Dear Content Creators,
Invest in yourself.
You’ve got to spend money to make money. This sounds like an old cliché, but in the world of content creation, nothing could be more true. To be very frank with you, my friends, your earliest content is terrible. Mine is terrible. Everybody’s content is terrible. This is because when we start, we are all new to this.
Sure, you can pick up some tricks before you get started, but it’s like sports. You can watch an athlete forever and get the idea of how one moves their body to perform the feats that they do, but until you are out there among them, you’re never going to be as good.
Mr. Beast said something very important on this subject:
“Make 100 videos, it doesn’t matter what they are because they will be terrible, but do something that you like doing. Your first ten videos will be garbage. Then make ten more. These will also be garbage and so will the next ten. But, eventually, things will start to improve.”
So how do you get as good (or hopefully become better) than the thousands, or perhaps millions of people competing in your medium of choice? There are a lot of ways, but all of them come at a cost.
“…only get what you need to make your content.”
Your first investment does not need to be a big one. Whatever you are doing, be it streaming, YouTube videos, podcasts or anything else, you only get what you need to create your content. If you are making a podcast with a friend, get two inexpensive mics and a mixer. If you are streaming, get a webcam and a microphone. If you want to make YouTube videos, start out with your phone. Use this time and this small investment to decide if a) this is something you really want to do and b) who you want to be if you decide to move forward.
If Mr. Beast is right (He is) and it’s going to be a long haul before you really find your voice, then it’s best not to start at such a high price point. If you decide after a month that this isn’t for you, it’s better to walk away with only a couple hundred dollars spent rather than a couple thousand.
The good thing about learning this stuff is that you can learn how to do it well on anything, then you can make the desired upgrades when your content is worthy of it. If you want to drive a Ferrari, maybe learn on an old beater first. Get your skills up to the level where you have outgrown your gear.
When it is time to make those upgrades, prioritize. Don’t go all in on a brand-new setup. Do a little bit at a time. Get one thing at a time and focus on things that will make better content. This could be a new microphone, better lighting, editing software or whatever will help you stand out above the rest.
But when I said invest in yourself, I didn’t only mean invest in your content. Make investments in yourself so that you can become a better you, which in turn will make better content.
For starters, learn something. I got into content creation in my thirties. While I went to school for broadcasting and have extensive training in editing for audio and video, production, presentation and design, my education is not up-to-date. Spoiler alert: If you want to be good, you will NEVER consider your education up to date.
That’s why I looked into ways to improve the skills I needed to get better at what I do. I joined Skillshare, where you can learn any number of skills that (forgive me) will pay the bills. You can learn how to present yourself better on camera, how to take a better photo, how to edit using the software of your choice and virtually anything else that you can imagine. One of the greatest tools a creator can have is simply becoming a better one. You’ll think about content differently and become an evolved creator.
The final investment is the most crucial, but potentially the most costly; your time. I know I am not saying anything crazy when I say that content creation takes time, but great content takes up your time in different ways. First of all, planning. Not enough people plan out what they are going to do and say in their content. I don’t necessarily mean scripting (though I wouldn’t say not to script), but having some sort of blueprint to follow as you work.
Youtubers will save a ton of time searching for something to say next with a proper outline. You can also format the entire video so you know what to talk about in what order so you don’t have to go searching for things. For a podcaster, good preparation gives you more to talk about and less to cut down. Even streamers, you have things to talk to your chat about that will engage them.
When the time comes to edit, you have more prep to do. Organizing your assets will help you edit more efficiently in the long run. So while it feels like you are spending more time in post, you’ll end up spending less.
Time is a tough investment, because there is only so much of it. When you spend more total time on your content, that time has to come from somewhere. What do you sacrifice? I don’t have a great answer to that question. It will vary from person to person, but something is going to have to go. Is it time at work? Are you going to try to work fewer hours to make your dreams come true? Are you sacrificing time with loved ones, or are you doing what I do, sacrifice sleep? I have a full time job, a wife and two kids. I need the job and I cherish my time with my family above all else. So I stay up all hours of the night to get everything done.
“Your content is pulling in money, it’s time to invest again.”
To those of you who are making money off of your content and don’t feel like making those kinds of sacrifices, I have great news for you:
Time is money!
Your content is pulling in money, it’s time to invest again. This time, the return on that investment will be more time. Hire an editor to put your videos or podcasts together or even to make shorts out of your stream. Hire someone to transcribe your content for a blog. Hire someone to make clickable thumbnails. Spend a little of that cash to get software to streamline editing if you aren’t hiring someone.
It may not sound like fun to take what little money you make in the beginning and put it all back into your content, but it’s the ultimate way to grow. Let’s go back to Mr. Beast for a second. This is someone who has been a YouTuber since he was a child and when his first big sponsorship came in, what did he do? He gave it to a homeless man. Is that an investment?
It sure was! He knew that saying that he gave $10,000 to a homeless man would become a viral video… and he was right. As he continued to follow this practice, those videos kept on making money, he put it into his next videos. He put it into a space to shoot videos and employees to help out. He didn’t buy himself a lot of fancy toys or move to LA. He lives in North Carolina with his friends and now spends upwards of millions of dollars on his videos, because he knows the money will come back in the long term, but most importantly, it will make for good content.
We may not all become the next hundred million subscriber channels, but the right investments in yourself will always be the best investments you could ever make. They will always pay off in the end.