Should you become a content creator? Or have you started creating content around something and recently began wondering if you ought to continue or not?
These are questions only you can answer for yourself. On the one hand, there are a lot of potential opportunities that can come from creating content and building an audience; on the other hand, there can be some significant challenges associated with putting your work - and yourself - out there as an artist and/or entrepreneur
In this first episode, I share how and why I started getting into content creation, including how I worked through some of the challenges that prevented me from getting started earlier or continuing once I'd made some preliminary steps forward. From what I've seen, these challenges are fairly common among other new content creators. And my hope is that hearing a little about my story might be helpful for you if you're considering the question of whether or not "to be" a content creator.
Music and effects are licensed under StoryBlocks. Opening track: Fun Charger, by leadsquid. Closing track: Disco Danger, by Jon Presstone.
Thanks for listening! Have a comment or question about a topic or episode? I'd love to hear that. Feel free to connect with me via Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Also, check out the store link on my website for resources and merch for content creators.
[00:00:00] Pilot: At this time, I'm gonna ask you to Fasten your seat belts.
[00:00:06] Tim: Are you ready for this? Because becoming a content creator can feel a little bit like you may need to fasten your seat belts. It means putting your content and yourself out there into the world, and that can be exhilarating and rewarding, but it can also be intimidating and discouraging.
[00:00:21] Sometimes it can be all of those things within a short space of time. So I thought for this first episode, I'd address the question of why do this through the lens of why and how I became a content creator.
[00:00:34] I figured this would be a good way to share something about the person behind this podcast. And in doing that, I could also share some thoughts that might be helpful for you. If you're thinking about doing this, or even if you're already doing it.
[00:00:47] Because from what I've seen out there, some of the motivators and challenges that I've had as a content creator are fairly common across the board.
[00:00:53] Let's rewind a little. The year is 1991. I'm entering my second year of university thinking about what I'm gonna major in. Potential options include economics, philosophy, and history.
[00:01:08] I see economics as the most practical choice in terms of future job prospects. But although I really enjoy the theory, I'm not much into the math. Philosophy is really interesting to me too. I envision a life of intellectual contemplation, but then realize it's kind of hard to get paid for that.
[00:01:25] History checks all the boxes. It's interesting. I actually know of real examples of people who had studied history and gone on to successful careers in teaching, law, business and other fields. And most of the discipline is centered around reading and writing, which fit perfectly within, into the wheelhouse of my existing skillset as a student.
[00:01:43] And the final kicker was that because history embraced everything that happened in the past, I could dabble in economics philosophy or whatever else might catch my interest. Eventually, I went all the way, earning a PhD in history some 14 years later. I thought my original destination was to become a history professor, but that later evolved into a career in applied research, and then eventually back into academia in more of an administrative capacity.
[00:02:07] Throughout this period, I also had this side dream of being a freelance writer, a journalist, or a blogger of some kind. I'd even started a blog website a couple of times, but never completed or published either of them. And the reason those other things never got pursued further is that there were some things that were holding me back.
[00:02:26] So let's talk about that. The first challenge was knowing where to start. I mean, if you're gonna create content, then it needs to be about something and produced for some kind of audience. I initially gravitated towards topics pertaining to my academic studies, but then understood that these were too narrow to be of interest, to any more than a very small audience.
[00:02:46] Later I thought about a political blog but felt that was gonna be too risky, given my interest in working in public policy research. There was another thing too. I wanted my content creation to be something of a diversion from my day job, more of a hobby, as opposed to an extension of what I was already doing professionally.
[00:03:07] That posed another challenge, which is that I had never really had much of a hobby before. And I wasn't really sure that I had time to develop one either. I was pouring everything into getting to where I wanted to be professionally. And I thought maybe I better just keep going with that. Especially as I didn't know exactly what I wanted to create content around anyways.
[00:03:30] And that's where things came to rest for a long time. Like about 12 years. The thing is I could have just gotten started somewhere with whatever hobby came to mind at that time and then figure things out from there. Because as you get into trying things out, your interests and preferences will become a lot clearer than when you're just thinking about them in theory.
[00:03:51] So how did I get started? For that, we'll have to go back to 2020.
[00:03:57] We're at the start of a global pandemic. Everything is shut down. You can't go to the movies or museums. You can't even go to the mall and get a coffee. That's when I figured maybe I'll buy that camera. I've been thinking about and try taking some photos.
[00:04:10] I mean, at least that was something you could do at home or outside. And that was fun for a while, but, you know, however, satisfying it may be to take photos for their own sake. At some point, you come to the idea that it would be nice to share your work with someone, somehow.
[00:04:29] This is where I wanna talk about the last two challenges you may face as you're considering if you want to take that next step and share your work as an artist or an entrepreneur.
[00:04:38] As you look around at the work other people are producing, you may not feel that your work is worthy of sharing. And then if you venture to share that work, when you have no audience to speak of, the lack of traction that you're gonna get at first is gonna tend to confirm that in your mind.
[00:04:53] What I'd say about that is to be patient getting good at something new takes time. Building an audience takes time. The truth is that you need to make bad content in order to gain the experience needed to make good content. And you also probably need to make a few mistakes on how you're managing your content distribution before you understand the optimal ways for you to market your content.
[00:05:17] And to get through all of that, the real linchpin to this whole thing boils down to this one question, and that is: knowing your why.
[00:05:23] Figuring out your why for creating content has a lot of benefits. When you know your, why you start to get clarity on your content niche, your audience, your motivations, and your contribution.
[00:05:36] I think this works best when you identify both an internal and an external motivation. In other words, a reason why you wanna do this for yourself as well as how you think your content would be helpful, inspiring, or entertaining for someone.
[00:05:50] So for me, the internal motivation stems from my love of storytelling, which is the common thread that runs back through my interest in history, journalism, education, and even public policy analysis and project management. You know, there's a strong storytelling aspect to all of those things.
[00:06:09] I also like the way content creation intersects with art and design, technology, and business strategy. And my goal is to bring all of these things into this podcast and to my other platforms, through narratives, interviews, product reviews, and other forms of content in terms of who else might benefit from this content, my hope is that it could be useful for beginner to intermediate content creators.
[00:06:32] Because as I'm gaining more experience with content creation, I'm sharing what I'm learning sometimes, almost in real-time. And combining that with the experience I've already built up and things like research, writing, and strategy.
[00:06:44] My plan is to cover topics like where to find content ideas, how to produce different forms of content -for example, short versus long-form videos. What types of products and strategies work well, or in some cases not so well, adopting the right mindset for content creation, and different pathways to success as a content creator.
[00:07:04] So now it's your turn. If you're starting out as a content creator, or if you haven't done this in a while, it's helpful to ask or revisit these two questions.
[00:07:14] What do I get out of doing this? What will my audience get out of my content? If you can figure these two things out, it's gonna answer the question of whether or not to be a content creator for you. And if you do get into this, or if you're already into it, knowing the answer to these questions is going to help set you up on a firm foundation for success.
[00:07:36] And, I think you'll find that it's a great opportunity to stretch your creativity, learn new things, make some connections with other content creators and have some fun along the way. And who knows? It could turn into a cool side hustle or maybe even something bigger, but it doesn't have to either depending on what your goals are. And that's one of the nice things about it.
[00:07:55] So that's it for this first episode. Thanks so much for listening. If you found this helpful, hit that subscribe button to keep up with all my future episodes, you can also find me on YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter under the username, my tog blog. Until next time I'll see you around.