I wasn’t planning on writing this blog post. I previously said that I’m no longer going to be blogging about myself, and I’ll be focussing on sharing other people’s stories. But, my friends, the time has not been kind; there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day.
So, check it.
What do I actually do? If you’ve ever taken regular screenshots of my online bio, you would have noticed that my “work title” has changed more times than it should. Mainly because, well, I do so many things that would sit perfectly under the title “creative” or, my new buzzword, “artist”. I create videos. It’ll either be a new concept for an online show, me poking fun at crazy behavioural traits of Mummy Bloggers or brand collaborations in the form of advertisements.
The work from ‘hashtag’ ads, which causes slight disruption to the expected content that I produce, is currently how I fund the “fun” stuff. Brands pay, which allows me to reinvest in personal projects. It’s not all about free products. Many content creators will spend hours working on ways to promote that product in a way that their audience will enjoy. For some lucky B-words, they have a hugely loyal fanbase. They can take a pic, edit on their phone, and post. That’s it, that’s all. Less work, more pay. Less effort and they will still get paid more than I would for the same project. Not just because they have more followers, but they also tick all the right boxes. Yes, the vast majority of people dislike advertisements, myself included! This is why I like to create ads in the form of stories that people will love, or at least feel as though they share a connection with.
If I have to publish an ad, I want my audience to be left feeling an emotion. My favourite type of ad to make will leave you feeling warm and fuzzy. Unfortunately, the finished advertisement isn’t solely down to me. Briefs can change, and creators may be placed in a challenging position – walk away and not get paid or just put the ad out knowing your audience will not engage. When this occurs, you, the audience, will be blessed with an emotionless product-placed image or a yawnfest of a video. A piece of content that a celebrity or an influencer with a huge following could earn a million likes (or pounds) for.
2/3 Instagram Story Ad’s by Sareta Fontaine
‘Being a Black female based in the UK, outside of London, I’m more than aware that I’m not your typical influencer. I don’t live in a fancy London Victorian house, I don’t have a Boden clothing budget, and I don’t shout about body positivity, makeup, or hair. I know that I don’t fit that influencer mould. I don’t even have a particular ‘niche’; something that I’m often reminded that successful influencers should have. I would have to either conform or work harder than the successful ones to be noticed. Is it fair, is it working, should I care?
Too many catch twenty-two situations to continue it seems.
After having a chat on Twitter earlier today about subtitling content, I was left slighting questioning myself. You see, when it comes to creating content, your content should be accessible for all. I completely agree with that sentiment, of course. But this conversation made me think about the different types of content creators; ‘OG’s’ and ‘App Addicts’.
I’m an OG. I enjoy creating original creative content. No, I don’t want to use Canva, I don’t want to use pre-made layouts or someone else’s ideas. My images, my feed, my words, they are mine. This is not a passive-aggressive dig at those who do, I realise that this stuff is time-consuming and you may not enjoy the thrill of seeing the finished product of something you have worked hard to achieve.
Don’t get me wrong, if the trend looks fun, I will join in. Although, I prefer to appreciate art rather than appropriate; I will put my spin on trends rather than copy.
If I’m getting compensation to create, hell, I will pull out all the stops, bells, and whistles! Income means that I can factor in costs for additional add-ons such as subtitles, original music, and my time.
Don’t get it twisted, I’m not referring to short videos or IG stories. Those can take anything from 10 seconds to 2 full days to produce. I’m guilty of not always committing to adding full subtitles; I should because it’s lazy. However, for larger projects that have already incurred lots of expenses, I simply can’t afford to pay for add-on software nor outsourcing. Why don’t I create those subtitles myself, you say? Of course, I could, but in terms of time, that minimises chances of me getting paid. Juggling my shop and brand collabs is something that I do outside of making entertaining videos. I can’t really have one without the other; otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to stay afloat and fund anything that I do.
Face it, free content costs the creator. Not the social platforms, not the audiences; the creator. And for what, a few likes until the next video?
Social platforms have made it seemingly impossible for audiences to see creatives posts without that creator paying to boost their work. Is this effort and money really worth it?
Receipts you say?
Let’s use the pilot episode of my new show ‘Come Wine With Me’ as an example. Comparing the time and costs of producing this episode to the number of views it has amassed so far is quite disheartening. Mind you, that doesn’t come from a big-headed perspective. I’m not sitting here shaking my fist at the internet gods, asking why the video hasn’t gone viral. I need to be realistic; whom is this time, effort, and money for?
A TikTok’er could have a million followers for simply sharing other people’s content. Meanwhile, the content I have produced has taken at least two weeks to create from scratch. Costs, including professional lighting, equipment, and added subtitles… you’re looking at least 5K per episode if everything was outsourced. I would love to turn up, have a glass of wine, and chat only for someone else to edit, post and market. Although I do love the process, it would be fantastic to have more time to work on other projects. (Alas, boo-hoo, I don’t have the funds to outsource, which is why the majority of the work is done by myself. Shout out to Eddie though, we worked together to edit ‘Come Wine With Me‘).
Seriously, I’m starting to think I do way too much, with little in return. Yes, I get to do something I love, but why so much effort? It sounds incredibly narcissistic of me to even be thinking about this, why would I think that anyone would care if I stopped everything tomorrow? Oh, its a shallow, shallow field of work; I honestly believe I work 10 times harder than many who are winning in terms of popularity and reach due to reposts of memes and lip-syncs.
Surely I’m not the only one who is currently thinking this way, are we OG content creators drowning at the bottom of regurgitated dated material?
Cardi B Christmas card concept artwork – © Sareta Fontaine
,So ‘whEt’ now?
The website costs, the marketing, the chasing overdue invoices, and the plethora of “why don’t you work for us to promote our product for free?” is so exhausting. Is it time to take a step back and focus on other endeavours?
I create videos for my audience, I have a new online shop which sells original prints that I have made, and I’m writing two books. All whilst creating two web series, and marketing myself just in case I manage to catch a big break. For why? *Insert clown emoji*.
Is it realistic carrying on working 10 x harder for an audience that will forget about me if I don’t post for two days? The thought of slipping away, writing children’s books, and only being on Twitter when procrastination Patty makes an appearance is tempting. I’ve worked so hard for such a long time with the notion that ‘one day’ I’ll make it; make what, and for whom?
Could this be the point where I grow up and stop referring to the internet as my playground?