The LinkedIn team, referred to as “unlikely champions of creativity” by the Creative Review, have turned their focus to creators in recent years. Features like Creator Mode and LinkedIn Top Voices have made the platform a destination for many looking to grow their personal and business brands.
Creators like Justin Welsh have seen massive success by focusing on LinkedIn, gaining audiences in the hundreds of thousands. If you’re looking for a more approachable example, look no further. I’ve gained over 10,000 followers on LinkedIn by sharing content about my work life and career advice.
So yes, LinkedIn is lucrative for creators, especially those who have diverse expertise to share. – and not just professionals. In this article, we’ll explore the world of LinkedIn creators, including who they are, why you should care, and how to become one.
What’s a LinkedIn creator?
A LinkedIn creator is a thought leader within a particular industry who shares organic content with a specific professional audience. Most successful LinkedIn creators fall into one of two categories:
- Established professionals with a massive digital footprint and the support of a team to create content (like Arianna Huffington or Simon Sinek)
- Individuals who dedicate time to personal branding and content strategy to grow an engaged audience within a niche (like Jon-Stephen Stansel and Mandy Fransz)
Both categories are valid and necessary on the platform – the expertise of established professionals is vital, no matter how they choose to share it. However, you likely fall into the latter category, and growing from scratch is harder. To grow as an individual using LinkedIn for your personal brand, you’ll need to:
- Share expert knowledge on LinkedIn to help others achieve similar results
- Support other creators by engaging with their content
- Participate in the community by attending and hosting events
It’s a significant but worthwhile investment. LinkedIn has a massive (and specific) audience of over 900 million members – this, along with its revamped algorithm, makes it a golden opportunity for anyone looking to build an audience.
Why become a LinkedIn creator?
With its large user base, LinkedIn is a no-brainer for anyone who wants to grow an audience for their career or business. Beyond that, however, LinkedIn offers specific elements that make creating on the platform more than worthwhile:
- An algorithm that offers a clear path to growth
- A specific audience – as one of the only social networks with a clear target audience of Professionals. These professionals may range in experience, expertise, and industry, but they all promote their work life in one way or another.
- A suite of tools designed for creators like Newsletters, Audio Events, and Livestreams.
Since the algorithm cares more about getting your content in front of the right people, you can be assured that you’ll grow as long as you optimize your posts and keep up your engagement through comments and replies.
How to become a successful LinkedIn creator
Everyone has different definitions of success, but if you want to grow an engaged audience on LinkedIn, there are three core elements to consider: Relevance, Expertise, and Engagement.
- Relevance: The relevance of your posts to a distinct audience (your niche)
- Expertise: Your expertise in your content’s subject area
- Engagement: The presence of "meaningful comments" from people who have historically shown interest in similar conversations.
So, how can you set yourself apart from the millions of LinkedIn creators to stand out? Follow these steps.
Choose a niche to create for
Picking a niche is a creator cliche at this point, but it’s an essential part of growth on LinkedIn. This is because of how the LinkedIn algorithm works – content MUST be relevant to whoever sees it. The best way to make that relevant content? By sticking to a niche.
If you don’t already have a niche you’d like to speak about, this is your chance to experiment. We’ve written about picking a niche (and even include advice from other creators).
Switch to Creator Mode
If you want to focus on content creation on LinkedIn, the first thing to do is switch your profile to Creator Mode, the feature that makes LinkedIn so attractive for creators.
Some things that you get in Creator Mode:
- The “connect” button converts to a “follow” button, meaning along with having connections, you will also be gaining followers. You can also copy your Follow link to share externally.
- Creator Mode also improves discoverability, as LinkedIn may feature you as a suggested creator.
- You get a Featured section above the About section that showcases pinned posts, articles, and links you choose to highlight.
- You can select up to five hashtags as Profile Topics that will be displayed on your profile to indicate what you talk about most.
- You get deeper analytics showing how your content performs on the platform.
- Starting a Newsletter, setting up an Audio Event, or starting a Livestream.
The features within Creator Mode are easy to set up, so I recommend using as many of them as possible. Learn more about LinkedIn’s features for Creators.
Work on your LinkedIn profile
Your LinkedIn profile is valuable real estate that allows you to make a great first impression – so treat it carefully.
Here are four steps to follow as you optimize your LinkedIn profile:
- Choose a good profile picture that shows your face: A simple headshot with a neutral background is perfect for LinkedIn. (Bonus: You can add frames to your profile to indicate if you’re #OpenToWork or #Hiring.)
- Write a catchy, professional headline: This portion allows you to add up to 220 characters, and it’s not overkill to use three to four phrases to encompass all you do. Make one mission statement to highlight your niche, then mention current, past, and aspiring roles, certifications, or other information with the rest.
- Turn your header into a billboard: As the first thing someone sees (even before your profile picture) when they land on your profile, you’ll want your header to grab attention. Choose a photo highlighting key things you want people to know about you.
- Develop a compelling summary that sells: Your About section is your chance to show off your personality – it shouldn’t just be your resume copy-pasted. You can share a personal story, key lessons, or what type of role you’re looking for next.
Full optimization comes with time as you figure out your niche. Take a deeper dive into how to make your LinkedIn profile a powerful landing page for your growth.
Your LinkedIn network needs to be filled with people likely interested in what you share and will engage. Strive to have at least 501 connections to start because LinkedIn displays a nifty “500+” once you pass that mark rather than the exact number of connections you have. This helps give the impression that you’re well-connected and that many people know you.
As you work your way up to the wider network, don’t hesitate to connect with people. Most people will accept a LinkedIn connection from anyone (as long as you make your profile as detailed as possible). However, they might just as easily reject your connection request – and if this happens too often, LinkedIn might restrict your account.
So, if you have very few connections and are just starting to build up your content and engagement on LinkedIn, hold off on reaching out to people you don’t know. Start with your family, friends, then work your way up to schoolmates and colleagues.
Once you’ve exhausted all the people who might know you, focus on your second-degree connections. These people are part of your connections’ network – if you have enough connections in common with someone, that helps ease the road to acceptance.
It also helps to add a connection request introducing yourself and why you’d like to connect with the person in question.
Publish content consistently
The more you share, the better LinkedIn will theoretically understand who you are, what you do, and who wants to see your posts, so publish frequently.
Your content should share insights that can resonate with a specific professional audience instead of trying to appeal to a mass audience. Anything that comes from personal experience in your career and gives advice at the end will win in the new algorithm.
LinkedIn is very text-heavy, so consider exploring different formats to stand out. You can upload carousels (combine them in a PDF first and upload it as a document) or videos (with captions so people can watch on mute).
No matter how unique you think your niche is, you’ll likely run into other people who create similar content for a similar audience. Stand out by sharing what Wes Kao, CEO of Maven, calls a “spiky point of view,” which is insightful content about your niche that challenges the norms. People love this type of content.
Engage with people frequently
LinkedIn wants content that sparks conversation, and the best way to do that is through comments. It’s a simple formula: post with lots of comments = high algorithmic visibility (with other factors considered, of course).
The two best ways to do this are:
- Encourage responses with calls to action
- Tag people in your niche who post about similar topics and will likely engage and add further insights.
You should also leave comments on others’ posts frequently to build a relationship with them. This will come naturally if you’ve connected and followed the right people.
Carve out space in your niche on LinkedIn with your unique perspective
On LinkedIn, the term 'creator' is no longer a novelty but a badge of honor. Unleashing your unique professional persona on this platform accelerates your career trajectory and unlocks a treasure trove of opportunities.
Take advantage of the rewarding algorithm and massive customer base to grow an audience of like-minded people.
Are you ready to don the 'creator' mantle and bask in the spotlight? Take the first step today: choose your niche, switch to Creator Mode, and create your next LinkedIn post (in Buffer, of course).
(P.S. Once you've made your post, tag us on LinkedIn, leave a link to your post in the comments, and we'll be there to engage!)