How to Succeed as a Creator and Entrepreneur
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Being an entrepreneur is not easy. Besides doing your best to stand out and build something unique, you also have to constantly be pumping out new content and stay on top of the recent trends in the industry. You must have the passion and motivation to be recognized, and most of all, the drive to create.
Shira Lazar -- on-air personality, writer, vlogger and entrepreneur-- knows what it takes to create at a level that others have only dreamt about. Not only does she have a very successful personal digital brand with over 1 million across platforms, but also runs her own digital publisher and media brand What’s Trending. She also recently partnered with Sinclair Broadcasting and their digital lifestyle brand Circa for a daily live Facebook show. Besides being a content machine, What’s Trending has been nominated for an Emmy and won multiple awards.
I sat down with Shira Lazar recently to get her advice for you about how to be a successful creator and entrepreneur.
How did you build this successful brand andsuch a huge audience?
I was first building my own brand as a creator and broadcaster, interviewer and host, specifically with the focus on digital. Because I wasn’t getting jobs on TV, necessarily, and digital is where my homies and my family are at, I was really intrigued and curious about the digital movement.
This was even before YouTube. When YouTube and the influencer community came to play, I became one of the hosts and interviewers for that movement and community. From there, it became clear that I didn’t just necessarily want to have a brand that was just about me, but a platform where I could spotlight other voices.
How did you make that move and how did you monetize that?
At that time I was working for CBS News as a blogger/vlogger, as an interviewer and freelancer. I had the idea of building something bigger than the column I had on that site.
I think this is what a lot of people go through, they have an inkling of a passion or interest and want to blow it out of the water, and maybe they want to do it on their own and don’t want to do it for a company.
So, I came up with the idea of What’s Trending. We co-sold it together; it originally launched with CBS News. At some point, CBS and I did have to split and at that point, I had to make a big decision: do I let this go or do I continue to build this as an entrepreneur?
I told myself, I’m a creator, and it’s now time to stand up and take a leadership role as an entrepreneur. That’s when I really started building What’s Trending as a brand and publisher, not just a show. My brand is not just me as a creator, host, and talent, but also as an entrepreneur and a founder of a company.
Related: Using Video Like the Big Brands
You are very successful partnering with companies and other brands to get more distribution. How did you do that?
We never did an investment. A lot of our revenue comes from working closely with brands. It was about bridging the gap of what was happening in the digital space, and bringing all my knowledge of the traditional media system and best practices to the digital realm, and the creators and brands that I was working with. It was nice balance between the two.
We always figured out ways to use our content, and leverage that content to work with brands. It’s not necessarily about creating content that will sell, but looking at the content from their perspective: what are they going to want to buy into? So, we were creating ad products out of our content that we felt made sense.
It’s a balancing act. You want to work with your audience, but you also want to work on building something that you know that people will want to buy into.
Related: How to Use Video to Reach Customers
How did you get distribution deals?
From being around and building relevancy, credibility, and a loyal audience for our brand. We are a boutique publisher, not a huge company that raised a lot of money and scaled it. However, I must say that people recognize the brand. We add value to the audience, but also to the community of influencers, entertainers and people that have huge audiences, so there’s a huge value to that.
When an advertiser knows that we push something out, other people who have a huge influence see that and it makes a big impact. We have always looked at partnering with brands where we know it will be a win-win for both of us. There’s a gap for them that we can fill and they can provide value for us.
I saw your news channel playing on the TV at my local gas station. Tell us more about it.
We have a deal with Verifone and Gas Station TV, which reaches a huge amount of people. I mean, it’s basically a billboard that we get for free to market ourselves, and it’s an incredible partnership that I feel very grateful for.