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My YouTube Experience - A Goodbye, For Now

First and foremost, let me make this clear, this little write-up isn’t going to conform to any specific writing guidelines. I’m not planning on having a “thesis” nor standard sentence structure. I’m turning the Kerouac up to 11 and just letting my thoughts come out. That said, let’s get started.

Two years ago my wife and I had an opportunity arise to move away from friends and family across states. She was being given a promotion but my job at the time was going to be unable to follow with me. After some consideration and a little mathematics we concluded that we’d be able to live off her income alone and that I would take the next 2 years to try and further myself online. Specifically, I wanted to attempt to start a decent YouTube channel that could provide any amount of income.

I, of course, dreamt about being a big YouTube star akin to Markiplier or Jacksepticeye, however my true goals were much more grounded than that. In my mind, if I could have built up even a small following and made just the bare minimum to actually receive a payment from YouTube I would have been happy. And while not a goal at first, furthering my abilities with graphics editing quickly started to sit closer and closer to the fore of my mind.

When we first settled into our new home, I set out to restructure what my YouTube channel had been up to that point. You see, I’d actually been working on it a bit up to that point already but I didn’t have the time to really focus on it and give it the love it needed. I had a rough idea for the concept, “Glitch Faced Gamer” being a play on “shit-faced” lent itself to drinking  and video games. I played around with just having a few drinks and playing games with friends to actually concocting alcoholic beverages themed around games. I had made an intro video of slowly panning shots of video game stuff and bottles of beer. The videos themselves were very simple, consisting of full screen video games for the Let’s Play type videos and full screen live stuff for the drink videos.

Overall, I was just sort of “fine” with the way that things were. So my first goal after moving was to revamp everything until I started to feel a little bit more “wowed” by my work. I recorded a new intro video, this time removing the booze and going for a more “video gamey” feel by having the shot slowly panning into the screen of a Gameboy Advance SP as the graphics turned from big pixelated grayscale to slightly pixelated color to finally full HD. I made a new song, replacing the previous “pub-themed reverb guitar and bar noises amalgamation” with a peppier chiptune-esque creation that sounded straight out of a Super Nintendo game. I also began work on a design language of colors and shapes that I could then use to tie all my social platforms together with, I wanted a nice uniformity and a sort of brand I guess to go by.

This work was all done within the first two months of having moved. The new found free time I had really allowed for me to pour everything into what I was working on and I made fast progress. Those first months really laid out the groundwork for how my channel would continue to evolve over the coming years.

So that was a start. I had a new look, a new feel, a new me in a new state with a new focus. Then what? I really didn’t know what else I could be doing to grow my channel, to spread it around and find an audience. So I just focused on starting to create content to go on the channel, I started recording new Let’s Play footage and getting it up as quickly as possible. This was my first look into the amount of work I’d be ending up with eventually. I was recording video, editing, and then releasing most of it within a week at a time. Something was going to need to change if I were going to keep my sanity trying to do that long term.

After those first 4 months in the new place, I set up a few small videos to be released at the start of the next new year, 2016, while I planned out and recorded some Let’s Play content to be spread out over the following year. I began theming each month to tie the games I was playing into each other and try to have fun and maybe grab onto something of an audience. Themes like Sexy February to correlate with Valentine’s Day had games that both had a weird mechanic of losing your clothes (Akiba’s Trip and Bayonetta 2). I played a Spiderman game around the release of Capt. America Civil War due to it’s cameo of the new upcoming Tom Holland Spidey. I played Super Mario Sunshine during the summer because it made me think of a beach vacation. It all seemed like a really great idea.

At first, things were going pretty well, I was seeing growth of a few subs here and there with each new video release. I started pushing myself further and further, “Oh I can handle 3 videos a week now, let’s double that.” and “Pretty good video, let’s start editing in extra jokes and graphics now.” I started recording more and more, I bought a new mic and starting recording audio separately for higher quality, I added facecam into the mix eventually. In less than a year I was recording and editing close to 10 times the original amount of stuff than I was originally. I was getting faster and better each week. Sadly, the growth of the channel was beginning to stagnate.

I kept putting in more and more work, hoping that people would see the work I was putting into everything and the subs would keep coming in but they weren’t. So I started to try and self-promote more. I was posting my videos to different sub-reddits. I was posting to Google+ communities. I started talking to real life people about it. Nothing was working.

So like any sane person I set out to work at it even harder. After the first full year of working on it full-time I decided I needed another facelift. I made a third intro, tightening it up and reducing it from 15 to just 5 seconds while adding a newly created chime. I didn’t need a little jingle anymore for how short it was so I took inspiration from various “boot-up” noises from old game consoles and old game company splash images. I refined my design language to be more consistent and also persistent through my videos. Finally I made the biggest change yet, I made the jump from “Glitch Faced Gamer” to “Super Glitch Faced Gamer” in homage to the trend of games released on the Super Nintendo console.

I spent close to three months, constantly making little changes to things here and there until finally in early 2017 I was once again satisfied with my own work. Now surely, the fans would start pouring in.

Any day now.

Okay, so not much changed, the channel was still mostly stagnant. Again I was getting the occasional new sub, other being lost at the same time. At this point most people would probably become discouraged and give up.

Not me!

That’s what I’m supposed to say here, but I kind of did. I started feeling depressed, I’d been working so hard on building this channel up, constantly adding content and doing what I felt would make it better and more fun and it was all for nought. After seeing no more growth, and now being halfway through the year, I’ve basically given up on YouTube. I now stream live over on Twitch, I’ve made some great friends over there. I’m seeing more growth there in a few months than I did on YouTube in 2 years. And most importantly I’m having fun again. I don’t have the stress of record game, record facecam, record audio, edit audio, sync facecam to game to audio, edit, render, schedule, publish, promote. Now it’s just, I’m gonna play some games at this time, come hang out, let’s talk. And I love it.

The two year stint of being able to devote all my time working on “this” is nearing an end and while I don’t have any sort of tangible success to show for it. I’ve started to feel happier with what I have accomplished. I’m heavily versed in A/V editing and image manipulation. I’ve learned how to create original music, my aesthetic sensibilities have matured, and most recently like I mentioned a before, I’ve made some good friends.

Going forward is going to be interesting, my resume is going to have a bit of a nasty gap in it but at the same time I’ve learned new skills and developed myself as a person. My work ethic is probably stronger than ever before and I’m pretty excited to be getting back into the actual workforce and going back to school. I plan on continuing to stream on Twitch as I really love the community and don’t want to lose being a part of that.

In the end, I don’t know what any of this was about really. I could say “fuck YouTube” but I don’t really mean that, it was a learning experience and a failed experiment. All I can say is that YouTube is a strange beast to conquer, there’s luck involved, the ability to forecast future trends, market oneself,  and lots and lots of time and effort required to turn it into anything. I think  I had a decent grasp on the skills but that luck part managed to evade me. Anyway, that’s all, thanks for watching/reading wherever you might be catching this from.


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