Home is Where Your Friends Are

The last year has involved a lot of change for me. A new job. A new city. Transitioning to being a “real adult” like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis.

I’ve spent a lot of my life hating myself and where I live and my life circumstances, not because they’re particularly horrific, but because they’ve felt out of my control. (Raise your hand if you’re a control freak!)

So this year has meant a lot of learning to let go when it’s too much and fight when it’s absolutely necessary. Sometimes it’s a little hard to distinguish between the two when you’re in the throes of emotional turmoil, but I think I’m slowly getting the hang of it.

But what caused me probably the most mental anguish a year ago as I transitioned to this new adult life, was wondering if I’d be lonely.

I was moving away from my home, my family, my few friends, and the majority of the life I’d built post-college. It wasn’t much (not what I’d imagined for myself upon graduation, at least), but for someone who has a hard time making friends and connecting, I was fearful of what the future held. Yes, I was actually moving closer to several friends from college and a few cousins (oh, and of course, my long-distance boyfriend of four years), but it still seemed daunting.

How could I make this new life my own and this new place my home?

What I found is that Home is where your Friends are.

I capitalize “Home” and “Friends” here because it’s more than just your home/house or the people you hang out with outside of work. Home is a place that you feel comfortable. That you are yourself. That you can take off the ill-fitting skinsuit that society makes you wear in order to blend in or be accepted.

And Friends are the people, places, and things that make you feel comfortable. That don’t judge you. That love you (or are freely open to be loved in the case of inanimate objects or activities).

This sounds super weird, I know.

“But Kaitlyn, how can an inanimate object be your ‘Friend?’ That sounds like someone living a sad life!” you say.

Perhaps you could take it that way, but I would say that my camera and editing software and YouTube are my “Friends” because they’re part of who I am. Wherever I go, as long as I’m making videos, there’s a comfort in it that allows me to feel at Home in my own skin.

But more obviously it works for people. I have literal “friends” like Alanna who I worked on several video projects with over the last year. I had the wonderful opportunity to grow closer to her once moving here and for that I’m eternally grateful. But at the end of July she moved to New York City (a very big dream of hers being realized). One might think, “Oh but Kaitlyn, now your friends aren’t where your Home is? How does this work?” I think the biggest thing I’ve learned post-college is that the people who are your best friends don’t have to be local. Sometimes they live on the other side of the country or on a different continent! But true friends are ones who stake a claim in your heart amid all the chaos of life. In fact, I can pretty confidently say that most of the people who remain immensely special to me, I don’t see physically on any regular basis.

Now while I’d love to have an infinite supply of money and start some kind of commune where I can gather all my favorite people together and we could all do our various things, I know that’s not quite possible and I’ll have to keep on living with digital communication until that becomes feasible. But what it means for me is that Home is wherever I want it to be. For Alanna who just moved to NYC, Home isn’t back in Virginia but right there with her. You carry your Friends with you, wherever you go. California. Guatemala. The International Space Station. It is a wonderful and burden-lifting revelation.


How to Prioritize Your Life

6-2-17 How to Prioritize Your Life

It’s been a hot minute since I posted anything here on the blog, and I’ve been really sad about this. But now I’m back on a new day with some thoughts on how to remedy this!

My big problem during the last month and half was that I felt like all my life priorities had gotten WAY out of whack. Do you ever have times like this? Where you’re running on fumes but keep telling yourself, “If I can just get to X, then everything will calm down and fall back into place!”

Well, sometimes this might happen. In a magical-not-very-realistic world, maybe. But in my experience, it’s never actually worked out that way.  Instead, I’ve usually come to a crashing halt because I end up getting really sick. Being sick usually affords me the time to take a critical look at all my responsibilities and commitments because my body’s stopped obeying my intense go-go-go drive temporarily. Not that it’s a pleasant way to essentially be forced to reevaluate your priorities, but I guess I just tend to take life as it comes to me.

Pre-getting-the-cold-from-hell I’d release this video on my summer plans to slow down my video output. (We’re going to do just Thursday videos from June through August!) I had already seen my mental wellbeing and productivity careening off the rails so I thought I’d take early action to try to mediate the coming chaos. I still got sick, but at least I only had one video to worry about instead of two!

You see, I want to do ALL THE THINGS. And I also have incredibly high expectations for myself on anything I set my mind to do. Unfortunately, these two attributes don’t usually play nice together. It’s physically impossible for me to always be DOING MORE while keeping up my 110% standards.  This usually results in me crashing into pits of self-doubt and hate because I feel inadequate. Or overextending myself to the point where I freeze up and don’t accomplish much of anything for fear of failure.

None of these are very good outcomes, but what do I do to better prioritize my life and goals and interests?

For me, it’s about reevaluating where I’m at and making new and updated task lists continually. I legitimately have a list for everything. It helps me feel in control of the chaos that’s constantly writhing under the surface of my life. And it keeps tasks, ideas, and interests that I don’t have time to accomplish at the moment, still in my mind.  As life morphs and grows with time, I can see when something that’s been on the backburner might be a welcome change to the routine. Or hopefully know (when things just get a little too overwhelming) how to reorganize my commitments to take off some of the stress while still allowing me to feel creative and productive.

It’s certainly no easy task! But it’s been on my mind a lot lately as I think about where I am now and where I want to be in the future and what that means for how I prioritize my life. In the short term, I’m going back to producing one video a week for the summer and I’m changing my blog release day to be Friday. There was something about releasing all this midweek content that was exhausting me so we’ll see what happens with a Thursday/Friday double hit! Furthermore, I really want to spend the summer organizing and creating a website for iIMAGINEblank so that my videos and blogs (and just generally ALL my content) are in one place and better cross-promoted. I’m also thinking about some big, more awesomely creative projects I’d like to do with iIMAGINEblank, and I’ll hopefully be able to do lots of pre-production on them so I can put my plans into action in the coming months!  I have lots of cool ideas to stretch my skills and grow my brand beyond just life advice videos and I feel like now is the time to seize the day and do it!

So here’s to a productive (but enjoyable!) summer!


My Life: One Year Later

This time last year I opened Gmail to find a truly mind blowing arrival. An email from the YouTube staff letting me know that I had been chosen for YouTube NextUp NY’s inaugural class. The email was sent on March 31st, and it basically had to say “This isn’t an early April Fool’s joke! You really are NextUp!” which I think is hilarious but also kind of sums up exactly how getting that email felt.

I’d applied for two YouTube-related things in early March and I’d been rather confident in hearing back from one (VidCon’s “Less Than Famous” Panel because I’d been a runner-up in 2015 so I mistakenly thought I’d be a shoo-in for 2016).  So I had my hopes dashed a bit when I saw the panel participants announced a few days prior.  As for YouTube NextUp, I thought I had such a low chance of being chosen I essentially applied and forgot about it.

But what happened was such a crazy rush of impossible coincidences that a year later, with my life so vastly different from what it was then, I can’t help but reflect on the catalyst that receiving that email was.

Things you don’t know:

The day I received the email I had taken a half day from work and spent the afternoon touring apartments in Downtown Lynchburg. I’d reached somewhat of a breaking point with living with my parents/being far away from Parker/desperately searching for new employment, and I thought that perhaps moving out of my parent’s house despite the risks of signing a year lease in a city that I didn’t want to be permanently and staying at my (honestly) dead-end career-wise job for another year would maybe bring me some kind of relief.

And there was a sense of excitement to it because I toured a beautiful 2 bedroom loft apartment with exposed brick and original hardwood floors and a cool “millennial-girl-living-her-best-life” vibe that was being offered for the price of the 1 bedroom apartments if filled quickly. And it was so beautiful and all the things I thought I should be doing with my life (according to Instagram, that is) even if it wasn’t really the best financial or career-related decision. So I’d just filled out an application and was excitedly telling two of my best friends about it via text (who had a less-than-enthused response because “But what about Richmond?” and “I thought you hated your job?”) when I opened my email and low and behold…

And things kind of came to a screaming halt. Because this was an Opportunity with a capital “O.” And moving out. Living my Instagram life. None of seemed as important until I’d allowed this Opportunity to change me.

So I put the fancy apartment on hold, and I went to New York for a week.

And I talked to my fellow creators. I learned about what they did for their “day job.” And how they balanced YouTube and their careers. Or rather, how they were trying to integrate YouTube into their careers for the most part.

And I came away, maybe not with a foolproof plan to YouTube stardom, but a better idea of how I wanted to live my life–real life, career life, Youtube life, all of it.  Unfortunately, that meant not moving into the trendy loft apartment. It meant putting a pretty solid end date on my time at my current employment. And it meant not taking a backseat on life anymore. I’d spent so much time saying “Well I can’t make better videos because I don’t have lights” or “I can’t make 2 videos a week because I just don’t have the ideas/energy” or “I can’t make non-dating advice content because that’s not what my subscribers are here for.”

I can’t. I can’t. I CAN’T.

But I could. Even when it seemed so darn impossible! (Like me being selected for NextUp).

So I said, I’m going to move to Richmond by September whether I found a job or not.

And I found a job. And I moved in August.

I said, I’m going to make 2 videos a week.

And I’ve made 2 videos a week (except for 2 weeks around Christmas when I just needed a break) since August, and I feel like I have more ideas than ever!

I said, I’m going to try making different content.

And I’ve made travel videos and review videos and a lookbook and collaborations with friends and a music cover of “City of Stars.”

I’m not telling you these to brag. When I write it all out like this, I actually surprise myself because to me it just feels like I’m doing life. It doesn’t feel extraordinary. It’s just what I have to do to get by. (But with obvious self-imposed challenges, of course).

What’s really awesome and amazing is that even though YouTube NextUp didn’t really do much to boost my channel in terms of subscriber growth, it did allow me to find what I think is important in life, in creativity, in my career, and in online video making.

I’m very a different person and a different channel in many ways than what I was at the beginning of April 2016. And I’m quite happy with not having to go back.


First-time Job Hunting Tips for the Creative Industry

Until recently, I’ve pretty much always been on the “interviewee” side of the job interview equation.  But my current job (which recently had its grant extended for a second year, yay!) started the process of hiring a student assistant video editor. This is both exciting (because help!), but also a bit nerve wracking because it meant that I would be looking at resumes, interviewing candidates, and deciding who I would trust to work with me on this project.

It’s a weird and awkward process, and I don’t envy anyone who has to do it. But since I know what it’s like to spend several years job hunting as well as trying to break into an entry level position, I thought I might round up some observations for first-time job hunters. I know the insight I gained from interviewing would have helped me immensely when I was in their shoes!

Getting the Interview

The one time I was previously involved in the hiring process, I didn’t have to pick through resumes. My supervisor had done that for me and we just interviewed the 8 or so candidates together. So my perusal of resumes was to get the basics. I wasn’t really weeding anyone out that way.

But for my most recent experience, we ended up with about 35 resumes. And while my supervisor and I both went through the resumes, it really fell to me to decide who to interview because I’m the technical expert on the project. And that was a little daunting of a task.

I found through my resume sifting that I favor a few things:

  1. A unique layout → I definitely gravitated toward resumes that weren’t “average” looking. I know this doesn’t apply to all fields, but in a creative field, an interesting looking resume is a must if you want to stand out.
  2. Having a reel/website/work samples → Since I needed to know their skill level in After Effects, it was much easier to skim through their work visually rather than trying to parse it out by just their resume.
  3. A skills list → Having worked in After Effects was really important and because there were so many resumes it was easier to throw out resumes that didn’t prominently list After Effects as a skill. It might have been reasoned that they’d worked with the program from something else in their resume, but if the job posting says you need X skills, make sure you list those skills out if you have them.
  4. A cover letter/statement of interest → A resume is important, but I was much more apt to linger on a resume if they had also included a cover letter or a note in the “additional information” section explaining why they wanted the position. Only about 10 of the 35 applicants did this, and almost all of the applicants we interviewed did.
  5. No extraneous/unrelated job history → While it looks like a “full” resume from a glance, if you’re trying to get a job as a video editor, I don’t need to know that you worked at JCPenney or a summer camp. I know it shows that you can hold a job and maybe that you have leadership skills, but I feel a bit tricked when I read through your work experience and none of it pertains to video production. I would rather see no “traditional” work experience section and instead a section on projects you’ve worked on and explanations for what you did. (One of the applicants we interviewed had just that.)

Acing the Interview

I’ll be honest with you and say that after our four interviews, we weren’t really any closer to knowing who to pick.  Not because they were bad interviews, but because with students and an entry-level position like this, everything feels about the same.

It really came down to “who did I like best?” That’s a hard thing for me. It’s far too subjective. And I spend too much time second-guessing myself and my motives to make a decision like that.  But I did notice a few things that ultimately helped me decide:

  1. Being overconfident and overqualified can be a detriment →  We ended up not choosing the applicant I thought would be a shoo-in because they were SO qualified. Not that they were really THAT much more qualified than the other candidates but they had an actual reel (which as a college student, I knew I needed to have, but never seemed to find the time to make) and had demonstrable evidence of doing lots of different editing and motion graphics for several projects and companies. I had no doubt that they would do whatever I asked them and do it well.  But because they could show their experience doing so MANY things, something felt lacking.
  2. Vague statements about why you left a previous job are unsettling → My supervisor helped make the first cut because she found concern in one interviewee’s vagueness about their previous employment “just not working out.”  Honestly, this didn’t really bother me much until my supervisor pointed it out and then it became a glaring problem that ultimately took them out of the running.  The vagueness around the statement made us think, “Would this job, ‘just not work out’ for them too? Would we be left in the lurch?”  This is a good place to point out that you should avoid giving vague statements like this. We asked if this previous job would affect their work hours and they answered with the “it didn’t work out” statement. A much better way to have handled this would have been to give us just a bit more information as to why or how it didn’t work. Over-explaining things like this is NOT a bad thing!
  3. Being “too busy” may make your interviewers question how high of priority this job is → I’m so guilty of this. I like to show ALL the things I’m doing because to me, it shows initiative and work ethic, but in this case, we found it made us question this applicant’s priorities. Would we be ditched for a more interesting looking internship when the going got tough?
  4. Make sure you say you want the job and why, it may be just what sets you apart → The applicant we ended up offering the job to was not the one during the interview that I thought we would pick. They were rather shy, even if very qualified.  But what ended up standing out over everyone was that they expressed that they WANTED the job very much and how the job fit in with their professional goals. It’s funny that something as simple as “Hey! I want to do this job!” would make a difference. You’d think that coming to the interview would make that obvious. But there’s something heartening to an interviewer to hear it genuinely spoken.

For first-time job hunters in the creative industry, I know it’s incredibly hard to stand out and get the job. (Been there! Done that!) Sometimes you have to take jobs that don’t exactly fit with your long-term goals in order to get your foot in the door. But if you’re at least using and improving some of your skills, it’s 100% worth it. I hope that some of these resume and interview tips will strike a chord with you and help you improve your next job hunt! I know I wish I’d know some of these things before!



2017 Goals and Anti-New Year’s Resolutions


Did you know that this blog was started from a New Year’s Resolution? It’s one of the few resolutions that I’ve stuck with heart and soul over the years.  But as another new year begins and I find myself wondering what my goals and resolutions for 2017 should, I realize that I want to approach this year a little differently. In 2017, I want my “Goals List” to be less about making stressful resolutions and more about making smart plans and taking educated steps toward what will make me happier and more satisfied in life. This year and beyond!

1.) Do Physical Activity that Brings Me Joy, Peace, and Restoration. I’ve been a big fan of Yoga With Adrienne’s 30 Days of Yoga Series for the past 2 years, and as I start 2017’s edition, I’ve really taken one of her main messages to heart. That yoga (or really any exercise) should be about what makes you feel good. It should be something you enjoy and brings you a sense of restoration and connection with your body (especially in our digitally-obsessed world these days!)  So rather than setting a “exercise X many times a week” or “lose X many pounds” goal like I have in the past, in 2017, I’m planning for my health and happiness. I want to explore new kinds of physical activity to see what inspires me as well as build on my staples of yoga, hiking, and swimming.  I’d also really like to work on my hiking endurance and potentially participate in a long hike like Parker did this past fall (36 miles! Whoa!)  But more than anything, I want to focus on what feels good for me, what inspires me to get and stay active, and how can it contribute to stress-relief for me.

2.) Save Now, Spend Later.  Moving out of my parents house this past fall has really gotten me thinking about money.  All the new expenses. All the things that I didn’t know I needed. All the things I want but wonder if they’re really worth the money.  But in conversations with Parker recently, we’ve both been feeling out the idea of Richmond not being our forever home.  He’s been here for over 4 years now, and while I’ve only lived here since August, I’ve been visiting and exploring the area for as long as he’s been here. It’s a beautiful and quirky and interesting place, but the more we talk, I don’t think it’s our forever home. There’s a part of me (and I know for him too) that really wants to travel. He’s talked about really wanted to learn French or German and traveling through Europe.  I have this strange desire to visit Iceland and many other unique places. And we’ve both been talking about what it would take for us to live in Hawaii. Living in Hawaii started as a silly throw away line early on in our relationship when we were long-distance and very miserable about it. “I’ll come steal you and we’ll run away to Hawaii.” I don’t know why Hawaii exactly. I suppose it seems like the farthest place away while still being in the U.S. (since emigration takes even more money and planning). But the point is, that this year I’m really starting to understand how I want a more mobile life in the future. Whether that’s traveling internationally or moving to Hawaii or Austin, TX, I’m seeing that the only way I can do that is if I focus on the future and save. So here’s to a frugal 2017!

3.) Start Planning to Make Travel a Reality.  This one is a little less fully formed, but since I want to start saving, I might as well start planning for what this travel will look so I know how much to save and what kind of timeline I’m working with.

4.) Infuse Design and My Unique Passions into my Creative Endeavors.  I’ve felt a bit creatively tapped out recently.  Like I’m bursting with ideas with feel inadequate or lacking the means to bring those ideas to life. So I want to encourage myself to journal more. To start some larger art projects and see where they take me.  To try more craft projects on my YouTube channel.  These are all things that bring me joy, but I shuffle them aside for “more important” projects that tend to bring me less joy.  But what’s creativity without joy or passion?

5.) Read More!  I just got a library card for Henrico County and will probably get one for Richmond City libraries as well, and boy am I excited for all the new books I have access to! I had finally started to run out of titles that sounded interesting in my hometown library so hurray for new books!

6.) Start a Patreon Page!  I need a Patreon page. I really don’t know why at this point I don’t already have one.  Or rather, I do know, but it’s because 1.) I’ve been lazy and haven’t created it and 2.) I’ve been at a loss for what to use as rewards.  But in doing some research and looking at what some of my favorite creators are using as rewards, I finally feel like I know how to structure it.  And it’s gosh darn time isn’t it!  So be on the lookout in the next few months for it! I hate the idea of asking for money from people. But I also would really love to make even better content, and I’m running pretty thin these days.  Plus there’s something about the idea of having people invest in me and my work that seems validating, and I think that’s something I need at this stage in my life as a content creator.

7.) Be More Mindful.  While being mindful is something I’ve always considered important, I’ve never actively made it a goal for myself.  But I think as 2017 brings a very different kind of year for me with a new city, a new job, and an adult transition, it will be important for me to channel that mindfulness into journaling, more regular meditation, and a better awareness of how I’m feeling emotionally and physically. I can only be my best advocate if I’m active in understanding what’s going on inside me!

8.) Brainstorm, Research, and Make Connections for New Projects.  There are a lot of new things that have peaked my interest in the last year, and I think 2017 is the time to step up to the plate and learn what it takes to do them. What do I need to learn? What training could I acquire? What connections do I need to make? Who should I call on for a favor to help me into a new industry?

9.) Write More!  I really want to start writing more creatively this year. It’s been a year and half since I worked on my novel. *Sad Face* And while I don’t know if I’m quite ready for jumping back into writing a chapter a month for my novel, I really want to at least start writing short stories and poetry again.  Which is one reason, I’m really excited for one of my favorite content creator’s new project #WordBound which is exactly what I’m looking for: Weekly prompts to encourage writers like me to write more!  You should be seeing more on this soon as I complete each week’s prompts (hopefully!)

And finally, what I consider the one, super big, NEED TO DO goal:

10.) Build a Website for iIMAGINEblank/My Business. I’ve been saying I’m going to build an iIMAGINEblank website for quite a while now.  But 2017 is the year!  As I’m seeing YouTube viewers and subscribers stagnate, I’m really looking at how I expand my love for video creating outside of that one oversaturated platform and onto my own so that I can combine all the things that are me: video creating, blogging, art, fashion, DIY/crafts, and motivational speaking.  How is this all going to come together? I don’t know! If you have ideas please let me know!  But I do feel the most confident in myself that I have the tools to do it and make it into the business that I really want rather than a hobby that I make a little bit of money off of. Being a “YouTuber” (or rather a content creator) is a real and valued thing in 2017.  So I need to start treating it as such.
Happy New Year! I hope you’re off to a great start with your goals or anti-resolutions for 2017!


When You Hate the Things You Love


I had a super stressful weekend when it should have been super amazing and exciting. It’s been a goal of mine and my good friend Alanna’s to make a video together since we now live in the same city.  And we’ve been working on said project for the last few weeks. This Saturday was the big day when pre-production moved to production, and we planned to shoot all day.  Which on the one hand, is AWESOME because I’d get to hang out Alanna all day doing something we both love.  But on the other hand, was causing me some SERIOUS anxiety because it was an ambitious plan and everything leading up to the production day seemed to be heading towards flames. I’d ordered a cord I need to record Parker playing the piano for the music we were using, but in my rush I accidentally one-day shipped it from Amazon to my parent’s house instead of my apartment (of which these two places are over 2 hours apart). This was after trying to use “Prime Now” for the first time and for some reason, it was “undeliverable” even though I gave them very specific instructions.

I had also spent the previous few weeks in an internal hell worrying about how we were going to get the piano music in the first place and what I would do if we didn’t. (Parker finally came through for me in that last week and learned the song surprisingly easily, at least from my perspective). And then circumstances changed in such a way that we no longer had a 3rd person to work as camera operator in the few scenes we’d planned where we’d both need to be on camera. This resulted in a text frenzy and frantic searching for someone, ANYONE who was free Saturday evening to hold a camera for us. So by the time Saturday rolled around, I was an anxiety-riddled, emotional, and crying mess. All the anxious parts of me screamed, SCRAP IT! SCRAP THE WHOLE THING! But I was also torn by duty and the rational knowledge that this was a good project. It was a fun activity to do with Alanna. And it would result in a video that I would not have done on my own. And isn’t that one of the reasons, I wanted to move closer to my friends? So that I could collaborate and expand beyond my modus operandi on YouTube?

So then why did I experience so much internal resistance? Admittedly, there were a lot of things that went wrong in the pre-production process like not ordering the cord I needed earlier or not fully communicating what we needed with the camera operator.  But I think the biggest issue in the whole mess of this past weekend was that it was something different. I have a comfort zone in my YouTube creating. And any time I step outside that comfort zone, especially when it involves other people and their own schedules, I start to feel overwhelmed. And I eventually get to the point of utterly hating the thing I usually love most. I tend to love the idea of doing new things or trying something different, but when it comes down to actually do that new thing? Nuh uh! No way! My brain resists like crazy and tries to come up with every possible excuse for bailing. And quite honestly, I think there’s a fair amount of self-sabotage (e.g. see list of pro-production fails above).  

But I also can’t stay in my little box of comfort. I’ll never learn or grow that way!

I did end up having a lot of fun filming with Alanna on Saturday, and I think the project we’re working on is going to be super cute and amazing. It’s definitely not like anything else I’ve done on my channel, but it’s something I’ve wanted to do. So now, even with all the pain and angst, I’ll have experience and the next time I do a project like this, it will hopefully be just a little bit easier. That’s really the only hope that I can draw from this. I don’t know how to change my anxiety or my innate desire to stay in my comfort zone other than to push myself out of it and deal with the consequences. There’s usually a fair amount of crying and general rage at the world, but once I get past that (and please note that it’s not a walk in the park or anything), I do enjoy doing the new thing and challenging myself. I start to remember that “Hey! Yeah, I do love this thing. I hated it for a bit. But now…eh, it’s not so bad.” 🙂


Working with Brands on Youtube


Hey friends! I’ve been a little overwhelmed this week with work and YouTube and life in general so my glorious plans for a blog didn’t work out the way I wanted them to. But I still wanted to post a little something so I thought I’d talk about my experience integrating a brand into a YouTube video recently because it’s something that’s new for my channel, but if you talk to anyone in the online video world, they’ll tell you, “You NEED to work with brands if you actually want to make any money!”  I’ve resisted this for a long time for two reasons:

  1. I feel like part of my channel’s brand is authenticity, and how authentic can I feel or be when I’m shilling products at people. Especially when most products that come my way don’t really fit the message of my brand to begin with. I’m not making videos to be a human billboard!
  2. Making interesting content (aka content that’s not just “HEY! BUY THIS THING SO I CAN MAKE MONEY!”) while integrating a brand is hard work.  It takes time and creative energy, and most of the time recently, I’ve felt like I’ve been barely scraping by with my channel.  How am I supposed to make interesting and authentic content without putting even MORE stress on myself?

The answer to that last question, is I’m not really sure yet, because while I enjoy my latest endeavor into brand-integrated content (my Universal Yums Snacks from Thailand video which you can watch below), it was not an easy or non-stressful experience.  Don’t get me wrong, Universal Yums was great! They contacted me about becoming a partner, had a very simple and straightforward application to fill out, and they sent me a box to try and showcase on my channel within a week.  The problem almost always comes with me.

The reason I decided to work with a brand when I don’t normally do so, is because I felt like being adventurous and trying snacks from another country fit with my brand. I’ve done similar videos at the Food & Wine Festival in Busch Gardens Williamsburg.  And I decided to model it after Buzzfeed’s “American’s Try (Some Kind of Weird Knew Food) for the First Time” videos. I find them amusing, and I felt like it gave me a good example of how to structure the video and engage with viewers in this somewhat new format.  And filming-wise, everything came together pretty well. I roped Parker into starring in it with me because it’s always more fun to have several different opinions when showcasing “new” or “weird” things, and it gave me someone to banter with.  The biggest issue though, came from how long this type of video is.  I cut 40 minutes of video down to a little over 11 and that left pretty much only the important parts of us trying the snacks and our opinions on them.  Essentially, this video that I wanted to be simple and as a “bonus” on my channel because I know it’s never going to get the kind of views my regular vlogs and advice videos get took maybe 3 times the effort and time that a regular video does. So by the end of the whole experience I was resenting the idea of branded videos and myself for agreeing to do something like this.  It made me want to go back to my little oblivious hole where I ignore all the brand contacts that come through my inbox and just make videos for me!

But then, I also want to have a successful channel. Working with brands not only helps you  monetarily, but if you work with the right ones, you can increase your viewership as well.  Essentially, you want to hit that sweet spot of a mutualistic relationship between you and the brand.  Everybody’s happy and everybody’s growing!  But it takes doing a lot of seemingly meaningless brand videos to build your portfolio and convince bigger and/or better-matching brands to work with you.

So I haven’t given up on making brand videos yet.  I still think there’s a benefit that I can acquire if I do enough and do the right ones.  If nothing else, it will be a great opportunity to build my skill set.  But I do think this experience helped me learn what I do and don’t like about branded videos. To be completely honest, it was so awkward and difficult for me to “sell” the product at the end of the video.  Even though I like the product and think it’s a worthwhile buy for the money, it felt weird for me to be telling my precious subscribers to buy something.  It’s probably the same reason I haven’t created a Patreon yet. I just feel “dirty” asking for thing other than a like or a comment. Even asking people to share my videos is difficult for me.  What’s wrong with me guys? I need to be more aggressive and apparently care less!