27/ 02/ 2016
I’ve just wrapped up the first week of my new Youtube schedule, publishing three days a week with a different topic each day. It was EXHAUSTING. But, with some better time management, doable.
This new schedule is the culmination of months of self-evaluation and planning, and I feel good about it. So on request of my friend James (of Rugged Tribe Entertainment—check him out here) I will share with you how this process unfolded.
Things got really kicked into gear for me at StreamCon NYC, a conference held at the Javits Center for creators last October, but NOT for the reasons you might think. There was a lot to learn there, for sure, but my biggest takeaway was that I wasn’t in a position to learn from it.
It was local so I didn’t think it was too ridiculous to pay the $100 something dollars for a creator’s ticket and take a day off from work (no flight or hotel necessary). It wasn’t exactly like VidCon in LA, but big Youtubers like Kandee Johnson and iJustine were there, plus Timothy DeLaGhetto and a lot of Viners, etc. I wasn’t about to join the mobs of fans, though—my main interest was to attend the informational workshops for creators, maybe meet some other smaller creators, etc.
I’d made up a small batch of business cards with the URL for my old channel, figuring I couldn’t show up to a networking conference without business cards at least. I posted some updates to my blog, and rearranged my channel so that anyone I met who checked it out would see my best work first. Then, the night before, I even had the bright idea that I might take my camera with me and “cover” the event, maybe interview creators there about fashion (which was the focus of my old channel). I knew I was going to be shy, especially going there alone, but I told myself I HAD to grow thicker skin and just do it, if I ever wanted my creative efforts to go anywhere.
By the time I went to bed I was seriously hyped, telling myself I was going to get my money’s worth out of this conference no matter what! I felt ready. I didn’t have a fully developed channel, but I had an idea of what I wanted to do (or so I thought), and had done a few videos that did ok with hundreds or thousands of views. But I arrived at the convention center the next day, with a heavy ass bag and all my filming equipment in tow, ALL that shit went out the window.
I went to two or three workshops, heard people talk about multi-channel networks, Snapchat, and short-form film-making, but all of it was kind of a blur. I tried to talk myself into approaching some people to for my fashion video, but I got the distinct feeling that I was at least 10 to 15 years older than just about everyone else there, and was out of my element. I ended up just walking around, shooting some photos of the general scene, and cowering behind my phone. The friendliest exchange I had was with a nice lady at the information booth (who might have been one of the only other people there over 30! lol).
The big test came during a party for creators with an open bar, which I went to because I wanted to at least give it my best shot (and hey—even if I failed, at least I could get a few cold ones for the money I spent). The party was intimidating, too—but thanks to the boldness of OTHER people, I met a few other creators, a handful of social media publicists and a really nice guy from FLAMA. I was within arms reach of Kandee Johnson, and actually shook hands with a really beautiful young woman whose friend promptly (and politely) informed me was a famous Viner. I told her I really respected 6-second videos as an art form, she smiled a polite “Who is this random old chick who isn’t on Vine?” sort of smile, and I moved along, slightly embarrassed for not knowing who she was. (From my day job, and from common sense, I know that one simply does not show up to an “industry” event and not even have a clue who the “industry” people are. It’s not the end of the world, just not good form.)
At one point, I spotted Timothy DeLaGhetto, probably the only person in the joint that I actually knew of and liked, but I wasn’t about to mob the guy and ask for his autograph—that is just not my style. I wasn’t there to fawn over celebrities, I was there to get my taste of the world of Youtube.
So here’s what I learned: 1. that world is way bigger even than I’d previously imagined. If you have an inkling of just how many creators out there are also starting channels, and trying their hand at vlogs, at fashion and beauty, gaming or comedy, just multiply that number by 100,000. 2. I may have thought I had some sort of idea or direction of where I was going with my channel and blog, but I didn’t have the first clue. Being asked by someone I just met what my channel is about, and then not having a clear answer for them, was something of a come-to-Jesus moment.
The truth is, you never know for sure if you really do have an elevator pitch until you’re put on the spot and asked to give it. When I was put on the spot, I realized that I could KIND of describe what my channels and blog were about—but I had no idea what my purpose was. Fame? Fashion? Film? The answer, was none of those things. So while it was a little embarrassing that I didn’t recognize some famous Internet celebrities, it was WAY more embarrassing to be caught like a deer in headlights, without an identity and with an apparent lack of drive. If you knew me in “real life,” you’d know that I am none of these things. But–I am also determined not to mix my real life and my “Youtube life.”
So I went home very clear on one thing: I had to get serious. I had to find my purpose, define my audience in a concrete way, come up with an elevator pitch of sorts and work backwards—not because I want to have something to tell people at cocktail parties, but because without a clear direction, it may as well be for nothing.
Did I forget to mention what I ultimately decided my purpose was? It was to put my skills to use helping people. And so I decided that I will tap some of the relationships I have with interesting people and share my personal experiences to spark discussion. In my mind, if my videos help even one viewer in the way that the people in MY life helped me, I will be proud of what I’m doing regardless of how many people subscribe or watch.
There you have it: my long-ass StreamCon story. Sorry to say it didn’t include much content from StreamCon itself! But if any of you out there are feeling as lost as I felt, I would highly recommend throwing yourself into an event like that where you’ll be around a lot of other creators who are doing better and worse than you. It really puts things in perspective.
As for the information I actually got from the conference, there were a few tidbits here and there that might be helpful, like learning about iJustine’s interesting story, and about live video platforms like YouNow. I’ll try to pull those together in a separate post soon!