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Turning likes into rands: The 411 from online content creators

From TikTok to Instagram, the web is a playground for every girl boss. Here is a look at how you can also be the bomb dot com

Olwethu Leshabane.
Olwethu Leshabane.
Image: Supplied.

For centuries, the concept of self-made success has been defined by brilliant business ideas that turn entrepreneurial pursuits into powerful empires. With the global domination of social media, there is now a growing shift from corporate to virtual success.

According to Statistics South Africa, 2.2 million jobs were lost in just the second quarter of 2020. These shocking stats are especially gloomy in a country where youth unemployment is consistently high. This has put increasing pressure on many to become innovative in bringing home the bacon, by converting clicks into profit.

While some users were baking banana bread or brewing homemade beer during lockdown, others were taking to social media to dominate through content creation, which has seen the rise of influencers, vloggers, bloggers, and podcasters since the 2010s. We went straight to the experts to find out how you can craft your own successful digital career on social media.

Olwethu Leshabane

Instagram: @artofsuperwoman

Twitter: @Olwe2Lesh

TikTok: @olwe2lesh

A leader in the “Art of Superwoman”, Olwethu Leshabane is a blogger, TV personality, and maternal health advocate who doubles up as a doula — among the many tricks up her sleeve.

Online business: Studying, eating, sleeping, and breathing your industry is key. Talent alone is 20% — the other 80% is drilling down and truly understanding the industry you are in and the people you serve. I’m also a firm believer that we all serve in every space or industry we are in. It’s no different in the digital industry.

Common mistakes: Emulating someone else or only focusing on the aesthetics. People can tell, firstly, when they are being sold to and, secondly, when they’re being sold a personality that is a farce.

Standing out: It’s important to understand what your messaging is, who your audiences are, what your expertise or messaging is, and what skills you want to build on and grow. Start with what you have and where you are skills-wise. Grow from there.

Image: Supplied.

Lesego “ThickLeeyonce” Legobane

Instagram: @thickleeyonce

Twitter: @thickleeyonce

TikTok: @thickleeyonce_

You can’t mention body positivity without talking about ThickLeeyonce. Lesego Legobane content has attracted the attention of international brands Calvin Klein and Ivy Park, and led to her opening her own store LeeBex.

Online business: A lot of people don’t have a niche. They don’t have a purpose towards which they are working. What is the message you are trying to convey through your social media platforms? I think figuring out those two puts you in a better position to create content for a certain group of people.

Common mistakes: People are mostly in it for the wrong reasons, such as a quick and easy buck, or clout. But then your success is short-lived (or non-existent), because you end up creating content that doesn’t stick. Brands can easily pick up on those things.

Standing out: Do what you love and keep on sharing it. Even if people are not listening. If it’s something that you are truly passionate about, pour your heart into it 100%. Do your research and expose yourself to other content creators who are creating similar content to yours — not just in South Africa but across the world.

Image: Supplied.

Boitumelo Maphothoma

Instagram: @mealswithtumi

Twitter: @tumi_m_

Facebook: Meals With Tumi

When someone holds qualifications in psychology and international relations, the last place you would expect to see them flourish is the kitchen. Yet food is a passion that has resulted in Boitumelo Maphothoma’s beloved Meals with Tumi platform.

Recipe to success: What you see on my page is a reflection of who I am. I also treate my page as an office where emails are like DMs. What I wouldn’t do in a conventional office I wouldn’t do when I’m logging onto my page.

Online business: Social media can be very lucrative, but if you go into it wanting to make money six months down the line it won’t work. It becomes very obvious that you are trying to sell something.

Common mistakes: When I first started I didn’t care how my pictures looked. I would take pictures anywhere, on a towel or a couch, but when I started thinking about where I wanted my page to be, I started buying props and things to create content. A common mistake people make is thinking that they can show us their toes in a picture because there is good-looking food.

Image: Supplied.

Khanyisa Jaceni

Instagram: @iam_khanyi95

Twitter: @khanyisa95

TikTok: @khanyisa_jaceni

Becoming a viral sensation is something few can achieve — and turning that instant fame into a success is another rare feat. Yet, in the hilarious and relatable world that Khanyisa Jaceni has created on social media, virality has become an old hat. 

Common mistakes: At first, I undercharged in terns of the quality of content I was creating. Now I quote accordingly. I understand what it is the brand wants me to do and how much of the work I will be doing.

Standing out: Don’t be vulgar. Yes, there are brands that would work with you, but the cleaner you brand is, the better. Understand your brand and what you stand for — and stand for it firmly. You'll get offers to do certain things, but if you don’t believe in it, don’t do it. And dress appropriately. A lot of brands are kid-friendly. 

Handling criticism: Speaking my truth has given me freedom and created a space that allows people to understand where I’m coming from. So don’t just accept another person’s opinion — own your truth, speak up, and take it out into the world.

Image: Supplied.

Dr Dudu Kgoebane

Instagram: @dudu_kgoebane

Twitter: @Dudu_Kgoebane

TikTok: @dudu_kgoebane

Career slashers have existed in the past, but the likes of Dudu Kgoebane wear different hats from polar-opposite worlds. While dentistry may be her nine-to-five, the young talent has dominated Instagram and YouTube as a skinfluencer and trusted wellness and lifestyle expert.

Recipe to my success: Understanding audiences and trying to be consistently relatable. People are drawn to my platforms because they saw something or someone with whom they could relate and would like to see more of on daily basis.

Common mistakes: People aren’t always clear on their niche, so their digital platforms seem to be all over the place. You can have more than one niche — just be clear on how your followers can differentiate between all of them. And your digital platforms have to be overly curated or have a certain aesthetic for brands to notice you or for you to start making money out of them. 

Handling criticism: People have opinions and everyone’s opinion of you won’t always be positive. I pick my battles and I don’t indulge in negativity. Not every action deserves a reaction.