8-min read
May 10, 2023

A Customer/Community Creator Program is a Content Game-changer. Here’s How to Start One

Kirsti Lang

Our creator program helped a content team of one create a content calendar packed full of valuable resources

When I started at Commsor, I was a content team of one.

Also — full disclosure — I was working for a company pioneering software in the community space. And I knew nothing about community (yet). Eep.

I had to create enough content to feed:

I knew there was no way I could generate enough content for all these channels alone. At least, not at the quality I wanted to, anyway.

I also knew that if I wanted to create resources that were actually helpful to our audience, I needed expert help.

Luckily, I had experts at my fingertips: our community of community professionals, The Community Club

It started off small and ad-hoc. I’d reach out to a member who had answered another's question in our Club Slack group, or members who had a specific area of expertise and pick their brains. This slowly evolved to full-on interviews. The content was good. But the process wasn’t scalable. While their knowledge was invaluable, production was still slow going. 

Suddenly, a wild idea appeared. What if… I let them create the content themselves? 

I had a small budget to play with. Yes, I could have hired a bunch of writers who were just as clueless as I was. The very good ones would have done the research and interviews and the content would have been solid.

But what if I used my budget to elevate the actual subject matter experts — who also happened to be our customers and community members? 

Enter: the beginnings of our very own creator program.

The evolution of our creator program, The Commsor Guild 

Coming from a journalism background, it felt natural for me to start with a system that ran a little bit like a remote newsroom. 

The Guildies (as we lovingly call them) would pitch ideas, I’d send over an article brief, and they'd whip up a draft. From there, we’d workshop the article until it was publish-ready. 

Their deep knowledge, subject matter expertise, and personal stories made for a formidable combo. This wasn’t empty, content marketer-ese, SEOed up to the teeth. This was community pros creating content for community pros, work that resonated deeply with the people we were trying to reach. 

It’s little wonder then that today, our Guild content ranks among the best-read articles on our blog, our most-opened newsletters, and one of our biggest engagement drivers on social media. So much so that, while our Content team has grown (by two amazing writers), the program lives on (see benefits below to understand why).

Our CEO (cheers, Mac!) saw the benefits too, and encouraged us to expand the program. With help from our small but mighty team of in-house writers and a partnerships manager (who I like to see as the conductor of our content symphony), my hacked-together ‘Creator Guild’ is now the Commsor Guild.  

The Commsor Guild includes not only community pros, but experts from other industries, too. We’ve also broadened our scope to create events and courses. 

The benefits of a customer/community creator program

For your org

  • Access to deep subject matter expertise to cement your organization as an industry thought leader.
  • Adds firepower to content and events calendars a game-changer for small teams looking to drive leads and brand awareness.
  • Generates resources for your ICP, by your ICP.
  • Amplifies your brand through your creators’ networks and social channels.
  • Builds trust and working relationships between customers/members and your team.

For creators

  • Amplifies your creators and sets them up as thought leaders through your platforms and social channels.
  • Access to your in-house experts to help their content shine.

Have I convinced you yet? The beauty of a creator program is that it doesn’t have to be a huge drain on resources or take multiple teammates to run. I ran a small version of the Guild myself for months (and honestly, it was a lot less intense than creating all the content from scratch myself).

How to start a customer/community creator program

This is an MVP approach to building out a creators’ program. The best advice I could give you going in: start small. Get your processes in order, and add creators from there. 

1. Create a plan

This needn’t be an elaborate magnum opus. There are just some key things you need to be clear on before you put the pedal to the metal, including:

Define your who, what, why

The goal with our first iteration of our Guild was simple and perhaps too broad, but it gave us a north star:

The Guild is a team of community pros who share their experiences, strategies, learnings, and more to elevate the community industry as a whole, helping them and Commsor become thought leaders in the space.

Answer these three questions at the get-go:

  1. What’s the primary reason your creator program should exist? 
  2. Who will be a part of it? 
  3. What will they create?

For question one, don’t forget to tie these back to overarching business goals, so you can help motivate for resources and prove return on investment (ROI).

Content pillars and platforms

This article assumes you already have a content and (if applicable) event strategy in place. 

At this step, you need to connect the dots between your creator program and your content plan. Pinpoint the categories you want your creators to contribute to.

This was how I laid things out for our first Guild:

The Guild will create content that solves problems for and helps empower Community Managers at all stages of their careers. This will include:`

Tactical content offering guidance for both new and mature communities on key areas of community management, including:


How much are you able to pay per piece of content? Set standard rates for each content type. 

For us, compensation was a must. Community professionals are regularly asked to contribute their expertise without compensation for their energy and time — with only the nebulous promise of ‘exposure’ in return. It was important for us to break with that industry-wide problem. 

If you’re a cash-strapped Content Marketer or Community Manager with zero budget, don’t abandon all hope here. Could you offer them product perks in return? Some (decent) swag? Access to experts on your own team? There are ways to get creative here without leaning on the exposure fallback. 


Who will be involved in working with your creators internally?

  • If you’re looking to build a customer program, your Customer Success team should be your first port of call. 
  • Will your content be focused on the product itself? The Support and Product teams are important partners. 
  • Will your creators come from your community? Talk to your Community team.
  • Who will be editing, uploading, and/or promoting the content? If you’re not a marketer, getting the Marketing team involved is a must.

Get these teams’ buy-in, and identify specific people who will be involved in the process (whether that’s sourcing creators, contributing ideas, or editing content).


Whether it’s a brief list or a flowchart, outline your workflow, from start to finish. Again, this doesn’t have to be elaborate. Here’s a super simple one I used for our first iteration of the Guild:

As you get to creating this, you’ll want a version you can send to creators in their onboarding to set expectations. Include answers to questions like: 

  • How long will they be given to create their content? 
  • How should they submit it to you? 
  • How long will they have to wait until they get feedback? 
  • At what point will they be paid and how much?

Nice-to-have documentation:

  • A list of FAQs your creators may have (we published these in our application announcement).
  • A basic writing guide (we shared a trimmed-down version of our company style guide).

2. Find your creators

There are two routes you can take here: a call for applications, or your own research and outreach.

In both cases, there are some specifics you’re looking for:

  • A deep understanding of your/their field.
  • Solid content creation skills. Find or ask for samples of their work (unedited if possible). This is not the be-all and end-all, but it certainly helps as you’re looking to scale. The better creators they are, the lighter the lift for your team to make their content publish-ready. 
  • Ideas! These folks are (ideally) your ideal customer profile (ICP), so they know your audience's pain points and experiences better than you do. If you’re sourcing your own creators, check out their socials (or community posts!) for ideas they can extrapolate on. If you’ve put out an application program, ask your wannabe creators to submit a brief list of ideas.

3. Onboard your creators

Make your creators feel welcome and set them up for success.

That might mean a 1-1 call with your new creators to get to know them and their areas of expertise a little better and walk them through all the documentation you put together in step 1.

Whether you meet with them or send over a welcome email, you’ll want to share as many resources as possible, and be upfront about expectations.

This includes things like:

  • The creator-facing version of your step-by-step process you outlined in #1, from ideation to publication. 
  • Nice-to-have documentation (writing guide, FAQs, content samples, and anything else they might find useful as they get to work).

We’ve created a fairly elaborate guide for our latest iteration of the Guild, complete with processes for all the various things they can create with us (content, events, courses). 

But our first version was a simple PDF I hacked together, which I (rather generously) dubbed our Guild welcome pack.

4. Create a way for your Guildies to connect with each other

Creating a channel for our newly minted Guild in The Community Club was a no-brainer. It’s a place where our Guildies can easily chat with our team, share ideas, give each other feedback on their work, and collaborate on bigger projects.

It’s helped us cultivate a real sense of camaraderie, and (of course) community among our creators. 

If, unlike us, you don’t have a community to easily put your creators in the same proverbial room, there are a plethora of ways to connect. A LinkedIn group, a Twitter list you can share for them all to follow, and even a brief video chat hangout to introduce them all to each other could have a similar effect. 

Still not seeing the value? Take a gander at the content we've created in partnership with our Guild

📊 3 Essential Guidelines for Community Data Analysis

🪭 What it Takes to Turn Customers into Raving Fans

💻 'I’m a Social Media Manager Charged with Building Community on Social. Here’s How I’m Doing It'

🏀 I’m a Community Professional Who’s Been Laid Off — Doing These Things Helped Me Bounce Back

🍯 Every Community Needs a Sticky Feature. What’s Yours?

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