Grabbing someone’s attention in the deep, endless sea of content can feel daunting for any creator, especially when the trend velocity of your work is a force that’s determined by ever-changing algorithms and short attention spans. Even worse, social media has in recent years taken a turn from curated highlight reels to Facetuned moments, with beauty standards reaching far beyond reality. For Jade Fox, there is no sense in making content to feed the masses — it’s time to start creating for yourself.
Fox is a creator with a presence on YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Her lifestyle and entertainment YouTube channels feature “loads of comedic content surrounding pop culture, entertainment, and gay culture,” as she tells us. And while Fox’s YouTube has been deemed a safe space for Black women and the LGBTQ+ community, Fox jokingly warns “you can get roasted.” Her two channels cover everything from ruthless pop culture and societal commentary, to androgynous outfit inspo and sex.
Fox keeps it real in a relatable way, with a healthy dose of comedy. Take her lesbian safe sex video, where she deflates the awkwardness of a dental damn, by showing viewers how similar they are to resistance bands.
On finding her niche
Fox is all about her content being a reflection of her life, and while her work may have become a safe space for other creators (and people in general) to be more comfortable with themselves and live their authentic truth, she never created her YouTube channels as a means of being different.
“I was in college and I was just really bored and really weird, and had a lot of time on my hands,” Fox says. “Once I started, I realized that being Black and being queer [have been] my entire life pretty much, as well as for a lot of my friends. … A lot of our stories and the experiences that we were having, to us, [they were] very normal and very integral to the young queer kid experience.”
While it wasn’t by design, Fox was carving out a space on the internet which, at the time, was almost non-existent. “To me, [these subjects and experiences] seemed important and big, yet I would go on YouTube, or Twitter, or whatever website, and those stories were never centered, ever,” she recalls. “So I struggled for a longtime to just find people [on the internet] that were just talking about the things that my friends and I were talking about.” She recounts that the early stages of her creator career being much like “filling a void” when it comes to the Black queer perspective.
On being real on social media
Today, authenticity has become a big buzzword, as more and more people crave realness. Brands and creators alike have taken note, shifting marketing as we know it. It’s about building communities these days, rather than simply selling products and performing to an audience.
“I just learned that if I am making content from the Black queer perspective, I’m answering questions from Black queer people, and I’m centring stories of these people. It makes sense that this pocket of people is where I’m going get support from,” she says. “If that is the case, I can’t really expect that same scale to work, in the general YouTube universe.” Fox explains that once she came to terms with being niche, she’s learned to celebrate it as an asset. Nowadays, she uses hashtags as an opportunity to connect with other like-minded individuals.
On the flip side, hashtags can often become host to an onslaught of stereotypes and assumptions. And through social movements, some brands may use marginalized folks in these niches for clout and personal gain. “Whenever I did get an opportunity to be on more mainstream YouTube or [in front of] a wider audience, I learned how my niche-ness was being used by other people. It was like, ‘Oh, here’s Jade. And Jade has this big, Black gay audience. Let’s have her be the spokesperson for these people on this panel.’ So it was bittersweet because I could feel myself growing finally, but at the same time, I could see how people were using me — and not necessarily as a member of a team, but using me for what I had built.”
Tips for showing up authentically online
It’s easy to get trapped in the pitfalls of social media performance and trends. We know that being genuine is a vital part of connecting with people, but without a clear strategy, you may fail to connect with the right people. Here are some tips that may help you.
Know yourself and know your boundaries
Getting to know yourself is a lifelong journey, but setting moral and genre boundaries for your content and partnerships will ensure that your follower experience is cohesive and genuine.
Identify your niche
Or be like Fox and create your own.
Be wary of internet trends
Don’t hop on trends, just because they are trends.
Foster relationships with brands that share your values
Whether it be accepting a brand partnership or cold emailing brands you love, Fox suggests to sus out their intentions. And if they align with your own, suggest partnerships that span a longer time than a one-time-only post.
Set yourself up for the financial freedom to craft an authentic brand
Fox shares that monthly subscription services like her Patreon have helped supplement her income, so that her work is not solely reliant on brand partnerships and campaigns.
Do what feels the most you
It’s about knowing for certain who your ideal audience is, and then creating authentic content with subjects that resonate with them. “It will always serve you to do what feels the most you,” Fox notes. “Please don’t look at other creators and feel like you need to match them.” It’s easier said than done, but Fox sees it as an opportunity to build a real community within her followers, rather than attempting to draw from existing communities with their own expectations, trends, and standards.