2017: Year of Community

I suppose it's that time of the year when I talk about the 12 months ahead and the plans I have in store for my career in content creation. It's certainly going to be an exciting year, as I already have a few things in mind. But first, before we get into things, let's back up a bit and go over a few highlights that went down throughout 2016.

Last year saw some pretty interesting changes that had a significant impact on how I presented myself, particularly in regards to my personal brand. Personal branding, I feel, has always been my strong suit. It allows me to be myself, while at the same time remain transparent for anyone who takes an interest in my work.

Introducing Di Franco University in February was the biggest and most monumental change for my brand in 2016. Having taken an interest in blogging again, I wanted to have a website dedicated to publishing articles that can help fellow content creators improve in their work. From choosing the right DSLR for YouTube videos to multitasking on the iPad, Di Franco University now offers a plethora of content covering a variety of topics.

The introduction of Di Franco University also brought major changes for Brand Rockt, BluResource and Squarespace Summit, three platforms that I rolled out a within the last few years. Because the content was similar to what I was looking to do with my latest project at the time, I decided to merge it all with Di Franco University, and brand it as The Vault.

I don't talk about it often, but The Vault is always there if you are ever interested in reading some of my legacy posts. It's broken down into three categories: Brand Rockt | BluResource | Squarespace Summit

The rest of 2016 brought the traditional changes, including an annual redesign of my personal website. My Patreon campaign saw its best year yet. And of course, as usual, I brought the YouTube community together and created A YouTube Holiday 2016 — a collaboration video made to celebrate the holidays.

Speaking of community, let's fast-forward to present day and talk about what's in store for the new year. Firstly, I'm referring to 2017 as Year of Community, and for good reason. I have some big projects that I'm excited to talk about. 

Enroll at Di Franco University

Di Franco University has been my pride and joy for nearly one year now. Since its introduction, the website has seen a handful of noticeable changes — including new categories of content, a free eBook that can be downloaded when signing up for my newsletter, as well as a few visual enhancements to keep things feeling fresh. But I'm still just getting started.

At some point in 2017, Di Franco University will be receiving a massive overhaul in not only appearance, but especially functionality and focus. My end goal is to take all the content that I have published and curate it into an educational format that inspires others to make something based on what they learn.

Di Franco University's overhaul will also introduce a community page that will act as a forum for promoting projects and requesting feedback. Going this route could introduce some nice value for the community to benefit from. After all, it's not easy to get your work noticed nowadays. Platforms like YouTube are just so saturated to the point where it's difficult to stand out. But having a dedicated community of like-minded individuals, I think, could go far.

Of course, everything I just mentioned would be completely free to access. While some platforms may charge for the same kind of convenience, I prefer to give everything away at no cost. 

So, when are these changes happening? Honestly, it's hard to say. This overhaul isn't something I want to rush through, so I am being careful to take my time. Like anything I create, you will know details as they become available.

Taking Patreon to the Next Level

As a self-employed content creator, I can say with 100% confidence that Patreon has changed my life. It quite literally has. In an industry where advertising revenue isn't what it used to be, Patreon has been enabling me to create original video content and share it with my YouTube subscribers — all while living my life without having to worry about what's next.

Patreon, for those new to the crowdfunding scene, is a platform driven by the community that allows creators to get paid for their hard work. Whether the creator is making video content or looking to advance their art career, it's the kind of platform that simply cannot be ignored. I am forever grateful for everything that Patreon and the community have done for me.

My Patreon campaign saw a ton of success in 2016, but I want to make things even better in 2017. Eventually I am looking to launch a new Squarespace website, one that is completely dedicated to my Patreon campaign and accessible only by patrons. This would be made possible by taking advantage of Patreon's "Login with Patreon" button.

The website will offer several conveniences for patrons, including the ability to easily find all the patrons-only vlogs in one place — rather than having to search around on my official Patreon page, which is currently not the most user friendly experience.

I'm not sure when this new website will be going live, but I am hoping to get started soon. Stay tuned for details, as I'm sure patrons will enjoy what's on the horizon.

Major Partnerships with Brands

Partnernering with brands is something I have always taken great pride in. Perhaps it's my interest in marketing, or simply the fact that I enjoy connecting with others through the means of promoting a product or service. I've been doing this since the early days of YouTube, and I have no plans of stopping any time soon.

2017 is going to bring some significant opportunities with brands that I have talked about in the past, two of which are already in progress. I plan on making separate announcements as these partnerships become public.

If you're interested in learning more about the brands that I work with, I encourage you to keep an eye on this blog. It also doesn't hurt to watch my weekend vlogs on Mondays, which act as a behind-the-scenes series as to what's going on in my life.

Project 4K

Setting aside business talk for a bit, let's talk about home theater. As someone who is obsessed with presentation, I tend to get quite passionate when it comes to watching movies and playing video games. Escaping from reality and letting your imagination go wild is something I feel everybody needs to do now and then.

There's one problem, however. My idea of a quality presentation at the moment is staring at a 46-inch 1080p TV. What is this, 1996? Okay, maybe that's a bit dramatic, but you get my point. I am a proud tech geek, which makes me embarrassed to say that I have yet to own a 4K TV. Sure, I have a beautiful 31-inch 4K monitor in my office, but that doesn't count — at least in my eyes. So, it's time to go big.

My living room, throughout the next few months, will be seeing some drastic changes.  This includes a 65-inch 4K TV, a brand new AV receiver, two floor standing speakers, a wall-mounted center channel speaker, and even an AV rack that will hold everything — including the Nintendo Switch, which is releasing in March. Oh, and some new living room furniture, too.

Now of course, not everything is going to change over night. That's just wishful thinking. My first major purchase will be my 4K TV. I have yet to decide on a specific model, but you can bet I will be uploading an unboxing video to YouTube. And the same goes for an in-depth home theater tour video, which will detail all the equipment I buy. 

I'm so hyped to see the outcome!

And Everything Else... 

If the above goals are anything to go by, I clearly have my work cut out for me. 2017 feels like it's going to be a great year. I'm excited to see the kinds of opportunities and changes and I am presented with.

Happy New Year, everyone! If you have an idea that you'd like to see become reality, then make it happen. Only you have control over your future.