Creator reflection, Q2 2022

Welcome back to another edition of creator reflection, where I reflect on my journey to becoming a successful creator. From inside the arena, I share insights and nuances as I evolve my craft and my businesses within the space of content creation, filmmaking, photography, storytelling and beyond.

In this edition, we’ll be covering why I decided to go freelance with my creative skills and secure a freelancer-on-staff role with my friend’s local business. We’ll also talk about why I didn’t post a single video in Q2 on my main channel, my dedication to raising my rate to $50/h+ across the board and why photography and photo editing is quickly becoming a critical part of my skill stack. Additionally, we’ll be covering how to simplify social media algorithms, why I’m over social media from a personal standpoint and how creating from the past is really holding me back. Let’s get into it.

Goals I’m focused on

Acquire a full-frame camera (likely Sony A7IV) along with key full-frame lenses

Partnership on main channel (4K hours of watch time in the last year and 1K subscribers)

Minimum of $50/h as a freelance creative rate

Becoming the best storyteller, filmmaker, editor, photographer and overall creator that I can possibly be

Key accomplishments

MacBook Pro M1 Max (Fully maxed out)

Create a consistent income through creativity

How did I move forward?

Getting a role as a freelance content creator/marketer for my friend’s local business, Hero. I’m currently in charge of their content creation, photography, social media, website, GMB, SEO and anything else that goes into marketing for their local exterior cleaning business. It’s an incredible outlet to apply all of the knowledge and skills I’ve learned over the years and practice marketing a real business without the pressure of trying to balance sales, product development or any of the other departments — I can just focus exclusively on marketing. Working with them on a professional basis has forced me to let go of my attachment to perfection (procrastination) and just ship high-quality work, be consistently creating content no matter what, understand each of the social media algorithms better, and practice SEO and other marketing tactics with a real-world business. It’s an incredible opportunity that’s allowed me to enjoy the process of what I’m working on, make decent money, work as much or as little as I please, and do what I can to help people I believe are going to the moon build their business. It also allows me to get paid to build skills and level up my craft that can benefit my own personal projects and other future clients, while also really enjoying much of the process. It’s genuinely cheat codes. Even though I have a long ways to go, after years of being interested in marketing and content creation, for the first time ever, I genuinely feel like a professional marketer. Grateful to Eduard and Nathan for taking a chance on me and thankful for this entire situation as I love the process of what I’m working on and I love who I’m working with.

Humbling myself to the point that I frequently prioritize Hero over other projects. If you know me, you know that I put myself and my priorities first so I’m always evolving the most important projects to me. But I humbled myself to the point where I put freelance first in many ways. The content and the energy work business will come in time, but right now I need to pay bills with freelance and maximize this moment with Hero.

Going freelance instead of just working a job. My role with Hero was originally positioned as a job, but then we mutually decided to turn it into a freelance role and I’m so glad we did. It forced me back into entrepreneurship again and to be thoroughly independent with the whole project. I shifted my mindset from “working a job for Hero” to working with Hero. It might seem simple, but the positioning is a major one. They’re a client in my marketing business, not my boss boss. If everything continues as it has, I’d love to stay with them for a while and perpetuate this great partnership, but this reframe allowed me to equally understand that I’m building a business that’s going to exist even if we decided to ever part way (ie. when I raise my rates, I may need to move on to other clients if they don’t accept the new offer, though I hope they do because I love these guys!) But for now, having them as my main consistent client has been tremendous. This fascinating setup has given me a ton of freedom & flexibility, which I absolutely love. It’s forcing me to manage my own taxes, organize all the content and marketing within my own systems, be completely independent while also balancing collaboration with others, and overall, manage anything that is necessary within this freelance business. I’m feeling really, really good right now about this situation and getting back into the game of building my business — but for real this time.

Getting paid to create and how I view my rates. I experienced so much resistance to charging for my work and consistently making money. It’s one thing to do it for free, but it’s a whole other animal to do it professionally by setting a rate and charging for your work. But getting the win of creating for a living feels absolutely incredible. Going from having no consistent money coming in prior, $35/h felt like a ton of money and was a considerable jump from my last freelance gig of $25/h last year. But despite the excitement of being able to earn $100 for 3 hours of work, I struggled inside with imposter syndrome and patterns that were holding me back — resistance to charging for my time, unsure of what time to charge for vs. what not to charge for, unsure of if it what I was making was going to be ROI positive for the client, feeling like I was taking too long, and a whole lot of doubts/unworthiness. But as I continued to work, heal, and learn about what others are charging, I became much more comfortable with $35/h and seeing my worth. And now, $35/h feels like a steal in many ways for the client. It’s had such an impact on my abundance in regards to finances and it feels incredible to consistently have money flowing in after struggling with this in 2020 and 2021. Though I’m grateful for this income and my current rate, in June I became deeply committed to levelling up my videography, video editing, photography and photo editing skills (especially the latter 2) so that I can charge a minimum of $50/h and have either $400 or $500 days, ideally by the end of the year. Making consistent money in creation has also really impacted my mindset as I stress a lot less about finances, I can re-invest in my business, and continuously be levelling up my craft without guilt that I’m wasting my time. I also have an easy answer to the “what do you do?” question, which has historically stressed me out more than I’d like and has improved the quality of my life more than you’d imagine. For the first time, I don’t just feel like only a creator that’s trying to make it, but rather I feel like a marketing professional.

Investing in the business of Josh Moxey. Acquired a MacBook, bought new lights, got a new tripod, an Insta360 Go 2, received a gift of a Shure SM7B (thanks Nathan and Eduard!), and bought Topaz AI’s — just a plethora of badass technology to upgrade my setup and kit. While everyone else is pulling back and being highly conservative in regards to the recession, I’m laser focused and going all in on the business of me — both for freelance and for content creation within YouTube, the podcast, etc. Though gear doesn’t determine success, it damn well helps with producing an even better end product. While everyone else is going conservative with their finances due to the recession, I’m going all-in on re-investing as much as I can into this business within reason. Most people think that during these challenging economic times they can take it easy and pull back. Their pace is a leisurely walk, thinking that once the economy bounces back they can begin running — a catastrophic mistake. When the “good times” finally arrive, those who were running throughout this seemingly-less-than-favourable-period will be at a fast enough pace to be able to handle the transition into a full-blown sprint, while those who are walking will be too slow and too unprepared to catch up to them — they’ll miss the glorious window of opportunity. I’m purposefully running right now so that by the time the world self-corrects and the economy is in a great place, I’ll be at a full-blown 100MPH sprint, with the skillsets, systems, infrastructure and experience to capitalize on the moment and absolutely thrive. Challenging periods of time like this are where some of the greatest success stories are cultivated, and I’d like to look back and say the same is true somehow for my own journey.1Thanks to Andy Frisella for teaching me this pacing concept.

How focused I am right now. All I care about right now is evolving my skill, making more money, building my business and my clients’ businesses, telling meaningful stories and having a positive impact. A friend recently asked me what my plans for the summer were. My response? “Work.” The summer activities will forever be just a distraction to me and I’m at my most extreme with a lack of social activity right now. With rare exception, the only people I really see are family here and there, my sister and her boyfriend (because they live with me) and some neighbours in and around the building. But reducing socializing doesn’t feel like a sacrifice to me — I actually like it. As fucked up as it may sound, creativity is infinitely more interesting to me than hanging out with people. I care about people a lot, but I care about my work and my goals even more. The only difference is that I actually admit it to myself instead of putting on a facade like the faux-do-gooders.

Photography and photo editing. These were the 2 skills in my creative skill stack that were really holding me back. Firstly, I didn’t like the photos that I was taking. They felt off, they lacked a purpose, and the aesthetic just never felt quite right — a very terrible feeling for someone who really likes to capture the moment “right”. Secondly, I was extremely insecure about how my edits were turning out in Lightroom and resisted exporting or sharing practically any of my photos despite having thousands in my library. TD: expand on how it was pain-based and pleasure based. Then one day, it dawned on me how much the lack of skill was holding me back from making $50/h across my main creative rates. Paired with the pain points I was experiencing along with the desire to increase my rates, and be proud of the photos I was taking, I became obsessed with the idea of becoming a good photographer. I began watching tutorials from Peter McKinnon, Pat Kay and a handful of other photography YouTubers, which brought so much value to my photographic evolution. I practiced my eye frequently, mentally taking pictures and framing up shots with my hands even if I didn’t have a camera. This is really helping me evolve my eye and vision, which is critical to both photography and videography. Additionally, I leaned into photo editing and finally found a “style” that I was proud of with darker tones, moodier colours, just enough detail, reduced saturation and crushed blacks/whites for a filmic look. It will evolve, but so far I’m pleased. Feeling infinitely more comfortable in Lightroom now, especially after I figured out how to edit in both Classic and CC, and built a hybrid workflow where I can save my files locally but also. Will continue to improve the skillset throughout the rest of the year so that I can charge higher amounts for the craft, but most importantly because the better I get, the more fun photography and photo editing becomes. I’m thankful I’m finally making the time for this now. Also, it’s an incredible medium for storytelling.

Acquiring a MacBook and adapting to macOS. I’ve been a Windows user for over 2 decades, but I’ve had a goal of moving to Mac for many years. I financed a fully maxed out 2021 MacBook Pro with an M1 Max, 64GB of RAM and 8TB internal SSD — it’s absolutely insane. Having this level of performance has improved the speed of my creative process and allowed me to not get bogged down with slow processing speeds, insufficient ram or lack of internal storage space — all of the above I was struggling with on my last laptop that was near the end of its working life2I just recently went on my old Dell to get a past file and it genuinely felt archaic.. It took a bit of getting used to as I adapted to the new controls, UI and behaviour on macOS and the MacBook Pro, but it’s now feeling natural. It’s deeply inspiring being on technology like this because it can handle almost all of my heavy processing within Lightroom, DaVinci Resolve, Video and Photo AI technology, and advanced chrome usage like Notion — all at the same time, if need be. Long gone are the days of insane overheating, insufficient RAM, constantly closing all the applications, etc. Performance like this allows me to work as fast as I want and makes the creative process much more enjoyable. I’m very fortunate to have something this powerful to power my business and I will continue putting it to good use. 3P.S. Apple needs to start making their technology in America. I’d pay extra to know it was made in America instead of China.

Building an external monitor setup. I’ve always been a laptop-first kind of guy because I like the freedom and flexibility of being able to work wherever I want — be it on the couch, at the desk, at a coffee shop, or on an airplane. I got really good at editing on the minimal screen size of a 16’ laptop with the minimal speed of a touchpad. But I started to feel the pain (especially with vertical videos on DaVinci Resolve) and simultaneously felt pulled to acquire an external monitor setup for my desk. I bought a 32-inch 4K external monitor and a magic mouse/keyboard and this setup has completely changed the game, especially for video editing. It takes the insane performance of the MacBook Pro and adds the necessary screen real estate for DaVinci Resolve or any multi-window tasks I want to perform. Plus, it’s just a wicked experience — I can’t believe how long I waited to get an external monitor. Insanity. Then, whenever I want to go anywhere besides my desk, I simply unplug the USB-C cable and I go wherever I need to. Truly the best of both worlds.

The meta of how I’m approaching each of my goals. Life is just really good right now. Creating a lot more from the light side right now and just doing me. I feel lighter and more present than I ever have. I have an appreciation for where I am, and I just want to continue growing. I have things that I am working towards, but I’m surrendering to the timelines. I continue working and evolving and the goals will be accomplished when they’re ready to arrive. As a human, I’m not that smart — I don’t know when it’s best to come in. But I continue to surrender to what is and do the best I can with what I have. My patience has skyrocketed and I’m willing to wait as long as it takes to create what I’m after. I’m out here enjoying my process, having fun, being grateful and creating a better world, day by day. I’m having fun with the game of life — because after all, it is just a temporary game we’re playing.

Using my obsession with going full-frame as fuel. I’m constantly learning about and visualizing what it’s going to be like to have this camera. It’s a really fun game for me to create this in the world. It’s going to be so much fun, but even more fun is the actual process of creating it in this time-space reality. That’s the real reward.

Doing things to completion. This was huge for me. Before, I would batch all the similar tasks — ie. do a rough edit of the first video, then do the same for the second video and third video, depending on how many videos/posts I was trying to work at once. Then color correct and color grade them all. Then fix the audios, then title them all, then do the thumbnails — it was a nightmare. It’s been uncomfortable switching this habit, but now, I stay focused and take things to completion, even if there’s part of me that wants to move on without finishing the essential steps — I resist the urge to start something else before finishing the last, with rare exception. I edit a rough cut for a video, then do a proper edit, then add necessary effects, then color correct and grade it, fix the audio, do the distribution work, then post it. Then, I’ll move on to the next priority, going one step at a time, one piece of content at a time. This probably seems silly, but it’s a habit I had for a very long time that fucked me over big time because there were so many open loops in my creative process. Now, my process is much more focused, cleaner and less chaotic (although admittedly, still pretty chaotic). I’d like to get to a point, however, where I’m only working on a few things instead of having hundreds of open loops, as I’ll talk about elsewhere.

Collecting titles and thumbnails. I’ve been collecting so many great titles and thumbnails and it’s helped evolve how my mind can come up with titles and thumbnails. Plus, had a ton of practice with freelance as we’re posting almost daily, and the reps add up.

Understanding social media. After receiving fewer views than I expected on Hero’s early content, I accepted with humility that I had a lot to learn around social media and how to get bigger numbers. I educated myself on the algorithm, what it values, and instead of just doing what I originally thought would work, I leaned into what the platform wants. Growth on social media is making so much more sense to my brain now (especially because of how similar it is to YouTube) and I’m excited to help Hero and other clients kick ass in the near future with what I’ve learned. And when I’m ready to return to social, these skills will help me to build an audience too.

Content around truth-seeking within politics and world events. The experiments have gone well and I’m ready to lean into it on my main channel 🙂 If you’re a common sense human, you’ll like this. If you’re either a far-left, feminist, communist/socialist4same thing, really, SJW, ideologue that struggles with critical thinking, you’re going to hate this.

Disinterest in posting exclusively political content. Ironically, I want to post even more content revolving around current events and politics (and I’m even considering making my podcast the place to tackle that). But with this, I want to make less of my content political. That means when I return to being active again, it won’t just be politics as it has been recently, but also exploring the many other interests I have, too. The answer to making this balance work is to just post more of the non-political stuff, which I haven’t been doing whatsoever recently because I haven’t cared to. But now I do, as I’ve come to the realization that it’s going to take all of us evolving and coming together to win.

Filming very little, on purpose. When you’re behind and overwhelmed with a whole host of to-do’s, sometimes the best thing to do is to not commit to future tasks that make that list any bigger. As fun as filming is, every time you film something, you’re giving your future self the task of reviewing, editing and publishing whatever you make from that. And that’s 90% of the battle. This past quarter, I only filmed a couple of videos and the rest was simplified b-roll and photography and it’s so nice on my mind to know I’m not sewering myself by filming a ton. Also, many times, a photo will suffice in telling the story.

Confidence in SEO. I received solid numbers with the Pierre Poilievre vlog (13K) and the Leafs 2022 playoffs exit reaction (3K) on a channel with around 50 subscribers, hitting for top key phrases. Then within a business context, I used local SEO for websites, GMB and other social posts to assist real business results. As a result, I am so confident in my ability to create anything and target the right keywords and key phrases to reach whoever I want, wherever I want, whenever I want. It’s an invaluable skill set to have. It’s crazy to think that for all those years, I resisted learning SEO. Now, it’s one of my favourite things to do and one of the most valuable skills I have.

Understanding of cameras. Exposure really clicked this quarter in my brain, as my understanding of aperture, shutter speed and ISO expanded. I spent a lot of time just researching specs on cameras and these subtle explanations from creators and their comment sections have subtly had a big impact on me. With every passing day, it feels more and more natural. I’m thinking less about what to do with the camera and it’s becoming much more naturally to just pick up the camera and shoot — and that’s when the real magic happens.

Trading Epidemic Sound for Artlist. For the past 2 years, Epidemic Sound was a great copyright/royalty-free music source for me and I really like the music that comes out of this platform. But the thing is, their license isn’t for me. First and foremost, if I use a song for a video last month but cancel my subscription this month, I can’t even clip something from this video to post it on the same channel without copyright claims, as the music is only copyright free if you’re continuously paying for it. Then, if I wanted to use ES’ music with a second channel? I had to pay for a whole other license. And if that channel happened to be commercial in nature? You’d be paying double the price of a normal license. Overall, it was way too complicated for my liking. With the Artlist unlimited license, you can download the music or sound effects once and get access to them forever. Not only that, you can use it for personal and commercial platforms, and as many channels/accounts as you’d like. Artlist’s unlimited license has fundamentally changed the game for me and works infinitely better with my creative process because I can use it with anything, anytime, anywhere. The Artlist UI has some ways to go, but overall it’s a really, really valuable platform.

YouTube Shorts. They’re a landmine on YouTube if optimized right. I used shorts almost exclusively for Hero’s content and it allowed us to achieve some solid numbers for a small channel.

Detachment from how things are organized on YouTube. It used to hurt my brain how chaotic it looked when a channel had a bunch of shorts with videos scattered in between, and visa-versa. But now, I’ve let go of the idea. Who cares, bro. I overthink so many silly things like this. Instead, just focus on growth and the upside of the impact and profits that can follow instead of how it ruins the “aesthetic” of the videos tab.

Tweeting key thoughts, ideas, perspectives and general worldly warnings on Twitter without actually looking at Twitter. God, I fucking hate this platform with a passion and thankfully haven’t been on since Novemeber of 2021. With Elon recently backing out of the deal, I might just stop posting here altogether. But for the time being, I’ve been posting and ghosting with key thoughts that have aged like fine wine, especially about Roe v Wade and 2A.

Writing skill. Subtle, but consistently improving. Reps add up over time. It’s the little things — private reflections and journals where I write stories of my journey, public reflections like these, blog entries, newsletters, freelance, and comments — along with conscious awareness, commitment to improvement and constant re-writes to increase the structure and flow, that all add up to make my skill that much better. But I seriously need to let go of writing skill on these reflections because they’re making it take fucking forever.

Client management. I’ve become a lot more confident dealing with clients, saying uncomfortable things, confronting challenges head-on, and having mistakes and L’s without being crippled. This was a big issue before, as having anything less-than-perfect threw me for a loop. Now, I’m much more grounded in imperfection and imperfect skill.

What needs improvement?

Balancing multiple projects. As grateful as I am for the opportunity for consistent income, my schedule has been very hijacked by freelance — especially in the mornings, for some reason. This is 100% on me, however, as I craft my own schedule. I’ve struggled to strike a harmonious balance between freelance and my own personal projects like YouTube, my own private reflections, etc. and I feel like I’m failing hardcore at the balancing act. It feels like I’m not doing either of the projects proper justice right now and feels like neither project is getting enough time, attention and energy. It’s definitely humbled me in time/energy/priority management, as I really struggled with advancing multiple projects at once. It’s definitely been challenging, but we’ll get there sooner or later. I want to get to the place where I can achieve harmony within the aforementioned, along with health, photography, podcast, etc. I’ve outlined a schedule where I could potentially achieve harmony, but we’ll see by the next quarter if I adopt it properly because so far, it hasn’t gone smoothly.

How behind I feel and how much that stops me from making real-time content, posts and clips. I have a solid backlog again (god, this sucks) that in some cases trails back all the way to a year ago and I just want it done. I crave the feeling of being in real-time and the flexibility to work on whatever I want, beyond the moments that document my journey. As I talked about in the last edition, there’s a pattern here that needs to be healed and I am working towards healing it. Additionally, I need to work on being able to say no to the many potential stories that I could explore in my content/photography and focus on the key ones that matter the most so I’m not overwhelmed. I can’t wait until I fix this, because I literally crave the freedom to create whatever I want in the present.

My speed of turnaround — from idea to filming/shooting to editing to posting. Slightly related to the above point, this needs to change if I want to be creating in real-time. I wish for this to be days in most cases, not months.

How infrequently I come back to review my footage. Rarely do I sit down and actually edit what I’ve filmed, which is obviously sabotaging my progression to getting back in real-time again. Part of this is because I don’t have a clear system for exporting b-roll and re-usable selects, and it seems boring. Need to get better render settings, establish clear systems and find ways to make it more fun.

How little I created for myself. I really shit the bed here. I barely did a thing this quarter for my own content. I didn’t post even once on my main channel and I only posted two second-channel videos. I think I’ve been oddly okay with it because I know that I’ve been trying to manage Hero as a top priority and it’s been satisfying from a creative perspective and is evolving my craft. But I spent so much of my time and energy on freelance that I didn’t make my own projects a priority. And as a result, they slipped massively. I think it also comes from the confidence that on the main channel, it doesn’t matter if I get a partnership this year. I’m going to do it very shortly and I can totally recreate videos that get 2K hours of watch time with 25K views, because I know what the fuck I’m doing. But either way, I need to get serious, start prioritizing this and heal any resistance to this — because I obviously have a lot if I’m not taking the necessary actions.

Templates. Using more and more templates in my video editing, but I still have so much more to go. DaVinci Resolve is a lot more complicated for templated effects, but I need to take a few days and just learn them because it’s critical. Thank god for power bins, however, as I use those all the time to store global assets I use in each project.

How I organize my photography, videography, and videos within a folder structure. I currently have a decent foundation in place for my storage system, but I want it to be improved upon. I need a format that allows me to easily archive and easily re-sync folders up quickly. I’m still unsure how I can do this, given that if I move the folder path within Lightroom, it’ll stay for photography but then Resolve’s path won’t change. Granted, it’s easier to link up with Resolve, so I might opt to move them within Lightroom to maintain the path, and get Resolve to resync later on — especially. Additionally, I also want it to be able to handle exports, niche side projects, asset management, and better handling changing the folder structure for photography vs. videography. We’re working on it.

How I organize assets. My music downloads are currently a clusterfuck with virtually no organization or filtration. They just sit in my downloads and then are moved to an Artlist folder afterwards. It’s a mess. Sound effects are just under a folder and needs to be better categorized. Memes are slightly organized, but the reusability needs to be improved. The re-usable b-roll organization is non existent and I still haven’t found a process that I’m happy with to get b-roll together.

How many open pieces of content that I have. I have a strange issue with archiving what I’ve worked on or outright deleting it. I’m going to estimate I have 500+ open pieces of content across all of the various platforms and formats. I’d like to get this down to 10 total at any given time lol. But it’s at least given me a lot of practice being able to handle all of these and actually be relatively calm given how many unfinished pieces of content exist.

My attachment to letting go of footage. I’ve made progress, but boy do I still struggle at times to let go of footage. We’ll see if in the next quarter I can heal this to the point where I can make a significant video/vlog and delete the raw footage. I did it with the Leafs 2022 playoffs exit reaction video, but I want to get to the point where I can do it with any video.

The general chaos in my creative flow. I need to heal on this badly, because I find that I’m way more chaotic than I’d like. I want calm within the creative process. I want peace, surrender, cleanliness & order. I’m tired of how crazy and insane my process of bringing videos, podcasts, writing, etc. in this world feels TD. I make things so much more complicated and harder than they need to be in reality. It requires significant energetic transformation.

How hard I am on myself for composition within photography and videography. For example, I’ll frequently look at my photographs and think “this isn’t good enough.” I could literally be looking at the photo by some of the best, pretend it’s mine, and this thought continues. That tells me that this isn’t just a skill issue, but rather an energetic and mindset issue. I just want to be amazing at what I’m doing, but I find that I can be so critical with myself that it counteracts the growth at times. I’ll continue to heal on the aforementioned, while doing everything I can to forever be evolving my eye and continuing to let go of all the little things I get hung up on like objects and people being half in the frame that aren’t the focus of the shot.

My knowledge of DaVinci Resolve and Adobe Lightroom. I want to know these programs like the back of my hand. There’s so much that I don’t know but wish to know. I want to become fucking good at both of these. Though we’re getting better every day, I’d like to make more time to learn about advanced features that I shy away from.

Cut page on DaVinci Resolve. I’m not utilizing this anywhere close to what I can. I would like to make more time to utilize this page and the Speed Editor, but both have fallen significantly off of my radar.

Keyboard shortcuts. I use keyboard shortcuts all the time, but there are so many shortcuts that I’m not aware of that I could be utilizing. The reality is, the better you get at shortcuts, the more time you’re saving, the more productive you are and the more you can raise your rates.

The selection process for photography. It’s not refined enough. I low-key just use the pick flag for the best, the reject flag for the worst, then export the ones that look like they’re colour corrected — highly recommend never duplicating this process, lol.

Portfolio, or lack thereof. Though I’m not actively seeking out new clients right now as my plate is very full, there have been a number of people who’ve asked if I had an online portfolio and I don’t have a thing LOL. I’d like to take some time to throw my favourites on my website or something, though I’ve had some concerns about it being in the same place as my controversial writings, especially with how liberal the creative world can be.

Charging by the minute for freelance. It was fine at the start, but then I was overthinking where I was charging. ie. if I quickly go fill up my water, my mind is still rolling on the project and that’s where real work actually gets done and what clients are paying for is results, not the minutes. I’m now charging on 15-minute blocks, but I’m considering doing day rates and half-day rates in the future.

Taxes as a freelance creative. I am struggling with this. Not saving enough, trying to get out of debt, while also trying to reinvest into the business. It’s a grind, but we’ll get there.

The turnaround with client content. It’s not just a personal issue, it’s becoming a public one. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I had content that took 2 months to be released. That’s terrible. Granted, it was partially because there was a lack of shoots due to permission issues, so I milked the hell out of a couple of shoots for ongoing content, but the point still remains — speed needs to improve. Really working on it.

Disrespecting TikTok’s culture and posting things that you’d post to Instagram or YouTube instead. I’ve found it really challenging if you’re not following the go-to formulas and genuinely being part of the culture that TikTok has for its posts. It’s a really smart decision to play into trends and focus on retention span. We were doing our own thing too much for a while, but I now feel much more prepared to lean into what TikTok wants.

Not being out to film enough. In order to improve at the level I want to with videography, I need to shoot more. I’m trying to change this within freelance by being out to film once a week, then coming home and editing for a few days. And for my own personal catalogue, once get in real time again I’ll do this effortlessly because I genuinely enjoy the process. Then, the real magic is what I do afterwards. With the freshness, my home is that I’ll come home, edit and export all the necessary footage, because otherwise, that’s when it becomes a lot less un-fun and I perpetuate the cycle that I’m doing my best to break.

Outdoor lighting. Firstly, if I’m shooting people outside, where should they stand and where should I stand in relation to the sun? I do not have the confidence to think “ah, yes, I’m shooting from the right direction” when we’re outside. I just make the most of what I’m given, and often get them in different angles and hope for the best in post LOL. But hope is often a terrible strategy, so I’d like to invest time into this to understand lighting better — especially within outdoor photography and videography so I can maximize every moment’s aesthetic.

Natural lighting inside. If I’m filming inside, how do I balance the fluctuation that takes place due to ever changing sunlight intensity? How do I make that look good? Because when I filmed my Pierre video for example (and practically all of my other videos in the past), it looks terrible when I cut between significantly different shots because the lighting is changing so damn much when the sun changes, especially because on clouds.

The camera on my iPhone X. It’s hot trash. I don’t just want the iPhone 14, I have to get it. It’s going to be essential in my kit, especially with mobile photography. Can’t wait to have 48MP RAWs on an iPhone. I think it’ll be worth the wait.

Depth of field with the ZV-1. It’s good, and definitely the best I’ve seen for a point-and-shoot. But I really want the depth of field that comes with a full-frame camera, especially paired with a lens that has a super high F stop in the 1.8 or 1.4 range.

24mm as the widest I can go. I’m so over this man. I want a very wide angle for vlogging and for tight spaces where I want to capture the whole scene. I’m currently considering either a 14mm prime or 16mm zoom.

Verbosity in writing. I find I’m very resistant to putting down point form in writing such as reflections like this, my newsletter, journals, etc. — and I end up writing much more than I should. No wonder it hijacks so much of my time, I’m trying my hardest to make it perfect writing, but I’m not a perfect writer. Far from it, actually. Additionally, these public reflections are taking way too long to write. I want to find a more simplistic manner to communicate these points without telling such an over-the-top, lengthy story. P.S. this ended up being almost 10,000 words, which is up from 2,000 words for 2021 Q4, and 5,000 in Q1 of this year. Let’s hope that instead of going to 20,000 in Q3, we can change the trajectory and return to simplicity again.

Newsletter. On one hand, I paused the newsletter and left it up to chance. On the other hand, I really like the format but I haven’t written an entry in like 2 months. It’s a lot of fun, but I just haven’t felt it recently — especially while I’m behind and struggling for time.

Overthinking the second channel. After getting some views again, I find myself resistant to posting lesser quality content. The whole point of the second channel is to be a place to post whatever I want, even if it’s a black screen lol. Should I start a 3rd channel just for absolute throwaway content? Maybe, but then again, won’t it just turn into the exact same thing and I’ll start a fourth? Instead, I think I’d be better off uploading some posts to my second channel that I know won’t perform well to remind myself why this channel really exists.

The YouTube shorts strategy for my channels. It’s clear as day that shorts work magically as I’ve seen them perform magic within my freelance experiments and with others, but I don’t have clarity on how I might use shorts on my main channel. I could potentially do idea-based, storytelling content that’s filmed with the full intent of being a standalone piece. But also, shorts could also be used as a trailer or a summary of my longer videos so you can see a preview of what you might be getting yourself instead, just as Colin & Samir have done. I’ve also detached from the idea of how it’s all displayed now on my videos page and it’s time to just utilize shorts so I can grow.

Not having a community tab. If I had a community tab, not only would it give me an opportunity to connect with my audience that much more, but it’s also the most underutilized feature on YouTube for growth hacking. If I had it, I feel like I would never stop posting polls and updates. For the love of growth, get me to 1000 subscribers so I can utilize the community tab already.

Subscribers, followers & my audience. I’ve barely changed on the main channel, I’m up about 20 without posting anything. And I’ll probably lose some when I post because people are likely to forget who I am and why they subscribed. I’ve accepted that loss in the short term as a result of not posting, so I can focus on other things. But in all honesty, I should’ve lost subscribers because of how little I posted. I didn’t earn any increase, aside from making some insightful comments on other people’s videos (lol). On the second channel, I’m up to 200 subscribers from 50 because of the Pierre Poilievre vlog that received 15K views and a Leafs reaction video that hit 3K views. On my socials, it feels like I’m just losing followers, especially where I post controversial stuff. I want to do a better job of finding people who understand and resonate with this kind of truth-seeking content instead of all of these people from my past seeing it, most of whom I feel extremely disconnected from now.

Thinking too much of people from my past and allowing them to hold me back from building an audience online. Part of me wishes that I started a new account for myself way back when to voice my opinions online because I truly don’t give a fuck about the “personal” side of social media anymore. I haven’t been on properly in maybe 3 or 4 months now. All I want to use it for is for pushing out content. I’ve also been fantasizing about unfollowing everyone and treating it as a business-first account, as I’m so over the “social” aspect of social. I don’t care for following practically anyone online and haven’t actively opened up my Instagram feed on a day-to-day basis since the fall of 2020. It’s a huge waste of my time and I feel relatively disconnected from almost all of those people from my past. My circle is getting smaller and smaller and though I’d like to keep up with a few, they’ll update me when I’m awake. I just can’t do social in its current form. I’m not built to be a consumer of the feeds. I just post and get off. And I genuinely find myself holding back on saying things because there’s part of me that doesn’t want to say how I truly feel about things with the people from my past on there. I need to heal on this.

The pressure of posting on social media. I’ve felt so overwhelmed with managing the other aspects of life — politics, health, freelance, photography, content, etc. that I’ve just had no desire to post. Partially, because I feel disconnected from most people, partially because I don’t care to debate with said people who are just wildly asleep and feel entitled to debate me just because I went to school with them a decade ago or worked with them a handful of years back — it’s utter nonsense to me. That, and the only things I’ve wanted to say are around controversial shit but I don’t have the time or energy to deal with any of the silly conversations that follow. I don’t give a fuck about posting a picture of me pretending to live my best life, I just live my best life instead. And for me to do such a thing while the world is literally hijacked by globalists who want a one-world, communistic government makes no fucking sense to me. Posting casual stuff feels like a major distraction from what really matters. But even throughout all of this, I’ve still felt such pressure to comment on what’s happening but a lack of resources to do so, so I just deleted my Instagram accounts because I can’t be asked to right now. I’ll probably be back in time for midterms, but we’ll see what this next upcoming quarter looks like without socials.

Being divisive in my content. I want to improve this and be more unity based because it’s what it’s going to take — it’s all of us vs. a few of them. Granted, I don’t care about giving leftists the time of day, so time will tell how I approach this, but ultimately we need to come together as one. And shitting on these people non-stop — even if they’re absolutely out to lunch — isn’t making things any better.

Not having an active podcast. I miss having this as a low-lift format to voice my opinions in a way where I can express nuance and highlight important topics. I also crave the minimal editing that comes from a format like this. I haven’t posted on the podcast in almost a year, but that’s by design because I’ve been working in the background, revamping the project. I’ve been ideating on the intentions of the podcast, who I want it to be for, what I might want to cover, the potential formats we could utilize and beyond. I’m toying back and forth between the idea of having a solocast vs. a guest-based podcast, or a balance of both — especially because I’m pretty ruthless with who I’ll have on, and this is an ongoing challenge for me. This time around, I definitely want to talk more about politics and world events given their importance at the moment, but I also don’t want to lose sight of creativity, business and especially personal excellence because that’s ultimately how we change the fucked up aspects of our world. I don’t know when it will be back or how it will look, but I’ll re-launch it when I feel the time is right. For now, the new podcast logo is looking beautiful.5Side note, I might just end up not even posting full-length video episodes publicly because clips are everything in the podcast game.

Resistance to talking about my political views on camera. Honestly, at times my mind feels like it’s total chaos and I have struggled in the past to remember the key points that sold me on the idea, so I’m working on transforming this so I can access what I’m looking for more effectively. There’s definitely some resistance to “selling” (ideas) that’s at play and also some self-sabotage, but I’m going to work energetically to clear it. Also, as I mentioned before, I would love to integrate more political and world events topics on the podcast. We shall see.

What I’m putting in my body from a health perspective. In Q2, I ate so much trash and drank too much alcohol. It needs correction for many reasons, but the most relevant to this reflection is because it’s taking away from my creative output and speed.

What key lessons did I learn?

Clients aren’t paying for my magic time. Unless they’re willing to pay a significant increase in my fee to utilize my most effective time, use the magic time for whatever my top priority is — not theirs.

Bill your time in 15-minute increments, not on a minute-by-minute basis.

Clients aren’t paying for perfection, they’re paying for a great product. Drop the attachment to total perfection and focus on shipping an excellent product in a timely manner.

Subreddits dedicated to a specific type of work can contain incredible advice. I learned so much in Q2 from reading Reddit threads on rates and time tracking from freelancers, videographers & photographers. Of course, be skeptical because you could be taking advice from someone who’s anonymously lying, but you should be able to intuitively tell. Plus, anonymous people don’t usually have much to gain by giving advice like this.

Style is an ever-changing, evolving, and fluid manifestation of where you’re currently at in your creative journey. It’s not this destination that we might think of it as. It’s something that’s forever evolving and changing. [Pat Kay]

Within photography, I want to make the seemingly mundane interesting. I want to make the boring sexy. I want to create in such a way that people look at their own lives afterwards and appreciate their day-to-day surroundings that much more.

A photo can sometimes tell the story just as well as a video can. Photography can be a beautiful low-lift alternative to capture a moment and communicate the desired message. If any further context is needed, use writing to expand upon the story.

Everyone has a camera, but very few evolve their eye to the point where they can utilize it. Invest time into evolving your vision. Take a walk, slow down, and practice being very present and seeing things. Use your iPhone with little to no depth of field/bokeh as it forces you to upgrade your composition skills.

Crazy bokeh isn’t always the answer. Like many of my fellow creators, I’m a fucking fiend for some good bokeh. But in reality, you don’t need it and it can often be a crutch. Too much and it actually looks ridiculous. Too little and it can look unprofessional. Find the happy medium to tell the best story possible.

You don’t achieve the filmic look within photography by keeping your shadows and blacks super high. I thought all this time to get that look, it was done within sliders. Little did I know that the “film” look comes from using curves and clipping the whites and blacks.

Early on, if you’re interested in both photography and videography, hybrid cameras are the move. But later on, when you create more money, consider finding a workhorse photography camera and a workhorse videography camera. The 2 may seem similar, but they’re optimized for very different use cases.

Learning photography makes you a better videographer and learning videography makes you a better photographer. The skills are different, but also deeply similar as it forces you to understand so much about how to use your camera and similar principles that translate well in both fields. But at the end of the day, your eye and vision are what matters most in both of these crafts.

Get a dedicated backpack that’s built for photography/videography. Your gear should be accessible on a compartment basis, not by grabbing into one big main pocket and going on a hunt for the desired item. Speed of access matters. [Peter Lindgren]

Editing on an external monitor is a must. All the extra screen real estate that comes from a large monitor paired with how fast you can move with a mouse is a complete game-changer.

There are so many advanced keyboard shortcuts that exist within any form of text editor that we all use on a day-to-day basis. Utilize them to save major amounts of time when writing.

The pendulum is always swinging on YouTube style. Before, carefree vlogs were huge, whereas concept-based storytelling has become the way. Now that big ideas are becoming so normalized, to some people, it’s not interesting anymore. The platform is always counterbalancing itself and what’s hot now won’t last for long, because it becomes tiring seeing the same thing over and over again. Stay up to date with trends, but stay innovative.

Subscribers on YouTube aren’t important as they once were. Views are the real metric to focus on. If a video is good enough (as defined by YouTube’s metrics) and it’s optimized correctly, you can find your audience wherever they are, given a long enough time span. [Colin & Samir]

The community tab and polls are a massive hack to growth on YouTube.

Algorithms aren’t taking your video and finding viewers for it — it’s the reverse. They’re taking an existing audience that has watched content that’s like your post and the platform is sending it to them. They’re constantly looking for existing audiences that are known by tracking the metadata behind the videos they’ve watched in the past and shown through behaviour that they enjoyed, then finding more content that has similar metadata to send to that audience and keep their users on their platform.

Algorithms are just trying to show you that which you watched before and told the algorithm that you like. Not with “likes”, but with your behaviour.

The times you post, the relevant hashtags, the sounds you use and every other data point you give the algorithm can be useful for social media growth. But above all, retention matters the most. Because it’s a free product, it’s of critical importance to them to reward the people who make people stay on their platform the longest. Retention is just as important on social media as it is on YouTube. If you don’t have a crazy high retention rate, it’s not going to be recommended to the feed you’re looking for. Always be aiming for over 100% retention.

With TikTok and Instagram Reels, begin with the sound in mind. The sounds are critical to growth on the platforms, because it’s another piece of metadata for the algorithm to help you find an audience that has watched sounds like this in the past or is a trending sound right now. Use trending sounds for free views.

Optimize YouTube shorts just like you would on a normal YouTube video. If you know SEO on YouTube, shorts can be a landmine for you — even if you’re just getting started.

Relevant and accurate optimization matters. If you use titles, thumbnails, keywords, tags & hashtags that don’t attract the desired audience — no matter what platform you’re on — your content will be sent to the wrong people, who won’t watch the video, and their low retention and “negative experience” will communicate to the algorithm that your content isn’t good and it will restrict sending it out to others. If you’re going to optimize, optimize for your intended niche — not for some quick views in the short term that halt growth in the long term.

Before committing to long-form content, people use short-form content to determine if it’s worth their time. Short form content is a low-effort sample size, a test run, an experiment. Using short form content, you can give people a trial run to see if it’s worthwhile for them to watch your long-form content. [Colin & Samir]

Supply and demand operates the same way within content creation as it does within business. Find platforms and niches that are undersupplied but have a strong demand and you’ll be able to receive far more views than if you were to target a platform and niche that is oversupplied with less demand. Lots of eyeballs with not enough content is a goldmine for growth.

I’m not built for the social media feed as a consumer. I’m built to use social media as a resource-esque tool where I seek out information on my own time with my own intent instead of mindlessly opening the apps and looking at what social media wants me to so that I can stay on.

Not everything needs to be put out publicly. I don’t know why I felt such a strong pull in the past to put out such deeply personal things, but you definitely do not need to be 100% transparent with everything when you’re documenting, especially in real-time as it’s happening. At this point, I’ve even considered privatizing some of my too-out-there content from the past because I’m thinking to myself, “why on earth did I tell the whole world that?” Of course, I always want to keep it real, but something recently just clicked and I don’t feel the need to put out every little thing in the name of transparency. It can actually be really healthy to keep some stories, situations, anecdotes and details private. Not everything needs to live on the internet.

Thanks so much for reading! This was a verbose entry, but I hope all of the extra detail on my progress, insights and perspectives brought value to your own creative journey. See you guys next quarter.

Thank you for your time and attention. If you got value from this content — whether it was an insight, strategy or even a laugh — please consider sharing it with a friend who might benefit from it too. By doing so, not only do you help them out, but you also help support my content creation efforts and expand the reach and impact of the content I’m sharing.