Whether you love them or hate them, YouTubers are now a huge part of our media culture these days. Whether you like their comedy videos, or just watching daily vlogs – there is a YouTuber for everyone.
I started YouTube in March 2015.
I didn’t start because I thought it would be easy. I didn’t start because I want some kind of fame. I didn’t start because I was lonely or needed to connect with anyone. Random Subjects was started purely to get myself out of my comfort zone.
What started as trying something new has become a real hobby. I love it. I am not what you would call a ‘successful’ YouTuber, however, I feel 88 subscribers considering I only showed my friends very recently, is great! I can’t believe that 88 people I do not know would want to watch my videos.
As much as I am really enjoying YouTube, many things I learnt along the way (and will continue to learn) about the people that are YouTubers and the medium that is YouTube, has surprised me. So I thought I would share some of my lessons with you; to prepare anyone thinking of starting YouTube, or to show existing small YouTubers that I have been through the same.
Let’s begin with the nasty lessons;
- A lot of YouTubers are not interested in you. Now, I am not talking about people not enjoying your channel or your videos, but when I started YouTube I thought it was this big community full of nice and helpful people wanting to build up friendships with each other – whether they were well established on YouTube or just starting out. I wasn’t expecting the Zoella’s and Alfie’s of YouTube to be interactive as they have worked hard and have too many fans to speak to everyone. However, I wasn’t expecting the strange ‘snobbery’ that some YouTubers adopt after reaching 100+ subscribers. I have found people with thousands of subscribers to be more approachable and kinder. I learnt this lesson after people would follow me on Twitter, I would follow back, they would send me an automated DM to which I would often reply and be met with silence…forevermore. So, my advice to you when starting out, don’t think ‘oh, they are also a small YouTuber with only 250 subscribers, they seem really lovely in their videos and they just followed and DM’d me so I should really chat to them’ and expect them to reply. There are a lot of people on YouTube doing it solely for the fame and popularity that goes with it and only want to hang around the ‘cool kids’ – I guess in real life we would call them a ‘Social Climber’….. This isn’t always the case though, as I have met some amazing YouTubers who have looooads of subscribers that are kind and down to earth, who WILL message you back and will be lovely. I just wanted to share with you my naive brain when starting out, so you don’t feel alone when it happens to you.
- Subscribers are bloody hard to get. When I started, I was more concerned with experimenting with what I could do and having fun than how many subscribers I obtained. However, once you get over 30 subscribers you start to really appreciate the positive feeling you get from people actually enjoying your videos enough to subscribe… and then you want more, or, you become very disappointed if you lose one. It’s so easy to think ‘I’ll start a YouTube, a Twitter, a Blog and the people will come’ – it really isn’t like that. So, if you are considering starting a YouTube channel for subscribers and popularity – I would seriously reconsider. People like Zoella, and Marcus Butler etc have been on YouTube for years. They were some of the first YouTubers out there and that generation set the standard for what a YouTuber would be. I don’t believe you can have any longevity by just signing up and copying them. I think you will get a couple of thousand subscribers but I highly doubt it will grow much further before you run out of ideas of what to copy other YouTubers on, or are called out for your lack of originality. I made tag videos and haul videos galore when starting my channel and even now I make them on occasion, however, as soon as I realised what videos made me happy and excited to make – the better the response I got. So be original, have fun. I know you don’t want to take advice from me as I still a new/unknown YouTuber, but I am excited to grow my channel and do more fun things and I just thought whatever lessons I’ve learnt may help you to look at doing the same.
- It’s a lot harder than it looks. So many people look at YouTube as this unbelievably simple thing. They think you can sit down in front of a camera and be successful. To an extent they are right, but you need to graft for it. I heard an interview with Sprinkle Of Glitter where she mentioned that she would not be a successful YouTuber if she started today as the standards and quality expected of even the newest YouTubers is too high. You need to be able to think of interesting content, be decent at filming it, edit, and then generate a buzz – very tough. So just be prepared that unless you are willing to share your channel with your whole school and/or FaceBook contacts from day one, then you will need to work particularly hard to grow at all and to achieve the ideas that are in your mind. It can happen – but it is hard work, so expect to work hard.
- It is expensive. What you will need; a camera, a tripod, lighting (if you want to be able to film after daylight has gone), and editing system, great WiFi. Now, I do not have all of these things and I cannot wait until I do because I believe the quality of my videos will increase ten fold. Also if, like me, you don’t have that kind of money readily available you can do a few things; some people use good quality mobile phones, you can use lamps and other lights or film only in the daytime, you can use the free editors that come with Windows or Apple computers. However, if you are expecting your videos to look like Alfie’s, then you will need to invest eventually. I suggest making do when you start out – just to be sure you want to continue with YouTube and don’t blow hundreds of pounds on something you will give up after a few months.
The amazing lessons;
- I have met some amazing people already, and I have only been here since March. There are some brilliant small and even bigger YouTubers really willing to open their doors to someone wanting to achieve the same as they are – to entertain people and enjoy themselves. I certainly believe I have made a few friends for life.
- That feeling when someone clicks the ‘Subscribe’ button. That person has taken their time to say ‘I would like to see more from this person’. It really makes you believe in yourself as a YouTuber and you look at those people when you are having a down day and realise that ‘nope, people like my videos – let’s keep going with this’. This feeling is second to none.
- When you see your video quality slowly improving. I look back at my first video and compare it to the videos I am creating now and I can’t believe how far I’ve come considering I haven’t changed my set up (lighting, editor etc). If you experiment and play around with what you have, you can certainly see yourself grow and create better quality videos and even content when you start to generate fun ideas and interesting opportunities. Then when you move on to the next level of buying something even better to help you, again I can imagine that proud feeling when editing and watching your latest videos. All I can say is, seeing the hard work translating into better videos and better ability is a very rewarding feeling.
I hope this little blog post has shown you the truth behind starting out on YouTube? I wanted to write this now, because, if I ever did grow as a channel I wouldn’t likely remember the feelings and the work I need to do now – as a beginner.