Creators share their biggest wins and challenges of the past year

birthday cake with "Passionfruit" and a "1" candlebirthday cake with "Passionfruit" and a "1" candle

Checking in with Passionfruit’s first interviewees, one year later.

Over the past year, we’ve interviewed a number of creators about their journeys online and how they started making content. Everyone has a different path, and it’s always fascinating to hear people describe how they fell into their niche, how they built their audience, and how they navigate the ever-changing landscape of social media.

A year ago, TikTok was a huge catalyst for amassing a following, and while the app is declining as a quick star maker, it has allowed a lot of fledgling creators to jumpstart their careers. Many of our first interviews were with up-and-coming TikTok creators, and they’ve each grown substantially since we last spoke.

We reached out to a few of our first interviewees about how their lives and careers have changed since we last spoke. Here are some of their responses.

Responses have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Pablo, the Don

@pablothedon Replying to #music #musictok #beyonce #renaissance #newmusic #musicreview #pablothedon ♬ ALIEN SUPERSTAR – Beyoncé

The last year of my creator journey has been a whirlwind. From getting stitched by Lizzo to landing a dream job creating content for UnitedMasters, my life as a creator has done a full 180. I am now verified on TikTok and have reached 200k followers, as well as begun doing a lot more brand deals with companies. Since we last spoke I’ve done some type of activation with every major DSP available (Apple, Spotify, Tidal and Amazon Music). I even got to host an edition of R&B Now for Apple music.

I got into a beef with Nicki Minaj and was featured in Rolling Stone‘s creator issue this past February. I’ve even done multiple activations with TikTok themselves. I think my journey is now much more high profile and I’m now seen as one of the pioneers of the new generation of music creators and curators. I’m also super proud and happy to say I’ve helped a ton of creators secure brand deals and land representation with some high profile creator agencies. It’s been the craziest but most fulfilling year. In all though, I think I’m most proud of the fact that I’ve accomplished all of this by being myself. I’ve not had to tone down or change a thing about who I am and that seems to still be resonating with folks.

Mikey Angelo (a.k.a. Mr Grande Official)

@mrgrandeofficial iPad babies learning US geography from their Gen Z teacher 🤪📝 #america #rap ♬ original sound – Mikey Angelo

The past year has been the biggest year of my career thus far. I decided to move to Los Angeles and further pursue my music career, as well as be introduced to the creator space and “land of the influencers.”

It was a huge leap in life to pack up my car and leave my family and friends to pursue the dream. It’s been a blessing living here though and I quickly found my footing. It’s been much easier meeting and connecting with other creators here. There’s a very creative energy to LA and I feel like I took the right leap at the right time. It’s been wonderful. 

Over the past year I’ve been featured on the Today Show, worked with big names in the community, and was even nominated for best TikToker at the 2022 Queerty Awards. Music is becoming more and more influenced by TikTok, and I’ve had so much fun being apart of it this past year.

ASMR Playroom

@asmrplayroom Replying to @xrachel_lindaaaaax Making a Blueberry Smoothie in my 2003 Mixin’ Magic Kitchen!! @barbie 💕 #asmr #barbie #90sbaby ♬ original sound – ASMR Playroom

This past year on social media has been very exciting. I have shifted away from the fake food cooking videos that I had originally started filming in the playroom, and shifted more into toys that specifically interest me and bring me joy. I reached a point with the cooking videos where it began to feel like work. The videos take significantly longer for me to produce and appeal to a much smaller niche audience. I have very limited filming time so I need to spend it wisely, and I didn’t want to spend that time on one or two videos that felt like a chore only to have a fraction of my usual audience. I’d much rather spend my time filming five or six videos of toys I really enjoy and want to share with my audience. On top of all that, my kids just wanted their toys and their space back. It was ridiculous for me to stress over keeping their playroom perfectly organized all the time.

The shift in content proved to be successful because I have continued to grow by nearly 4 million followers since we last spoke! I just wouldn’t be able to continue making content if I dreaded it every time I had to film. I can’t claim to bring joy to others if I’m not happy with the content I’m sharing. It isn’t the first time I completely overhauled my content. I had originally gained my first 300k followers by posting parenting hacks, but again, this type of content quickly became a chore and was no longer bringing me joy, so I took the leap and overhauled my channel overnight. It was successful then, so I held out hope that another shift would again be successful, and even if it wasn’t I knew that at least I’d still be happy with the content I’m making. So like I had done before, I took the leap and I won’t hesitate to do it again if what I’m doing now ceases to bring me joy.

There have been several challenges I have had to overcome in the past year. The biggest being the mental game that comes with being a full-time content creator. I don’t think it takes a ton of talent to be a content creator, however it does take a special kind of person to commit to creating content. Yes, there is a creative element to it, but it’s more of a mind game than anything. There reaches a point for any content creator where you begin equating your self worth with the performance of your videos. If something is off, it must mean something is wrong with me. It’s hard not to take it personally, but It’s important to remember why you are creating content in the first place and who it is ultimately for. These social media apps are designed to be as addicting as possible for the users. As a content creator on these apps, it’s so easy to be consumed and obsessed with the numbers and comments. One rude comment from a complete stranger can totally derail your day. I’ll admit I have spent many days crying and stressing over the app. It’s like you forget you have the ability to put your phone down and come up for air. I find it incredibly necessary to allow myself to abstain from social media as long as I need to. Taking frequent breaks is essential for long term success.

Maiya Gant (Creator of Black Girls Smell Good)

@blackgirlssmellgood I’m infinitely grateful for you besties 💖 #sephorasquad2022 #dreamhotel #lavlog #sephora #hollywood ♬ Glimpse of Us – Joji

The past year has been nothing short of incredible. Since making Black Girls Smell Good, fragrance talk on social media has absolutely exploded. To my delight, Black girls are at the forefront of it all. You can’t search perfume on any app without seeing us now. My favorite brands are reaching out to me. OG Influencers have recognized me, and now partake in fragrance content as well. I never would have imagined that I’d have this much impact within the fragrance community. By making BGSG, I was able to provide a dedicated and exclusive space for us to talk about scents. I’m truly overjoyed about the outcome, and this is still only the beginning.

My besties (followers) and I have grown closer than ever. Our network of fragrance lovers has grown exponentially across the platforms as well. Word of mouth has given me a following unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Being a part of BGSG feels ultra-exclusive, but also inviting. I know my people by name and we talk on the regular. They tell me all the time that our relationship feels more like BFF to BFF rather than Influencer to Follower. 

I’ve made countless connections with huge beauty brands and their owners. I’ve gotten to go on a few influencer trips, and attend exclusive events. I’ve even found myself of on some of the most coveted PR lists as of late. It feels so surreal!

Finding work life balance sometimes seems like even more of an impossible task these days. I’m basically attached to my phone 24/7. Responding to comments and trying to get to everyone’s questions. I don’t ever want anyone to ever feel like they can’t reach me personally just because I have an “influencer” title now. So, I do my best to interact as much as I possibly can. 

Sometimes it leads to burn out, but I always communicate that with my besties. They remind me to take time for myself and give me the space to do so when I need it.

I’ve been accepted into the 2022 Sephora Squad, and that was a huge win! Hundreds of my besties (followers) did personal testimonials about me and Black Girls Smell Good in order to secure my spot. It’s afforded me a year-long partnership with the beauty industry giant, as well as countless other opportunities. I’m also working on a top secret project that I can’t technically announce yet, but it’s definitely going to be iconic.

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