Are we teaching our children for the careers they may have one day?
Shouldn't we be training our content creators
Imagine the scene; I’m in a huge room filled with media executives, head people at the BBC, ITV and the like listening to a talk on the future of talent. On the stage are Oli White, Tom Fletcher and Tyler Oakley's agent and I am finding the conversation captivating. Most of the audience see these YouTube stars as their competition and the questions are let’s say a little on the negative side. Oli White is handling them like a pro though. I’m desperate to start a discussion that means something, that brings the conversation around to a slightly more positive stance but I’m feeling a little nervous, I mean the bloke from McFly is on the stage. Before I know it my hand is in the air, my heart is beating and I am sure I am going some kind of crimson. Mr. McFly looks in my direction and the panel presenter nods; a microphone appears in my hand. I fumble a bit and start to stutter; I’m wondering if a coherent sentence will ever come out of my mouth. All eyes are on me and my mouth is dry, but then suddenly the most articulate question I have ever asked sails into the auditorium.
“I think it’s amazing that the new wave of media offers our young people so much opportunity to be content creators. However, who is training these content creators in the business side of what they do? Doesn’t this lack of training mean that a lot of them are being taken advantage of? What should we be doing?”
Silence takes over, the panelists look at each other and then Lisa Filipelli goes on to give me a reply that, partly through nerves, I can’t hear. She does however catch me later, thanking me for asking the question and continuing to tell me how young people need training in what it really took, how many people one content creator has behind them, the ins and outs of how it works and yes, lots of these yoking people are being taken advantage of. She ponders on what to do and says that maybe it is her job and maybe it is mine. Whoever takes the mantle, here is what I do know; our young people are being sold short.
The Creative Industry is growing fast
The creative industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the UK, and the majority of that content is being created by young people. My daughter, currently at University studying Publishing and Creative writing was lucky, yes lucky to have me by her side. As a writer and now a fine art photographer, I knew that building her audience on-line was imperative if she was going to reach out to a publisher. She leaves University in 4 months and is currently sporting over 34k engaged followers on Instagram, makes money taking photos for publishers, makes money being an influencer and gets countless e-mails and offers daily. Her university counterparts were told to start Instagram accounts to show their work but little else; she is leaving with a ready made career while the rest, well they are often starting from scratch. Not because she is good and they are bad but because no one told them that this was even a possibility. How come the universities don’t even understand what or how to do it?
And then there are the other influencers around, trying and producing good content but working with brands that don’t fit them, not stipulating when posts are sponsored, not declaring gifted product as income and having no idea what to charge, how to run a business or how to develop their brand outside the confines of the platform they are creating on.
Why do we keep so quiet?
It’s like a dirty little secret we are keeping quiet about, like we are ashamed of what these amazing kids do because it’s not a real career. These kids are too frightened, embarrassed maybe to speak up and ask for help because no one takes what they do seriously. When Bronte tells people she takes pictures of books and gets paid for it the stock answer is, “Well that sounds easy, I’ll think I could do it!” Her stock answer is, “Go on then!” They soon realise that it’s not as easy as it first appears, or they look at her account and confirm that it isn’t all that simple after all. It isn’t; these content creators work hard and long hours, often getting little or no pay or compensation for what they do until they make it into big numbers. And they get ridiculed at every step; the recent internet storm over Elle Darby shows how little respect they get for their work. And it infuriates me. Shouldn’t we be supporting these creative minds to nurture and develop their talent? Shouldn’t we be teaching them the real ins and outs of how this works? Instead, we tell them that what they do is not real; we feed them to the lions unprepared and offer them no support at all, often thinking that perhaps they will get over it.
Well they won’t! There is nothing to get over and just because you don’t understand what they do or think it’s easy, doesn’t mean what they are doing is not worthy or worthwhile.
So I’m here flying the flag for all those young content creators – you are brilliant, you are doing a great job and if you have any questions please do e-mail me, I’m more than happy to help.