Join us for this episode installment of creator stories where Peter talks to, an already established creator, Andy Lalwani. Some of you may already know Andy from his popular channel What's Trending, over on YouTube. Tune in to hear how Andy got started on his journey and the advice he gives to those of you hoping to follow a similar path.
Extract of our conversation with Andy
Can you introduce yourself?
A: I am 25 years old. My first name is Andy, the biggest white boy name possible, and I have an Indian last name. I was born outside of Washington DC and grew up in the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania. I stumbled upon video like the internet culture when I was around 16. When I was learning about myself I was like, What is gay? How do you catch the gay? Is it contagious? Like I had a disease. So I googled, what is gay? Is it contagious? Through that, I came across a video on YouTube and I found these people online on YouTube telling their stories and more. I was like, oh, I'm not dying, but also people! So it's really interesting how the arc of my entire life, like being gay, turned into a career and helped me learn about specific avenues.
Besides 'What's Trending' you have your own YouTube channel, is that true?
A: It's true. So I started that channel when I came to college. I wanted to experience and do something fun. I published consistently in college but later dropped out of making videos so often. However, for those people who do make videos in college, it's not just something you jump into and say I'm going to gain some following overnight, I'm going to gain all this opportunity. It takes time and consistency. So if you don't have those resources to start it can be difficult. Also, if you're not consistent it can be difficult, but I just did so much in college, and I wanted to put my hands in every pot. So it was kind of difficult to keep up with the channel. I didn’t think that I wanted to give up on it but it helped me find other avenues like working with What's Trending and working with other creators and more. I think it's just more of a thing to look back on. I want to remember college. It wasn't like, I want to be a YouTuber and have money, fame, and fortune, it was just a way for me to remember college.
How did you get started with What’s Trending?
A: So I knew What’s Trending when I was in college. After I started making my YouTube route with digital and found other channels I kept up with the news and other spaces. I had met Shira, who started the channel in 2011, she started the entire digital culture news division for a lot of companies. This knowledge of, or focusing on, the digital culture of viral videos and people who are everyday creators. Anyway, I met her through some events and she said if you ever just want to do something let me know, and that’s how I started hosting for What's Trending and started hosting for other opportunities. One day she called me and said, so one of my producers is leaving, would you like to just come and work for What's Trending? Obviously, I was like, yeah, I need some cash and I was bored, but also I saw the potential for the company. I thought to myself, I know, at least in this day and age, what needs to be done to revamp this into current culture, current media tactics. I think a lot of times when creators or companies don't adapt or don't catch up on social media tactics they fall behind really fast. Media changes so fast and dynamically that you can be easily left in the dust. There are always new things, like Twitter just unveiled fleets yesterday. When products come out you have to learn how to adapt and if you're not adapting that product is eventually going to die, or you're eventually going to die.
Did you get much support from your family?
A: So there are two aspects. My parents divorced when I was very young, and they went their separate ways, so what one parent understands is different from what the other parent understands, or what my siblings understand. The younger people in my family get it. My mom, I wrote to when I started making videos, she was like, ‘oh, we should do this together.’ I had to say, ‘Mom, I love you, but this is not yours.’ My dad on the other hand was like, do you have a job? Do you have benefits? How are you living? How are you paying for your life? So he didn’t really understand the concept of people making videos or selling content to providers, publishers, no one really understood it as much because it's still a relatively new thing. No one says here's your degree, here's how you go to college, here's how you make videos online. Videos in the online world have been quite nuanced and they reduce traditional media, movies, television shows, etc. The fact that people can make money on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and then go to other platforms and also start with places like Cinnamon, and more, there are so many different avenues for people to go and create content online. So my dad was just like, I don't understand this, do you have a job yet? Is this done?
Do you get a lot of negativity on the internet being in the spotlight?
A: There's always going to be somebody who doesn't like you. Some people say I talk too fast, other people say I feel like this guy's just used because he's brown. At the end of the day if you don't like somebody, don't follow, don't engage, end of story. You have to remember, you're not going to be everybody's cup of tea and you're not going to be to everybody's liking. Some people like one taste versus another and that's fine. I mean even just the fact that I'm gay sometimes people meet me and they're just immediately like, no, hard pass, and that's fine. I think it's sad not to be given a chance by some people but that just how some mindsets are. I've just gotten to the point now where I have my own group of friends and I don't mind if someone doesn't like me, I’ve got my own life.
Is there any advice you would give to people who are listening to the show, and who are starting out as content creators?
A: Yes, I think the biggest advice I could give is, you have to remember what you started it for. If it's for fame, fortune, money, and more, it's probably not going to work out. You're not going to know what tomorrow is like versus today. I know people who have started for that reason, and it usually doesn't work out. If you're not having fun with it, it's probably not gonna work out either. However, if you're able to balance and figure out your own path for creating content, whether it's for your own good, or to educate, as long as you have fun then you're probably going to succeed. If you stop having fun you're probably just going to get burnout and risk a lot. There are a lot of ups and downs but you did sign up for the ride, and the ride is not always fun.
Hopefully this episode will have inspired some of you who are staring your creator journeys. Tune in to our next episode to follow more inspiring content.
Thanks for reading,