Women Who Empower – Aparna Ganesh | JoyGeeksShivangi
On the occasion of Women’s Day, this year, we are kickstarting an initiative featuring some of the wonder-women who have not only managed to shatter glass ceilings with their work but also influenced hundreds of thousands of women out there with their visions, dreams, hard work and authenticity. Being an inspiration to countless people is a laurel in itself and that alone needs to be celebrated every single day. So, we are taking this opportunity to bring you and your favourite creator/influencer a little closer through this fun heart-to-heart conversation.
Aparna Ganesh, a content creator and filmmaker shares her love for beauty that goes beyond skin-deep with the world through her channel – JoyGeeks. She is a brilliant artist who specializes in abstract art, has been a model, a Yoga teacher and pursues make-up enthusiastically. Mother of two, Aparna is a morning person and loves teaching Yoga the most.
So, without much further ado, let’s see the interesting journey of JoyGeeks!
A Fun QnA with Aparna
- We will start this with you, obviously, say if someone is watching or reading about you for the very first time how will you introduce yourself in the most fun yet honest way that they can’t help but be smitten by you?
- Well, I will just smile and say, “Hi! I am Aparna!” Sharing her journey and ideologies, she further added, “I would say I have had a very wonderful life experience which has shown me how beauty is truly inside out and how that really reflects on the outside. And, when you have joy and when you have a smile, really makeup is just a cherry on the cake. What matters is what’s inside and that reflects on my work as well. Even if it’s just a lipstick swatch.”
- I think that’s how the name JoyGeeks goes.
- Yeah, I have called my channel JoyGeeks because I find ‘Joy’ worth being geeky about in nature.
- If you have to sum up your traits in three words, what would they be?
- “Positive, decisive and fun-loving”, is how she sums up her personality. Well, we could not agree more!
- Let’s move on to some inspirational stuff without which no interview will be complete. But seriously, I personally have been following you for years and to see you where you are today gives me immense pride and motivation, like nothing is ever unachievable and impossible. It is a source of inspiration. So, why don’t you tell the world about your journey so far and how you started? When exactly did you start?
- “The truth is that I started right very early when I was 17 years old. I first started as a model and soon dived into behind the scenes and I started with the direction team. I was 17 and I am almost 42 now. All these years, I have worked in various formats in television, film, web series and directed ad films. After doing all that, I started JoyGeeks as I wanted to be in the digital space, work from home and be there at home for my children. That was my priority. So, I kind of turned things around and chose the lifestyle I wanted to live.”
- That’s so wonderful like you have already been in almost all aspects of life and your journey remains inspiring.
- “Yeah, in that sense, sometimes there would be definitely problems between professionally directing and creating YouTube videos. But I was pretty sure that I’ll put my best foot forward and make my content; which is why when I produce content I don’t look at it as a YouTube video. It can’t be raw, unfinished work. I need my audio sharp, I need my visuals well done. I want my editing well done. People won’t always know what has really gone in but they do know that there is something very slick in this production. Why is this looking like this? Because they don’t know the depth of it but there are so many people who tell me that your videos really stand out. I am not being pompous about it, but I genuinely worked very hard for each of my videos because once I put it out there, it’s out there. I want my video to last for years. It is not just one video for me”, added Aparna elaborating on her journey and shift from being a professional filmmaker to, now, a successful digital creator.“So, my journey has been actually quite wonderful because I was able to put all my life’s work in front of and behind the camera. Of course, it is challenging, even though I have had all that experience because as a director, I had a crew of at least 50-200 people around me to do various jobs. And suddenly here I am a creator (who had to do everything on her own), who had to be the spot boy, make-up of course, take care of costumes, lighting, charging the batteries, everything and all the things that go behind which initially was a little struggle but now that I have cracked it; in fact, I moved onto the next big step because I want to share this experience with the world. I have the technical experience of being behind the camera and now because of YouTube creation, I am now actually in the process of launching Video Excellence Lab, a platform to help content creators with their work and to help them understand how to create content by themselves that stands out. I really want to help all the business owners and budding creators, because ultimately today, for your message to reach across the world, you have to reach the world and nothing can be better than videos. So, I want to empower people, the business owners to reach their full potential. I know a lot of talented people who are sitting in their living rooms and creating videos. I know video creation and video hiring are very expensive affairs. So, I want to train people and if they have it in them, then they should definitely go for it. They will have amazing results. I’ll be so happy if I can empower people and help them create their own content. I have been working on it for some time now and this project is all ready to be out soon.”
- That sounds really wonderful. With your expertise, this really sounds like an idea that can potentially change the concept of video creation and promotion for a lot of aspirants out there. I am sure you must be elated to go ahead with this new project.
- “I am so excited because I have had a unique opportunity of being in front of and behind the camera from earlier on. So, I know the biggest issue people will have is actually facing the camera. So, I know how to get people more confident in front of the camera apart from the technical details. I am quite kicked about it and this is my passion project!”, she exclaimed joyously. Further sharing a few key points for creators/businesses to understand about content creation, Aparna added, “Yeah, I know there is a sea of content when it comes to understanding the technical details such as how to shoot a video etc. Just having good-looking content is not enough, nowadays. You need to have a plan and strategize your content. Because ultimately, people are not just buying products. They are trying to buy results (or to add experience to something). They want to buy something in which they will look absolutely ravishing.”This initiative sounds amazing and we look forward to its launch, surely there’s going to be a lot to learn given her vision and expertise.
- You were really young when you started at 17 and then moved forward in the world. Were you conscious of putting yourself out there in the world, both the times – when you started at 17 and now with Youtube? How did you overcome this fear? And how old were you when you first put your first video/post as a creator?
- “See, when I first started at 17, I really didn’t care. It was just fun, I was just going and even the portfolio was shot without much thought. I did not have too many plans, bought some clothes and just shot something. It was okay. But when I did YouTube, I was 39 when I launched it which is not the age category most beauty content creators come from. So when I started that, I took two years to really think about it. I worked on understanding how YouTube works as I did not want to do it just for the sake of it. I was very serious about it from day one. I saw this as my second inning as I had taken a gap to be with my kids. I had the experience of being the creative director for a few web series but YouTube was a completely new platform. I was not very sure and did not know how to play this game. So, from day one, in fact, I shot myself two to three times and I trashed those videos because I felt I was not completely being myself. I asked my friends, “is it looking like me” and they said “no”. It was only after a year and a half, I can say that I really found my sur, my completely natural self. And when I started off, I decided to jump in as I felt I had done enough research. From the beginning, my game was decisive. I was looking at it as my audience, a big beauty consumer. What is it I don’t or won’t like? For instance, I realised why the lipstick swatches have to be just the four shades of the product. I did not want to limit to a specific number of shades from a given range, so, I would go ahead and feature them all on my channel. For context, it may not be the latest range but it’s okay, if I like some formula, I will go and buy the entire range and feature it. Just an example, for one of my swatch videos I showed 33 shades of Maybelline and absolutely loved the whole process of creating something that further helped me to build a niche. I definitely create a lot of content but what I am really known for is video structure. I want to serve my audience and I am very clear about it.” Apart from creating kickass content in the beauty-makeup niche, Aparna shares her love for wellness and health too on her channel. Her selfless urge to help people through her content gets reflected in her thoughts very clearly. She added “My other content does not do as well as the beauty ones but even if it benefits a few people; I still want to make it.” Upon discussing the numbers that often cloud the creators’ mind, this is what Aparna shared with us “I started off in July, 2018 and have grown consistently. I won’t say I have grown like wow but I am not running after the numbers. My focus has been on connecting with my subscribers and building long-term engagements. In that sense, I feel I have been reaching my goals. I know that numbers matter but they don’t rule my content.”
- The world of content and YouTube/Instagram (especially) has changed a lot in years with new algorithms kicking in every day and a lot of people starting in the same niche. How difficult is it for you to sustain or grow an audience at this time? How did you grow your audience? Were there any strategies that you followed?
- “The one thing I closely stuck to from the beginning is listening to what my viewers want. I don’t do it lightly and keep asking them for their feedback. I feel it has been a partnership between me and my audience. My videos are where they are today because of my audience. For example, I was in a place where I did not have enough lights so I sat outside in a beautiful garden and shot the lipstick swatch video. I got a number of comments that said, “we love this natural lit background”. If I were somebody who did not listen to them, then I would not have gone on creating so many naturally-lit videos. There are so many other suggestions that they give me. I feel that the connection that they have with me is very strong. Even when I had only 15,000 subscribers, my affiliate partnerships with what I would see in my dashboard were huge. People come back to me and leave comments like, “thank you for the suggestion, that colour really looked good on me. ”So, my content is built on honesty, like lots of honesty and lots of open conversations. There are so many survey forms that I leave for my audience to know what they liked and didn’t like. It gives me a clear direction as to what they are looking forward to. ”Talking in detail about the audience engagement in terms of feedback and criticism, we briefly touched on the topic of Internet Trolling/Hate Comments, to which Aparna shared her experience, “Touchwood, I have rarely got trolled. The comments on my videos or photos have always been meaningful and it’s not the length of the comment. Even when someone is making a suggestion, someone else may take it as, “arey, why is this person saying it like this.” and I am like, it’s okay, I want to understand why this person is saying like this. After I understand what they are saying, I evaluate. If this is just one person saying or are there more? So, that way, I have held on with my subscribers. I feel that it’s a good community we have grown. The comments I have got are like, “your videos are so positive. I felt calm after watching your videos.” I never want to go into the gyan-zone but if they feel it after watching my conversation with me, then it’s good.”
- When was it that you started making some money or started getting some brand deals?
- “At the point when I started off, I was under the impression that it would take at least two to three years to establish myself. I was mentally prepared that I may not make too much money but I am ready to invest my time, energy and money into it. But a lot of PR started coming in sooner. I think I got my first PR when I had hit 500 subscribers. That’s when I realised that numbers are not everything. This gave a boost to my confidence. I will be very honest. I had not initially planned to make money through YouTube. I did not place ads because my intention is to serve my audience and why to irritate them by placing these ads. But now, I know that a new content creator can start making money from very early on. There are ways to do it. However, I did not want my financial stability to rely just on the brand deals because I don’t want my content to be on the beck and call of brands. I will not sell my soul and honestly, if I am desperate for a brand deal, then the content will show it. And my first priority is my audience. If a brand works for me, then I am genuinely happy to share it with my audience. That has been my philosophy. If I were a 20-year-old content creator, I would have probably agreed to the price offered but because of my experience, I stuck my ground when it comes to working with brands. By the second year, there were a lot more brand deals. After 2.5 years of experience, I would say, you have to be really smart about it to be able to make money. I feel you cannot be desperate about making money. If you are someone who needs basic survival, then this should not be the first thing you must get into. I am very clear on that. You need to have patience.”
- On that note, what advice do you have in store for anyone who is starting out on this journey as a content creator?
- “A budding creator must understand that initially it will take some time but then you must play your cards well. Do not expect and keep on working. My advice would be to listen to the subscribers. Patience, consistency and taking feedback are the rules I follow. I know a lot of people also look down upon it but this is my choice and my life. I want to use this experience of JoyGeeks and share it. This sharing comes from the fact that I am a Yoga teacher and when I see the transformation in people I realise it is a sin for anybody to not share with someone what they have learnt.”Aparna truly believes the key to making big is to honestly share your own vault of knowledge and we agree in full spirit. The nature of giving and sharing with utmost honesty and dedication has always borne fruits of joy & content.
- Talking about content creation, I have always noticed the word influencer notoriously being used for creators. Now a lot of creators despise this word defining their work and niche. What are your thoughts on this? Do you mind addressing yourself as an influencer?
- “You know I consider myself as a content creator but there is no denying the fact that I influence people. There are no two ways about it and I can see it very clearly. A mother influences her child and she doesn’t get called an influencer. I have no angst against the word, “influencer”. I think there are way more things to focus on and go ahead with. It is trivial. I call myself a content creator and if someone calls me an influencer, it doesn’t make any difference to me. It would be like giving too much importance to this one particular concept. Choose your battles and focus on the work that matters to you.”There she said it, again honestly and quite clearly.
- That was lovely to learn, now I will circle it back to Beatnik. Clearly, we have seen your love for jewellery and how gracefully you style them all but if you have to choose only one piece of jewellery for the rest of your life, what would that be and why?
- “I would pick a nose stud. Honestly, that’s the only jewellery that’s on me all the time. I wear earrings only when I step outside. I have a very minimalistic style. The smart answer would be earrings but I don’t want to be smart here”, she added jokingly. “I want a nose stud because I am very happy with it. If you had given me 2 choices, then I would have chosen earrings as well”
- So, I will now take another scenario for you. You have to get ready for a wedding function as a guest with just three jewellery pieces, what would you pick and how would you style them?
- “I would definitely be wearing a saree and I would be wearing a nose stud, an earring and a watch. Actually, if you see my pictures of me at a wedding or like I hosted a whole show and I did not wear a single neckpiece in the event. Sometimes, I wear them but I like earrings more and earrings are the statement pieces.”
- To end this interview, we are going to have a quick rapid-fire round. It was really fun and insightful. Are you ready?
- Saree any day or dress?
- Silver jewellery or gold?
- Silver, any day
- Statement earrings or dainty nose studs?
- Statement earrings
- Bad hair day with full glam or good hair day with no makeup?
- Good hair day with no makeup
- Lipstick on my teeth or a stained dress in an event?
- Stained dress
- What would you choose? Month-long vacation on an island or road trip across India?
- Month-long vacation on an island
Honestly, we had a blast talking with Aparna about all things fun, work and life. Learning about her journey, visions and dreams to make it big in the world left us motivated and in awe of her. She is someone who derives satisfaction and happiness not by numbers but by helping others and watching them fly high, a quality so rare to be found in a world where everyone is solely focussed on building just themselves. We adore and look up to you, Aparna 🙂
Thank you so much for your time, and for giving us all the time of our lives by connecting with us on a personal level. Your journey and work, without a shred of doubt, will continue to inspire millions of men and women. This was such a fun and interesting conversation that I will cherish forever. I truly hope everyone reading this and learning more about you makes this their fondest memory and we together, through this rendezvous, would have accomplished to put a smile on people’s face and made them realize it’s never too late to dream – if she can do it so can you!!