The Nurturing and Growing on Social Media panel took place on 17 February at Niche’s Creator Day at Twitter HQ in London. It featured Em Ford, Joe Tasker, and Carly Rowena, and was moderated by Louise Bury.
The panel began with each featured creator introducing themselves and sharing their journey of online content creation thus far. Em Ford, behind the blog and channel My Pale Skin, said that she started a beauty blog because of her lack of experience with beauty and a desire to “learn how to be a better girl”. She had worked in independent film, TV, and advertising, which she found to be a male-dominated industry.
“I started spending way too much time on the internet and eventually found Reddit, or a forum, and started seeing how everyday, normal girls did their makeup,” she said. She spent the next two years practising and growing her platforms.
Joe Tasker described the comedy videos, sketches, and vlogs he creates across several platforms. Carly Rowena described herself as “the fitness girl”, and admitted that when she started creating YouTube videos at 26 she was unsure what her talent was – she experimented with a range of topics and styles before her followers pointed out her talent for fitness, and has since gone on to become a personal trainer and become integrated in the fitness world.
Louise Bury, moderating, then asked how they balance making trendy content with what they’re interested in. Em said she struggled with this when she first started her channel: “I did the same old kind of shit, like What’s In My Handbag?. Like, I don’t care what’s in my handbag, so why am I making a video to show others how little I care about this?!” In her early twenties, she developed adult acne and didn’t talk about it publicly, but once she did, “everything kind of exploded”, she said.
Joe stated that he creates content he wants and puts his own spin on trends, and said he loves the unpredictability of his content and the freedom it gives him. Carly felt she hasn’t ever followed a trend, as that isn’t part of the fitness world culture: “I follow what I love to do. I’ve always been about fitness, but recently I’ve been tired of that. So I started talking about orgasms and changed it up.” She emphasised the importance of creating what you want and content that is genuine.
The panel then discussed whether they’d ever created videos they thought would do well, but didn’t. Em said that she hopes all her videos might happen to do well, but noted the importance of looking at the engagement and feedback from her audience.
Louise asked the panel about the importance of content schedules and how algorithm changes affect their platforms. Both Em and Joe noted this has rarely impacted their work and stressed the importance of creating good videos. “As they say, you can’t polish a poo,” said Joe.
Em shared how she felt she has a different relationship with YouTube. Early on, her video Acne Coverage // Date Night Make Up Tutorial went viral. With the help of YouTube, she then created a film about negative comments, titled You Look Disgusting, which reached ten million views in less than a week. She has since travelled to San Francisco, New York, and London, and worked with YouTube’s engineers. “It breaks my heart when people say YouTube doesn’t care [about its creators and audience], but having spent hours and hours with the engineers, they actually do care and they are trying,” said Em.
Speaking about YouTube’s new monetisation changes, Joe felt new creators should focus on creating good content. “If their thoughts are, ‘Where’s that dollar at?’, then maybe that’s not where their head should be.” Carly agreed, sharing that she never looked to YouTube to make money: “I think if you’re going for it because you want to create something, amazing opportunities can come and you’ll be able to make money [in] other ways. But I think as long as we’re all really honest about the problems that we’re facing and we’re honest with ourselves, I think YouTube’s going to change around anyway.” Em stated that she didn’t get her first brand deal until she had half a million subscribers: “It didn’t occur to me to do it, I was obsessed with making videos.”
Louise then asked the panel about their decision to seek representation. For Carly, the decision came about when jobs were coming her way and she had no idea how to manage them all. She shared the story of how she was approached to create her own line of deodorants, but had no idea what to charge.
Joe agreed, sharing his difficulty with handling contracts and emails while balancing time-management and creating videos. Em found management after her You Look Disgusting video went viral: “I think for the longest time I went with 30,000 unread emails on my phone and I didn’t know what to do,” she said.
When asked whether creators should actively seek management, Joe recommended focusing on creating good content, as he found he had a lot of management offers once his platforms began to take off. Carly agreed: “I would just go with having fun, and when you get to a point when you need help, go to people who seem like they genuinely want to do everything for you and take care of you.” She also stated that it is possible to go it alone, by using the help of family and friends.
Em shared that she’d found out a lot of beauty gurus in America are being managed by their husbands. “That’s the dream,” she said. “If you’ve got anyone in your family who is business-savvy that can learn the ropes, [then] you can keep the money in the family and you’ve got someone who genuinely has your interests first. Because one thing to remember with any company: if they’re a company, what is their priority? Is it making money for their company or for your company?”
Regarding the pressure to move to TV, the panel agreed that it is important to do what feels right for them. Carly mentioned how amazing it was that online postings could open unexpected doors: “You have to stick to what you feel is right for you. I’ve had people come up to me and I know while that may be a great opportunity, I know that could destroy me in five seconds because it’s not quite right. Be open to every idea, but hold on to who you are.”
Joe agreed, noting how a great opportunity for one creator might not work for another: “Don’t do something for the sake of doing things.” Em observed how she moved from TV and film to YouTube. Her former dream was be at the Oscars as a director before turning 30, and had been nominated for a BAFTA. Now, she is no longer interested in making films: “I spent literally two years of my life making a short film and more people have watched me rip a face mask off my face.” She also stressed the importance of focusing your time and attention to where your strengths lie, sharing how she did a TV show for three months, but that was three months away from her channel.
To close out the talk, the panel were asked what their future goals are. Joe shared that he is focused on YouTube and moving into more TV and radio projects, pursing his love for TV, acting, and radio. Carly stated that she wants to do more retreats and will be climbing Kilimanjaro, while Em wants to create content she wish she had five to ten years ago when she was going through a bad time.
Photos by Jon D Barker.
Check out more of our coverage from Niche’s Creator Day:
- The New Normal Panel at Niche’s Creator Day 2018
- Twitter Moment: Highlights from Niche’s Creator Day 2018
- How Niche Can Empower Creators