Lets Talk YouTube: Keeping Up With The YouTube Joneses

compareIt is easy to feel crazy inadequate on the Internet. In fact, we have placed ourselves under a microscope in a way no other generation has managed. If you want to feel bad about your looks, abilities or lack of anything you deem important, then just spend a couple minutes browsing your social media feed.

The same is absolutely true about your YouTube channel. If you have 500 subs you will pine away for 1k. If you have 1k you will be jealous of channels with 20k. It never stops. Once you reach the top, you will be worried about being overtaken by some new upstart.

Don’t compare your channel to other channels.

Most of us who have channels subscribe to other YouTubers in a similar genre. I watch a LOT of makers and woodworkers. It is easy for me to get discouraged when comparing what I do, with what they do. “That was an amazing camera angle! Mine are all the same.” “I wonder if they make as many mistakes as I do?” “That person has all the nice tools and a lot more experience than I do. I doubt I have the skill to do anything as nice as they do.”

If you spend your time comparing your channel to others you will find yourself on the straightjacket side of crazy in almost no time.

If you do this, you will quite actually make yourself miserable. You might even suck away your motivation for making videos. I know personally, there have been days I’ve thought of pulling the lever and watching the whole thing swirl around the bottom of the bowl.

compare01Back in May of 2015, I had 60k subs and I was talking with a YouTuber who has a channel in the DIY space much larger than me. (I Like To Make Stuff) I was asking Bob for advice. “Up until now, all my builds have been sorta haphazard and not terribly professional, but now that I’m growing I want to mature my channel a bit. Make it more professional, like yours.” I remember feeling very inadequate like I didn’t know why 50 thousand people had decided they wanted to subscribe, and now that I was getting some traction I wanted to “do right” by those subscribers and fix all the things that were wrong with my channel. He looked at me sort strange and said, “I don’t know why you should change anything. Why not just keep doing what you’re doing? It seems to be working.”

He was right. I had a following not because of all the things I wished I was doing better, but because of all the things that I apparently was doing right. I have to be honest, I’m still surprised by the number of people who watch me make my crazy projects. I keep expecting to get an email from YouTube letting me know the whole thing was just a wild computer glitch.

Just as all your friends are posting (what you believe to be) their perfect lives on Facebook, the same goes for other channels on YouTbube. You don’t need to be the same as them, and you shouldn’t even try.  You are the ingredient that makes your channel special. Your story,  your perspective, and your videos.

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Not to say you cannot learn from others, take little bits here and there, but remember why it is that people found you in the first place? Keeping up the Joneses on YouTube will make you crazy. Just enjoy what you’re doing and remember that you will grow at your pace. Try to relax and enjoy the ride, because the truth is, we have no idea how long this train will run for!

 

 

Author: Peter Brown

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12 thoughts on “Lets Talk YouTube: Keeping Up With The YouTube Joneses

  • October 31, 2016 at 3:05 pm
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    Nice write up!! I try and snatch good ideas and make them my own.

    ‘Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief;
    All kill their inspiration and sing about the grief’
    U2

    Reply
    • October 31, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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      I think we all do that for sure. My channel started as a DiResta knockoff. But just like your channel it became it’s own unique animal.

      I tried to make an artsy video at on point, because I though that would make my channel more popular. But in trying to make my channel popular, I submarined myself, because I didn’t like doing it.

      The truth is people can tell when we are being genuine or faking it. Being genuine doesn’t mean we cannot gather element from others that work for us. It just means putting our own spin on them.
      .

      Reply
  • October 31, 2016 at 3:13 pm
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    Great article, Peter. This is indeed a quick way to make yourself crazy, especially considering all of the amazing makers who are all on YouTube. I liken it to the classic hiking phrase, “hike your own hike”. Do what you feel comfortable with, do it with passion and happiness, and people will come. Another phrase I love is “there’s an ass for every seat”. No matter how oddball your videos are (Jolly Rancher candle holders, for God’s sake), there are people who will love watching them.

    Reply
    • November 2, 2016 at 7:28 am
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      “hike your own hike” is a perfect analogy! There will always be better and worse hikers on the trail. It shouldn’t affect you. Just keep making quality videos, sharing them and you will find your audience, or rather they will find you!

      Reply
  • October 31, 2016 at 7:52 pm
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    I see what you’re doing. You’re completely insane and comparing ourselves to other channels will make us also insane, negating your advantage. So this is really sabotage disguised as helpful advise.

    Reply
    • November 2, 2016 at 7:29 am
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      Haha! Coming from the only man I know who owns a sponge bowl?!
      🙂

      Reply
      • November 3, 2016 at 8:25 pm
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        I’d be happy to send you a couple partially done sponge bowl sort-of failures that I have no intention of finishing to correct that if you want. In a way the sponge bowl was the worst thing to happen to my channel. It distracted me away from doing what I should be doing with my channel into chasing after views and subscribers. A bigger channel is helpful but I don’t need 200k subscribers to a) have fun b) build a brand that helps me sell the more complicated (and therefore more expensive) things I want to be making.

        Reply
  • November 1, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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    This came at a very helpful time. I’ve been so frustrated with being “stuck” I needed to take a step back and evaluate why I do what I do. I recently just decided to make the videos that I thought people wouldn’t care about, because they were fun. Well, I was wrong. People actually seem to like them and that has been hugely satisfactory. There was a “purist” period where I feel like I lost a lot of subscribers when I didn’t post regularly, or when I did, it wasn’t up to snuff. Since then, I’ve gained more and people seem to “get” me more. The internet, in general (reddit), can seem like a cold place. The community and support I’ve found on Youtube has been overwhelmingly possitive. I’ve got friends all over the world now, and it’s broadened my horizons. While my subscriber count still remains low, my community has grown immensely. Thank you, for posting this, from the bottom of my heart.

    Reply
    • November 2, 2016 at 7:34 am
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      William,
      I deal with those same feeling every day. The truth is you make good clean videos with an enjoyable narrative. You’re already ahead of the game.

      I think with a little more work getting those videos out in front of some new eyes, you would be surprised how quickly your channel would grow!

      Reply
  • November 2, 2016 at 4:26 am
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    Love this article. It’s so easy to get caught up in things and forget to keep it simple.
    Always enjoy your insight (and Bob’s!), thanks for sharing this!

    Reply
    • November 2, 2016 at 7:34 am
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      Thank you Jason!

      Reply
  • December 2, 2016 at 11:45 am
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    Absolutely right. (Hello, I am a random person who recently discovered your youtube channel, and has wandered over here and been poking around. Hello.)

    In any creative endeavour, comparing yourself to others will drive you crazy, whether that be with writing, art, craft, youtube videos, blog posts, whatever. Being *inspired* by others, that’s a different thing. That’s seeing something that someone else did, and saying to yourself, “That’s cool! I want to do something like that.” Because it’s fun, because it’s pretty, because it’s nifty, because it appeals to you; not because it is popular or proper or some other thing that’s got to do with what you think other people think about you, but simply because you yourself like it.

    I mean, why is it that one is doing the whatever-it-is? (In this case, youtube videos of making stuff). It isn’t for money, so it better be for fun (for varying values of “fun”). Being true to the art, being true to yourself; that brings an intrinsic fulfillment that no amount of viewer figures can replace. You *know* this; I can see that from your videos where you revisit (or destroy) the pieces that didn’t quite satisfy you; you were being true to the art in doing so. Viewing figures are nice, sure; they are encouraging; but they are secondary. Making them one’s primary motivation is a recipe for heartache, because the public is fickle, and making your happiness depend on the actions of other people is foolish, because one cannot control what other people do. The only sane attitude is to consider all those external things like viewing figures as a bonus; the icing on the cake. I’m not saying that one shouldn’t want icing on the cake, but you need to have the cake first; having nothing but icing is yeaach.
    I think that metaphor ran away with me a little.

    I have a little mini-poster which I made and stuck up in my cubicle at work: it says “I like making good stuff”. I have it there to remind me that that is my real motivation for what I do: making good stuff, stuff that works, stuff that is pretty, stuff that works and is pretty. Stuff that works for me, stuff that works for others, stuff that is elegant and functional. And whether that “stuff” is a computer program or a piece of jewellery, the fundamental motive is the same. Make good stuff.

    Reply

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