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Dear content creators, invest in yourself

Dear content creators,

Invest in yourself.

You have to spend money to make money. It sounds like an old cliché, but in the world of content creation, nothing could be truer. To be very frank with you, my friends, your first content is terrible. Mine is terrible. Everyone’s content is terrible. It’s because when we start, we’re all new to it.

Sure, you can learn a few tricks before you start, but that’s like sports. You can watch an athlete forever and get a sense of how their body is moved to accomplish the feats they do, but until you’re among them, you’ll never be as good.

Mr. Beast said something very important about this:

“Do 100 videos no matter what they are because they will be terrible, but do something you love to do. Your first ten videos will be garbage. Then do ten more. Those will be garbage too, everything like the next 10. But, eventually, things will start to look up.

So how do you become as good (or hopefully better) than the thousands, if not millions, of people competing on your medium of choice? There are many ways, but all have a cost.

“…get only what you need to create your content.”

Your first investment doesn’t have to be large. Whatever you do, whether it’s streaming, YouTube videos, podcasts or anything else, you only get what you need to create your content. If you’re doing a podcast with a friend, get two inexpensive mics and a mixer. If you’re streaming, get a webcam and microphone. If you want to create YouTube videos, start with your phone. Use this time and this small investment to decide if a) this is something you really want to do and b) who you want to be if you decide to go ahead.

Yes Mr Beast is right (he is) and it’s going to be a long time before you really find your voice, so best not to start at such a high price. If you decide after a month that it’s not for you, it’s better to walk away with just a few hundred dollars spent rather than a few thousand.

The good thing about learning this stuff is that you can learn to do it well on anything, and then you can make the upgrades you want when your content is worthy. If you want to drive a Ferrari, maybe learn on an old drummer first. Improve your skills to the level where you have exceeded your equipment.

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When it’s time to make those upgrades, prioritize them. Don’t start a whole new setup. Do a little at a time. Take it one step at a time and focus on the things that will make for better content. It could be a new microphone, better lighting, editing software, or anything that will help you stand out from the crowd.

But when I said invest in yourself, I didn’t just mean invest in your content. Make investments in yourself to become a better yourself, which in turn will create better content.

To start, learn something. I got into content creation in my thirties. Although I went to school for broadcasting and received extensive training in audio and video editing, production, presentation and design, my education is not up to date. Spoiler alert: If you want to be good, you will NEVER consider your education up to date.

That’s why I looked for ways to improve the skills I needed to get better at what I do. I joined Skillshare, where you can learn a number of skills that (pardon me) will pay the bills. You can learn how to look better on camera, how to take a better photo, how to edit using your software of choice, and pretty much anything you can imagine. One of the best tools a creator can have is simply to get better. You will think about content differently and become an evolved creator.

The final investment is the most crucial, but potentially the most expensive; your time. I know I’m not saying anything crazy when I say creating content takes time, but great content takes your time in different ways. First, planning. Not enough people plan what they are going to do and say in their content. I’m not talking about scripting necessarily (although I wouldn’t say don’t write a script), but having some sort of plan to follow as you work.

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Youtubers will save a ton of time searching for something to say next with a proper plan. You can also format the entire video to know what to talk about in what order so you don’t have to search for things. For a podcaster, good preparation gives you more to say and less to cut. Even streamers, you have things to say about your chat that will engage them.

When it comes time to edit, you have more preparation to do. Organizing your assets will help you edit more efficiently in the long run. So even if it feels like you’re spending more time in office, you’ll end up spending less.

Time is a difficult investment, because there is not much of it. When you spend more total time on your content, that time has to come from somewhere. What are you sacrificing? I don’t have a good answer to this question. It will vary from person to person, but something will have to go. Is it time at work? Will you try to work fewer hours to achieve your dreams? Are you sacrificing time with your loved ones, or are you doing what I do, are you sacrificing sleep? I have a full time job, a wife and two children. I need the job and I treasure my time with my family above all else. So I stay up all night doing everything.

“Your content is making money, it’s time to invest again.”

For those of you who make money from your content and don’t feel like making those kinds of sacrifices, I have great news for you:

Time is money!

Your content is making money, it’s time to invest again. This time, the return on that investment will be longer. Hire an editor to put together your videos or podcasts or even make short films from your feed. Hire someone to transcribe your content for a blog. Hire someone to make clickable thumbnails. Spend some of that money on software to streamline editing if you don’t hire someone.

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It might not seem like fun to take what little money you make in the beginning and put it all back into your content, but it’s the ultimate way to grow. Let’s go back to Mr. Beast for a second. He’s someone who’s been a YouTuber since he was a kid and when his first big sponsorship came along, what did he do? He gave it to a homeless man. Is it an investment?

It was sure! He knew that saying he gave $10,000 to a homeless person would go viral…and he was right. As he continued to follow this practice, these videos continued to earn money, he put it in his next videos. He put it in a space to shoot videos and employees to help. He didn’t buy himself many fancy toys and didn’t move to Los Angeles. He lives in North Carolina with his friends and now spends over millions of dollars on his videos because he knows the money will come back in the long run, but more importantly, it will make for great content.

We may not all become the next hundred million subscriber channels, but the right investments in yourself will always be the best investments you can make. They will always end up paying.