Pandemic 2020 has certainly awakened a creative gene buried deep down inside admittedly caused by laziness, life and lagging computers. Thankfully, I've overcome two of these hurdles (I don't think there's a way around computers operating at a snail's pace). Moreover, the "down time" has allowed me to dissect the world of algorithms, learning the process of gaining traction abroad; via social media, this website, my podcast or YouTube channel.
I've made it my life goal to avoid boxing myself into one category in an attempt to prove that, no, you don't have to follow the "in-crowd" or stick to one subject matter in order to grow a following from complete strangers. To accomplish such a feat, you'd have to be willing to put aside any existing ego, accepting the harsh reality that mirroring a blueprint such as this one will NOT steer you into the direction of superstardom or 'overnight success.' Sorry. Of course, for every rule there is an exception, and plenty have become household names with minimal effort put forth, but for the vast majority, developing an immediate fan base while doing things unconventionally is highly unlikely.
Naturally, as someone who has always marched to the beat of their own drum, I am cognizant of such a daring claim. Listen, I self-published my first book because I wanted to experience the plight of running a small business. I knew there was more to it than simply typing, releasing it to the public and potentially receiving royalties for the rest of my life. After many years of awaiting an opportunity to tell my story, I was finally up for the task of competing against the multitude of authors and big-time publishing companies, yet subconsciously prepared for defeat (although a tiny part of me hoped that maybe I'd become that rare exception who flourished with little to no fanfare. It didn't happen).
Self-publishing is probably one of the hardest things I've EVER done to date. It requires patience, understanding and a total commitment. The reward supersedes the challenges - depending on your objective. My objective was to get a tasteof freedom, albeit short-term, and distance myself from the 9 to 5 grind as I achieved a lifelong goal. However, if you wish to obtain a strong audience, be prepared to roll up your sleeves and put in some serious work (please refer to Rihanna above).
As my book sales went up and down like a rollercoaster, I grew tired of constantly promoting and selling myself onto others. Perhaps I lost quite a few sale opportunities in the process. Such is life. (BTW, thank you to the individual who recently purchased Can I Be Ernest? on Amazon Kindle - I don't know who you are, but if you're reading, I TRULY appreciate that). The point is, I wanted to do it my way. This wasn't a "money grab." In fact, very few get rich off books. But my attitude of doing things 'my way' wouldn't only apply to publishing a book and marketing it the way I chose, it applied to other goals I've set forth: YouTube being one.
I am fully determined to grow at my own pace. Not because I have a fascination for becoming famous. Never in a million years would I want that type of distraction. It stems from a passion for making videos and my willingness to tap into some God-given talents where modern day technology enables me to put on display. Furthermore, there's a strong confidence burning inside which feels strongly about attracting a particular audience. Quite honestly, the thought alone truly excites me. Besides, I've done this YouTube stuff before, back when it was a small pup. Different world back then. Though I saw marginal success, I shamelessly followed the 'monkey see - monkey do' manuscript which I LOATHE. Bottom line: I was desperate for a growing channel, so I copied others. I'm not so desperate anymore.
Whether I gain a supportive following in 2020 and beyond is simply a matter of YouTube pushing my product, the algorithms working overtime, and it being well received by the audience it attracts. The odds are certainly stacked against me, but again, my expectations aren't high. If there's anything I've learned in life, it's to NEVER set yourself up for failure.
21st century technology allows us to do so many things; cutting out the middle man is the one glaring area. We can simply learn to do things on our own, right in the palm of our hand or at the click of a mouse, which makes it entirely difficult to constantly be annoyed by the mere thought of living amongst Millennials and Generation Z'ers. It is well documented how discouraged I've become living through the misery of a post-2000 world, but these amazing opportunities didn't exist in the glory days (pre-2000) that I've longed for.
Here on out, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and algorithms will probably be the death of me. They go hand & hand and I am determined to figure it all out. In order to dominate creating content, it is imperative that we grasp an understanding of how to strategically produce our content:
1) How to title your videos/website articles accordingly
2) How to use strong keyword search phrases (which the average person uses in a web browser)
Sounds easy? Think again. You're competing with MILLIONS of others who have used the same formula with an unforgiving headlock on the niche they've selected. And get this, they're looking to add even more traffic to their website (or social media pages) while you're simply looking for ANY engagement from a few wandering eyes. It is certainly an empty feeling when you're the small fish in a sea of giants, but this is where you'll have to dig deep and figure out how to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Understand, you'll probably NEVER grow a following like some of your favorite content creators, or... "Influencers" (sigh...), but that shouldn't be the goal in the first place.
We all know the famous cliche' - let's all say it together:
"Rome wasn't built overnight."
Be passionate about what you do, set your expectations LOW, yet aim HIGH when creating your content (quality over quantity, while being as consistent as possible). I personally feel you can outsmart the algorithm and diversify your subject matter any way you choose. Someone in a world of an estimated seven billion people will certainly find your work.