Among University of Utah students who run their own YouTube and TikTok channels, some have thousands of subscribers and over 1,000 video views.
U student Jada Kali P. Stelmach began documenting her time in college to reminisce after graduating and to share her college experience, struggles, and lifestyle as a pre-med student from first generation.
Stelmach’s YouTube channel has 3,000 subscribers and some of his videos have over 25,000 views.
“My channel was originally about makeup and fashion,” Stelmach said. “I wasn’t consistently uploading videos when I uploaded my first YouTube video, but I started taking it more seriously in college and tried to upload weekly.”
According to Stelmach, she spends at least one to four hours editing videos. She said her favorite part of the editing process is finding new, creative ways to edit.
“The vlogging aspect is easy but the editing takes the most time,” Stelmach said. “I usually spend a whole week editing, putting clips together, browsing through a music library, adding effects, graphics and any other micro details.”
Stelmach said the essentials of being a creative student are timing and commitment. On Instagram and YouTube, there’s a time frame when people are most active, from the time of day to the day of the week.
“On Instagram, I like to do story updates where I share my to-do list for the day, what I’m currently doing, or even what I’m wearing or listening to,” she said. “I’ve learned that relatability is important as a creator because your audience wants to get to know you as someone they can share the same experiences with.”
On YouTube, Stelmach does its best to respond to all comments, even if they relate to an old video.
“One thing I try not to do is constantly check the stats,” she said. “Stats can be good because they can give you a good measure of growth, but sometimes they can hurt your self-esteem too.”
Stelmach being both a student and a designer, her biggest difficulty is finding a balance.
“I am now in my fourth year of college and have limited time to make videos and content as I have more responsibilities and [am] more involved on campus,” Stelmach said.
Stelmach will graduate in a year and hopes to begin documenting and sharing her post-graduate experience and life transition.
“My goal is not the number of subscribers or followers,” she said. “I want to share my experiences and my struggles to show that students [and] people are not alone in their journey as they navigate through college, their careers, and their lives.
She said she wanted to inspire someone and create a community where students can also share experiences and help motivate each other.
“Create content because you love creating and the content you create,” she said. “People will love you for who you are and what you do, and you will find growth when you are yourself.”
She also said it would take time to find someone’s style or niche, especially in a world full of trends.
Create and market in a changing world
Sebastiaan Gorissen, a doctoral student in the U’s department of communications, said the videos people watch, the images and posts they “like” and the creators they follow all produce information.
According to Gorissen, this information – however small, invisible or insignificant it may seem – must be recognized as its own kind of digital content. In the contemporary digital media environment of social media platforms, websites and services, people around the world are all producers of digital content.
“As an instructor in the Department of Communication, I have had the incredible good fortune to work directly with some of the student creators as they have incorporated their content into the portfolios they have built for courses such as Media Writing and Introduction to News Writing”, Gorissen mentioned.
The university offers courses specifically related to the production of digital content.
Gorissen said students’ creative pursuits should be championed across campus, and as an instructor, he would like to see more and more opportunities for students to hone their skills and develop a critical understanding of what’s going on. what it means to be a digital content creator on the contemporary Internet.
“I would recommend that creators look for opportunities to incorporate their content into the courses they take,” Gorissen said. “Although not always explicitly stated, most instructors would be more than happy to connect their class assignments to their students’ passions.”
Due to the relative ease with which many people are able to create their own content, the nature of being a celebrity has changed dramatically.
“The careers of people like creators are built by constantly producing the kinds of content that people want to engage with,” Gorissen said.
He gave advice to creative students who should focus their attention on constantly creating content that they would like to consume. The success of famous creators may not be immediate, and they may never reach the heights of YouTube or TikTok’s biggest stars, but there is an audience for every type of content, if that content is created with passion and intention.
“The job market is changing rapidly and fewer and fewer people are building their careers within a single company or organization,” Gorissen said. “On the contrary, it is becoming increasingly common for people to work for a different company or organization every few years, or to work freelance for several companies and organizations at once.”
According to Gorissen, student creators really need to learn how to market themselves – their content will remain unknown unless they work hard to find their audience.
“Student creators should pay close attention to how creators build and maintain their audience on the internet, and stay tuned to learn about new platforms, websites, and services that can help them reach new subscribers, supporters and collaborators,” he said.