Ever notice how many YouTube videos, blogs, and ads use some form of this clickbait title? “Use this one trick to gain 10,000 followers in a day!” “The IRS doesn’t want you to know about this one trick”. I fell for one of them yesterday while surfing YouTube. I don’t remember the title, but it was something like “Follow this one rule to improve your channel”. I don’t have much of an attention span, so one rule is right up my alley. Convinced I’ll soon be scooping up all that sweet YouTube cash, I clicked on the thumbnail.
It actually ended up being a reasonable video, and the author made a good point that I think translates well to making videos, writing a blog, or life in general. He asked a simple question. “Are you an entertainer or an educator?” You have to pick an approach for your content and stick to it. Whether you’re writing a blog, an article, or creating a video, people will consume your content for one reason. They either want to be entertained, or they want to learn something. They’ll keep coming back to your content if they continue to see that same type of (quality) content. What generally doesn’t work is to post a bunch of how-to stuff, then suddenly post content that tries to be funny.
It almost doesn’t seem to matter what your niche is. How to repair things with duct tape. Heckling pro golfers. The history of manhole covers. It makes no difference what the content is as long as you’re consistent. If I am a fan of duct tape, the last thing I want to see on your amazing duct tape channel is a travel vlog of your trip to Disneyland with the kids. I have a friend who has a YouTube channel dedicated to cowboy action shooting. It’s a bit of an obscure sport and you wouldn’t think there’d be a be demand for that sort of thing. He has 20 thousand subscribers and posts nothing but 30 second clips of shooting matches. It’s all about finding your lane and then staying in it.
And therein lies my problem. It dawned on me that whether it’s writing, YouTube, or life in general… I’m a bit of a lost soul who can’t decide what niche I want to be in. That’s neither good nor bad. It just is. This blog drifts back and forth between trying to be funny, some random political/opinion stuff, and general reporting on the minutia of my daily life. As a reader it’s probably hard to know what you’re going to get (I’m honestly surprised people continue to subscribe). The same goes for YouTube. My pitiful little channel can’t figure out what it wants to be. I had visions of a broader category but keep resorting to the creative path of least resistance (and effort).
The end result for both blogging and YouTube is something that I’m clearly not terribly passionate about. As an example, for some reason still baffles me, 90+ percent of the subscribers to this blog are fitness related. I find this amusing and slightly embarrassing. I am not a fitness person. I am not fit. I’m not making much progress on my fitness journey at the moment. Because of that, I’m not very motivated to write anything about fitness. But anytime I even mention the word fitness… the views go way up, and I gain another handful of subscribers. So, I realize that I could probably focus 100% on fitness and diet topics and rapidly acquire readers. But is that really me?
Similar with videos. I like motorcycles and it was easy to crank out a few videos about some trips I took. But I didn’t have any desire to be only a motorcycle travel vlogger. The motorcycle only occupies a small portion of my life. But as it turns out, those motorcycle trips are what people watch. Do I stick with what gets views, or try to figure out what will motivate me to make lots of content rather than just an occasional video when I go on motorcycle ride?
It’s sort of an interesting life question. Everyone knows the old adage about working – “pursue your passion and you’ll never work a day in your life”. I’m not sure that’s realistic advice. As a young man my passions were surfing and being angry at the world. I’m not sure how successful I would have been focusing solely on that. But who knows? Maybe I would have gone on to launch a surf clothing company that featured anti-establishment slogans that made me a gazillionaire.
The reality for most of us is that through luck and circumstance we stumble into something and end up doing it for long enough that you actually get good at it. Is it a “passion”? Maybe, maybe not. But it pays the bills and gives you an identity and a focus. Maybe these creative outlets should be the same? I stumbled on a couple of things that attracted a few folks willing to read/watch my nonsense. Perhaps I should just embrace it and focus on what works. Really dive in and enjoy the niche I accidently found. I never thought I’d be a software engineer or an RN either, but I got pretty good at both.
But the other adage about creativity is that you should create for you first. Who cares if anyone else likes it? If your creativity comes from passion and happiness, people will recognize it. There are followers for every sort of niche. If you put out good content, those followers will find you. At the end of the day, what’s the point of being creative if it’s not your passion?
Interesting questions. I’m not sure what I’d tell a young person going out into the world today. I’m not sure what to tell myself. That’s some deep stuff to ponder on a Tuesday morning. I think I’ll go get my workout done and think about it…