This last weekend I had the pleasure of attending vidcon for the first time, and it was AMAZING. I chose the brand new creator track, which meant I got to go to special panels about being a better youtuber in addition to the larger community events like q&a’s and social issue panels. It was three days being surrounded by people who love what I love and do what I do, learning from the people I look up to and making new friends with the same dreams. I wish I could live in a world of vidcon forever.
Alas, I cannot, but I will take a lot of what I learned with me. Whether you’re interested in the youtube world or how to accomplish your goals, whatever they may be, I’ve collected some of my favorite lessons from the weekend for you:
Take care of your 3B’s: your body, your base, and your business
(Jamal Edwards MBE)
Balancing your health and your aspirations can be difficult, especially in the early days when hard work is an absolute necessity. Jamal Edwards, a young music mogul recently awarded an MBE, said he makes sure to take care of the three B’s: is your body healthy?; how are your relationships with your emotional base (e.g. friends and family)?; and last but not least, what can you do to improve your business? Keeping all three in check will help you progress without letting your mental and physical health suffer.
“Chase your dreams, not your competition”
(Jamal Edwards MBE)
It’s easy to become consumed by jealous thoughts of how much your competition is advancing; it’s especially hard not to do when there’s a big fat subscriber count on everyone’s channel. Everyone gets a bit hung up on subscriber counts and watch time, when in reality what they should be getting hung up on is how they personally are progressing. Did you work harder this week than last week? How is it that what you did will help you achieve your goals? Actors need other actors to fill out the cast in a movie, but you can’t get the lead role without talent and hard work.
“Don’t be someone who likes the idea of doing something, be someone who likes doing that thing”
While at film school, Freddie Wong noticed that there were two types of people there: those who like to make films, and those who like the idea of making films. Youtube has a similar pattern: there are those who like making videos, and those who like the idea of being a youtuber. If you want to be a youtuber, ask yourself why. Do you genuinely enjoy planning, filming, and editing videos? If not, maybe you should think about what you do like, because another excellent point made by Freddie Wong was that your career should start in passion. Do something because you love to do it and would do it even if you didn’t get paid.
“Don’t aim to get bigger, aim to get better”
I’m not entirely sure the lovely miss Tessa Violet said this one, but she did say many things along this vein, so I’ll attribute it to her. Again, this one goes with the numbers side of youtube and how toxic focusing on that can be for you. Instead of aiming to be big youtubers, we should be aiming to make great videos. I know I feel I can tell the difference between someone who puts a lot of effort into their videos and who is just making them for the sake of getting subscribers. I want to support those who are trying to improve constantly, and I want to be someone who shows that same attitude.
Creativity is a muscle independent of “inspiration”
So many of us often feel at a loss when it comes to being creative, whether we call it writer’s block or just running out of ideas. I know I’ve complained about this problem in relation to writing my book, writing on my blog, and making videos, but I was reminded last weekend that inspiration is not to be waited for; the more creativity you use, the more creativity you’ll have. So if you’re struggling to come up with ideas or find the right words, keep searching. Sit down with a pen and paper and just write until you find something.
Quantity can create quality
The quality vs quantity debate is always interesting and relevant. Previously I had only ever heard that it’s better to produce high quality things and do the absolute best you can, but last weekend another thought process was introduced to me: if intelligence and creativity are muscles that grow stronger with more use, an increase in quantity can equate to increase in quality. Don’t be afraid to daily vlog, vlog every day for a month, write a new story every day, etc. It may not all be perfect, but the overall quality of your work will improve.
Everyone else is just as much trash as you are (embrace your obsessions)
A lot of people don’t understand youtube if they don’t watch it, but the amount of people who do watch it is constantly growing, and they understand just how much the rest of us love it. I was in a convention center surrounded by people who both watch and make youtube videos, and as Hank Green pointed out, the most successful of them started out with an obsession for online video. Don’t be afraid to love whatever it is that you love, even if people don’t understand. Embrace your obsessions and go to bed thinking about how you can improve upon them.
You can be the influencer
When you’re sitting facing Tyler Oakley and you clap before anyone else, he may see it and start clapping, thus elevating the action to the rest of the room, but don’t be confused: you’re the social influencer here. This is quite literally what happened at one of my panels, as Dave Erasmus was so quick to point out, making the point that there are tools we can use to elevate our voices, and some may seem louder than others when they have 7 million subscribers, but all of us can influence others and make a difference.
Everyone has humble beginnings, and the best people never forget them
That gif is one of the things Tyler Oakley remembers while being busy with his hugely successful channel, podcast, book, and other projects. 244 subscribers and he cared, because none of any of this is possible without the viewers. Every single youtuber is only relevant as long as we allow them to be. They wouldn’t be getting book deals and sponsorships if no one watched them. As a small youtuber it’s important to remember that a small number like 244 can start a big wave; as a viewer it’s important to remember that I should be supporting good people who deserve the kind of success my views can bring.
So there are my nuggets of wisdom straight from vidcon for you. Maybe you found them insightful and inspiring, hopefully you at least found them interesting – let me know in the comments! x.