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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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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.

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When You Hate the Things You Love

when-you-hate-the-things-you-love-2

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.” 🙂

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Make Me a Robot

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I had the privilege of seeing one of my favorite YouTubers in concert over the weekend, and it reminded me once again why I love Tessa Violet so much and how she inspires me.  So in the spirit of inspiring others, I thought I’d share some of her wisdom with you.

Tessa’s a bit of an interesting bird. She started out as a vlogger on YouTube–a bi-product of her international modeling stint. It later morphed into directing music videos and writing and acting in comedy sketches.  And then in the last few years she made the transition to singer/songwriter, which is a surprising change in genre for an online content creator. Very rarely does an audience resonate with a content creator in such a way that they can follow her through such dramatic shifts in genre and style.  But Tessa is different. She’s that quirky girl-next-door. She’s that friend who gets all your issues with anxiety and self-loathing. She’s the banner holder of all the outcasts and loners and people who feel like they just don’t quite FIT. In fact, when people ask me who my favorite YouTubers are, I almost always list Tessa first because I know if they also know her and like her, then we’re definitely going to be friends.  There’s a kinship between people who connect with her work and brand that’s nearly indescribable. But I’ll try to give you a little peak into what I think makes that connection.

One of my favorite songs off Tessa’s first album “Maybe Trapped Mostly Troubled” (and I think one of the most universally popular songs as well based on downloads) is “Make Me a Robot.” If you listen to the original album version, it’s electronic and loud with a powerful, sing-along worthy chorus. But it’s also admittedly a rather bleak song. It’s about feeling so worn out with your emotions and anxieties that you want to disappear–or in this case, become a cold, emotionless robot. And unlike most happy-go-lucky YouTube songs addressing these kinds of feelings, it doesn’t have a resolution.

At the concert this weekend, she played “Make Me a Robot,” but it was in its most subdued version. The keyboardist and drummer left the stage, and it was just Tessa with a guitar and blued lights performing an acoustic version of the song. And she also told the story of where this song came from. How she wrote it after having finally decided to go to therapy to help deal with her intense anxiety, but still feeling and fearing that she was a burden to others. That no one really liked her. That it was all lies to save her feelings.

The venue got so quiet in that moment as she outlined her past struggles, and I knew that most everyone there was feeling exactly as I was–that we know that struggle. That we have those fears. That we’re somewhere in our journey of trying to tear ourselves away from giving up.  Because if you’re a Tessa Violet fan, I’d put money on the fact that you’ve probably wanted to be made into a robot at some point in your life. You might even feel that way right now. The reasoning behind this desire will vary, but we’ve been drawn to Tessa because she’s put into words the disconnect we’ve felt with this world for so long.  

So “Make Me a Robot” isn’t a super hopeful song. But it’s a time capsule of a feeling, an experience that Tessa had, that many of us have had too.  And Tessa’s work and success is the resolution that isn’t present in the song. She’s the living embodiment of why you can’t give in to the cold, emotionlessness of a robot’s existence. You have to keep fighting for you.

So every time I hear Tessa and see her perform, I get a little more hopeful for my future and for all the others like me and her. We’re works in progress. But we’re damn amazing.

If you’ve never heard of Tessa before but are interested to learn more, check out her YouTube channel here.

Also, she’s just released a new EP, and these are the song’s she’s released music videos for so far. I was just going to link one, but after watching them all, I realized I love them all for different reasons and you should watch them!

I think “Dream” is my favorite visually. Like this is the aesthetic that I want to make all my videos in!

“Not Over You” has an amazingly cute and fun color palette and the song’s just so awesome!

“Haze” is an example of how a “lyric” video is still super beautiful and well-directed when it comes from Tessa.

Tessa’s acoustic cover of “Make Me a Robot.” If you want to hear the original electronic version, you’ll have to listen to the album.

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Working with Brands on Youtube

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!

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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

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Josh Sundquist is Getting Married! (And Other Thoughts on YouTuber Romance and “Ships”)

Jashley-1There have been a lot of YouTube relationship revelations this year—most of them having a very unhappy ending with all the break-ups and abuse accusations (both sexual and emotional). In fact, before 2014, I didn’t pay much attention to who the YouTubers I watched regularly dated. Usually I would notice simply because there would be a new guy or girl showing up in some of their videos. Or that boyfriend/girlfriend might have a YouTube channel of their own that I would checkout just to be nice and find I really liked their content. Most of the time I could at least respect them for what they were doing even if I wasn’t their target audience. But I realized this year that when your YouTuber is in a relationship, it affects you just as much as it does their content.

We love to “ship” people. Even though YouTubers (especially vloggers) are representing their personal life on camera, we can’t help but view it like we would our favorite prime time television drama. We all have our “ships” from our favorite TV shows (mine being Haleb and Spoby on “Pretty Little Liars,” Delena and Steroline on “The Vampire Diaries,” and most of all, Captain Swan from “Once Upon a Time.”) But those are all fictional characters, right? Writers create them for our enjoyment, so can’t we rightfully have an opinion about who they should love and be with?Jashley-2.1 Jashley-2.2But what about when it’s real life? When it’s real people? When you have incredibly easy access to comment on these people’s lives (e.g. YouTube comments and every social media outlet ever).

I was a big fan of the Internet band ALL CAPS featuring Luke Conard and Kristina Horner. I was also a big fan of their relationship as featured on YouTube. I thought it was cute. I thought it was romantic to be in a band with your significant other. I thought they were both incredibly talented people and it entertained me to watch and comment on their relationship through the Interwebs. Eventually, they broke up and it was quiet so I just kind of lost interest suspecting it happened before they ever made it obviously public. It was only in 2014 when all Hell broke loose on Tumblr and people started posting their stories about their relationships in this weird, interconnected love spiderweb of YouTubers making me realize I didn’t want to know THAT much about their lives.

Jashley-3I lost a little faith in YouTube and humanity after that incident. And I also started approaching YouTube relationships EXTREMELY cautiously. Like Tessa Violet and Rusty Clayton. I love Tessa. She is an absolute inspiration to me and I was immediately suspicious of any real, public romance going on because I had never been witness to one before. Fortunately, Rusty seems like “The Nicest Guy.” (Capitalized because in the dictionary beside that term would be a picture of him.)Jashley-4 Jashley-5What I want to celebrate today though is another YouTube relationship that’s moved to the next stage of life: ENGAGEMENT! That is, the engagement of Josh Sundquist and his dearest darling girlfriend (now fiancée!) Ashley Let’s-Keep-Her-Safe-From-The-Stalkers. I think I subliminally saw it coming when I saw pictures of them touring Italy and doing other fun things this summer. About the time Josh made his dating of Ashley public, I wasn’t watching his videos as regularly because (real) life is hard, and my internet sucks, but instead would do Josh Sundquist binges when I needed a pick-me-up. This also meant I might skip over a video or two if it seemed especially “relationship heavy.” Although I distinctly remember watching one video where Josh and Ashley reviewed “Divergent” in an alleyway and being quite taken with her as a person in the way she presented herself and in the way Josh obviously cared about her. I think another part of me though didn’t want to get too attached because of all the DRAMA that tends to ensue as any relationship runs its course.

But what I want to say is that Josh Sundquist and Ashley have restored my faith and hope in online “ships” just a little by their engagement. Mostly I think it comes from Josh just being an upstanding guy with good public relations. If there’s drama (and there’s always drama in any relationship), it doesn’t interfere with his channel’s purpose. Fortunately, his channel has always been a little about relationships (e.g. why he could never seem to get a girlfriend) so when a real relationship finally entered into his real life, it could naturally (if delicately) be introduced into his channel without completely overhauling his main purpose and alienating his fans. Instead, I think he’s got a band of subscribers rallied behind him, excited for this new step in his life.

Jashley-#8Jashley-6 Jashley-7So unlike my TV ships of Delena or Captain Swan who can never really get married or live a happily ever after, this YouTube ship of Josh and Ashley (Jashley? Ashosh?) does have a future and that makes it all the more exciting! And fortunately, they won’t have some desperate show writers trying to break them apart because they desperately need to infuse life into the series again. (Poor Callie and Arizona from “Grey’s Anatomy.”) They get to be in charge of their future and romance and happily ever after. As YouTube viewers, we’ll probably get to see some of it (e.g. MysterGuitarMan/Joe Penna and Sarah Evershed Penna as they get engagement, married, and have a baby!) But even if we don’t (that is, Josh and Ashley choose not to share it with us which is perfectly in their right to do), what little glimpses we do get will be all the more sweet.

Movie Trailer Proposal:

Wedding Day:

Pregnancy Timelapse:

To Josh: Thank you for being an awesome and insightful YouTuber. I think you can definitely say you “got a girlfriend” now.

To Ashley: Congratulations! I have to wonder if you feel like you’re living a fairytale. Because that’s what it looks like from here. And it makes me so happy for you!

To the YouTube Community: Maybe we should take a lesson from Jashley?

Watch the whole proposal story here!