Indie Artists

The Stigma of Being An Indie Creator

Being an indie creator you deal with a lot of attitude and divisiveness over what you do. Despite the huge gains in popularity and money, some of the out-of-touch sectors of the world still look down their nose at what you do.

As an indie author and YouTuber, I get this a lot, not only from random people but from friends as well.

Recently, I had a conversation over the whole Pew Die Pie controversy, and while I’m not going to legislate that here (I know very little about what actually happened with him) I did get the response of:

Oh, he’s a YouTube guy

Now for those who don’t know, Pew Die Pie was one of the first YouTubers who put original, self-made content on the site and gathered a massive audience doing it. He’s got some ridiculous numbers in the tens of millions. More people watch him than people watch most TV shows. However, because it’s on YouTube and he’s not a creation of some corporation, or because he makes video game videos, or because he’s not part of the old media, he and those like him are looked down upon.

The same goes for any indie creator. If you’re an indie film maker, you’re not given the same respect for your craft even if you have a hit like Ex Machina or The Blair Witch Project. If you’re an indie author, people piss on your work, even if you’re Amanda Hocking or Mark Dawson. Independent YouTube artists, musicians, even freaking indie pro wrestlers are all looked down upon by the mainstream and those of the mainstream mentality (more on that later) unless your fans carry you on for years and years to the point you become iconic (see: Pulp Fiction, Twilight etc.)

Should you really let this bother or deter you as a creator? Of course not.

We have the benefit if we’re fortunate, make the right decisions, and work hard at it, to be successful and make a living on our own terms. Currently, I make a pretty decent income from my “hobbies” as I call them, getting to the point where I might be able to give up the 9-to-5 in a few years if I continue down the path I’m on.

Those with the mainstream mentality — especially those who aren’t part of the old media and are just consumers — don’t get it nor do they appreciate it. To them, even if you’re successful at it, you weren’t chosen by the elite old media wizards and gods and sages, so clearly what you do isn’t really that good, you just have a lot of weirdos who look at your stuff. That’s the mentality.

Personally, I tend not to get too annoyed by this, although it is rather insulting. I understand for many of the people who take this attitude towards us that they (I know from experience) often tried and failed to achieve their goals in the old media, and I suspect there may be a bit of jealousy mixed in with the condescension towards those who had success doing it the other way. But they are not DIY people, they want other people to pick them and do stuff for them. The lottery mentality as I call it.

You as a creator cannot spend too much time worrying about these people. I’ve seen enough indie writers, YouTube creators, Fiverr workers, indie actors, indie movie makers etc. to know the tide is changing out there anyway. The way technology is going today and in the future, more and more independent minds will be able to achieve their goals without relying on some gatekeeper to determine whether or not their stuff ever gets seen. The public (and your ability to market yourself) will determine whether or not you’re successful, not gatekeepers.

The good news: the next generation seems to not have these prejudices. If you write fan fiction, or make videos about different sounds (asmr), or make a video game that becomes super popular on XBox’s indie platform, you not only make a living for yourself but you call your own shots, something many who became successful in the old media cannot.

The democratization of content is creating new opportunities

In the end, I’ll just leave this final thought. People who spend time trying to tear things down are doing so because they are disappointed with their own lack of achievements, for those who are achieving don’t have time to tear down, they’re too busy building up.