Why the YouTubeIsOverParty is Nonsense

YouTubeIsOverParty

YouTubeIsOverParty is trending on Twitter, it’s on Facebook and it’s all over Reddit. If you spend any time looking at the hashtag and the commentary, you’re going to see that something major happened. YouTube is OVER! Well, at least that’s what you might walk away feeling if you trust the mob. Now, in all honesty, I don’t know ALL the details because this is something that just started happening in the last 24 hours. So I’ll do my best to break it down and offer a little context.

As we all know, YouTube allows all creators the opportunity to post and host videos they create on their website. As an added bonus, YouTube gives you the ability to run ads alongside that content and get a cut of the revenue. On a grand scale, it works out to about $3 per 1000 views. That money comes from the advertisers who pay to place their brands alongside or in front of your content. It’s a business move for the brands who want to advertise, and a nice perk for creators. Over the last number of years, that has resulted in thousands of people creating new careers in video creation – YouTubers. Ad money has made it possible for people to make it a full time thing.

What did YouTube Change?

Yesterday, YouTube started un-monetizing videos that they deem ‘unfriendly to advertisers’. As a business, YouTube has likely been under pressure from their advertisers to not put their ads up against say… racists (see Evalion) or sexists (see Sam Pepper), or videos put up by ISIS. Obviously. “Hey guys, today we’re going to chop off an infidel’s head, but first a word from our sponsors at Razor Blade Co!” As a blogger, I have known full well that advertisers NEVER want their ads alongside anything that’s outside of vanilla. I’m really surprised it took this long for YouTube to make this change.

According to YouTube, this is what constitutes unfriendly content to advertisers. Honestly, it’s a standard content guidelines for ad money.

#YouTubeIsOverParty

Why YouTubeIsOverParty is Nonsense

YouTube is changing a lot lately. They are having issues with harassment, scaling, copyright and much more. They are changing because the world is evolving, and what YouTube was in 2010 is not what YouTube wants to be in 2020. Hell, YouTube doesn’t even make money yet! A billion people visit the site and they can’t even break even! Some of the changes have been fantastic, for example H3H3 noted that a copyright claim against their video was believed to be Fair Use by YouTube, or the change to how monetization works when being copyright claimed. Great moves, proud of you.  If you don’t fit within the guidelines as posted above, there’s a chance your video will not appeal to what advertisers want and thus – no monetization.

 YouTubeIsOverParty

But Zach, if I create videos where I say ‘fuck’ a lot while playing Minecraft, and they won’t run ads beside my content – they are censoring me and stopping me from making these videos!

No, they aren’t. You can absolutely still create all the fucking Minecraft videos you want. You can even say shit, or ass, or the dreaded c-word. Hell, use racial epithets, talk about murder and treat women like objects with your pick up techniques if you want.  That’s all going to be just fine to upload to YouTube – but, don’t expect to be paid for it because advertisers (the people with money) don’t like it. It’s not censorship, it’s business. < THAT’S IMPORTANT!

Zach, how can I keep putting out this content if YouTube advertisers aren’t paying me? This is my career! YOUTUBEISOVERPARTY!

That was a mistake on your part. You should never rely on a third party service to make or break your career. I’ve been an entrepreneur throughout my life, and a freelancer, and I’ve worked regular day jobs. The ONE MAJOR TAKEAWAY I HAVE IS: Never rely on tomorrow being the same as today. One day you have the job, the next you don’t. One day, you get a nice chunk of cash, and the next an unexpected bill comes in. Always remember that tomorrow is not today.

So then, what can I do? I’m only good at creating videos. 

You can start immediately thinking like a business owner – in fact, you ARE a business owner, and your main product is YOU and your VIDEOS. Assuming you have an audience, that means you have potential to sell them on something that you do. Perhaps it’s a matter of setting up a Patreon and hoping your biggest super fans will support you. Maybe there is a government grant willing to give you money to create more content. Maybe you can sell T-shirts, or hats. And while traditional advertisers might not want to advertise alongside your content, there are non-traditional ones who will: ie. Draft Kings, or Me Undies, or Dollar Shave Club who are totally cool with edgy content. Start selling your OWN ads and cut out YouTube!

Look to Howard Stern re: YOUTUBEISOVERPARTY

YOUTUBEISOVERPARTY

Howard Stern made a career on being controversial. Whether it was giving women orgasms, or convincing a handicap guy he was on the moon, or talking about sex, drugs and bodily functions, he was always controversial. NO ADVERTISERS WANTED TO PUT ADS ALONGSIDE HIS SHOW. Until he had an audience, then his internal team was able to sell ads to alcohol companies and dating sites. He built a bigger business around himself with MULTIPLE income sources including a best-selling book, an award nominated movie, a TV channel and now his own radio station on Sirius XM that pays him hundreds of millions (because his fans pay each month – Patreon?). The point being, once he learned that he wasn’t going to make money from Pepsi, Duracell etc, he BUILT A BUSINESS around his product – himself and his radio show.

Sound familiar? You and your videos. Adsense is EASY because you click a button and boom – a very tiny bit of cash. While building a business is work, the monetary payoffs can be huge – much larger than even the best months of Adsense. Is YouTube over for the controversial creators?

Nope, not at all. It just means it’s time to build a business around your content!

ALSO: WATCH THIS VIDEO BY H3H3!

How to Start a YouTube Channel

Start a YouTube Channel

If you have ever considered starting a YouTube channel, there is literally no better time to start than now. Video has experienced rapid growth in the past few years leading to global YouTube stars like Lily Singh, Pewdiepie and Casey Neistat. With 2,267 channels with over 1M subscribers (via Socialblade), it may seem like the opportunity to become a Gold Play Button YouTuber has passed, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, Facebook expects to be nearly 100% video by 2021, meanwhile 70% of all mobile web traffic will be video that year according to Google. We really are at the tip of the iceberg for video based content. So, no more questions – do it!

While I am certainly not a YouTuber with millions of subscribers (I just hit 2,000!), I have spent thousands of hours watching, hundreds of hours learning directly from YouTubers themselves and taken YouTube provided courses as well. With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the things that you should do when starting to give you a great start. I also got in touch with some of my favourite Canadian YouTubers to get their insight as well!

Decide on an Idea

The very first thing you should do before uploading to YouTube is to decide what you want to do. It seems an obvious step, but many just create videos with no real idea of what they want to be known for. YouTube channels need to select a niche/single style in order to be successful. You may need to put weeks, months or more likely years into creating content before you’re going to have consistent success with each upload. As a result of it being a long road, you should do something you love and have a passion for. Figure out that thing and develop an idea around that. It needs to be something you can do for years – so make sure the idea also has longevity.

YouTube Canada Finding what you love most and sticking to it. If I had known sharing every single one of my different passions would cause me to get lost in the mix, I would’ve stuck to beauty and makeup from day one. My other videos don’t do as well since my viewership is looking for that specific niche. – Camille Co

Start Filming

It takes a long time to get used to talking into a camera and coming off naturally. This is why you’ll see a lot of new YouTubers looking off camera rather than into the camera lens. Before you post anything to your channel, get familiar with your camera and the concept of talking to it. It won’t come overnight, but if you start doing it before you upload to YouTube, your initial videos will connect better. Also, in terms of camera gear, while you don’t need the best camera/mic gear, you do want some kind of quality. Smartphones are a pretty good starting point (especially if they have some advanced controls). Eventually, you will want to invest in a higher end DSLR for your videos.

YouTube Canada I wish I would have learned how to use my camera better and understand things like ISO and Aperture because the quality of your video is so important. Other then that I personally did things a little backwards where I studied YouTube for months before actually beginning my channel. – Rachel David

Create a Content Calendar

Once you have your idea and you’re ready to start filming, you now need to think about a content calendar. YouTube audiences like consistency, so set a schedule and stick to it.  Your content calendar should cover you a month in advance and include major events for tentpole content. Tentpole content is where the video ties into a major event. The idea being that people are going to be especially interested in that topic at that time (both existing and new audiences). December? Christmas. End of Summer? Back to School. The World Cup? Soccer.

Canada YouTube One bit of knowledge that would have helped me greatly before starting YouTube would have been knowing the importance of consistency. Very much like Television shows, viewers on YouTube expect to see content coming out regularly from their favorite channels. When I started I thought it would be okay to upload an episode or two a month. In reality it harmed my channel greatly, uploading consistently keeps people engaged and excited for that next video! – Shane Luis

Monetize Your Channel

Now that you’re gearing up, you should verify your channel and become a “YouTube Partner”. This will enable ads to run ahead/during your content by connecting your account with Adsense. There are some that say you should NOT monetize your content from Day 1, but I beg to differ. YouTube is the one platform that everyone is used to (and accepts) ads before the content. In fact, I’m convinced that most people think it’s just part of the platform rather than opt-in. That said, people who love your content will be happy to support you by watching those ads.

Anon Canada YouTuber I started monetizing my content in 2013 and I made $11 that first month. It felt cool to be paid to be posting silly videos. Three years later it still excites me and has become my full time job. I’ll make 6-figures this year. Every dollar is an additional incentive to keep posting. – Requested Anonymity

Collaborate

YouTube is a collaborative and social environment. Audiences absolutely love seeing collaborations between different YouTubers. Not only is it great for your audience, but it exposes both audiences to each others channels (and a chance at new subscribers). Once you’re up and running, your best bet is to find channels with similar content and a similar size audience to work with. Those channels can best benefit each other. That said, you may also find a much larger creators open to collaboration as well. Considering YouTube is a common experience (everyone started with zero subscribers), you’ll find some bigger, established channels are open to working with you.

YouTube Canada I’ve been on YouTube forever, but it was only very recently I decided to take it seriously. The one thing that I wish I knew when I started, was to be more social, and communicate more with others. For the longest time I thought to stay “solo”, but I only really found myself, when I was working with others. Essentially, be social, reach out to people and be more open to collaboration. Boom. – Canoopsy

Keep Going

I won’t lie – YouTube is a very SLOW build. There are going to be days (weeks/months) where you’re going to feel discouraged. It’s in those moments of weakness, you have to remember to just keep going. Keep pressing record, keep editing, keep experimenting. Every time you record, edit, and post you’re going to learn something. Your content is going to get better. And if you keep improving in all aspects, eventually you’re not only going to be creating great content but an audience will find you.

YouTube Canada When you’re just starting out on YouTube, the world is your oyster! It gives you the freedom to experiment and test out different styles, themes, formats without the set boundaries that an existing audience would impose. Not only is experimentation important for developing your online presence or brand, it’s also important from a technical point of view. Things such as lighting, camera angles, settings, backgrounds, props, set, are all things that wont be perfect right off the bat and take time to develop. Simply taking the time to experiment and develop your craft will go a long way in establishing you, your brand and your voice. – VivaLaWatts

Toronto’s Best YouTubers Under 10K Subscribers

Toronto YouTubers

Since jumping into YouTube last year, I’ve spent a lot of time looking at other YouTubers. The reality is that as a new YouTuber, I’m still trying to get my feet under me and figure out all the best practices, how people edit, how often people post and how they collaborate with others. One thing I did in particular was to look for Local Toronto based YouTubers. YouTube is very much a collaborative environment. The best YouTubers are always connecting and working with others, and the result is community driven growth that helps everyone. It’s why so many YouTubers move to hubs like Los Angeles or (to a lesser extent) New York.

The YouTube community in Toronto is (at least from my observation) not anywhere near the community that exists in US cities. In fact, many larger Toronto YouTubers spend more time in the States than they do in Canada (good examples include Lilly Singh, Gigi Gorgeous, Evan Fong). That may change for the better when the YouTube Space in Toronto opens up this Spring/Summer. I also have to give credit to Much Music, Kin Community and CBC for contributing to the growing community here in Toronto (while they are MCN’s, they certainly have been encouraging collaboration and promoting their creators!) For small YouTubers, getting promotion can be difficult. Growth is slow and the opportunities for media coverage are few at best. So, I want to promote some of Toronto’s Best Small YouTubers – there are hundreds (thousands?), and I wish I had the time to share them all – but today, it’s just going to be the ones that I feel are the best, and have some real potential to do big things!

Toronto’s Best YouTubers Under 10K Subscribers!

Rachel David – 9000 Subscribers

Rachel only started YouTube roughly 7 months ago, but has been growing at a ridiculous pace! She’s upbeat, personable, and collaborates with some heavy hitting celebs including Troye Sivan, Patrick Patterson, Furious Pete and Matthew Santoro. Her videos are well edited, she sticks to a schedule and she clearly loves the camera. Without a doubt, Rachel is destined for success on YouTube!

Mademoiselle Ruta – 4100 Subscribers

Posting twice a week, Ruta videos mainly center around beauty, fashion and how-tos. Her content is upbeat, largely due to her friendly personality. She has a silly sense of humour which comes off really well on camera – and speaking of the camera, her quality is second to none! She knows how to use depth of field so well! You can also check out her blog that she runs alongside her YouTube channel.

Bianca Harris – 5300 Subscribers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yLVznKUuISw

If you are looking for makeup tutorials, then Bianca Harris is definitely a channel you should check out! The editing on her videos is incredible, such that it feels like you’re watching a music video at times. She has multiple camera angles, clear descriptions and the video quality is crystal clear. When you compare it to some of the top beauty tutorial channels, you’ve got to wonder how long until she really blows up.

Through the Eyes – 2100 Subscribers

These guys popped onto YouTube about a year ago and have been killing it with their travel based short form ‘movie’ vlogs. London, Niagara Falls, Venice, New York, Paris and other destinations have all been featured in their videos. The content is so well edited, the camera work is clever and the overall experience is just great. I particularly like their “First Person” style content such as the one above. Very easy to binge on their stuff.

DevoDLive – 900 Subscribers

Devante Burey has been the host of Best Fan (another good Toronto YouTube channel) for some time, but recently launched his own personal channel. His content is a mix of vlogs and celeb stories, but there’s also some comedy style bits and snapchat highlight reels. He is really comfortable in front of the camera, and that translates to the content. You’ll instantly feel like you could be friends, and I think that plays well on YouTube!

Darsh Khithani – 800 Subscribers

Darsh started YouTube roughly 8 months ago with a tech focus, while not as polished as some of the bigger tech channels, it’s only a matter of time before he finds his stride (like all things, that comes with effort and practice). He clearly cares about tech and is pretty comfortable on camera, so it will be no surprise to me that as he continues to work on it, he’s going to find the subscribers to match! Hell, if nothing else, the kid has time on his side – he’s still in high school!

Vijaya Selvaraju – 3700 Subscribers

Vijaya creates food based content mainly as a mix of recipes and easy food hacks. She makes everything very simple to do and her passion translates well through the camera. Of the many food channels out there, she comes off more real than most as she leaves in her little goofs (mainly spills/mispronunciations). I only have two complaints – the music she uses is the same one that every YouTuber uses, and she doesn’t upload often enough (roughly once a month).

Miranda The Adventurer – 1100 Subscribers

Naturally, as the name suggests Miranda is an adventurer, but not just in the sense of travel. Her content is a mix of things that include vlogs, challenges, tips, how-tos and some skits. She has a big personality and clearly loves YouTube and creating content. I think her best videos are the ones she’s collaborating with others, particular her friends and fiance.

So, there you have it – Toronto’s Best YouTubers Under 10K Subscribers! As previously mentioned, I can’t list ALL the channels that exist out there, but if would like people to check out your channel make sure to comment below with a link and a short description on the kind of videos you post! 

The Struggle of Being an Introverted Creator

Zach Bussey AcademySocial Nominee

Let’s talk about the struggles of being an introverted creator – because the two ‘lifestyles’ somewhat contradict each other. On one hand, an introvert is generally a little bit more reserved and shies away from putting themselves into situations requiring small talk, while influencers are often very public and sometimes have larger than life personalities. As someone who is assuredly an introvert, allow me to explain my own struggles with being an introverted creator.

Keeping Energy Up at Events

Last night I attended two events back-to-back: The Academy Social Awards where I was a finalist for an award, and the Samsung Canada #GalaxyLife S7 Launch party with Kygo.

The Academy Social Awards was a wild card because I wasn’t sure what to expect. That’s a tough situation to walk into as I don’t know how to mentally gear up for it. On arrival, it was hectic. I was asked to take photos with media – a situation I don’t hate, but I don’t love either. I also don’t like being thrown into the gauntlet without first having some time to acclimatize myself to the environment. I did my best, although I am CERTAIN I came off flat/forced as a result of being overwhelmed. Prime introverted behaviour. That’s why I love having a camera with me as it gives me a chance to tune out the world around me and focus on a singular activity. While some might feel awkward filming themselves, for me, it’s almost therapeutic. Another fantastic way to get myself back into a good mindset is having a REAL conversation with friends – not small talk, but chats with substance. I owe thanks to JoelDanielle, and new friend Istiana for being those people last night. In the end, I did not win the award and due to the unfamiliar environment I had mentally already checked out so I departed rapidly for my next event.

In complete contrast, the second event on paper sounds like it would be the more overwhelming event of the two, but in truth it was the better one. It was hosted by Samsung Canada, held at UNIUN nightclub, headlined by Kygo with a light show and tons of people packed in. Instead of being overwhelmed, I was completely comfortable and had a great experience. The major difference? I knew what to expect and had prepared myself for it. For me, as an introvert, the unknown is tough whereas the things I have mentally thought through are fine! While I didn’t get a chance to get much hands on time with the Samsung Galaxy S7, the event left me with such a positive experience. I give major credit to Samsung and their PR team for putting on a stellar event – though, that’s pretty standard for them at this point.

Content Development to an Introverted Creator

When it comes to creating content, introversion is something that often slows down the process. Similar to how I like to know what to expect when attending events, I prefer working an idea through before I ever consider publishing. Once that content is out in public I can’t easily pull it back – I can make updates, but not change it. A good example of this is my new YouTube series: Best Labs. The idea has gone through many iterations and plans over the last several months. You might watch any of the three episodes that are currently posted and not see that it was months in the making, but behind the scenes it’s a long process.

I do things with purpose and intent. Every thing has to have a long term strategy rather than a short term fix. It’s been that way on my blog, it’s been that way in my life, and it’s that way on YouTube. For the series I had to answer tons of questions such as: Could this series go daily if I wanted it to? Could I do it for years? Could I make it interactive? How could I make it collaborative? My written content is a little bit easier to develop, but still I don’t want to make anything public until I feel truly thrilled by it. Only my best content gets published (those 600+ draft posts that are written that I haven’t published may one day see the light – but they aren’t ready yet.)

These are my experiences as an introverted creator, but I do wonder how others experiences differ. I would love to hear from any other introverts who also attend events/create content! Is your experience different? Similar?

Merit vs Popularity: Academy Social Award Nominee

Academy Social Nominee

Yesterday, my friend Jenn, sent me a message congratulating me on my Academy Social Award nomination, with a link to the site where the nomination was posted. Curious, I checked it out – assuming it to be a joke site of some kind. On checking the page, I was indeed not only nominated, but a finalist for an Academy Social award in the category of “Voice Pioneer – An innovator whose content, voice and ambassadorship has the capacity to start a digital movement.” The award is down to three people – myself and two others. That said, I still wasn’t sure what it was.

What I found was that the Academy Social awards are part of the Academy of Canadian Cinema & Television, and the award nomination came in partnership with Jones, Bell Media, IPF, Telefilm Canada, Canada’s Media Fund, Cineplex, The Ontario Government and the CBC. The committee that ends up selecting the finalists include YouTubers like Andrew Gunnarolla, Matthew Santoro, media/ad people like Sarah Bobas and Jarrett Sherman, and even Emmy and Cannes award winner James Milward. By all accounts, the Academy Social award that I have been nominated for is a legit thing backed by business and industry experts. I must admit I am honoured. It is ALWAYS nice being recognized for something you are passionate about – in this case, my YouTube channel. Whether it was vlogging over the last year, or my Techmas series, or (hopefully the reception towards) my new series launching THIS WEEK, the amount of work that goes into creating content that I am proud of is no small amount. So getting feedback that people like it (in the comments) or, in this case, with an award nomination, feels great.

Academy Social Nominee Zach Bussey

Now, there is only one problem that the Academy Social awards have – and it’s a decision I understand, but disagree with on a fundamental level. Public voting. Right now, the voting is open for the nominees to solicit votes from their supporters, the idea being that the more people that vote, the more exposure the awards will get and also indicate who can rally their fans to do things. I get it, I know why they are doing it – it’s marketing. BUT, unlike contests or giveaways… I personally feel that awards should be based exclusively on merit and not popularity.

Merit vs Popularity and the Academy Social Award

As such, beyond this blog post mentioning it, I won’t be actively encouraging anyone to vote for me. Not because I don’t want to win, believe me, I HATE losing – so winning is all I ever want to do when it comes to competition, but because I don’t want to rally/ask/beg friends, family and fans to do something that won’t have a positive impact on the world. My days of trying to win popularity contests are over. Instead, I’m doing what I would do for any kind of good news… write about it. If exposure is what Academy Social is looking for, this is far better exposure than it would be if I were to spam people asking they vote.

Zach Bussey Social Media

Now, it should be noted that the end winner will be selected based on four categories – Quality/Originality of Content, meeting Two other Criteria Groups, Engagement with Audience AND Number of Votes. So, while I may get a zero on number of votes, my hope is that the merit based criteria propel me to victory. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too – I’m just thrilled to be able to say “Zach Bussey, Academy (Social) Award Nominee.”

Finally, I want to offer big congrats to the fellow nominees within my own category Megan MacKay + Casie Stewart. As well as all the nominees JusReign, Carmilla Series, Devante Burey, Melissa Maker, Michael Rizzi, Tanya Zhang, Alexandra Grant, Garrett Tonge, Tasha Leelyn, Andrew Huang, Aimee Davison and Kaitlyn Alexander! For most, I’ve known about them for some time – but this has introduced me to a couple new ones! Congrats to you all and best of luck!

PS. Let’s do a collab on my new series – did I mention it’s launching THIS WEEK? :)

Huge Mistake Made with Shaquille O’Neal

Zach Bussey and Shaquille O'Neal

There are times in life when you realize that making a  mistake is actually the best thing that can happen to you. Maybe not in the first hour, or day or even week, but as long as you learn from the mistake, it can be a positive thing. This is especially true for influencers because unlike many other professions, there are no clearly defined best practices. There are good suggestions, but nothing set in stone. Instead, due to the personal nature of the ‘influencer’, you just have to kind of wing it as you go. So, that said, when you happen to have a major mistake – don’t think of it as a negative thing, but rather an opportunity to advance your experience and your future content. I want to share a little story that happened to me last week.

On Wednesday morning, I received an email from Courtney (not her real name, but easier than saying ‘PR person’) who has rapidly become my favourite in Toronto. Courtney and I had first worked together during my Techmas campaign, and she sent me an email that read the following:  “Hey Zach, wanted to reach out to give you an exclusive opportunity to chat one-on-one with former NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal on Friday!” I will admit, that over the last five years I’ve received some incredible opportunities but this one definitely stood out as one of the biggest (pun intended). I wasted no time between her sending it and me replying “YES!”

 

We’ve slotted a five-minute interview for you to chat with him. Note that given his limited time commitment, we will only be offering 3 media interviews at 5 minutes max. – Courtney

The opportunity to chat with Shaq would occur at Best Buy and was presented by Monster. The only caveat to the opportunity was that I needed to incorporate the brand into it. There’s always a trade off to opportunities – when working with brands, you should always expect to offer value to them. It’s standard and if you want to continue to get opportunities you need to play ball. I should note at this point in the story that neither Best Buy nor Monster have compensated me financially. Moving on.

Now the tough part began – what would I ask Shaq and how would I incorporate it into my content? My first thought was to just interview him on what he thought about tech. Perfect, done. No, not perfect, not done. That’s a terrible idea. It’s boring. It’s throwaway content. It’s literally what 95% of bloggers would have done given the opportunity – not because they aren’t creative, but rather the blogger world has become lazy. Boring, press release written, sponsored content that ultimately ends up being throwaway noise is the standard these days… but NOBODY IS READING IT.  That’s exactly what I’m trying to get away from – having fallen into that trap in 2015. The problem with giving yourself the mandate to create GOOD content, is that it’s not easy. It doesn’t come ready for you to publish. Instead, it requires you to sit down and think creatively to come up with something new, exciting and interesting that people WANT to consume.

Mistake Made with Shaq

With that, I immediately turned to the YouTube series that I’m working on for my channel. I’ve been developing an idea for months now, and it’s only really come together as a complete idea in the last couple weeks. The base formula of the main series wouldn’t work with Shaq under a limited time constraint, but it made the most sense to try and pair the two. I stressed about it. I didn’t sleep over it. My mind was running on overdrive trying to come up with ideas! At about 5AM, the idea came to me – it was good, it would fit with the series, I could do it in 5 minutes, it would be different, unique and a lot of fun! Now, I just needed to plan my audio, camera, questions, props and then practice it a couple times. This is where a mistake would be made.

A Mistake Teaches Better Than Anything

The morning came, I didn’t sleep well, but I felt readyish. I went down to Best Buy and checked out the space. Two outlets would go before me, which meant I was the last one of the day – not the best position, but I wasn’t complaining. The first outlet selfishly took about 15 minutes to conduct their interview and now the talk among Shaq’s PR (not the PR I was connected with) was there might not be any more time left. I jumped to make my case – I only needed 3 minutes, and I was ready to go. Shaq’s PR agreed, but with the understanding I needed to be quick. I set up my camera and three audio recorders immediately.

As I sat beside Shaq to do my interview, I was nervous – not only because this was a massive celeb (again pun intended), but because I rushed to set up, I was in unfamiliar territory, with a new idea I’d never tried before, I was on limited sleep and I was rushed to get the interview done. I asked my questions and tried to be as natural as possible, adding my own humour into the mix. I felt good about it, I didn’t think it was my BEST work, but it wasn’t terrible. You wouldn’t have been able to tell that I was as nervous as I was. Shaq also clearly enjoyed himself too, which was a huge relief! At the end of it, Shaq basically bear hugged me from our seats as I thanked him for his time.

Shaq Monster Canada
Image credit to Monster Canada

I breathed a sigh of relief and happiness – everything went well. That moment of relief and happiness was short lived, a mistake was made. The audio came out well, but the video… the video did not. There is only 16 seconds of video – you see me sit down beside Shaq, I do a quick intro and boom the footage cuts. Argh, what had I done? What mistake did I make? I spent a day trying to figure it out and finally diagnosed the error – I didn’t format the SD Card to the camera. Huge mistake but it’s one that will teach me never to make it again.

Rather than look at this as a failure, I am treating it as an opportunity for growth. Not only have I learned more about my equipment in the last 24 hours than I have in the last 24 days, but I also proved to myself that I can perform under extreme pressure. Best of all, after reviewing the footage and the audio, while I may not be able to put together the BEST episode I could, I can still put together a pretty solid episode of my series. One that I can look back on and say “There was the big mistake where I learned more about myself and my video equipment than any other moment on video.”

To nicely wrap this up – I’d love to hear the mistakes that YOU’VE made, and how they taught you a lesson that helped you grow as a person or as an influencer. Oh, and Shaq was kind enough to sign a brand new Monster Superstar Bluetooth Speaker (that Best Buy provided), and I’d like to give it away to someone! If you want a chance to win it, head on over to this post on GuyMaven where you’ll be able to put your name into the digital hat!

Superstar Speaker Signed

YouTube’s Broken Complaint + Copyright System

YouTube Broken

YouTube’s broken complaint and copyright system is getting worse, and unless they start making meaningful change soon, it’s going to be a disaster for a platform that is riding on the fact there is little competition. Just how bad is it? Well, when some of the top creators are speaking out about it – it’s clear change needs to happen. But before we get deeper into this, we need a little bit of background on YouTube and the problem itself. YouTube has been hosting and serving video for over 10 years now. Over a billion users monthly create over 17 MILLION hours worth of content and nearly 8 BILLION hours watched each month! Video content is likely to grow exponentially over the foreseeable future – much to the excitement of current and startup creators (such as myself). Thousands upon thousands of creators now consider YouTube as their full time source of income.

YouTube's Broken

Supposing you’ve spent the time to create engaging content and have built yourself a nice audience – you’d hope you would be able to continue on that path right? Now imagine it can all be stripped away from you with no warning at all by trolls, enemies or just overzealous copyright – nervous? You should be, because YouTube’s broken complaint and copyright system is getting abused more than ever. While larger YouTubers get the benefit of having large audiences to advocate on their behalf, small channels simply stand no chance if they need to speak to someone about a false flagging or phony community strikes. It’s a growing problem with no sign of slowing down unless YouTube does something to remedy this terrible system that’s being exploited.

The “Not-So-Secret” Secret: YouTube’s Not Listening

Channel Awesome have over 350,000 subscribers – they got their FIRST STRIKE back on January 4th, which shut down their monetization for ALL their videos and limited their content length. They were unable to submit a copyright claim dispute due to errors within YouTube’s system. They struggled to get in touch with any real person at YouTube until speaking to some other creators who were able to provide some contacts. Even then, he says: “Nobody has given us a straight answer, nothing has been consistent! Nobody knows what’s going on!”

Eli the Computer Guy, who has over 625,000 subscribers recently had a similar issue. He was issued his first community guideline strike for a 3 year old video, and his channel was banned from live and long form content. He appealed the strike, and it was rejected. As a result of losing the appeal he also lost the ability to appeal any future complaints. He’s tried to get in touch with YouTube to no avail. Frustrated, he uploaded this video saying that he may need to leave YouTube. “They don’t seem to understand what business they are in.”

There are dozens of other massive channels that have been fighting with YouTube’s terribly broken copyright system lately as well. Here’s just a few of them:

  • Philip DeFranco has over 3.5M subscribers and had a video of his taken down for a false copyright flag after he called YouTube Prankster Roman Atwood a fake. It has since then been reinstated, but monetization on it remains disabled.
  • Devinsupertramp, 3.8M subscribers, lost access to an entire video altogether – in his case because the name of his video, not the content or the audio but the NAME of his video violated what a copyright troll could claim. He couldn’t change the name or do anything to restore the video which had hundreds of thousands of views, it was just gone.
  • Alternate History Hub, 500,000 subscribers, went to upload a video but found that he couldn’t monetize his content any more. For over two weeks, he was unable to make a single cent from his content due to a phony strike.
  • Rage Elixir has 200,000 subscribers and his channel was deleted for 5 days when his comments were falsely flagged by trolls.
  • Chibi Reviews has 100,000 subscribers and is currently fighting to have his features including monetization re-enabled so he can continue to pay his rent/buy food, but hasn’t been able to speak to anyone at YouTube. Fortunately, Schmoyoho (2.6M) and Boogie2988 (3M) have started to advocate on his behalf and have scolded YouTube for their lack of human support.
  • BlueDrake42 has 150,000 subscribers and had tons of his content removed. The kicker? It was before it was even released – how are people flagging videos that haven’t been released yet?!
  • Hickok45 had his channel of 1.9M subscribers deleted TWICE. It’s back now, but he’s not sure for how long.
  • Your Movie Sucks has 310,000 subscribers and has been taken down numerous times due to wrongful copyright complaints – in each case, he’s proved fair use but he’s tired of it.

In many other cases, false flagging has led to channels having age restrictions placed on them, of which is quite silly as is described by GradeAUnderA (850,000 subscribers.)

The easy answer here is that YouTube really needs to get it’s act together. The complaint, copyright and ContentID system worked initially because it was an okay solution to the problem of piracy that initially flooded the network. But now, that same automated system is being abused. There needs to be real people looking at these issue and not just a silly automated response system. Automation plays a role in this, but it can’t be the ONLY role that exists. Trolls now have real power to shut down content and channels. Even YouTubers like Jacksepticeye (8.5M subscribers) has said the issue needs to be addressed.

However, the real answer is that as content creators, you need to start being more proactive in planning your distribution options. If in an instant your entire channel can be taken down, then you’re almost setting yourself up for problems. That’s far too much trust to invest in a system that’s broken. Facebook is a prime example of building on someone else’s land – brands spend millions building a large fan page on Facebook, only to have Facebook’s algorithms change and require those brands pay in order for their posts to reach their fans. What’s the point?!

vessel youtube

If for some reason YouTube disappeared tomorrow, what would you do as a creator? Do you have the ability to contact your subscribers and say “Hey guys, you can see my videos on ____ now,”? If you don’t have that ability, you’re not thinking strategically. Some of the top content creators are creating their own platforms to connect with their audience – FouseyTube and Ryan Higa each have their own apps. Many Youtubers have moved their content to Vessel, and offer it a day early. Others now co-post their content to Facebook or DailyMotion. There are also creators who encourage people to sign up for their mailing lists or forums. All these moves are designed to protect them in the event that their channel or the platform one day go away. An insurance policy of sorts.

Yes, YouTube’s copyright and complaint system is entirely broken. However, now is the best time to rethink your strategy as a creator and develop a proactive system to keep in contact with your subscribers should this problem get worse before it gets better. Not only will it enable you to sleep easy in the event of a problem, but you will also have better ways to monetize and connect with your audience. That alone seems like an incredible reason to do so.

The Canadian Guide to Vidcon 2016

Vidcon 2016

YouTube has become an addiction of mine as I spent much of last year learning the ropes, posting a regular vlog, and then kicking off a major tech series around the holiday season called Techmas. Naturally, I know my next steps are to put my content plans into action and start connecting more with other YouTubers. Last year, I went to Corey Vidal’s Buffer Festival, and had a great time at the Gala. I missed out on YouTube’s own FanFest that occurred during the summer. Since then, I’ve kept close eye on some of the US based YouTube conferences with particular focus on Vidcon.

As the first ever YouTube conference, created by Hank and John Green (VlogBrothers), Vidcon has been growing in size, desirability and in the execution, since it’s inaugural year in 2010. Unfortunately, as a Canadian, the currency disparity works against us in a big way. As such, if you’re planning on going to Vidcon 2016, you should probably start planning it out soon if you don’t want to spend a years worth of rent to attend. All content of this post is in Canadian dollars, and has been converted at the current exchange rate of $0.69 (ugh), so the price you pay is likely going to differ from the content of this post.

When, Where and Who Will be at Vidcon 2016

@Vidcon takes place at the Anaheim Convention Center between June 23rd (10AM) and June 25th (6PM), and will feature a long list of creators. While the official list hasn’t been released yet (it usually comes out in April), you can bet it’s going to be long and star studded. In past years, creators have included Lilly Singh, Tyler Oakley, Jenna Marbles, Fun for Louis, Casey Neistat, Ryan Higa, Philip DeFranco, Pewdiepie, Shay Carl, Markiplier and literally hundreds of other major creators. I’ll make sure to update this article once the list has been released. This year, they have also decided to expand the conference to include events at the Anaheim Marriot, which is mere steps away from the Convention Center.

Flights to Vidcon will vary depending on where you’re flying out of and when. Assuming you want arrive Thursday Morning, Expedia has return flights from Toronto for $680, from Vancouver for $350, from Calgary for $450 and from Montreal for $625. Your flight will land in LAX, at which point it’s most economical to take a shuttle bus to Anaheim, which should run you between $30-$70.

Vidcon Tickets

Tickets to Vidcon are split into three categories – Community (general public who want to meet and hear from their favourite creators), Creators (usually startup or intermediate creators wanting to learn more and grow their audience, and to network with other creators), and Industry (for business types, such as networks, management, agency and others bringing the tradeshow swag). Early bird tickets are available now, and sell for $175, $250 and $890 respectively. Once those Early Birds are sold out the prices are $210 for Community, $280 for Creators and $1065 for Industry tickets.

Accommodations for Vidcon

Your best bet to save a few bucks on Vidcon accommodations is to go with friends and split the cost. My best suggestion for accommodations is to look at Airbnb. Listings within walking distance to Vidcon are available starting at about $200 a night (Canadian). While that may seem steep, keep in mind most of these places are two or even three bedrooms, so sharing that with 2-4 friends and it becomes a much cheaper experience than booking a hotel that only accommodates 2. As a bonus, using this link will credit you with $28 dollars to use towards your accommodations!

If you’d prefer a hotel/motel there are plenty of options for that too. These are quotes checked on January 18th. The Anaheim Hacienda Inn (rated 1.9/5) is the cheapest at just $82 a night and is less than a kilometer away. The Days Inn Anaheim West (rated 3.2/5) is 2km away and can be had for $116 a night. Or if you want a premium experience, the Best Western Plus (rated 4.2/5) is only 1km away, and a room costs $240 a night.

What to Bring to Vidcon

Vidcon Sign

Vidcon is a busy event with nealy 20,000 attendees in 2015, so you’re going to want to pack appropriately to have the best time possible.

  • Backpack – Naturally, you’re going to need something to carry your stuff in along with all the things you acquire while you’re there!
  • Cash – Ouch, that exchange rate is going to hurt. Whether to buy food or tshirts, or whatever else. Previous attendees say to budget $100 a day (roughly $70 USD).
  • Snacks + Reusable Water Bottle – Things to keep you going in lineups to meet your favourite personas will be necessary.
  • Camera + Extra Batteries/Memory Card – Everywhere you look, you’re going to see creators, so keeping your camera rolling may help you create the best Vidcon vlog ever.
  • Charger – Snapchatting everything drains the battery quickly, so pack a charger and find an outlet!
  • ID – This is a no brainer.

While I am in no way sure of what the economy will do, certain articles have suggested that the Canadian dollar could drop to record low levels so perhaps 0.69 is the best exchange rate you’re going to get this year. If that scenario plays out, then planning and buying into your Vidcon experience now is a wise move if you want to save a few bucks and get to experience the premiere YouTube festival in North America!