A content creator is a nice catch all name for someone who creates media for sharing online. It is more commonly used by people that use multiple media formats like writing, audio and/or video like a blogger, vlogger or a podcaster. Now that’s cleared up, let’s look at how you can be a good one by avoiding doing the things that make me a lousy one.
Creating content can be hard. It’s not just writing, it’s vlogging, it’s, podcasting, it’s instagramming, it’s snapchatting, it’s tweeting, it’s… exhausting. My own failed attempts at keeping it up are demonstrated in my feeble 5 vlog episodes, 3 podcast episodes and blog that hasn’t been updated in months. Sometimes maintaining all these outlets can begin to feel more like an obligation than a hobby particularly if you begin working with or for other people. These people will have deadlines that you will need to meet. This means you have to have ideas and the resolve to dedicating the time to making them real, this is hard because:
Creating content is hard
Coming up with ideas on demand when you just open your computer and expect to devote the next hour to coming up with something original rarely works. Inspiration is probably going to desert you if sit down and go “right, I’m going to write something”. The best way I found of overcoming it is to keep your mobile phone handy at all times. When inspiration does strike - you find something interesting, funny, infuriating or intriguing enough that you want to talk about it, then you have somewhere to tap away a few notes. Do this often as it will give you the basis of the idea you need when you do finally sit down at a laptop. It’s definitely better than just hoping that inspiration and opening your laptop conveniently coincide.
Getting the quality right is hard
My attention to detail is terrifyingly woeful, if I write for a publication that doesn’t edit prior to printing or posting my article or blog, I can guarantee you that there will be typos no matter HOW many times I proof read. But that’s just writing, what about video or podcasting?
Fortunately the YouTube generation are not all about studio quality video, a lot of YouTube consumers are interested in the content over the quality. This means you can film on pretty much anything you own (my Vlogs were all filmed on an IPhone) giving you the opportunity to focus more on the content and putting your story across. I am not saying go and film with a potato, but you don’t need to invest in 100’s of euros worth of equipment. Two tips from other YouTubers I try to keep in mind when I am eyeing up a new expensive Vlogging camera is “Do what you can, with what you have” and the other tidbit from Casey Neistatt is “Don’t let perfection stand in the way of good enough” I like this one and it reminds me not to get overly precious with what I am producing.
It can be very unrewarding both financially and emotionally
Let’s face it, not everyone gets rich from creating content - though some do and you might, but not everyone does. You spend 2 hours scripting a video about a subject and 3 hours collecting content which involves moving tripods, cameras and maybe lights, then you actually film the pieces to camera with cutaway shots, then 3 hours in post, editing on software then uploading this to YouTube all the while hoping your video will reach a few hundred people, or even an advertiser or social media site. Cut to 2 weeks later, it’s only been viewed 13 times, with one comment from your gran saying how grown up you look. It can be a little soul destroying.
To get over this you need to create content for the right reasons, and getting rich pretty much guarantees you’re doing it for the wrong ones. Personally I create content because I enjoy the process and it is a common theme amongst other content creators, after you get over the initial fear of putting yourself out there and having people see your work, the best way to keep moving forward is to write about what you are interested in and what you actually hold an opinion on. In the early days this is the only reward you will get.
Committing time to create enough content is hard
You have a job, (probably) friends, family and other things and these all take up time. If you were to produce a podcast, it will take an hour to set up, an hour to record, 1-2 hours to edit in post and then another 2-3 hours to market it so that someone (anyone) can find it. For a new piece of content I would suggest that at the minimum it’s going to be a Facebook post, an Instagram post, a website update to show that the podcast is available and it all takes time. If you want to do this every week, then you are already looking to commit 6 hours per week to that one project.
It’s not just the time spent creating though, if you consider writing 1 blog a week, film 1 vlog a fortnight, post daily posts to your Facebook page, Instagram’s and Twitter, coming up with enough ideas to fill these platforms and then maintaining a regular update of content for your audience can be immensely hard, particularly if you care about the content you create and don’t just want to throw anything out there. It’s important not to over stretch yourself and to focus on one activity at a time, then hopefully that focus will inspire the next project. My podcast for instance is based on my Blog, so I use my blog content for the basis of podcast episodes and in some of my vlogs, so whilst my episode posting is not prolific, inspiration for it has started from the blog which was my first (and only content I was creating for about 2 years.) If I had focused on all different mediums, I might never have produced anything.
In the end, it is worth it
I don’t create content for money, I don’t create content because I feel I have a voice that must be heard, I don’t even create content that I want everyone in the world to see, I create content because it’s fun. When inspiration strikes and you do decide to commit what you want to create to paper or screen, taking and editing the video becomes fun, posting the pics to Instagram becomes fun and getting ANY interaction is fun and this will keep you going.
Aside from it being fun, if you become a content creator you will have to GROW. You have to learn a diverse set of skills, beginning with the fact that you must be able to tell a story. Whether it’s a podcast, a blog, an article or a vlog it must have a story. What is it you are trying to say and how do you want to say it? Beyond this, you need to learn about many different software types from video editing, to sound editing software, then you are going to want somewhere to put it all, all of a sudden you need to learn about website creation and podcast hosting, editing graphics and photos and more. Because of this you will grow as a person as you master all these different platforms and begin to distribute your content.
After a while you will learn what your audience wants from you and you can tailor your content but until then you may find just creating content can be reward enough in itself, even if few people see it. Obviously, it’s much more fun if people do actually see your work, but that will come if you just stick to it honestly. Being that I follow my own advice, whilst I may not be a prolific content creator, I produce what I am interested in and I love the process, so maybe I’m not such a lousy one after all?