One major thing that will wreck your creativity as a content creator, is comparison. I wish someone had told me this when I was starting up!
You see, the moment you start to look at every other person; what they are doing, how they are growing, how much better their content is compared to yours or the other way around; that, my darling, is the moment you begin to lose yourself.
As a content creator, you are basically telling the world that you have a great mind, you see things differently from how the average person sees it and you are willing to share your view with the world.
The unfortunate thing here is that, almost every new creator forgets the YOU factor.
Like any other industry, the content creating space is saturated. There are a lot of creators on social media producing different content but no one is YOU. And what your viewers are seeking, is a regular input of your mind in their lives.
The other day, a new creator sent me a message on Instagram, complaining about how worried and unsatisfied he was because he creates the same content as I do, on YouTube, and he is heavily intimated by my numbers. He said he had studied my channel and is amazed that I have over three million views on my channel and he barely has five thousand views.
When I saw this message, I was reminded of my own humble beginning and I know very well the sinking path this young lad was about to place himself on. So, before I churned out any advice, I asked him when he started his YouTube channel and he replied, “February”.
How did this guy spend that much time on my channel to notice my millions of views, thousands of subscribers and conveniently omit the fact that I have been grinding this thing since June 2017? I mean, in September of that same year; I was just scratching my way out of ten thousand views. With this in mind, how can this guy look at my numbers, now, as a worthy source of demotivation in barely three months into his journey?
You see, I am very aware of what this person feels because I have been on this road myself and after wasting months of my creative time, envying another person, I made a promise to myself never to go down that path again.
I am certain there are a dozen of him out there and more to come; hence, I will tell a little story about my comparison journey in the industry; I like to call it ‘The Sinking Sand of Creativity’. And I am sure you will learn valuable lessons from it.
In June 2017, I began my YouTube channel; I used to create videos on relationship advice and I also had a one-year-old blog, where I wrote stories and reviewed movies.
I had tried endlessly to apply for Google AdSense on my blog but somehow, Google did not find it advert worthy and this was so frustrating, leaving me to become a passionate but yet, broke blogger.
One day, while scrolling through Instagram, I saw a post on Bellanaija of this female Nigerian YouTuber, who was creating movie review content. I instantly connected with her because I was reviewing movies as well.
I got her name and hurried to YouTube to check out her channel. When I saw it, I was not only amazed at her content; I was also intimated. She started her channel about a year before I began mine and her videos were already getting thousands of views, with about three thousand people subscribed to her channel.
‘Who was she?’, I began to trouble my pretty head. I went back to Instagram to check her out and she equally had over five thousand more followers than I had.
Oh, her page taunted me every day because I felt I could do exactly what she was doing. To be fair, I was already doing exactly what she was doing, just that I was writing my reviews on my blog, while she was making videos about hers on her YouTube channel.
After a number of Google searches, I gathered up all the reasons she was having more engagement and followers than I was getting: She was once a beauty pageant participant; She had worked for Bellanaija for a while; She knew almost everyone in the entertainment industry – Oh, she had all the right reasons to be more successful than me.
Slowly, with every post she uploaded, I began to hate my own content. Every time I wanted to shoot a video, I’d doubt myself, wondering why I was still creating relationship content instead of movie reviews.
A few days after, I shot my first movie review video and then shared it with my friends; asked them for their honest opinions. Their feedback was bad. They complained about me giving too many spoilers, not using the right terms and all what not.
You see, the movie review video I created was nothing like the blog posts I wrote. I had studied this lady so much and wanted to sound like her because somewhere in my head, I thought that because she was getting thousands of views; it meant that her style was the standard way to review movies.
I was out of my element and their feedback should have brought me back on track but instead, I plunged on. I was bent on towing this sinking path.
In August 2017, I sent her a message on Instagram. I told her how much I liked her; How I also create similar content as she does and that, I would like her to help me with some contacts of movie producers and directors so I could write better reviews of their movies.
Now, this makes no sense but I guess it was my way of establishing communication with her.
She responded and asked that I send her a link to one of my movie reviews. I did. And did not hear from her again.
I still kept close contact with her, watching all her YouTube videos and Instagram posts until March, 2018.
She posted on her story that she had a free pass to a movie premiere and was looking for someone to go with. That was my chance to meet her and maybe fraternize with her, I guess. So, I told her I was interested and she gave me the time and place.
When I met her at the premiere, she was very welcoming. And when I saw that she seemed to know everyone that mattered at the premiere, I wanted to get closer to her, so we could make content together. Now bear in mind that at this time, I had now fully abandoned my relationship content for movie reviews.
Then Big Brother came along and I jumped on it. The interesting thing about this phase was that after I had recorded my first Big Brother content, I went on YouTube to check for other creators who had done Big Brother content as well and best believe that this lady was the first person who showed on my search.
The moment I opened her video, I was sure that I was not going to post my own because, she did hers with a friend and they seemed way more articulate than I was.
After hours of calling everyone I knew to come join me in making the video, to no avail; I said to myself, ‘Hey, you will post what you have like that and search for someone later.’.
I was definitely not expecting the thousands of views I got on that video because, in my head, my video was trash. But I think God was tired of seeing me miserable, jealous and sad; and He needed to open my eyes somehow.
For the first time in the history of my channel, I got one thousand views on one video. I psyched! ‘How? What happened? Did people not see all my mistakes, stuttering, errors and everything I judged myself by?’, I wondered to myself.
Within a few days; the now two thousand viewed video, pushed me to record the second episode all by myself and then the third and fourth and fifth and more.
I still checked out her page once in a while but the more I posted the clearer the things were to me. –
This was my natural habitat – Story Telling. Yeah, I can write reviews, proposals and business plans very well but if I tell you a story, best believe that you will be calling me up the next day to listen to another one. And Big Brother review happened to be storytelling and I was acing it.
One month into it, YouTube sent me a mail, informing me that my content was appealing to a lot of viewers so, they decided to feature me on their trending page. Before I knew, I had gotten over five thousand subscribers and was now eligible to apply for Google AdSense on my YouTube channel.
Slowly and slowly it all began to make sense to me – I am me and she is her. As long as I walk in another person’s shadow, I will never shine bright enough for the world to see me.
It is not about who is doing it better or who has more views – followers – subscribers; No! It is about becoming better than you were yesterday. It is about showing the world your true and unfiltered self. It is about you and nobody else.
So, if you are currently in these shoes, I hope my story and realization will snap you right back to where you need to be. There are a lot of content creators but none of us is you. Allow yourself make mistakes, allow yourself grow and allow yourself shine and remember, the sky was made so wide to be able to accommodate you, I and everyone else who wishes to fly.
Have a great experience darling.