During the lockdown, when the world was dealing with the coronavirus, light-hearted and happy content turned out to be a saving grace. Whether it was entertainment on OTT platforms or social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube, content creators made sure we get through the pandemic.
Digital creator Niharika NM rose to fame during this time. When people were low on creativity and couldn't pull themselves to be productive, your favourite Niharika kept churning videos after videos to keep her followers entertained.
Niharika is one of Instagram’s fastest-growing digital content creators who crossed 1 million followers on Instagram, exactly 2 months after starting her account with 100k followers. In an exclusive interview with Outlook’s Eshita Bhargava, Niharika NM opens up about her overnight fame, viral content, and challenges as an influencer.
Excerpts from the interview:
You once mentioned that you were planning to quit content creation and concentrate on studies. What changed your mind?
Well, after I moved to the US to pursue my MBA, I did take a long break from content creation because it got way too difficult for me to balance everything. However, when the world sort of came to a standstill due to Covid, I needed to do something to get my mind off of it and content creation has always been my creative outlet and that’s exactly what I resorted to. Getting back on YouTube still didn’t feel right at the time so I tried to dip my toes in short format content creation on Instagram and here we are.
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What does NM stand for? Tell us something about yourself.
NM stands for Nothing Much. Hahaha, seriously though, why don’t you guys tell me what it stands for? Let me see if you can guess it correctly ;) About myself, well I’m 23 years old. I lived in Bangalore all my life. I did computer science engineering for my undergrad and now I’m pursuing my MBA in LA. I have a baby brother who’s not really a baby anymore because he’s almost 16. I also have two dogs that I really love and miss. I’d love to tell you all more about myself but you’d have to subscribe to my YouTube channel for that ;)
How has the landscape for content creators changed in recent time?
I guess content creation is taken a lot more seriously these days. Back in the days, it was probably taken as a hobby or a side stint. But now, people can make a full-fledged career out of it which is amazing. The amount of talent that has come forth recently owing to the Internet evolution and lockdown has been phenomenal!
You have over 1 million followers on Instagram, tell us something about that?
Honestly, I still cannot believe that any of this is real. I haven’t fully processed it yet. I don’t know if I will ever be able to entirely process it but I’m just incredibly grateful to every person that showers me with an overwhelming amount of love. Every little compliment, message or comment I get motivates me to work even harder to deliver quality content to the best of my ability and hopefully make my audience smile at least a little in the process.
You became very popular and successful at a very young age. When you experienced such fame, what was it like? Tell us about the good and the bad of the experience.
Overwhelming is the word that accurately describes how this whole experience has been for me, but grateful is the only emotion that I’ve felt consistently since day one. It is an incredible feeling to be loved for doing what I love doing and just being myself and I genuinely could not ask for anything more. I guess I wouldn't say “bad” but what can be challenging sometimes on social media is getting addicted to external validation and sort of letting your self-worth/value be defined by it. I just make sure to consciously make an effort to not let any of it be it positive or negative get to my head.
Do you feel you are stuck with it now? Would you have chosen differently if you had to pick options at this point of time?
Absolutely not. As I said, I love what I do and I’d do it irrespective of the social media number game. I never force myself to create content, I do it because I personally enjoy it and I believe that alone translates into relatability with my audience.
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To sustain one channel is a lot of work. How are you managing it all?
To be honest, it has been quite challenging. I have been trying to balance academics and content creation which are two completely different things that require me to function in two almost opposite time zones! I haven’t been able to get more than 4 hours of sleep in the last few months trying to juggle between the two, but this incredible amount of love and appreciation that my audience gives me is more than enough fuel for me to keep going.
Do you write your own content? Take us through your ideation process – from the first thought to publishing and marketing the video.
Yes, I do write my own content. I don’t really have a process though. I just talk to my friends and family for inspiration because they’re all so animated and over-the-top all the time that it’s hard NOT to get content out of it. They are such clowns that I tend to find content whenever I interact with them. I just make a list of ideas on my Notes App whenever I talk to them and just look back at it whenever I need to make a video. I also make sure to shoot my videos when I’m in a good mood and I never force myself to create content if I’m just not feeling it on a particular day. I just like to have fun with it and not turn it into something that stresses me out.
How do people make money on social media? What is the process?
Since it’s not a stable 9 to 5 job with a stable income, I think being a content creator is similar to being an entrepreneur where you need to take constant risks to get rewards. I also feel like an influencer or a content creator you need to sort of have more than one revenue stream so if one brand limits their spending budgets you are not completely broke and have other sources of income. I also strongly believe that one needs to build a good network and relationships with people in the industry and the brands you work with.
Which is the one video you enjoyed making the most? And, why?
I honestly enjoy making any video where I play a creepy uncle or a dude because I look so ridiculous doing what I do that I can't stop cracking up whenever I catch my reflection anywhere.
What would you say is your USP?
I think my USP is just how animated I can be sometimes with expressions and the tone of delivery and accent also probably add a little something to it.
Who's your favourite content creator?
I love watching Bretman Rock, Liza Koshy, David Dobrik.
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How do you suggest upcoming content creators stay monetarily afloat in the initial stages?
Like I said earlier, they should try to have more than one revenue streams till they make a sustainable brand out of themselves.
A lot more content, a fully running YouTube channel, an MBA degree, some vlog-style content and hopefully lots of laughter!