My New Video Channel – the what, the why and the how

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This month I’ve finally started to publish videos on my new YouTube channel. I’ve been talking about doing this since last year, and thinking about it for very much longer. I’m not intending for the videos to be a great overlap with this blog, but it seems appropriate today to give you – and future me – a little update and a word or two of explanation.

Making videos is hard

Making videos is hard. It is also great fun, very absorbing and time-consuming. I’ve been drawn to making videos since the late naughties – since 2008 or 2009 – when I took part in a challenge and competition, partly by way of YouTube, for Sveriges roligaste jobb (roughly: Sweden’s most fun job). It was a competition run by the Swedish hostelling association, STF.

I didn’t get the job, but making the videos for the competition planted the seeds of interest. I’ve tried a number of times since to make more. Some of my various essays into the world of video recording still exist online, if you look. (There are a couple linked from the Read more section at the foot of this.) The problem was always that I didn’t really know what it was I wanted to do with them. And I didn’t have the time.

Last year I started to look forward to my retirement and to writing full-time. In preparation for that I spent hours exploring YouTube and viewing, and following, some of the very many young (mostly young) writers documenting their own progress. I also signed up to follow some of the (generally older) writing professionals. There are a lot of vlogs and a lot of how-to videos out there.

Vlogs and How-tos

A vlog (it’s short for “video blog”) is often unscripted, often face-to-camera, and is pretty much a diary entry for the vlogger. A few of these can be really interesting, but I find many of them excruciatingly boring. The interesting ones are often by personable people with a sense of self-irony who either follow a script or follow a thread in what they are talking about.

A how-to video in the field of writing tends to be made by people who teach writing or want to teach writing. Or they may be working in various aspects of publishing. They can be authors as well, some of them taking time to promote their writing in the videos. I react differently to these videos.

Even if a person’s delivery is wooden, what they have to say may still be interesting and I find myself listening and taking notes. But I realise I am averse to being told to “do this” or “do that”. Could it be that 25+ years as a teacher makes me a rebellious pupil?

Actually, I think it’s the manner in which I am being told. I hope I didn’t teach in such a rigid and prohibitive manner when I was standing in front of a class.

Find your niche

When you’re starting out with a YouTube channel, the advice is to “find your niche”. I interpret this to mean, decide what it is you want to do and try to see if there is anyone else doing the same thing and how you might fit in. I don’t want to create a video diary. But I do want to keep a record of my progress for myself and anyone else who is interested. I don’t want to be a teacher. I’ve had my fill of that. But I’d like to share what I am doing and why.

My ambition is to do a kind of crossover between vlog and how-to without the rambling of the first or the finger wagging of the second. I think this is my niche. There are a few people doing something similar, but not many I’ve yet found. Also not so many my age among the writer/video creator cadre. I think this might be an opening for me. This is my raison d’être as a video creator.

We’ll see how that turns out. The plan is to produce videos once a week (if I can manage that) for a year and then see where I’m at. (Also, this is a hobby. I can’t let it intrude on the actual business of writing.)

Measuring Success

I’ll be able to measure my success by looking at views and viewer retention, subscribers, “likes” and comments. In all of these things I’ll be relying on YouTube’s analytics.

In order to earn money from my YouTube channel, I have to collect 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours of viewing. Those are YouTube’s own measures of success, not mine. But until I have achieved YouTube’s target figures, I have no control over the advertising that may or may not appear in and around my published videos.

I strongly suspect that some of the above will find its way into a video script in the near future, but for the moment I’m going to end this by sharing links to my five published videos so far with a quick word about how they were made.

The videos

The first video was hugely difficult to make. We are Fireworks went live at the end of January. It’s 4½ minutes long, and if you get to the end you’ll see a few of the bloopers that will give you an idea of why it took so long to make. One thing that isn’t included is the struggle I had with the high quality Canon camera I was using. It did not like me to move my head while I was talking, and laboriously shifted focus every time I did so.

We are Fireworks

The first video was hugely difficult to make. It went live at the end of January, more in desperation than out of good planning.

It’s 4½ minutes long, and if you get to the end you’ll see a few of the bloopers that will give you an idea of why it took so long to make.

One thing that isn’t included is the struggle I had with the high quality Canon camera I was using. It did not like me to move my head while I was talking, and laboriously, distractingly shifted focus every time I did so.

Best Reads of 2023

The second video was difficult in another way. Best Reads of 2023 took me a month more to put up. I didn’t get it online until 5 March. Part of that was because I was in England in February and working on a laptop, but most of the problem was because I had filmed it with a Logitech camera over the top of my computer screen. The quality of the picture was very good but the speed at which Logitech’s software recorded the video meant that my lips were consistently out of sync with the sound. This is weird because the Logitech camera works perfectly well with streaming services.

There was nothing I could do get my lips back in sync with my voice. Every time I corrected the raw footage in film editing software, it shifted out of sync again as soon as I saved it. Eventually I had to re-film the whole piece after I came home. I rigged up a different camera in place of the Logitech and re-recorded everything.

Starting a YouTube Channel

The third video was by far the quickest to make, but then it is only just about one minute long. It’s a poem about Starting a YouTube Channel. I filmed it using my mobile phone. I think it’s really good despite that. No one else does though!

A New Start after 65

Video number four, my runaway success so far, is a second attempt at talking about what I’m trying to do. A New Start after 65 astounded me by attracting over 470 views within the first three days of publication. Of those, roughly 12% – 59 people, watched it all the way to the end. I was gobsmacked. I still don’t know why it did so well.

Pantser or Plotter?

Video number five went live at midnight between Sunday and Monday this week. It brought me back to earth after the success of number four. At the time of writing (roughly 55 hours since I published it), it has been viewed exactly five times.

I suspect the topic is too esoteric for my audience at present. Also Snoopy, though amusing, doesn’t have the same pull as baby blue-eyes.

Although, you never know, publishing this now might garner it a few more views!

And if you’re interested in the text but not the pictures, you’ll find almost the whole script as a blog post on the website of my writers’ group here:

Read – and view – more …

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