What it's Like to be Content Creator in Today's Climate
It’s no secret that whether it's a full-time gig or a side hustle, being a content creator is a great role for someone who is creative and has an entrepreneurial spirit. While there are many upsides to growing your own brand and creating content on behalf of brands, the industry is quickly evolving and so you need to be able to pivot and adapt. This year has brought some unique challenges, between the economy, a pandemic and new platforms or features like TikTok and Instagram Reels. We asked some of our favorite content creators to share their perspectives in order to gain insights on what it is like to be a content creator in 2020.
How do you approach the launch of new networks?
There are different benefits of trying new networks. For example, TikTok has a different audience than Facebook does so deciding if the platform fits his/her followers can be a good way of deciding whether or not it's appropriate to start using the app and what type of content to produce. Many creators wait to join to figure out where to focus their time and see if the app is going to be the next big thing. Others were excited to try the new platform and learn how to create content that differs from their usual content.
Alex Shebar of Eat Play Pixel takes a beat and considers whether the new network is right for him. “When it comes to new networks, what I always say is, does it work for what you're doing? Can you produce great content on it or at least have fun trying? If so, go for it. And if it blows up, amazing. If not, and you just had fun or you made a few people smile, that's great too,” said Shebar.
Stephanie Keeping of Spaceships & Laserbeams takes a similar approach. “We typically wait and do not jump on new social media as soon as it launches. We've found that with only so much energy to give, we really try to focus on where we spend our time and efforts. If it becomes apparent that getting involved in a new outlet is going to be beneficial for our brand and our clients, then we spend a bit of time researching what seems to be working and then try out similar approaches to see what works best for us.”
How do you approach new types of content that networks release (like Reels, or Livestreams)?
There are new types of networks and features being released frequently. Many creators wait until they see a positive response to make them a part of their content schedule. Deciding what features work for them and how they work for them can be a helpful way in organizing which content to release on which platform. Although it can be difficult to learn new features, creators have fun trying new ways of entertaining their followers and getting new viewers to find their content.
“With the new networks I ended up upgrading to a new phone so I can start sharing Reels and Livestreams,” said Michelle Le of Diet & Fries. “New IG features are great. Again, a learning curve for me but I don't mind learning. It keeps me on my toes.”
Julie Rehm of Calo’s Closet loves that networks introduce new types of content such as Reels. “It gives a new way to connect with my followers so my content doesn't get stale.”
It’s no secret that when a new feature launches, it becomes a priority for the network. Michelle Goth of Blackberry Babe says, “I will do them occasionally to see if they get a good response, and then decide if I should make them a part of my content schedule. I think the new types of content can be a great way to get new viewers on your content, since the platforms typically give those new content varieties preference in feeds.”
“I feel like there is so much noise already and at times I get social fatigued…too many platforms to follow and not enough time to watch everything. I prefer Reels over Stories because I can always catch up when I have time,” explains Janise Burrafato of Mama in Heels.
How has the recent release of TikTok, Reels, and/or Livestreams changed your Influencer campaigns?
Content creators are not seeing major changes to their partnerships, although many of them are eager to try them out. As the popularity of these features and platforms increase, influencers are expecting brands to start asking for content to be produced through these channels.
“Brands now look for content on these new platforms and it can make the selection of influencer campaigns limited if you are not yet using or do not plan on using any of these platforms. It can be a good way to get outside of the box to try something new and see if it works for you,” said Rehme.
“Sure and I've played around with it. Again, sometimes it works for my content and sometimes it doesn't and I'm always honest with brands about what I can and can't do for them,” said Shebar.
“I have not seen very many brands require those platforms as part of their campaigns, but I have seen some standalone campaigns for TikTok recently! I do expect that Reels will begin to be added alongside Instagram Feed and Instagram Story requirements,” said Goth.
What are some tips you have for other content creators who are adapting to new networks and network releases?
Rather than looking at these new networks and network releases, it can be helpful for content creators to look at this as an opportunity to find new ways to show their personality to a new audience. Thinking about what new opportunities a platform can provide is important in figuring out how to balance the different types of social media.
“I would say, learn it & look at it as a way to connect with more people,” said Le, who is a food blogger from San Diego.
“Have an open mind and don't be afraid to try new things. This new network or type of content could be the perfect way for you to showcase your personality in a way that you couldn't before and to connect with a new audience,” said Houston blogger Rehme.
“It can get very intimidating because there are so many nuances and new things to learn. Although the apps are intuitive it can be very discouraging when you have to spend hours to edit a 15 second or less video,” said Burrafto.
What are some positives and negatives about being a content creator today?
Some of the positives with being a content creator is having a platform to share your voice. You have the opportunity to try new products, meet new people, and gain new experiences. Creators can share a variety of images, videos, perspectives, and ideas. Creators have an opportunity to share their personality through their blog and social media without constraints. When producing content, creators have fun finding creative ideas to deliver positive results for clients and readers. The flexibility of their schedules has helped parents adapt to virtual school. Some influencers are even seeing more interest in partnerships as online purchasing has increased.
While there is an increase for partnerships for some creators, it can be difficult finding adequate compensation with brands, particularly those who are new to influencer marketing. Content creators enjoy sharing their everyday lives, but it can be off-putting to share a big part of who they are with strangers. It can also feel like followers expect them to share every part of their lives. Although finding new creative ways to engage followers can be fun, it can also be stressful to adapt to what content is going to be the most appealing to followers.
“I love the fact that there is a platform where I can share my voice,” said Burrafato. “I also love trying new products and share them with my audience. There are definitely negatives out there. You are sharing a big part of who you are to strangers. There’s also this expectation that you have to share every single thing about your life with your audience which can be very stressful. Let’s face it… we are just people and we don’t have a lot of drama every day like the Kardashians.”
For Rehme, making a connection with her followers during the pandemic is key. “...I feel we can make an even greater connection with our followers and readers today since most people are home on their phones or computers more often."
For Brooklyn based Shebar, it’s all about finding your niche. “It's so much fun to be a content creator today. Years ago, when Instagram was becoming a thing, it seemed like there were so many rules if you wanted to be successful: Make sure to take only really pretty photos, over-stylized photos, pastel photos, photos that look perfect. Now, it's such a cacophony of sights and sounds, perspectives and ideas. There's no better time to just be you,” said Shebar. “The downside of this: There are A LOT of voices out there, all doing amazing things, so it can be hard to break above the noise and find your own place in the world. What I always say when I give talks or just talk to people is find your own niche. Don't try to be famous for everyone since everybody likes such different things. What do you do better than anyone else, or what can you put your own spin onto so you stand out in that field. The most successful people in the world have given people what they want in an unexpected way. If you can do that as a content creator, you'll be great,” he added.
What struggles do you face as a content creator because of the new economy we are in today?
The new quarantine policies as well as the financial challenges have brought content creators many issues. The financial stability of an additional job outside of being a creator or the loss of employment of a partner can bring challenges of their own. Some creators have lost motivation to produce content. The content that followers are interested in has shifted and many creators have had to find more creative ways of engaging their followers.
"There are an increasing number of brands that want to work with content creators right now, but many are new to this marketing segment, and have minimal (or no) budget dedicated. Much of my time is dedicated to sorting through pitches in my inbox to identify those that are a fit on both content and compensation,” said Goth.
“As a content creator today, we are learning how to pivot what we are sharing and what content we are producing because our followers and readers are now looking for different types of content such as cozy loungewear or how to organize their home. If you have never been one to share these things it can be difficult to figure out how to make the transition over in order to keep your business afloat,” said Rehme
Are brands asking you to create content for the new platforms?
So far, the influencers we interviewed said brands are holding off on exploring TikTok and Instagram Reels for influencer marketing. One of the best things for influencers to do is be honest with brands about their experience with new platforms and what content they can produce.
“Only a few have asked. Most brands are still using IG & FB,” said Le.
“We have had some requests to try out Reels but so far, we have not delved into TikTok or Reels too much,” said Keeping.
Being a content creator is always shifting, particularly with current events. An important part of influencer marketing is creators and brands learning together and evolving with the climate of the United States. As platforms change and new platforms are released it is necessary to change with them and find creative ways to engage with audiences.
We would like to say thank you to the above content creators for giving us insights on what it is like to be a content creator today.