Thursday, January 18, 2018

YouTube. Why I do it & why you should (or shouldn't)

hello frens. this is a long post. a short story, if you will. about my origin story and my experience on youtube but it ends with advice for you. i was motivated to do this after reading about youtube's new monetization policy, the one where youtubers who have under 1,000 subscribers won't be able to make money, and how it made some of you feel like quitting.

i swear this short tale of how i came to be the giant idiot you know today is worth the read if you're a follower or fan. especially if you're a small youtuber. but if you're just a regular guy. fuck off. no just kidding. you're allowed to read it too. just don't complain about the lowercase. a e s t h e t i c, newfriend. let's go.

How I started.

i've been making videos all my life way before there was even a computer in my house. i used to make videos just for fun with an 8mm camera, to entertain my family. i loved movies. and as soon as i discovered moments in life could be recorded on film forever, that i could make my own movies, i was addicted to making videos. whether it was making stop motion with my stuffed animals or interactive 'blues clues' type videos for my sister. screaming at the camera "hi sarah! where's the bunny???!!!" awkwardly waiting a few seconds then going "wow you found the bunny! great job!" quality content, 8 year old june.
so youtube naturally was very attractive to me. "you can put videos ON THE INTERNET and fuckin SHARE THEM WITH PEOPLE" 
i started my first channel in 2008 with my close family friends. it was called JAFSproductions. it stood for June, Andrew, Faith and Sarah. Believe it or not this was influenced by fucking Fred. him and his cousins had a youtube channel with their initials as the name. so yeah. Fred was my first youtube influence. god damn what a throwback.
on JAFS we would just upload silly skits we did so we could share it with our friends. we even created a parody of the 70's show. we didn't expect anyone to see this shit (nobody really did). and there wasn't an option to monetize at this time. it was just really fun to make videos. the JAFS people lived on the other side of the island and could not drive (they were all 14-15 lol) so it was incredibly rare we ever had the opportunity to film anything and when we did- they weren't really into it. it seemed like i was the only one wanting to make videos and forcing them into it wasn't fun at all.
so around 2010 i created "Shoe0nhead", a channel for personal vlogging since i couldn't make skits on my own. i figured i can get creative juices flowing by being goofy by myself and making up 'storytime' stories. so i just talked about things happening in my life and exaggerated, even made up, stories about it. it was fun. but it wasn't what i loved to do. i met online friends and small communities of people and made videos for them but it didn't last long. around this time i was in college, majoring in film and had severe depression. college was a big wake up call that i sucked at directing, something i wanted to do since i was a child. i dropped out and deleted those old vlogs and left youtube for nearly 3 years. abandoning it as soon as i hit 1,000 subscribers. that 4 digit number scared me. i didn't like that i gained that many doing something i wasn't happy with. i wasn't having fun. my depression was getting worse. i was confused and unsure what to do. so i became a daywalker. i completely abandoned the fun part of the internet. just working at the cosmetic section of Macy's and using Facebook. 

How I REALLY started.

July 2014.
i don't even know what the internet is anymore. i haven't touched my youtube account in 3 years. it dropped from 1,000 subscribers to 500. people forgot about me. i was content with my new normie lifestyle. i accepted my death of 9 to 5. i accepted i would never meet friends who enjoyed making videos. i accepted i would never find motivation to create or entertain again.

then i found feminism


facebook was full of pop-feminist shit. everywhere i looked for 2 years. friends i have met online over the years and people i met at work were turning into crazy people outright calling men trash and making huge deals out of little things. calling jokes offensive. calling people misogynists. sexists. racists. i was pressured to be a feminist. facebook friends would ask if i was and i would answer "isn't that outdated? why not just humanist?" (now i know it's called egalitarian, but yeah) which would drive them into a fit of fury. it was insane.

and it was fucking hilarious

so i had an idea.
"fuck it"
i was going to risk friendships with nearly 20 people and upload a short rant about how stupid i thought this all was. and i was going to upload it on facebook.
but then insecurity hit me.
i didn't want to hurt their feelings. i didn't want to directly call them out. they would know i was talking about them. i didn't want to deal with that.
so at the last second i uploaded it to my old Shoe0nhead account.
"this shit is dead nobody will see it anyway."
i needed to rant. i need to scream and vent my frustrations out. at the time i didn't know it, but i had found my drive to create again.

i said what i needed to say. made some jokes. edited it. put Dr. Dre music in the background (inspired by YourMovieSucksDotOrg). it felt good to edit again. even though nobody was going to watch it. it felt good getting that off my chest. maybe someone could relate to my fustration and my humor about the situation would make them feel better. but my channel has been dead for 3 years. i doubted it. 

i hit upload and walked the fuck away. 

catching thunder in a bottle

at this time i didn't use youtube for any other reason other than movie review channels and gamegrumps. i loved (old) JonTron and YourMovieSucksDotOrg (still do). but i wasn't subscribed to any political channels. because i hated politics. they bored me. (still do)
about 4 days after i uploaded Oppression Olympics, my shallow rant about feminism, i decided to check the comments.

it had over 40,000 views.
i had 3,000 subscribers.

i couldn't fucking believe it.

the most views i ever saw on a video of mine was when my sister and i made a video pretending we caught a real alien on film. I think it had 8,000 views. because the title was clickbait af.
but this video? it was called "oppression olympics.mp4". (i kept the mp4 because it thought it was funny.) how did it manage to get this popular?
i read the comments. thousands of people felt the same way i did. after years of feeling like i was alone i was amazed even one person felt the same way i did. it was overwhelming. people were thanking me for "speaking out". saying they "feel the same way". and i was happy for them. i wish i could have found a shoe0nhead when i felt like i was taking crazy pills.
but where were these people coming from?


i had no idea who this was. but his comment was the top comment and had several hundred likes. his avatar was a bunny so naturally i was like "n i c e".
i clicked on his channel and holy shit. someone with a lot of subscribers who felt the same way i did. someone else who was fed up with feminist shit.
he had shared my video on a video he made and i instantly connected the dots.

It's about ethics

people wanted more. and boy did i have more. "fat acceptance." "otherkin" all these funny topics i've been surrounded by that i couldn't wait to rant about. i started discovering other youtubers like Sargon of Akkad, Internet Aristocrat and The Honey Badgers. i started diving down the rabbit hole. at the time there wasn't much. but to see other people on my side of this issue was such a relief. i couldn't wait to entertain them more.

then GamerGate happened.

this overloaded my motivation. i went from "what the fucks a video" to "AAAAAAAAAAA" in the span of a few months. i wanted to cover gamergate. it was interesting to me. the striesand effect was crazy. btw all my titles had ".mp4" in them. that was going to be a thing. it's not a thing anymore.
although i was still a newfag, i enjoyed ranting about these subjects. i joined twitter where i spent most of my time. since i worked i couldn't make many videos. but on twitter it was 100% gamergate 24/7. looking back on it, it was pretty cringe. and weird. but i was so into it. the memes were spicy. the friends were cool. the bantz were hot. i was also building an audience very quickly and didn't know how to handle it.


early 2015
i wasn't monetized. i refused to make any money off of my videos. i didn't want this hobby that i had just gotten back into to feel like a job. i wanted to keep it pure. mundane matt tried to convince me to monetize. i refused. i already had a job. i worked a lot. i worked almost every day. but subjects were moving quickly. every day there was a new happening. every hour something stupid happened that was ripe for the commentary. by the time i had the time to sit down a make a video the topic was already a week old. not only could i not keep up, but pressure was building. i was comparing myself to other people in my genre constantly. there were a few channels, let's call one, The Thinker Of Reason 666, that really intimidated me. they were smart. i was not. they made long videos. i made short videos. at this time i had 50,000 subscribers. fifty thousand people were watching me. and i couldn't handle it. my content wasn't good enough to entertain 50,000 people. The Thinker Of Reason didn't even have 50,000 people watching him. why did i deserve that much? i felt like i was cheating. and once again the numbers were freaking me out.

so after my 'average is beautiful' video i quit.

i stayed on twitter and decided i would just be an observer and not a creator. i was still interested in the subject. but i didn't feel good enough. there were now dozens of youtubers talking about this subject and they were all way smarter than me, with better cameras, and more to say.

but they weren't... funny. they were serious. everyone was so serious. how the fuck are you so serious with such a hilarious topic?

i watched my subscription feed overflow with updates and content about feminism. they were great videos. i loved hearing what all the different personalities had to say. because of the recommended videos on a TL;DR video i discovered Armoured Skeptic who QUICKLY became my new favorite youtuber. i thought it was going to be some cringe worthy edgy atheist shit but he was hilarious. his humor was on point. the way he made fun of people's logic and words without actually making fun of them personally was influential. it made me want to create again. i bought his merch. but i kept quiet. i'll keep the entertainment on twitter. feminism is clearly a serious subject. i also discovered christina hoff sommers during my "quitting" months and i was addicted to her. based mom, they called her. she was a huge influence to me (still is). so i bought her book. "Who Stole Feminism"

and it was like a sign from god

Guess whose back, back again

i bought a "slightly used" copy of Sommers' book on amazon and it couldn't have fallen into better hands. the pages of her book were COVERED in angry feminist notes. saying things like "no" "fuck off" "shut the fuck up" and 'correcting' christina's points. my dumbass had to make a video about this. i couldn't just tweet about it. i had to show my audience. so i threw on my Armoured Skeptic shirt (hoping senpai would notice me) and made the video. yes it wasn't a "smart" video. but it was funny. and i feel like that corner of the internet needed some laid back, funny material. for fucks sake, the feminists were basically feeding us the comedic material.

people loved it.

what was i thinking sitting back and sticking to twitter? it's like britney spears said:

'there's only two types of people in the world.
the one's that entertain
and the one's that observe.'

gay marriage was legalized in the US the next month. so i made a video mocking conservatives who freaked out about it. people loved it. it didn't matter what i made a video about. why did i feel like i had to do something else? or be someone else? people subscribed because of me. because they like MY takes on these subjects. it didn't matter that The thinker of reason made a video about x first. not everyone is subscribed to the thinker of reason and not everyone likes the thinker of reason. the people who are subscribed to me are here for me. and although i couldn't sit and read a 10 page study on the wage gap. i could make a funny button that debunks it, symbolizing how often feminists bring it up. my purpose was to make people laugh amongst all the bad news and i was very okay with this. i felt comfortable making videos again. 
i also started dating Armoured Skeptic. a fan girl's dream come true. and i finally had a friend who enjoyed creating entertainment as much as i did. then i made my buzzfeed response video which fucking shot me through the roof. the subs kept pouring in. i finally got over my stubbornness about monetization thanks to my boyfriend (and my parents who basically pressured me to make money off of this) and quit my job. in late 2016 at 400,000 subscribers i felt secure enough to quit my job. i was scared it would change things, but so far it has not.

it's currently 2018 and i am a few thousand away from 1 million subscribers.

so what is this? am i just bragging? no bitch. listen.

You and YouTube.

advice time:

this advice all comes from experience and things i have done by accident that seem to work. by reading comments every single day since fucking 2014 i've noticed why people come to my channel and why people stay. 

this week youtube rolled out it's monthly platform suicide note. it told small channels under 1,000 subscribers would not be able to monetize. 

i tweeted about this and was incredibly upset seeing the replies of "small channels" wanting to quit. or hearing some of you have already quit because of demonetization. so let's talk about that really quick.

answer these questions

1. why do you make videos?

i make videos because i love to make people laugh. i make videos because it's been a hobby of mine since i was a kid. i make videos because i love seeing people timestamp a part they found funny. i make videos because i love to create more inside jokes and memes within my fanbase. i make videos because i love to edit them. i make videos because im fucking bored and have no hobbies. why do you make videos?

if one of the only things you can think of is "money" you were doomed from the start. because i'm going to be honest. it's really fucking easy to tell when a youtuber is just in it for the money. you can tell they have no passion behind what they are doing and it's a huge turn off. do not be that person.
that sounds mean. and harsh. but it's true. you need a muse. you need something more motivating than money. otherwise don't bother. you can get a job working retail and make money easily.

pretend it's 2008 again

years ago there was no monetization on youtube and that was the golden age of youtube. it's my reason for keeping the potato cam 480p black bar "girl in bedroom" aesthetic. look at the famous youtubers who were gold age youtubers, like shane dawson or smosh. they weren't monetized when they started and now they have millions of subscribers.

so let's say you're okay with not being monetized. but you still feel like your channel isn't doing very well and you want to quit. let's help you there.

2. what is your genre?

what are you? vlogger? gamer? makeup? commentator? sketch comedy? political? debunker? think about what genre would you place yourself in then think about who is your favorite youtuber in that genre. when i first started mine were YMS and JonTron. they were great commentators. their humor was already very similar to mine but i adopted their quick paced editing style. you can tell they were my early influences. later on my influences were Armoured Skeptic and Sargon. it's good to have people who influence you. but now you have to make yourself unique.

3. what do you bring to the table?

what makes you stand out from others in said genre? you can take inspiration from your favorite youtuber's style. do it. no shame. i know youtubers who copy my style and it's great. (just don't literally copy them word for word, ever. because i know someone who did that to me. and i'm still butthurt about it) but now think of something different you can do.

4. what is your A E S T H E T I C 

so we discussed content but let's discuss the more shallow aspect- looks.

rule number 1 on youtube is have good thumbnails. take time to make your thumbnails. put nice borders around them or something. have short titles. have a "theme" (i use the same font for example) make it eye catching and make the title interesting (and short if you can) but don't go full clickbait. wait. first let's talk about WHAT clickbait is.
clickbait is titles or thumbnails that have nothing to do with the video topic.

that's it.

flashy thumbnails. colors. crazy titles. all of that is fine and not clickbait. as long as those things are relevant to the topic you are discussing in your video. remember that. the worst clickbait is the kind that doesn't even have anything about the topic in the title. please for the love of god do not use vague titles like "OMG YOU WON'T BELIEVE WHAT HAPPENED HERE!!!" or "WOW I CAN'T BELIEVE HE DID THIS". it's so cheap.
i dabble in the art of "not-clickbait" by titling my videos things i argue against in said video. examples include: my "women aren't funny" or "men are wimps" videos. people will see those titles and be like "THE FUCK??" then breathe a sigh of relief when i agree with them. not clickbait-but makes people interested. making your title a question is also a good way to go. for example: "how many genders?" (my now deleted video) or "who stole feminism"? if you're making a video let's say about net neutrality and arguing for the pro-side of it. title it "is net neutrality bad?" or something like that. and have your dumbass doing a confused face for the thumbnail.

so we got your thumbnail down. now let's think about what physically separates the meat of your content from the thousands of other people sitting in their bedroom talking about current events or the dozens of other animal avatar/suit avatar anti-sjw channels?
my potato cam and 2008 bedroom vlog vibe are mine. have cool music in the background. have an interesting backdrop. have all your videos be in black and white. maybe have your entire wall covered in pictures of nicholas cage and never mention it. that would be hilarious.

5. if you weren't you would you watch your videos?
this one is so fucking important and it was a major motivation for my channel. as much as i hate myself i would probably watch my videos. i love comedic commentary. chris ray gun is currently my favorite "anti-feminist" channel and people always say we are the gender swapped versions of each other. and i learned pretty recently that his influence was also old JonTron videos. so there you go. are you doing something YOU would find entertaining or interesting? if not you need to re-evaluate. if so- let's move on to the next step.


so you think you have what makes you unique down. good. now is the hard part. getting people to watch your shit. i was lucky. but others might not be as lucky. this is what you do. SEND OTHER YOUTUBERS YOUR VIDEOS. i'm not fucking joking. you might feel annoying but if it's good content 80% of the time they will share it. this advice comes from me because i am that youtuber who shares it and i've seen people blow the fuck up overnight because of it. this works ESPECIALLY well if said youtuber is in your genre. it also helps if it is a subject or current event said youtuber is interested in. but do not spam it to them. once is enough. tweet it to them. "hey check out this video i made about ____". 
you miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

establishing a fanbase

okay so you mentally figured out who you are and what to do. you made your thumbnails. you got the exposure.

now what?

like i said, a gurl talking about feminism was a unique thing on it's own especially when i started. but there are hundreds of anti-feminist channels and hundreds of anti feminist women on youtube now. i got lucky with the exposure but what about now? what makes these people stay? why are my numbers always good? why did i get 700,000 views on a video i made 4 days ago where i react to what i thought was overplayed shit from 2015?


you don't have to-but i chose treating my channel like a character. the things said are still my real opinions, but my personality in real life is NOT that boisterous and loud. i'm in fact pretty timid and laid back. but shoe0nhead is a giant idiot. she's ON all the time. EXTREMELY ONLINE. and people love it. there are things associated with my channel. like ollie. the patriarchy monster. the don't flag. the wage gap button. nihilism. the bad camera. the dr. dre and gorillaz music. it really helps to have at least one "thing". think of yourself as an action figure or a barbie. what accessories would you come with? chrisraygun would come with bleach and paul. armoured skeptic would come with his minions and... me. it's cool to have a "thing". you don't have to, but it's cool to. fans like "things". although it's cheesy and only works if you're a goofy entertainer, you could also have a name for your fanbase. mine is friendos. :D

pay attention to your viewers

youtube is all about entertaining your audience. they are who is important here. always keep them in mind. respond to comments. "heart" comments. pin comments. make a twitter account. make your channel a fun environment where people will always enjoy coming back. when you are big enough make merch. encourage fans to send you pictures of them wearing the merch then make a montage of all your awesome fans rocking your shirts. make them feel important, because they are. they are not numbers or dollar signs, they are real people who enjoy what you do and they need to come first.

closing notes. 

-make sure you always love what you are doing. if you ever feel stuck or feel like your content is stale mix it up or take a break. breaks are good. like my "quitting" break.

-listen to criticism. sometimes you will get harsh criticism and it might hurt your feelings. but it's important to listen to it and consider what they are saying. if it's just dumb hate like "fuck you fagboi" ignore it. if you get enough cringe worthy insults make a video reading hate comments. people love that shit.

i cannot help you 'become a popular youtuber'. some people get lucky when it comes to exposure but even the lucky ones work hard after the initial exposure. if you can do it it's a lot of fun. it's a dream job doing what you love for a living. 

good luck, frens <3