YouTube is, in many ways, the great equalizer. While comment threads can sometimes be harsh, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that on this incredible platform, the everyman is king. The media industry has long been dominated by polish and corporate backing to the point where, to make a name for yourself, you had to either know someone or be in the exact right place at the right time.
With YouTube, just about anyone can find their audience if they’re wiling to put the work in. This means making video content consistently, even during times when views just don’t come in. Being yourself is far more effective than playing a character. On YouTube, people seem to respond much better to someone who is being true to themselves and to their viewers.
Recently, I came across a short film on YouTube created by Johnny Berchtold for a filmmaking class. He credits vague assignment details for his ability to tell an interesting story that he’s seen play out in a similar fashion for many YouTube content creators. In Press Play — A YouTube Story, a young student struggles with a difficult home and school life only to find solace in the online community present on YouTube. It’s through making videos and interacting with the community that she came out of her shell and found herself.
I had a chance to talk with John Berchtold about the short film. He said, “Press Play is all about stepping out of your comfort zone to pursue what you love,” he continued, “YouTube has become an unbelievably major passion in my life and I wanted to create something that would show the passion of YouTube as a whole. The film speaks directly to those who find comfort in what they have a passion for and it poses the question: ‘Will you pursue what you love to do?’”
That speaks to the greater point of this article exactly. YouTube empowers everyday people to pursue their passions and create media that audiences can connect with. It’s a proof of concept that the pattern of push that has been so heavily present in the media world isn’t the only way to build and retain an audience. You can interact directly with them and still tell a compelling story that makes passive viewers want to come back for more.
For some, YouTube has become a full-time job. They’re able to make enough money from advertising to support themselves and concentrate on making better content for their audience. This isn’t the norm for most users, though it is just another aspect of how YouTube empowers people to pursue — if not steer — their careers in a way that aligns more closely with their individual passions.
You don’t have to be a model or the son of a famous director to get a start on YouTube. You just have to be real, and remember that your audience is a community first. Keep these things in mind, and there’s no limit to how much you can achieve if you put enough effort into it.
Camcorder by Petr Kratochvil