Over the past decade, one thing that has come up clearly is that people can make money through their passion. This has been proven with thousands of YouTubers, Instagrammers, bloggers, etc. The internet offers more tools than ever before to earn money through your passion, be it photography, writing, editing or merely assisting others with their work.
In the near future, I think everyone will have a side income apart from their normal day-job. If you take a look at this fantastic piece by Li Jin, you’ll find a lot of startups already coming up with tools to provide independent creators with tools to make themselves successful. Distribution has never been cheaper.
Because it is so easy to create new content, for a while I’ve wondered if we’ve reached a saturation point in terms of content creation and consumption. After all, there are only 24 hours in a day and a finite lifespan. We can spend only so much time watching videos or connecting with people on social media. In such a case, I wonder if anyone will ever be able to reach the scale that someone could have 5 or 10 years ago?
Let’s take the case of YouTube. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. Almost 5 billion videos are watched every day. These are staggering numbers, which speak to the excellent infrastructure created by YouTube. But as a new creator, they make you wonder whether you will be able to find your space in the YouTube world? Will you be able to get even a thousand subscribers, as opposed to millions of subscribers on your favourite YouTube channels?
The answer is – yes, you can find your space in the creator economy. The key lies in looking at new platforms that are currently under-utilized but are poised to grow. This will help you differentiate yourself from the other creators. If you follow the existing creators and keep using the same tactic they used to grow, you are likely not going to be successful, especially if the other creators are hugely successful.
Finding your space
Creators naturally benefit from the growth of the user base of a content platform. For example, as YouTube’s reach kept growing over the past five years, we saw a lot more content creators in India cross a million subscribers. In 2015, the number of YouTube channels with a million subscribers was 16, that same number in 2019 was past 1200. Over the past couple of years, Tiktok has grown tremendously, to reach more than 500 million monthly active users worldwide.
As a new creator, you should take a bet on a new platform and grow with it. If the platform grows and your content is good, you will grow. And there are plenty of new platforms that have a huge potential for growth. For example, for writing online Substack is trying to make a mark; for selling online courses, you can use Podia; for audio content creation, there are tools like Anchor. These tools help creators not just create, but also make money while creating.
If you’re in India and like reading in your local languages, platforms like ShareChat, Helo, Aawaz.com, etc. are allowing you to share vernacular content. Depending on the kind of content you want to make, you can start using these platforms right away.
But apart from these individual platforms, I think there is a bigger channel that’s going to explode soon – audio.
Betting big on Audio
India is already the third-largest market for audio consumption on the internet, but the number of monthly podcast listeners is only 40 million, which is less than 10% of India’s internet-using population. In the US, more than 60 million people listen to podcasts every week. The opportunity is much bigger for India, though, because of two reasons – one, the growing internet population, and two, the natural reach of audio content to other languages. English is limiting in its reach, but not vernacular audio content.
We have always spoken to other people on the phone. Creating audio for mass consumption is a natural step in this evolution. Apps like WhatsApp have already created it very easy to send audio messages to our contacts.
The next question we need to answer – how do you find out what content to create?
Finding audio opportunities
Blogging became very popular in the first decade of the century. Later, the same content that you once saw on a blog started to appear in the form of videos on YouTube and other places. News started appearing in the text, audio, and video formats, short stories grew from online publications to short films online, etc. We saw a huge shift in how consumption changed.
I think translating the same or similar content to a different medium is an excellent way to gain traction. Just like ‘video blogs’, or vlogs grew popular through YouTube last decade, ‘audio blogs,’ will be popular very soon (I don’t know what will be the cool word for it, though).
But you need to be slightly careful since some kind of content is better suited for a video setting only. For example, in a car review, you would expect to see pictures or a video of the car. This won’t be suited for audio production. However, there is a lot of content that is much better suited for an audio-only format, for example – talk shows, comedy shows, story narrations, etc.
The effort is not huge
The creation of audio content doesn’t need a huge amount of effort too. Unlike video, where you need a camera, a location, nice costumes to make the video look good; audio needs much less equipment. Basic recording can happen over your phone itself. For the more sophisticated recordings, you need a good microphone and audio editing software, which is not very expensive.
The opportunity is here
Humans began to communicate with each other by telling stories to one another. A natural evolution of communication was creating shared languages with other individuals, then came pictorial scripts allowing us to draw pictures and document our life, which later evolved into the further development of written scripts.
As content transmission diversifies into different channels, as it has over the course of human history, we have now been able to go back to where it all began – telling people through our voice, not requiring us to write or draw. We are natural storytellers, and we now have the tools to tell stories to many people over the internet.
Hang tight! I might start working on an audio content project soon 🙂