Well if anyone hadn’t noticed on twitter or on my most recent video, my channel is officially one year old. On the 23rd of November 2012, I uploaded my very first video to YouTube. It was… uh well, it was pretty standard for your first Let’s play video in that I was quiet, boring and it sucked! Also, for whatever reason I started an LP on a hardcore world of Minecraft, meaning if I died the whole place would get deleted. So yeah, I wasn’t the most forward thinking of chaps back then.
Either way, now that I’m at my one year mark I thought I would look back and reflect on how I’ve done and give some thoughts on the experience on a whole. A year ago, I decided to start making YouTube videos as a way to build a portfolio if I ever got into radio or some kind of job that might benefit from a pre-built fanbase. This has been my go-to answer to most people when the ask “Why the hell do you make videos?” and since I studied radio at college, they’re pretty used to me doing weird things. That said, I’ve always hoped and dreamed to actually make a living creating, writing or talking in whatever capacity and while I don’t expect Youtube to be the platform for me to make any real money, I’ve avoided telling people that it case they simply scoffed at me for being an idiot (I wouldn’t blame them, I would too) and wasting my time. However, now that we’re one year in- have I wasted my time? Is it time for me to call it quits? When I started, I made a pact with myself based on some advice I heard on an interview with Dave Chappelle, where he told James Lipton that, while getting into comedy, his father told him: “Set a price. Set a price, and whenever it gets more than the price you set; get out”. So I said to myself I would give it a year- I’d give it my best shot and I’d see where I was in a year. Well, a year is up. Was it worth it?
If I looked at my channel today before I had started making videos, I’d probably be pretty disappointed. When you start a channel, your lofty ambitions of gaining a thousand subscribers a day is quickly dashed when you realise just how hard it is to gain a steady viewership. It can be hard for someone who hasn’t spent hours recording, editing and rendering to appreciate just how much a single comment, like or even view means to you after toiling away at making the best you have to offer. A year later, having experienced the elation of having two, three or even four comments on a video and seeing the views shoot up to almost twelve (twelve!) views after only a few hours, I’ve come to appreciate the difficult of building fanbase. That said, I could never have dreamed the positivity and warmth people have shown towards the things I’ve created, case in point: Crappy Animations.
I’ve talked at length before about just how incredibly I lucked out with the Mindcrack animations I’ve made (for example, avoiding my near disastrous plan to upload my first ‘animation’ to a separate channel in case they weren’t well received) but you have to understand that when I started out, if I had been told my main subscriber base and thousands upon thousands of views would come from animations, I’d have laughed. I’ve gone on record as saying I’m certainly no artist, much less an animator, so the sheer avalanche of positivity and compliments I got in reaction to each and every animation has truly shocked me. I understand people may look at each video and ask how something with ‘merely’ <20000 views can mean so much to me, but this is from a guy who gets over the moon at 150 views per video (something I’m still getting used to).
Maybe this is a bit presumptuous, but I can almost feel myself looking back at this post down the line and laughing over my excitement of approaching a measly 700 subscribers, or gushing about videos that get upwards of 20 likes, but I really hope I don’t. If this year has taught me anything it’s that having a small fanbase or reach makes each and every interaction, like or comment that much more special and unique and the be all and end all should never be a meaningless number at the top of your channel page. If I had to measure my biggest success, the greatest achievement of my YouTube hobby thus far, its been in the people I’ve met. Interacting, laughing and goofing around with people all across the globe has made for some of the funniest moments of 2013, and it’s justified every failed upload, every content ID and every restless minute trying to edit things together as time well and truly spent.
Here’s to another year!