One of my subscribers on YouTube recently messaged me and said some really nice things about my videos, and asked for any tips I could give him.
Which got me to thinking – I feel like I’ve got plenty of tips to share for those who are interested.
I know I’m not the absolute authority on how to get huge on YouTube, how to make it into the gaming industry, or anything else – but I’ve gotten a LOT closer to my goals than I thought I would have by now, and enough people have asked me for advice that I feel authoritative enough to dole some out.
So here’s my sorta-rambly list or guide or what-have-you on how to…be successful? I don’t know. Just general advice for following your dreams.
1. Figure out what you’re good at
I grew up thinking I was one of those people who didn’t have any talents – any marketable ones, anyway. Sure, I was a straight-A student. I excelled especially at math, music, and languages – but what good would that do me? I felt I was born to be a performer, to be up in front of people. So in high school I threw myself into theatre – auditioned for every single play, but only landed minor roles in most productions. I could dream as hard as I wanted, but the fact is that I’m just not a great actor.
During and after college, I began exploring writing, and realized that I’m actually not bad at it. I know I’m no Sylvia Plath, but when I so desire, I can churn out a pretty decent piece of prose. I also began dabbling in video hosting, and found out that apparently it was something I had a knack for – sure, my skills would need to be refined quite a bit, but the raw talent was there.
2. Accept the areas where you don’t excel
Like I said, after years of trying, I finally figured out that I’m just not cut out for acting – nor singing, dancing, art….really any of the visually creative pursuits. That’s actually a whole umbrella of talents I wish I had, but no matter how hard I wish, or how much I practice, I’ll never be an actor, singer, dancer, or artist. And I’ve come to terms with that. My time is MUCH better spent pursuing new skills and refining the talents I do have, rather than trying and failing over and over again.
The difficult thing about this is that the only person who will be truly honest with you is you. Friends and family members will likely encourage your pursuits regardless of whether they’ll be fruitful or not, and trolls on the internet will probably tear you a new proverbial asshole no matter what. And I refuse to believe that more than a few people are so out of touch with reality that they’ll believe themselves to be something they’re not.
If you take some time to sit down, put both pride and modesty aside, and really assess yourself, you can honestly see what you can do and what you can’t.
3. Refine your skill and stop accepting “no” as a final answer
So, you know what you’re good at – maybe you’re a world-class banjo player, or the scavenger hunt champion of the Midwestern U.S. Regardless of what it is, figure out how it could realistically fit into your goals.
In this day and age, you can make money off nearly anything, provided you’re good enough at it and know how to capitalize on that. As I mentioned, writing was one of my fortes – so I just began writing as much as I could until I was confident in my skill; then I began searching online for freelance writing jobs, and landed my position at Walyou.
Over the months and years, I also began to apply or audition for as many on-camera positions as I could. I didn’t have much luck at first; although I had the talent, I kept getting passed over for more qualified candidates. So, I said eff the haters, and started my own video series on YouTube.
If you don’t get the job you think you want at first, be proactive – take steps that will actually get you closer to a similar role. I knew that by doing my Gaming Recaps, I’d be able to accurately gauge (based on comments, ratings, and subscribers) if I was actually good enough to do this as a job, and that I could use all the footage as a demo reel in applying for future hosting jobs, and that YouTube could help me potentially get noticed by clients or employers. All three of those things ended up happening.
4. Don’t do anything half-assed
Basically, no matter what you do, do it one hundred percent. Don’t get lazy, and be sure to produce quality content. Depending on your line of work, this may entail a not-insignificant monetary investment, and it will almost always require lots of time and effort. But all that will show in the final product.
I had to purchase a nice camera, lavalier mic, green screen, lighting, and video editing software – I’m not even going to tell you what the final price tag was on that. But what I will say is that it was worth it. I’ve gotten so much nice feedback on my work that even if I haven’t made back a complete return on my investments, that’s not really what it was about in the first place. Giving the appearance of professionalism goes so far in every industry. It’ll give you credibility (which of course should be backed up by knowing what the hell you’re talking about), show that you’re willing to work hard, and in some cases can even give the impression that you’ve got a full recording studio and camera and editing crew
5. Find role models and emulate their attitude, not their actions
When I first began pursuing my goals, I’d look up to people who had made it big doing what I wanted to do – but I made mistakes each time. I often caught myself trying to follow closely in their footsteps and mimicking their actions. It took me a while, but I finally realized that’s not what role models are there for. So I instead began to emulate the attitude of my role models, regardless of their actions or career path. Your role model doesn’t necessarily have to have anything in common with you, really. He or she simply needs to be someone you can look up to, who helps you – even if they don’t know it.
While I might still be playing in the minor leagues for now, these are five things I found out along the way – hopefully they’ll help some of you out. I’m biased, of course, but I’d like to think my readers are quite intelligent and well-read, and as such, would figure all these tips out for themselves. But maybe this’ll save you some time.
And for my more video-inclined readers, I’ll do a more specific video help guide soon if there’s enough interest.