If you’re in the beginning stages of creating content, your mind is probably filled with ideas for getting yourself out there and marketing products. But before you jump the gun, you’ll want to know that finding your voice as a content creator is what will set you apart from other influencers out there. For example, do you tend toward comedy or drama, flashy camera setups or something more basic or perhaps use your own set over a green screen? In this post, we’ll go over some basic tips to help you learn how to find your style that is unique to you. In addition, we’ll look at different artists’ work and how their examples can show you how to develop your personal style.
The beginning of how to find your style
Finding your voice is a lot like finding what outfit suits you. It first comes with a healthy dose of self-awareness, including your strengths and weaknesses. If you know that you are better at writing over special effects, it doesn’t hurt to lean into that component of your skillset as a way to find your voice. Writing is an essential skill, as anyone who has wondered how to write a YouTube video script has found out. Also, look to online resources such as Film Riot to learn the ins and outs of film production. These all-encompassing, free resources are a godsend to anyone looking for quick tutorials of getting something in the can.
In addition to your strengths and weaknesses, also explore what your passions or interests are. Write out a list of different filmmakers or content creators that you admire. Study them and ask yourself what it is about their work that speaks to you. Before you know it, you’ll start to see through their style and discover what is attractive about it. Once you do that, you can reverse engineer what is useful and apply those aspects to your own work.
But you don’t have to limit yourself to one influencer. Let’s take Childish Gambino as an example; starting out, Donald Glover took influences from rappers like Eminem, Kanye West and Outkast, but also from electronic acts like LCD Soundsystem, Justice and Kraftwerk. Mixing all of them into his music and adding his own character eventually led him to find a distinct style, which is now inspiring others.
This introspection, asking yourself, “how do I find my style,” and gut-checking, “am I finding my voice,” will pay dividends later. Whether you’re starting a YouTube channel or starting a podcast, this investment in the beginning will set you off on the right track.
While it’s helpful to mimic those whose style you like getting started, you should always try to evolve. Staying ahead of trends means you may want to stake out your own way and create a style of your own. This isn’t just about being shocking or strange for its own sake (although, who can argue that won’t generate attention). It is more about establishing yourself in a way that sets you apart from other creatives. Sometimes, just simply giving yourself permission to experiment may light the fuse for something different.
Take Van Neistat as an example. An original genius, the “Spirited Man” has videos ranging from DIYs to waxing philosophic about what it means to be “spirited” for yourself. He has owned his zany persona while also delivering artful, challenging, and often wise material. Altogether, the videos are tethered by the concept of what it means to be “spirited.” If you want to know how to develop your own style that is unique and find your voice that is authentically your own, Neistat can give you inspiration.
Another example of being daring is travel filmmaker and YouTuber Sam Newton, who boldly and teasingly proclaimed to be the new Peter McKinnon. The Canadian YouTube star noticed and gave a huge shout-out to the brazen jokester. Needless to say, Sam earned a few followers after that.
Create a character
Perhaps you’re thinking, “I want to find my style, but I don’t want my whole persona wrapped in this Internet personality.” If that’s you, consider a way to find your voice by creating a character. Separating what you do from who you are can be psychologically liberating, allowing you to experiment with different personalities that can develop content. If you hit an inspired streak, you may even be able to create multiple characters. Before you know it, you’ll be the next Sacha Baron Cohen or Melissa Villasenor.
A great example of this is Sam Newton. As a rapper, he created an alter ego named Turtleneck Sam (or “Kid Newton”). Although it started as a joke, this opened another avenue for Sam to be creative and funny with music and video. Infusing these can be a way to find your style as well.
Let’s say you’re thinking, “I’m more of an outdoors type. How hard would finding my voice be out there?” Lucky for you, the outdoors doesn’t have to be like Bear Grylls every time. You can also use your outdoor travels to integrate your own voice with uplifting others. Take Beau Miles, for instance. He’s an athlete, outdoorsman, and travel filmmaker. He gets personal in his travels, often showcasing the laborious nature of it with great vulnerability. He also lifts up other voices throughout his travels, showing how to find your personal style by being generous with those he encounters with his camera. By being an avenue to others, you can develop your own style broadly and across many types of people.
Don’t be afraid of simplicity
In the world of fast cameras and swift action, it takes confidence to be simple. It shows trust in your product, voice and ability to showcase what is unique about you as an artist. Maybe you decide you want to avoid being flashy and stick with classic setups. Odds are that it shows there’s more to your content than what is assumed at first glance. “Finding my voice,” you’ll think, “has never been so simple.”
Take the Coen Brothers’ cinematography in Fargo as inspiration. Their deceptively simple camera setups reveal intensity in mood, complexity and nuance in the relationships in the characters and suspense. Sometimes, it’s simply a matter of populating the composition with a few things to register a lot of information to the viewer.
Another way you can be evocative without adding too many effects is by playing with color. Martin Scorsese’s style, long heralded for realism, dark humor and raw violence, also uses color to great effect. The color palette in Taxi Driver alone takes the viewer from a range of genres, from film noir to thriller to horror. Through the range, though, the setups aren’t jerky and don’t draw attention to themselves. Rather they show an artist’s confidence in his ability and his story.
Finding your voice is tough but necessary to stand out in today’s marketplace. How to find your style begins with assessing your strengths and weaknesses, as well as your passions and interests. Then, look through the artists you admire, asking yourself, “how can I find my style by observing what they do?” Feel free to be bold out of the gate, creating as flamboyant an approach as possible. Also, consider the potential of creating another persona as a way to develop your own style. Telling other people’s stories can also be an avenue to find your own voice, showing generosity and range as a storyteller. Equally as much, you may find how to develop your personal style through simplicity. Regardless, you are wished well in your pursuit of content creation in your own voice. Until next time, stay creative