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Turtles All The Way Down Book Tour with John & Hank Green

In 2012 I attended VidCon for the first time and was recognized by Michael Buckley as a “YouTuber on the Rise.” I got to go onto the mainstage while he introduced the promising creators to the crowd and afterward, as I was walking off stage, John and Hank Green (who were co-MCing the morning’s events because VidCon was still small enough at this point for them to do so) passed by and offered their congratulations. And before I even knew what was happening, John Green hugged me.

John Green hugged me. Like no big deal.

And the saddest part about this whole incident was that I really didn’t know THAT much about John (or Hank) at this point. I knew they made up the Vlogbrothers and had seen some of their content. But wouldn’t have considered myself a “Nerdfighter” at that point. And I definitely hadn’t read any of John’s novels yet. It wasn’t until I got back to my new found VidCon friends who I quickly learned were DEFINITELY Nerdfighters that I realized the gravity of the situation.

People wait in lines for hours to hug John Green! And I got a casual, congratulatory hug like it was nothing.

So now let’s fast forward five years. I have decided that maybe there’s some merit to this whole “John Green” thing and read all his books (except Will Grayson, Will Grayson, and that’s only because it wasn’t in my library during my “Read Everything By John Green” phase). I made sure I saw (and sobbed through) “The Fault in Our Stars” and “Paper Towns” in theaters. And I’m an avid “Dear Hank and John” podcast listener in part because I deeply relate to John’s cynicism (and germaphobia). Essentially, I have very much embraced Nerdfighteria.

And when John announced his book tour for his latest novel “Turtles All the Way Down,” and I saw there was a stop in Washington, D.C. (which is about as close of a stop most anyone makes near me because so few people come to Virginia!), I knew I had to find a way to go. Because despite seeing John and Hank perform in various capacities at VidCon for the last 5 years, it just felt like there was something special about this particular tour at this particular time in my life and the world.

And it was immensely special. It was silly (as expected) and heartfelt (because TAtWD deals with struggles that though contained in a fictional book, are very real things John’s dealt with) and something I really needed.

Feeling part of a community is so important. And the Internet has made it possible to be a part of many diverse communities that before the ability to digitally erase physical distance, would have been impossible. However, the difficulty of internet communities is that the physical distance does eventually become felt. VidCon was the first answer to this problem for me, but now it’s become SO BIG and with SO MANY communities coming together that it can be hard to connect with the right people in the right communities that mean something for you.  

Which is why if you have to opportunity to go to something like a John Green Book Tour stop where you’re in an auditorium filled with people who are all very much a part of the same community you are, you absolutely need to do it!  The last five to six months have been really tough for me and one of the things (surprisingly enough) that’s kept me grounded has been listening to the Dear Hank and John podcast. While hearing Hank and John give answers or insights that I agree with or find interesting is one part of it, what’s really helped me is hearing other Nerdfighters’ questions. They are inquisitive and sarcastic and confused by the world sometimes. But more than anything it confirms that other people, all around the world even, go through some of the same struggles I go through. It’s a helpful reassurance to know I’m not alone.

All of this is to say, I’m so thankful that the Green Brothers are out there creating communities for people like me and that I get to be a part of them digitally and even sometimes physically. These are special moments for me, and I hope that you have a community (or two!) that you can take part in this way too!

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VidCon 2017 Notes

 

I’m a little behind on my VidCon recaps (it’s almost been a month already!), but I wanted to bring you something a little different on the blog today: my VidCon notes!

I have a little notebook that I bring with me every year and fill up with notes while attending panels, but one of the worst things I tend to do is that when I get back home from VidCon, I never look at that notebook again until the next VidCon!  In order to help me process what I learned a little better this year, I thought I’d share with you the notes I took this year. Be warned, some of them don’t make much sense to me now (What did I mean by just “backlays?” We may never know.) But hopefully you can decipher some of my gibberish to gather some information if you attended different panels or weren’t at VidCon.

Enjoy!

EduTAINMENT

Moderator: Blake de Pastino (Editor in Chief – SciShow/Crash Course)
Panelists: Dianna Cowern (Physics Girl), Michael Stevens (Vsauce), Sally Le Page, Henry Reich (MinutePhysics & MinuteEarth), Brady Haran, Kim Diaz (Creative Producer – Sesame Studios)
  • What comes first? Fun or able to understand content?
    • Learning is fun by default but you can mess it up
    • Start from excitement
    • Learning yourself and sharing your experience
  • How much do you think about your audience?
    • Who you make for and who watches your content can be different
    • Science edu with 80-90% male
    • Girls under 13 excited about science but it drops off as they get older → Why? How to change this?
    • Makes for his wife (who will never watch) → Brady Haran
    • Be a good interviewer and ask the right questions
  • How do you reach people who aren’t seeking to be educated?
    • Title/thumbnail (clickbait-ish?) → Vsauce suggestion
    • We learn things all the time
    • Hard to break into the media bubble
    • People who don’t think of themselves as lifelong learners are more apprehensive
    • Teaching humanities = teaching critical thinking
  • Three Blue One Brown → a good example
  • Mental Health Content = public service + don’t be ashamed to tell people when they’re wrong

 

Transitioning Your Channel into a Full-Fledged Business

Moderator: Phil Ranta (COO – Studio 71)
Panelists: Thomas Ridgewell, Mindy McKnight, Megan Batoon, Joe Penna, Benji Travis
  • Megan Batoon (amalgam of talents, but what’s her business?)
  • Thomas Ridgewell (office + 2 employees)
  • Other Sources of Revenue
    • Patreon
    • Affiliates (recommending products/services; see Video Influencers)
    • T-shirts
    • Sponsorships
    • Speaker fees (issue-based YouTubers)
    • Selling your own brand/business
  • “Amateur needs inspiration, a professional needs discipline”
  • Common mistake for new YouTubers: getting stuck and thinking it doesn’t change; “adapt or die”
  • Clear voice and idea of who you are
  • Business vs Personal income → create a business bank account
  • Get attorney sooner rather than later
  • Find friends to help you out
  • “Am I doing what I love to do?”
  • A team sooner rather than later
  • 50/50 rule in job → pays bills/what you’re passionate about

 

Workshop: Video Production Shortcuts: How to Make Better Videos in Less Time

Presenter: Thomas Frank
  • Channel to teach college students how to learn better and get better grades
  • Thomas Frank → collegeinfogeek.com/VidCon
  • Softboxes light to wall; small LED light for face
  • Gorillapod → tripod head for all different tripods/places (makes it easier to switch out cameras/tripods/setups)
  • Remote + power strip (for quick on/off)
  • Need a “pre-flight checklist” before you shoot
  • Overhead set-up → I NEED THIS!
  • Make a b-roll list before shooting
  • Create animation templates in AE
  • “Preset Properties” → use for description
  • Ripple edit → cuts out bad and moves forward
  • Compression & EQ on audio
  • Presets in AE → select animation keyframes > animation > save as preset
  • Tools:
    • Universe – Red Giant
    • Animation Creator – Video Hive
    • FX Console – Video Copilot
    • Flow – AE Script
  • Alias → set to shorthand
  • Charisma on Command
    • What is your art? And what is your ego?
  • Frame IO → upload rough cut → make comments at time stamps
  • Build standard operating procedures list
  • Google: “Sources for Creative Commons”
  • ICG slack channel → what do you offer? Advertise and collaborate
  • MMO mouse
  • Read through Premiere shortcut keys → so many options that aren’t even assigned yet!
  • Backlays

 

Workshop: Branding Your Brand’s Brand

Presenter: Charli Marie
  • Not just how it looks but how it feels
  • Overall impression when on channel
  • What’s unique about you?
  • Who are you?
    • What is your channel mission?
    • Who is your audience?
    • What impression do you want to give through your brand?
    • What impression are people getting now from your brand?
  • ME:
    • Inspire young women to believe in themselves & follow their passion
    • 16-24 young women/students/like being creative
    • Creative/fun/inquisitive
  • Visual Identity
    • Canva/Gimp → online photo editing
    • Keep it cohesive
    • Keep it simple
    • Keep it you
    • Dribbble.com → designers
    • Write on effect in AE

 

How to Engage With Community

Moderator: Heather Wilder (Head of Creator Care – Patreon)
Panelists: Olga Kay, Trevor Moran, Ash Hardell, SuperSamStuff, Julia Nunes
  • Olga Kay → older sister/mom
  • Videos for Self / | \ Videos for subscribers (try to stay in middle ground; not too far on either side)
  • Self-moderating community
  • +1 system
  • Choose moderators from most engaged fans
  • Look up Sam (on panel) → what does he create? Smaller channel.
  • Build a family type of community
  • Consistent
  • Protect against burnout; stop just short of burning out for some?
  • Julia Nunes recommends Tessa for vlogs → “she’s the friend of vlogs”
  • What one word would describe your community?

 

YouTube in the Classroom

Moderator: Angela Lin (Head of Family & Learning Partnerships – YouTube)
Panelists: Caitlin Hofmeister (Senior Producer/Host – SciShow), Henry Reich (MinutePhysics & MinuteEarth), Destin Sandlin (Smarter Every Day), Viviane Lalande (Scilabus), Teresa Mobley

#YTClassroom

  • “Wow factor” to make them care
  • Teresa Mobley → teaching teachers how to use YT in the classroom
  • Google Classroom (?)
  • Harder to work into curriculum → balancing lifelong learner and the classroom learner
  • Show process of discovery and trick them into learning
  • “Nerd is the new awesome”
  • YouTube kids app → finding edu content on their own
  • Can’t make changes to video without re-uploading → this is a problem! Why hasn’t YT fixed this yet?
  • Watch – Know – Learn → teacher approved content (website to connect YT creators + teachers)
  • Ed Puzzle → add questions with video
  • One video = one objective
  • WeCreateEdu.com
  • Keywords that link to standards

 

Art & Online Video

Moderator: Sarah Urist Green (The Art Assignment)
Panelists: Didda, Beth Radloff (SNARLED), John Le, Jamie Wells (Visual Jamie)
  • Didda → imagination
  • INFJ → “counselor” → inspire & motivate people; “older sister”
  • Visual Jamie (Twitch)
  • Beth Radloff (Snarled)
  • Hate comments hurt most when it’s actually about your work.
  • Joshua Tree → camping
  • When work takes creativity, you will burnout/run out of creative flow

 

Hank Green & Phil DeFranco Fireside Chat

  • Not hitting the levers (for money) that they could → out of fear
  • It’s hard to launch a business, easier to launch from something
  • What’s a step between having audience and monetizing → need your own thing to make money
  • Never be beholden to one website (aka revenue source)
  • Can be fruitful to blaze your own path (when other platforms are supersaturated)
  • Patreon = safe base (because you can’t base a business on virality)
  • Still trying to innovate after all this time and to influence/motivate people
  • Less about motivation and more about discipline (Long Term Success)
  • It’s a marathon not a sprint
  • Snacked (?) → video responses

 

Search & Discovery on YouTube: Tips for Success

***Article in creator academy with this information****

**** bit.ly/YTdiscover ****

  • Audience not algorithm
  • Long term engagement and satisfaction
  • Deliver on promise of your title + thumbnail
  • Avoid over sensational/outrageous catches
  • Over 200 million videos on the home feed every day.
  1. Search → title, description, what’s in the video itself? (tags apparently aren’t super important anymore)
    1. Show best video for that query (is it relevant to keyword)
    2. Write robust descriptions
    3. Use trends in the keywords
    4. Develop a search based show (e.g. Scishow)
    5. Put misspellings in tags
  2. Suggested Videos
    1. Stronger call to action
    2. Consider sitewide popular formats
  3. Home
    1. Spend time as a viewer
    2. Put yourself in the shoes of the viewer
    3. Look at Home + Subscriptions feeds
  4. Subscribers (all areas)
    1. Ask for subs @ the emotional climax
    2. Upload when you think they’re awake (at school? work?)
    3. Educate viewers on how they’ll get videos once subbed
  5. Trending
    1. Broad mass appeal content
    2. Getting views outside of this list
    3. Try to show videos in “Trending” section before they’re trending
    4. Viral video strategy
    5. Has video in the past trended?
  6. Notifications
    1. Mobile push + email notifications (highlights)
    2. Over sending notifications can make them unsubscribe
    3. Educate subscribers
    4. Treat them as superfans (bell ringers)

 

How to Get the Most Out of Snapchat

Presenter: Shaun McBride (Shonduras)
  • Creating stories with payoffs rather than updates about your day
  • People loves series
  • Getting people involved → building something with “family”
  • Don’t overuse “shout outs” because it’s a detriment to your voice
  • Can’t go viral → you must have a plan to reach a larger audience
  • How to stand out?
    • You don’t get views from sending out your snapcode on other social media accounts
    • Get featured on internet as “person to follow on snapchat”
    • “Emails from mom” (insert silly face)
    • Snapchat wars
  • About perception rather than # of subscribers
  • Work smarter not harder
  • Create a unique strategy
  • Move to next platform (consider it like the next level)
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When You Have No Internet at an Internet Conference | VidCon 2016

IMG_1496

VidCon is one of my all-time favorite experiences. Its 7th conference in 2016 was my 5th time attending, and I can’t see myself changing my annual West Coast excursion anytime soon. And while I could recount all the crazy, amazing, and thought-provoking things I experienced on the blog for you, I thought I’d give you a little vignette of my experience and some thoughts I had while at the conference instead.

I’ve learned the hard way that the more expensive a hotel is, the less likely it is that you’ll have access to free Wi-Fi. You would think that if you pay that much for a hotel then some basic Internet should be included, right? Well, that’s not how it works, and I mistakenly assumed so when checking into the Anaheim Marriott for the conference last Wednesday. I had planned on finishing my weekly vlog and uploading on Thursday like normal, but the lack of Internet put some serious brakes on those plans. However, it opened up a whole new avenue in another way. The lack of free Wi-Fi in the hotel coupled with slow Wi-Fi in the convention center and 4G LTE data bogged down with traffic meant that I had very little access to the Internet during my time at VidCon. And not having Internet at a conference that’s basically geared towards Internet content creators seems kind of crazy.

But rather than agonize over buffering videos and upsettingly slow-to-load webpages, I put down my phone a lot more than usual and really experienced the conference. I still took lots of pictures to document the moment, but I didn’t worry so much about posting them all “in the moment” and now have several days worth of fun photos to post and reminisce about now that I’m back on the East Coast and working all day long.

VidCon is in many ways a very “meta” conference where the worlds you see and feel a part of through online video converge with your “IRL” reality. Suddenly you’re in YouTube vlogs or Snapchat stories or Instagram posts of people you’ve only ever known through the Internet and it feels surreal. So to not have Internet while at a conference like this and to be forced to take a step back from the glass we all have our faces’ plastered against in our attempts at seeing a more beautiful world through a photo filter, means we can see how on the one hand, we all look ridiculous in our attempts at online validation, but also how we create a world connected in ways we never could have been previously.

It’s a weird Internet world we live in. And at VidCon we actively take on the roles of both the voyeur and the one viewed. I just so happened to take an extra step back to see both the viewers and viewed at the same time, showing how weird and crazy our culture is. And of course, only made me love it more.

Until next year VidCon!