Meet Manish Pandey, the ‘unofficial coach’ of India’s content creators, who started his career at a call centre
The Indian digital content space is buzzing and how! Whether it’s news, entertainment, gaming, cooking, fashion, education, social, short videos or story-telling, everything is blowing up. We have over 1,200 YouTube channels with one million subscribers, with two creators on an average crossing one-million subscribers and 2,500 creators touching their first 1,000 subscriber milestone almost every day.
With every new subscriber, comes the big question for a creator—what next? While the most successful creators have become proficient with consistency and doing things according to the industry norms, it is daunting to a new creator and easy to panic when the well runs empty. A 'creators block’ sometimes perhaps.
While agencies can help you monetise, work the algorithms, brand collaborations, maybe even give you ideas to curate relatable content, you need someone to help you cut through that block, besides your own self.
The ‘unofficial coach’ of the creators economy — Manish Pandey —took up the baton a few years back and has coached some of the most successful creators, including Ranveer Alhabadia a.k.a BeerBiceps, to wade through their stumbling blocks and implement the next big idea. He is making sure the creators “enjoy the process” and then let the magic happen on its own.
“They're super talented and know what they're doing. But sometimes, when you do one thing again and again, it gets monotonous. It happens with everybody. In those situations, if there is somebody who's level headed, has been able to cut through what is happening, and also has a bird's eye view, can give one or two tips, will help. This is my role. I don't teach them how to write their script, or camera work, they are masters in that and that's why people are loving them, but work on small nuances like tell them this will happen, when you do this, try an alternate and so on,” he says.
Manish goes a step further to reflect on the “spiritual aspect” of looking at things and not focus on getting the technicalities right all the time.
“A creator should always be able to enjoy his journey, his new shoot more than the last one. Live the essence of the work you are doing. My role is to make sure they enjoy the process,” says Manish, who has a little “pep talk” with Ranveer before his podcasts—“Don’t care about what people will react to it, why you are here, you should just enjoy the conversation, have takeaways and come out of that room a little more knowledgeable, a little more wiser [sic].”
Manish has played an important role as a mentor and supporter for many entrepreneurs and content creators over the years, but he was himself “put in a spot” while making this career choice as he was not ready for it.
Hailing from the town of Silvassa, he had picked up a job at a call centre and was always looking at a window of opportunity that could shift him to a “day job”. He soon found himself at a digital marketing agency in Pune and was tasked to work in the social media space, for which he had no experience.
Manish continued to walk on that path, without much thought, until one day he went to a TEDx event.
“Cut to 2017, I was in Reliance in Bombay while I was working with Captain Raghu Raman. I went to a TEDx event and Ranveer was speaking there. We met and I don't know what happened, we just became friends and I started looking into his things and was involved in the process before I could realise. Ranveer is the one who introduced me to everybody I know today. This is how I became a part of their ecosystem circle and I became that unofficial coach [sic],” says Manish, who is actively working with Ranveer on new ventures besides being a full time brand consultant and a part of the leadership team at.
Having seen the evolution of the creators space first hand, Manish, found the time apt to get the creators economy’s stalwarts together and have them pass on some wisdom to the new creators, who can use ‘learnings from errors’ to build their careers. From choosing top 11 creators for the feature to interviewing them and their families, it took 400 days for co-authors Harsh Pamnani and Manish to stitch it all together and launch book titled Booming Digital Stars.
“I had written to actually 3,035 creators and wanted to do a larger piece,” says Manish, who is working on the next edition, which will include new creators. Interestingly, the writer is looking to add newer angles to the broader topic of creators' economy, including gender and age diversity.
“I want to cover gender diversity closely because there are less female creators than male, but I wanted to keep a complete balance. Next, I'm going to look at age diversity where we will have a creator who is maybe 70 years old and then somebody who is 13. Want to create that whole band that listens, age has nothing to do with content creation.”
Creating a playbook for creators
The landscape has changed and the moment is right for anyone to explore the space. But, is there a readymade winning formula that can be applied to content creator strategy? The answer is no, but we might get our first blueprint-cum-roadmap for creators from the guide himself.
“We don't have any blueprint. Every content creator has figured out on their own. They have not been to any school, or there hasn't been a university or a course for content creation. But what is happening now is that you're working with so many creators and agencies, so you’re kind of creating, not a blueprint, maybe a roadmap. There are different data points that you're trying to create and make a pattern. I think I've gone through around lakhs of thumbnails, and now I have derived a pattern which will get you to different goals like commerce,” he says.
Every profession comes with its sets of challenges and anxieties, and social media is no exception. Thankfully, YouTube recently made the dislike count on videos private to better protect creators from harassment and reduce the threat of what it calls “dislike attacks”.
“Everybody is worried about views and the way a comment section reacts. I don't want to sugarcoat and say you should not worry about things, you will be worried. But that particular thing is not the end of life. Your life existed before this content creation journey, and it will exist today and later as well. So make sure that you take things sincerely and not too seriously,” says Manish.
The mentor encourages creators to reach out to their friends, family, industry peers or guardians, and talk about anything that bothers them or in case they are feeling lost or alone.
“I want to tell everybody that challenges and stress are real, and it is going to come. The essence is in addressing it. So address it, get past it, it is curable. It is a completely solvable problem.”
Advice to founders/startups building for creators
The explosion of digital content, rising monetisation potential accompanied with a boom in streaming channels offer a huge opportunity to content providers and investors alike, triggering talks of “content-based commerce”.
A lot of founders and entrepreneurs have been approaching Manish for advice on building for creators or building solutions to scale the industry.
“I'm not in a position to advise anybody, but submission of thought is —if you are building for creators, please study creators! If not anything, for 100 days speak to at least 400-500 creators and then jot down what the problem they are facing. You cannot be curating something for the creator economy without speaking to the creator,” he says.
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Edited by Ramarko Sengupta