It’s time for us to sit down and have some serious discussions about being a creator and influencer marketing. In truth, the time for these conversations started years ago – but they never happened. Partly because it was so new and unfamiliar. No one knew what influencer marketing was or how important it was about to become. I started writing about content creators and social media back in 2011. At the time, with a marketing background, I saw things differently from many other people. The first post that went viral was in 2012, called “Twitter and the Dark World of Paid Followers“. In it, I demonstrated how easy it was to buy a following and how out of control it already was. Today, it’s worse and it’s not only on Twitter.
An Experiment in Influencer Marketing
To address how bad I felt influencer marketing was becoming, I took on a personal challenge. Live an entire year exclusively through brand deals. From January 2013-December 2013 I lived what I called A Sponsored Life. I got rid of everything in my apartment (save a bag of essentials) and left my fate to the will of brands and PR. The year was very hard, but I survived… proving that if you wanted to live a life that was free, you could. As the project wrapped, I experienced an odd set of emotions. On one hand, I was happy I had done it but on the other, I didn’t feel successful. While others congratulated me on my achievement, inside, I didn’t get what I wanted out of it.
I had hoped for answers about influencer marketing. In similar fashion to how scientists test on lab rats (rapid reproduction/short lifespan help observe many generations), I did the same to myself. While content creators work with brands on occasion, none rely on them for everything. I had hoped the vacuum would have provided incredible influencer marketing insight. Instead, I felt hollow. In mid-2014, I closed the website, removed some content and gave up on a book idea. I wanted nothing to do with it. I felt like I had, in fact, wasted a year. But that emotion was short lived.
The Creator Awakening
It took time, but eventually, I found the answers I was looking for. While the experience had been extreme and really did burn me out from the influencer world – it had taught me some incredibly valuable lessons. I ended up taking those lessons and applying them to my business – creating content for others. As a result, my content got better. How I worked with brands improved. My ability to work with other creators was boosted. It was like a Neo seeing the Matrix for the first time… all became clear. Well, as clear as can be despite how murky influencer marketing can be. But the result is this website and the plans I have for it. I recognize how much I adore influencer marketing and the world of content creation but hate how almost every bit of information out there is directed at brands. “How to leverage influencer” blog posts are posted by every media outlet around the world at a seemingly daily rate. At the same time, I rarely see a “How to leverage brand deals” post aimed at content creators. In fact, the websites aimed at creators are generally just YouTube drama trackers… I’m looking at you We The Unicorns.
Hyping the Great Creators
At the same time, I’ve also witnessed how bad the whole ‘paid following’ thing is getting. Instagram, Twitter, YouTube… organically growing creators are being left in the dust because they refuse to pay for a fake following. Brands, meanwhile, ignore these AMAZING creators because they don’t put on a smoke and mirror show to get their attention. Great Creators need a hype man… and while I’m only one person, I know I can make a difference. So, if you’re a creator that wants to do things RIGHT – this site is for you. If you’re just getting started on YouTube, a Blog, Twitter or Twitch… this site will aim to help you. If you’re a fake following, paid likes kinda creator… yeah, this site probably not going to be your friend. (Though, perhaps we can rehabilitate you!)
But more than anything, Creator Hype aims to be an outlet of conversation! My opinions and those of other contributors to the site are open to discussion. If you see things differently, share your perspective! In a world dominated by vehement opposition, we’ll aim to be an example of how discussions can happen without resorting to one-side-vs-the-other deadlocks. So I encourage you to share your opinions in the comments, or shoot me an email if you want to write something for the site! We’re very open to many different angles! Thank you for reading and welcome to the community!