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!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


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.



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


  • “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)

Do You Have Nerve? // Movie Review + GIVEAWAY!

Do You Have Nerve

I had the wonderful chance to check out Emma Roberts’ and Dave Franco’s new film “Nerve” early at Vidcon this year.  It was such a fun experience being in room full of teenagers freaking out and every intended beat. (Imagine the squeals when Dave Franco shows up on screen for the first time. Oh goodness!) It was a super fun movie that I really like because it showed the relationship between voyeurs, attention seekers, and technology which is such a relevant topic for today as we become more and more screen-obsessed.  If you want to know more about the movie or my experience, check out this week’s video blog!

Also, I’m running a giveaway for a collectible Nerve t-shirt and movie ticket so you can go see Nerve yourself! Click here to enter!

7-21-16 Do You Have Nerve.Still005

Check it out in theaters starting July 27th!


When You Have No Internet at an Internet Conference | VidCon 2016


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!

I’m a 2016 YouTube NextUp Winner!

YT NextUp 1

I have wonderful news IMAGINE-Nation Friends! Can you guess where I’ll be going the week after my birthday? New York City! For a fun and hard-working week at YouTube Spaces NY because I was selected as a 2016 YouTube NextUp winner!

Now, you might ask, what’s YouTube NextUp? What’s YouTube Spaces? What is all this madness! So let me break it down for you.

YouTube NextUp

A program started in 2011 where influential YouTube creators applied to get a boost for their channels from YouTube itself. It’s changed over the years. In 2011, the winners received $30,000 to produce a project and attended a 5-day YouTube boot camp. Today, it’s more closely tied into the YouTube Spaces located around the world as that’s where the YouTube boot camp will take place and winners receive training in both production skills (like lighting, camera, and sound) and growing your audience/brand (with the help of the YouTube Partnership team). Plus there’s a $2,500 voucher for equipment to help take your channel to the next level!

YouTube Spaces

These are production houses created and run by YouTube. And they’re FREE for creators. There’s a minimum of 10,000 subscribers for full access to the Spaces, but there are lots of other resources for channels below that threshold to help you grow. In the U.S., they’re located in Los Angeles and New York City, so I haven’t been able to go to one yet.

What does this mean for Kaitlyn and iIMAGINEblank?

For one, it means that once again I’m being recognized for doing the right things, working hard, and being a great creator. And for me, that’s really important. I live far away from the buzz and bustle of the main YouTube community (NYC and L.A.) and I only really have VidCon as a yearly boost for my channel and my creative juices. It’s easy, at my slow but steady growing rate to feel like what I’m doing isn’t worthwhile or that it won’t pay off in the long run. But then something like this happens, and I’m instantly reminded that all my hard work does have pay offs. They may take time and A LOT of effort, but they reap amazing results.

But on a more technical level, this is really a wonderful opportunity for my channel. I struggle with not having the resources or network to create some of the more innovative content I would like to make and feeling a little in the dark on what could make my channel better as a whole. So I’m really look forward to the mentorships and the networking opportunities YouTube NextUp is going to provide me!

Plus who can argue with spending a week in New York City? Ha!

I’m so excited about this opportunity and I hope you are too! If you want to hear more about YouTube NextUp and how thankful I am to all my subscribers for bringing me to the place I am today, check out this week’s video!


Don’t Sleep Yet, Follow Your Dreams Instead!

Don't Sleep 1VidCon 2015 was amazing! I actually went into the weekend and conference thinking that this might be my last one. I was feeling really stale in my content and discouraged by the last few years of ever increasing fangirl mania so I wondered if this would be a massive waste of time and money. I wondered if I would actually learn anything new this year since last year as an Industry attendee, I felt like I was really just having the same information I already knew shoved down my throat.

But I was oh so very wrong.

This was undoubtedly my best VidCon yet! I took a lot of risks this time around, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that most of them worked out. If you read last week’s blog post, you know I went from staying alone in my own hotel room to staying with four strangers and sleeping on an air mattress which is way out of my comfort zone. Obviously, since I’m writing this blog post, I didn’t get murdered in my sleep. I definitely learned that air mattresses leave you FREEZING in the middle of the night because your body heat can’t collect in the soft mattress to keep you warm, but as far as putting four people in one tiny room with one bathroom, we worked it out well. I got to hang out and brainstorm channel ideas with one of my best YouTube friends, The Josh Speaks. I only see him once a year, but it’s like we pick up exactly where we left off which is awesome. Now we just have to stay accountable to one another in our channel endeavors in the next year! I tried out VidCon’s new Creator Track and it was completely worth it! The panels were awesome and very focused on small time creators like me looking to grow our channels and our creativity. And the fangirls had to stay on the first floor! Hallelujah! I met up with a Madi 2 the Max for the first time for an interview on her channel and started a friendship and partnership that I think has a lot of potential for the future. And finally, beyond just the inspiring and informational panels, workshops and discussions with fellow creators, I also made sure to do fun things like seeing movies (i.e. Paper Towns and Insurgent), attending VidCon Prom, and spending Sunday at Disneyland making even more new friends.

Don't Sleep 2So what didn’t I do at VidCon?


Something I definitely didn’t do much of at VidCon was sleep. I started out well with 8 hours that first night because I forced myself to go to bed by 10 pm (especially since I’d been awake for 24 hours straight with the 3 hour time difference). But after that first night, it went downhill because there was always something interesting going on even if it was just a fascinating conversation. By the time I got to Disney Day at the end of the convention I only slept 3 hours beforehand and an hour between getting back from Disney and having to be up again to catch a flight. I’ve never felt my body rebel against me so much. When I woke up after that hour long “nap” between 1:30 AM and 2:30 AM on Monday morning, my body just didn’t want to work anymore. I was trembling so terribly that I didn’t know if I was going to pass out, throw up, or fall asleep while standing. It was awful! It fortunately wore off by the time I made it to the airport, but for a while I was really wondering if I had finally pushed my body too far.

Even though my body wanted to rebel against my lack of rest and sleep, my brain kept telling me “But sleeping is a waste of your short but valuable time at VidCon! That’s the struggle for many people—especially creative types. We need a certain amount of recuperation time, but we also have so many ideas that we want to implement that we can’t always find the time to sleep! This VidCon, I definitely learned that I do have a limit when it comes to lack of sleep, but I also learned that I can push my body a lot harder and farther than I thought possible. I certainly hope not to make this a regular occurrence, but it made VidCon worth it this year. I feel like I really squeezed out every last drop of interesting, informative, and fun during my trip.

So I’d challenge you to do something crazy too. Get a little less sleep in order to have new experiences or build your dream. It doesn’t have to be every day for the rest of your life (since you have to sleep eventually or you’ll die.)   But at least for me, understanding that giving up a little sleep here and there for the sake of becoming a better creator and artist is absolutely worth it. Maybe this seems like a no brainer for you, but for me—someone who struggles with chronic illnesses—taking care of my body has to come pretty high on my personal responsibility list. But it’s actually quite liberating to not do it. To think about your dreams first. So don’t sleep yet, follow your dreams instead!Don't Sleep 3


Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

Comfort Zone 1

When you’re reading this blog, I’ll be on my way to Anaheim, California for my fourth year of VidCon. I’m excited and nervous as always, but this year holds some even new adventures for this VidCon veteran. For the past three years, I’ve always gotten a hotel room to myself because I go alone and I’m a bit of a chicken when it comes to meeting people over the internet and deciding to room with them. But this year with a hotel bill looking to be over $800 for a hotel farther away from the convention center, I started looking into alternative options. What I really wanted was to find one girl who would split the cost with me and we’d each be paying about $400. I’ve on average spent $500 for a hotel room when I’ve gone in the past. I was looking for just one roommate because I like the idea of having my own bed and personal space. And I would feel like I would be on equal ground with just one new person.

Well…that’s not exactly how it worked it out.

I’m actually going to be rooming with 4 other people, and I’ll be sleeping on an air mattress. This is going to be an extreme jump out of my comfort zone! Not only will I not know anyone I’m rooming with but we’re also going to be in tight quarters and I won’t have a real bed for 5 nights. Despite what you might think, I’m actually the least worried about sleeping on an air mattress. As tired as I know I’m going to be while at VidCon, I know that if I can create a little cocoon of blankets I’ll probably be fine.

But I’m definitely nervous about all the new people! I’m excited too because it will be such a different experience for me (one that I hope I will look back on fondly and not with horror). I’m an introvert. I like keeping to myself. I like having my own personal space. I like being alone and quiet when I have down time. And what I think is interesting about people and being social is that even if I were to room with four other introverted people exactly like that, we’ll still all feel the social pressure and anxiety to talk and have fun and get to know each other that first day when I’m going to have been up since 2 am and trudging through a three-hour time change.

What I really hope to learn through this experience is how I handle under pressure socially. I know how I work personally in these types of situations, and I always try to be kind to myself at events like VidCon. But with so many other people in my room and the need to get to know them because I’ll be living with them for nearly a week, I wonder how I’ll react, how much shorter my fuse will be, and whether or not I can keep my cool or if I’ll end the first day by crying in a public bathroom somewhere. I’d rather that not happen!

It’s all up in the air right now though. I can hope for the best. I’m trying to think of tactics to best keep me calm in case I need them. But I’m also trying NOT to worry too much about it. Because it is what it is. It’s going to be an adventure. Not all adventures turn out to be as good as you hope for them to be, but that doesn’t make them any less of an accomplishment.

So here’s to the next five days of adventure! Wish me luck!

Comfort Zone 2