Whether you’re an established content creator or are testing the waters doing freelance work, it’s important to have guidelines to help you produce content that connects with your audience. I’ve come up with “7 don’ts for content creators,” which are actually 7 rules that I abide by in my transition to full-time work.
7 Don’ts For Content Creators
1. Don’t Focus On Your “Competition”
(Instead learn from them!)
I put this one first because I’ve suffered from “imposter syndrome” for the longest. My work always felt out of place when I compared myself to other Japan-based content creators. And, then, one day, I just stopped seeing other Japan-based creatives as competition. That sounds conceited, but please hear me out.
I follow many Japan-based creatives. Sometimes related content appears on my Explore page or in the Stories of someone I’m following. Likewise, Instagram makes it so easy to re-share posts (and give credit at the same time), so I often share the content created by other Japan-based creatives.
Japan may be a “small island nation,” but each one of us has a unique experience to share.
We all have different perspectives on Japan which are tinged by our age/length of stay in Japan, religion, gender, race, ethnicity, language skills, etc.
It’s important to remember there is no one “size fits all” genre. Therefore, learning from people in your niche is an excellent opportunity to discover new places & products, hashtags, photography tricks, flatlay ideas, and so on.
2. Don’t Self-Reject
(We really can be our own worst enemy!)
At the beginning of 2018,I got scouted by a Japanese influencer agency and signed up, though I never applied for any campaigns. I was afraid of being rejected. And, in that rejection, I missed out on many opportunities to earn income and expand my portfolio.
One day, I decided to apply to a campaign, which became my official start as an “influencer.” This campaign was for Dove, and it ended up being my first ever “influencer” event. It was also the first of many collaborations with Dove! That one event changed everything and put me on the path to my current career.
Despite this, I still struggle with self-rejection and make excuses for myself. Here are a few that I constantly nag me:
I’m not a native Japanese speaker…
I’m not Japanese…
I’m not fashionable…
I’m not attractive enough…
I don’t have enough followers…
I’m boring… (actually this one nags at me the most!)
But, then I think of all the things I can do, like write descriptive bilingual posts, take nice product photos, and use hashtags to get in the top 9.
I started doing my taxes for 2020, and I made more in 2020 freelancing than I did working semi-full time in 2019. That’s wild! And, it’s all because I stopped self-rejecting and started taking more chances. Now that Instagram sponcon is one of my main income streams, I can’t really afford to self-reject, anyway!
3. Don’t Get Caught Up In Numbers
(Instead analyze and make a strategy)
Together, all these metrics (and more) put food on the table, but the stress from comparing yourself to others isn’t worth it. This all goes back to the very first pont: Don’t focus on your competition, especially when anyone can buy followers, subscribers, comments, likes, and views.
The only thing you can control is YOU. Once you start chasing numbers, you have to keep it up. For example, by “faking it to you make it” like the influencers in this article by The Atlantic. Eventually, this could lead you to creating “engaging” content which performs well but…it doesn’t reflect you or your personal brand.
4. Don’t Quit
(Consistency is key)
One of the 3 major life lessons I learned in 2020 is “consistency is key.” It took me 3 years of blogging and Instagram to get to this point. Things didn’t happen for me overnight, I didn’t go “viral,” but things have certainly snowballed in the past few months.
Consistency is key and it all goes back to #2 and self-rejection. Don’t give up on yourself when you’ve only just begun. And if you feel like things aren’t going as you’d like, learn from others in your niche. I’m not suggesting that you copy their entire feed, but at least looking at your content from another angle is a great way to restart things.
5. Don’t Forget Your Worth
(Establish your boundaries)
Please don’t sell yourself short. Content creation takes time.
If you want to work for a brand for free to build your portfolio and get exposure, by all means do so! But, at the end of the day, please remember that it’s YOUR YouTube channel/Instagram account/TikTok/blog. Especially when it comes to monetizing your content, be sure to set limits for yourself.
If you’re not being rewarded appropriately, you are absolutely NTA for declining a collaboration. It’s perfectly OK to say no! (Just be sure to use appropriate language when replying. Don’t want to close any doors!)
These are the kinds of boundaries you can establish:
- What are my minimum rates?
- What kind of content am I comfortable making?
- Does this brand align with my values?
- Is this a product or service I would spend my own money on?
- Am I OK with giving this brand the rights to repost my content for free?
The above are just a few questions you can ask yourself in order to get started on establishing your boundaries.
6. Don’t Forget To Take Breaks
It is so easy for me to get caught up in pretty pictures when I’m online. This is a big reason why I set time limits for myself.
I work in batches. I have days where I just take and edit photos and write drafts. Then, I schedule my posts via the Preview app, I do my engagement (respond to comments, check Stories, share/like new posts), then I’m gone. I have days where I just draft and edit blog posts, then schedule them in WordPress.
I set these boundaries because I work online these days. I’m making a choice on how much of my life I want to share and how much time I want to spend offline doing things that make me feel content.
For me, Selfcare Sunday is how I personally recharge, and I think every creative can benefit from finding a way that they can recharge and refocus. That way you can give your audience the content that they deserve and you can create the content that makes you happy.
7. Don’t Forget Where You Came From
(Remember when you wanted everything you have now)
It’s important to remember who you are and why you began your content creation journey.
Whether you’ve reached milestones of 500, 1000, 5000, 10,000 100,000, or even 1,000,000, it’s important to look back on the journey. How you choose to do this is up to you, but it’s always nice to give a shout out to your community. You could even organize a giveaway or raffle as well.
On social media like Instagram, it can be tempting to “clean up” your following/follower list to improve engagement stats. But, when you’re removing followers, please remember the people who supported you and helped you get to where you are.
7 Don’ts For Content Creators