There is no denying it: 2020 has thrown everything it could at us. It really hasn't been an easy one. Even the worst of pessimists (myself included) can attest this year has turned out a lot differently from what we had imagined. While some have started adapting, most of us are still trying to find our footing in this new “normal".
We've had to restructure our whole lives, jobs have been destroyed and entire industries have been levelled. This has taken a heavy financial toll as many of us photographers and visual content creators have lost all our income. This creates a level of stress we have never dealt with before.
So how do we, visual content creators, survive the creative and financial burden we are facing? Well, in fact, it turns out we are quite lucky. There are actually a few things we can do to stay creatively active and support ourselves financially through this mess.
Depending on where you are located, lockdown measures to keep us healthy and safe may still be in effect. Even if you're allowed to be out and about, these past few months of unsteady work probably have you worrying about the economic downside of social distancing. With government assistance not reaching everyone it should, people are turning to something that is only now getting the attention it deserves: content creation.
Forbes has taken notice of this shift towards created content as a new major economy. They're calling it "creator economy" and there is a reason for this current trend: people are stuck at home. With many of us at home and facing unemployment, we're creating content.
Content creators are fortunate—for a few different reasons. The first is we already have the tools and knowledge necessary to create content that sells. Many already created content from home before the pandemic. Others did it as a full-time position. But we already own cameras, lighting equipment, and editing software. We already know how to use them.
Not only are we lucky because we can earn a living with tools and education we already have. It turns out this content has never been in such high demand. According to a Hubspot report, "70% of marketers are actively investing in content marketing". Content can be created from home with fewer resources. It is known as a more cost-effective way of advertising. And as brands are being forced to cut their advertising budgets, the tendency is to shift towards created content as a viable option to keep up their advertising.
The results couldn't be more obvious: an article by the content marketing institute states that the content marketing industry has actually seen a small positive impact from the pandemic. There will be an increased demand for quality content that tells good stories for a while. You're one of the lucky few that has a chance to grow. And you already have the tools and knowledge to earn a living from something you're passionate about. It's time to get to work.
There are a few practical things we can do from our living rooms to earn income. Some of these are as easy as just putting out content you've already created. It may only be a matter of getting it out there online at the right places. Hopefully, someone will pay you for this content. Others require a little planning and creative work. But what better way to stay busy right now?
Nowadays, with brands needing custom content that tells stories, we have to tailor our visual content to fit in with a brand's message. The Creatively Squared platform finds brands that need quality visuals and matches them up with creators to work with. While some photographers earn a living solely from stock photography, this is a more hands-on approach to content, since you're briefed by the brand before you create. With guaranteed payment for each project it's less of a hit-or-miss scenario.
As the demand for work that can be done from home increases, I expect to see more businesses and brands follow this path of hiring content creators. And more photographers (like me) to take this plunge.
People are getting creative and switching careers. Kelly Williams is a Melbourne wedding photographer who has made the switch from a full-time wedding photographer to content creator. Her story helps us see that this is an option for those who can't risk going out and photographing. She went from shooting weddings to shooting at home, allowing her to spend more time with 5-year-old. It has become a full-time job.
I can almost guarantee you've done a Google search for "How photographers can make money during Pandemic" by now. I could also confidently say that every website you read through said "sell photos online" or "write an eBook" or "start a youtube channel". That's content creation. You've already done lots of it. Now you only need to find a way to sell it.
But what happens when you haven't created the content yet? What if this pandemic is more than you can deal with emotionally? Do you feel like you'll never get out of this rut? Or maybe out of the house?
I've struggled with depression for over 20 years. I learned how to cope. I know when I need some time off. But there's one unique thing depression has taught me: we need to actively work at staying inspired.
Picasso said, "Inspiration exists, but it needs to find you working". This means we can't expect to lie in bed all day and suddenly get inspired to get up and create amazing content. We need to take a few direct actions to make sure we're ready to put this inspiration down on paper - or on camera. I've learned a few tricks to keep me inspired through trial and error (mostly error) and years of therapy. They have helped my photography business thrive, helped me write, and kept me sane during this pandemic.
One easy way is to establish a routine. If you're at home every day and not going out to work, days may start to turn into a blur. Do you ever feel like you just woke up, only to suddenly notice the day is nearly over? We just don't know what to expect of our days right now, so we let them pass by. One way we can break this pattern is to maintain a routine. Going to bed at the same time every night or eating lunch and dinner at the same time makes us more aware of our days. It's easier to know when we need to be creating if we have set deadlines.
This pandemic broke everything in my life. It altered a life-changing plan I had for this year, and both my wife and I have lost all our income. But it also motivated me to put into practice some things I had always wanted to. After another short bout of depression, I got the courage to put my writing out into the world. It sold. I got the courage to put more photography out into the world. It also sold.
Creating content isn't a solution to your problems. It'll take a while to make a living from it. But it'll keep you busy and inspired during the worst thing most of us have ever had to deal with. Inspiration does strike - and it will. Make sure you're ready to create when it does.
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