De-Monotized

*sigh*

Over the weekend I noticed this message pop-up on my YouTube channel:

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 1.34.07 PM

I had heard originally that YouTube was making this plan but figured that I would be/had been grandfathered in, which is why I was both getting ads on my videos and making money from ads on my videos for the past five months. It isn’t so much the money that frustrates me about this situation as much as it is that because of an error on Google’s part, I’m suddenly not going to be making anything on videos until I hit some random arbitrary lifetime view count (which spoiler I’m 7,449 views away from) before I’m allowed to even potentially earn money for the videos I make. It’s worth noting that YouTube won’t even send a check for anything less than $100 anyway, so I now have to make considerably more content (without hope of payment for the foreseeable future) before I can even attempt to start to get money back.

I know that YouTube and Google don’t owe me anything, they don’t have to pay people at all, but it’s odd to me that as the company has gotten larger and more popular rather than doing more for its creators it’s somehow managed to screw them over more instead. I love doing YouTube, and I would do it money or not, but I have to wonder, why should I no longer make money because I haven’t hit enough viewers to ‘earn it?’

 

Show Notes: (the future of the blog)

Well, that didn’t take long.
I still haven’t fully decided how I’m going to do this. Frankly, for a Slytherin I’m intolerably indecisive when it comes to things like this (or at least as of late). But here’s the thing, I have decided on a couple of things.

#1 – Show notes:

This one has been kind of a long time coming. I’m embarrassed to admit, I came up with this idea months ago. I’ve debated for some time holding off on it, maybe using it as a feature for my future Patreon if I decided to go down that road, but honestly at this point, I kind of just want to do this because it’s just sitting there. I spend a LOT of time writing out show notes for each video I make. Whether it’s just a general note of things I want to talk about or a full ‘script’ there’s a lot of information that doesn’t always make it into the video, so I figured these show notes might offer people who enjoy my videos a sort of behind the scenes look into my process.
Why share them now? Aren’t we seeing them in the video?
Yes and no. My videos aren’t specifically scripted; even if I write out what amounts to a script when it comes time to film videos– things don’t always end up the way I wrote them, and that’s a good thing. I thought it might be fun to offer readers and viewers a behind the scenes take on my vlogs. I also have a number of videos that I had notes for that never made it or videos that have already been done that I have notes for all of which could eventually be shared here.
#2 – Archives
One of the biggest questions I’ve been trying to figure out is how I want to do these show notes, and what happens to the content already available here? Should I just leave this as purely an archival site, sharing show notes through another platform like Tumblr? Or should I utilize the subscriber base I’ve already procured on WordPress and post the show notes here offering a mix of both the video itself in each post along with the show notes for said video? This to me seems like the most obvious choice, at least for the time being. I’ve spent a good amount of time building up the audience that I already have, it would be a shame to just abandon that and leave the blog purely for archival purposes without ever updating things.
 
#3 – Essays, Podcasts, and Shorts
Now that I’ve officially left Wix for WordPress, there’s a number of things that I still think I want to share. I have tentative plans to share some essays as a YouTube video (maybe a compilation of 2 or 3, I haven’t decided yet) and even more tentative plans to archive all podcast episodes with YouTube (and any future episodes that may occur).  The psychical written copies of the essays will continue to live on through the blog, and eventually, once I’m settled on how I want to do things I can archive podcast episodes here as well (but more on that in future). As for short stories, I’m not sure I’ll be sharing the ‘original’ Wix versions anytime soon but that isn’t to say I won’t want to share them in future, which I think is part of why this blog has been next to impossible to get rid of. I just have a thousand and one ideas and plans and thoughts and I like to keep my options open.
What does this all mean? In the abstract, it means that this blog will be a lot more active than it usually is. Between ‘new’ show notes, and old show notes I could reasonably put up a new post every day, and if ever there’s a time when I want to share some type of thought or note that isn’t necessary vlog specific, that could also be done on a non-vlog day. This offers me plenty of options with how I proceed with the blog in question and keeping up everything as I’ve wanted to for all this time.
I don’t know yet whether or not I’ll take the time to make actual blogs again, frankly show notes are something in between a blog and a script. They probably read enough like a blog post but a number of them can be a little jumpy as they are meant to serve more as talking points than as scripts. Ultimately I feel like this will offer me a considerable amount of freedom because the blog isn’t so much about blogging and whatever that means, as it is, sharing a behind the scenes look at something new that I’m working on, mixed in with other things on my mind. Maybe there are more thoughts I have on a story than I want or can put in a video, and rather than crowding my YouTube description box with all of this, I can share it in a long-form blog post. Where the idea came from, my motivations, or even addendums/author notes. This will open greater creative avenues for me, and hopefully, allow an even greater interaction with subscribers as they will be able to have an even deeper depth into my work than what would be traditionally seen through vlogs. Or at least, that’s the hope and idea. They can also comment here and leave suggestions for topics and ideas, answer polls and everything in between.

End of an Era

Over the past 11 years, I’ve written, hundreds of blog posts. Some forever lost to time. Some political, some personal, some just random thoughts on writing and how I was doing, to update those who followed my blog and my progress. In that time I amassed as many as 500+ followers close to a thousand between subscribers and email followers and I loved it more than I hated it most days.
But lately, I find myself caring less and less about the blog that brought me to where I am today. I blog out of habit, or maybe, fear that I’ll miss some great opportunity if I stop, but the thing that I’ve come to realize is I’m not sure I really love it anymore. I enjoy it at times– it’s a way for me to get my thoughts out that tends to be more focused than my vlogs are (currently), but I can’t help but wonder, am I simply holding onto the past because I’m too scared of what it would mean to let go of it and live in the present?
I love vlogging, I love sitting in front of the camera and sharing my thoughts and ideas in such an organic way. I love just being able to talk about whatever and even more importantly I love being able to have that communication with people who watch my content. For a long time now with blogging, one thing that’s been missing has been communication. There’s plenty of people who follow my blog via email, or subscribe to it or even people who just see posts and like them, but the amount of people who comment on posts is few and far between. It’s isolating, writing has always been an isolating process and I suppose that’s to be expected, but when you have an opportunity to have a greater interaction with some sort of fan base, it’s hard to pass that up.
I’ve thought long and hard about this decision, and it’s been difficult. There’s a part of me that will never know if this is a good decision or not, but I realize the only way I’m going to know if I’m making the right decision is just to do it and go from there. I loved blogging. It’s a way to write in a more personal way than I’m used to, but I can’t help but feel that maybe, these days, it’s holding me back just a little. I need to give myself the chance to take a step back.
That is why, going forward from this blog post– I will be taking a break from blogging– for the rest of the year– three months, to give me time to figure out whether or not I actually miss it, staying, completely away from it.
Then, in January, I’ll come back to the blog– and I’ll figure out if this is something that I still miss or if it’s something that I’ve just been holding on to. So here’s what I ask… I know that if you follow me here you likely prefer written content, so if you still want that you can follow me on Twitter @narcissadeville but if you really want to hear my full thoughts and largely unfiltered voice. Please check out my YouTube channel, at the link below.
Thank you. And I’ll see you in 2018.
-Cissa.

The 18 Things I Learned, Failing at Self Publishing

In 2011 I made the decision to self publish my novel to a resounding failure. What went wrong, what could I have done better, and what did I learn along the way?
  1. Self-doubt is real- In the immediate aftermath of failing at any dream, your mind will reel with self-doubt. A lot of negative thoughts will hit you at once and you’ll find yourself wanting to give up. Don’t do it.
  2. Ignore the Comments- Not everyone is going to like your work and the reasons why are often personal– in the words of RuPaul, what other people think of me is none of my business… use this to your advantage.
  3. Perfectionism is a fool’s errand- Perfectionism is this shiny little notion that you can create something universally beloved, yet even things that are loved by tons of people, have haters. Nothing is universal. There are things I have disliked or (won’t even try to read/watch) simply because EVERYONE is obsessed with it and I just get sick of hearing about it. It’s not personal, people just have different tastes.
  4. Marketing is imperative (readers won’t just find you)- Just because you wrote an amazing book, doesn’t mean readers will just magically flock to it. Word of mouth is a great promotional tool, but you can’t depend solely on your friends telling other friends and hoping everything will just fall into place. Sometimes you have to be willing to put yourself out there more. There are plenty of writing blogs that feature other authors, magazines to publish essays or excerpts, Facebook groups, and forums to show off your work. Use these tools to grow your brand and get people to find you.
  5. Utilize your social media –  I have a confession, I kind of hate social media most of the time. But I use it because it’s the way in which you get your message to a wider audience. Hashtags are your friend; a lot of writers aren’t the biggest fans of social media, but if you’ve managed to cultivate some type of platform, it might be a good idea to keep that going and use it to your advantage- if you’re not sure how to do to something do your research (but more on that later).
  6. If you don’t like it, why should anyone else? – I didn’t really like the version of the novel that I actually self published. But I was so sick of editing and re-writing that I just thought, screw it, and went with it anyway. Sure there were some who loved it, but my not loving it made me weary to even try to promote it and ultimately it just died in limbo because of it.
  7. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH- There is admittedly, a learning curve to publishing yourself, from marketing, to what your process should be, where to go and what editor/designer you should contact to help you. Research is 100% necessary. The great thing about the internet is anything can be found at any time and about any subject. If you have questions, chances are you’re not alone. Google is your friend; if someone you trust talks about someone they went to for an editing service maybe look into it.
  8. Conflicting Advice- The negative to the above approach is of course, that not everyone will agree on what is and isn’t the right way to go when it comes to self publishing– so you may need to try and find a consensus or check the pros and cons for yourself. Not everyone’s journey will apply to you and that’s okay.
  9. If you look at it as a last resort, that’s not the best attitude to approach it with– One big mistake I made, was looking at self publishing as sort of a… well everything else failed, what have I got to lose? mentality. Going into self publishing with a defeated attitude almost guarantees it’s not going to go well. Why would it? It goes back to point 6. If I don’t like it, why should anyone else?
  10. Success is how you define it and it takes time- Patience is a virtue that I don’t often have. Especially when it comes to my work. I’ve worked hard for over a decade to get to where I am today, but my successes thus far don’t look quite how I’d imagined them in my youth. But that’s okay. That doesn’t minimize my success. It’s important to be able to recognize that it takes time and ultimately it’s okay to re-evaluate what you consider to be success.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others, their road is not your road- Around the time of my self publishing journey, a good friend I’d met through blogging was also self publishing her novel. She had randomly decided to write it out of boredom and self published it to a considerable amount of success roughly six months to a year later. I was happy for her, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous at the time. I had been working for years, how could she just swoop in and be great? The problem is, her path isn’t my path, and my path isn’t hers. She put in the work. She joined a writing group, made friends with bookstores, and actively campaigned to get her book into spaces where I just sort of hummed about it. She was successful because even though I had been working longer, she worked smarter. Success isn’t about how long you do something it’s about doing it well, and putting in the effort and not being afraid to take chances.
  12. The worst someone can say is no- There’s a good chance you’ll hear this a lot if you’ve been in writing for any length of time. I’ve been rejected by multiple agents, multiple times, and though it can be difficult to hear, it’s good practice for other avenues where you may hear no a lot. It’s okay. If a bookstore doesn’t want to put your book up that’s okay. If someone doesn’t want to host a signing or write a review, that’s not the end of the world. It never hurts to ask.
  13. Leverage your contacts- I happen to be friends with an amazing artist, so when I decided to self publish I decided to ask her for her help in creating the cover art. I was also friends with a brilliant editor who was able to edit my book too. Ask around, and leverage whatever contacts you find… self publishing can be pricey and if you have a friend who is willing to help you for a more modest fee or even for a returned favor, it’s a good idea to utilize this.
  14. Don’t let one failed book stop you- It’s easy to be intimidated by the failure. There’s a part of you that feels like this is a sign, maybe I’m not cut out for this/meant to do this, but don’t let one failure stop you from your dreams. As J.K.Rowling pointed out, failure is inevitable. 
  15. Invest in yourself and in your work- If you’re lucky enough to have any kind of financial success put no less than 50% back into your work, into marketing, blog ads, Facebook ads, Instagram whatever you can afford. The more you market the book the better your success, your earnings should go to your work more than you.
  16. You can’t know everything- Even if you do everything right, or think you did, failure still is apart of life. It’s better to have failed than not to have ever tried.
  17. LEARN- You may not succeed the way you think you ought to. Learn from it. What went wrong? How can you do better? Every mistake, every misstep is a possibility for learning and success in the future.
  18. Bonus: Two things… you can submit your book to Publishers Weekly for review before it comes out– also through KDP and CreateSpace you can create a pre-order for your book up to 3 weeks before launch, and create buzz for your project.
At the time, I thought I was doing everything right. I thought I was making the right decisions, and following the path to success, but in hindsight I can see that there was a lot I got wrong, and a lot I’ve learned since. Failure is still always a possibility, but only if you don’t learn from your mistakes.

Focusing on the Important Things

I have a habit of obsessively focusing on the analytics of my YouTube channel. I made the mistake of downloading the Studio app for my phone, with the intent of using it to respond to comments throughout the day, only to find myself trying to make sense of something that to this day I don’t fully understand, and I realize, maybe isn’t meant for me to understand. Because I’m not creating content with the hopes of getting views or likes or subscribers. I’m creating content because it’s fun for me. Because I’ve come to enjoy it and it’s something that I want to continue doing. The videos of mine that are successful are to my mind inexplicably so and it makes me realize that trying to make sense of why this video is underperforming and another video out performed any of my non-existent expectations is both a waste of my time and frankly boring.

I love vlogging. I love that it has become something that is a huge part of my life now. I love that it’s become something that I’m constantly thinking about how to make it better, more fun, different things that would make my filming area more interesting, different ways I can improve upon things and make them more entertaining. I love that I’m always thinking of new things to talk about and new topics on my mind. I love that it’s become something that I’m so incredibly passionate about and that I’m now almost 100 vlogs in.

But analytics is a rabbit hole with no end that I could fall down for days and still never make sense of it. If 10 years of blogging never helped me figure out how analytics worked (and why was I never obsessed with it in this?) then why would obsessing about it now even matter? I get where it could be beneficial to someone, but I’m not going to change what I talk about or how I vlog just to potentially get views because YouTube doesn’t even work that way. I would rather focus on content than analytics, even if that isn’t quite how this works.

Check out my other social media platforms:

YouTube Channel | Twitter @narcissadeville | Facebook.com/narcissadeville | narcissadeville.tumblr.com | Instagram @narcissadeville | Email: askcissa@narcissadeville.com | Podcast

How To Create a YouTube Channel in 10 Easy Steps

Step 1: Decide what your content should be

And then make your channel about whatever you want because it’s probably going to evolve a lot between when you start and really get comfortable with it. The great thing is it’s your channel so you get to decide what it should be about.

Step 2: Figure Out Your Location

As important, if not more so, than what you’re vlogging about should be where you film your vlogs. Do you want natural light? You’ll want to vlog by a window. I tend to vlog at my desk because as a writer, that’s where I feel represents me the most. I have various items that also represent me, books, Harry Potter Funkos etc. to really give it a personal touch.

Step 3: Filming Equipment

As I mentioned in my blog about things I learned from doing YouTube, you actually don’t need anything fancy to start your channel. Your smartphone is a great place to begin, buy a cheap $13 smartphone tripod on Amazon and some LED light bulbs from Walmart and set up one on either side of the camera, and one directly above (like in a ceiling light) for optimal lighting. If you film near a window you should just need the two on either side of the camera.

Step 4: Shoot some test videos

Filming yourself is kind of weird at first, staring at a camera and trying to figure out how to talk like you’re talking to someone and not just yourself is tricky to get used to. I recommend filming a few (eg: however many you need) practice videos to get yourself comfortable. You don’t need to put these up or edit them but you could if you like them enough.

Step 5: Set up your YouTube Account

Google has plenty of resources on this topic, but essentially you’ll want to set up your YouTube account and follow what it says to set up monetization if you want to have ads on your videos and make money from them.

Step 6: Film your first video

Once you’ve decided on what you want your first video to be about, you can start filming. Chances are you could need several takes, and might mess up, the great thing is, no one has to see that. (see step 7) If you have a later model iPhone you can film in 1080p at 60 fps (for smoother videos). The back camera is usually the best of the two but you can get away with the front facing camera if you want. Sometimes seeing yourself helps. Tip: You can fake depth of field (where the background is blurry and you’re in sharp focus– and make your vids look more professional (see below). Note, you’ll want to be a good distance away for the effect to really work.  Alternatively, you can film on a dark backdrop (using a sheet and push pins) to make yourself stand out even more. (see below)

subtle depth of field

backdrop — Note: Cats may destroy if hanging loosely so be prepared for that.

Step 7: Edit your video

There are a couple of different options you have on this front. If you can afford it, you can get the Adobe Creative Suite for $50 /mo ($20 on student discount) which will give you access to the full suite of tools including Photoshop (for thumbnails) and Adobe Premiere for film editing. If you own a MacBook you can edit with iMovie which is a lot easier and comes free with MacBooks purchased after (2012 or 2014) Depending on your skill level here, this could take a minute to put together (by which I mean several hours) There are also a lot of excellent YouTube tutorials on things like editing videos with other options, as well and putting together YouTube videos without spending too much money. Free music (with attribution) for videos can be found through YouTube’s Creator Studio. Depending on how warm your lighting is, you can also white balance your videos (which is super easy in both Photoshop and Premeire) Use YT tutorials to your advantage here too.

Step 8: Create the thumbnail

If you have access to Photoshop this becomes a bit easier, what I tend to do is after I’ve edited my video, find a scene that I like and take a screenshot of that:

this was taken from a video I recorded.

and create the thumbnail from that, using Photoshop. (For a cheaper option you can use  Canva.com)

Step 9: Upload Your Video

As with most things, there are a few ways to do this. Uploading from YouTube itself or if you use iMovie you can upload directly from the app. When doing this you can create a title for your video, based on whatever the video is about. (See examples below) Add a description, and tag your videos with relevant information to help people find your video. #makeup #beauty #story time. A (mostly) free service called VidIQ can help you better tag videos and see tags to videos on YouTube for inspiration.

Step 10: Post your video and share it!

If you have any kind of social media, you’ll want to share your video everywhere you can after you post it. Shameless self-promotion may seem tacky, but it’s a great way to get people to look at/follow your channel. Bug your friends and family, and if you’re so inclined, talk about it with anyone who will listen. There are probably forums and sites to share your channel with. Trust me, marketing is a great tool. I don’t recommend to commenting on other people’s videos for followers, that will get your comment flagged as spam and some YouTubers (me) will delete them. Subscribe for subscribe is one method to get a subscriber base however it should be noted that this probably isn’t a way to get an active following that actually comments on your work.

And there you have it. I think I was able to start my YouTube channel for about $20 for the lights and tripod. I already had the phone, and I already had my MBP and Creative Suite– It should be noted, everyone’s path is different. Don’t think that you should have to create your channel in any sort of way. This is just my path and my advice. You don’t need a fancy camera or lighting to start. Natural light is your friend and marketing yourself is a great way to get people interested. Good luck. 🙂

Bonus tip: Take analytics with a grain of salt. Analytics are a good way to learn who’s watching your content, where, and for how long, but if you’re not careful you can go into a dark spiral with analytics. Take it for what it is, not gospel. It’s your channel, no one else should dictate your content. Also celebrate the small things, if you get 5 subscribers, celebrate. 10? Celebrate. Because every bit counts and every YouTuber with millions of followers began somewhere.

Thanks to Renard Moreau who commented on my Cissa’s Side Blog that I should write this 🙂

The Response from the Universe Part II

It’s not always overt when the Universe responds. Rarely is the message a blinding neon sign in the sky that says: Go this way. Or follow this path. Instead, the message is subtle. So subtle in fact that it’s easy to mistake it for a coincidence. But when you see something at just the right time you need to see it, or something/someone comes into your life at just the time you need it one can’t help but wonder, is this a mere coincidence, or something more?

Yesterday’s existential crisis had me heading towards emotional, but as I look through my usual email newsletter feed, I noticed an article from Writer Unboxed that seemed to pertain to my thought processes that had led up to this existential crisis.

Wants vs Shoulds:

The article’s crux was essentially that a lot of us have this idea of how we should be doing something, or how far we should be on a project and this creates a spiral of guilt that in many cases make our work output even less frequent.

Part of my existential dread is that because I am not currently working on a project that this somehow means I cannot reasonably call myself a writer much longer. After all, if one doesn’t write every day are you even a writer?

My boyfriend made a similar point to the article, but the main takeaway I got from all of this is that ultimately not writing, or even not blogging with any kind of frequency, doesn’t make me a bad person. It doesn’t make me less of a writer. But if I’m only keeping up any kind of blog schedule because I should then I’m going about it all wrong. Why is it, I’ve published 3 blog posts in 2 days? Because I want to. I have a lot I want to talk/write about, and so here we are. Outside of my normal “timeline”. Because saying I’m going to blog these days and these days is tricky.

Check out my other social media platforms:

YouTube Channel | Twitter @narcissadeville | Facebook.com/narcissadeville | narcissadeville.tumblr.com | Instagram @narcissadeville | Email: askcissa@narcissadeville.com | Podcast

Is remaining a blogger more about vanity, than the desire to blog?

Cissa's Side Blog

As YouTube takes up more and more of my life, and my blog seems to take up less and less, I can’t help but wonder, is remaining a blogger more about vanity, rather than the desire to blog?

I’ve been blogging since 2006, though it wasn’t until 2012 that I really started blogging with any kind of frequency and really started to gain a following. At the time, I was in my early twenties, and daily blogging had become a way for me to really ramp up the production of my blog posts, into something more akin to a job, and I loved it. Until I didn’t. Towards the end of the year, it was more often than not a struggle, but I managed to keep it going. Then, I blogged sporadically for another year, by which I mean, one or two posts throughout 2013, and then slightly more throughout…

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On Scaling Back

I wasn’t necessarily interested in daily vlogging when I first started on YouTube, actually, if you had told me that within about two months of starting vlogging I would end up doing so five days a week, I would have laughed. But then I got ahead of myself. I had filmed more videos than I was currently putting out at every other day and I felt backlogged. It was great to have consistent content, but if there was anything time sensitive it sort of had to take precedent which wasn’t always the most convenient. I opted instead to start posting vids every weekday, something which at the time seemed a sensible option, and for a while now has gone well enough, the problem is, I have a tendency to jump head long into projects and devote 110% of myself to them.
This would be a great trait if it didn’t mean that other parts of my life suffer in the process, and the thing that is currently suffering is my writing. The entire reason I started YouTube in the first place. So, I’m going back to the drawing board, by which I mean, back to my old YouTube schedule of three vlogs per week. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. With Tues and Thurs being dedicated to blogs and bi-weekly Saturdays going back to the podcast.

May Favorites feat. Happy Sassy B.

A staple of YouTubers across the spectrum is the monthly favorites vlog in which one discusses their favorite things of the month. Or at least, that’s how I understand it in the most basic sense. Honestly I’ve never watched a Monthly Favorites video, so I decided to go about it my own way; breaking it down into multiple categories that relate to things I enjoy and/or care about.
Category Is… May Favorites…