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The Smartest Way to Break into the Creator Economy and Make 6 Figures: Digital Apprenticeships

by | Apr 24, 2023 | Writing

There’s no doubt the creator economy is merging with the main economy.

Soon everyone will realize they are a content creator … or they’re a ghost. And ghosts don’t get jobs or get paid well.

Joining the creator economy can be hard. For some, they do courses. For others, they go at it blind for a year or two and waste a lot of time. For others, they sacrifice all their free time to figure it out.

There’s a better way. It’s called a digital apprenticeship.

Access to information solves nothing

There’s almost no information you can’t access.

Yet it doesn’t help people break into the creator economy or succeed online. Why? There’s too much info.

It could literally take your entire lifetime to sort through all the information on the creator economy and try to figure it out.

The value is in customized information. It’s in talking with people who are already doing the thing you do and having them coach you.

Paid coaching is out of reach for many

Of course you could pay Mr Beast to teach you how to make and publish amazing content.

But he doesn’t have the time and most of us probably can’t afford his 1–1 coaching fees. So we’re locked out.

The mistake most wannabe writers and creators make is they try to get help for free. I get hundreds of these messages and emails a day.

– “Hi” (most common message I get)
– “What platform do I write on?”
– “Let’s jump on a Zoom call.”
– “Can you give me feedback on my content?”
– “Let me buy you a coffee” (Wow $3.50 for an hour, you’re generous)

All these messages are surface-level.

Here’s the brutal truth: your creator problems aren’t going to be solved with one email from a guru.

That’s like saying all you need to be an Olympian is an email from the president with his blessing and a one-page workout plan. The creator economy is full of wannabes. You won’t stand out unless you go deep.

So what do you do?

How to become a badass digital apprentice

A digital apprentice is someone who helps a creator with a problem they have for free (or low cost) in return for coaching.

When I started I had this arrangement with a creator. They taught me about WordPress because it helped them outsource content creation. They got content, I got the most advanced blogging tips you could ever hope for.

It gave me my start. And unlike everyone else, I didn’t want to be paid for it. The bank job I had paid the bills while I learned about the creator economy. The same approach can work for you.

Here’s how to become one of the few digital apprentices:

1. Leave a few valuable comments

Every creator posts content. Dah!

So the first way to get in front of a creator is to leave helpful comments on their posts for a prolonged period of time. Don’t kiss their butt and lick between their thighs. Just be cool.

Leave a reply that adds on to their content. If they say here are 10 people in history who robbed the world. Use google or ChatGPT to find two more people and list them. Or add a personal story that relates to their post.

This comment stuff is child’s play.

2. Direct message them with a compliment

Direct messages happen on the tweet app, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.

Many creators don’t check their emails or have a virtual assistant that does. But I don’t know a single creator who doesn’t read their DMs.

DMs are more direct (dah!).

So DM them a genuine compliment and list a few things they taught you. Creators love this because making an impact on others is a huge (secret) intrinsic motivation for them. Their content is their legacy after all.

At the bottom of the DM add the line “no need to reply, I know you’re busy.”

This is a pro line that shows you’re used to dealing with high-performers and respect people’s time.

If they don’t reply then give it a month and send them another DM.

This time make a suggestion for a podcast or book you think they should read. Do some research and make sure your recommendation matches what they care about.

If you never get a reply then try another creator you admire.

3. Don’t make this common mistake

Once you get a few replies the temptation for most wannabes is to ask for something from the creator.

This is huge mistake. It’s transactional. It’s a social media one-night stand.

Instead, think about what skills you have. Is there something you could do for this creator?

  • Sales
  • Animations
  • Logo design
  • Illustrations
  • Video editing
  • Run live events
  • Manage online communities
  • Submitting DMCA copyright requests

Once you know what the skill is you can help them with, don’t pitch it to them. No. This is the amateur way. Instead of asking for permission, perform the skill for them and send them the result.

4. Send through examples that show off your skill

Along with the work you’ve done for them, also send a lot of examples of how you’ve helped others. These could be things you’ve done at a job.

This step is crucial because you may only get one shot to prove your credibility to the creator. You want them to have no doubt in their mind that you can add value.

5. Getting paid so you don’t become homeless

At this point critics will jump and say “you’ve become an unpaid slave dumbass.”

Not quite.

Once you’ve performed the skill for a month or two 99% of creators will offer to pay you something. If it were me, I wouldn’t accept their money.

Instead, I’d find a way to get coaching from them or spend more time around what they do.

This is the fastest way to learn the creator economy without all the clickbait, get-rich-quick schemes, and thread boi tweet threads.

What you learn from them we’ll make you 6-figures faster than if you did it on your own.

6. Hope this cool thing happens too

In my case, I became good friends with the creator I apprenticed for.

This is what you want to happen — because your inner circle will make you more money than a low-paid digital apprenticeship you insist on being paid for once you show 5 seconds of value.

The network is where all the money is. There’s a price of admission: time.

Final Thought

There are so many stories of this model working.

Youtube creator Ali Abdaal hired many people this way. Ryan Holiday was the digital apprentice of author Robert Greene. And several people on my team have come from this model too.

Everywhere you look in the creator economy you’ll find this model working. You don’t want money at the start. You want access to high-quality people who can teach you and information that can’t be googled.

Find your niche’s best creators and be their apprentice.

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