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With the rise of the gig economy, we are introduced to multiple alternative sources of income. For digital creators, one of the fastest-growing methods is monetizing their platforms – where you can be paid by the users themselves or by a third party who would market their products through the content creator. Choosing the method of monetization is entirely up to the creators themselves as there is no right and wrong choice. 

Deciding which platform you can use to create and monetize your content, can leave you going down a rabbit hole that’s going to be tough to get out of – or at least, scratching your head. Ultimately, the best platform is based entirely on how you aim to get to work. 

When content creators Shehaan and Shenelle from Sri Lanka took a sabbatical a few years ago, little did they know that their 3 months in Vietnam and Thailand would one day lead to them launching their own monetized YouTube series exploring Sri Lanka and their own branded merchandise! Often a dream come true for many digital content creators. But the journey to get there includes many long hours of dedication and hard work. Through this blog, we will be deep-diving into some tips and tricks learned through the duo.

Have a long-term commitment
When Shenelle and Shehaan started their vlogging and blogging journey, they began with a select audience; a group of people who were familiar with them and their work. Albeit this group taking time to build over the years – mostly out of Shenelle’s social media following from her past modeling projects, this helped them maintain their authenticity throughout. When the duo started off, they initially connected with people who were familiar with their work so they were automatically drawn to the content they presented. And over time, when content was starting to resonate well with their audience, these followers almost became ambassadors for Shenelle’s and Shehaan’s brand and started spreading the word about their work, and over time this audience grew into a whole community.

So to start off, build communities, don’t build followers. Followers can be gained and lost depending on how interested people are when they come across your page. Creating a community, on the other hand, is much more valuable. Your community is your extended digital family – and yes, they are also your followers, but they get you. Focusing on followers means you have very little objective, other than growing your numbers. And this may not translate well into the work you’re choosing to do, especially if you want to sustain your work overtime. But choosing to focus on creating authentic and engaging content will help you create a community, which in turn will build your follower base.

Create value
Don’t provide your audience with content that doesn’t mean anything to either one of you.  When you start creating content that means something to you, over time you will build the right fan base. But when you create content that you aren’t passionate about, over time you will lose your community because they will start seeing through your bluff. This is the next page we’re taking out of the duo’s book – they asked Shenelle’s followers if they would like to see more travel content, and then kept building it up over time based on the positive feedback. And in the past few years, they have gone from documenting their travels across South-East Asia to doing work for a Sri Lankan conglomerate’s chain of hotels featuring a Miss World!

And secondly, this drills down on how you build your community – provide experiences – not products. When you give your audience an experience to enjoy, as opposed to just presenting something (a ‘product’) – your viewers are going to be engaged. 

And this engagement is what helps you create that community because you’re connecting like-minded people with your work, and not just presenting something because you have an endorsement deal with a company. People don’t want to buy items if they feel like they are being sold something. Think of your perfect supermarket experience; when you’re browsing items in a certain product aisle, most of us hate it when an agent tries to sell you a random product. They know nothing about you or your requirements, but they keep badgering you to purchase something just so they can cover their sales quota. This is exactly how you lose your followers and community if you don’t create value with the digital content you create.

Monetizing your fan-base
After many attempts at dabbling in various digital projects – like drop shipping, being digital nomads – the duo decided to leverage Shenelle’s growing Instagram community with Shehaan ’s videography skills, and travel the island to create the series that is now known as “This is Sri Lanka”. Through the series, Shenelle and Shehaan have been successful in providing an experience to their community, and most importantly, signing up brands to work with and even launch their own set of merchandise.

In the next step; which is monetization, you can choose to sell premium subscriber-only content, advertise products/ services from merchants, serve ads and do so much more. The options are limitless. Shehaan and Shenelle chose the create their own branded merchandise that pays homage to both Sri Lanka and their travels around the island and even included a very special item – a replica of their “This is Sri Lanka” knapsack which they took on their very first local adventure, that stuck along the way. And the end result? Selling out fast like hotcakes to an international audience! 

Fulfilling customer fulfillment  
And finally, the last step in your venture’s supply chain management, and one of the most often overlooked aspects is fulfillment. You can spend months or even years perfecting your content and growing your audience to launch your merchandise. But due to one small oversight, instead of seeing a soaring success, everything can go downhill if you don’t think through the entire process and make sure every step of the purchase is seamless to your customer.

Thankfully, Shehaan and Shenelle were more aware of this and decided to work with a partner to deliver their merchandise internationally, early on. The entire purchasing process was seamlessly set up, from the website to the international payment gateway and even international shipping (including the proper arrangement of costs beforehand). They partnered with us at Swyft to offer hassle-free international delivery at an affordable price, with tracking and ultimate reliability; the perfect icing on the cake when delivering their merch across the world. 

If you are keen to know more about how you can start shipping with us, simply reach out to us and we will contact you within 1-2 business days and help you set up international shipping for your eCommerce business.

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