3 Months of YouTube
What happens when you push beyond your comfort zone and post your first YouTube video? I'll tell you what happened to me at the end, but first let me set the scene:
I had wanted to post a video for several YEARS, but never finished one.
I assumed no one would care about my first few videos. (apparently not true)
I didn't have a fancy camera/studio for recording.
I felt really unnatural in front of the camera. The cold, glassy stare of the camera lens is pretty intimidating.
I was intimidated by all of the experts that I felt I was competing with for attention.
I share all of this because some of you might see my later videos and assume that it all just comes naturally to me and I get it right on the first try. False. It takes a ton of re-recordings in the beginning. I assume that gets better over time if you practice. Then again, some of the top YouTubers cut their videos every 5 seconds, so maybe not for everyone.
Despite all this, I decided to finally record a video in December 2018. I'm a hardcore perfectionist by nature (and by nurture), so I decided the video should be quick, rough, barely edited, and the plan was to just throw it up and see what happened. I even recycled content from a blog post.
My quick, rough, barely edited, 6.5 minute video took 9 hours to edit/addtext and image overlays… Oops. I posted the video and shared it to a big AI Facebook group in addition to my personal social media. It got a lot of views! Woohoo! Turns out I said some interesting stuff because despite the sub-par video, it did pretty well. I knew I had to keep the momentum going though, so I immediately felt pressure to create more.
It was good that I started with an easy video, because my first tutorial video was way harder. I put a deadline on myself to publish before my Christmas vacation started. After I had the project itself figured out, it took me 3 solid days of recording screen capture videos and editing them all together. I was supposed to be helping pack for my Christmas trip and my wife was NOT happy with me. I was really stressed out.
The video ended up being over 51 minutes long and took several hours to render, after which I realized the volume was too low 🤦♂️. Fortunately I found a tool (ffmpeg) to increase the volume in 20 minutes instead of 4 hours (I had a plane to catch). I barely finished and it was far from perfect, but I'm so proud of it. As of this writing has over 130 hours of watch time and is consistently one of the top videos if you search "unity ml agents". That's pretty humbling!
I've posted a total of 10 videos from December 2018 to February 2019. It was hard work, easily over 100 hours of effort, but I've enjoyed seeing so many positive reactions to work I've shared. My wife has taken over video editing for me and it's made this project a lot more fun. My successes became our successes and she's really enjoyed learning something new. Video editing is super time consuming, so if you can find a way to be more perfect when recording, please do let me know.
Recording and editing tips
Shorter videos are much easier to record and stitch together, as opposed to recording long videos and finding points to split it up.
Do noise reduction and normalization with a program like Audacity. Audio quality is important.
HitFilm Express is awesome free video editing software for Windows.
Lighting is really important indoors, you can get cheap studio lights that make a big difference.
Most important things I've learned
People are very appreciative when you help them solve a problem.
People are pleasantly surprised when you actually engage with them in the comments.
Having a deadline for completion is immensely helpful.
Practice makes talking to a camera more natural. Also, having my wife stand in the room helps me sound like I’m actually talking to the audience instead of to myself.
If you seek perfection you'll never finish. You also cannot edit videos, so you just have to deal with the fact that your mistakes are visible to the world.
Share your content where people talk about your topic. I got hundreds of views from AI Facebook groups!
Stay authentic - I've opted out of starting my videos with "WHAT'S UP GUYS?!?!?!!!" because it's just not me. Besides, I really don't care what's up, guys.
So again, what happens when you push beyond your comfort zone and post your first YouTube video?
Just like in physics, it requires more force to get moving from a stand-still than it does to keep moving. You move from static friction to kinetic friction. There's still resistance, but once you break past the initial discomfort and start getting positive feedback from the people you've helped, you can't help but want to keep helping! The more you create, the more you grow.
YouTube stats since launch
(December 12th, 2018 to February 28th, 2019)
20.3K minutes of watch time
Average view duration of 4:24 minutes