The Building Confidence Online panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City in Panel Room C. Over the course of the panel, the group discussed their journey to feeling confident online, fears of changing their content, and how to overcome bouts of feeling self-conscious. The panel featured creators such as Gary C, Nathan Zed, Scola Dondo, and Calum McSwiggan. It was moderated by Marie Jacquemin.
Nathan kicked off the panel by explaining how excited he was to tell people he had started a YouTube channel. “I was too confident, and looking back on it, my content was trash and I should not have told anyone,” he joked. Regardless of the quality of content he was uploading, he said that his family and friends were really supportive, and he just continued to grow and improve with each video.
“I feel like we had quite opposite experiences,” Calum said, following up on Nathan’s point. “In my first ever video I was whispering into the camera, mortified my housemate would hear me talking to the camera and think I was some weirdo loner.”
— Gary C (@oohgaryc) August 5, 2017
From there, the panellists moved into various aspects of finding confidence and the realities of having a following – some things that those not in that position may not have considered before. One particularly interesting point was that although one may assume a growth in your channel equates to more confidence, the consensus was actually the opposite: with more people comes more pressure.
“All of a sudden, I was like, ‘How am I going to make something that is funny to 200,000 people?’” Nathan admitted, speaking to the panic that can come from an expansion in audience. He said that realising they subscribed for a reason and probably did share a similar sense of humour calmed him a bit, but that he’s still not immune to overthinking his content from time to time.
That idea of overthinking was touched upon throughout the hour. An interesting branch of this was when the topic of collaborations came up. “I made a video with my friend Louise and I jumped 7,000 subscribers over night,” remembered Gary. “I panicked really quickly and started to overthink everything. I went through my entire channel going, ‘Is this going to offend Louise’s people? Is that going to offend Louise’s people?’ I started to doubt myself and my content and started to try to cater to her audience that came over.”
After a chat with Louise, Gary came to realise that eventually the views would taper off and he would find people that were there for him and not just because she was his friend. Of course, to this day three years later, he still gets the occasional ‘When are you going to film with Louise again?’ comment, but overall he feels confident that his audience are with him for him. He also pointed out that the collection of people on the panel – creators known for being their authentic selves online and not a group of “Jake Paul-esque” archetypes – was an important and interesting choice from the SitC organisers.
— Marie Jacquemin (@JacqueFilms) August 5, 2017
The notion of expectations from collaboration-related growth was something that Scola could also relate to. After hanging out with a friend with a larger and different audience than her own and filming a video together, Scola had a influx of new subscribers and viewers that expected various things from her. “Mostly they wanted me to be naked,” she joked, speaking to just one small piece of having a channel that focuses a lot on body positivity and health.
A ‘theme’ or ‘niche’ to a channel was another interesting factor in the overall conversation about feeling confident online. What happens when you want to stray from your little avenue of the internet? Scola said she felt that broaching the conversation of race alongside her normal vertical of body positivity was important to do, even if she was scared at first. “I’m not going to sit back and just let it be,” she said. “I’m not going to scared to talk about it knowing that it could help change things for the next generation.”
“I would say you just have to train yourself to not care what other people think,” said Nathan, branching off the idea of making what you feel is right during the Q&A portion of the panel. “Just make what you want to make. The best advice I heard was, ‘Andy Warhol never asked anyone what he should paint’. He was just kind of like, ‘Here’s a banana, shut your mouth. Here’s a soup can, this is what you’re going to get.’ Just make what you want to make and your audience will find you.”
“It’s true,” Calum agreed with a laugh. “I don’t really know how they find us, but they always do.”
— BBTV (@BroadbandTV) August 5, 2017
Overall though, the most important thing that came from this panel was the simple idea that everyone, whether they’re a successful YouTuber or not, feels self-conscious sometimes. It’s just important to remember that everyone is in it together and there is no shame in speaking with others about doubting yourself or feeling like you aren’t good enough. Chances are, those around you not only feel that way about themselves, but actually look at you and your work with the same envy and aspiration as you may with them.
Want more from Summer in the City 2017?
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