Saturday, December 8, 2012

Remember when... A look back into my Wargaming YT Journey

It's pretty spectacular to say the least that when I started out in this venture of YouTubing with my wargaming channel that it would get as big as where I am right now.  From the time I started where I was happy to entertain 10 people to where I'm almost about to reach the 7000 subscriber mark, still trying to find the right medium and format to present.

This is why this entry is titled "Remember when...".  Sitting here in New York in my hotel room gives me tons of time to reflect about things.  What I'm doing and where I want to go.  This time around on my many trips to New York, I think back to the things I've done on my channel from the first video until now.

As of this blog entry, it's only been 2 years and 2 months exactly this day since I put up my video in October 8th, 2010 and I'm at 108 videos (give or take, YT is funny about that count) and sitting at 6873 subscribers.

If you asked me if I would have done anything different, the easy answer would be to say "No" but in retrospect, I could find many things that I could have done differently.  However, as I've advised many people with their channel is that it's all about trial and error.  You can't learn from your mistakes if you don't make any.

I can't tell someone "This is how I should do it and this is how you should too.".  That is the absolute worst advice that I can give anyone starting a channel in our hobby. When someone starts a channel, you have to keep in mind how your audience takes the ride with you in your journey.  Just because something that a bigger channel does works for them, it doesn't mean it'll work for you. You have to keep releasing videos and find that mark and it takes work.

That's another funny thing as well.  I get many request for me to do a shout out for them on my channel as they started their own.  First off, I rarely do that anymore.  I do shout outs for channels that I see have some kind of potential either through what they are putting out or by getting to know someone and how genuine they are about our hobby through mail.  The first red flag I get is someone mailing me and simply stating "Can you give me a shout out".

Second, I want to make sure the people I back actually hang around.  You can't believe the amount of people who come and go when they decide to start a channel.  They release one video and then throw up their hands and give up.  Listen, it takes work and a few videos to see where you want to take it.  And no matter how many shout outs you get from any channel, viewers won't stay and watch if you don't make any videos.  Take it slow at first, keep those videos coming and be patient.  Sometimes it takes no time to get noticed, sometimes it takes years.

As great and friendly as our community is, it's still a community and we've all used the term "community" loosely. As a community, we have people out there that are out for themselves, or just as two faced as you would find in any little dark corner of a gathering of any sort.  There's no use in getting around that.  You will have people who are like that.  We're human after all.  You'd be surprised at some of the things people you may have watched or are fans of have done to each other.  It gets ugly.

But you see, these are the things you get privy to when you start communication with other YouTube makers. Your viewers don't see this side of things and honestly, they don't care most of the time.  They leave the conundrum of real life come to watch your channel to either be entertained or to learn.  It's a responsibility of your to keep it that way for them.  Although there might be a few that would love to hear about that stuff, most don't want to deal with it.

Again, this is stuff you shouldn't need to worry about it.  Our community is actually really small.  People like these usually always get what's coming to them at the end.  It's just a waste of time and energy in trying to deal with it. Just use that energy to make more cool videos for those that are interested.

Unfortunately, this can after a while make you jaded about who you deal with in the community.  I see it all the time in my friends that make youtube videos.  This is something that can't be helped either after a while.  I'm lucky to have Les to back me up as I'm usually the guy that's always thinking big and beyond and when I do, I get a little excited and overboard and don't pay attention that people I get involved might not be for the best.  Les is there to slap me in the head and say, "Dude, stop. Look at this for a bit.  Really? Think about it."

Les has been at this longer and is way more cautious about things that I am with working with people.  When I first talked to Joey and decided to really jump in and help her out, he gave me that slap in the head.  I'm happy to say that this was one of the times things worked out.  But there were times that things didn't with certain people and I'm grateful that Les was there to make sure I didn't jump in with both feet on the ground.

So when you start getting asked to do collaborations or jump in on a project to not just jump on board with everything you go.  Be a little cautious, especially if you've never heard of said person.  Sometime things that look great at first isn't as great once you're in the door and looking around wondering who just ripped your balls from your groin.

You're going to meet with people that you connect with on very different levels.  No joke, you may meet people that are nice and all but you just can't stand to be around.  That's rare but it will happen and when it does, trust your instincts.  Then there are people you meet that you connect with so well, that you create a bond of friendship that can last a life time.

These are the moments you cherish.  Les, Joey, Nick, Don, Brian and even now, Dave are all people I would take a bullet for.  It's not just other video makers you meet that can grow into an awesome friendship.

I have had viewers that I've met that I now consider great friends, like GarayJr.  Yes, he makes videos too but I met him more as someone who watched my channel rather than another video maker.  We connected pretty well and when he needed a job, I got him one at my company.  Or even The Coach and Little Drew.  Both viewers at first that I met on one of my NY trip and are now a part of my friends retinue.  They've invited me over to their home to BBQ, play games and just having a grand old time. Now, after a little encouragement, they's started up their own channel.

Working on the WGC Channel even made friendship I already had stronger.  Both Eric and Jay are great friends of mine who jump in to help with videos whenever the can and from that, we've found something else we all love other than just playing wargames. If you have friends, that like being in front of the camera, get them involved.

Yes, a big part of this is networking.  Working with people your meet as peers or as friends and network with them.  It's a give and take thing.  I hook them up, they hook me up.  And there's a lot of that going on in my circles of people and game companies I work with.

And it isn't all about "Hooking each other up" but about supporting each other in what we do.  I believe in what everyone I work with does.  There are countless nights where Les and I had to put up the proverbial motivation stick and smack each other with it.  There are times when Joey needed to simply sit down and talk to me about things going on.  Or times when Nick skypes me and needed someone to spill on about what happened on a hectic day with the store or sitting on skype for hours with Dave and just bouncing ideas off of each other.

In one conversation I had with Dave @ is that I don't have any real vested interest in all this.  It's not my job, I don't own a gaming store or gaming company really.  Unless you count the miniatures that Les and I are putting out, there really isn't much in it for me.  I like doing it because I have passion for wargaming and just simply making videos.

If you are making videos just because you need an ego boost or just because you think you have to, people are going to feel it.  Don't make videos just because you think you have to or because it's for the sole purpose of getting stuff.  Do it because you have fun doing it.  People can see through you no matter how much of a master you are at pretending.

Oh, here's another thing I noticed in my journey.  Don't bitch and moan and complain about what other people are doing or getting and you're not.  Well, you can if you want to but all that does is cause bad blood between each other.  It's their channel, they do as they do to make things for work for them.  And most of the time what I see in our community is half ass truths and assumptions that isn't even close to what people are bitching and complaining about in the first place.

It's funny because most of these people I talk to say they don't want drama, hates it and never want to be part of it and then jumps the gun at half ass rumors they get without realizing the whole story or how it really works.

Sponsorship's, getting products to review and all that stuff people ask me about.  The best advice I can give about that is simple.  "Don't worry about it.".  When you get your channel going, and you get out there on the floor and talking to people, all that stuff will come.  Don't expect to put out a few videos and suddenly get free stuff.  As i said before, our community is small.  Word gets around and it does so not just in the video maker community but also with the companies.

As where before, you might have landed free stuff to review or talk about no matter how small your channel is, they are starting to get smart about things.  Especially with things like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and Facebook, they can easily get the word out about their products then having a bunch of people review it on YouTube.

Wait until your channel gets going and then write them a nice letter and tell them what you're about and you would love to review some of their stuff on your channel.  There's no need to kiss ass or pump them up on how great you think their product are.  It's their product, they already know how great it is.  Just be upfront and straight forward.  If they respond, get into a working relationship with them.  Not just a simple on product review and that's it.  Talk to them and follow up.  Ask them how they liked the review.  You never know if a few review will suddenly get your into a sponsorship with them.

I tend to keep my sponsorship pool small.  Right now, it's all about Badger and KR Multicases.  There's really one main reason for this.  I like working with people.  I don't want just free stuff.  I want to work with them in helping get the word out or to collaborate in projects with them or simply get involved with them.  For me, that' sponsorship.

I'm also picky about the products I review if it isn't something from the bug guys.  I like companies that are in touch with the community.  People like Gavin from Tor Gaming or James from Wargamma.  I am happy to review their stuff, not only because it's some great products but they support me as much as I support them.

And one more thing, don't promise anything you can't do.  You get something free you promise to review, then do it.  If you don't or screw a company over for it, it screws it up for the rest of us.  Again, and I can't stress this enough, our community is small, word gets around fast, ESPECIALLY with game companies. They have a tendency to talk with one another in ways you would never know.  In that, they talk to other youtubers that they work with and with that... etc... etc...

You really don't need to have great special effects or snazzy intro's to make your channel great.  In fact, some people go so overboard with a minute long intro and 30 seconds of content, it drive me nuts sometimes.If you really want a snazzy into, keep it under 15 secs.  Less if possible and then get on with it.

The only reason my videos are "polished" as Dave would put it is because one of the reasons I love working on my channel is making the videos and doing the jazzy stuff.   But that's not needed to make a great channel.  Sure, it helps to make them so your viewers can SEE and HEAR what you do.  That's just the basics man. But look at someone like WarbossTae.  The guy is a riot and does some great painting tutorials and he does it all in front of his desk with really affordable equipment and he's got a great momentum going.

So let's just drill it down here.  To make a successful channel:

  1. KEEP MAKING VIDEOS.  You can't stop.  Keep making them.  It's all about putting in some work and having some patience.
  2. Engage with your audience.  It's about your viewers, not you.  If its about you, then just film yourself and go back and watch it once in a while on your computer.  Heck, maybe one day someone will hack your computer and upload you to a porn site!  But you're entertaining or teaching your peers. You are no better a wargamers just because you make videos.
  3. Connect and Network.  Other Video makers can teach you some stuff and they've been through it.  They can tell you what worked and what didn't for them so you can apply that knowledge for yourself.  Oh, and they can warn you to who to watch out for. Work with Game Companies rather that just grab free shit.
  4. Don't be a Dick.  Nothing much to say about this.  Be a pleasant person to work with or people won't want to work with you and having a support group of video makers doing what you do is a huge advantage than going it alone.  If you want to work with game companies and you're a daffy prick, nothing will get them to send you anything or work with you. And if you screw them or anyone else, everyone will know sooner or later.
  5. Grow... it's all about growing.  I'm not talking about how your videos get better over time with new snazzy graphics, but about you, your channel, and your viewers.  It's a journey and as you walk down that path to Mordor to toss that ring into the fire, you learn new things and grow with those that are traveling along with you. Listen to what other people are saying, what your viewers are saying, take those things and grab the great parts of them and apply them.
  6. Have Fun! That's the most important thing.  Have fun with what you are doing.  If you're not, then go do something else.  Really.
So that's it.  I know this was way long but I hope those that read it do get something out of it if they are running their own channels or even if you don't, have a glimps of what it's like behind the scenes.

Hopefully tonight I'll be hooking up with Dave to just sit and banter about this on vLog Babble.  It would be very cool to get his insight on this as well and what kind of stuff miniwargaming has gone through. So, if you came here from the video (if it goes up) then HI! :)

So dear readers, thanks again for reading my excessive drivel.  I'll write at you again soon!

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