Selective Focus: The Content Creator Market

Selective Focus: The Content Creator Market

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Every few years a new catchword sums up the marketing direction of the industry. Today’s catchword(s) is, no surprise, “content creator.” These days the industry is aiming gear at the content creator market through camera kit bundles and associated lighting, mics, grips as well as software.

Indeed, every camera sold today touts its multimedia capabilities that encompass still, video and audio prowess. Some have more megapixels, expanded video recording formats and, of course, AI tracking that can visually follow and focus on the voice and the main actor as they move around the room.

Moreover, many of these kits carry the “content creator” moniker. It’s a fair bit of newspeak that defines anyone whose aspiration is to upload their point of view, outrageous actions and even helpful advice to the myriad hosting channels and sites that increasingly fill the Internet airways.

This expression has also spurred the curious appellations of consumers as vloggers, bloggers and streamers. Those terms mainly refer to those who seek to upload their output onto a wide range of venues. Much of this content is benign or outright commercial. Nevertheless, it also includes nefarious actors who post the easiest way to break into a Kia. Or those who spew dogma aimed at the fringes of society. Selective-Focus-8-23-1

That aside, it must be said that a good deal of helpful content is also posted. For example, how to clear a paper jam on your printer; mix up some lip-smacking chocolate chip cookies; how to best spend three days in Brussels; and even what camera to buy to set up your own niche channel. It’s all out there awaiting your Google query or rainy days when you just want to watch the “fails” channels—our modern-day slapstick comedies.

No Harm, No Foul

Moreover, we could consider some of this content the “look at me” syndrome, where Warhol’s “fifteen minutes of fame” is the guiding principle. Yet, there are many aspects that appeal to the need to turn creative instincts into visual and verbal expression. In that sense, no harm, no foul. Sharing experiences through imaging is one of the guiding lights of our industry. It is also why it still holds sway in the hearts and minds of everyone from amateurs to pros.

Of course, one impetus for being attracted to a content creator kit could be financial. Furthermore, the holy grail for the content creator is to rise to the stature of “Influencer.” That’s defined as persons who turn their passions or dispositions into moneymaking ventures. Like miners in the hills of Montana panning for gold.

What’s more, the hope is to attract sponsorship, or any kind of revenue stream, with a channel or topical series that can range from fashion trends for teens to vegan cooking. Or even deep advice on the latest iteration of Photoshop.

The photo industry has some history and experience with the influencer route. Brand-championing pros have long campaigned (and still soldier on) for the latest of their sponsor’s products.

Yet, one can’t blame the industry for hopping on the bandwagon—and hopefully blunting the continued intrusion of the cameraphone while supplying the needs of those who want to sail in these waters. It’s true that much of what one might deem “street” imaging issues forth from phones. However, anyone with higher aspirations and the desire to make a quality production will hopefully understand that, once again, a real live camera (and a lot of accessories) is the best way to go. That, and some extensive tutoring, study and hard work remains the road to success.

Bundling

In the “early days” of this latest marketing trend, building a kit required getting a piece from here and there. You might even have had to find gear outside the traditional photo realm. Of course, this still holds true for a full-fledged studio setup. But increasingly, there are numerous “content creator” kits that are a good starting point for aspirants.

All majors now have some aspect of bundled kits available. These modestly priced packages can include a camera body with an enhanced finder; a dedicated or interchangeable lens; a compact “fuzzy-wigged” microphone; tripod mounts and other grips; plus capabilities for 4K video, various video modes, livestreaming, wireless Wi-Fi, live tracking and more. You can also add to that lighting, predominantly LED, that can fit in the hot shoe mount. There are now powerful units that can fill a room. Later add-ons can include gimbals, tripods, sound boards, video-editing software, etc. In short, there is no lack of gear on offer.

Hobby or Job?

While content creator kits are attractive and an easy entry to the sport, it begins with the image making. Most anyone can shoot a video. However, the real work in the game is the promotion and production of the content and getting eyeballs through the monitor door.

I did some searching and came across some advice columns for those who want to play. One site recommends a few steps: 1) develop a niche; 2) ID the audience demographic; 3) decide whether the site is for entertainment or education; 4) be sure the material you put out is “pro” quality; 5) have your own specific “voice” or stance; and 6) be tenacious in promotion. Oh, is that all? Selective-Focus-8-2023-2

Nope. Another recommended that to make things worth your time, you must: 1) learn/practice SEO (search engine optimization); 2) master video and sound editing and how to get the most from software templates; 3) explore affiliate marketing (percentages off third-party vendors to whom you direct visitors); 4) consider buying ads; and 5) become a brand ambassador. Sounds like a full-time job to me.

Some questions remain. If I buy into the idea of being a vlogger or blogger, or content creator as the marketing suggests, when and how do I learn (and afford) and have the time to do all this? And if I go for it, where do I get the training?

Yes, there are seminars conducted by retailers and manufacturers. However, in my exploration of same (on the Internet, naturally) they’re mostly gear touts. Community colleges, media workshops and local resources offer a smattering of courses. But they are far outweighed by video and photo capture and processing software techniques rather than the important business and even technical aspects of the vlog and blog trade.

Selling a Dream or Just Having Fun?

All this is not to discourage the content creator impetus in the industry today. Yet, it is apparent that one buying a beginner content creator kit will mainly make home movies to share with friends and family. And perhaps some folks who may get roped in on Facebook Live, Tik Tok, Twitch and the like. This is all well and good. It’s a big, old Internet out there.

Hopefully, these kits will start something that is fulfilling and fun. But as a trade? Yes, some will follow through and find their passion. Think of all the garage bands that made it to the college circuit or, rarely, to the Top 40. They are few and far between. Most simply ended up disturbing the neighbors.

A Little Reality Needed—or Assistance?

Yes, these multimedia cameras and associated gear can be a beginning, and perhaps light the spark of creativity. But let’s be honest about just what all this entails. The media space is increasingly crowded (it’s a bit of a mob scene). While there’s always room for more, I suppose, we should caution about the hard work, time and upgrades in gear all this can take.

Just like in olden times when companies toured campuses, workshops and retailers to demonstrate (and sell) their gear, perhaps it’s time for the industry to put their energy and marketing funds toward supporting education and awareness of how the dream of being a true content creator is realized. That means facing up to the reality of the dream they are selling.

Like portrait, wedding and commercial photographers who spent years honing their craft, there is no easy path to success for so-called content creators. For the content creator marketing line to prosper for manufacturers and, ultimately, for their customers, any assistance rendered will pay off in the long run.

Yes, many consumers will find fun and fulfillment when using multimedia cameras for their own private enjoyment. However, appealing to customers with the content creator pitch, while clever, might be a step too far.

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