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Consuming vs. Creating - An Inside Perspective Into Social Media's Small Businesses

Janie McMillin, member of the LOG OFF Writers Group, delves into the perspective of small business owners and the creative side of social media, to offer insight into the ways in which many are using their platforms to fuel their passions.

Without a doubt, social media has sparked a new age of creativity. As we start to become aware of our population (as well as ourselves) spending time scrolling, watching, and seeking validation, we are also being exposed to the other side. A side working towards creating--businesses, self-help videos, blogs, contests, auditions, websites, music, art. By nature we are consumers, and maybe that isn’t such a bad thing if we can learn how to harness it towards creativity. So, as much as social media is a breeding ground for negativity, it has also inspired millions of people to become artists through a pursuit of passion.

When I was in 8th grade I became interested in acting. Unfortunately, every play was filled with intense theatre students and local auditions required a resume (which I didn’t even think to have because I had nothing to put on it.) One night, I was watching YouTube videos about acting with no experience and one comment mentioned an app called Scenebot. I downloaded it the next day, became familiar with it, and began to film the provided monthly monologues. My curiosity surrounding acting grew daily and I spent hours utilizing the “anonymous question” portal, maybe a little too much (never would I have asked these questions in person because of a fear of seeming unknowledgeable). Scenebot was my primary outlet for acting, and I used it for a little over a year until my friend introduced me to a local theatre class, and we began creating a script together. Through consuming what social media had to offer, I was able to explore my own interests with minimal fear. This led me to begin creating and to start to absorb my inner courage to do something I knew I wanted to, and I am not the only one.

Social media has fostered creativity for ages, giving individuals all the tools they need to not only to strive for greatness, but to reach it. Instagram has a whopping 1 billion users, increasing daily, and a large portion of that billion are aspiring artists who use this platform to promote, learn, and most of all, create. The hashtag “smallbusinesses” has 44 million posts (and counting), and the hashtag “artist” has 215 million. According to a 2018 survey, 70% of small businesses use some type of social media platform. For many small artists, these numbers are not intimidating, but encouraging : they are provided a platform with millions of resources, all easily accessible and free. Social media can be credited with helping some businesses thrive and enabling them to build off the various platforms it provides--Instagram, Etsy, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Reddit.

I asked two individuals who use social media as not only their creative outlet, but their business outlet as well, to share some insight into the world of creating and consuming. “Lev UFO” is an aspiring musician, using Instagram and YouTube to launch his desired career. His songwriting as well as music videos were curated in his basement, and soon exposed to the general public through social media. When asked a few questions about social media and creativity, he provided an inside perspective on how social media actually sparks creativity through connections, inspirations, and similarities.

Share a little bit about your creative process and what it is you do.

“I write and record my own songs, my goal is to build a fanbase and play big shows, sell big albums, and be able to financially support myself through my art!”

How did you get started?

“I got started by making music in my basement, I wrote and recorded all of the songs myself, so it only made sense at the time to promote them myself. Developing a community of artists through social media and other methods has allowed me to release and post content, music and art and have it reach many people!”

Do you consider social media a creative outlet, and how would you say it has influenced your music career?

“Social media is for sure a creative outlet for me and my artistic community, it has been helping my career by allowing me to reach people very quickly to promote and inform about the songs and art I’m working on.”

Would you say you consume or create more?

“I probably consume more but I’m working on creating more. Social media is crucial to the music industry, now more than ever. Artists are personalities and icons and Instagram is the strongest way to communicate that!”

I then contacted Shallyn Michelle, a wedding and engagement photographer who promotes her business primarily through Instagram (and gains clientele this way too), about her experiences with social media.

What is your business? How did it start, and how has social media played a roll in it (if at all)?

“I own Shallyn Michelle Photography. I photograph weddings, engagements, families and portraits. My business started in January of 2018 after I got laid off from a job. Social media and networking have been the sole sources of how I have gained clients. I use Facebook and Instagram to share my photos and promote my work!”

Do you feel consuming on social media has helped you create?