6 Weeks of Making YouTube Videos

Hi y'all,

How are you going? I have been a 'real YouTuber' recently. I can confirm that it is literally a full-time job. I felt hesitant to write a blog post about what I have been learning on my new journey, because I feel like that's all I am living for these days. I.e. no life, i.e. boring.

But it is actually pretty freaking exciting!

When I first started vlogging six weeks ago, I filmed myself talking about my evolving relationship with YouTube. I described it as 'going on a few dates with YouTube' and seeing what I like and dislike about my date. I found that 'he' was disrupting my sleep, because of all the late nights I spent with 'him' editing my videos. The experience was fun and novel, a bit like driving to town and staying up late to have supper in Singapore. But there is this consistency required to succeed on YouTube. So whatever work routine I am establishing has to be sustainable for my health

I am curious about the trade-offs that people make to grow their YouTube channel. I contemplated doing what Casey Neistat did - posting a vlog everyday, for forever, basically - but I decided otherwise. I see myself burning out by day 3. 😰 Like the parable of the turtle and the hare, I shall stick to my commitment of making one video a week. Every Monday. Here is the link to my YouTube channel, if you are interested in poking your nose around. πŸ‘ƒπŸ˜€

Even with the 'low' commitment, I started to burn out in my third week of 'dating' YouTube. I know because I found myself losing my cool with Hannah. I quickly realised that I need to incorporate some sort of rest into my week, where I completely let go of the need to film or edit. 

I took my first 'weekend' off on the 1st and 2nd of October, after deciding that Fridays and Saturdays would be my days of rest. I went to bed really early on Thursday night - because I was exhausted - with a sense of relief that I was on leave the next day. But I woke up feeling super anxious about jamming the brakes. 

I turned off my phone to further deter me from filming, in case something interesting happened and my vlogger instincts resurfaced. I only turned it on when I needed to use my Headspace app to meditate. I have to admit that I succumbed to looking at tripods and ring lights on my computer that day. The whole self-imposed 'rest' felt childish, but I finally had time to do novel things like taking a relaxing bath and putting on a face mask at night. It was nice. That first weekend did me good.

On the second week, I did not go to bed early on Thursday night. I stayed up late, like a spoiled, wilful child... who wanted to re-read a book. It also so happened that my husband spontaneously decided to start potty training our daughter the next day, on Friday. Hannah ran around the house the entire day mostly without a nappy on. She did three poos! We went through all her panties that day. 

Man, I was so exhausted on my supposed day of rest. But I honoured my plans and resumed editing my cycling vlog on Sunday. I figured out how to add subtitles on YouTube and tinkered around with it the entire day, till the job was done. On the second week, I did not really have a break, but the thought was there.

I don't appreciate days like that Sunday, where I completely let go of my usual habits like exercise, meditation, journaling, reading and sleeping early. But I would be naΓ―ve to insist that I have time to do all those things and still churn out my YouTube videos on schedule... I am obviously trying to find a balance in it all. But I am a bit sad that I have not been reading for the past 10 days. In place of that time, I have been doing other YouTube things like searching for suitable, free music on the YouTube Audio Library.

For posterity's sake: On my third week of rest, I made sure that the nappy was on - no more potty training on my rest days. But I was completely plagued by video ideas, which would not stop popping up in my mind. I did not film or edit any videos, but I spent the entire weekend doing a large brain dump in my notepad. I wrote down potential titles and thought about participating in Vlogmas this year. The whole brainstorming process was so fun and exciting. I felt like a child again! 

I also watched some YouTube videos from which I picked up some great tips for growing a YouTube channel. I will share the videos down below, along with the tips that I consolidated in my notes. They seem so like, duh! but they are incredibly valuable at the same time. 

Equipped with new information, I tapped into my design and typography background to create four, better thumbnails. For those that do not know, I studied design in Singapore Polytechnic and specialised in lettering and type back in the day. I spent countless of hours studying and drawing words. To think that my past experience in design would come in so handy in my YouTube 'career' now. :-)

Besides taking two days off every week, the other boundaries that I have set with YouTube include:
  1. Schedule taking a week off filming and editing every 7 weeks. (My first week off will be from 1-7 November! I honestly don't know how it is going to go. No filming? At all?)
  2. Take a year off every 7 years. (Scheduled to be 2028)
  3. Do 35 minutes' worth of meditation everyday.
  4. List down the tasks for the week and ONLY work on those. Everything else can wait till next week or beyond.
As mentioned, I will share with you four YouTube videos that have taught me something about making videos. My plan is to avoid this type of videos like the plague from now on and just apply the knowledge that I have learnt for a while, before I consume any more information. Watching more YouTube videos on how to be a YouTuber does not make me a better YouTuber. Making YouTube videos make me a better YouTuber.

Without further ado, video numero uno:

"How to Start A Vlog Channel", by Cathrin Manning, was the first video that I watched. I have never thought that I would vlog my life, but here we are.

  • When it comes to vlogs, people stay for your personality. 
  • Decide the time frame of your vlog before you start filming. Is it a day? A week?
  • Make your viewers feel invested in your life, so that they want to follow along on your journey
  • Face towards a window when possible
  • Keep trying new things that you have never done before in your previous vlogs
  • Follow up on something that is mentioned on another vlog
  • Watch other vlogs and take notes (like the English Literature student, that I was)

This was the second video that I watched regarding the topic of growth. As we all know, YouTube has been around for quite a while, so it is already saturated with YouTubers, very skilled ones at that. So it is a lot harder for newcomers like me to stand out in 2021. But it shouldn't deter us if we genuinely enjoy making videos. 

Some takeaways from this video by Alia Zaita:
  • Film. You have to film!
  • Find yourself in the YouTube trends. Make videos that people are searching for. (I struggle!)
  • Put in effort into making your thumbnails - something that I neglected to pay attention to before
  • Music is everything - it elevates your video to a whole new level
  • The first few seconds of your video must be bomb because, short attention span
    • Start with something exciting, something fast moving
    • Play around with music
    • Maybe it has a cool font
  • Make sure that most of the time of your video is spent on the subject of the video!
  • Keep uploading, even if nobody is watching
  • Have fun, do it for yourself!

I knew nothing about Church before this video, but she's obviously killing it on YouTube? I looked at Shelby Church's channel and her videos are kind of click bait-y. I can see what she's trying to do. Just walking the talk and following her own advice, I suppose. But I am just not sure if I want to go down that route. Also, I just realised that this video is an ad for Fiverr, which I do not support. I think that their cheap rates are destroying the graphic design industry.

Never mind, for what they are worth, these are my takeaways from her sponsored video:
  • To find out what other people are searching for on YouTube, open an incognito browser and go to YouTube. Then type in 'how to', or other keywords that people would look for. Bam. Now you can make a video for the masses.
  • Many big YouTubers outsource their video editing for cheap, because editing takes forever.
  • Daily vloggers send their vlog footage that they filmed during the day, to someone on the other side of the planet, who is just waking up. They edit it and send it back to you as you wake up the next day. Mind-blowing huh!
  • The amount of effort and time she takes to shoot her thumbnail is... insane.
  • Make the thumbnail intriguing, like a little mystery, so people want to click on it.
  • Write down a few points of what you are going to talk about in your video, on a piece of paper. 

I saved the best for the last! Ali Abdaal seems like a genuine and sincere genius, who reads widely and went through the gruesome struggle of making two YouTube videos a week while he was in his final year at medical school in Cambridge. I learnt a lot from his video for aspiring YouTubers like me. 

Here are my takeaways: 
That is my aim now. I have 35 videos at the moment, if you count those casual vlogs that I made last year. 
  • Use your unfair advantages. When I think about it, my unfair advantages are:
    • I can speak English, Danish, Mandarin Chinese, a bit of Italian and Cantonese
    • I have an incredibly cute and beautiful daughter
    • I love cooking
    • I have a lettering and typography background
    • I am pretty artistic
    • I love trying new things
    • I am living in a foreign country
    • I am in an age gap relationship
    • I am fit and healthy
    • I have a meditation practice
    • I live in a charming house with beautiful, wooden furniture and a polar bear skin rug hanging on the wall
    • I come from Singapore, for whatever that's worth
  • Focus on quantity instead of quality. Just keep making videos.
  • Be patient and consistent. Upload at least once a week. 
  • Think in terms of systems - this point I did not quite get. I think I have to first read the book that Ali recommended, which is "The E-Myth Revisited", by Michael E. Gerber.

  • So, there we go. I love having this space where I can just write about whatever I want. This forever blog that catches me when I... fall? Hey, I know that you are not alive but I love you anyway. Yes, I not only talk to the dead - Helge, who is dead - I talk to non-living things like a virtual blog on the internet too. Not to mention my relationship to 'my boyfriend', YouTube. Maybe being crazy can be one of my unfair advantages too. πŸ˜†

    Jokes aside, I have some very exciting plans for Vlogmas this year. It will be the first Christmas without Helge, who was the vehicle of the Christmas spirit last year - In Danish, it is called, pΓ₯ dansk, det hedder "julestemning". I will be writing another blog post soon about my plans to build an Advent Calendar for me, so I have some encouragement to keep up with Vlogmas. More content to film as well. 😏 See! I'm using my brain here!

    Alright, this was long enough to write, which I doubt anyone would read, because I don't ever post anything about my blog posts when I write them. I like it best this way, so just let me be this way. Not everything is about fast growth or reaching our goals. Sometimes it's just about the act of writing. The act of making one video. :-)

    See you when I see you. In the mean time, be gentle with yourself x πŸ’‹



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