An alternative career for the more expressive among us

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Posting content online can be less daunting than initially thought.
Posting content online can be less daunting than initially thought.
Photo: Unsplash

In July 2022, Forbes stated that there are more than 50 million people worldwide who consider themselves content creators, with approximately only two million deemed professionals.

Nearly half of these creators earn money by posting videos on YouTube, 500 000 make a living off Instagram, and 300 000 earn money by drawing viewers to Twitch’s live streaming service.

Peet Venter, a YouTuber and Twitch streamer from Bloemfontein, shares some insight for those who want to explore this alternative career path. He uploads his content and interacts with fans under the online persona LazerSamuraiGG and has done so for the last two years.

So, why is content creation such an appealing alternate career?

“It is about sharing your creative outlook. If you see the world differently, then this is a great way of sharing that view with others. It is such a rewarding, creative outlet that allows others to look through your lens,” Peet says.

Another factor is its earning potential.

“I cannot speak for most platforms, but Twitch and YouTube pay in dollars (American). That means you do not even have to become one of the biggest streamers to earn enough for you to support yourself. There is, however, a glass ceiling for you to break through. You will have to invest the time and even then success is not guaranteed.

“Fortunately, local support is growing in the form of sponsors and ad space revenue, so streaming is becoming a viable source of income.”

He still advises against rushing to make content creation their main source of income.

“I still have a full time job that pays for my basic living. The money earned from my content is used to invest into the equipment I use like a camera, a new mic, headset, or even upgrade my internet. There is always something you can use that extra money on to increase the quality of your content and build upon your earning potential.”
Peet Venter

When you have finally decided to take the plunge, find and understand your niche.

“Find what you want to do, and then find your community. They will be there, trust me. There are, for instance, groups discussing how to make chairs. Videos are then made for YouTube, and they are extremely successful. Just find your group.”

Aside from the challenge of finding the type of content you will be sharing online, Peet lists more obstacles for South Africans who dream of online success: loadshedding, reliable internet service providers, and the different time zones creators need to mindful of.

“You are going to have to work around your limited free time. A schedule is vital in attracting an audience. Without electricity it becomes that much more difficult to grow and maintain your audience.

“Secondly, if you live in a small town, internet is extremely expensive and is not always stable. You might get by if all you are doing is uploading content instead of streaming. Still, the stability of your internet connection is reliant on where you live.

“And then you have the time zones. Breaking into the American market is difficult because your content is not featured during their prime time. South Africa’s time zone is more similar to the United Kingdom and Arabic regions, so we are hitting up those prime times. When we sleep, creators from other regions are able to tap into a much larger market.”

Taking on the challenge of becoming a content creator is extremely draining.

Peet stresses the importance of having a support system to help you stay focused and motivated.

“For me, it’s my wife - she is my biggest supporter. I have such a strict schedule when it comes to my streaming and my wife is extremely accommodating. There are never plans made that will cut into the limited time I have for my content.

“It is important to have good friends. Content creation is lonely. You will sit at your desk for hours making and editing videos. With friends or other creators you can share ideas, learn from each other, and also celebrate any goals reached or just help motivate each other.

“I would also advise you to have a hobby unrelated to what you cover in your content. You cannot be in work-mode all the time and be worried about the amount of views your videos are getting. This is also a good way to spark new ideas that could further improve your content.

“Finally, take care of your mental health. Know that the views do not define you. Take breaks when you need to. You might only make it big after five years, but do not neglect yourself along the way. Prioritise self-improvement over the number of views you get.”

For those who are interested in creating content online but do not know where to start, Peet has the following pointers:

  • create an account on the platform you will be using. Depending on the format, this could be YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, or similar social media applications;
  • decide what type of content you will be sharing. Do not chase trends and focus instead on what you are passionate about;
  • make sure you have a personal computer (PC) or laptop powerful enough for the type of content you want to create;
  • a stable internet connection; and
  • reliable equipment.

If you will be doing voice recording, do research on reliable and affordable microphones. Do the same for cameras and lighting, and peripherals like the keyboard and mouse you will be using. Audiences notice when creators had difficulty editing their content.

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