Ishita Khanna on Thriving in Digital Content Creation: From UPSC Aspirant to Digital Sensation

Ishita Khanna on Thriving in Digital Content Creation: From UPSC Aspirant to Digital Sensation
Ishita Khanna, Digital Content Creator

Content creation is buzzing today like never before. Just a decade ago, we couldn't have imagined the impact that content would have on our lives. As per a report by EY, the Indian content industry stood at a whopping $19 billion valuation in 2020 and is expected to reach an impressive $30.6 billion this year, highlighting the growth potential in content creation.

This growth has led to a massive rise in digital content creators. Among them shines a rising star, Ishita Khanna, whose journey from UPSC exam preparation to the world of fashion and lifestyle content has been inspiring.

We at StartupTalky recently had the pleasure of interviewing Ishita, and in this article, we'll explore her journey, her insights, and her invaluable experiences in the world of digital content.

Now, let's dive into her inspiring journey and gain wisdom from her valuable insights.

StartupTalky: Ishita, can you share your journey from UPSC aspirant to successful fashion and lifestyle content creator? What prompted your career pivot?

Ishita: When I was in my school and university years, I was extremely drawn to creative direction, filmmaking, editing, and digital media. My mother is an artist, and that definitely had an influence on my tastes and what I liked creatively as an adult. However, I was also very academic-oriented, I am a postgraduate in financial economics and even prepared full-time for the UPSC examinations for over 2 years. It was sometime in 2018 when I began freelancing across social media managerial and content writing roles and started working for a food blog.

While creating videos for the blog, I revisited my interest in creative direction and decided to start my own YouTube channel. Fashion, lifestyle, and styling have always been close to my heart, so it was a no-brainer for me when it came to the focus areas of my channel. Within three months of taking this up full-time, I gained an audience of over 100K YouTube subscribers, and that’s when I knew I had to continue to do this.

StartupTalky: Could you kindly share the strategies that helped you achieve the impressive growth of 100K YouTube subscribers in just three months?

Ishita: I was laser-like focused on creating content around fashion, lifestyle, and styling, however, what formed the backbone of the content was relatability and relevance. Which is why I think the content I was creating touched a chord with audiences and it really grew. There were a few things I stayed true to in the early months; identifying the target audience, building long-term relationships and trust as well as measuring impact. Three years on, and I still make sure these principles form the bedrock of my strategies.

StartupTalky: Collaborations are key in the content creation industry. Could you share some strategies you employ to ensure successful and mutually beneficial collaborations with diverse brands, each with distinct goals and expectations?

Ishita: Definitely, collaborations are key to the content creation industry. It has become imperative for brands to incorporate influencer marketing as an integral part of their marketing strategies, right from Adidas to Fenty Beauty to boAt — everybody is doing it. I believe collaboration is a two-way street; it’s important to bring in content creators at the ideation stage so as to leverage their creativity and align with brand objectives. I believe in getting to know the brand and researching well to be able to communicate their objectives and goals clearly. Furthermore, I don’t believe in adopting a one-size-fits-all approach, there must always be room for customization and a touch of personalization to truly strike a chord with audiences.

StartupTalky: Ishita, what tools and technologies do you rely on for creating high-quality and engaging content for your audience?

Ishita: I believe in the power of leveraging the latest developments in technology to create content. For instance, I use immersive shopping to create more engaging and interactive shopping experiences for audiences. I use content creation tools in order to move away from manual/ mundane tasks so I can spend more time on the creative aspects. Some of these tools include Notion for writing scripts and managing my content calendar, Canva for everything visual, Final Cut Pro for video editing, and ChatGPT to help with ideas and brainstorming — this AI is still at a nascent stage but if used correctly it has huge potential to help creators in improving their content.

Ishita: I think we’re going to continue to see influencer marketing behaviors take center stage when it comes to marketing and it will continue to shape the future of relationships between brands and consumers. Additionally, social validation and trust form an integral part of a consumer’s experience in our digital worlds. Those influencer marketing strategies that will prove to be trustworthy, relatable, and personalized will thrive. 

StartupTalky: Could you provide your perspective on how de-influencing might impact the content creation landscape and potentially influence consumer behaviors in the future?

Ishita: De-influencing is the antidote to throw-away culture — and quite simply, about becoming a bit more mindful about consumerism, and our spending habits. Our consumption habits are all too much, and we are all complicit. I think at a time when we all collectively agree that we consume too much and that we ought to be paring back, de-influencing has come about at the right time. This is hopefully going to change the way we consume stuff, right from re-wearing clothes, to re-reading, and for content creators, about actually focusing on what they need to do to resonate with their followers: be authentic. 

StartupTalky: How do you ensure your fashion and lifestyle content speaks directly to your audience's interests and offers valuable solutions to their needs?

Ishita: I have always been interested in fashion and styling, but more importantly it’s about being relatable and honest about what I know I can deliver. I try to stay tuned into the pulse of what my viewers are thinking or feeling, and then deliver content around that. Having said that, I am constantly open to change and able to adapt to the changing environment around me, which is also something that helps me stay on top of things.

Styling Tips for Women by Ishita Khanna

StartupTalky: Could you provide insights into the various income streams available for content creators and how you see content creation as a lucrative and sustainable career choice in today's digital landscape?

Ishita: There’s a host of ways content creators can build a financially sustainable career — be it through advertisements, brand sponsorships, brand partnerships, selling merchandise, product placements, affiliates, consulting, workshops, courses, etc. The creator economy is evolving each day, and that means there are more innovative ways for creators to generate income streams. When it comes to brand engagements, I believe it’s important to find the right alignment with brand values and objectives and find ways to be more deeply involved when it comes to content creation.

StartupTalky: Managing a creative career can be challenging. What key lessons have you learned as a content creator, and how have you tackled the demands of your profession?

Ishita: The one thing I have always believed in is constantly creating things, and putting it out there. You have to stay persistent and resilient and not be afraid to showcase your true self and make content that resonates with you. Further, content creation is a lot about deadlines and sticking to timelines — I believe in being self-disciplined.

StartupTalky: Could you share some insights into your experience with the Myntra Fashion Superstar show and how it impacted your content creation journey?

Ishita: The Myntra Fashion Superstar opportunity came to me at the perfect time. It gave me a national platform to showcase my creative talents and capabilities which ultimately garnered a lot of love and appreciation, just what I needed to kickstart my content creation journey. Even though I did not win the show, I was in the top 5 and got the opportunity to work directly with one of the biggest e-commerce brands.

StartupTalky: Lastly, Ishita, could you share some tips for aspiring content creators on how to start their journey in this field to grow and make a positive impact?

Ishita: As a content creator, you have to start your journey by being multi-hyphenated; you have to be your own editor-director-account manager. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. So be prepared to do that, at least in the early years until you build a great team around you, with a similar vision.

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