Have you ever considered becoming an animal influencer? With a growing community there is a  diverse need for communicators and educators across different platforms. Today I’ll talk about Animalcon, which is a huge gathering of animal themed content creators, and give some insight into joining this space by becoming an animal content creator yourself.

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I just got back from the second annual AnimalCon which is a conference in Orlando, Florida that brings together content creators across the various social media platforms and outreach methods that deal with animals. It is the brainchild of Brain Barczyk to nurture and foster the creators that are on the front lines of presenting animals to the public. In today’s episode I am going to give you a glimpse into the show itself, but then transition into the opportunities in becoming an animal content creator yourself.

But first, the event, This was a three day convention filled with panels for the creators and the fans of the shows. There was a sizable vendor area and the entire show was about half again bigger than last year. So, this show is gaining momentum and we will see it being held again next year. And, yes, I am already committing to being there next year! I have greatly enjoyed meeting other creators and I got the opportunity to meet with some people who listen to and watch the Chameleon Academy. It was very special to be able to speak with the audience. So much time is spent creating and hitting launch with only short text messages to let us know there are real people on the other end!

There were well known YouTubers from around the world such as Dingo Dinkleman from South Africa, Peter Birch of CritterCam from Australia, Clint’s Reptiles and, of course, Brian Barczyk from the US. There was a sizable contingent from Canada with names such as Dayyan Salany, Reptiliatus, Adam Wickens, Mike Tytula, Kayla Roach, and Emma Sampson. I am sure many of you chameleon people know Neptune the chameleon. She was there and we filmed an interview which should be coming out on her channel sometime soon. TikTokers will recognize Lyssa’s Lizards and Leafy street. YouTubers will know Dav Kaufman, Richard from the Tarantula Collective, Tanner from Serpa Designs, Dr. Plants, and Chris and Gabby from Florida’s Wildest. Kevin McCurley and Donny Rapture from NERD and I have to stop right there or I will just keep going on and on!

The reason why this is so meaningful to us is that when you create content you are often alone with your camera. You could go years, or your entire YouTube career without meeting any of your fellow creators. The creation of a networking and support event is much needed and has already produced deep friendships and collaborations.

I bring this up because now is a great time to start a chameleon or other type of outreach so you can join us next year as a content creator. It takes time to build up and you should be able to build your outreach enough in a year to comfortably consider yourself a animal content creator. Although most of you are interested in chameleons, there is a sizable chunk of you that are outside the chameleon community and so I’ll comfortably use the term “animal content creator”.

So, what is a content creator. I am sure most of you first think about YouTubers or TikTokers. And those are definitely the most high visibility creators right now! But I know how intimidating creating long form videos and short form videos can be. And I don’t want that to discourage you if you feel you have something to share and give to the community. If you are good at video then the path is pretty straightforward. YouTube, TikTok, Instagram and I think that will keep you busy for a long time. But if you are good at speaking there is podcasting. Good at writing? Blogs are not as flashy as social media these days, but the traffic from Google will keep an enormous number of eyes on your work. You also have the option of creating an email newsletter. These written mediums may be more challenging to grow a dedicated audience but 100 people reading your email newsletter is worth more than 1000 or even 10,000 people scrolling by your short form video of you dancing to the latest trending audio. We are easily distracted by those huge and quickly growing view numbers and forget that there is a quality rating. I am by no means discounting the power of a good TikTok video scrolling by in the seas of other videos, but don’t discount the quality of the follower that specifically searches for your blog with the intention of sitting down and reading your thoughts for ten minutes. So the introverted arts are still powerful and effective. Which is good for me, of course. I have dragged myself kicking and screaming into the video world. And I am now able to produce short form video because Instagram essentially abandoned their audience and forced us all to become exPat TikTokers or face a quick drop into oblivion. Anyone on instagram around June 2021 was awakened from bed with a bucket of cold water thrown by the head of Instagram announcing to us that we are now video creators. So, there you go! Anyway, the point is, I know your pain!

That said, once you have settled on your main outreach that caters to your strongest talents, you will need to figure out how to let people know you exist. You will have to leverage at least one algorithm out there whether it be the YouTube algorithm, TikTok Instagram or Google search. And here is where the introverted artist has little choice but to practice getting their name out there. This is a kind of discussion that my other podcast, the Reptile Entrepreneur Podcast, can go into more detail with.

But this is all the vehicle for your outreach. You might ask the question as to what exactly you should talk about or even if you have enough to talk about. And this is really up to you. Being a content creator means that you will need to share content of some sort on a regular basis so a followership can develop. So, the question is, do you enjoy filming, recording, or writing enough that you want to do it on a, usually, weekly basis? Of course, it can be daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, quarterly or whatever suits your style. But there has to be some sort of expectation of future content for people to sign up.

The first trap people fall into is assume they have to be an expert in something. This gets really bad when they feel like they have to pretend that they are an expert and they start in doing tutorials with information they memorized and don’t fully understand. The beauty of social media is the ability to share exactly who you are and where you are in the journey and your audience will enjoy following your progress. We all are somewhere on the scale between beginner and expert and we all are moving at our own pace. If you want to do a show on chameleons, for example, and you have just started out, then you may be questioning whether you have anything worth sharing. Or worse, you memorize everything you can get your hands on and recite it. While the audience may or may not catch on that you are faking it, having to maintain that facade of expertise long term will be exhausting. The good news is that you do not have to pretend anything. Go in as exactly who you are and where you are in your growth. We will love to watch your growth journey. Take us along. You are not producing a documentary or a tutorial. You are producing a vlog which documents how you sort through the sea of conflicting opinions and information. Honestly, in today’s world, the skills are not in finding information, but in sorting through all the information and developing the skills to determine what is the best information. So a show about that is highly relevent to what your audience is going through!

Also, your show can easily be about sharing chameleon information in different mediums. You don’t have to come up with earth shattering new discoveries to help the community. You could have a huge impact if you reach a new audience. We are lucky that Neptune jumped onto TikTok and is doing so well there. All the firmly established outreaches of the past aren’t necessarily getting to the TikTok audience. It won’t be long until the next big social media thing hits us and then we will need someone who is an expert on the platform to speak to those viewers. See, you don’t have to be an expert on chameleons. Being an expert on how TikTok or Lemon8 or Threads, or the platforms of five years from now is and will be needed.

Over my decades, I have seen ten major platforms come and sometimes go. Each time a new platform came into being there would be a small section of the same names, but there was usually a whole new raft of people that would dominate the platform. And then the next platform will start the process all over again. As a tangent, this is a good reminder for perspective. The loudest voices are often only loud in a small corner of the world. Remember that. This is significant because you can be a loud voice in a corner that needs a loud voice, but also, if one of these corners becomes toxic, remember it is just a corner and there is so many other communities out there that you can go to find a better place to be.

I will share with you my perspective of what makes a long lasting, effective outreach. It is one where you are comfortable being you. You are confident in what you know, but well aware of what you do not know and are completely comfortable with the world knowing your limitations. That is how I am going strong with the Chameleon Academy. I know what I know, but, at the same time, continuously challenge what I think I know. I am acutely aware of what I do not know and bring on guests that can help me grow. I could have stopped my growth ten years ago and started a podcast that only had people on that I knew agreed with me. I could be the expert and live in whatever glory that brings. Of course, if you only bring on the people who think the way you do, you will stunt your growth. But I brought on people who knew more than me and could answer my questions to help me grow. And this is why the Chameleon Academy is going into its ninth season next year.. Whenever you answer one questions, three more pop up. Kind of an endless spring of content ideas if you go in honest about where you are. And this can be done at any stage of personal growth. Show your journey of going to the next level with sources and interviews and include your audience in your learning.

And that segues into my next point. Have fun. You need to do something that you are having fun with more than something you think will be successful. Our audiences, for better or for worse, are more concerned about how they feel after watching your content than they are fact checking. They want to see someone having fun. They want to see that positive energy. Now, I can’t dance or sing, but I can share with you the wonder of exploration in the Chameeon world. That is because it is 100% genuine. And, that is how you develop and maintain a solid outreach. Make sure you are having fun with it.

So, here is your list to start the outreach

  1. pick a topic of which you are passionate about and can talk forever on.
  2. Be soul searchingly honest as to what you know you know and what you need to learn.
  3. Select the platform that caters to the content medium you excel at (video, speaking, writing, etc…)
  4. Select one platform to focus on and excel with.
  5. Make the outreach the best you possibly can knowing that everyone starts out rough and only by constantly producing content will you improve.
  6. Be consistent on a schedule that you can humanly maintain and your audience can expect you to hold.
  7. Have fun with it. That will be the best part of your outreach and people will want to be part of authentic enthusiasm.

Sure there are details and strategies. But that is it as far as making the decision to learn the platform of your choice. It is healthy for the community to have more content creators. The more the community grows the more attention we get from manufacturers of reptile products and the more exotic vets we can support. And it is healthy in the way that it can be a significant personal growth tool if you let it. And, goodness knows, we need more people thinking about what they are repeating. Having to put together a show to explain it will help you figure that out in your own mind.

And, with that, I will get on with my growth plans. I still have a lot to pack in before the end of the year and next year is already planned!

If you would like to follow along on my growth journey then please sign up for the monthly email newsletter. I have so much going on that the newsletter is the only way to keep track of it all! To sign up for the newsletter, go to the chameleon academy dot com website and you will see the sign up link on the home page.

Thank you very much for joining me here. And I’ll see you next time!