My Life Working In The Creative Industry Doing What I Love.

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June 3, 2020

Who are you and what kind of content do you create?

Hi there! I’m Lauren Hogg, a 21 year-old Aussie, obsessed with health, wellbeing, self-improvement, food and leading a meaningful life. I’m currently creating content on YouTube as my side hustle, whilst also freelance editing and building a production company, Rolling. My content is focused around my passions - health, self-improvement, exercise and striving to lead a meaningful life. Every Thursday I release a new video focused around a topic that I feel compelled to share.

I’ve also recently started creating weekly vlogs in addition to my regular Thursday content. I wanted to be able to give my viewers more of an insight into my life as well as create videos in a different format. I run everything related to my channel, but my wonderful boyfriend, Louie, helps me film pretty much all of my content.

I first thought of the name CAVEGIRL in early 2017 and created my channel immediately (to ensure I had the name). But I didn’t actually start creating or posting any content until November 2018. In January 2017, I had this sudden thought of becoming a ‘YouTuber’ and, when I thought of the kind of content I wanted to create and the message I wanted to spread, this name made perfect sense. CAVEGIRL is about getting back to our roots, connecting with nature, simplicity and listening to our bodies. Just like our great, great ancestors.  I fell in love with this name straightaway and honestly haven’t ever looked back. I asked my family for their opinions and they liked it enough, but for me it just felt so right and I always go with my gut above all else.

Let's go down memory lane, tell us your backstory! 

For as long as I can remember, I’ve known that I have never wanted an ‘office job’. The idea of sitting all day, stuck at a computer, working to achieve someone else’s goals and having a rigid schedule doesn’t excite me. I am a hard-core introvert and need to find value in the work I do. For me to be interested in anything, I need to see and understand its meaning and WHY. I’ve also always been someone who thrives off of control. In many aspects, I am much better under my own leadership rather than taking orders from someone else.

This is why, in my final year of high school I knew I wanted to start some sort of business; something that would be fulfilling for me and positively impact our world. I just had no idea what. Until I was flipping through my University booklet, only a few weeks before we had to submit our applications. This is when I stumbled across the catalyse: A Bachelor of Film & Screen Media Production.

So, in 2016 I entered as a fresh, young face excited to learn all about cinema. I had no previous experience whatsoever and actually didn’t really like movies (and I still don’t). But I chose this degree because it sounded fun, like I would enjoy it and it just. felt. right. And I loved it. It never felt like a chore. Throughout the degree I constantly felt so lucky that this was how I was spending my time and was grateful for the opportunity. The idea that this could be my career was so exciting, I actually couldn’t believe it.

But as I said, I entered the degree of not being a movie fan, so I knew I was a little bit different from my peers and that I needed to find my own path. I first came up with the idea of CAVEGIRL to solve an internal problem I was facing. Throughout my life, I have been lucky enough to have the opportunity to learn from many professionals and gain access to various forms of health. I used to swim competitively so I had access to a lot of nutritional & exercise-related information, I suffered from chronic fatigue, glandular fever, EBV and other related illnesses and as a result, had understand a very holistic view of health. And while I was lucky enough to have access to this information, I knew a lot of people didn’t.

I have always wanted to help people in any way I can and wanted a way to share the knowledge I came to know. I believe everyone should have the power to control their health and to know & understand their body. I always loved YouTube and it seemed like the perfect platform to get my message out there; I could do it by myself, it didn’t cost anything, it has world-wide access and it just seemed like a fun way to do it. These core reasons as to why I first started this channel are what keep me motivated today. It has been a very slow journey so far, gaining subscribers and traction. But, connecting back to my reasoning and creating content that I feel compelled to share really reminds me of what CAVEGIRL is all about and why I create this content.

As I mentioned earlier, I created my channel in January 2017 but only released my first video in November 2018. For almost two years, a serious fear of judgment got in my way and almost killed this whole dream.

Everything I told myself was all coming from me and my interpretations of my reality. I thought that just because I was studying film, the content I produced had to be of a really high caliber. This meant, I didn’t want to start actually filming anything until I was REALLY good. And, because not many film students cared about exercise, healthy food, self-development or getting enough sleep, I figured they would judge me for creating videos around that. I was stuck for so long, paralysed by this fear. And because of this, I didn’t tell anyone outside of my family about CAVEGIRL, until around June 2018. And that was my boyfriend.

And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.

And the only reason I did, was because I kept thinking back to this quote that resonated with me so deeply - “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Since I first thought of CAVEGIRL, I knew it was what I needed to do. Yes, it was terrifying and yes people will probably judge me. But, I could only wait so long until that fear was overtaken by a crushing desire to create.

And when I made that decision to start properly taking steps towards my launch, I felt so free. My gut was once again right. There are still many times where I come face-to-face with this fear in relation to CAVEGIRL, especially when I am releasing a video that may be more on the “controversial” side. But in those times I connect to this quote, my WHY and sink into it.

How do you brainstorm ideas for your content and your advice in getting the creative juice flowing.

A lot of the time, I just randomly think of a video idea or topic that I’d like to make a video on. I have a journal where I always write them down in. Or, sometimes as I’m drifting off to sleep at night I have an idea, so I have some sticky notes in my desk that I can grab. I used to think I’d just remember them, but I learned that the hard way. So, whether it’s in my journal, on a sticky note or on my phone, I ALWAYS write a video idea or spark of inspiration down straight away.

If I don’t have a video idea that I feel compelled to share and I have been struggling to think of one, I like to go on my favourite YouTuber’s channels and browse their content. I’m not looking for content to copy, but for common themes on their channel that I can identify, so I can then identify what I like to share on my channel, and go from there. I also like to think about the kind of content I like to watch and brainstorm things that I may like my favourite YouTubers to create, or a question younger Lauren would have loved answered. Stepping away from the idea of the kind of content I NEED to create and instead of thinking of what I would LOVE to create, can really help to re-inspire.

When I have a mental block, I disconnect from the internet. There are two couches that I go to in my house when I just need some time and space to clear my head. I sit down, open the notes section on my laptop and start writing. Any idea that comes into my head I jot it down - good or bad. At this point, the more words the better because nothing looks more daunting to the stressed creator than a blank page.

A lot of the time, I am already frustrated by this point, but I always try to push through it until I have the random thoughts out of my head. At least then I have free space for new ideas. If I am still struggling, I like to go outside and just pet my animals or even talk to someone. Getting out of my head and to stop overthinking everything is paramount.

If there’s anything that’s really helped me when brainstorming or creating new content, it’s: create what you feel compelled and excited about creating. There have been many times when I have planned out videos a few weeks in advance and then it comes time to sit down and create one and suddenly I’m no longer as excited about it. To me, there’s no point pushing through and forcing myself to create it. By now, I know that it will be a painful struggle, it’ll take more time than necessary and the final product won’t be as good as it could be.

Even if it takes a bit more time, I really encourage myself to continue thinking until I find something that I am stoked to create. And it’s not always a whole new video idea, it could be a different approach to the video/ topic, a different format, style, whatever really..

What are the tools and platform you use to help with your brand?

I am a huge Adobe fan. I love Premiere Pro, it’s what I used all throughout university and wouldn’t ever consider using another software. Similarly, Lightroom is a great tool to edit my photos and I use Photoshop for every thumbnail, my graphics, and anything else I can’t do through Premiere. I have explored third party software too,  such as, schedule my posts, track my tasks, organise my projects etc., but I have found simplicity works well for me. I use the notes app on my computer to brainstorm/ write my videos, which I then transfer into a google doc and turn it into an AV (Audio/ Visual) script. Also in my notes, I have a template video description that I tweak each week and then simply paste in when I’m uploading a new video.

I keep track of my video ideas, tasks and projects on paper with my journal (Bullet Journal). I write down when I need to write, shoot, edit and upload my videos in here as well as scheduling Instagram posts by hand. For me, I needed to figure out how I could best engage with my followers in the most successful and effective way. I decided that the best way to do this was to pick one or two platforms and really put my time, effort and energy into them. I am not someone who is naturally an avid user of social media, so I had to make sure I chose the platforms that I was really excited about, that I understood and where I could produce meaningful content that I was proud of. And these were YouTube and Instagram.

YouTube was an obvious choice because this was the platform that CAVEGIRL is based around. All other platforms function independently from each other but revolve around YouTube. Each week, I upload one video on a Thursday which is my main form of content and then every Monday/ Tuesday I also upload a vlog, my casual content. My Thursday videos tend to be very structured and have a specific purpose. I try to make them as engaging as possible whilst conveying a message, showcasing my personality all with the highest production value I can attain.

My vlogs are a lot more casual both in the production and message. These videos serve to entertain my audience as well as providing more of an insight into my life and me as a person so they can connect with me and my main videos. These vlogs are a more recent addition to my schedule but I am really enjoying creating them and this different form of storytelling. Both forms of content do take a decent amount of time each week, however I feel this is the best way for me to convey my message and connect with my audience.

I love Instagram because I can connect much more regularly and easily with my followers. With one post, I can change someone’s mindset, mood, outlook, or just make them happy.  Instagram stories are also a great tool I love to use because they make it so easy to connect with my followers on a regular basis. I do use Facebook occasionally for CAVEGIRL, but mostly for my weekly posts sharing my most recent video.

What were your fears starting out? How did you handle it? 

As said earlier, my biggest concern and limiting belief at the start of my journey was fearing external judgement. The biggest mindset shift that positively impacted me was: someone’s belief, view or opinion is a reflection of themselves, not me. How someone reacts to someone/ something is a reflection of them, not the situation. Therefore, if someone doesn’t like my content or me (without fair reason), that’s not on me. And, I cannot control what anyone thinks. I can make a video that I love; I’m stoked with how it turned out, love the shots, the message shines, music fits perfectly - and someone else could absolutely hate it. Similarly, I employ this method of thinking when faced with cyber negativity.

I have been lucky so far and am still too small to attract the attention of negative comments, but on the few I have had, I simply laugh and then delete them. They don’t know who I am as a person, and I wouldn’t want to surround myself with negative people like that, so I tend not to care what they think. I acknowledge that I may have to change this strategy if my channel does grow or I attract more negative comments; but I aim to know my WHY and understand that people’s reactions are a reflection of themselves, not me.

Prior to creating my channel, I was fairly comfortable talking to a camera, but I was very hesitant about filming in public spaces. I don’t like attention and carrying a camera around always seems to attract eyes. I was always very nervous, shy and conscious of people looking at me. This was just an extension of my fear of judgment. While this has lessened with time and frequency, I still prefer not to film in a public space. But, what helps me navigate this discomfort is knowing that these shots or scenes are integral to the video and will significantly enhance the quality and my message. Knowing my WHY really helps in these scenarios.

How did you build your brand to where it is now, take us through your process.

Before I launched my channel, I made sure to create a realistic schedule so I could post consistently. For the first year, I posted one video each week, only missing a few weeks as I didn’t want to ‘force’ the creation of a video if I didn’t feel compelled to share. I did have some savings dedicated to camera gear and extra that would allow me to take time off work for CAVEGIRL. In terms of help, I had a lot of help in the beginning from Louie and our friends, filming my videos. I also have a film degree which was very helpful when it came to developing a video idea and executing it via editing software. My degree taught me the basics of storytelling as well as technical skills which have served me very well both in initial confidence and execution.

It took a while to gain any sort of traction on my channel. About 6 months in, I had a video that receive many, many more views than normal. From this video, I almost tripled my subscriber count, which was really exciting. However, this wasn’t due to the algorithm; I reached out and shared the video with influencers who had inspired me to create it. I was really lucky to receive kind words in return and one person actually promoted it on their Facebook (which resulted in the increase in views/ subscribers).

Overall though, it has been a slow journey increasing my subscriber count. I used to get quite down and upset by the small numbers, however I found that changing my perspective has really helped. I started to really focus on the content I was creating and making sure I was happy with every video I posted. I acted like I already had many subscribers, so I was producing content of a high standard that was ready for them when they came. I still have a very long way to go, but I am at a place where I am really happy with my content and, for me, it’s not necessarily all about the subscriber count, but thoroughly enjoying this creative outlet where I can also help people enhance their quality of life.

For someone who wants to get into content creation, what is your advice?

My advice would be pretty straightforward: if you’re wanting to create content for likes, subscribers, validation or money, then you probably won’t stick it out. The creation of any form is a long-term game, especially on something like YouTube where you’re betting on an algorithm that is completely out of your control.

The only way you can succeed is if you’re really passionate about what you’re creating and if you’re doing it in the way you want to. You have to enjoy the process.

Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but frustrating because it means so much to you. And on the flip side, you may be incredibly lucky and the algorithm works in your favour - great! But, how long can you sustain putting so much time, effort and energy into something that you don’t love? Creating content for people who are passionate about something that you’re actually not that passionate about? And this extends into the content itself.

If you’re looking to improve your content (and subsequently grow your channel) you need to focus on what you’re passionate about. It’s so obvious when someone is incredibly passionate about a topic; and that positive energy is transferred through a conversation, video or photo. And when you’re passionate about a particular topic or subject, you’ll naturally put so much more time, effort and energy into it, resulting in a higher quality video. I read an article titled 1000 True Fans by Kevin Kelly, which details the idea that, for a business to be successful, it only needs 1000 hard-core fans. This is based on the idea of niches and if you find a way to tap into yours, you’ll be successful because chances are, whatever you’re deeply passionate about, someone else will be too. A lot of someones. So, just create the content that you want, the content you want to watch, in the way that resonates with you.

How did you finally commit to X platform rather than your regular day job?

YouTube is currently my side hustle. I am not in a place where I can afford to simply live off my content. However, I still work in the creative industry as a freehand editor and producer/ director. I endeavour to create content in any way I can until I can make YouTube my full-time job. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never seen myself working in an office, or any ‘regular’ day-job. Content creation is a passion of mine and right now I am lucky enough that both my job and side-hustle allow me to do that.

In saying this, I always look forward to the time I get to work on CAVEGIRL. As the channel is my side hustle, it ensures I have to be as efficient as possible with my time and how I use it. This is great training for my future when I may have ample time to create content, so as I won’t waste it. I really do look forward to a time when CAVEGIRL can provide my full-time income as I would love to be able to put more time, effort and energy into each project and work towards building it into more of a brand that I can expand on.

Tell us your best milestones in being a content creator.

My biggest milestone is when one of my videos went viral (in comparison to my other videos). It made me a lot more confident within myself and my content; it made me realise that my channel and I actually do have a voice - and people want to listen. While I don’t want to base my channel of external validation, success in this industry relies on watch-time, likes/ dislikes and subscribers. This significant increase in views and subscribers really did help to reassure me that by producing content that I love, works.

What are your marketing strategies to grow your brand?

In terms of marketing my channel, I have chosen a fairly organic route. My regular strategy is as follows: I share my videos and social media platforms with my family and friends (and on my private social media accounts). I also share on my Instagram stories when my videos go live and occasionally post a photo with a caption linking to the new upload. Finally, I also share my latest videos on my CAVEGIRL Facebook page.

Depending on the video, I may also send it around to a few influencers that have inspired me to create it or that I have worked with in the past. I never ask them to share it or do anything with it, I simply thank them for their work, include a link to my video and mention that it’d be great if they could watch it, but that I understand if they don’t have the time. Whenever I contact anyone (especially those of a higher caliber than me), I always approach the message/ situation of how I would like to be approached; never pushy or expecting anything to come of it. I always try to be as respectful as possible both of the individual and their time.

I also occasionally share my video on Facebook groups. Again, I am very mindful of where and how often I do this, as I want to be respectful of others. Additionally, if I constantly post in groups, my posts will soon become meaningless to the members as they’re so used to seeing me and my content. So, I really try and only share when I think people could benefit from the content. When sharing in these manners, I am also very conscious of the type of content I am sharing to ensure I am appealing to the right audience and picking my groups wisely. To find these groups, I actually like to google influencers/ blogs that are based on a certain topic I am focusing on. For example, when I created my first video on Minimalism, I searched “Minimalist blogs” and found an article detailing the top 10 minimalist blogs. I carefully searched through there and contacted the people I thought maybe interested/ align with my video.

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