It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Vlogmas!

Since Thanksgiving is this week, I’m going to go ahead and admit: my favorite time of year has finally arrived!

If you know me in real life, then you probably know that I am very holiday-oriented. It is truly for me the happiest time of year. I love the time spent with my family, I love the food, and I love the traditions we have–my mom and I have done Black Friday the same way every year since I was in junior high–and we love it. Black Friday is easily one of our favorite days to spend together–and we hardly ever buy anything other than poinsettias!

In addition to the excitement leading up to Christmas, I really, really love the YouTube tradition of Vlogmas, in which people record videos around their daily life from December 1 to Christmas. Being that daily vlogs are my favorite kind of video to watch, of course I am so excited to watch other people’s Vlogmas videos. And to do my own Vlogmas as well.

I’m doing Vlogmas!

Given how boring my Vlogust turned out, I’m nervous to undertake this endeavor! But dammit, I’m going to do it, and hopefully I will do it well!

I kicked off the holiday season with my annual tradition of putting my Christmas tree up for Thanksgiving!

Why Don’t More YouTube Channels Discuss Finance?

Money is an uncomfortable subject. Some of us are taught from a very young age that it’s like religion and politics: you just don’t talk about it. But the sad truth is, regardless of your discomfort with money and finance as a conversation topic, we all use it, so we all need it. Money is what the majority of the world uses in exchange for goods and services. Regardless of courtesy, I think it’s something we need to talk about, especially with regard to our spending habits, as well as social influence.

As you know, I love YouTube. I have my own channel, and I love watching the videos of other people too.

I spent a lot of time the other day wondering why people on YouTube don’t talk about money. And yes, maybe it’s because it’s a bit of a taboo topic. But there are other reasons as well, and many of them have to do with viewership.

Viewers are turned off by sponsored videos. When people share their lives or viewpoints on the Internet, it is the assumption of their viewers that they are getting authenticity on the creator’s part. When paid sponsorships get thrown into the mix, some viewers feel that the authenticity of the channel has been compromised. And when they feel like the channel or creator has become “fake,” they either stop watching or they make rude comments.

Viewers are turned off when a content creator promotes his or her side-projects. For the same reason I stated above, when a YouTuber promotes a side-project or side business, people get mean. And I think that’s really stupid and counter-productive; imagine you had a YouTube channel that had a decently-sized audience, and a side business that you were equally as proud of, if not more–why wouldn’t you promote a business you are proud of on your channel?

Viewers often believe that YouTubers make a lot more money than they actually do. Yes, AdSense gives creators an opportunity to monetize their videos. However, even with a large subscriber count, AdSense pays based on engagement with a video–usually by clicks. YouTubers don’t get rich based on ads alone, and this is a serious misconception on the part of people who don’t make videos. The amount of money someone can make on YouTube varies and is based on a multitude of factors.

Finance probably isn’t the most interesting subject to many viewers (or creators). I think many of us are interested in getting new stuff but not really how much it costs.  Many of us live in hyper-consumptive societies and as hyper-consumers, we like the gratification of getting something now–or if you watch YouTube, seeing someone talk about their new stuff. We’re not all that interested in whether or not a creator is putting money away for retirement or a college fund for their kids. We just want to see and hear about the new stuff (and maybe get some new stuff of our own).

It’s really none of our business. And it’s true: the amount of money my favorite YouTuber makes in a week, a month, a year, from AdSense, from sponsorships–whatever–is not my business. And it’s not your business either.

Is there anything you wish was discussed more on YouTube?
Take a shot every time you see me write the words “new stuff” and share your thoughts in the comments down below!

Next Steps

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About a month before I graduated from college, I panicked. I’d spent four years studying, going to class and work (3 jobs at once!), writing more papers than I could count, and then I realized–I don’t want to do this. I don’t have what it takes to succeed in this field. I don’t have the personality that potential employers are looking for in college grads.

Because I was panicking, I reached out–not to my parents, but to my adviser. Because I thought she’d have some insight. That she’d tell me what I needed to do–sad to say, but I don’t think that going to college taught me how to be a free thinker; it made me even more insecure and instilled in me a desire to be told what to do.

“I think you need more time,” she said.

She also said she didn’t think I’d be successful. In grad school, specifically, but maybe she meant in general. It felt like she meant in general. It’s hard to hear someone who you trust say that they don’t think you will be successful, whether it be academics, a professional career, or life at large.

I started crying in her office and I don’t think I’ve really stopped in the three and a half years since graduation. As I walked across the stage at the Breslin Center, I was handed a rolled-up proxy diploma. I was supposed to step up to a line, smile, and wave into the camera so all the people in attendance could see how happy I was to be a graduate of Michigan State University. I stepped up to the line, smiled quickly, then stared into the camera as my face fell. My family, with their cameras pointed at the jumbotron, laughed about it–typical Shelby.

I wasn’t happy to be graduating. People were going on and on about the world being our oyster, how the future was ours for the taking, and think now about what you can do for the world, #spartanswill. All I could think about was how I would literally be going back to my parents’ basement to look for jobs in a field I wasn’t sure I wanted to be in. I could go to graduate school, but for what? I had already devoted the majority of my life to school–and I had worked my ass off. And now I was facing an indeterminate amount of time before I could be gainfully employed and able to move on with my life.

It took forever. For every twenty jobs I applied to, I only heard back from one, and fewer than one were actually requests for a phone or in-person interview. My self-esteem and self-worth crashed horribly during this period. I took what was supposed to be a temporary job at a restaurant just because I had to do something. I was there for over a year before I was hired as a secretary somewhere else.

Over this three-year period, starting about six months after I graduated, my parents–but mom especially–started bringing up graduate school. That I should think about applying. That maybe it will help me get a better job. Don’t worry about the money. If you want to go, go.

And the whole time that was going on, I was flip-flopping on the issue myself: I want to go. I won’t be successful. I miss school. What would I even study? I want to teach writing at a community college. A Master’s degree is going to overqualify me and then I really will struggle with finding a job. I’m going to prepare my writing samples this week! I’m worried about the money and the time.

I never did go. What it came down to was the money, the time, and the fact that I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get a better-paying job with a graduate degree. My current employers are famous for never giving their employees a raise–how can I afford grad school? I’ve spent so much time in school already; can’t I just move on with my life?

And to be honest, I am still not sure that a Master’s degree will help me find a job that will pay me a good salary.

But I’m going.

I caved a few weeks ago and applied to a graduate program at the local business college. For a Master of Science in Finance. I got in. And furthermore, I found a program that works for me. I could have started taking classes immediately, but I decided that I will start in January.

This is my next step. I don’t know what it will bring–but just about anything is better than what I have going on in my life right now.

A Look Back at My First Cooking Challenge on YouTube

If you’re one of my 17 subscribers on YouTube, you might already know that during the month of October, in addition to my weekly video, I wanted to post a new cooking video every week, and every recipe had to feature pumpkin as a key ingredient.

Well, that’s over now and I thought I would share what I learned, both about making videos and cooking, and what I thought went well, what I want to improve on, and what’s next.

Part of my goal with creating this challenge was to create an upload schedule, and to stick to it. About that… I did not do that for my first two videos. The first week I had troubleshooting issues and the following week was the week from hell, schedule-wise. The good news is that I solved the troubleshooting problem with my voiceover, so I won’t run into that issue again… hopefully.

Furthermore, I cannot wait until Daylight Savings Time. It gets dark here so early, so I have to have every light in my kitchen on. And in my living room, there are no lights. Just a single lamp. So. Lighting at this time of year. It’s a concern for me.

What I learned:

  • Cooking videos are a lot of work. It’s one thing to have the camera pointing down towards the pot or bowl or whatever. Then you have to adjust the angle if you change the shot from tabletop to in front of the oven. And so on.

What I learned about cooking:

  • Read the recipe because sometimes you need 29 oz. of pumpkin puree and you don’t have enough because you just assumed 15 was enough
  • There are more than 2 peppers in the can

What I think went well:

  • Not to toot my own horn, but I already feel like I’ve come a long way already since starting my channel in April. With every few videos, I can see the strides I’ve made. THAT SAID, I know I still have a long way to go.
  • During my pumpkin cheesecake video, I found the best camera angle (I think) for the top of my kitchen table. It was so easy to see what I was doing and what I was mixing in the video. I used a similar angle for the videos after that.

What I want to improve on:

  • Inflection. I know I need it in my voiceovers–having a monotone is so inconvenient when you’re doing YouTube!

What’s next?

My next big project is Vlogmas, in which people on YouTube upload a video every day until Christmas. I’ve never done it before, but I want footage of at least 20 days in December and 10 videos.

I definitely want to do more cooking videos in the future, but I’m not sure when I will focus on a particular ingredient again. Expect some cooking and food-related content during Vlogmas, but I don’t have anything specific in mind.