Stef Michalak was a guy that I was pretty familiar with a few years ago. My wife discovered Hannah Maggs (his wife) when the couple started vlogging their lives when their first son was about to be born.
I LOVED the cinematic vlogs that revolved around the little British family and it gave me hope that travel vlogging wasn’t the only way to go.
Recently I have been struggling with what I want my work to be online. I love creating content. And I love the interaction between content consumers and the content creators and I have dabbled heavily in this space for years.
The other day, Stef Michalak released this newsletter —
I read it and was reminded of some pretty interesting things that I have somewhat put out of my mind when thinking about creating the things I want to create online.
The average person can’t really make art anymore. At least not in the purest form — creating for creation’s sake for others to enjoy (and find some amount of success in it). You have to bend your art to fit what society wants… which, I guess it has always been that way. Think of Bob Dylan when he picked up an electric guitar, or even more recently when we saw digital art creators hopping on the NFT trend.
It’s been a few years now that the Michalaks fell off our radar and though it was for more reasons than one, Stef pretty much tells us why it happened to many of their followers in his newsletter.
I’m realizing (again and in greater detail) this…
If someone wants to be content creator, he(she) needs to first be a servant and he needs to serve viewers as they want to be served… not in how he would like to serve them.
If a creator is willing to put this concept first… there is nothing that can stop them from finding success. It just requires constant research on trends and a willingness to hold no piece of content as sacred. They must assume everything made yesterday is less important than what needs to be made tomorrow in order to succeed in the “influencer” world. That is a tough reality and world to live in.
But it is what it takes.
Stef was finally convinced to join Patreon. This has been the way of a few creators who want to connect with their core audience (and make steady money from them) and has been the route of many who have been “cancelled” as well.
However, even on Patreon, you sign up to serve in a way that you might not want to. For instance, most creators on Patreon will offer extra content or live streams, early access to stuff, etc. to make the subscription worth it. And I have to imagine that even the things you do to keep people subscribed need to change and morph over time to keep up with trends and keep people engaged.
What is the kingdom value here?
I think there are two ways of looking at this from a Christian standpoint.
- We glorify God in the work that we do if it is good and honest work. Creating content is not ungodly work. Serving others is also not ungodly work. So, the willingness to serve others with our creative gifts and serve them where they are (in this case trend wise) is inherently Godly work.
- However, the world tends to instill in us this notion of more, more, more. The constant jumping to the latest social media trend and new media outlet can become all-consuming if you want to stay on top of the content creation wave. Anyone who doesn’t conform gets left behind by algorithms and consumer demand.
If you have the drive in you to be a serial creator AND consumer, this field is an easier fit. However, if you fall into the category of loving art or creation of content because of the process, this might be a little harder for you as you also have to learn the research and business and consumer observation skills to stay ahead of the curve.
Again, this can all be good and God-honoring work, but as Christians, we have to put God first no matter what. Is there room for God in this new Digital Rat Race?
I don’t have the answer.
It’s a soul-searching kind of question. But this is the state of the “Content Creator” profession. You have to search deep down and ask if it’s the right industry for you.
I imagine this industry is easier for those who are more concerned with earthly success, wealth, and fame. And in the end, they will probably be more successful because they have nothing else consuming their time.
(I also have thoughts on those without spouses or children seem to have a leg up in this field for sheer amount of time they have over those who are married and/or have children. But that is a discussion for another day.)
But what does it all mean when we face the Ancient of Days? I pray we can ALL hear “well done good and faithful servant”, because THAT is greater than any amount of success, wealth, or fame we could ever receive here on earth.