Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Content Creators.

I recently received a campaign brief over email on an upcoming ambassador program (revealing on IG really soon!) and had some food for thought which i decided to pen down in a quick blog post.

After reading the brief, i suddenly got reminded on how challenging it is to be a content creator. (I'm not using the term - influencers cos 1. I'm personally not a fan of the term cos it's being used too loosely and 2. I can go on and on rambling about the "influence" people actually have and the actual effectiveness of what they produce. Maybe i will talk more about it later in this post) 

Ok, back to being a content creator.

I must really applaud the ones who actually spend time creating good and useful content that delivers the message across. I'm not talking about those pretty/ handsome faces who just hold the product and take a selfie with it kind and then post the photo with some caption which no one reads. *cough* "influencers" *cough* I'm referring to those puts in the effort to come up with a concept in line with the brief that they got from their clients. At the end of the day, they are proud of what they came up with.

(I'm probably gonna offend some influencers in this post but whatever lah.)

These content creators are different from celebrities. Celebrities when they endorse a certain product, they just have to appear on set and do everything as directed because there is a whole team behind that already conceptualized the idea and all they need is someone of influence a.k.a the celebrity to bring out the brand/ product. I'm not saying they no effort but they also need to pose or act and they are obviously good at their craft.

Content creators might or might not have a team, but they are usually only a one man show which means he or she does everything from liaising with client, coming up with concept, plan outfits, select location, self "photo shoot" (sometimes even using self timers cos they are alone), then selection of photo(s), post editing, thinking of content/ caption and i'm sure there are more things on top of those that i just mentioned. All for just a post. Be it just 1 instagram photo, a video or a blog post. 

The amount of effort behind the scene can be tremendous and it can get really stressful when there is just no inspiration plus there might have a deadline to meet. At times as a content creator, you might even ask yourself, should i just pose with the product like some people and get over and done with? Honestly speaking, there are a couple of times i did that due to pressure and i was filled with regrets after. To the point that after a couple of months past the campaign, i decided to delete the post away because i'm not proud of it.  

(I keep using the word "they" but i also actually meant myself lah, HAHAHA. I've done countless of campaigns with brands on my blog and i know how difficult it is. So i'm giving myself a word of encouragement through this blog post. *gives myself a pat on the back*) 

I really applaud those who made it big through their efforts because they truly deserve it. In local context, we have YouTubers like NOC and Jianhaotan, or bloggers like Jemmawei and DreaChong and even though there are some debate on whether some influencers deserves the fame and what comes along with it but what we cannot deny is the effort behind the scenes in creating content that we see online now. They are the true influencers. How many of us dare say we can sell out a product offline?

Even if you have 20,000 or even 50,000 followers online  how much influence do you really have? (as we all know, numbers can be inflated anyways) Is it based on your number of average likes per post? That might be used as a KPI for clients but probably only you yourself know how much influence you have exactly or when you have something to prove it. Like when DreaChong collaborated with the shoe brand, Superga and it was so successful that several media outlets wrote about it and people actually set a reminders on their calendars to go down to the stores to get the shoes that she designed together with the brand. How many the so called "influencers" now can achieve that?

I'm not saying the rest of people (including myself) have zero influence but i just felt that like what Uncle Ben in Spiderman said, "With great power comes great responsibilities" Make good use of the platform you have not just for personal gain, but think of how you can use it to deliver certain messages better and be proud of what you put out to everyone. 

Am i sounding too serious? Am i making any sense? Anyway, just food for thought. Ciaos.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Sydney Travelogue (Part 2)

Like i said in my previous post, the photos might not be in chronological order. It's actually based on the photos that i have taken throughout the trip, which is not exactly a lot compared for a 2 weeks trip. I usually take photo of everything. Anyway if you have read Part one of this Sydney Travelogue, you can click HERE. I actually might have missed out quite a bit of places I've been on this trip but you can checkout my Sydney highlights on my instagram - @andystorm for the videos i compiled daily throughout the trip :)
A trip to Sydney would never be complete if you did not visit the Blue Mountains! I remember i took about 2 hours to reach the place via train and prior to that, i bought scenic world discovery pass which gives me unlimited access to Skyway, Walkway, Cableway and Railway. The blue mountains is also the place where you get to see the iconic - Three sisters. There is a whole story behind the three sister but it's essentially an unusual rock formation representing three sisters who according to Aboriginal legend were turned to stone.

I would highly recommend making a day trip to Blue mountains because you really get to experience nature as a whole package, and not in a conventional way. You get to go in the world's steepest railway and feel the thrill of a 52-degree incline, you go on a 2.4 km stroll along the Scenic Walkway through an ancient rainforest, take the Scenic Skyway which is suspended 270 m above and lastly the Scenic Cableway which is the largest aerial cable car in the Southern Hemisphere. I can totally see why this place is such a tourist attraction and i enjoyed every single minute of my day trip there. The steepest railway is really something!
The best weather is when it's cold but you can still feel the warmth of the sun.
Being kiasu Singaporean, i went back to Black Star Pastry in town early in morning just to have a slice of their famous watermelon rose cake (AUD7.50). The rose flavor was really nice and refreshing. I even went back a couple of times just to have it again (despite the price) but there was once they only had the whole cake left (expensive and obviously i don't think i can finish everything myself) and there was another time everything was totally sold out. In the end i only had the cake once throughout my whole trip :( 
I also had this grand plan of posting one instagram photo a day and because i had a lot of time during the trip, i could afford to go back to certain places to take certain shots (even tho transport is crazy expensive) and the above was taken at Darling Harbor because i wanted a shot with the yachts and sea. The photo turned out not bad right! Anyway the whole ig plan failed because i was lazy to post on certain days. LOL 
Recommended by one of my ig followers, which i thought the pancakes was not bad! The mains was a bit meh. One of the days when i returning back to my apartment, i actually bumped into Dave and Jin at the train station! The thrill of having someone familiar in a foreign country and to think they were staying at the same area, we then decided to meet up again for a dinner and i brought them to Pancakes on the rocks.
Back to the north shore to take more ig worthy shots. There are a few mode of transport in Sydney and taking the ferry is one of them. There were times i would take a stroll across the harbor bridge and there were times when i felt lazy and decided to just take the ferry across. The ferry trips were always nice and enjoyable! :)

Can i just spend a moment to talk about my whale watching experience. (Sad. I realized i don't even have a single photo of  the whales) Anyway, seeing a whale in real life has always been in my bucket list and whale have always been my spirit animal so can you imagine my excitement when i realized i can fulfill one of my bucket list in this place that i initially never thought of coming? I booked my whale watching trip and was hoping (and praying) that i could see a whale breach - meaning they would jump out of the water to send a message or something. I mean, wouldn't it be such a magnificent sight to see something so big leap out of the water to create a huge splash?

So that day we went out to the sea on a small boat and finally reached the spot where there is potential sighting of whales. Waited for quite a long while before we spotted something but it was such a quick moment to see their fin out of the water. No breaching, meh. There were dolphins swimming right beside our boat tho but nah, that's not a highlight. Honestly it was not what i was expecting, pretty disappointing.

So the following day, Dave and Jin went to whale watch after my recommendation since they wanted to something to do and GUESS WHAT. They saw a couple of whales breaching throughout their 2 hours and even managed to capture it on video! I was like what??? So i decided that i'm going to book another whale watching session. This time i spotted a couple of whales, the highlight was seeing two whales swimming together side by side and their tail out of the water. But, still no breaching. Oh wells. End of story.
There were 2 zoos for me to visit but after reading the reviews, i decided to go for the offshore Taronga Zoo. Being offshore, there is this lookout point that gives you an awesome view of Sydney CBD and the full harbor bridge. I think Taronga zoo is a better option because it's open aired (not so sure about the one at Darling Harbor) and ohh, there is also a cable car within the zoo that brings you to different part of the park!
One of the most famous cafes in Sydney and this place is so pretty and whimsical! The place is so pretty that Disney often collaborates with the place to do promotion on their films and events. It's not the easiest place to get to if you don't take a taxi and it's a long walk in from the nearest station. (Thank god the weather was good) You can expect this place to be really packed regardless of which day you go because there will be lots of tourists taking photos here and there, everywhere was insta-worthy i would say. There was also a queue at the cafe and it took us a while to get a table for 2. The food was alright, pretty and decent. Recommended!
Sydney fish market was one of my favorite place for the trip! Just simply walking around, looking at different kind of seafood, looking at what people are having, the vibe is just so refreshing and different. I had 3 of these torched scallop with cheese and rice and it was simply one of the best thing i have had in this trip! On top of the scallops, i also had Lobster with fries and you know how lobsters are expensive in Singapore but it was so affordable there! So fresh and delicious, you have no idea how happy i was when i was there. LOL
Made a day trip to Bondi beach which took about 40 mins from my apartment. Bondi is one of the more famous beach around and there is this scenic walk called the Coogee coastal walk which takes about 2 hours. One of the reasons why i wanted to visit Bondi is because of this swimming pool at Bondi icebergs. I have always seen amazing drone shots of this saltwater pool and wave crashing into the pool so i had to see it in real life. There's a catch tho, there is an entry fee of AUD5 to enter iceberg, regardless whether you are using the pool a not. Anyway the weather is super cold and it's insane to be swimming during winter.

Some people will choose to dine there but the food is not exactly cheap at the iceberg club restaurant so i did further research and found out there is actually a small hidden shack called "The Crabbe hole" and they serve simple breakfast and drinks. It's located within icebergs BUT if you tell the guard (or cashier, whatever you call the person at the entrance) that you are not swimming but getting food at The Crabbe Hole, chances are they will just let you in without paying the entry fee! I had the best seat overlooking the pool with my simple breakfast of toast with peanut butter accompanied with 2 perfect soft boiled eggs and a cup of hot chocolate. 

Feeling so satisfied.

This pretty much sums up my 2 part Sydney travelogue! During first few days i was enjoying how slow time passes and pretty much was back in my apartment at about 7 pm since the skies was dark and everything was closing by then. But towards the end of the trip, it felt like time was passing really fast... i guess it's the same for any other trip. I really enjoyed myself in Sydney throughout the 2 weeks, from the awesome weather, to my groceries run, the activities i did and even just within my small little apartment munching on strawberries while watching Netflix and editing my daily instagram videos on my couch under the blanket.

There was almost a point because i was so comfortable with the life there that i was convincing myself that maybe... i can actually take a break and come to Australia to study for 2 years, and maybe stay even longer until i run out of money or something. What a difference two weeks in a foreign country can make, LOL The trip gave me a lot of insights, which also made me start looking for my own place when i came back to sg.

Till the next time we get to travel again.      

In the meantime, stay safe!