“We want our conversations to be universal” – YouTube trailblazers, Pap Culture

Pap Culture: Nwabisa Mda, Bongeka Masango and Thembekile Mahlaba
Pap Culture: Nwabisa Mda, Bongeka Masango and Thembekile Mahlaba

How did Pap Culture come about?

In 2014, Nwabisa had aspirations to start a podcast channel with Thembe. But by the beginning of 2015, it just hadn’t materialised. When Bongeka moved to Cape Town in the beginning of 2015, we had conversations over dinner about content we weren’t seeing on TV, and how traditional media tends to shy away from certain conversations.

We all had a common interest in creating content that spoke to us. Bongeka got a camera, and towards the end of 2015, we created the channel.

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How did Pap Culture evolve into a viable business?

Over the years, we’ve grown with the channel so much. Bringing to light conversations that are considered taboo has really been our strength. We’ve managed to build a portfolio of work that crosses between light-hearted conversations, to heavier topics. However, regardless of what we’re talking about, we make sure the episodes are entertaining.

We’ve also pushed ourselves to create content that’s outside our comfort zone and showcases our growth through collaboration. Being able to develop these skills has exposed us to a variety of content partnership opportunities, because brands see what we do, and how much love and support we enjoy.

Our willingness to adapt, showcases our ability to tackle briefs and provide rich content that’s engaging.

For example, our partnership with Libresse SA for a campaign called Vagina Varsity, was a huge success.

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Who is the platform targeted at and how do you monetise the business?

We target whoever is willing to listen. When we create content, we don’t have a particular person in mind.

Instead, we focus on the type of conversations we want to bring to the fore. We want our chats to be universal, so that every person can connect and engage – even if they don’t agree with us.

We monetise the business through YouTube, which includes the number of views and subscribers, as well as the ads before, during or after our videos. So, when you skip the ads, you’re skipping people’s coins.

The other way is through brand partnerships, which basically means that a company will commission work from us for a particular campaign.

What have been the biggest challenges you’ve encountered?

Creative block is real, despite having created content on YouTube for years! We once met for a planning meeting and nothing came up – we all had no idea what to create next.

We felt so uninspired – it was so weird and frustrating.

So, we’ve stopped putting ourselves under pressure. Now we approach meetings with a ‘let’s pretend like we started the channel today, what content would we want to create?’ attitude.

That has opened us up to more ideas, and for the first time in a long while, it forced us to use our creative muscles by daring to tackle topics that we feared, but in a refreshing way. We were breaking the rules and reshaping what it means to create content for Pap Culture.

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