I often write about how the world of work is changing. The development of new technologies means that some jobs that were common in times past no longer exist – think light bulb lighters, elevator operators and switchboard operators.
Likewise, new jobs are being created all the time. A new occupation is video content creator. Today, technology allows creative people to make a living by building their own niche audiences, developing a personal brand, and growing a unique fan base.
One such creator is Kris Collins, aka KallmeKris – who, since launching her career during the lockdown of the pandemic, has grown an audience of over 43 million viewers on video-sharing services including TikTok, Youtube, Instagram and Twitch.
This week, she joined me for a webinar where, among other things, we discussed her top tips for becoming successful in the hypercompetitive but potentially highly rewarding world of video content. Here’s an overview of them, and if you want to watch the entire interview, you can find it here.
Have a content strategy
As with any endeavor, whether in art or business, think about what you are trying to achieve and set plans to make it happen. In the case of content creation, this means understanding the different formats and types of content that will work across different channels and taking a methodical approach to writing, filming, editing and posting.
Colins tells me, “I do a lot of sketch comedy…so I have to have a schedule, otherwise I’m not very organized! So I keep a Google calendar – mornings are for writing and afternoons are for filming.” …editing is at night. But since I have many different platforms, usually TikTok is the beginning of the day, Youtube is the noon.”
For starters, she started by watching other people’s channels and talking to other content creators to get an idea of how different content worked on different platforms.
She says, “I do what I love – I love writing comedy and creating characters, and I think that has a lot to do with how successful I have been – so start with something you enjoy doing – and if you really want to be successful with that You have to manage your time very well.”
learn from your mistakes
Hitting rock bottom and getting your hands dirty is a great way to start learning right away on the job. But one lesson Colins learned early on is to take time for himself and avoid burnout.
She tells me, “I was doing five to eight videos a day for over a year – I definitely had a lot of burnout periods and I was getting really low.
“But at the end of the day…people won’t mind if you take a day off. I’m a mental health advocate and wasn’t really taking care of myself during the whole process.
“But now… I focus on quality over quantity… this is something I wish I had discovered sooner!”
Learn to manage your income
Content creators don’t get a simple, good salary a month, with their taxes and other expenses paid. They are usually self-employed and if they want to be successful they will usually involve managing multiple streams of income. These can come from subscriber fees, sponsorships and brand deals, services like Patreon, referrals, pay-per-click advertising, Google AdSense, or many other potential sources.
Colins said, “I sell merchandise too… it’s multiple streams of income, and it gets overwhelming… I’m a very confused brain person!”
Financial service providers – including fintech startups – were quick to spot this emerging market of online self-employed people – many of whom may not have a full understanding of the complexities of managing their own finances before pursuing exciting digital careers. Colins told me that she uses an app called Able, designed to help people like her manage income and taxes.
“you set it up with your bank account, and when you get paid… it puts aside the money you’re going to need to pay in taxes… the problem I had when I started is, you’re making this income, but you’re not realizing that not all of this money is yours! It helps you not to worry about it… the money you get is the money that is yours, so put it aside [taxes] to the end of the year or end of the quarter or whenever you pay your taxes.”
Pay attention to analytics
Keeping an eye on the demographics your content is popular with, the time of day they watch it, and which videos are doing well and which are underperforming is key to growing your audience and delivering relevant videos. Each platform provides different tools for creators to mine their viewers’ data to gain insights, and developing a broad understanding of all of them is key to success.
Colins says, “At first I didn’t focus on them, but it really matters… I keep track of everything.
“Sometimes the algorithms just don’t like you that day, and that doesn’t work well – but more often than not, if it’s being shared often and there’s a lot of likes or comments, you know [the content] is successful.
“People like to scroll fast, so you need to catch them in the first second or two; you need to do something to draw the viewer in… maybe it’s the thumbnail that wasn’t good enough, or maybe the video was too long – people’s attention spans are getting shorter and shorter, so analytics is absolutely something every creator should be looking at.”
Always be on the lookout for new opportunities
Technology makes it possible to do this for a living, so content creators should always be on the lookout for future trends and upcoming opportunities. Colins told me that she is currently interested in NFTs and the potential they have to unlock new ways of monetizing and sharing content. She is also considering touring live to meet her fans in person and is also looking into opportunities to engage with traditional media such as film and TV.
She says, “Those are the big projects right now – I have a bunch of little ones too, like writing a graphic novel and doing a few other things – there’s a hundred other things!”
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