Consumer/Creator

Lately I’ve been struggling to find a balance as both a consumer and a creator. This is a balance that I’ve been struggling with a lot, especially in recent years, but seems especially stark of a contrast since I’ve recently committed to making more.

I watch tons of TV, subscribe to nearly 100 YouTube channels, and go to the occasional movie; read novels, non-fiction, and comics; take part in events like VidCon and Comic Con, but don’t feel like I’m making nearly enough. I’ve been told at panels and events that creators need to be consumers too. If I’m going to make something I need to know what’s out there. While that’s true, I think for me I need to start focusing on the opposite.

Instead of watching, I need to write, shoot, and edit video to put up on YouTube. I need to be writing scripts that are never going to see the light of day in the hopes that one day I’ll come up with something I’m proud enough to share. I need to practice and do, not just in response to all the things I consume, but from my own thoughts and ideas outside of the mainstays of culture.

In a lot of ways I have no idea how to do this. I’ve spent so long trying to determine what I think of the world around me that to shift into my own thought process is an astounding transition. But absolutely necessary. I’m starting to journal more. I’m starting to write here. I’m starting with my YouTube channel. I’m not disillusioned to think this will be easy, but starting is half the battle.

Summer Break

summer break

No, not the traditional time off from school given to students in academia. I’m talking about the new web series that’s started up a few weeks ago. It follows 8 recent high school grads as they are spending their last summer together. Summer Break is a docu-reality done in real time with the “characters” tweeting, instagraming, and vineing, and the YouTube summaries popping up a day later.

I am fascinated by this show. The idea of “watching” (or I suppose more accurately following) things happening in real time is a true testament to how far technology has come. While with most social media integration the social media aspect comes after production, this show is doing the opposite. It’s allowing social media to determine what gets put in the final cut of the show.

Personally, I’m only a passive viewer. I subscribe to the YouTube channel, but only watch a few of the torrent of videos that are uploaded. It’s fascinating in it’s newness. Like a frog in a jar that I’ve put on my shelf and every once and a while I’ll pull it down and poke at it with a stick. I don’t think I’m quite the target market, but it’s wildly entertaining nonetheless.

The biggest question this raises for me is weather this form of story telling will catch on. Clearly it’s made for reality TV. But could it be adapted to scripted format? (Lizzie Bennett Diaries anyone?) Is it successful enough for advertisers to consider it marketable? How would advertisements work on a show like this?

So many questions and so few answers, but I suppose that only time will tell.

If you’re interested, you can check out their YouTube channel HERE, and their twitter account HERE.  I’m not linking to each individual’s Twitter/Insta/whatnot, it would be too much, but you can find them through these links.

This Has Been: June 2013

new apartment

This month has been bizarre. And also awesome. From hanging out and going to yoga with friends to working my way though some fantastic TV, and MOVING TO LOS ANGELES, I’ve had a great month. A few of my favorite happenings around here:

  • I went to a screening of Much Ado About Nothing (I wrote this review from a festival screening, but still went to see it again once it came out in theaters).
  • Yoga is awesome.
  • I said goodbye to my home city.
  • And hello to a new one through memories of past moves.
  • I quietly launched a new series about cooking. Recipes and the like in the works!
  • Speaking of in the works, I also talked a bit about how I approach blogging and how that’s changing.

My biggest goal of the month (moving to LA) was passed with flying colors, I moved into a new apartment on the 19th, signing a years lease to live in the City of Angels. Well, if you count a handful of boxes and some IKEA furniture “moving in”. Most of my stuff is still in Chicago, so I’m trying out minimalist living for a little while.

Two of my goals involved organization and planning. I wanted to plan out my day the night before, and put together a new focus for the blog. Day-planning was successful to an extent. I didn’t plan every day, but I did notice a great increase in productivity on days that I did plan for. Encouraging, now to make it a habit.

Blog re-focusing was a little more vague than I had intended, but I did come up with some new blogging goals of having series/reoccurring topics on the blog. Some of this I’m still trying to figure out, but you can see what I’ve got so far in my new page on series/topics. I also am trying to be sure that new content is more heartfelt. By showing more of myself I hope to be able to connect better with you all.

My other goal was much more concrete. I wanted to post two vlogs onto my YouTube channel. So far I still don’t have any subscribers there (be the first!), which is fine because I’m still trying to figure out how my channel fits in to my life. This was not a success. I posted one, and filmed a second, but haven’t even edited it yet.  Editing is probably going to be the bane of my YouTube existence.

Another goal that was met this month – well met a few months ago, but I discovered was met this month – was making the deans list.  I got a letter from school saying that I made the deans list for the spring semester. This was one of my birthday goals, so I’m glad to hear that I made it! Just the summer and fall semesters to go, we’ll see how I do.

What did you do this month?  I’d love to hear about you guys in the comments.

The New World of YouTube

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As the market for web content grows, the offerings grow even faster. The top destination for web content is quite clearly YouTube. While typically media content is scripted, shoot, edited, and then sent out to consumers via movie theaters or television airwaves; YouTube works under a completely different premise letting the viewers also be the creators of content (see my explanation of how different types of content make money for their creators here).

Unlike movie, television, and some web content competition, YouTube is free to creators and viewers, and also available upon viewer demand. Wherever you want to watch a YouTube video, you can. There is very little filter of content, allowing for a great diversity of video topics, production, origin, and length. All together this content, made by amateurs and professionals alike, has grown into a company estimated to be worth $45 billion (source).

The question that arises when YouTube makes money from the content shared on their site is not weather they are allowed to make money, but how much of that money should be shared with the people who are creating the content that YouTube is profiting from.

Monetization is the process of making money off of a product or service, that otherwise wouldn’t provide an income. Some bloggers monetize by selling ad space in their sidebar. People pay a fee for a month or two and have their site mentioned in a post, and do a giveaway, ect. YouTube is a for-profit company, of course they’re allowed to monetize and make money off of their efforts, but the service would be useless without the creators who draw people in.

The best way to make money is to figure out the best part of your business and find a way to get people to pay for it. What matters on YouTube*? Views and comments. Those are the interactions that both creators and consumers of videos get the most out of. They may not be the most profitable interactions, but they are the reasons people want to be a part of the YouTube community.

How can YouTube make a profit off these? To be honest, I’m not sure what the answer is. Advertising may be part of it, and certainly will be for the foreseeable future, but I can’t help but think that a more engaging form of advertising will eventually be thought up.

Meanwhile, YouTube as a company, seems to have decided that Subscriptions are the be all end all of video making. Here’s the thing: YouTube can provide the space, but if they want to grow as a platform they can’t dictate how people use it. In fact, the more freedom they give, the more likely people are to use their service in a way that brings in more viewers and – ultimately – more money for the site.

There are two things that can be achieved by introducing paid subscriptions.

Thing the first: no advertising. I can especially see the value of this in kids content. If I was a parent I would be willing to pay for a kids content channel, knowing that I could let my kids watch it without worrying about raunchy advertisements.  Peace of mind is absolutely worth $5-10 a month.

Thing the second: A requirement that paid subscription channels be high quality and consistent. If I was guaranteed an awesome video once or twice a week I could understand a subscription fee. Web series come to mind such as the Lizzie Bennett Diaries or Crash Course. Channels where I know I am getting consistently awesome content are channels I would be happy to pay for.

But the majority of content on YouTube is made by people who are not relying on said content as their source of income. People who make videos for fun, who got an account to upload that one video of their cat on a romba chasing a duck. In an internet climate where the only way to get noticed is through big cross-platform social media campaigns, what is YouTube doing to draw the general population of viewers and creators? Not much.

Do you YouTube?  What kinds of channels would you be willing to pay subscription fees for?

*to those who are creating YouTube videos

Writing About Writing (week of June 3)

Monday: journal (2)
Tuesday:journal (6)
blog – Goodbye SF
blog – YouTube
Wednesday: journal (2)
blog – yoga
Thursday: resume
emails
Friday: journal (2)
Saturday: journal (4)
blog – things I’ve learned
blog – this post
Sunday: journal (1)

Last week I had hoped to work on more focused blog content.  Definatly happy with what I got done on that front.  I’ve been spending a lot more time working on my blog lately, and I think I’m seeing some return (If you’re new here, welcome!)  I also wanted to start planning for and applying to internships for the fall.  I sent one resume and cover letter out for a volunteer gig.  It wouldn’t “count” for anything other than be awesome to do and to put on a resume, but I’m excited about the possibly.

This week my goals are a lot less writing focused and a lot more living arrangement focused.  I have a lead on a place in LA, but would like to make some progress on that front.  Getting in a lease application, or possibly two would be ideal.  Of course I will continue to concentrate on blog content, and I want to try and get a bit of a safety net up for when I start classes again next month.

6 Things I Think I Would Be Good At

Have you ever seen something and thought to yourself “I could do that… and I bet I’d be pretty good at it too.”  I think that sometimes.  For a while I was reading a ton of blogs and thinking to myself exactly that.  So I did it.  Am I good at it?  Well, I’m certainly not terrible.  They haven’t laughed me off the internet yet.

I was thinking about this more recently and thought up some other things I think I would be good at.

  1. Scrapbooking.  Taking pictures and putting them in an album plus making it look pretty?  Yeah, I think I could manage that.  I’ve been watching a few bloggers work on Project Life and I think it would be fun.  Someday I’ll get to it.
  2. Travel Writing.  Go to far off places and write about it?  That’s been a part of a plan B for a while now.  Travel writing, as in making money from it?  That might be a little bit harder, but I could probably do that.
  3. Parkour.  I already climb on everything, I could probably take it a step further and try my hand at Parkour.  It would be really hard, and it would take a lot of effort, but I could probably learn a few tricks if I had someone to teach me.
  4. Teaching.  I’ve taught Sunday school before and I’ve taught friends how to do things, so I could maybe be a teacher.  I realize that there’s a lot more to teaching than that, and it takes a lot of time and effort to be good at teaching.  I think I would be a good teacher though, at least in theory.  I’m a pretty patient person and I like kids.
  5. Crocheting.  I love making things with my hands.  I already knit and sew, clearly crocheting is next in the handmade department.
  6. Vlogging.  I follow a lot of video bloggers on YouTube.  I could totally do that!  I know how to edit, and I learned a bit about how online video gets popular in school.  I even have a camera that I could shoot video with.  I guess we’ll see how it goes.

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All this in part to announce that I’ve started a YouTube channel and will be trying my hand at vlogging.  I have an idea of what I’m doing, but probably don’t really know what I’m getting myself into.  You can check out my first video already, and be sure to subscribe if you have a YouTube account.

I don’t know that I will have a schedule for vlogging quite as strictly as I do for blogging.  Down the line I’d like to upload once a week, but for now I’m trying not to put to much pressure on myself.

What do you think you would be good at if you ever gave it a shot?  Do you vlog?  Let me know what your channel is and I’ll check it out.

YouTube, Advertisements, and Generation C

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Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about the influence that YouTube has on the rest of mainstream media.  As everything is changing so rapidly networks are fighting for viewers right next to cable networks.  Premium cable networks are fighting with new online content put out by other subscription services.  Somewhere in there, YouTube is holding it’s own.  In fact, it could easily be argued that YouTube is winning.

In order to better understand where YouTube stands, I want to give a brief outline of house these other companies make money.  As much as I am interested more in the creative aspect, having an understanding of the financial makes me more aware of the industry as a future creator and helps viewers to have a better understanding of why these corporations makes choices in the way they do.

Network television includes the “big 4” networks, CBS, ABC, Fox, and NBC.  If you include The CW it’s 5.  If you have the right kind of TV, these stations are free to pluck out of the airwaves.  Legally they must provide news coverage along with entertainment.  They make their money from advertising revenue, AKA commercials.

The next step up is basic cable.  These are networks like TNT, TBS, and USA that create original content to run next to syndicated repeats of network shows, as well as 24-hour news channels like CNN and MSNBC.  Whatever your niche is, you can probably find it on basic cable.  These channels are scrambled in the airwaves and you have to pay a cable company a subscription fee to give you a box to unscramble it.  These companies make money two ways, through the subscription fee as well as through advertising revenue.

Beyond that are premium cable channels and subscription services.  These are considered separate entities by some, but they turn a profit in the same way.  They include HBO and AMC, and Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon Prime.  These services run solely on subscription fees and are broadcast through scrambled airwaves, digital boxes like a Roku or Apple TV, or through online streaming.

Then comes YouTube.  While there are a few other video hosting sites, Vimeo and Yahoo! Screen come to mind, YouTube holds the market share.  YouTube is viable only through advertising revenue which include sidebar ads (that run along the bottom and sides of web pages), lower third ads (that pop up along the bottom of a video), and pre-rolls (commercials that run before a video will play).  The difference here is in the content.

While TV networks and subscription services create their own content or pay syndication fees to run older shows made by other studios or networks, YouTube content is made by individuals and uploaded to the site directly.  This leads to lots of videos of cats and stupid human tricks, but also has allowed for a new type of content to emerge.

Web content falls under a handful of categories and, in a similar style to basic cable, anything you want, you can find it online.  What I’d guess to be the most regular and consistent content is vlogs (video blogs), how to videos, and web shows.

In the case of any of these you can easily subscribe to a channel (the term used for a YouTube creator).  Once you’ve subscribed, their videos will show up in your subscriptions list and you can follow their comments and likes on other videos.

To me, and clearly to thousands of others, what makes web content great is the community it creates.  By following a how to channel I have a group of people I can go to if I have questions.  By following a vlogger and commenting on their videos I start to become a part of their online community.  By following web shows and interacting with other fans in the comments we create a whole new experience of fandom.  Down the line this leads to things like VidCon and other meet ups where fans can meet the creators.

Creators of web content are more accessible to what’s starting to be called Generation C (“C” stands for community).  While sometimes described by year, Generation C is defined more by their way of interacting with each other online.  Generation C is made possible by YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr.  The platforms they use to stay connect to each other across city, state, country, continents, and oceans have shaped their existence and these habits are being cemented into popular culture.  Get ready, because it’s not going away.

Are you a member of Generation C?  What type of media gets your eyeballs?

This Will Be: May Edition

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So this month I find myself in a similar situation to the one I was in a couple of months ago before my program started.  I have a lot of time and no real direction of what to do with it.  I hope that I can make the most of it, hopefully this round I have a little bit of a better idea of what to do with myself.

For one thing, I want to actually go through with getting a motorcycle license this time.  I know I’ve probably said it every month this year, but now that I’ve actually made a start on it, hopefully I’ll be more able to go through with it.  I made and went to a DMV appointment with to get a permit, failed the test, and made another appointment.  Study time.

I also want to spend time working on a very specific project or two, the original specs that I thought of last semester.  I kind of like having two projects going because it means I can go back and forth between them when I’m stuck.  At the end of last month I started working on these in the mornings as a part of my morning routine and so far it’s going really well.

Another writing project is to put some extra work into this here blog, as well as some of my other social media haunts (Twitter, Facebook, Google +, and YouTube).  I want to rethink how I approach social media and come up with some goals for each platform and across the board.  I’m even toying with the idea of vlogging.  We’ll see how that goes.

Meanwhile, I wait for my academic petition to go through, and once it does I can start really, properly looking into housing in LA.  Since I did a lot of base work while I was there I can call up a few of the contacts I’ve made and hopefully housing wont be a huge to do.  In the meantime I want to be sure to keep in touch with my people in LA.  The friends I made in my classes and the ones I made through my church will continue to be a part of my life, I just have to figure out how to do that from here.

Bonus: I get to hang out with my mom on Mother’s Day, possibly go to visit a friend in Seattle, and see a bunch of friends who will be coming home this month.