More Advice from YouTube “Stars”

This is part two of a series featuring direct advice from YouTube “stars” about what keeps them going. In part one (click to read), we heard from Brittani Louise Taylor, Rhett and Link, and Charles Trippy.

Now let’s thank four more of the most prolific and prominent YouTube creators: Michael Buckley, Venetian Princess, MysteryGuitarman and Happyslip. They’ve shared — in their own words — what keeps the “fire burning in their bellies.” I believe they’re all profiled in Beyond Viral (I frankly haven’t read it), but this is new perspective on how they’ve continued to stay fresh. We can learn a lot from these people who aren’t just early sprinters, but marathon runners of this medium.

1. Michael Buckley

He’s the host of “WhatTheBuck,” and one of the most participatory YouTubers around. You might have read about him last fall in Advertising Age. What keeps him spankin‘ and rolling?

Michael Buckley hosts "What The Buck" on YouTube

a. JOY:
First and foremost, JOY. I know that is a gay answer! HA! But I still LOVE YouTube as much as I did when I became a “YouTube Star” back in 2007. Obviously, YouTube is very different now but I still love it so much and take great JOY in making videos and engaging the community. I am grateful every day that this is the life I am fortunate enough to lead. I LOVE MAKING VIDEOS! I LOVE YOUTUBE! This is the greatest career you could ever have!

b. MY SCHEDULE AND FORMAT:
YES! This is a big one that keeps me going! I think being on a SCHEDULE and having a set FORMAT has made it easier for me to stay on track. I never stop and think “Oh what should I make a video about?” – which I imagine would be stressful if I didn’t have a set format. Some people might tire of this but for me I thrive with the structure and consistency of it. My format is not ideal in 2011 YouTube and maybe someday I will tweak it but I enjoy it.

So yeah- that is a big part of what keeps me going. Having a schedule but then being able to flexible with it when I need to be is a luxury that I do not take for granted.

c. I LIKE MY VIDEOS AND FIND ME FUNNY! HA!
This is going to sound like a strange answer and it’s a personal one- that maybe I shouldn’t share- and may sound dumb – but – I think I am very funny. So when I think “What keeps me going?” – I think about how much I enjoy writing What the Buck. I love love love writing and making jokes and filming it and when I watch it back- I think it is very funny. (Which reminds me of 2006 when I would have a video up with 60 views and 4 comments – I didn’t care if anyone was watching –I watched it 60 times and thought it was hilarious!) So I am very motivated to come up with funny jokes and see if I can deliver them in a humorous way. I think you have to like your own videos or you are screwed.

d. LOOKING FORWARD:
I don’t look back. I don’t sit around and think “Oh I wish YouTube was small like it was in 2007” or “I wish I was the big fish I was back in 2008” which I find a lot of YouTubers who lose their motivation find themselves reflecting back to “when they were popular”. I just look forward and remained focused on creating my content. I am never threatened by other people becoming successful on YouTube. I am happy if my success inspired anyone and I am inspired daily by so many people on the site!

e. THE MONEY:
Getting paid to do something you love is the cherry on top!

2. HappySlip

Happyslip parodies her family and has more than 700K subscribers

 

She’s one of the first YouTubers with whom I “collabed” and she’s been at it before YouTube was on the map.

“For the videos, I try to focus on what entertains me, what entertains my family and friends around me.  That is what I started with and I suppose it is a niche that will always have a loyal following.  The audience definitely varies in demographics and most are not tweenies who live on their computers ready to devour their new subscriptions.  Without that first huge burst of viewers that descend upon a new upload, the videos don’t make the homepage and therefore the snowball that used to accumulate so fast and large just accumulates at a slower pace.

So some of the reasons that keep me going:

  • I would make videos or entertain people even if I weren’t paid.
  • I remind myself constantly that my value doesn’t come from YouTube #s or income that is coming in.
  • I try to focus on what makes my content unique rather than try to make similar videos to other popular creators. (at the same time, I try to throw in some non-filipino vids which are just subjects that inspire me or make me laugh)
  • I only pay so much attention to comments on the videos, and definitely don’t read them if I’m in a bad or fragile mood haha.”

3. MysteryGuitarMan

MGM is one of the most-subscribed YouTubers and has gone from living in the back of a van to living in the front of one. How?

Joe Penna has been making videos since the dawn of YouTube (he wrote my theme song when he was living on Ramon Noodles), but he vanished for a while and returned with a parade of hits. How has he endured as one of the most-subscribed YouTubers?

“It’s tough to keep going. Back in 2010, when my channel was growing rapidly, I went through various phases. I had a phase where I played music with random objects, where I did a bunch of different music looping videos, a bunch of crowd-sourced videos, etc.
Nowadays, for example, if I post a stop motion videos there will be at least one comment with dozens of thumbs up saying “you’re boring! stop making stop motion videos!” If I post something different, I’ll get at least one comment with dozens of thumbs up saying, “you’ve changed! the reason I subscribed is for the stop motion video!
The same goes for any of the little phases I went through. I responded about 4 months ago by posting this video: http://youtube.com/watch?v=SMJhcn0t8kI (check it out at 2:19).
I think what keeps me going is that the feedback I get is almost always overwhelmingly positive. I just chalk it up to me having a channel where it’s not the same format every single time. There have always been and there will always be the vocal minority who won’t think my latest video is up to par with whichever video they found me, or who won’t agree with something new I’ve started.
That’s why I’m on YouTube. To experiment. To create something new. You can come along for the ride, if you so wish. If not, good riddance.

4. VenetianPrincess

She's picked herself up several times, but has continued making videos since she was 8.

Her song parodies have been seen more than 330 million times, and she’s one of the most-subscribed female YouTube musicians. But she took a break and rebounded.  

“Last year I took a hiatus from YouTube, and pretty much all other internet platforms.  I was dealing with family medical issues, I bought a house that ended up being a nightmare, and then I got hit with those copyright claims on my videos which really took the fun out of making videos for me.  I was so upset about it, because now I would have to totally rethink all my material and a lot of the video content I had already shot for parodies were now useless.  So I took a long time off.  From June 2010 – February 2011, I didn’t make any big videos. I’d do a small crappy video here and there, but my full-on productions were now out the door.  I was too bummed out which made me lose my creative spark and I needed to step away.  Because of my viewers, I managed to stay up there on the charts as top female for about two years.

It took 4 months of no videos to finally push me down the charts, which I knew was inevitable.  In all honesty, numbers never really meant that much to me.  Sure, it was exciting to get a lot of views.  But all I really cared about was a) having fun and b) having people that would watch my videos.  The whole “beating Miley Cyrus” thing was a campaign I did for fun because I knew my viewer demographic was into her. When I got hit last year with all of the difficult stuff on YouTube and in real life, I lost all of my drive.  I needed to take time away from YouTube and rethink everything.  Coming back to it this year, I have a completely different view of it.  Of course, YouTube changed ALOT since I left too.  The most viewed and subscribed lists are not as significant as they used to be.  The lists are now all buried and very hard to find while navigating the site.

Another thing I noticed is that everyone and his brother does parodies now.  I think I was one of the first YouTubers doing music video spoofs.  Now it’s like 3 hours after a new music video comes out, there are already 20 parodies on YouTube.  It wasn’t like that before, which played to my advantage.  Now I’m just another spoof channel, and the one-woman-show thing that used to appeal to people is now not as cool as full-on casts with production crews.  I’m a big fan of Key of Awsome myself, so I can totally understand.  It just goes to show how YouTube keeps evolving.
I now approach the site with a new perspective.  Youtube has become almost too big to think of it as a community anymore. I see it now like each channel has it’s own viewer base and I just focus on creating content for my audience.  I have learned that if I am enjoying what I am creating, the majority of my viewers will pick up on that and enjoy watching it.  If I push something out just for the sake of putting a video up, it’s going to show.  Again, numbers never motivated me to create.  But at the same time, my pay is dependent on those numbers.  So I try not to think about that.  I find that if I just do the videos that make me happy, they will do well enough to continue paying the bills.  And I’ll still be able to say I love my job.
Here are some things I do differently now that keep me going:
  • I only allow myself to read the first page of comments.  Usually they are from subscribers and are positive, so they leave me feeling positive about the video when I close out & leave the computer.
  • I post videos that I know I would enjoy watching.  I’m not going to post something just because it tends to my demographic.
  • I don’t watch as many YouTube videos as I used to.  It’s inspiring to watch other tubers do their thing, but watching too much YouTube can be unhealthy.  (And talking about it too much can annoy friends and family lol).
  • I’ve discovered vlogging.  I have a different channel (Skydiamondz) where I post vlogs a few times a week of my real life.  It’s a nice way for me to make videos that don’t take a hundred hours to make.  I shoot it on my iphone, edit for like 10 minutes, and poof it’s uploaded and viewers get a glance into my life without the all the lights and glitter they see in my parodies.  It’s a different kind of experience for me.
  • I’m active on twitter and facebook, it’s a great way to connect with my viewers in a different environment.  I can post video-related topics on my facebook page and get instant feedback from them.
The other thing that is important to mention is that I’ve been making videos since I was 8 years old.  Making the costumes, experimenting with special effects, the whole shebang.  So with or without YouTube- I’d still be doing this on some level.  I’m just blessed to now actually have a lot more than 4 people to watch.  🙂
Big thanks to these four… if it’s one thing more impressive than enduring new-age talent it’s the folks willing to share their tips.

 

 

Viral Social Rule #249: Be Careful How You Treat People on Your Way Up

One day during one of the west-coast YouTube events I got a call from one of my YouTube friends Eddie. He hates when I call him Eddie because he goes by TheMightyThor1212, and using the name Eddie might compromise  national friggin’ security.

Eddie knows I’m boo-hooing that I was missing the SanVegasFranAngelosDiegowhatever YouTube meetup and puts me on the phone with a number of YouTube peeps (including a somewhat perplexed LisaNova who kinda pretends she knows who I am, but is really thinking “I hope this bearded dude doesn’t grab my boobies… Nothing tastes as good as thin”).

Then Eddie puts a guy on the phone who has a spark to his voice- yeah a spark like the one that graced Joe Pesci’s tooth on Home Alone. The guy says he’s Shaycarl and I make him repeat the name about 5 times because I honestly wanted to see his videos after hearing this odd sincerity of his voice. I wrote it down and subscribed, but then (and this is unusual for me) I started eating his videos like cereal at midnight. Shay says something about Sxephil having mentioned him, and it got him a bunch of subscribers. I later find this video response to “YouTube is My Wife,” and my nuts still hurt from laughing.

Shay and I have spoken, collabed, and met a few times, and he’s punked me good. But now he’s eclipsed me and is in the YouTube Popular crowd, but not anymore affected by it than Buckley or HappySlip. He’s the rare YouTuber you’d take home to your mama. He’s deeply faithful and not nearly as annoying as I thought he’d be. I thought I’d have to fake laugh in his presence like I was meeting Robin Williams. But it turns out he’s as delicious in person (mind you this was pre-ZZ Top beard).

So this Shay turns out to be a mega star on planet YouTube (find him and his cult-like following at ShayCarl or Shaytards and he steals the show on TheStation). But he still has the sweet heart to reference Uncle Nalts and that book about YouTube Popularity I wrote and published for free on the Internets. Like, Scoob, it’d be worth my time writing that dated eBook if it had .05 percent of a role in taking Shay from a disk jockey gig in some state none of us have heard of (Nevada or Oklahoma or something) to 300 plus subscribers and WWF Dominator of YouTube’s most-popular page.

Of course I can’t take credit, because then I’d have to take responsibility if he ends up getting sucked into the wild life of Venice Beach, and we find his bloated corpse all coked out on a beach like Belushi or Farley, his TV equivalents.

Oh shit I have to write a real book in about 20 days. WTF am I blogging for? Oh yeah- my car’s still warming up. So a long way of saying… be careful how you treat people when you’re hawt because they might eclipse you, and make you proud as an Irish mama.

P.S. Buckley said he saw me at the YouTube 777 gathering but thank God he didn’t approach me. Because I might have been all, like, “yipes! An unpopular gay guy!!! Zipster protect me!!!!” And then he’d never return my e-mails.

Michael Buckley: Making a Living as YouTube Star

Michael Buckley was on CNN discussing the YouTube Partnership program, and how it has allowed him to follow his passion full-time. I’m hoping Buckley’s recent press can remind people of two things. First, this space has grown up. I predicted people would be earning 6-figure incomes in 2007 and I was too ambitious. But now folks like KipKay on Metacafe (who earned 6-figures last year, but has slowed down significantly) and Michael Buckley (WhattheBuckShow) are proving that it’s possible. Second, Buckley reminds us to be realistic. Buckley worked like crazy, has crowd-gathering talent, and promotes himself well. Buckley is on Inside Edition tonight, and the media seems rather interested in the notion that people can quit their jobs and live independently via YouTube.

Want to make a living on YouTube? Some tips

  1. Remember it won’t happen overnight.
  2. Find a niche. Buckley is appealing to celebrity-watchers that like a regular online digest.
  3. Read my free eBook: How to Become Popular on YouTube Without Any Talent
  4. Promote yourself, and ensure you use copyright-free content.
  5. RSS or read this blog often- it’s dedicated to helping creators make income (and show advertisers how to enhance their brands via known YouTube creators.
  6. Join the YouTube Partners program once you have a decent amount of videos and views
  7. Create a lot of content that people want- much of Buckley’s revenue is due to his constantly topical videos, and residual income he earns from his collection. For instance, the vast majority of my income comes from continuous views to the top videos I’ve created that continue to get views.

You’ll need to be a top YouTube creator to live from its advertising sharing, but many of us are supplementing our income. I maintain that the highest earning comes from “sponsored videos.” These aren’t easy to find, but they’re nice income. 

Buckley had a modest income before going full-time, and that helps. I’ve got four kids and a mortgage, so it will be a while before YouTube can match my day-job income. But it’s a fun way to make an additional income source, and my video revenue is certainly more than I made in my first job post MBA.

Popular YouTube Star Quits Denny’s. Goes Full-Time.

Michael Buckley, writer and host of “What the Buck Show,” has left his full-time job as regional assistant director at Denny’s to plunge full-time into online-video entertainment. Read about it in this New York Post article (found courtesy of this relatively new blog, “YouTube Reviewed“). Here are some quotes about his departure from a recent blog.tv show Buckley hosted.

In a phone interview, Buckley told WillVideoForFood that he’ll miss serving Grand Slam breakfasts, and his co-workers and customers. “It made me cry a little bit, and not just because I’ll miss the 30% off employee discount,” said Buckley.

It is exciting to see a person leave a day job to commit to online video, and other YouTubers (CharlesTrippy, Sxephil, MrSafety) are finding their online work brings more income than day jobs.

Note in this interview with MrSafety Tyra Banks announces that Cory (smpfilms) makes $20,000 a month on YouTube. His response: “who told you?” I happened to be in NYC with Cory the day prior, and I hope he doesn’t mind me telling you that the shirt he bought for this interview cost more than my first suit.

Now we just have to figure out how to do this when you have four kids, a mound of debt, and a giant mortgage.

Parodies of Annoying YouTubers

Thanks to yesterday’s comments section (marquisdejolie) I’ve discovered YouTubeicide. It was going to allow it to be a quiet guilty pleasure since it’s somewhat macabre. But this parody of Michael Buckley (Whatthebuckshow) was simply too good to pass on.

Screw Retarded Policeman. I won’t feel like I’ve “made it” until these guys rip me a new hole.

Speaking of hole, I went to a friend’s mom’s funeral the other weekend. As I kneeled to pay respect to her, people noticed the 3-inch hole in my pants bottom. I’m talking about an L shaped rip that you could put a Rubick’s cube through.

Come to think of it, maybe that yellow square wasn’t corn in the toilet.

Maybe Online Video Isn’t Just Staging Area for Wanna-Be Media Stars?

Michael Buckley: Media WhoreI found this quote interesting, as Liz Stowasky of the “Point Click and Go” show on Fox.com interviewed Michael Buckley (see video) from the WhatTheBuckShow. Stowasky asked Buckley about his plans for the future:

“It’s so funny because whenever I do interviews they always seem disappointed when I kinda say I’m happy where I’m at. They definitely want to hear ‘oh, I am aspiring to much more.'” … Sure if E called and wanted to give me a half-hour show… that would be great. My biggest fear is they’re going to censor me… and they’re going to be ‘don’t say this or do say this, or take it down a notch or don’t be so gay or whatever.”

Hmmm. Downsides to “crossing over.” Someone telling us not to be so gay.

One thing we sometimes forget is the tremendous creative freedom we have as online-video creators. No studios to please. No sponsors to patronize (unless we choose). No script review or censorship. Just us and our audiences.

I suspect that Will Ferrell’s motivation for FunnyOrDie was about having that freedom, and not on getting rich via the web. After all, Ferrell already has enough money to buy Buckley and make him his $4,000-a-date Spitzer gimp.

Speaking of Spitzer, how come nobody’s done a “Spitzer throws puppy from a cliff” video yet?

The Thrill of Fake YouTube Battles: What The Buck vs. Nalts

whatthenaltsprofilepic.jpgI learned some time ago that online video viewers aren’t the most discerning bunch. When Charles Trippy and I created a fake feud, many viewers fell “hook, line and sinker” for the drama (in which we pretended to give out each other’s cell phone numbers, which were actually numbers to the “rejection hotline.”) Here’s my video and here’s his, and the responses and comments will show how vigilant the “fans” of one YouTuber get to protect the honor of their weblebrity (here’s one example). We thought people would be more skeptical, and eventually I had to to this satire spoofing his overzealous fans. Trippy also came clean, and he’s since updated his video title to reveal the joke.

whatthenaltsbannersmall.jpgHistory repeats itself this week. Recently I decided to claim that I’m the writer behind the popular What The Buck Show. It began with some banners, and I’d like to thank Gage Skidmore (the creator of the Nalts logo) for his recent banner collection displayed here (He’s also created a delightful Nalts cartoon you can see by selecting “more below,” although I look a bit doughy if I’m keeping it real).

what the buck michael buckleyYesterday evening my e-mail starting filling with hate mail. It seems Michael Buckley, one of the most popular YouTubers, posted a dramatic video on his Peron75 channel that chastises me for lying. It’s rather convincing, and Michael has a knack for Tammy Fay-like tears. I must confess there was part of me that thought he was serious. His fans not only believed he was upset by me, but many sent horrid comments, videos and e-mail that urge me to die.

Nothing I haven’t seen before. It’s the price of being one of YouTube’s most annoying creators ™. Nonetheless, here’s my spoof response, where I take fake claim to scripting his fake video attack. We’ll see if Michael is compelled to “clear the air” in his What The Buck blog, but frankly I prefer the confusion. Who wouldn’t rather be despised than forgotten?

So what have we learned here? Don’t believe it when YouTubers pretend to feud. It’s all part of promotional drama, and clearly another example of how far some YouTubers will go to hitch their star to my wagon.

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