The Staying Power panel took place as part of Niche’s #CreatorDay. It featured creators Oli White, Hazel Hayes, Maya Jama, and David Vujanic. It was chaired by Jo Burford, EMEA Community Manager at Niche.
The panellists focused on what it takes to build and maintain a successful career in this fast-paced industry, discussing issues surrounding success and achievement as creators, as well as the responsibility creators have not only on the site, but also with dealing with their viewership.
The panel kicked off with a question from Jo, on the balance between brand deals and being genuine as a creator. Oli White stated that “you kind of have got to go with your gut. You don’t want to do something for the sake of it. I always try and look at something and I think firstly, do I love what I’m going to do?
“If it’s a brand that comes to me, then I’ll really think, ‘Do I honestly like that brand and can I make something work with them?’,” he continued. “I think a couple of times the brands don’t really get that right, and they think, ‘Oh you can do this because it’s really easy as we’re offering you this’, but at the end of the day I am very thankful [that] I am in the position where I can turn down brands and work with the ones I really, really like and are important to me.”
David Vujanic followed this up by adding: “Just that kind of element of being yourself, putting out stuff that you feel reflects you, that hits you in the core, that feels right. Just you have that idea, that you know will connect with the people, but will also connect with you.”
The conversation then moved on to the topic of challenging content. The panellists were questioned on whether successful content and content that achieves a goal can be considered the same or whether they’re different. Hazel Hayes responded by saying: “Success is whatever you define as success. I mean, for some people it might be., ‘I want to get to one or two million subscribers on YouTube’. For some people it might be, ‘I want to get enough of an audience to be taken seriously by a music label or a production company’. So everyone’s definition of success is different, for a start – so I would say it’s about defining your goals.
“Some would say I don’t particularly have a five- or ten-year plan,” she reflected. “I don’t have a specific five- or ten-year plan, I just know that in five or ten years I want to be waking up every day and making stuff that I love.
“It’s kind of a mix of luck and talent, as it is knowing the right people and it is finding yourself in opportunities, and finding opportunities that happen to work for you, but I think they won’t work for you unless you have the talent to back it up.”
An audience member asked where the creators feel the social media industry is going, and how they feel about ever-growing and changing platforms. Oli began by saying, “I think it’s really interesting the way I’ve seen social media grow over the last four years that I’ve been on it, and I think it is on everyone’s minds: ‘What is next?’ What is next is on everyone’s minds, and it should be.”
Maya Jama responded to this, adding: “Oh yeah, I’m doing loads of stuff now, but I’ve always got in the back of my mind, ‘I’m super busy for the next five months, but what about in eight?’ And I think that’s just the question you have being self-employed, which is just a constant thing, but it’s alright, you just have to save, and be smart.”
Oli went to on to say that ultimately, creators should be putting themselves first. “You need to set yourself goals of what you want to do,” he said. “Social media that’s always changing, you need to think about yourself, ‘Okay what’s next for me? What do I as a person want to do next in my life? Do I want to carry on with what I’m doing, or do I want to change what I’m doing?'”
When questioned on creators’ responsibility to be honest and raise issues that their audiences may otherwise not hear about on their platforms, David said: “I think the responsibility thing can at times feel a bit crippling, because you might a creative idea which is controversial, and it might touch subjects which people are not comfortable with, and I think we have to just be as honest as we can with ourselves even if it does touch nerves, because then we cripple creativity and we don’t test those boundaries.”
One of the final discussions of the panel was the subject of creators giving advice to their viewers. “In the nicest possible way, I don’t really respond,” Hazel admitted, “and that’s for two reasons.
“One: you’re only human, and if you’re anything like me, if you’re empathetic like me, you’re a sponge, and you’ll soak up all that stuff and it kind of sits with you. Counsellors and therapists go through years of training for that, to know how to deal with it and how to lock the door at the end of the day and not take it home with you, so for your own good.
“And secondly: you’re not trained how to give advice, so I’m always afraid of giving the wrong advice to someone and exacerbate the problem.”
Oli agreed with her, adding: “It’s hard because you want to help that person, but you could be doing worse if you replied to them and gave them the wrong message. It’s all about boundaries”.
Photos by Jon D Barker.
Why not take a look at Five of the Best: Panellists at Niche’s #CreatorDay. Alternatively, find out more about how Niche can empower creators.