In this post we’ll be talking about using Youtube and Instagram as one tool to help you start monetising your creativity. We’re assuming you want to spend most of your time on your creative work and not as a Youtube or Instagram “content creator” - these are people who can make a living just by creating videos and content for these platforms, but it’s a full-time job and would leave little or no room for other creative work. So with that in mind, read on.
It goes without saying that before you start making money from your creative work, you want it to be in a place where you’re comfortable selling it. So first you need to put in the hours to master your craft. However, you might get to the point where people want to buy what you’re selling quicker than you realise, which is why being able to use platforms, like Instagram and Youtube, to test ideas is so useful.
Therefore, we’re going to assume you’re ready to sell your work, but you’re just not sure of what route to take or what’s even possible for you as a creative. As Tutti focuses on music, theatre, dance, film and photography, we’ll look at each section with those disciplines in mind. If you want, you can jump to a section relevant to you below, but each section does still have valuable tips for everyone.
Why use Youtube and Instagram?
First, let’s start with those of you that might not quite be ready to sell your creative work. Youtube and Instagram are great if you think your work is still in progress as they let you show your process (which people love) and test what works and what doesn’t with your audience. For you, these platforms are a space for R&D. However, for everyone, they let you see what your audience is and is not interested in, i.e. what they would and would not pay money for.
Being social networks, these platforms also help you build an audience, and with this audience you can start funnelling people towards spending money on your creative work. Think of Youtube and Instagram as stepping stones in terms of monetisation. It’s the first step. They’re definitely not an end goal when it comes to supporting yourself, but they do work well in funnelling people towards platforms, such as your website or patronage platform, where you can build a stable income stream.
Both Youtube and Instagram are great for musicians: building an audience and developing a connection is the name of the game here.
You are not trying to sell. It’s far more effective if you build a following of people who genuinely care about you and your music, which means sharing content about you and your music (duh!). Think: song in progress, what gets you in the mood to create a song, music you love and why, how to practice, tips and tricks you’ve learnt, events you go to, gigs you play etc.
However, people are also drawn to personalities, so make sure you don’t hide behind your music; include some non-music related posts every now and then. You’ll be surprised at how well-received they are.
If you’re stuck for ideas then we highly recommend this Youtube channel, which is packed full of great content on how to market yourself on Instagram and Youtube as a musician.
For theatre makers, Instagram and Youtube can be even more useful as a testing ground for paid content. Before you have any content behind a paywall (i.e. in order to access it, people have to pay) you can develop the ideas and get a sense of what people like by posting your ideas and seeing the response.
For instance, as a theatre maker, you could develop a workshop on acting or set design. Your end goal could be to create a workshop that people pay for on your website, but until you get to that point, you can use Youtube and Instagram to share test content, poll ideas, ask questions and advice etc.
Perhaps, you don’t want to commit to developing a whole series of workshops as you’re already too busy with shows. Well, think how much behind the scenes work goes into those shows. That’s stuff other theatre makers or aspiring theatre makers want to see and learn about, and they would pay for via your website or patronage platform.
(If you want to dive into what this specific content could be then vote for the patronage platform option at the bottom of this blog!)
With both ideas above, you would use Youtube and Instagram as testing grounds and a way of sharing teasers and example content, i.e. the 2 workshops in workshop series. Don’t be afraid of giving away stuff for free: if you give away good quality creative content then people will always want more (and will be willing to pay for it).
Similarly to theatre, Youtube and Instagram are great ways for filmmakers to share all that extra behind the scenes content. You could use it to drive people towards a workshop in some area of filmmaking, but we know that’s less common.
Your end goal is often to generate funding for a larger project, so Youtube and Instagram can get people interested and then you can point them towards a platform like Kickstarter. Again, think of how you can package what you do already as shareable content to entice people away from Youtube and Instagram. Remember, you’re not trying to sell on social media platforms, you’re trying to build a social community. So always try to create content with the audience in mind.
You can do this by thinking about what content you would want to see from other filmmakers (and then you go and make your version of it), or think about when you were just starting out and what you wished someone shared with you.
This could be as simple as how you start writing a script, or some behind the scenes clips, or even a production schedule (most people won’t be coming from a film background or schooling so practical advice always goes down well).
With dance, you’ve got a more straightforward job when sharing content that your audience will care about: you just need to dance on camera!
But again, similar to the other disciplines, you want to use that to encourage your audience to workshops or lessons with you, or you could even host live streams with classes once a week. Then you could put additional classes behind a paywall on your website or on a patronage site.
Or, if you’re not at the stage where you feel comfortable to charge, then use the live-stream sessions as training for yourself and learning what people want.
More so than any other discipline, you have an opportunity to operate more like a “content creator” generating money off of Youtube views. This is great as it can often lead to sponsorship, which is where the real money comes from. However, content creation is a full-time job and it takes many years to develop your channel to a point where you can support a living off of Youtube revenue. Not ideal if you want to spend your time doing the thing you love: dancing.
(If you want to learn more about Sponsorship then vote for it at the bottom!)
Similar to the other disciplines though, think in a broader sense about what would interest people. For instance, don’t just share videos of you dancing, what about warm-up and cool-down routines? Or how do you develop your choreography? What do you eat in a day to give you energy for dancing? What dance related books, films, TV, websites do you love? It’s all content you can use to build an audience and then point them towards spending money on something you’ve created.
Some may think Photographers have the easiest job when it comes to Instagram: after all the app was originally made specifically for photographers. That’s true when it comes to sharing your work, by sharing photos you’re able to sell yet it doesn’t come across as sales-y. Unlike when a musician posts a “new music release out now, buy it here!” post.
But then many argue that Instagram has devalued the work of photographers. So you need to find that value again.
Like all the disciplines before, think of the wider context of what occurs to get to the stage of taking a photograph. Share how you plan a shoot, or where you get inspiration from, do you do any research? Or how about kit? Share your knowledge and preferences, people will always appreciate it. And in appreciating it, they’re more likely to then spend money on something you’re offering.
If you work on photoshoots with others then that’s a goldmine of shareable content there: you can show behind the scenes videos and photos, talk about how the shoot is organised, what each person’s role is, what you’re doing at the shoot other than taking photos.
This helps build the audience which you can then direct to an online shop, workshops, or to a patronage site where people can pledge money. If you’re not aware already, some people will just give money because they appreciate the work and want to support the creator, which is why patronage sites can be so useful.
Photography also opens up the world of merchandise: you take pictures which can then be printed on a whole host of things! Think t-shirts, mugs, bedding, cushions etc. Your photos can so easily be transferred to almost any physical object, which you can then sell for a lot more than the original worth of the object.
Therefore, Youtube and Instagram become amazing tools for pointing lots of people towards wherever you’re selling this merchandise.
(Vote below if you want to learn more about merchandising.)
Whatever your discipline, if you want to start monetising your creative efforts then Youtube and Instagram are great ways to grab attention, test your work in progress and build an audience. You can then point that audience away from those platforms and towards platforms (e.g. a website or patronage site) that allow you to start generating substantial income.
In future posts, we’ll be covering what those platforms could be, how to set them up and how you can use them to generate income. If you’re dying to find out more about a particular revenue stream, then don’t forget to vote for it below. Or, if you want to find out more on something else then drop us a comment below!