creator skills apply to all careers, not just social media, and I try to nurture them in myself and seek them out in the people I work with.
Here are three soft skill builders that everyone needs.
When I was in school, “self-expression” was certainly not at the top of the list of essential job skills; in fact, it was a concept relegated to budding artists. . . who was also told to be prepared for a life of scrambling to make ends meet.
Today, creators have blown the hungry artist trope out of the water by proving that there’s real value in showing off what drives you. Self-expression, whether through storytelling, personal style, music, dance, or even a corny obsession with Excel or personal finance, is what makes creators so compelling to the rest of us. . Their self-confidence and authenticity in sharing their knowledge and passions is what attracts people to communities that have significant financial and cultural value.
It’s not just a useful skill for people who want to make a splash on social media; public speaking, for example, is a skill that is useful regardless of career choice. Our rapidly changing economy demands more personal initiative than ever. Self-expression requires clarifying what you do, what you do well (and what you don’t), and developing the confidence to know how and when to use your voice. It’s an essential skill whether you’re navigating the gig economy, seeking promotion at work, or branching out to start a new business.
Resilience through the creator’s lens
“Resilience” has become a buzzword in recent years, but it can be difficult to find examples of people who truly embody it. The creators bring this concept to life on a daily basis.
We all know the potential pitfalls of putting yourself on social media – relentless criticism, trolling and bullying. It’s not fair, but it’s the reality, and creators struggle with it more than most. To be successful, creators need to stay focused on their goals – building a community, showcasing their skills, delivering value to their followers – while setting strong boundaries and eliminating negativity.
It’s a skill that gets stronger with practice, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that many creators find their way to solving a problem or overcoming adversity in the first place. James Tesani, for example, found himself in the wrong career working for a bank. Rather than submit to a job that didn’t suit him, he started teaching guitar and posting YouTube videos to reach more students. Today, he has a thriving business teaching music online. Photographer and writer Marielle Terhart, meanwhile, was frustrated with the lack of sustainable clothing options for plus-size women, so she made it the focus of her Instagram account, which has since generated brand partnerships, speaking opportunities and an online column that are instigating change in the industry.
What these creators have in common is the ability to see opportunities in situations where others might only see limitations, and to find workarounds when necessary. It’s not just a skill that’s essential to career building; it’s fundamental to finding fulfillment in life and something I’m actively working to teach my children.
Creators as entrepreneurs face the continuing series of failures or, in my view, learning opportunities that come with any entrepreneurial venture. Fostering this ability to lean into failure and come out stronger is a key skill for success in any pursuit.
When I launched my first online course, I had to figure out how to compose my SEO, shoot and edit videos, and market myself, all at the same time. I wasn’t very good at most at first. I’ve spent many hours experimenting and trying to learn from others, and I’ve encountered a lot of setbacks while putting it into practice. The key was to keep going, to seek out new information, to apply what I was learning in real time, and to accept the inevitable failures along the way as part of the process.
Basically, it’s called a growth mindset, and it’s something creators have in spades. What most people don’t realize is the amount of trial and error it takes for creators to find their niche, refine their content, and build their brand. It’s a job that’s never really done, requiring continuous adaptation, a refusal to be intimidated by what they don’t (yet) know, and a just-in-time learning style – the ingenuity to find the information they need, when they need it. Luckily, there are now tons of resources where creators can learn from each other and pick up the skills they need.
Adopting an attitude of constant learning was key to setting me up for success as a creator, and it’s an attitude I’ve continued to foster – right now I’m playing around with learning the piano and refining my decision-making techniques, which will help me as a leader.
Above all, it means accepting that you won’t be an expert at everything from the start, and there will be stumbles along the way. But in a rapidly changing world where technology, culture, and economics can literally change overnight, the ability and willingness to challenge yourself to learn new skills, share your experience, and see the Opportunities in hurdles are essential, even if you never aspire to trend on TikTok.
Greg Smith is the founder and CEO of Thoughtfulthe first platform for creating and selling online courses.