Today’s creator economy requires passion, commitment, and confidence in order to thrive in what has become a very nasty landscape of preconceived ideas, judgment, and unfortunately, cultural appropriation – making it difficult for creators to continue putting themselves out there in such a vulnerable manner.
Yet, despite what the industry has taught us with platforms like TikTok and Instagram, you can still become your own publisher of content without sacrificing your own principles and culture by focusing on a community-first mindset, rather than a money-driven strategy.
And that’s exactly what army veterans and husband and wife team, Geizel and Manuel Godoy, have done with their company, Black Sands Entertainment, which publishes content that caters to Black families. They have for the past five years, published over 100,000 comics and animated series, garnering the company hundreds of thousands of followers online, as well as closing a million-dollar investment round in just six weeks.
Having attained the recognition it desired, Black Sands next turned its attention to helping black creators reach a larger audience with the launch of The Black Sands Publishing App, an exclusive platform for Black creators helping to bridge together readers and creators in the Black and brown communities. Since its launch in 2016, it has generated over 100,000 downloads, maintaining a Top 30 position in both the iOS and Google Play stores for a straight month.
The Godoy’s provide three ways that creators can become their own publisher without sacrificing their principles or culture.
1. Put Your Community At The Core
The downfall of many “community-centric” ecosystems is that they really don’t put the community first, contributing to its inevitable failure.
“We are proud of Black Sands’ ability to put our customer at the center of what we produce,” Godoy says. “Rather than staying neutral on current affairs, Black Sands consistently addresses problems in the black community, beginning by offering a strong focus on U.S. history before slavery and the rich legacies our African ancestors left us. We fight everyday to counter the Hollywood agenda-based narrative. This willingness to cover these sensitive topics has helped garner respect from our community.”
Business owners have a hard enough time establishing themselves, but it’s even more difficult as a Black creator in today’s landscape.
“Often, many of us have smaller online followings, making it more difficult to bring something to fruition as in comparison to leaders such as Oprah Winfrey, Steve Harvey, and Lisa Nichols. We encourage individuals who lead with causes, to focus on your audience, and develop an organic marketing campaign based on the company’s mission, success is within reach.”
2. Showcase The Beauty Of Stories And Avoid Clickbait
For Black creators, you can still stay connected with your community by aligning yourself with the stories, accolades, and tribulations your community endures.
“Stay true to your values and showcase the beauty of your stories without giving attention to the Hollywood narrative. We are extremely family-driven and when it comes to social media, we do what is best for our community, rather than taking shortcuts to simply garner extra likes and followers.”
3. Provide A Platform
There are very few indie comic book companies that can achieve a level of popularity that makes a company highly visible in stores like Apple’s App Store and/or Google’s PlayStore. Creating an app for their community was imperative.
“The first thing you want to do is develop an attractive app icon,” Godoy says. “It’s important because your app icon is the first thing a user sees when browsing apps on the App Store, so making sure it’s appealing to the eye will allow it to stand out among the rest, and invite someone to click on it.”
The Godoys also stress that creating a comprehensive description of your app is one of the most important parts of app development, despite many publishers overlooking it. “Potential customers will almost always read the description before downloading the app, making sure that it will actually satisfy their needs. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that your description is packed with information that tells users exactly what you want them to know.”
No matter what industry you are in, you can become your own publisher.