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.

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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.

Hitting Pause on the Blog

write

One of the best pieces of advice I got in college was the KIS method of design. Keep it simple. Only, I didn’t fully realize what that meant until recently when I read an article on time management, in which it noted:

The basic principle of success is to focus. It is what makes the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, regardless of how much talent, resource, and energy that they have. – Thomas Oppong –

The Secret to Mastering Your Time is to Systematically Focus on Importance And Suppress Urgency

For a while now, and in particular the past year, I’ve spread myself incredibly thin on a variety of projects. But it all reached a head when, in April, I started creating content for YouTube, and simultaneously tried to blog daily. I was able to be successful at those two things, at the cost of me not writing anything for my novel for the better part of April.

In it’s earliest form, my blog was about furthering my platform, and largely that is still the point of all of the work I’ve been doing. But for me, my multitude of efforts to expand my platform has come at the cost of the very reason I need a platform in the first place. My novels. I tried desperately to balance everything. A full time day job, and my full time job as a writer. Blogging, podcasts, essays, shorts, vlogging. I convinced myself that if enough of these were spread far enough out that I could somehow, someway do them all.

Only, it didn’t work out that way. Perhaps if I had managed my time better I might have been able to make it all work out. But that’s the thing about it. Overworking myself, even with time management can only lead to one eventual outcome. Burnout, which will lead to a complete creative shutdown.

I can’t afford that.

I’ve had to make sacrifices and in the process I’ve decided where I think I should try and focus my efforts more.

I still love blogging.

I’ve done it for the better part of a decade now, and never in my life did I imagine that I would be writing this post, or even considering giving up blogging before I gave up anything else in my new creative endeavors.

This isn’t to say I’m never going to blog again.

I’d like to think that if a post strikes me to be written, I’ll put it out there. Maybe I can go back to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday system (not unlike how I do my vlogs) perhaps instead I’ll do Tuesday, Thurs, Sat so I always have new content somewhere. I haven’t decided yet.

For the time being at least, perhaps just through May, or perhaps a bit longer. I need to put things on pause.

Not writing at all for me is the worst possible scenario, and I would rather not do a lot of things than not write fiction.

Is it All Worth it?

writeRecently I’ve noticed a frustrating trend. I’ve worked diligently to ensure that I am posting daily blogs, and 3x weekly vlogs as well as bi-weekly podcasts and essays. I’m making it a point to utilize Twitter more and working to use Facebook more, and ultimately continuing work to grow my brand to its greatest potential. But this has come at a cost, in terms of my literary output. I spend so much of my time working on avenues to get my name out there and get my brand out there that I’m not actually doing the one thing that I desperately need to do to make all of this even worth the effort.

Write.

Mostly I am writing every day in the form of blog posts, or essays or ideas for things, but the novel writing, the part that is why I’m doing any of this has slowed considerably, and it makes me wonder, is platform building worth it, if it comes at the cost of me actually writing?

I feel like I’ve had this existential crisis before, but I still haven’t figured out the answer. I want to believe that I can have both in tandem with one another, building a platform while also continuing to write novels, but the evidence thus far is showing that less and less. The more I do one, the less I seem to do the other. Finding that balance has become increasingly tricky and I can’t help but wonder if something will fall by the wayside in the process.

The Evolving Narcissa Deville

At the start of my blog almost a decade ago now, I wrote about anything and everything. Though political themes seemed to run through every post, writing seemed to be one of the major themes that stuck, and helped to grow my brand. But as I’ve grown as a blogger I’ve wanted to branch out to other types of topics, there’s more to me than just writing, and so I’ve worked to evolve my brand to include pop culture, LGBT issues (particularly trans issues) political, beauty, technology and of course writing.

All with questionable results.

I’ve noticed a theme for a while now. Posts specifically about writing will get likes, maybe even a comment or two. (Less so now than in the past) but posts about anything not writing related, seem to go unseen. I get the impression, and perhaps this is incorrect, that those who follow me want to see me stick to writing only, rather than branching out as a creative person. I’ve never been one to stick to just one idea of anything and I certainly won’t start now. I’m trying to balance the wants of those who would actually read/watch what I do, and what I actually want to do. Ultimately no I’m not blogging for likes, but knowing people read something you wrote is something every writer wants isn’t it?

Since I’ve Been Gone

MISCSeptember just flew by, and while I’ve been very bad about blogging this month, I can say that it’s been for good reason. This month just before my birthday 9/22, I managed to finish another round of edits, which I’m very very proud of and very excited about. Naturally this doesn’t mean that the book is necessarily done, but it’s an exciting start. I’ve also been working on a top secret project for the last few months that has sucked up a surprising amount of time, but that I’m super proud of and excited to unveil. I have a tentative unveiling date in mind, however part of the reason I haven’t announced yet is I wanted to get a bit more ahead of myself than I currently am, so I may have to push that back a little bit.

Meanwhile I have a lot to talk about with regards to edits, and of course I’m hoping to compete successfully in NaNoWriMo this year– I have some rough outlines for the sequel to my current work in progress which hopefully will see me through. I originally wanted to challenge myself to writing double my word count every day so the 1,667 day one 3,334 day two, but by like the end I’d be expected to write 50k in one day which just seems crazy so yeah, not going to do that.

I’ll do my best to keep everyone updated as to my plans and what’s going to be happening with my top secret project but I’ve definitely got a bit of work to do and almost no time in which to do it.