How influencers can feel safe and make more money than on Instagram and YouTube, combined
True story about how me and my partner — vlogger Hitomi Mochizuki — were on a beach in Thailand and got inspired to build her this app…
In a breezy beachside bungalow on Koh Phangan in December 2017, I listened to my life and love partner Hitomi tell me how badly she was feeling about a few comments she had gotten on one of her videos.
That video — called Tender, which currently has nearly 4 million views — had hundreds of positive comments. But what Hitomi was feeling that day was a result of reading three or four negative comments, ones that led her into an existential lament about whether this was something she wanted to keep doing.
As Hitomi was telling me more about how she was feeling I felt immense compassion. When she told me more about what she really wanted to be doing with her creativity, the ideas started to ruminate inside of me.
At the time, the company I founded — SeeBeNow Technologies Inc — had just launched its first app on the App Store, a yoga + meditation video platform with more than 35+ presenters and hundreds of experiences. We had great reviews on the app, and thousands of members.
Indeed, Hitomi does love what she’s doing. At the beginning, it was helpful for own mental well being to be open, authentic and relatable online. By being herself, she grew her audience to over 415k on YouTube and 150k on Instagram.
Nearly every time I’m out with Hitomi on the streets of New York City where we live, we meet a subscriber, many of whom burst into tears upon meeting her, exclaiming “Your videos changed my life! I watch when I am sad and lonely and want to feel more connection.”
But for her, most of the time she spends posting on Instagram and YouTube creates waves of uncertainty about what people will say. Constantly being judged and validated by hundreds of thousands of people can be terrifying for a twenty-one year old human being.
My observation of this phenomena is that it’s not about whether influencers should keep creating and sharing online, its just that we need a safe space to keep doing it.
As you probably already know, YouTube and Instagram serve the interest of advertisers because their business model is based on advertising revenue. That means their prerogative is to keep as many users — any users — on the platform for as long as they can.
YouTube and Facebooks algorithms work to show you videos from Creators like Hitomi to anyone who will watch, including those who are only there to cause trouble by shaming, hating, and writing off her words, attitudes and beliefs.
Like many influencers, Hitomi was relying heavily on paid advertising deals to come in to pay her bills, along with YouTube revenue share. The problem for her was, the deals were inconsistent and the YouTube revenue got slashed after the scandal with YouTubers like Logan Paul slashed advertising revenues.
It’s not that social media is bad, it’s just that their business model does not serve the interest of Creators first.
As the sun and breeze washed over me, so did the idea of building her a platform to share her teachings, musings and art … one that we now call the Creators App platform.
As a humane technologist, I seek to empower the myriad of authentic voices out there that provides a better way to connect with their communities online and IRL.
Serving the Creators first is now our ethos. We provide storytellers, artists and guides with a way to deliver their content in a beautiful, compelling way with improved monetization, giving their audience an opportunity go deeper and feel more connection.
Since launching HitomiNow on the App Store in September 2018, Hitomi has built up a paying subscriber base of several thousand, with monthly revenues exceeding Instagram brand deals and YouTube revenues combined.
We officially launched the Creators platform to be custom built for new influencers on June 26, 2019 at the Assemblage in NYC at an event we called “The Future of Wellness, Influence and Technology” (video).
We’re currently building new Creators apps for Allie Michelle (@alliemichellel) and Claire Michelle (@plantifulsoul) and are on a mission to empower the most authentic voices in wellness, art, music, travel and lifestyle.
Our intention and invitation is to build a platform that empowers Creators to inspire real human connection, both online and offline.
Are you an influencer or aspiring content creator? I would love to hear from you as this conversation evolves.
Connect with me directly at email@example.com