I frequently write about the way the world of work is changing. The development of new technology means some jobs that were common in past times no longer exist – think of lamplighters, elevator operators, and telephone switchboard operators.
Likewise, new jobs are being created all the time. One new occupation is the 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 fanbase.
One such creator is Kris Collins, aka KallmeKris – who, since launching her career during the pandemic lockdown, has grown an audience of more than 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 a success in the hyper-competitive but potentially highly rewarding world of video content. Here’s an overview of them, and if you want to watch the whole 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 put plans in place to make it happen. In the case of content creation, this means understanding the different formats and types of content that will work on different channels and adopting 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 because I have a lot of different platforms, usually TikTok is the beginning of the day, Youtube is midday.”
To start with, she began by watching other people's channels and speaking to other content creators to get an idea of how different content worked across 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 the success I have – so start with something you enjoy doing – and if you really want to succeed with it you have to manage your time very well.”
Learn from your mistakes
Jumping in at the deep end and getting your hands dirty is a great way to start learning immediately on the job. But one lesson Colins learned early on is to take time out for yourself and avoid burnout.
She tells me, "I was making five to eight videos a day for over a year – I definitely had multiple periods of burnout and was getting pretty low.
“But at the end of the day … people aren’t going to care if you take a day off. I’m an advocate for mental health and wasn’t really taking care of myself through the whole process.
“But now … I focus on quality over quantity … that’s something I wish I had figured out sooner!”
Learn to manage your income
Content creators don’t get one nice and simple paycheck per month, with their tax and other expenses all taken care of. Generally, they are self-employed, and if they want to be successful, it will generally involve managing multiple streams of income. These could 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 as well … it's multiple streams of income, and it does become overwhelming … I’m a very scramble-brained person!”
Financial service providers – including fintech startups – have been quick to spot this emerging market of self-employed online workers – many of whom may not have had a thorough understanding of the complexities of managing their own finances before taking up exciting digital careers. Colins told me she uses an app called Able that’s 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 issue I had when I started is, you're making this income, but you're not realizing that not all that money is yours! This helps you not worry about that … the money you get is the money that is yours then it puts aside [taxes] for the end of year or end of quarter or whenever you pay your taxes.”
Pay attention to analytics
Keeping an eye on the demographics that your content is popular with, the time of day they are watching it, and which videos are doing well and which are underperforming is key to growing your audience and providing them with videos that are relevant. Every platform provides different tools for creators to mine their viewer data for 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 does matter … I keep track of everything.
"Sometimes the algorithms just don't like you that day, and it doesn’t do well – but most of the time if it’s getting shared often and there are 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 one or two seconds; you need to be doing something to catch the viewer … 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 the analytics absolutely are something that 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 have an eye on future trends and upcoming new opportunities. Colins tells me she is currently interested in NFTs and the potential they hold to unlock new ways of monetizing and sharing content. She’s also looking at live touring to meet her fans in person, and is also investigating opportunities to get involved with traditional media like 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 some other things – there’s like a hundred other things!”