A part of me still can’t believe that we finally made it to the end of the semester alive (jokes of course). I thought that last semester felt like a lifetime when it slugged on by, but getting kicked out of school due to a lung-drowning virus made me realize how much I missed attending in-person classes, as online lectures really put a damper on self-isolation.
When Spring semester first started, Suzanne heavily encouraged the class to sign ourselves up to present our blogs to the class in the final week of classes. At first, I thought, “no way, I would never do that.” But as the weeks flew by, and I started posting regularly on YouTube and adding more bits and bobs to my website I realized that it was something that I did want to show the class. In the beginning, I was extremely nervous to see what everyone would think, but I realized that I share my life everywhere I go to a global audience, never once batting an eyelash if they saw what I was up to. So why did sharing it to the class seem so daunting?
It’s easy to share your life online- every photo you’ve ever taken was taken in the past, every video you’ve ever filmed was filmed in the past, it seems as if nothing is ever really happening in the moment anymore. It’s easy to feel your best when you’re posting a stock photo of yourself dressed to the nines while you’re at home in your bed with a facemask on shoveling ice cream into your mouth. In a way, I felt that if I presented my website to others I’d be exposing myself as someone who doesn’t capture things in the moment, but at the end of the day that’s what I wanted, I wanted people to get a real glimpse of these fake lives we make up. I’m not saying my life is a complete figment, but I definitely don’t look like how I do on Instagram everyday. I’ve struggled a lot with branding as well as expanding my brand since I’m the literal face of it, worried that if I change one little thing that people won’t resonate with it the same way.
I realized on a bus ride home from PUB 201 that I was going to present my brand to the class because I was proud of what I was doing and that I wanted to be the one to show others that although I created this extravagant life for myself that I was still me at the end of the day.
When we post, we let the content speak for itself rather than using our own words. People can never really get to know who you really are when you don’t explain who you are and from what I’ve learnt over the last 13 weeks is that people want to see who people really are behind the cameras and filters. I’ve always wanted to inspire others, so ideally the only thing standing in the way of me and my presentation was myself.
Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of the virus we are unable to present our sites in-person, however after doing many peer-reviews and attending tutorials I’ve found that every person in our class has something that they should be proud of. If we all signed off of social media and banded together to share what we’ve been working on all term then I think all of us would’ve felt confident enough to present because there is an unbelievable amount of talent in that room that just wasn’t ready to speak up about it.
This week, instead of writing to you from the comforts of my dimly lit dorm room, I’m coming to you from the confines of my childhood bedroom, only about 5.5 hours away with the Georgia Straight being the only thing separating us. Amidst this unique time, I’ve found that over the past week being adaptable is not only a huge part of our lives (yours and mine included) generally speaking, but equally huge part of being creative. To come full circle here, I need to jump through a few hoops and bounds so bare with me as I swear that I have a term worthy ending for you.
I’m currently enrolled in an upper division Communications course that focuses primarily on sound engineering, putting a critical lens on the history and relevance of podcasts in particular. When I first read the syllabus in January- which seems like a lifetime ago, I was well aware that I’d be handing in a 5-10 minute podcast as my term project worthy of a heavty 30% contribution to my final grade in the course.
About four weeks ago, my prof David decided (on the fly) that conducting an interview within our podcast was no longer optional, but mandatory. Given the time frame, this was prior to the University shutting down as the severity of COVID-19 ramped up. Within a week of his firm decision, five out of the thirty five of us attended our last in-person lecture and since then, all of us have been now working online to complete the course. Nearly two weeks ago now, David sent us an email to see how we were all doing on our projects. Upon opening the email, I assumed that he would be extremely lenient with our “mandatory interview” or even axxex it, but he didn’t. Instead, he wrote and I quote, “we need to be imaginative about how we respond to our situation.” With the world going into toilet paper bankruptcy, I thought that David would have been without-a-doubt more understanding of our situation. In hindsight he was, I just couldn’t see it yet.
All during this time period, I planned on staying at the SFU campus until my scheduled move out date (April 26th), and then moving to my grandparents house for the rest of the summer. However, like many things in life, that didn’t go to plan or even remotely so.
I found myself arguing back and forth with my parents on where I’d be staying and for how long, each phone call ending without an exchange of goodbyes, but with the sound of the call being cut in one of my ears. Ideally, this virus and other viral pandemics in the past have been an occurrence that I and many others have been lucky enough to have not yet experienced in their lifetime. I’m completely guilty of underestimating this virus. Like many others, I can’t comprehend what it means for the future, not just my future or your future, but the future of the human race. It sounds extreme when I type it out, but since COVID-19 is unlike any other past pandemic, nobody is really sure what tomorrow will bring. In my mind, it was easier to think about tomorrow being a better day, but with each tomorrow things actually haven’t been getting any better. Due to its increasing severity, my parents made the final decision to bring me home to Vancouver Island.
At the end of that phone call, my heart started rapidly beating as I saw the life I built for myself flash before my eyes. All I could think was, “How am I going to create from there?” As all of my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals are located in the city, I felt like I was nothing without them. Going back to the island felt like I was being exiled…banished…annexed from everything that I had built within the last year. BUT, at the same time I was having my little meltdown (trust me, I realize how ridiculous I was being), the ENTIRE population was experiencing the exact same feelings as I was.
As my mom and I drove down the mountain onto Hastings Street- which is my most well known street thanks to the R5, I had a crystal clear view of the city. Since I was a little kid, Vancouver has always held a special place in my heart. I visited lots as my grandparents live there, always having so many things to see and do whenever I wanted, it was so unlike living in a small town. Although it’s true about what they say, “the grass is always greener on the other side,” but it was undeniable that the city offered more opportunities than that of a small town. To this day, my eyes still widen in awe as I’m greeted by the city as it’s always been a place where I’ve dreamt of living. In that moment my heart started to tremble as I realized that living in Vancouver was the one thing I had never once taken for granted, and I believe that’s why leaving hurt so unbelievably bad. We drove and drove and drove as the signs passed us, it was as if every first memory I ever experienced at those places started flashing through my mind one by one. It really put things into perspective for me as to how much I’ve come to grow and love the life that I’ve built for myself out here. My heart started pounding a little less, and it made the hurt go away. I had to remind myself that it wasn’t a goodbye forever but merely a heartfelt, “see you when I see you.”
As my journey continued back to the westend of the coastline, I checked my phone notifications. I had about 15+ missed messages from my CMNS 357 group chat about our individual podcasts- the three of them were debating whether or not they should complete the final assignment. One of them said that they were willing to nix the assignment completely taking an overall pass with 60% (due to our circumstances, this was approved by SFU as a “P” grade) as we no longer had access to a professional sonic studio, the other one was saying that we should complete our podcast for David (as he’s our homie and has been extremely good to all of us), and the last one admitted that they were too lazy to even bother with the assignment.
As I read the incoming messages I realized that my theory about the island being the reason why I lose my creative touch was just about as backwards as my classmates debating our final assignment. After that, I stopped asking myself, “why…”
“Why didn’t David excuse the interview from our term project?”
“Why did COVID-19 have to banish me back to Vancouver Island and ruin my creative streak?”
…and I started asking myself what.
Specifically, what I was going to do, not only to produce a term-worthy podcast (with an interview) but to remind myself and my classmates that we as individuals were the only thing we needed to be creative.
In the very first lecture for this class, David said, “the podcast is one of the oldest acoustic artefacts to date, and yet still remains, and continues to grow in popularity.” He encouraged us to think outside of the box and told us that this virus was an even greater reason to go above and beyond, to show him that not only could we use the software, but we could use it in a way that told a story- a human like experience. And this is exactly the state of mind I have when I create, limits don’t exist, COVID-19 can’t and won’t stop me from being creative. Yes, It can take me out of Vancouver, it can take me away from the skyscrapers and the urban landscape, and it can take me away from my photographers, videographers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, connections, networks, and brand deals, but what it can’t do is take me away from being creative. I mean unless I actually am unfortunate enough to catch the virus… but for the purposes of this story, the only thing that can stop me from being creative is myself.
And then the aching stopped, and I realized how happy I was to be home, with my family, and most importantly in a safe space rather than being cooped up in my dorm room for the next however long.
Creating content out of the island is something I haven’t done before (at the level I’m currently producing content at now), but I’m willing to accept the challenge. As a creative you need to be adaptable, and since my brand is myself, it shouldn’t be too hard bringing that with me unless I stop myself.
I picked up my phone and began hastily typing back to classmates. I’m glad that I could not only get them to reconsider their assignment for David (he really is a homie), but more importantly, for themselves. We don’t need access to sonic studios to create term worthy podcasts, and I don’t need Vancouver to keep creating. Instead we need to focus on telling meaningful stories that encapsulate human-like experiences that relate with our listeners, which believe me can be done with all but the very devices we hold so dear. I hold every ability to create within the palm of my hand, and so do you.
Since technology has continued to ramp up over the years, bloggers have expanded their sites and adopted other platforms to deliver content to their audience. Bloggers have had to adapt their content based on the way their viewers consume content as other platforms have overgrown in popularity in comparison to blogs.
In my case, I’m primarily passionate about creating photos and videos for my audience and spend most of my time developing that part of my brand. However, my blog came in handy as it was a place where my audience could get to know a little bit more about me. My blog gives my audience complete access to my portfolio which contains photos that may have never been released on my Instagram, as well as every hyperlink to the videos I’ve created and posted on YouTube along with the creative reasoning behind them. My blog is primarily a way for me to tell a real life story from a written point of view.
On Instagram, I would normally let my photos speak for themselves as the platform focuses primarily on static visuals. On YouTube, I’m allowed to fully explain my creative concepts to my viewers, which for me is the rawest form of content I’ve ever created as I’m able to capture my voice and my thoughts in the very second they’re taking place. I’ve found that my blog has basically allowed me to tie my two other main platforms together into one.
In the next few months I hope to start working on a podcast as I’ve always been interested in sound engineering and have taken many classes in that field. However, for myself, I’d primarily use a podcast to tell the same story that I would write on my blog but use a platform that allows my viewers to listen rather than read. Personally, I would much rather watch a video that implements both audio and visuals rather than just using audio but I’m still interested in giving it a shot.
Although the example I’m using isn’t a blog, I thought it was relatively interesting how popular magazine Bon Appétit implements brand extensions to their site.
I had originally heard of Bon Appétit through their YouTube channel which gives viewers a step by step walkthrough, teaching them to cook extravagant dishes. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I found out that Bon Appétit actually originated as American food and entertainment magazine. After checking out their website, I found that Bon Appétit runs a podcast or “Foodcast” as they call it, interviewing chefs, writers and anyone else who has something to say about food. Bon Appétit has also created the brand extension Healthish, which focuses on providing healthy alternatives to people and Basically, which provides a written step-by-step guide to cooking. When Editor in Chief, Adam Rapoport (2019) was asked what Bon Appétit was, he said that it’s, “whatever you want it to be. Even a magazine.”
As the days go by, I’m finding myself in a love-hate relationship with this self-isolation thing. On one hand, a part of me is frustrated that I’m being cooped up inside, forced to sit and relax and the other part of me is stoked that I finally get some time to catch up on the hundred and one things I’ve been putting off. I’m torn.
Prior to the world being taken over by COVID-19, I used to meet up with local photographers and creatives on a weekly basis, all while taking a full academic schedule, making time to hang out with my friends, making sure I went to the gym everyday and forcing myself to get a reasonable amount of sleep every night. I have to hand it to myself, for the first time I was actually balancing my life pretty well (the best I ever had), but now I worry that with all this free time on my hands I might not be as productive as I used to be. I’m a very scheduled person, I need tasks and directions to fully function because without those I find that I have no purpose. However, I’ve decided to look at this situation as optimistically as I possibly can.
A part of me is actually really excited to take some time off to teach myself the things that I never had time to do like, learning how to play the ukulele again or the piano, I want to get back into working on flair (practice of bartenders entertaining guests), but I also want to continue expanding my brand in the ways I never could. Primarily speaking, I want to direct my focus from Instagram and bring it towards building an audience on TikTok as well as YouTube. I also want to reach out to local brands based both in Tofino and Vancouver in order to collaborate with them in the near future. And lastly, I have massive plans for my blog! Since this has been a space that I originally built for school, I am actually quite interested in moulding it into my own little space as I’ve found some free time. Generally speaking, I’m thinking I want to redesign it entirely, keeping the same colour palette but adding more to the menu, like an advice column and content not just relating to modelling, photography and videography but rather to beauty, health and aesthetics.
I really want to take this time to reflect on all that I’ve done but at the same time continuing to stay positive and optimistic towards the future. Ideally, I’m really trying to focus on building a true fan base and increasing my viewership based on what I stand for rather than just what I create. My main goal is to start building a community of like-minded people who not only come to see what I create, but get inspired to create themselves.
Although I’m incredibly heartbroken that I’m no longer living in Vancouver for the time being, I’ve realized that the city didn’t give me all the tools I needed to create, I already had all the tools I needed to create, I just needed to figure that out for myself.
Even though it’s back to small town living for me, I promise you that I’m never going to forget my uptown dreams.
Upon first glance at your website, I absolutely fell head over heels in LOVE with the photo on your homepage!
As far as I can tell, you’ve decided not to monetize your site, and in my personal opinion I think this was a good call. As I also work within the same industry as you do, I’ve noticed that many of the photographers I work with prefer to keep their websites clean of ads, but rather pay to promote their work on Instagram and Facebook. Not only do you get to keep your website ad-free (letting photos speak for themselves), but there are much higher amounts of traffic on social platforms with better ways to share and link back to your brand.
Your work is incredibly clean, which is reflected through your creative eye straight back onto your website. According to your “About” section, you mentioned that you were “moving into the brave new world of freelancing.” I’m not sure if you haven’t put your rates down on your site because you haven’t figured them out yet or if you’re just focussing on building your portfolio for the time being. Either way, you have a wide range of talent when shooting from behind the lens as you’ve dabbled in shooting urban landscapes, street photography, portraits as well as nature. I personally suggest that you check out a group on Facebook called, “604 Vancouver Models & Photographers!” Not only are you encouraged to share your work, but it’s a great place to get advice as well as begin your freelancing career. As someone who has worked in the creative industry, freelancing is a really great way to meet people and network. The connections you build are priceless as acquiring a list of contacts could potentially help you down the road for bigger projects you might want to work on.
According to your last peer review done by Katie (2020), her only critique was to “create a warmer space” as she thought your site came across as very cold. This really boils down to your own preferred taste, after looking through your Instagram feed (which is beautiful), you seem to go for an incredibly minimalistic vibe letting your audience make meaning out of your work (@zeh_d, 2020). You’re an artist in your own way, so your minimal website shows me as a viewer that your work is very minimalistic as well. I personally like the cold, gloomy aesthetic. However, I do think you could benefit by implementing more storytelling on your site as I really got to know who you were and how you found photography from the story you told in your About section. Storytelling will not only tell your viewers who you are, but how you feel when you take your photos which can build a sense of emotional connectedness for your viewers (Sherret, 2012).
Overall, your site presents a compelling brand, but not a clear persuasive business strategy. However, as I am someone of the demographic you’re targeting, I’m most definitely inclined to engage in a call-to-action. The only suggestion I have for you is to clean up your menus! I would personally remove your “Home” menu as when you click on your logo/title it already takes you to your home page. I would also move the, “PUB 201” category to the end of your menus and remove your “Instagram” menu as you already showcase it on your website respectively.
A couple of days ago I was asked to start a blog for a local brand. At the time I was completely overjoyed because I thought the company was interested in the type of content I was producing for my own blog. However, after getting a little bit more information on the gig I was told that they were only interested in developing a blog to increase their SEO (which at the time I had no idea what that was) and not interested in actually building a community. Unfortunately, the company wasn’t interested in what I was writing but rather telling me to, “write whatever you’d like, if you just write random letters, I don’t care just use the keyword we provide you with.” This conversation had me completely rethinking what I was getting myself into. It didn’t feel right that I was being brought onto a team not based on what I could bring to the table but for mindless work that any human could do.
After attending this week’s online lecture I know a little bit more about SEO and why it was so important to the company’s manager. SEO or Search Engine Optimization allows for one’s content to ascend the placement of the search engine based on keywords or “flags.” As 95% of web traffic happens on the first search page generated by Google, it only makes sense that it’s where you’d want yourself and your brand to be.
I was interested to see where I ranked on Google’s search engine so I conducted my own experiment by typing my first and last name into the search bar. Honestly, I was quite surprised with the results as my profiles were on the first page of Google. My Instagram link was nestled in at the 6th spot under several social profiles of a hockey player with the same name. As I continued to scroll I found that my LinkedIn page (which I didn’t even know I had) was sitting at the 8th and final spot of the first page.
Upon looking at the second page of searches, my name was associated with the first five posts all highlighting the keyword, “Tyler Krueger,” and the top two suggestions were links to my blog.
I continued looking at Google’s photos associated with “Tyler Krueger” and found that I was the 5th image on the page with many of my other photos popping up as I continued to scroll down.
Google associated the search with places such as “vancouver,” “vancouver bc” and “tofino.” To my surprise, my face and links came up as the first seven photos listed.
Lastly, I found that my YouTube channel was the top two suggestions when searching under Google’s video associations.
From what I’ve learnt is that I have a relatively good SEO to even rank on the first page of Google. However, to continue to improve my SEO I plan on building my YouTube, Facebook and TikTok following as those platforms are also associated with my brand. As a higher SEO brings people back to your content, you want to make sure you have reliable, interesting pieces for people to browse, rather than using a keyword to bring people back to a blog post with a bunch of the same letters typed in a row. I realized that it was a much better use of my time and skills to build my own SEO rather than someone else’s.
Recently, there has been a whole lot of controversy surrounding the topic of going outdoors and meeting up with friends as we’ve all been encouraged to socially distance ourselves. Up until this week, I’ve been shooting up to three times a week with different local photographers, however I’ve decided to switch up my fast paced lifestyle and start slowing it down. At first, I didn’t see much of an issue with shooting as I’m not in close contact with my photographers, but with the vast amount of time I spend on transit going to and from shoots, I decided to rethink my weekly shooting routine.
Since SFU got shut down on March Friday 13th (quite ironic if you’re the superstitious type), all of my creative projects have come to a screeching halt. As I’ve been focusing primarily on photo shoots in the past few weeks, I’ve decided that I will also be self-isolating and reverting back to working on videos as that’s something I’m able to do from the confines of my dorm room.
I walked into my last shoot on March 19th, on the SFU Burnaby campus (one of my favourite places to shoot!). I was shooting at golden hour with Nicolas Scott (@nicolasscott_), a photographer whom I’ve worked with on numerous occasions for his clothing line, Call the Girls Co, as well as our most recent Calvin Klein studio session. We kept our distance and shot as we normally would, but as we walked around the AQ pond, I felt a sense of emptiness wash over myself. The place was absolutely dead, so much so that you could hear the drop of a pin. Although it was my last scheduled shoot, without seeing other people around me, it really made me feel as if I shouldn’t be outside, or if I was doing something wrong even though Nic and I were far more than 2 meters apart at all times.
We wrapped up just after the sun had set on the top floor of the visitors parade. We said our goodbyes and I walked off into the milky sunset making my way back to Shell House. Although I was completely bummed out to be putting a stop to my modelling career, I tried to look at the positives of all of this- that I would be able to really start growing my brand and putting more work into marketing and management as well as producing YouTube and Tik Tok videos. Walking off into the beautiful blending of colours in the sky reminded me that now was the time to think outside of the box and really take this time to reflect and think about alternative methods to create.
This is not the end, rather it’s the beginning of a new form of creativity. I can’t wait to show you what I come up with!
Monetization has been an ongoing topic I’ve been having with myself for about six months now. Although I’m a full-time student, I’m also a full-time content creator. In my two years working within the local creative industry, I’ve only ever made out with one single paycheck. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining…in all honesty I think I’ve been putting off monetization tactics so I don’t make money. On average, I participate in a photoshoot up to four times a week, as well as producing video content for YouTube and Tik Tok. On one hand, because I spend so much time and effort producing the best content for my audience, I don’t want to be paid as I feel that the content won’t be as authentic anymore. However, on the other hand, because I spend so much time and effort producing the best content for my audience, I do feel as if I need to be paid to keep producing that level of content.
I’ve always told myself that the day I don’t feel like my true self online is the day I quit posting. When I was younger, it was my dream to be noticed as a “big” online personality, however as my numbers and views continue to increase, I’ve realized that being a face people know isn’t as glamorous as it seems. After coming to that realization, I’ve focused 100% on showcasing my authentic self on all of my social platforms as that is what I want to be remembered by. I don’t want to grow or create a fan base, I would rather create a community of like-minded creatives who support each other for their work, not their online personas.
When I first started in the industry, my parents had a lot of doubts as I was putting in the time and effort, but I wasn’t getting paid. Over the years, more and more people- creatives and non-creatives alike have asked me why I’m not being paid for what I do. In all honesty, there was time before I was creating that I thought that I could make millions on content I produced. Back then, I wasn’t passionate about my craft, nor was I in the correct headspace to even create. When I let all of that go and stopped thinking about how great my creative destination could be, I picked up a camera and began on my creative journey. Since then, I haven’t thought about being paid or expecting any form of payment whatsoever. I’ve found my passion and I would much rather be myself online and never make a dime, than make a bunch of cash but hate what I do.
For the day when I do decide to monetize my business, I will be starting with YouTube as I’ve found that when I’m interrupted by paid advertisements, it doesn’t stop me from watching my favourite creators, but on a platform like Facebook, I tend to leave the content when an ad pops up. I’ve decided that I won’t be monetizing my website as it’s primarily visual, and I wouldn’t want the advertisements taking away from my content.
I believe that later down the road, I will be implementing a freemium model when producing content, so my true fans can view special/exclusive content at a reasonable price. However, I believe that until I reach that point, I’m much better off getting to properly know my audience and build what Kelly (2008) calls, “true fans.” Without them, I won’t be able to progress my brand in the ways in which I would like- starting a clothing line, producing music, and writing a book. In order to build this true fan base, I need to keep working on my craft, building up Stanford’s (2015) 4 emotions associated with neuromarketing. Not only do I need to focus on building trust with my audience, but I also need to build that level of trust with myself through self-acceptance and self-admiration. As my brand showcases myself, I can’t expect my audience to feel the four emotions- joy, trust, anticipation and surprise if I myself don’t feel those emotions whilst I’m creating. At the end of the day, I want to create in order to help others and help myself by being true to themselves, whether I’m monetized or not.
I thought this Monday was going to be like every other Monday, but to my surprise, it didn’t. I woke up at 8:30 am, made my way to the bathroom and when I came back to my room, I got changed for the gym. I spent about an hour in there targeting my arms, and as I was taking a break from my lat pulldowns, I got a DM from a Disney Animator and aspiring Photographer named Marc (@marcrovich), whom I’ve had the pleasure of working with before. Like most messages I get in the morning, I ignore them until at least 9 am to make sure I’ve had enough time to wake up and spend some “me-minutes” with myself.
When I came home, I immediately showered and as I began to towel dry my hair, I opened up the messages. I would have never guessed what happened and neither could Marc.
A photo we had taken together in late January was published on the Vogue Italia website! I couldn’t believe it, even asking several times over and over again sounding like a broken record, it wasn’t a joke.
As I made my way to the bus station to head to an appointment in Surrey, not only did I miss the 145, but within minutes hot tears started streaming down my face and I can assure you that it wasn’t because I missed my bus. I’m not much of a cryer, but I still couldn’t believe the news. It was starting to seem as different doors were closing in my life, other doors were starting to magically open.
The next day, I went to lunch to catch up with a group of doom mates that I met in first year! Before I had even sat my butt down, they were shouting at me from across the way about the news. It was one of the most gratifying feelings in the world to celebrate and be celebrated by the first group of friends I made in University. They’ve seen me grow into exactly the person I’ve always wanted to become and they’ve supported me since the very beginning of me moving out here. It’s crazy to think of how many nights we spent on the 7th floor of the common room in Shadbolt House talking up until all hours of the night about where we saw ourselves three years down the road. At the time it was incomprehensible, but in current time we were all together celebrating who we were now. As we toasted to celebrate, I was so incredibly happy. Not just about the publication, but because I had people out there supporting me no matter what I decided to do. No matter how many changes I’ve undergone in the past three years, I’m still the same small town kid, but with the people I’ve met along the way, I’ve been able to build the life that I’d dreamt about three years ago in that common room.