Why did you ask Yaya Han to join you to discuss this particular topic?
A while ago, when thinking about how to bring creators back to the web, I became convinced that we need to look at narrow niches that have historically done well on the web, but that have now largely moved on to social media. My theory is that if we can find one of the most well-respected creators in that niche and turn them into a living case study, or “beacon,” on the importance of being on the web, it would yield better results than trying to cover broad topics in broad niches.
To test this theory, I needed to find a niche I was familiar with, that’s sufficiently popular with GenZ and beyond, that’s visually appealing and comes with hugely popular social media influencers. I’ve had a longtime interest in Japanese pop culture, and noticed that cosplay grew from a seemingly obscure niche activity to a massive phenomenon over the years. Many cosplayers had websites a few years back, but nowadays, almost all activity is on social media. Cosplay was an ideal test niche.
I then identified the most well-respected cosplayers with websites to find that “beacon creator.” They had to be popular with fans and respected by other creators. And they had to use their website as part of their overall strategy. Yaya checked all the boxes, and when we met a few months back, we realized that we both have the same burning desire to revitalize the web while helping the cosplay community and the larger creator community get onto a sustainable, healthy path.
Even Yaya will say that her long career is a rarity in her industry. What can new creators learn from people like Yaya, who’ve made it as a creator for years? And what can longtime creators learn from the modern influencer?
I’ve chatted with Yaya about how every creator, including her, had to learn at some point to not obsess over follower counts, but instead look at what actually makes you attractive to brands and paying customers. That’s just one of many life lessons Yaya had to learn as a career creator, and because Yaya has done it for a much longer time than many others, she can help inspire a new generation of creators who are struggling because they rose to fame too quickly. These creators are all at risk of burning out, and Yaya, together with the Google for Creators team, and soon creators in all sorts of niches, can help them find a sustainable path to a long, successful career.
Your talk focuses on some really difficult challenges of being a content creator. Fortunately, you and Yaya have a lot of solutions, some of which may surprise the audience. Your focus is more on the long-game than short-term solutions.
That’s right, and best of all, some of these solutions are very easy to implement! For instance, getting a domain name to put in front of your link-in-bio takes probably less than 10 minutes, but ensures that you own that funnel or connection point. Now, whenever you switch link-in-bio providers, your links on all talks, videos, posts and so on will keep working and redirect fans to the right new home.
The most surprising realization for many will be that they don’t have to become outrageously famous to make it as a creator. There are tons of career creators out there who make more money with a few thousand fans than a big influencer with millions of followers. They do it by focusing on providing real value to their true fans, oftentimes with the help of their own website.
Thanks Paul for giving us a taste of what you’ll be talking about on Friday. Break a leg and have fun at VidCon!