10 Things I Learned While Making My First YouTube Video

Personal / Friday, August 5th, 2016

Could that title get any longer? Jeez. But that adorable, click-baity title is the most direct way for me to passively state that, hey, I finally created a YouTube video! You’re welcome, Past Jen!

Jokes aside, this really has been a long time coming. I first created my channel back in 2012, and never felt like I could be one of “those” people who made videos.  What does that even mean, Past Jen? I tend to do that a lot. Just assume that I wouldn’t be able to do something without any actual proof that I couldn’t. Sure, you’re bad at something when you first do it, but does that mean that I just block myself from even trying? Probably.

Here’s the thing about YouTube, and other aspects of life. People always just spew out the same “Just do it” or “Just get out there…make it happen…get your hands dirty” or any other thing Shia LaBeouf might say. I have been a creative coward for the entirety of the adult life. My childhood, not so much but that’s a therapy session for another day. My point is, you will constantly be given this advice, solicited or not, from any and every type of person in every profession/field/industry.

This advice sucks. For me at least. It was never effective. That being said, I’m going to say some things that might have actually been good advice for Past Jen to have gotten. I’ve put the video at the bottom of this post. You can decide if you’d like to watch it before or after reading this post or at all.

10. You will feel really stupid. And you will suck. Those weren’t exactly new things I learned, but I didn’t realize the extent at which I would feel them until I was already in the midst of doing the thing. And don’t get me wrong, I’ve sucked at things before, but never at something that was going to be posted publicly to the Internet. *cries* I think Jake the Dog from Adventure Time actually says this lesson best when he says the oft-quoted “Sucking at something is the first step to becoming sorta good at something.” I will be on Step 1 for a while.

9. It’s both a big deal and not really a big deal. I think some times we look at a task and underestimate it. That’s not what I did. Initially, what caused me to resist taking actual action was OVERestimating it. And I am by no means sitting here saying “WELL THAT WAS ALMOST TOO EASY HAR HAR HAR.” What I’m saying is, we tend to look at a project as ONE BIG project, rather than several smaller, more digestable and doable tasks. What finally broke the barrier down for me was breaking it down to the minutiae. At first, it seems straightforward. Come up with idea, shoot video, edit video, add music, maybe a thumbnail, post it. But there’s brainstorming the idea, research, maybe you need a script, do you need graphics to assist you in making your point? Shooting the video requires you to set up the camera and tripod at a decent angle, what about lighting, sound, actually capturing the footage, editing, sound, adding in graphics, music, color-grading, creating a thumbnail, creating a title, description, meta-data, are you going to promote it on other sites, etc. etc. etc. For me, video making was relatively new territory. I took filmmaking classes before, but it was always everything BUT these aspects that I liked more. So I’m trying to be nice to myself here.

8. I say “um” too much. Pretty straight forward. I realized the first couple of times I faltered when trying to get a point across was that even if your intention is to just hit record and talk, you should still write down a few bullet points or vague outline to keep your mind in order. And even then I still did it. Damn!

7. You warm up to the camera. If you watch my whole video through, you can see the progression of me going from super duper hella awkward to a bit more comfortable and more of my actual personality starting to come out.

6. I need to learn Photoshop. It’s hilarious how I’ve gotten this far in my various endeavors and NOT learned how to do anything relevant. I also could do for some basic graphic design classes and motion graphics tutorials. Like damn. Gaps in my knowledge.

5. Don’t take things too seriously. This particular video is one of the “easier” types of videos I’ll be doing. A standard review. Consume the thing, gather points about the thing, talk about the thing. A book, a film, a game, and you get my subjective opinion. What I really want to get into is more educational, fact-based video. Not to say that these things won’t also have my own opinions, the main objective it to, well, be more objective. This video is also an easier type of video technically because there’s nothing but me talking to a camera. No extra graphics or clips, no complex editing other than trimming the fat. No script, or research or much post production. Just some color adjusting.

4. Low expectations are important for newbies, but still have standards. Knowing this was my first, the expectations were low. But that didn’t mean I went into it planning to make a shitty video (whether or not that is the end result is another thing). This was something I sort of fought against my boyfriend about, to be honest. At a certain point, I felt like it was good enough, and that I had invested all of the time I wanted to into this. It was my first video after all, right? It was bound to be subpar. But there were still reasonable things that could be done. He helped trim my editing even slimmer and smoother, he’d showed me how to adjust the color balance, and he even did some tracking and stabilization.

3. Find ways to enjoy the process. There are things that stress me out within even the things I enjoy the most. Even if vlogging is your most favorite thing in the world, there is still going to be something within that that you don’t like, for whatever reason. I have a friend who’s an oil painter who hates cleaning the brushes. Lots of artists love drawing, but they hate drawing hands or folds on clothing, or doing backgrounds. Usually, we don’t like the parts we aren’t so good at. This is still new to me; I’ve filmed and edited before, but it was never for things I was invested in. Right now it’s all new and exciting, but I know that certain things will very quickly become obstacles.

2. DFTBA: Don’t Forget To Be Awesome. It’s important to think about what I want out of this. There are reasons I decided to start doing this. I wanted a creative outlet outside of work. I wanted to share my interest with other people. I wanted to get better at oration. If this leads to other cool opportunities, or cool discussions, even better.

1. Done is better than  perfect. I think of all of the throwaway snippets of advice I get (many of which I mentioned at the start of this post), the one nuggets that I do hold onto is the idea that done is better than perfect. This is actually something I can relate to. Although this may seem like it argues against point 4’s argument to not stop short, you do get to a certain point where it’s time to put it down for good.

So, here is my first attempt. It’s a little longer than I wanted, but I didn’t want to cut out any of the things I said, and know I will improve over time:

2 Replies to “10 Things I Learned While Making My First YouTube Video”

  1. You did a very good job fir a first timer ?? seems as if you’d been doing it for years! I’d love to go it a good in the future but for now I’ll stick to writing haha. Great tips though ?

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