It's been a while.
Oh yes.. a while indeed. It's been due to several factors, including a global pandemic, relationship issues, the loss of a close friend, An undercooked Odyssey release and probably more than a little bit of sadness about how poorly my videos were being received.
On that, The people who did see them really liked them, but the viewer numbers have been dwindling to the point that I questioned why was I even bothering?
So a whole year passed, I'd not made a video, not even a simple one. In fact, the last video I made was effectively a simple Christmas story. and that took a lot more effort to make that I thought it would, and that video has had (at the time of writing... after a year) 438 views. It's set in the Star Citizen universe, but it's basically a Christmas tale about two brothers, two opposites. I thought people would get a kick out of it, but alas - it tanked hard.
Given that I wasn't making new videos, I cancelled my Patreon - It didn't feel right keeping it running while I was only streaming and not producing the content I'd promised.
The previous video Little Furry Space Legs, came out around the time Odyssey launched.. and has only 1323 views at this time. That video took months to make, and includes fully animated characters - including a psychotic teddy bear. What's not to love? The previous video Summerland received almost twice that... but still, 2300 views isn't much at all.
Why am I telling you all this?
Why are viewer numbers important?
Well, it means that my content is not getting in front of people.
The likes and comments tell me that people who do see my videos really enjoy them.. so there's something else wrong. My content just isn't getting in front of people's eyeballs. This is not a new conversation by a long stretch, it's been going on for years. I've had talks with more successful content creators and they inform me that it's everything from the way I promote my content (or don't promote it) to the form of the content itself.. My stuff is kinda long form. It asks a lot of the casual YouTube viewer to sit and enjoy it. The things that are the most successful are short videos, reaction videos.. but rarely story based content.
So what to do?
I'm currently working on a new video. It's a long form story based video about Ascorbius and Jayne, set in the aftermath of the Proteus Wave device and how that all went wrong. It's taking forever to make - 4 months at the moment, it's almost entirely animated and contains some of the most intense action scenes I've ever done.. and I'm worried it's going to tank because of the way YouTube consistently fails to put my content in front of the audience.
So, to try to get some traction I'm considering release it in multiple ways.
Episodic - where each 5 mins or so are their own episode.
Long form - the entire episode to watch all at once.
The entire Season2 + the new video as a SuperCut - it'll probably be feature length.
I cannot trust YouTube
They don't prioritise my kind of content. Other content creators (normally massive content creators) have even made their own platforms because of this - Corridor Digital have their own subscriber site with lots of bonus content and various high profile creators have nebula, which they built precisely because people were not able to find the good stuff through all the junk. There isn't anything for my stuff though. So YouTube it is.
I would love nothing more than for my videos to get 10-20k views.. that would tell me that, not only were people enjoying the content, but the content was finding the audience too. the Elite Dangerous audience is quite small and getting something in front of the players is incredibly difficult. Keeping people's attention in an ever media saturated world is nigh on impossible. Telling the kind of stories I like to tell is probably one of the hardest things to get in front of people..
I think the content creator difficulty goes something like this..
in terms of ease of consumption (not strictly in ease of creation) - (List pulled out of my ass and not based on any form of empirical research)
Screenshots - These are easy to consume, take skill to produce. Very Reddit/twitter friendly.
List Videos - Everyone likes a good list, especially if they agree with you.. comments if not. good for interaction.
Tutorial Videos - The viewer actively seeks these out. High potential for educating the player base.
Review Videos - Want to know what's good or bad about a ship, weapon, skin, insole, banana? People seek these out too.
(Controversial) Opinion Videos - Find a dead horse and beat it, got a problem, discuss it, see a problem, talk about it. These can do fairly well - they do have the potential to divide the community though, but they can highlight real problems and hopefully get them fixed.
Music Videos - These can do well, if it's music that's liked.. Copyright issues might get these taken down so they're not very common nowadays.
Original Music - Tricky one this. There are not many musical content creators, music is highly subjective and tastes vary incredibly. But music itself is some of the most highly viewed content on the platform and some of the most heavily policed.
Original Music Videos - Music videos for original music for the game, Very tricky to get right and in front of people. Still at least if the viewer likes the music, they can minimise the video.
Short Story videos - Now we're entering the rare stuff. Write a story, film it, voice it, composite it, add music for atmosphere and et voila, a guaranteed way to spend time. Then release to see if the audience resonates with the story. These used to be a lot more popular, but they have seemingly fallen out of favour.
Long Story Videos - Buckle up, we're going on an adventure. If Peter Jackson can command your attention for 3 hours, why can't we? Well, we're not Peter Jackson but we also don't have his resources.. but long form stories are almost held up to the same standards. These are by far the most difficult kind of video to make and to get people interested in. It's partly down to trust I feel. Perhaps the viewer has been burned in the past, had their time wasted... perhaps they don't resonate with the writing style or the humour.. there are many reasons why these might fail. They take forever, consume resources and have the highest chance of failure.
Telling someone their kid is the child of Satan - OK, this just feels like this is slightly harder than Long Story Videos.. to be honest, I was wondering if this was actually 10.
Vogon Poetry - You get the point.
What does this all mean?
Well, it's part me venting my spleen on how hard it is to do things vs how easy it isn't to get it in front of people. In the end of the day, any content creator who puts their work out for consumption does it for one or more of two reasons. One, to make some money, Two, to capture attention.
I want to capture your attention, to entertain you, to make you laugh, to give you a nice memory, to reignite the passion for adventure or to reinforce it if it was already lit. I want to make you think about What If, and to tell your own stories. I want to show you what can be done with minimal tools and a little patience. I want to reach as many people as possible because the more people I can affect, the more people I can cheer up and that in turn makes me happy. Adsense is nice too.
If you like a content creator, they need your help. YouTube is not helping them. If you want a content creator to keep creating, they need to feel that their work is being appreciated, that their efforts are getting the results they wanted. After all, a comedian who gets people to laugh has more incentive to keep trying and may eventually fill entire theatres with laughter.
Share their work on Twitter, Facebook, Tell people about them, Like, Comment, Subscribe. That's what good fans do for everything. We're in it for the fans.