Frankie Cena, a multifaceted content creator, TV host, and podcast host, shares his journey in the world of content creation. With a focus on authenticity and creativity, Frankie discusses his approach to engaging with his audience and the challenges he has faced in the ever-changing landscape of social media platforms. He offers valuable advice for aspiring content creators, emphasizing the importance of resilience, authenticity, and finding one’s niche in the competitive creator economy.
Insider Tips From Frankie Cena: Succeeding In The Creator Economy
Frankie’s Background and His Journey as a Content Creator
Frankie Cena is a versatile figure in the entertainment industry and has a dynamic presence across various sectors. He is a content creator, TV host, public speaking and debating school owner, and a podcast host. “My whole life, I’ve done a lot, and I continue to do a lot into my adulthood,” Frankie shares, reflecting on his diverse career portfolio. His podcast focuses on queer culture and reality TV, an area of personal passion.
Born in Vancouver, now residing in Toronto but frequently traveling, Frankie admits he has always been creating content, though he only recently adopted the title “content creator.” “I’ve been making content my whole life, I guess, but it’s only very recently that I even used the word…content creator,” he confesses.
His content creation approach hinges on authenticity, doing what he loves, and sharing what he enjoys. Frankie regards himself as part of the YouTube generation, creating content out of sheer love for it and not fixated on the reception it gets.
His significant engagement came when he hosted the Miss World beauty pageant, allowing him to further step into the content creation world. “I think that kind of hopefully answers that question,” Frankie says, underscoring the unpredictable yet exciting nature of content creation. He fondly recalls the day his co-host, Megan Young, posted a picture with him, leading to a surge in his followers across various platforms.
Despite his significant achievements, Frankie acknowledges that he didn’t have a defining moment when he decided to become a content creator. “I grew up in an age where you couldn’t really become a content creator; you just kind of did content, and yeah. See if you liked it,” he recalls. According to Frankie, the evolution of content creation makes it a fascinating journey where you are always one post, one moment, or one video away from a significant breakthrough.
His background in television and production influences his creative process. He often works from a brief or a script, a process he simulates with his social media manager, Lily. This process involves brainstorming ideas, outlining concepts in a Google document, assessing their relevance to his brand, their potential to be interesting and fun, and their viral potential.
Once a concept is chosen, they flesh it out, determining how it will look and how it will be executed. Frankie emphasizes that he takes a business approach to content creation, suggesting that this thorough and strategic process may be one of his strengths as a content creator.
Frankie suggests that younger content creators are learning to treat their content creation like a business. Given his experience as a business owner and business degree, he believes that he is well-equipped to create thorough and well-thought-out content. His approach provides insights into the strategic planning that often underlies successful social media content.
Connecting With His Audience
Frankie believes in a personal approach to audience engagement. “I still reply to every DM on Instagram, which is becoming extremely challenging, but I’m very proud of myself,” he shares.
He also stresses the importance of understanding audience preferences, saying, “Observing what’s hitting and trying to make content in that area.” By narrowing his content type on TikTok, he’s strategically meeting his audience’s needs.
Challenges as a Content Creator
As an influencer, Frankie has faced several challenges, the greatest being the unpredictable algorithms of various platforms. “These platforms change so often. It’s so tricky,” he says. For instance, he saw a sharp drop in organic reach on Facebook, which led him to step back from the platform.
Similarly, changes in Instagram’s feed posting negatively affected his likes and views. “The mental health and the social guy in me want to say don’t fixate on views, but the businessman in me wants to say, well, that’s what’s gonna pay the bills,” Frankie observes. He advises aspiring influencers to consider content creation as a supplemental job before transitioning to it full-time.
How His Background in Music Impacts His Content Creator Journey
Frankie’s musical endeavors include performances with the British Columbia Boys Choir and participation in Canadian Idol. “Singing would’ve been my first form of content creation,” he reminisced, noting his extensive portfolio of singing videos from his younger days.
Yet, he admits, his singing videos don’t attract the attention they once did, urging the need to evolve with audience preferences.
Frankie, a winner of $40,000 on Netflix’s Sing On!, has found success in various forms of content creation, including TikTok. He encourages a balance between passion and popularity. “What’s hitting on TikTok for me right now is not my greatest passion, but it’s something I like.”
The TV personality concludes, “Successful content creation is a balance between what you love and what resonates.” Reflecting on the reality of any job, he acknowledged that creators may not love every aspect of their work, but flexibility is key to achieving desired results.
Balancing Personal Brand and Authenticity
When it comes to maintaining authenticity while collaborating with brands, Frankie Cena believes in the importance of aligning with companies that he would naturally utilize himself. “You do really want to try to only work with brands that you would naturally utilize yourself,” he explains, emphasizing the need for authenticity in influencer marketing.
Frankie confesses that he hasn’t always adhered to this but underlines its importance for maintaining an authentic personal brand. He believes that content creators should limit their brand partnerships, focusing more on creating content that their audience enjoys.
“I try to post every day,” Cena shares. “And I try to make, I would say, at least 80% of my posts are not brand partnerships.” He wants his followers to enjoy his content first, with brand partnerships interspersed sparingly. His general rule is an 80/20 or 90/10 split, favoring non-branded content, which he considers key to maintaining authenticity while also collaborating effectively with brands and agencies.
The Role of Social Media in Frankie’s Personal Growth
Frankie discusses the impact of social media on his content creation journey. Having explored various platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok, he recognizes the unique advantages and challenges each platform presents.
He acknowledges the difficulty of entering saturated markets such as YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram, particularly due to the generational differences among their users. In contrast, he sees TikTok as a platform that still offers opportunities for new creators to flourish, finding its organic growth intriguing.
Although currently focusing on Instagram and TikTok, when asked about his favorite platform, Frankie jokingly admits a preference for Instagram due to his age (31) but recognizes the potential for growth on TikTok.
Frankie and Moburst Agency
Working with the Moburst Agency has been a refreshing experience for Frankie, especially given the infancy of the influencer industry and its many challenges. “Moburst has been a dream to work with,” he says, contrasting their professionalism, promptness, and clarity of contracts with other, less scrupulous agencies.
He appreciates the agency’s fair approach to revisions and secure payment terms. “Moburst uses a third-party payment platform. So it’s very secure,” he adds. However, he also acknowledges that many other brands and agencies fall short of such standards.
Skills Necessary for Success
Frankie highlights resilience and creativity as the two crucial qualities needed for success in the creator economy. He stresses the unpredictability of the platform, noting how sometimes an extensively edited video might only get a handful of views, while a quickly made clip might end up going viral. Frankie shares his recent celebration of his first million-view video on TikTok, expressing his surprise at its success.
Resilience, he says, is about dealing with the unpredictable nature of content creation and the inevitable disappointments along the way. Creativity, on the other hand, involves analyzing trends and understanding what the audience likes. He also mentions the importance of trusting the creative instincts of others, like his colleague Lily, whose concept led to his viral video.
Memorable Influencer Campaigns
Frankie recounts two notable influencer campaigns he participated in, each offering distinct experiences. The first campaign was for MiO, a water enhancer brand. Frankie found this project enjoyable due to the creative freedom he was given. The campaign’s open-ended and somewhat chaotic brief allowed him to fully showcase his creativity. He had fun incorporating his dog, dancing, and performing, describing the experience as “very weird” but exciting.
The second memorable campaign was with the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC). This project stood out as it merged elements of a television commercial and a content creation campaign. It involved a meticulous scripting process, revisions, and professional filming. The campaign consisted of a three-part series that seamlessly blended aspects of Frankie’s life with the brand’s requirements. Frankie, who dreams of being a game show host, appreciated the feeling of being on a TV set during this particular content creation endeavor.
Evaluating Brand Partnerships
Frankie explains his two main criteria for evaluating potential brand partnerships.
The first criterion is personal resonance. Frankie questions whether the brand or product is something he would personally use or recommend to a friend. There are some products and services that, while he isn’t opposed to them, he doesn’t feel comfortable promoting, such as marijuana and facial fillers. This emphasis on personal resonance helps ensure authenticity in his brand partnerships.
The second criterion is about value, recognizing that content creation is also a business. The compensation offered by the brand needs to be worth the effort and time Frankie would put into the campaign. Even if a brand isn’t his absolute favorite, if the price is right and what they are asking aligns with his content, it might be worth considering. Balancing the financial aspect with personal resonance helps ensure both integrity in his content and sustainability in his career as a content creator.
Monetizing Content and Generating Income
Frankie candidly shares that he hasn’t yet achieved sustainable income from his content creation, noting that it’s not his main objective as he has another business that covers his bills, and his primary goal is to become a TV host.
However, he provides several insights for content creators aiming to generate a consistent income.
- Consistency: Regular posting is key as it shows brands that you have a reliable presence across your platforms.
- Niche-fiction: Frankie invented this term to mean focusing your content on a specific area or demographic. For example, if you’re a mom, he suggests producing mom-related content and partnering with brands that cater to mothers.
- Outreach: To monetize content, you have to approach it like a business. Just as in sales, you need to reach out to potential customers—in this case, brands. Frankie suggests actively pitching to brands, finding their contact information, and reaching out to them via direct messages.
While Frankie acknowledges he isn’t an expert in this area given his different objectives, these suggestions reflect common advice in the content creator community and can be effective strategies to consider for monetizing content.
Importance of Diversifying Content
Frankie states that for influencers, it’s not necessarily essential to split their time evenly across multiple platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Instead, he recommends finding the platform where your content hits the hardest—what he calls “niching the platform.” For example, if one platform is more effective for your goals (whether it’s generating income, views, or something else), then focus more on that platform.
However, he also suggests cross-posting if possible since it doesn’t require double the effort. In his case, he finds Instagram more profitable than TikTok, but because he’s not primarily driven by a monetary goal, he maintains a presence on both platforms.
Frankie and “The Bridge”
Frankie’s stint on HBO’s series “The Bridge” is a testament to their diverse talent and versatility. Discussing their experience, he recalls, “I was given the opportunity to audition for this experience that I knew very little about. All I knew was that it was the same makers of Survivors… I found out that I was going to Vietnam the day that I was going. And I found out that I was competing in a show called ‘The Bridge.’ It was the best experience of my life. It was a dream come true.”
His participation in the series provided valuable lessons in content creation. “So, like every event I’m invited to every gig I do, we’re always thinking, how can we create content? So in the case of ‘The Bridge,’ we made a hundred reels from my TV appearance… We took the whole experience and put it basically on Instagram and TikTok,” He says.
Frankie and “THYRST”
Frankie, the co-host of “THYRST,” a popular podcast that has amassed a significant following, shares the unexpected beginnings of their journey. “The podcast was completely a story of luck. I was reached out to by THYRST,’ while still living in Vancouver… and I was like, okay, I should capitalize on this opportunity,” Frankie recounts, embracing a leap into the unknown that led to a fruitful friendship and partnership with Aneal in Toronto.
The podcast covers a variety of topics, ranging from “gay men culture, fun stories, tidbits about what it’s like to be a gay man in Toronto” to reality TV, pop culture news, and even controversy in the influencer world. As a debate coach, Frankie brings a unique perspective to these discussions.
Frankie also highlights the importance of content leverage. “It’s like doubling down your content… seeing if it can be turned into content for different platforms,” he explains. The podcast has offered numerous advantages in engaging with audiences, mainly via TikTok, where clips from the podcast resonate with viewers.
For Frankie, visibility is crucial. “Becoming a known brand, a known name, is a big part of my goal. It’s for me and Aneal to take what we have… and take that to the broader entertainment economy,” he says. They aim to contribute to the broader conversation surrounding the creator economy and influencer marketing, with the hope of expanding their brand to traditional programming and beyond.
Advice for Aspiring Content Creators
When asked about advice for aspiring content creators in the creator economy, Frankie says, “Be resilient, authentic, and have a business plan.”
He encourages creators to define their goals and clarify what they are looking for, whether it’s views, money, or simply having fun. He also highlights the importance of creativity and the ability to listen to and follow briefs when working with brands.
Furthermore, he emphasized the significance of finding one’s niche. “Find your niche,” he says, suggesting that creators discover their unique strengths and interests when they carve out their own space in the competitive world of content creation.