Tayo Aina: Understanding My Environment Helps Me Create Content that Resonates with Followers

Tayo Aina, a Nigerian YouTuber and filmmaker, showcases diverse aspects of life in his content, spanning travel, real estate, culture and daily experiences worldwide. Despite early entrepreneurial setbacks, including a failed restaurant venture and event management challenges, his resilience led him to explore ride-sharing with Uber in Lagos. Recognising the city’s untold stories, he began documenting Lagos’s authenticity, eventually transitioning to YouTube to share his narrative-driven videos. Driven by a passion for storytelling, his journey from a motorcycle shop employee to a renowned content creator reflects his unwavering commitment to creativity and resilience. With over 800,000 subscribers, Tayo’s YouTube channel serves as a platform to showcase African perspectives globally, fostering understanding and breaking stereotypes. He told Tosin Clegg about his journey, overcoming challenges, what stands him out, his creative process among others

Your work often focuses on capturing the beauty of Africa and its people. What draws you to these subjects and how do you approach showcasing their essence through your videos?

I’ve always been captivated by the richness of African cultures and the stories behind them. The history and traditions are incredibly inspiring to me. To showcase their essence, I immerse myself in local communities, learning about their lives, beliefs, and stories. This helps me portray their beauty, resilience, and vibrancy in my videos. Typically, I meticulously plan my destinations, mapping out the places I want to visit and the experiences I aim to capture. Before setting off, I draft a brief script to guide my content creation process. Upon arrival, I immerse myself in the surroundings, capturing the essence of the experience while sharing my unique perspective. Exploring new locales allows me to offer fresh insights, and share my emotions and observations with my audience. This connection is particularly resonant with Africans, as we often find common ground in our shared experiences and perspectives.

How do you engage with your audience and what role does feedback play in shaping your content?

I actively engage with my audience across all platforms, responding to messages, comments, and DMs whenever possible. I believe their feedback is invaluable as it fosters a sense of community and growth. Some of my followers have been with me since the early days when I had just 1,000 subscribers, and now, with nearly 800K, we’ve formed a tight-knit family. This connection with my audience is what drives and inspires me. As a travel vlogger, how do you navigate challenges such as limited resources or unfavorable shooting conditions, especially when working in diverse locations across the world? In my work, adaptability, flexibility, and creativity are key. I deal with different situations daily, so I always plan ahead and make the best use of what’s available. Whether it’s using natural light or changing angles for better quality, I adapt to ensure I capture the best content possible. I began my journey into travel vlogging while working as a bolt driver in Lagos, Nigeria. One of my earliest inspirations came when I searched online for videos about Lagos and found that most of them were of low quality. During that time, I was teaching myself how to make videos by watching tutorials on YouTube. I often watched videos from the US, and UK, featuring places like Toronto and New York. I noticed the high quality and storytelling format of these videos, created by numerous vloggers showcasing their hometowns. Feeling compelled to shed light on places like Lagos, I decided to embark on creating similar content, believing they deserved recognition.

Your work often captures candid moments and authentic emotions. How do you establish rapport with your subjects to capture these genuine expressions?

Building rapport is crucial. I approach each interaction with respect and genuine curiosity, treating each place like home. By listening attentively, showing empathy and creating a safe space, I build genuine connections that allow me to capture raw, authentic moments that reflect the essence of the people and communities I encounter.

What motivated your choice to adopt the title “The African Discovering the World ” and what factors played a role in shaping this decision?

When I began my journey, I had no experience in video-making; everything I knew, I learned from the internet, mainly YouTube. Using these newfound skills, I started documenting Lagos, Nigeria, highlighting its beauty and stories in high-quality formats. The positive responses encouraged me to expand my focus to other states in Nigeria, filling a gap for positive representation online. As people began to appreciate their homeland through my videos, I realised the impact I was making. This led me to shift my focus to showcasing Africa as a whole, resonating with audiences across different countries. Eventually, I ventured beyond Africa, creating videos in London, Europe, and the US. This journey inspired the name “African Discovering the World ” reflecting my identity and exploration.

What memorable experience from your travels can you recall that has significantly impacted you personally or professionally?

One of the stories that deeply resonated with me was when I created videos about the hyena men of Nigeria, a fascinating tradition within the Hausa tribe where men tame hyenas. This experience sparked my curiosity about the rich diversity of cultures and traditions across Africa and the world. I realised the importance of highlighting these lesser-known customs, which motivated me to seek out and document similar cultural phenomena. For instance, I explored the Vodoo religion in Benin Republic, which also yielded compelling content. This journey shifted my perspective, encouraging me to challenge the status quo and remain open-minded about diverse cultural practices.

What measures do you take to balance authenticity while you desire to create engaging content for your audience?

For me, it’s about embracing my authentic self and sharing my diverse experiences. Growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, working as an Uber driver, and trying and failing in various businesses have shaped my unique perspective. Through these experiences, I’ve learned resilience and had to teach myself filmmaking. I believe that by staying true to myself and sharing my stories authentically, I can connect with others and offer a fresh perspective and I believe that that helps create engaging content.

Share with us the strategies for building and maintaining a committed following in a competitive online space?

Remaining authentic and offering value is paramount to me. Whether I’m educating, entertaining, or inspiring my audience, I strive to ensure my content delivers on these fronts. Regarding ethical considerations like cultural sensitivity, environmental impact, and responsible tourism, I approach each destination with an open mind and without prejudice. I simply share my experiences and observations while also incorporating my opinions thoughtfully. It’s about maintaining a balance between sharing authentically and being mindful of the impact my content may have on the cultures and environments I explore.

What surprising encounters or occurrences have left a lasting impression on you during your travels and filming ventures?

One of the key insights I’ve gained is that despite our diverse cultures and cuisines, humans across the globe share more similarities than differences. The universal desire to connect is evident everywhere, whether in Zimbabwe, Asia, or any other corner of the world. By crafting stories that evoke emotions and resonate with people, you can forge connections with almost anyone, even with strangers. It’s this shared humanity that transcends borders and brings us together. There have been times when I’ve hit creative roadblocks and struggled to generate content ideas. During these periods, I find it beneficial to take a break and focus on being present in the moment. I’ve discovered that some of the best ideas emerge when I’m fully aware of my surroundings and immersed in the present. This approach helps me recharge and return with renewed creativity after taking a step back.

How has the travel vlogging landscape evolved over the years, and what trends do you see emerging in the future?

 For me, the reason behind creating content is to challenge the status quo and inspire others to pursue their passions. I believe that by encouraging people to follow what inspires them, we can collectively make a positive impact and change the world. It’s essential to me to challenge conventional thinking and empower individuals to pursue their dreams. I see this as a powerful catalyst for driving meaningful change and shaping a better future.

Can you discuss the role of partnerships and sponsorships in your work, and how you maintain authenticity while collaborating with brands?

I prefer to collaborate only with brands that align with my values and resonate with me. If a brand doesn’t feel authentic or connected to who I am, I won’t promote it. As I’ve grown and learned more about content creation, I’ve come to understand the importance of authenticity in collaborations. Working with brands that genuinely resonate with me not only feels more natural but also enhances the authenticity of my recommendations to others.

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