The Pros and Cons of Being a Content Creator (For Byzantine History)

Posted by Powee Celdran

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Welcome back once again to the Byzantium Blogger! Now it’s been such a long time since I last posted an article here, but now at least I’m back! This time, I prepared for you a special- and rather personal- article on the behind-the-scenes of me being a content creator, particularly for Byzantine history. Now, Byzantine history has been consistently my greatest passion for the past 3 years, and never has a day gone by since then when I have not thought about it. Although I was initially quiet and shy about my passion for Byzantine history that I did not really want to post much about it to the rest of the world, I eventually chose to give it a go in being a content creator for the said subject matter, hence I have posted so many articles about Byzantine history for this site of mine, created an Instagram account dedicated to Byzantine history and anything related to it as well as a Facebook page with more or less the same content, done many Byzantine related videos for my Youtube channel No Budget Films, and created a large number of Byzantine themed artworks which I plan to make further use of. Doing something useful out of your own passion- which in my case was Byzantine history and letting it be known to a larger audience- sure opens you up to a lot of new things and comes with so many rewards, but when you are a creator like me, you have to also expect that things may also go sour for you. For this article, this is exactly what I will discuss, which will be the pros and cons in being a content creator especially for Byzantine history based on my experiences, thus I will tell a lot of my stories as a creator here. As this article will be something basically based on personal experiences in being a content creator, please keep in mind that this will be a rather personal and even a heavy read, but at least this would be my chance to express my feelings about my so called “work” to the world. In the Byzantine history industry, basically I just call myself a “content creator” as I am in no way a scholar and historian, while I too want to show an example that to be so invested in Byzantine history, you do not need to be a scholar or historian, and I choose to use the word “content creator” since that’s what I basically do. For this article, I will list 6 pros first and following that I will list 6 cons which will be the rather heavier and more personal part as here I will be talking about the pains of being a content creator as well as the struggles you would face as a creator to a certain extent as well as the “dark side” of the industry of content creating for a topic as specific as Byzantine history- at least only based on my experiences- and following that the conclusion where I will give a few tips and bits of advice for those who want to be content creators like me or if you are a content creator and are facing the same kinds of challenges the way I do.

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Map of the Byzantine Empire at 3 different eras; greatest extent in the 6th century (red line), in 1025 (pink), and by 1360 (red)

Related Articles:

Marketing Byzantine History Part I

Marketing Byzantine History Part II

The Legacy of the Byzantine Empire- with Interviews

Learnings and Discoveries from 2021

House Komnenos: A Byzantine Epic


The Pros  

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Getting your passion and things you create out of it known to the world. We being lucky these days having the internet and social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter, and so much more gives us all a chance to share our works and hobbies to the wider world. Not too long ago with none of these platforms available, it would be difficult or if not impossible for an enthusiast in a specific topic such as Byzantine history to get the rest of the world to know what they’re into and to get their talents be seen. Now, with all these social media platforms available, it is not that difficult, hence that way you can get many followers, and if not fans from all parts of the world and build connections with them especially when having a common interest, in this case Byzantine history. By getting your interests be known by a large number of people, this can only help you grow your interest and give you more the motivation to pursue it, and in my case by creating my social media sites dedicated to Byzantine history, the more and more I was motivated to learn more about Byzantine history and create more posts about it as the number of my followers and interactions grew. Once you get your name out there online among other enthusiasts of the subject, the more and more you would want to learn more about your interest and come up with posts about it that other fellow enthusiasts may not have heard of before. In my case, when seeing other creators post things about Byzantine history that may already be common knowledge, I choose to find something more obscure and post something about it such as something about let’s say Byzantine relations with China or things you may not have known like the Byzantines having invented the concept of hospitals. Overall, the beauty of getting your passions known to the rest of the world through the internet is that it helps you develop your passions ever more to the point of wanting to know more things about it so that you end up posting something interesting and unique as compared to what others post about.

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Hospitals- a concept created by the Byzantines. Illustration of the 12th century Pantokrator Monastery/ hospital by myself

Getting to interact with people from different parts of the world. Another great thing about creating a social media account about a specific interest is that you can end up getting to know and eventually make friends with people from different parts of the world. It is kind of a dream for a lot of people to have friends from other parts of the world, and no doubt I always wanted to do so but never really had the chance before or rather attempts to do so were not successful, until of course knowing what I wanted and creating something out of it, which in this case was my passion for Byzantine history and creating something out of it being my social media accounts. Based on this experience, I have discovered that the best way to get to know and stay in touch with people from different countries far away from yours is to find a common dominator between both of you, keep talking about it, and eventually become close to each other to the point of talking about your everyday lives and whatever. In the past, I have tried a number of times to get to know people of different nationalities and backgrounds online through different Facebook groups, namely foreign language exchange groups, but these were not at all successful as basically the group was just primarily for finding someone to talk to in order to learn a different language and nothing more. However, when it came to posting about Byzantine history, it really helped a lot as when I created both my Instagram user and Facebook page dedicated to Byzantine history, I eventually go the chance to even have long and meaningful conversations with people from different countries, and not to mention of different ages too, all because of our common interest in Byzantine history. Therefore, I would say that the interest for Byzantine history was really the glue that connected me to all these people from all parts of the world, so thanks to it I became more open to the wider world! The other beauty of this too is that not only will you get to interact with people from other countries, but sometimes it may turn out that someone from another part of the world is actually a fan of what you do, and luckily, I once experienced one time that one of my followers was shocked in such a happy way that I was The Byzantium Blogger as apparently this follower had already been reading my blogs for quite a time. Another great part about getting to know people from different parts of the world online is that you would one day even end up having the chance to meet up with them whether you’re a fan of them or they’re a fan of you, and true enough I already experienced this twice, once in New York and another time in Istanbul. Getting to know people from other parts of the world too is after all part of the Byzantine experience since after all, Byzantium and its capital Constantinople was very cosmopolitan with all kinds of people from different parts of the known world coming and going!   

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Illustration of Byzantine era Constantinople, the cosmopolitan capital

Getting the Chance to do Collab Posts. Certainly, this is one of the best things that come along with you when you decide to do the extra effort of becoming a content creator and posting regularly on social media while this too is another perk that comes with the first pro I have mentioned of getting to know people from all over the world with the same interest. The better the quality of your posts become, the more you get noticed, and the more you get noticed you have higher chances of doing collab posts with other fellow creators. This was true in my case as just recently I already got the chance to collab with other creators a number of times, although some was by my own request of wanting to collab with them, and some because other creators wanted to collab with me. For instance, I had the chance to collaborate on already 3 Instagram posts with the creator Slavic History Mythology (follow on Instagram @slavic_history_mythology) as both of us shared some common ground, in this case Byzantium in relation to Slavic history in general; hence I had one collab post with this creator on the story of the Serbian king Stefan III Decanski’s stay in Constantinople in the early 14th century, the next which was my own creation wherein I just added this creator as a collaborator being a chart with my illustrations of all the kings of Serbia from the Nemanjic Dynasty (1166-1371) as it was very much closely related to Byzantium, and the third one which was the anniversary of the Battle of Kosovo in 1389 which was on June 28.

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Basil the Digenes Akritas, collab post with Byzansimp

Other than that, I had the chance to also have several collab posts with fellow creator and Youtube channel Byzansimp (follow on Instagram @Byzansimp) first on the Byzantine emperor Isaac II Angelos (r. 1185-1195/ 1203-1204) wherein I used a drawing done by this creator and another time being a collab post on my drawing of the Byzantine literary hero Digenes Akritas as apparently this channel has done a video too on the literary epic Digenes Akritas. Another time, I had the chance to do a collab with another fellow creator (follow him on Instagram @alexander_the_great_325) who posted his own drawing of the last Byzantine emperor Constantine XI Palaiologos (r. 1449-1453) with a quick description and another time with him just recently on the anniversary of the Battle of Manzikert which took place on August 26, 1071. And lastly, I also got the chance do a collab with another fellow creator and Roman history enthusiast (follow him on Instagram @Amdanielito) which was just last August 7 on the life, reign, and death of the last great Western Roman emperor Majorian (r. 457-461) wherein the post included a painting he made of the emperor Majorian. By doing collabs now, I do not just mean these posts on Instagram where I created them with another fellow creator, but this also means making use of the work of another creator in a project of mine.

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House Komnenos film logo

For instance, my latest Lego film House Komnenos: A Byzantine Epic which came out last May was a major collaboration project as many other fellow Byzantine history creators from different parts of the world that I knew through Instagram took part in the project by voicing some characters or giving in some ideas, while at the same time I also worked together here with Byzantine history creator and musician Billy Chrissochos (follow him on Instagram @billy_chrissochos) wherein he provided some of his soundtracks for the film. Other than that, as of now I am even undertaking in an even larger collaboration project with artist Chysa Sakel of the Byzantine Tales comics (follow her on Instagram @Chrysasakel) for a Byzantine themed board game. Basically, the more and more you make an effort to interact with other creators and share ideas as well as to keep posting interesting content, but the more you also ask, you would have better chances to come up with collab posts. However, doing collab posts, at least in my case has to be done very carefully wherein you have to have a great level of understanding and trust with the other creator you are doing a collab post with, because at the end the output has to be something you and the other creator have to strongly agree on, which is therefore why it takes a lot of time and trust to do collab posts, otherwise almost all my posts would end up being collabs!

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The Nemanjic Kings of Serbia (1166-1371), collab post with Slavic History Mythology
Watch House Komnenos: A Byzantine Epic here!

Getting new ideas and sharing your own. Therefore, it is not only collabs that will be the result of having interactions with other creators or users on social media, but also gaining new ideas from them and also sharing your own. The more time and experience you have on social media creating your own content and interacting with others thus definitely allows you to get new ideas whether from conversations with them or from seeing their posts. In my case, I by seeing other accounts that do Instagram reels was inspired to make one too which in my case was on my photos of the Byzantine collection from the British Museum in London while during May, since I saw many other Byzantine history creators do posts dedicated to the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 which took place in May, I decided to also do a few posts dedicated to the Fall of Constantinople but to be more original I posted more unknown and original content about it such as the lesser-known volcanic eruption of 1453 that happened all the way in Vanuatu which coincided with the events leading up to the Fall of Constantinople to the Ottomans. Sometimes, I not only get new ideas from other creators doing Byzantine related stuff but from other successful social media posts from different brands or sites which in this case use graphic posts which include both texts and visual images for the image that is posted. Just recently as I have also been advised to do this, I have tried this style of posting on social media wherein I first created a mini-visual presentation on Canva including both images and text and then posting that as my post with a quicker caption, and such recent posts in this format like the one I made on the Battle of Yarmouk which took place between Byzantines and Arabs in 636 which had this format of having the text already on the images was a really successful post as apparently viewers usually look at the image and do not really care about the caption as it takes effort to scroll down, but when the text is already there in the image it gets them engaged. On the other hand, not only did other creators or other posts give me new ideas on what to post, but sometimes I also did, and in one case in particular, I posted to my Instagram story a large 14th century Byzantine icon from the British Museum in London, and true enough another creator whose Instagram account is dedicated to Byzantine art and paintings made an entire post about this icon basically after being inspired after seeing it on my story.

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Battle of Yarmuk, 636 graphic post cover

Becoming more open to new things and interests. Now when I became a content creator for Byzantine history, not only was I introduced to new ideas by other creators through their posts, but to new topics of interest as well. This is basically because by being a history themed content creator, I also ended up following other similar accounts that not only post about Byzantine history but world history in general, thus making me be exposed to more things outside my Byzantine history “bubble”. Therefore, because of seeing other posts about the history of other places especially if there was something related to Byzantium in it, I ended up becoming interested in it and therefore I soon enough created a few posts about a history of a totally different place but with Byzantium involved in it. A major factor to why I did this too is in order to get a wider audience, therefore in order to achieve that I had to adjust and create posts talking about a different topic in history with a parallel to Byzantium in it, or at least just a mention of Byzantium.

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Jean de Brienne, King of Jerusalem (1210-1225), Latin emperor of Constantinople (1229-1237), original art by myself

Such posts I have created about the history of a totally different culture or empire but with Byzantium involved in it was my illustration of the Latin emperor Jean de Brienne (r. 1229-1237), a bit on Ancient Greek and Roman history when it came to the founding of Byzantium before it became Constantinople, China and its relations with Byzantium, the Frankish Kingdom’s story with a Byzantine angle to it, the Kievan Rus’ relations with the Byzantines, and even a bit of Ottoman and Serbian history. By doing these kinds of posts that are not only so narrowed on Byzantium, the more I can open up to audiences from different countries, as after all by creating posts about the history of these said countries with Byzantium involved in it, people from these said countries may be interested as it includes their history too, and that way they could somewhat start wanting to know more about Byzantium especially since it had their country involved in it. For instance, I made one post before about the short Byzantine rule over Southern Spain in the 6th and 7th centuries, and true enough it got a lot of attention especially from Spanish people, as apparently the Spanish barely know anything about their country- at least one part of it- being under Byzantine rule, as also there is hardly anything written about the Byzantine period in Spain. On the other hand, becoming open to new things and interests in this case also means experimenting every now and then when posting content, and in my case, I ended up becoming to be more open to mixing some modern elements into my Byzantine history posts for the sake of experimenting and enjoying myself. By this I meant using modern graphics for Byzantine related posts, or when using modern day music such as songs from my favorite bands like Chvrches and Of Monsters and Men when posting a reel or video, or as the music accompanying an Instagram story I have made that is Byzantine related. This way, I can show that I am willing to make Byzantium seem “young” and “relatable” and not something so old school and traditional the way others creators do by using Byzantine themed music to accompany their Byzantine posts or being so authentic by using original names the Byzantines used for their posts and videos such as calling historical figures from the Byzantine era by their real names like Konstantinos instead of Constantine or Ioannes instead of John, or more so being too authentic by calling the Byzantines by what they really called themselves which was Rhomaioi instead of calling them simply as “Byzantines”. Basically, I have always been experimental when posting historical media, which is why my Lego films in my channel No Budget Films use modern day English language for dialogue instead of trying to sound so historically accurate or why I use more modern-day music instead of historical themed ones for my videos, and this is overall done to give a more relatable feeling to what I do.

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Cover poster for an article with Tsar Ivan Asen II of Bulgaria (left), Latin emperor Jean de Brienne (center), and Emperor of Nicaea John III Vatatzes (right)

Having lots of interactions and getting the sense of being recognized. Creating content about a specific topic can sure take you on unexpected turns whether for the better or for the worse. In my case, when posting content on Byzantine history, I soon enough came to the point of getting so much interactions with some posts already having over a thousand likes and tons of comments- whether these comments were positive of negative- whereas getting such positive ones despite them having some criticisms sure made my day! On the other hand, I also do not mind getting negative reactions too as after all at least it means that my work has been recognized. Having some moments of unexpectedly a lot of likes, comments, shares, or interactions in general is something I am truly grateful for.

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Byzantine emperor Zeno (r. 474-475/ 476-491), art by myself published for an article

However, this does not happen all the time, at least for me, as with me there are times when a post I make unexpectedly gets so much interactions such as one I made recently being a visual presentation on the 14th century being the worst time in Byzantine history and the one I made about the Battle of Yarmouk in 636. Other kinds of interactions I enjoy having include doing polls, quizzes, and Q&As on my Instagram stories, and I am always thrilled to see the results of them as usually I always get rather unexpected answers in the Q&As and polls on Byzantine history. Sometimes though, some posts I make and put a lot of effort don’t really get much attention for some reasons, but sometimes I just think I may have posted it at a wrong time, and on Instagram especially, posts are always noticed instantly, so after the 5-hour window it would not really get much interactions anymore. In the meantime, when talking about getting interactions and being recognized for my work, I do not only mean posting content and getting a lot of interactions from it, but rather also a chance to be featured somewhere or write for another site. At this point, I true enough had the honor to do so by having interviews on two different sites on Byzantine history and writing two articles for more well-known sites: the first one for Byzantine Real History on the unknown 1235 Siege of Constantinople and the next one for The Freelance History Writer on the reign of the Byzantine emperor Zeno (474-475/ 476-491), and I do definitely hope to continue having more in the future. Basically, at this point I can say that I have more or less gone quite far reaching up to over 9,000 followers on Instagram and over 2,000 page likes for my Facebook page, though I still have a long way to go!  

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Emperor Andronikos III Palaiologos (r. 1328-1341) and his wife Empress Anna of Savoy, art by myself

Read my 1235 Siege of Constantinople article for Byzantine Real History here!

Read my Emperor Zeno article for The Freelance History Writer here!

Check out my interview with Byzantine Tales here!

Check out my interview with Associazione Byzantion here!


 

The Cons      

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Favoritism and selective choices of creators and their content. This here is my ultimate pet peeve, and I have encountered this countless times! This especially happens when dealing with the “big sites” of Byzantine history or of historical topics in general and when they favor another creator and their works over the other by giving them a lot of attention, interviews, shares, and even giving them the chance to write for their site. The thought of it alone surely does disgust me as I have experienced it numerous times. For example, one Byzantine history site I know has given so much attention to a certain creator who creates artworks of Byzantine historical figures and has given this creator so much “screen time” on their site including allowing this creator to write for them while I had to constantly beg this site to allow me to write and publish an article for them, yet at the end I was able to but with such difficulty. Aside from that, another example is how other sites too pick favorites and keep sharing their work and do not give chance to other upcoming creators such as myself and others that I know too. Then another case happens when it comes to sharing posts to their Instagram stories wherein you ask them to share yours but at the end of the day, they don’t honor it and instead share another creator’s post, and this true enough happened a lot in my case to the point that I got really angry. What I hate too- which is very personal too- is when another fellow creator’s post is shared to the Instagram story or Facebook page of a more established creator, and yes this has happened a lot in my experience too that I had to beg the site that shared the other creator’s work to share my post only to get rejected. No matter how hard I ask another bigger site dedicated to Byzantine history to share something I made, it still does not happen as they probably don’t like what I do and just blindly like another creator’s post, though at times I just have to do them a favor of sharing their post to my story and then get a share in return. Then there are just many more cases on where I experienced the sense of favoritism where the work of others gets more attention than mine when it is of equally good quality which I can’t really explain further anymore. Certainly, this is usually the case with academics and those in the industry not of content creating but historians, and certainly they usually favor the works of other academics who they see as “qualified” and do not really give a chance to content creators trying to make an effort. This is really because from what I know, there is a kind of conservatism when it comes to Byzantine academics wherein they like to play it safe by promoting things that seem familiar to them and thus don’t want to go experimental in posting something that seems alien to them, while other “academics” may also be selective of works of others by nationality as some even tend to prefer only let’s say the works of Greek or Eastern European authors and do not like works by Western authors. This then makes me conclude that the Byzantine history authorities are definitely hard to please and they too don’t really open up to anyone passionate about the subject that are not academics, and that those who get on their good graces happen to be lucky. At least in the case of creators like myself, although I do not always have the support of the “big sites” of Byzantine history, at least I have quite a large “die hard” fan base enthusiastic about what I post, therefore making there be a strong division on whether your posts appeal more to the authorities or to the fans. For me, although I certainly appeal more to fans, I still do wish to have from time to time the attention of the authorities since this helps a lot in building your brand. Now, if I were an authority in Byzantine history, I would at least give chances to promote the work of other creators especially since it has to do with making the rather unknown topic of Byzantine history popular wherein it takes a well-respected authority in Byzantine history to popularize it. If I were a larger time content creator on the other hand, I would not just favor one account and keep sharing their posts but rather be more flexible and let’s say share the works of 5 other creators per day. On the other hand, whenever my post is shared by another creator- especially a more well-known one- at least once, I am really glad that they did it, more so if they asked me to draw, write, or do a collab post with them, and when these rare events had happened to me, they were one of the best things that had happened to me in my Byzantine history journey, as honestly for now I am the one who usually has to ask to be promoted or featured and not the other way around. Honestly, this all has to go down to proving yourself and it may be such a great struggle if you are an independent content creator like myself and not an established one or someone who works for a larger time creator or historian.  

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Byzantine Constantinople skyline from Theophano: A Byzantine Tale

The tough competition and having to be consistent at all times. Sometimes, I have to admit that having a bit of a challenge when it comes to creating content, especially making them in your own unique way and having to be consistent with it as well as consistently keeping up the interactions may be fun. However, it is not fun when you try so hard and put so much effort to creating something different and thinking it will be a game-changer but at the end does not really get much attention. This was exactly the case when doing my Lego film “House Komnenos: A Byzantine Epic” a few months ago wherein I expected quite a lot of buzz about it and other sites sharing it but at the end only half of my expectations were met, probably because many don’t really get the concept of Byzantium in Lego or it was just not really relatable. What I also mean about having to face the tough competition is not only creating new and unique content and expecting to get a lot of attention from it but also having to deal with the innovations out there from other Byzantine history sites. For example, when I see other creators coming up with new kinds of artworks which get quite a lot of attention, I as a creator am also forced to react to it by creating my own in order to still stay relevant among fans who may end up beginning to favor the works of another creator. Then this is also the same thing what I mean about having to be consistent at all times, basically wherein I have to keep posting quality content regularly that it ends up eating my entire day. Sometimes, things too do not become consistent, like for example in my case I’ve done a number of posts that get so much interactions, thus you end up expecting your followers will be hooked for the next post, but this is not really the case as sometimes it’s all just hit and miss wherein one post just so happens to get so much attention, and overall, I just find it annoying. Other than that, what I also dislike but is the reality too especially for content creators like me is to have some moments where you seem like you are above things by consistently having posts with so much interactions and then suddenly your popularity drops and your posts no matter how much effort you put into it just doesn’t anymore get as much buzz, and in my case this happened a lot wherein especially last June it seemed like my content didn’t really have the magic it used to have anymore, at least for now I’m thankful that my posts are getting a bit more attention more or less. For me, the biggest competition and therefore the greatest challenge is really my Youtube channel, creating videos for it, and gaining subscribers as really the competition is very high on Youtube especially with millions each day watching and tons of videos uploaded every day. What is however here a mystery is how other creators manage to keep the same consistent number of interactions in their posts no matter what they post, and I have seen this a lot of times too. Overall, I really don’t hate having to stay consistent and keep posting all the time in order to stay relevant in the industry of Byzantine history content creating, in fact I find it fun to always have to keep thinking of something to post, but this is honestly still a con of being a content creator.   

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House Komnenos: A Byzantine Epic movie poster with the voice cast

The questionable loyalty of your followers. It is said that in social media, it is better to have a few number of loyal followers than having thousands or even millions of followers who just follow and don’t care. In my case, it is no doubt that I have quite a lot of followers on Instagram and on my Facebook page, but the question remains if they are loyal ones or not?

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Guide to the late Roman army’s structure, a post that had a lot of interactions; art by myself

Sure, I do have loyal followers who are always willing to participate in the Q&As, quizzes, and polls as well as commenting on my posts and sometimes sharing them, but usually the case is that for a lot of my followers, their loyalty is not that consistent as for a moment I seem to be getting a lot of interactions from certain followers which are usually other creators like myself, and then suddenly I’m just ghosted by them. Sure, this kind of situation may seem alright as long as you’re account let’s say is still growing and also because these said followers have their own lives and may not be free all the time or it is also their choice, but again this relates to the first and second cons I pointed out where it has to do with favoritism and having to keep up with the competition as some accounts who also post Byzantine history again stay consistent in the number of interactions they get, whether post likes, comments, or shares. Again, this goes back to what I said about the academics and big sites preferring to share the work of those who are more or less like them, meaning other creators who appeal as more “academic” meaning that these creators have a degree in Byzantine studies or are historians themselves. In my case, I may have the love of the fans in general mostly being everyday people, but not necessarily the respect as sure I do posts and other content which includes fun and memorable things fans enjoy, while I too have managed to connect more with the fans by messaging them, cracking a few jokes with them, and trying to make my Byzantine history topics more fun and relatable to everyday people which are my fans, but this does not necessarily attract the historical authorities in the audience as usually from what I know they respect those who more or less create content that is more “academic” and does not really have anything fun in it. Part of this con too that I want to stress about here is that in my case I get support from viewers from different countries, though when it comes to my real friends at home it doesn’t really seem like they care to share or bother when it comes to my posts about Byzantine history, therefore this is more or less the other part I could get insecure about. And on the other hand, when it comes to those supporting my content from other parts of the world, I too get nervous only due to the fact that I don’t know them too well, thus not knowing if they really support what I do or not, or if they just show some support for the meantime and afterwards do not care anymore. However, one last thing I want to point out here is that although the authorities meaning the “bigger sites” primarily on Facebook do not really promote my content by sharing it, I have also noticed a number of times that my posts on my Facebook page gets a number of shares by other users to their own Facebook profiles, which is at least something and therefore shows that I do actually appeal more to everyday people rather than to the authorities of Byzantine history.

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Byzantine Constantinople, art by myself

The language barriers and the lack of responsiveness. Now, as my passion for Byzantine history grew and so did the content that I created for it, the more and more I ended up interacting with people of different nationalities and who speak different languages. I would only say this is a con for me when it comes to promoting my work and wanting to interact with let’s say another creator who writes in a different language but posts something interesting. It is something frustrating for me because a lot of sites- namely Facebook pages- that are dedicated to Byzantine history wherein I want my work to be shared on are in the Greek language as definitely many Byzantine history enthusiasts who post a lot about Byzantine history are native Greek speakers and do their posts in Greek. Sure, if I made my posts or videos in the Greek language then perhaps I would have more of the chance to get my works shared but unfortunately, it is also because of the lack of sites dedicated to Byzantine history that are more universal by posting it in English that I also don’t really get the chance to have my works shared. If not in Greek, other sites dedicated to Byzantine history that could possibly share my work are in other languages more associated with Byzantium and its history like in Serbian, Bulgarian, Russian, Turkish, or even Italian, hence it is hard to get my content promoted by them. On the other hand, those sites that do have some posts dedicated to Byzantine history that are in English are too “big time” and do not really seem to care about sharing my content as they probably get so many requests too, thus it puts me always in the frustrating position of being in the middle of things with no means to get out of it successfully. This was exactly the case with me recently when I produced the Lego film “House Komnenos” and asked a number of Byzantine history Facebook pages to share it to their page in order for it to get more viewers, and although some pages did share it, others did not, primarily because their Facebook page posts things about Byzantium in Greek making it out of place for there to be something in English and more so a Lego Byzantine film, which to them may seem alien.

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Logo of Youtube channel No Budget Films

At the same time, when it also came to promoting my Lego film, I asked a site which does Byzantine history posts in Italian to share it, however it wasn’t shared primarily because the site was in Italian, and according to its creator any posts including videos in English or something too unfamiliar like a Lego film would give his site some criticism especially among his Italian audience. Now, this whole point about language barriers when it comes to Byzantine history and pursuing a “career” in it does not only involve getting your content shared, but in my case, it also had to do with getting to do experiences related to Byzantine history, particularly getting tours. In my case, when trying to get a real Byzantine Constantinople tour of Istanbul, it was a difficult task because a lot of the guides that do these tours do it in either Greek or Turkish.

The Walls of Constantinople, art by myself

However, at the end at least I did get a tour of Byzantine sites in Istanbul, but it was not all that easy. Both experiences I went through either in trying to get my content shared but could not because of language differences and getting tours specifically on Byzantine locations therefore shows that Byzantine history isn’t yet all universal and mainstream. On the other hand, the other solution to get over these language barriers is to actually learn Greek or any other language these sites post their content in so that I could possibly get their attention, though I find it to be too difficult and involves too much effort. The other point now I wanted to stress out about here is the lack of responsiveness especially online with other sites and creators. It is not entirely related to the point about the language barriers but I find it frustrating too that when I message other creators about something whether some tips about creating something or for some information, their response never comes too quick that it sometimes takes 5 days for them to reply or even more! Sometimes they do not even answer at all, especially on Instagram due to the requests especially if the other creator is not following me, although sometimes it really has to do with either different time-zones or time of year, as apparently I just discovered lately that the time between June and August could be the worst to do projects with other creators- especially those in Greece who do Byzantine history content- as it is summer, thus in these months the engagements in my posts tend to be low as compared to months like December, January, and February where from my experience I gained more interactions and engagements while connectivity with other creators from my experience in those months was much higher too. Basically, the whole point about the slow responsiveness online is not really a problem as true enough they may have other things to do in the meantime, and I too have to admit that I am not always quick to respond to messages, but to be honest the slowness is just what I would call a great obstacle when being a content creator.

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Map of the Byzantine Empire (purple) and all its dependencies (light purple) during the reign of Manuel I Komnenos (1143-1180), promotional for the “House Komnenos” film

The possible toll it can take on your physical and mental health. Basically, if you are so into something and want to keep building your success in it, it may sometimes have negative effects on both your physical and mental health. In my case, my passion for Byzantine history led me to create content related to it, which I wanted to further enhance so that it gets more notice, however to gain success, it comes at a cost, meaning your health. For quite a long time, as I kept on creating content, especially those that require so much work which included my blog posts especially the very long ones being the Byzantine Alternate History fan fiction stories together with the videos including Lego films I made for my channel No Budget Films, it sure did quite take a toll on my physical health as due to spending so many hours editing videos or writing articles, I lost a lot of sleep and tended to eat more and thus gain more weight. Due to spending so much time creating such content, it also got in the way of my daily schedule thus preventing me from exercising and making me sleep at irregular times too. In the meantime, all of this also takes a toll on your mental health, as for one due to working so much on creating content, you end up sometimes becoming insane due to being alone and not leaving your house much which had happened to me when editing videos. Other examples of how content creating in general took a toll on my mental health was especially when dealing with disappointment and rejection, and true enough this happened just last June when my posts weren’t getting as much engagements as it used to, that I started going insane due to putting so much effort in creating content only for it to be in a way “ignored”, which thus made me even think of quitting particularly my Instagram on Byzantine history to save me from insanity. Another sample of how content creating can usually affect your mental health or how it can be related to mental health, at least in my case is finding the motivation as sometimes you may not have it thus it slows you down from creating something or instead makes you procrastinate and never achieve anything, and this happens to me a lot! True enough, when being a content creator especially for a topic as niche as Byzantine history where there tends to be so much favoritism, you have to expect that you will face so much disappointments along the way, and if you are not mentally stable enough to face them, you may go insane; much like what happened to Emperor Justin II (r. 565-578), the nephew and successor of Emperor Justinian I the Great (r. 527-565). Part of what could cause the insanity too is the feeling you may have sometimes of feeling so invincible by feeling you have so much support from followers and get so many interactions in your posts, and then suddenly all of it just drops one day; and this is exactly what I faced which kind of drove me insane for a time. But literally, if you really want to succeed in what you do, you usually have to make sacrifices.

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Emperor Justin II in insanity (left) with his successor Emperor Tiberius II (right), art by Byzansimp

How narrow the interest for Byzantine history is and how “stuck-up” it can be. For the last con I want to stress out, I first of all do not want to offend anyone, but sometimes it just frustrates me a lot on how Byzantine history and the enthusiasm for it can be so narrow and always be seen as scholarly.Basically, I have been stressing out on this point a lot, on how Byzantine history is always associated with scholars and historians and is not something that can appeal to everyday people.

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Byzantine Palaiologos Dynasty eagle

My mission for creating Byzantine related content is really to make Byzantine history something relatable to everyday people regardless of age or nationality, however it is not really something easy to achieve as people still usually have the stereotype of Byzantine history being something highly scholarly and academic, at least based on my observation. From my observation too when interacting with other Byzantine history content creators and enthusiasts, they always seem like they are inclined to become scholars in Byzantine history- basically Byzantinists- or they too read the primary sources from the Byzantine era itself if they want to pursue their passion for it without realizing that you can pursue possibly a career or at least a lifelong hobby in Byzantine history by doing what I do in making Byzantine history content or selling Byzantine themed products. I also basically want to be living proof that a person who can specialize in something Byzantine does not have to be a scholar or historian and doesn’t even read primary sources from the Byzantine era such as Procopius, Michael Psellos, or Niketas Choniates but instead just gets information from modern day books, blogs, or videos on Byzantine history yet can be highly knowledgeable in it.

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Flag of the Byzantine Empire

Other than that, what also gets on my nerves about Byzantine history enthusiasts is how narrow they could be wherein they don’t seem to be living in the real world, and true enough when messaging some enthusiasts they just keep either analyzing a situation in Byzantine history and ask too much rhetorical questions without having an answer to it or they seem to have no interest in modern day things, at least because I although being so heavily invested in Byzantine history am at least open to modern day things, that I even like to use modern day music for my Byzantine videos, unlike other creators and enthusiasts I know that just stick to the book and let’s say post a video on Byzantine history using either traditional Greek music or even Byzantine style music. Other than that, I also come across the frustration of how Byzantine history enthusiasts can be so inconsistent especially if they really want Byzantine history popularized through movies or not as sometimes, they say they want a Byzantine movie but then they or others would object and say a Byzantine movie would not be a good idea especially if done by Hollywood as they would just end up bringing up so much misconceptions about Byzantium. True enough, in one interview article I made with 3 other Byzantine history content creators, all 3 agreed that the best way to popularize Byzantine history is through movies or a series on Netflix, however this is still not universally accepted most especially at least from academics. Again, the Byzantine history authorities are usually always hard to please and popularizing Byzantine history may not be their priority as true enough when talking to more academically inclined Byzantine history enthusiasts, they too had said that it is not really a priority for Byzantine history to be popularized but the main aim rather is to find the truth and remove all the misconceptions people have about Byzantium being a corrupt, scheming, and violent society. For me however, I still of course want Byzantine history to be told truthfully but when it comes to all these things Byzantium is known for including the corruption in the empire, the scheming court, bloody civil wars, and so much more, I still do not mind how bad it all seems and how it makes Byzantium look like as it overall makes Byzantine history an interesting story.  

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Byzantine inspired purple silk dress fashion concept, mixed media, art by myself

Conclusion         

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And now, this is about it for all the pros and cons of being a content creator, especially for a subject matter as obscure and “selective” as Byzantine history. Having been a Byzantine history content creator for about a year and half now, I have come to learn so many new things, not only about my subject matter being Byzantine history but also about the industry of content creating and social media and how to survive in it. In this past year and half, I could say that my passion for Byzantine history further evolved not only by learning more about the rich history of Byzantium, but also by learning more about what people today want to learn and expect from Byzantine history, which people in the audience to please, how to gain the trust of other followers and creators, and how to create your own unique kind of content and find the right time and situation to post them. Basically, if you want to be a creator for something like Byzantine history on social media, it is not overall just about creating content but also observing the industry by looking at what other creators do so that you can create something similar or at the same time also investigating, looking for trending topics, experimenting on new kinds of styles and techniques for your posts, and even forecasting things that your viewers would want to see. In my case, just lately I have developed new kinds of styles for posting such as posts that are not just one image but a collage of images so that it gives viewers more visuals altogether as well as images with texts on them as it turns out viewers would prefer things that they already see which includes text rather than scrolling down the captions to know what the post is about. Also, when being a content creator, you have to keep finding ways to please your audience and keep them posted, and if not by spending time thinking of what to post and posting it, then by coming up with quizzes, polls, or Q&As. Basically, as you progress with what you do such as creating Byzantine history content in my case, you also have to adapt to the changing world around you such as the new trends on social media and the things people want to see, otherwise you wouldn’t really get anywhere unless you just want to post content without any plan in mind and don’t really care if you have followers or not. To be honest, when I first began my Byzantine history Instagram account in the beginning of 2021, I really had no clear plan of where it will go or if it will even last, however it was only when seeing the works of other creators that post about Byzantine history whether artworks, trivia, or photos of locations that had to do with Byzantine history that made me want to continue posting. This therefore means that sometimes it really takes a lot of inspiration to continue, though sometimes- at least in my case- getting too much inspiration would also drive you to the point of wanting more and more that you wouldn’t stop at nothing. Therefore, I would also say that I have also experienced the dangers of content creating, in this case the envy for other creators who I think are doing better content and getting more attention for their posts, which thus fuelled my ambition to keep making more and more and do better. However, this isn’t entirely a bad thing since at least it keeps me going instead of just one day getting lazy and deciding to stop doing what I am doing.

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Byzantine era Constantinople

           

Now, this is about it so before finishing, I would just want to give you all a bit of advice on being a content creator and what to expect if you want to be one- at least based only on my experiences. First of all, when being a content creator you have to be mentally strong in able to face all the disappointments ahead of you such as the occasional backstabbing among other creators where they can turn on their word when asking them a favor or when they just happen to prefer the work of other creators other than your own, which basically shows that even in content creating for Byzantine history, the same kind of treacherous landscape of Byzantine politics still lives on, hence you too as a creator have to stay active to protect yourself! You too also have to be prepared to face the disappointments of putting so much effort into something you create and at the end not really meet your expectations, while at the same time you would also have to expect working for so many hours to create something which also includes a lot of research which also involves a lot of free time taken away from you including hours of sleep, and not to mention even moments where you might not feel inspired or motivated to create something and thus end up procrastinating. Another thing you have to keep in mind too is that as a creator, you will also end up interacting with other creators doing the same kind of thing and a lot may come from other parts of the world, thus you have to be sensitive too of their cultures and way of thinking. Especially for a topic as sensitive and controversial as Byzantium which has a lot to do with politics, culture, and religion involved, you really need to stay sensitive to other people’s thoughts as sure enough posting things about Byzantium especially controversial events like the Crusaders’ Sack of Constantinople in 1204 and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453 can get you a lot of mixed reactions from followers, and this has happened to me when posting about such events. Basically, as a content creator, you have to first of all be open to criticism and disappointment, but you also have to find what you’re good at which in my case is Byzantine history in general, and more specifically Byzantine history trivia. If you’re not really open to criticism, or if you don’t want any responsibilities or facing disappointments, or also if you do not really have any time to dedicate to creating content, then don’t be a creator at all and instead just choose to be a passive follower who doesn’t create anything. True enough, other followers even told me that they would also like to be creators for Byzantine history but they do not have both the time and talent for creating things. However, if you want to be a content creator, you should also expect a lot of positive outcomes such as getting to know people from different parts of the world, making new discoveries about your area of interest, getting to do collab projects, and once in a while having the luck of getting featured in the sites of other creators, but at all times you should also keep a positive outlook and remain respectful or at least diplomatic. At the same time, which is something I learned from my experience, you should also expect some moments of sudden popularity and moments where it can drop, therefore you should stay calm and from what I learned, do not become arrogant and feeling “invincible” when all of a sudden gaining some kind popularity. In my case now, since I have discovered Byzantine history and creating things related to it is what I’m really good at and where I can basically only succeed in, I just chose to kept on going on by posting more and more content about it, otherwise I would be nothing of significance but just another fan liking the posts of other creators. Certainly, my journey as a content creator for Byzantine history still has a very long way to go as there is so much more ahead of me which will include creating products related to my passion for Byzantine history and selling them. Overall, creating content especially if you are so passionate about it takes you through such unexpected turns, and sometimes for the better wherein it allows you to expand on your passions but at the same time it opens you up to new responsibilities as well especially if you want to succeed, and in my case, I am now about to launch a business on Byzantine merch including a board game, hence my passion for Byzantine history is reaching new higher levels. And for now, as I am still what you can just call a “content creator”, I choose to call myself that as certainly I am no historian and have no plans to be one, and since I haven’t really fully operated my Byzantine history business yet I can’t yet call myself a real businessman or entrepreneur, but when the time comes I will still call myself both a content creator and entrepreneur as not only will I be selling Byzantine themed products, but I will still continue creating Byzantine history content. To sum it all up, being a successful content creator involves the “high risk, high reward” philosophy as you will really have to go through so much struggles if you really want to succeed, especially if you are doing it independently the way I do. Again, my Byzantine history journey as of now in 2022 still has a long way to go, so once more I would like to say thank you and I hope you enjoyed this article from the Byzantium Blogger!    

Published by The Byzantium Blogger

Powee Celdran, currently majors in Entrepreneurial Management, a Byzantine scholar and enthusiast, historical military sketch and bathroom mural artist, aspiring historical art restorer, Lego filmmaker creating Byzantine era films and videos, and a possible Renaissance man living in modern times but Byzantine at heart. Currently manages the Instagram account byzantine_time_traveller posting Byzantine history related content.

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