The Smaller Creators panel took place on Saturday at Summer in the City 2019, in Panel Room B. Chaired by Liam O’Dell, it featured Inspiring Vanessa, Sam Anghelides, Jake Pemberton, Jerome Bailey, and Chloe Lawrence.
Before the discussion kicked off, Emi Salida was chosen from the audience to join the panellists on stage.
Liam began by asking the panellists how they create a sense of community. Jerome said that good content is essential, especially when asking to collaborate with people who have a larger audience than you.
Emi commented that she feels like a part of a small but friendly community. She hosts gatherings and enjoys being able to befriend her audience. Vanessa said that one of the positives of being a smaller creator is that it’s very easy to message other small YouTubers who you want to collaborate with.
Then Jake pointed out the question appeared to have veered into two discussion – one about collaboration and one about community. In terms of collaboration, he said that within filmmaking there are often finite roles, however, in the broader community, it’s worth being nice to everybody without an expectation of gain.
Liam’s next question was if the panellists found cliques to be an issue within the smaller creator community. Emi responded that she feels there are often accidental cliques. From an outside perspective, it can make people feel apprehensive to approach people they perceive to be a part of a clique, however, they are ultimately not closed off.
She emphasised that nobody within the community is a ‘higher being’ than anybody else. “I am a higher being,” Jake interjected, jokingly.
Chloe commented that cliques within small YouTube are still often more approachable than those within larger YouTube circles. However, Jerome thinks that regardless of subscriber count, it’s easy to make friends as long as you’re genuine and clearly aren’t just trying to use them.
Liam then brought up the topic of how, as a small creator, you can grow your channel. Jake said that he doesn’t care about growth, because his films often take weeks or months to make.
He did then add that “we’d all love to be a big YouTuber” and that people should cater to their audience and niche, but ultimately, they need to make something they’re proud of rather than focusing on growth.
Emi said she has to remind herself that the videos you make are for you primarily. She often feels pressure to upload more regularly. She dislikes upload schedules as she finds they demotivate her and ultimately lead to stress. She prefers her channel to be more like a diary. Jake commented that halfway through making something you always feel like it is the worst thing ever.
Emi pointed out that when you actually conceptualise a ‘low’ view count, you realise just how many people have watched your videos. She gave the example that if you get 800 views on a video, that’s enough people to fill the London Eye. And that’s very motivating.
Following on from this, Jerome said he could talk for an hour about how to grow your channel. He summarised that often you have to adapt your content in order for it to grow, but the title of your video is key to gaining followers. However, although when you adapt your content to make it clickable your channel will grow, you don’t have to care about growth to be a YouTuber.
Sam then added that it is completely fine to want to grow your channel, he doesn’t want to particularly because he’s a filmmaker and while he’s sometimes mocked by friends who use Vimeo, he finds helpful responses and comments to his films on YouTube which allow him to learn and grow.
Liam then moved to the topic of burnout and mental health, asking how the panel handle the pressures of uploading. Emi quite simply responded with “I don’t”. She explained that when she burns out she just stops uploading for a while.
Jake pointed out that you have to look after yourself first and argued that things go wrong because people are too hard on themselves. He gave the example of when he was preparing for his art stall at Summer in the City, saying “I’ve not drawn the giant cat with the scary face. Nobody is going to come to my stall!”
He acknowledged the importance of deadlines and commitments but said you should be easy on yourself: “Be dedicated, have discipline but it’s only YouTube.” Sam said you should forgive yourself and that when “the hustle” is sold to people it can be very bad for your creativity. Just a little work on creating every day can benefit you a lot more than burning yourself out.
Vanessa mentioned that she made daily videos for a year and a half but she reached a point where she couldn’t do it around her school commitments. It led to a breakdown, but she ultimately hugely reduced how many videos she makes and, after giving herself a break, just ensured she remained consistent.
Similarly, Jerome said that once he edited a video and was working into the night and really struggling. As soon as he rested, he found the task he’d been struggling with incredibly easy. He emphasised that you need to rest. Emi added that you’ll always critique when and what you upload more than any of your audience.
Liam brought up the changes to the YouTube Partner Programme and the fact you need a large following to get help when you get demonetised. He asked how the panel rated YouTube’s support for small creators.
Sam opened with “YouTube doesn’t care about small creators anymore.” He argued that you can only get up if you are pulled up. Emi mentioned that almost everybody she knew was demonetised when the Partner Programme was changed and while YouTube knows it’s an issue, and have been given plenty of time to fix it, they have made no efforts to do so.
She also pointed out how awful it is that LGBTQ+ content is still demonetised by the platform. Jake then pointed out that demonetisation of LGBTQ+ content doesn’t make sense from a capital point of view as there is a huge audience for that content.
Emi stated that she doesn’t tiptoe around the titles of her videos, even when she knows they will be demonetised due to the content matter. Chloe then reminded everybody that “If it’s not monetised then it won’t get pushed”, therefore LGBTQ+ videos rarely reach audiences that may need them.
Vanessa said she likes to think YouTube will have a realisation that smaller YouTubers are a bigger marketplace as a whole than larger YouTubers.
Liam then invited the panellists to recommend smaller YouTubers who they would recommend. The panel chose to recommend Jack Hodgson, Charlotte Emily, Georgia Marie, Angela Innes, TVMaxwell, Reb Day, Lucas Jay and Connor Ward.
The panel was then opened to questions from the audience, and the subject of how Summer in the City treats smaller creators was raised.
Sam mentioned how there was only one panel for small creators and that in previous years there have been more small creators on other panels. Sam then mentioned that for the first year this year, the smaller creator panel attendees didn’t receive the passes that all other creators did and the process of getting panellists to the panel room was poorly organised, possibly due to lack of access.
Jerome then pointed out that there are too many small creators for them to actually all be featured and that Summer in the City tries very hard to represent them as a whole. Emi then pointed out that security risks exist for smaller creators too, especially as she is largely known for her gatherings. A person who harassed her online attended his weekend and she felt unsafe.
Another audience member asked why the panellists create content for YouTube. “It’s not the viewers and money is it?” they quipped. Chloe’s reason was that there was no content for nursing students on YouTube. Emi said that was the same reasoning behind her making videos about asexuality.
Jerome felt there was nobody that represented him online. This led to a person who related to him saying they started making videos because of him.
Vanessa said she enjoys inspiring people. When she started motivational speaking three years ago, she showed people that you can do what you want in life.
Jake joked “I got to go to Sammy Paul’s house and spent two days trying to make a fridge out of a lump of clay.” Sam explained that he learned to make films through YouTube videos and then it became his job. He prefers YouTube to alternatives like Vimeo, saying “they’ve got their video star picks. I’ve got friends.”
Finally, the panel was asked what editing software they use “Video Cut Pro” said Sam, without missing a beat.
Photos by George Yonge.
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