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In the world of booming digital media and smartphones, with every kind of information literally being on your fingertips, online content creation has emerged as the big deal. Whether it’s through art, fashion, comedy, social commentary, three-minute skits or 15-second reels, content is everywhere – and so are content creators. Through popular platforms like Instagram, YouTube and Twitter, content creation today, is more aspirational than ever before.

And so, we talk to seven uniquely talented, ever-growing influencers – Ankush Bahuguna, Danish Sait, Dolly Singh, Karan Sareen, Prasad Bhat, Prapti Elizabeth and Vishnu Kaushal – on the lesser-spoken about know-hows of becoming a content creator in today’s time.

1. Find Your Own, Unique Voice

Have a brand. Have your own voice. Don’t blindly do what others are doing. Don’t just copy what’s trending and what other people are doing. It’s very important to have your own flavour, especially when you start making money out of it. Brands wouldn’t sign you or keep working with you on a regular basis if you don’t bring anything new to the table and keep doing the same thing anybody else is doing. If you want to take up content creation as a business, it’s important to know who you are, the kind of content you enjoy making and the content your audience enjoys from you.

Dolly Singh (@dollysingh)

2. Is Regular Content Creation Necessary? Not Really

The biggest challenge is to come up with something different every day. A 90-minute film, for example, takes about six months to make. So, even if you’re putting out a 2-minute content, you have 45 days to do that. On social media, you have to do that every single day when you wake up. I think the pressure is sometimes just what we put on ourselves to deliver content every single day. Because the internet is filled with so much talent, you just want to constantly be out there too. A lot of stress is self-induced – even I went through a point like that until I realized that the correct way of doing what I do is to enjoy it. I broke that code for myself and decided that if I don’t have anything to say, I won’t. It’s important to find a boundary, to understand how much you want to put out your content and how much you don’t want to.

Danish Sait (@danishsait)

 

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3. Be Wary Of Your Background Noise

In summers, especially if you’re shooting content where you have to talk, you have to shoot without fans or ACs. It messes with the audio. Now that we are shooting at home, it becomes even more challenging since you have to find a particular place there where you can set up everything and shoot. On camera, you can’t be sweating, so every few minutes, you have to go and dab your face. Even if you’re shooting for a 30-second reel, it’ll take you about an hour to shoot. The output may just be of 30 seconds, but the sweaty effort that goes in, that’s not something people can see.

Prapti Elizabeth (@prapti.elizabeth)

4. Note To Self: You Can’t Control Your Reach

Constantly remind yourself that once the content is out there, whether it works or not is not in your control. You can always learn from the content you put that works and the ones that don’t but the truth is, algorithm is way beyond us. It’s a combination of a lot of things – your hard work, appeal with people, and also luck depending on whether your content reaches the right people at the right time. Remind yourself that just because one reel worked doesn’t mean that all of your reels or content are going to work. Similarly, if one didn’t work, it doesn’t mean that nothing would work. You can only make what you want to make, the rest is not up to you.

There will be highs and low. The struggles that I had as a content creator with 10k followers are pretty much the same even when I’m close to 800k – the struggle with engagement will always stay. It’s very important to be aware and level-headed to somewhat ease that pressure off yourself.

Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna/@wingitwithankush)

5. Set A Routine And Stick To It

When you’re starting out, consistency is very important. It helps reach an audience. As an app, Instagram or YouTube will push you when you’re creating content on their apps. That’s just how the algorithm works. The more content you put, the more chance it’ll have to reach a wider audience, especially in the beginning. Consistency doesn’t mean you have to put something up every day. It’s just that you need to have a plan – if you want to do a weekly video, try and keep at it. Don’t forget it for two months and then come back.

Dolly Singh (@dollysingh)

6. Research Is Key For Growth

Don’t put all your effort into marketing your content, put most of it while producing your content. Improve your work regularly, take up new challenges, learn about your art. I remember when I started out, I had no idea about how to write a joke. So, I researched about it on YouTube [searching ‘How To Write A Funny Joke’] and took notes. It’s the same for fashion or filmmaking. When people get involved in the idea of growing and developing as creators, they find a reason to keep going despite the number of likes. That also helps them gain an audience that appreciates the content they produce.

Vishnu Kaushal (@thevishnukaushal)

7. Understand The Art Of Creating Distinct Characters

If you play a character that is affable and people like it, then they automatically start associating you as that. There’s no science to it. You have to have a go at it and see if you think it’s fun. The phenomena goes to the fact that the characters I play are a lot funnier, braver than me. I get to say stuff that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to talk about myself. I use them as an alibi or a tool.

Danish Sait (@danishsait)

Sometimes, you need a break from everything. The characters you then create can help you through it. You create them from your experiences. For example, the toxic aunties and uncles that I’ve created online are the ones I grew up watching. The Shalakha character that became popular online was inspired by TV serials. I grew up watching them and each one of them, including Kyunki… and Kasautii… had at least one vamp. These characters can only come to you through experiences, and people who relate to them come from to a similar community, with shared experiences.

Karan Sareen (@gorgeouspotahto)

8. Financial Planning Is A Must

Despite studying engineering, my love for creative designing never let me focus on my stream. I self-learnt designing tools and started working with design firms to gain skills and speed. I started Graphicurry in 2010, when I was assured of a certain income with regular freelance projects. Since I had chosen a path that was – and still is – quite eccentric, I have had very few genuine supporters. But what kept me grounded were my bills.

Prasad Bhat (@prasadbhatart)

9. Earning Through Your Content

The creator economy is still developing, but it’s already so big now that the moment you get any attention on any platform – a particular number of likes or followers – brands will start approaching you. They’d want to work with you. Brands are looking for creatives, for best possible options where they can pay the lowest price and get the maximum outreach. I didn’t think of monetizing my content, I just kept making videos till someone noticed it, and shared it with people who are important in this field. It’s really about making sure that your content reaches the right kind of people who work for this industry.

Vishnu Kaushal (@thevishnukaushal)

10. PSA: Monetizing Can Be Tricky

You need to keep in mind that when brands approach you, they don’t understand that there’s a certain way you bring out your content. They think from an ad perspective, not a content creation perspective. It becomes a challenge then to mould them according to your voice. If you see this as a long-term career option, you have to create things that are true to your personality.

Prapti Elizabeth (@prapti.elizabeth)

11. Keep Your Audience In The Loop

Interacting with them is very crucial. It’ll help in creating your own identity. You can always set boundaries with your audience and decide what to talk about and not talk about, but its also important to interact with them, what they like and dislike, because your individual personality is what will ultimately set you apart from the rest.

Similarly, when you’re doing brand deals, be honest with them about it. You reach a certain place in terms of followers and engagement because of your audience. You can’t be sly about doing branded deals; they need to know if you’re being paid for something. Similarly, while doing these deals, you don’t want to disappoint your audience while doing half-hearted content they don’t care about. Even while doing branded content, you must put your heart into it, keeping in mind what your audience likes. They’re the ones investing time into watching what you’re making, after all. So, even while making paid content, make sure there’s some value in it for your audience.

Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna/@wingitwithankush)

12. Know Your Worth

As a content creator, you can be extremely underpaid because you don’t know how the industry works. Brands are willing to pay you, but when you quote – and you’re not associated with any agency to help you with that – you often end up valuing your content for nothing. I know people who charge for a video or story in 100s, even with a good number of followers, only because they don’t have anyone to guide them. You must ask around to understand how much you should be paid, and accordingly monetize your content to get your worth out of it.

Karan Sareen (@gorgeouspotahto)

13. Creating Branded Content

When I approach a branded piece of content, I think of the brand as a part of the content, not the content. So, if I’m making a video, I always ask myself, ‘Does this video still stay relevant if I remove the brand? Will these jokes still stay relevant if there were no brand endorsements? Would I still make a video like this if I weren’t getting paid for it?’ If the answers are yes, then I know that I’m on the right track. Your branded deals will need to have promotions, yes, but it also has to have an equal amount of content. It’s called branded content for a reason.

Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna/@wingitwithankush)

 

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A post shared by Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna)

14. The Pressure Of Getting It ‘Right’

The challenge lies in the ethical standard that you’re held to. We are just as human as everybody else, everybody makes mistakes. But you’re expected to be on the right side, say the right thing that is acceptable to all. Thankfully the internet is so aware, which is why we know what is supposed to be said on video vs. what is supposed to be said at home. It’s a circle. The biggest fear for a content creator is, ‘Today, what mistake am I making? Am I on the right side?’ The formats too keep changing. One day, you’re making a one-minute video, the other day, the algorithm is shifted to making a 15-second reel. It’s an everyday process of finding balance.

Danish Sait (@danishsait)

15. Choose Your Battles

I don’t think it’s okay for the audience to ask influencers to weigh in on things they don’t even know about. It’s not right to expect that. I feel it’s better to not talk about something that you don’t know about. I talk about a lot of things when I feel passionately about them or have done my research well enough to think that I can speak about something, but it gets very hard when people say, ‘Why aren’t you talking about this?’ and ‘Why aren’t you talking about that?’ It’s important to choose your battles, what you can fight for and take all the trolling for. That’s something you slowly understand with time.

Dolly Singh (@dollysingh)

 

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16. And When You Do, Don’t Be Afraid To Voice Your Opinions

With great fame comes great responsibility. The minute you are categorised as an influencer, you immediately have a social responsibility for being positively opinionated. Now if you’re not of the same opinion as that of your audience, you better be thick-skinned.

I have dealt with a lot of brickbats and trolls for several social commentary artworks. But that hasn’t deterred me from voicing my thoughts. In fact, I have started to receive immense respect for my valid views and thoughts from a growing audience who resonate with my thoughts.

Prasad Bhat (@prasadbhatart)

17. Tackling Trolls

It’s difficult. On some days, you probably wouldn’t care what they say; on others, even a slightly rude comment can spoil your day. It depends on your mental space. It’s very difficult to do this, but sometimes, it helps to see how many people like you content over how many people don’t. More often than not, you’ll see that at least 80% of them are in favour of it. Then why pay heed to the remaining 20? Of course, if it’s constructive criticism, take notice of it. It’ll help you improve. But if it’s just a troll, why give them attention when they don’t pay your bills?

Karan Sareen (@gorgeouspotahto)

18. Don’t Let Your Following Get To Your Head

It’s a constant struggle. There will be times when one of your content pieces would do so well that everybody will know you and there will also be times when for a month, you’re consistently growing. Don’t take any of it for granted. Don’t let it get to your head because the highs and lows are quite drastic for some people and the graph is very stagnant and flat for others. It differs from person to person. Don’t get swayed very easily by online validation because if you depend too much on it, you wouldn’t know which direction to take the moment it’s taken away from you.

Ankush Bahuguna (@ankushbahuguna/@wingitwithankush)

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