Last week I had a brief conversation with one of my colleagues at work about YouTube. The conversation started when he mentioned his teenage sons were focused on YouTube and some YouTube ‘stars’ rather than watching TV.
The discussion varied about a bit but it did result in me discussing my belief that everyone should do vlogs or film themselves to camera in some way as it’s very revealing. I also thought it was worth discussing some of those points here.
You Learn About Yourself
I’ve always been aware, to a degree, that people will follow me when I lead on ideas or when things are difficult on a project and we need to find a solution. I’ve been half conscious of what this is just based on reading up on how these things usually work and I’ve primarily pinned it down to trust. I like to think people understand I’m usually going to try and do the best thing rather than the best thing for me and that I’m not going to leave them hanging when things get difficult.
It’s been interesting seeing myself on video.
First, let me say I’m in danger of saying something here that people read and then totally disagree with, but here goes. It’s been surprising how natural, likeable and, well, sincere I come across on camera. Having seen myself on video (once I got comfortable with it) there is a small part of me that looks at it and thinks…so maybe that’s why people sometimes give me the time of day? I can really commit to something, pass on that sincerity and, if I was to admit it, at times, pass that on even if I don’t 100% believe in it (albeit it has to be something I don’t disagree with).
You also see your mannerisms, tics and whatever else. I’ve not noticed any shocking ones. I was aware I sometimes look away from people as I’m talking to them. I have wondered at times if this looked ‘shifty’. It’s interesting seeing it on video, as I similarly look away from the camera, as it actually looks like what it is, me thinking and processing stuff, which actually gives the opposite view, that I’ve actually taken in and listened to what someone has said!
If there is no other reason, this is why everyone should film themselves talking about stuff, it tells you a lot about how people ‘might’, and I do mean ‘might’, be seeing you. If you know how they are seeing you it may tell you why.
It Builds Confidence
I wasn’t someone who liked having cameras pointed at me. I was okay getting my photo taken, but it wasn’t exactly something I craved. As for having a video camera pointed at me? No, no, no…something to be avoided at all costs. It wasn’t something that happened regularly, but if it did, say things related to work, I’d avoid it and not even come close to being the one saying things in front of it or even appearing momentarily on it.
I didn’t even like the sound of my own recorded voice.
Now I talk to camera regularly and sometimes find myself walking around people with a camera pointed at myself in public. I still have some trouble with that, but the change is epic. I still find it totally astounding that this now happens and I’m relatively comfortable with it.
It doesn’t bother getting my photo taken anymore. Oddly, the need for YouTube thumbnails has had a great impact on this as it involves taking photos of yourself in different ways and with different expressions. I guess you become just a bit more like the generation below me, were getting your photo taken just seems more natural and something that happens a lot more often. I can’t be the only one who has noticed the generation below me are all like natural models compared with mine?
Learning the skill of being able to imagine the persona of a ‘viewer’, look down that lens and passed it so you are speaking directly to them is an amazing skill. It’s an amazing skill because it’s transferable to public speaking and just general speaking in numerous environments. It’s also an astronomical confidence builder to know you can pick that camera up and just do it.
Self Reflection Is A Good Thing
In some ways this is about learning a lot about yourself, but I also think it is a distinct thing in its own right. I guess it also depends on the type of channel you have. There are channels that don’t really cover any topics that are going to cause anyone to process or self-reflective on any issues. That’s fine, there are many types of channel out there.
At the same time, there are channels that seek to emulate larger channels, but they don’t realise that, and strip their content of any narrative or self-reflection creating a hollow version of it.
If you’re using your vlog to discuss life issues and more going beyond ‘expertise topics’ or ‘ surface topics’ it can be very useful, interesting and allows to reflect and learn from your experiences. It is honestly not that much different, albeit one sided, from talking it through with other people.
It Teaches You Resilience
It’s easy for YouTube to consume you and not be the greatest thing for your mental health. This is true for all social media, but YouTube involves putting yourself out there more, it takes a lot more time than other social media channels, it’s substantially more creative and when that all interacts with views, likes, subscribes and comments it can get toxic.
It’s very hard not to compare yourself with others, especially when you see other channels being more successful and the reasons for it you find totally inexplicable. The trouble is doing so can damage your mental health. It’s not unknown for people to back off YouTube because of the potential impact on their mental health.
You become more resilient otherwise it’s not a fun journey.
You have to concentrate on your own success, what you enjoy doing and and how that works for you. You can’t focus on copying people. You can’t obsess over why vlogs with literally no content but a list of things someone did do rather than showing what they’ve actually done are successful.
This teaches you to focus on yourself. To concentrate on what you think makes great content and try and find that engaged audience. Unless you’re wanting fame, fortune and glory that doesn’t take much.
This is resilience through liberation.
I can’t say if a year from now or five years from now I’ll still be running with the YouTube channel. Key to why I do things is if I am learning or growing from it and connecting with people and having new and interesting conversations.
At the moment I am learning about myself and I have a core of people who follow and comment on the channels content and those conversations are invaluable to keeping me fascinated and interested in the YouTube journey.
It’s also still growing. Slowly. I’d prefer it to have a bit more momentum, but I’m also not that interested in my views tracking ridiculously behind my subscriber count as that isn’t really growth – something else a number of channels miss.
Everyone should give it a go though, you’ll learn loads.