Creators tapped by YouTube speak on expectations

Friday, February 5th, 2021 00:00 |
Michelle Adagala.

Recently, YouTube selected 21 artistes from Africa to take part in the YouTube Black Voices Artist Class of 2021. The new initiative is dedicated to equipping up-and-coming artists with resources to succeed on the platform. The chosen YouTubers share about their experiences with Harriet James and what this feat means to them. 

“I was in my home office editing some images for a photography client. On the call,

I was shocked to be told that I had been selected to be part of this debut class,” begins James Mumo, one of the YouTube Black Voices Artist Class grantees.

Mumo, who started his channel in 2017 while working at a local bank, recalls holding back tears of joy, not believing that after the hard work of creating content and appealing to his audience, finally YouTube had rewarded his efforts.

He started with a 45-second video that he recorded with his phone, but started taking uploading seriously in 2018 when he did a video on ‘Business Ideas You Can Start in Kenya’, which has so far generated 70,000 views.

By the start of 2018, he had 21 subscribers mostly close friends and immediate family members, but by the end of that year, he had managed to hit the 1,000 mark.

“The fact that they felt my content was unique was truly a testament to me that being different is truly important.

So, for everyone who wants to start a channel, just make it reflect who you are,” he adds.

His channel, Mumo, focuses on equipping entrepreneurs on how to start and make their businesses profitable.

This year, Mumo desired to try to bring his audience to the behind the scenes of his photography and video business Mumo Photography, so that they could see what he does on a day-to-day basis.

He intends to improve his video quality using techniques he will learn during the YouTube class, and also do more collaboration with other creators in his niche and beyond to bring new audiences to his channel.

“Content creation requires creativity, authenticity and capital investment. You’d have to know your audience and what they like, and streamline that with what you have to put on the table as well, which involves a lot of market research to find out what your target audience needs,” says Mumo.

What’s it about

Other artistes including Sauti Sol, Fireboy DML (Nigeria) and South Africa’s Sho Madjozi, will represent Africa in the upcoming class.

“In the coming months, we will work closely with the Class of 2021 to grow their channels.

This will include dedicated partner support through our team of growth specialists, seed funding invested in the development of their channels, followed by bespoke training, workshops, and networking programmes.

We will measure our success by the longer-term, sustained success of these artistes,” says YouTube EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) Emerging Markets managing director Alex Okosi.

This is the first round of investments YouTube is making in creators and artistes from the #YouTubeBlack Voices Fund.

Their plan is that over the next few years, they will directly invest in an excess of 500 creators and artistes from across the world to support, grow and fund the creators’ channels and content development.

In 2016, YouTube brought together some of the largest and most-influential black creators on YouTube for their first-ever YouTube Black Summit.

The event resulted in the birth of the #YouTubeBlack community and over the years, YouTube continues to partner and build specific programming for the #YouTubeBlack community — summits, workshops and events including the #YouTube Black FanFest.

“The #YouTubeBlack community is filled with so many passionate, talented and brilliant creatives.

We’re honoured to give these awesome creators additional resources to match their drive,” adds Alex.

Vlogger, radio personality, singer and actress Patricia Kihoro received the news over a scheduled call.

“I was home, on my couch, unwinding after a long day. I got incredibly emotional when I was told.

We were then asked to stay mum about it until the announcement was made, but on the day of the announcement, I unfortunately found out a few minutes prior that my grandmother had passed away that morning,” she recalls.

When she started her channel back in 2009, Patricia intended to use it as a platform to share her live musical performances.

As she admits, she didn’t actively try to increase viewership until 2017, and since then, her focus has been on creating content that is fun, entertaining, and that informs her viewers about Kenyan brands, music and the arts.

“My life inspires my content. I want my channel to be one of the many local ones that offer a glimpse into life in Kenya.

There are so many wonderful creators from here who create such amazing videos, and I learn so much from their lenses, and I’d like to add my voice to the fray,” she adds.Content creatioN

When it comes to content creation, social media is completely changing the narrative. Lately, we have witnessed the birth and rise of vloggers, thanks to YouTube.

According to Digital 2020 Kenya statistics, there are approximately 30 million YouTube active daily users.

By January 2020, there were almost nine million social media users in Kenya, with social media penetration standing at 17 per cent.

The Covid-19 crisis period was quite a turning point for many content creators as the government restrictions, which forced people to be locked up in their homes, made them turn to YouTube as a source of entertainment and education.

Kaluhi Adagala started her channel Kaluhi’s Kitchen as a complementary source of content for her then four-year-old food blog in 2018.

She witnessed unprecedented rise in viewership in her vlog during the period.

“During the pandemic, I did not make any change. I continued posting and filming as I was already doing it from home.

Viewership did however increase because more people were at home and eating out less. So, my channel was the perfect source for good home cook recipes and meals,” she intimates.

Despite having a steady growth in his channel, Mumo says it was challenging staying consistent last year. His page grew dismally from 302,000 views in 2019 to 307,000 views in 2020. 

“The biggest hurdle to content creation is consistency. For me, the biggest challenge has always been storytelling.

This class will enable me to learn how to incorporate that into the educational videos that I do.

I also look forward to learn how to spot and ride trends to continue growing my channel, and just meeting and collaborating with my fellow classmates. So, expect more diverse content on the channel in the coming days,” he says. 

Patricia confesses to having internal challenges including self-doubt, self-criticism and imposter syndrome.

She says, “I love creating; filming and editing my content, but many times I get stuck because of overthinking and perfectionism.

I look forward to this opportunity to help me break that and fully tap into the joy that creating videos for this platform brings me.”

The challenges

Kaluhi’s high moments were when she won the best food blog award in the 2017 and 2019 editions of the annual BAKE Awards. Consequently, her story was featured in many publications including local dailies, New York Times, CNN, DStv and Food Network. However, her low moments were a subject of online trolling.

She says: “It was tough in the beginning, but I have learnt to brush it off. Another challenge that I have in content creation is understanding some YouTube back-end aspects such as the algorithm and tagging, which I hope to learn during this class.”

For Thrive Fitness CEO Mitchelle Adagala, who also vlogs a self-titled YouTube channel, the secret to keep her channel fresh and authentic is through being herself and following through with her niche.

Given that her career and lifestyle inspires her content, her fitness and nutrition content comes out naturally.

Mitchelle recalls that one of the lowest moment for her as a content creator has been mostly burnout, which she says can be a hindrance to her work.

“I often take time off to recharge and restrategise, which can be stressful given that your audience is eagerly waiting for your return, but you are not in a space to produce content,” she says, adding that having a content calendar has assisted her in avoiding burnout. She hopes that the class will enable her expand her brand as the.

On their part, Sauti Sol couldn’t believe they had been selected to be part of the YouTube class.

“We’re really excited to be part of the first YouTube Black Voices Artist Class along with 20 other incredible artistes… 2021 is off to a perfect start and things are looking up.

Thank you YouTube Music for celebrating black voices and allowing us to be heard globally,” said the 2016 MAMA Awards winners.

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