Sometimes I find myself caught in YouTube rabbit holes where I think of something I want to watch, and that makes me think of something else to search for, which then makes me think of something else that would be cool, and so on. There are these compilations that fans of Jenna Marbles and her boyfriend Julien Solomita have made of just funny and cute moments the famous couple has had on their various channels, and that made me do a search for “jenna and julien sweet moments” or something like that (yes, that’s the kind of stuff I search on YouTube–I can be a sap).
This search led me to a video on Julien’s channel called “When I’m Gonna Propose (Q&A)” (dat clickbait) where he answers fan questions about various topics such as his diet, his favorite YouTubers, and of course his relationship with Jenna. So, of course, I clicked on this video in hopes of finding out some sweet romantic stories about some YouTubers I like, but I found myself more interested in a different topic that was brought up in the video.
Among the many fan comments that Julien responded to was the question, “What is your advice for someone who’s just starting out making videos–more specifically maybe, what are some mistakes you’ve made that you can help someone else avoid?”
Julien’s response to this was succinct, and not anything I haven’t heard before, but it was something I needed to hear at this moment in time. His advice was to “zero in on WHY you’re making videos…I think one of the mistakes I made is losing sight of WHY I ever started. Sometimes you get distracted by a number of things, but if you can keep your reasons for ever starting making videos at the tip of your brain, I feel like that helps you proceed the right way.”
I’m YouTuber with a not-insignificantly sized audience and a solid presence online, however, I still have a long way to go before I can consider myself a successful professional content creator. This struggle might be distracting for viewers who just want me to keep making good videos and interacting with them online. Some creators in my position are happy where they are and just continue doing what got them where they are, but personally, my goal is to continue to grow and expand as much as humanly possible. I am constantly, every day, trying to think of how I should improve my content creation strategy, how I can improve my videos, what tips and tricks I can implement, how I can diversify my income, etc. These things are always on my mind, but I sometimes forget that my audience doesn’t care about any of that. They just came for the videos.
Now don’t get me wrong, every video I make is something I worked hard on and something I stand by and believe in, but I guess for a while now I’ve admittedly been thinking about making videos as a ‘means’ to an end of being successful, rather than the videos and the message I’m spreading be the end itself. I use YouTube as a way to flex my creative muscles and to express myself, but I decided a long time ago that alongside that, I wanted to make videos to promote good discussions on YouTube. I want to make the assertion that skepticism can be done without cynicism, that critical thinking and compassion can be compatible–you know, that whole HAKO thing I mention at the end of every video. That’s WHY I make videos. And I think I kind of lost that a little bit.
I still very much desire to reach the next level as a professional creator and will work hard to get there, but I will do a better job at keeping the WHY at the forefront the whole time. Thanks, Julien for reminding me about that.