Camera Shy: Lights, Camera, Make


YouTube simply wasn’t on my radar when I started blogging 10 years ago. All the people I liked and followed were bloggers. I didn’t watch YouTube videos to understand how to do something (my dad did, though). Instead, I scoured forums for people in trades and subscribed to bloggers recapping their projects. I preferred tutorials in their written form to digest at my leisure and repeatedly reference. As a result I began my blog by writing to someone just like me, and tried to give them what I came to blogs for (often reading from work, where I didn’t want to get caught watching a video!).

“I’ll spend extra time googling and looking around for a written- and picture-documented DIY and despair when I can only find videos.”
—Olivia, @diyhorseownership

YOU GRAVITATE TOWARD SKILL SETS YOU ALREADY HAVE

I came from a customer service background in software where I did a lot of technical documentation. I simply “got” blogging more than I did on-camera work. As my blog became more popular, I went to conferences to network. The classes were focused on traffic, Pinterest, Instagram, and more, but never seemed to focus on YouTube.

PINTEREST HEAVILY INFLUENCED THE BLOGGER’S FOCUS

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I hopped on Pinterest very early and it was a huge traffic driver to my blogs. It was a platform full of my peers (other bloggers I knew and URLs I recognized), so it was a natural link to add my content and encourage my followers to join. That symbiotic relationship was great for growth and encouraged my focus between these platforms. YouTube seemed like an outlier that had more obstacles to sharing as part of a social media strategy, especially with formatting (vertical for Pinterest, horizontal for YouTube).

IT’S A COMFORT ZONE THING

Many bloggers are introverts — comfortable sharing their passions and projects, but not as comfortable with a camera or speaking in public. I can write 1,000 words without batting an eye, but speaking into a camera or in front of a crowded room leaves me tongue-tied. That also means no need for makeup or changing clothes. I’ve heard some describe themselves as “lazy” when admitting this … but to me, it sounds more like intimidation.

“I want my videos to all have the same aesthetic and intro, etc. and haven’t figured all that out yet.” —Charlee, @buildandcreatehome

And on YouTube, unlike a blog, you can’t go back and edit!

For many, Instagram is a way to bridge the gap and build up confidence on camera. I tried videos out on Instagram first and saw it as a new way to demonstrate techniques and teach, to test the reception of how my followers would react to adding video, etc. Still, it requires more effort:

“YouTube requires a different video format than Instagram and IGTV, so I see it as more work getting content made just for YouTube.”
—Monica @house.of.esperanza

SPONSORS MAY OR MAY NOT WANT IT

For the majority of my blog’s growth, sponsors and sidebar ad networks were all focused on blogs and my social media shares … not videos. They never asked, and I never offered. No one seemed to talk about it until the last few years when the lines began blurring more between bloggers, IGers, and YouTubers. Still, I hesitated because …

SOMETHING’S GOTTA GIVE

Once I had a successful blog, I had a full-time business. I had a pace for new content that readers could reasonably expect with small hints shared on Instagram to fill in content gaps. Adding YouTube to my workload would mean, somehow, adding content without compromising what I’d already built or alienating my existing followers. It seemed like doubling or even tripling the workload — and I was right!

“My main reasons are: 1. lack of time and 2. the lighting in my garage is horrible and using the natural light means additional editing as the
light source (the sun) is constantly moving.”

—Char, @woodenmaven

“Time to learn a new platform, time to learn the editing tools, and then time to do the editing itself.”

—Chris, @ironhorse_woodcraft

“Lack of a decent PC to put together a proper video/tutorial.”

—@calibercreativeworks

“The thought of adding one more thing to my plate with work/life balance seemed really overwhelming to me. I didn’t want to do it until I felt ready to put all of my energy behind it and do it right. I’m still figuring out how to balance it all, but I’m glad I finally got started.”

—Erin, @erinspainblog

Once I launched on YouTube, the video skills needed were added to my pile of to-dos for each project. Costs increased. I still needed to stop and photograph certain steps. My total work time spent per project increased considerably, which meant spreading out my content calendar, and fewer projects could be completed per month.

DOES YOUR AUDIENCE EVEN WANT IT?

I also wondered, would my audience even respond? Or would this be a new audience — entirely separate from those I’ve reached before? Would quality suffer? Would I have to hire outside help to shed some of the extra work, and would that cost be balanced out by the views?

Now that I’ve had some success on YouTube, I know it does add value to my audience and makes more income, but it’s still a very hard balance. Half of the videos I create for my blog still don’t make it to YouTube because of the extra work required for intros/outros/voiceovers!

THEN THERE’S THE COMMENTS …

YouTube comment culture has a reputation
that precedes the platform. A blog friend once called it “the outhouse of the internet,” and I wondered whether it would be worth trying to grow a thick skin just to share the things I was passionate about.

It’s not that I haven’t received negative comments on my blog or Instagram before, and I still get plenty of positive comments now that
I’m on YouTube. But the bad ones can be particularly cringey — they can feel more like attacks and sting a little bit more. Comments about my looks or body make me uncomfortable regardless of platform, and I get them more on YouTube. I found myself creating a blocked words list for the first time. Some content creators just don’t have the mental space or energy for that, and I can’t blame them.

“Honestly, I’ve seen a lot of my blogging friends deal with horrible comments and have no desire to bring that into my life. So it just never truly appealed to me to add a lot to YouTube.”
—Sheri, @hazelandgolddesigns

With all of that said, now that I’m on YouTube I’m meeting an entirely new audience than I knew before, so I consider it value-add overall. It’s been worth overcoming my assumptions, the workload, and all the times I’ve talked myself out of it.

I’ve met a ton of YouTube makers as well, which made me feel part of a new community where I can grow new skills (I’d never tried welding or blacksmithing before!). I’ve found a few new heroes; some have even become close friends.

Looking back, it flows along similarly to my experience with platforms before it — there
once wasn’t Pinterest, and I adapted; there once wasn’t Instagram, and I adapted to that too; YouTube is my newest challenge, and isn’t so scary, after all!



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