I had to put off this post a day because I spent so much time writing yesterday that I didn't end up going to bed until 4 in the morning. This Disney Cruise mini-series has been somehow both the most difficult and most fun project to work on so far.
The difficulty really laid within the first part of the series, which covered the Big Red Boat. There wasn't a ton of footage I could use for that part of the cruise history and so I spent longer than usual scraping together enough clips to cut to the VO. On the polar opposite end of the spectrum I have, no exaggeration, around 130 clips from Disney for the Disney Cruise Line, so I'm hoping that editing part two and three go a lot faster. If it doesn't it means I've made a major editing mistake somewhere.
At the same time this series has been a blast to work on in terms of writing and research. I ended up spending twice as much time as I usually do researching, and ended up writing a script that was four pages instead of the usual one and a half (and that was after I split off Castaway Cay into it's own full video.) I think it really grabbed me because it was still Disney history, but it was a corner of Disney history I was entirely in the dark about. Getting to learn completely new stories about the company makes it that much more exciting, which I guess I spoke towards back on That New Disney Feeling.
I've been so wrapped up in writing that I actually fell off from following my channel numbers these last two weeks, which I suppose is a good and a bad thing.
Whenever somebody asks me for advice when it comes to starting a channel, especially younger people, I try to stress that they shouldn't be focusing too much on the numbers. The platform is so relentless and so massive that unless you have an overnight smash hit, which is typically as likely as winning the lottery, those numbers are going to be cruel to you for quite a while. Getting seen is difficult and a lot of the times it's not even due to the content. It's just how the platform works. Too much emphasis on those numbers and it can be terribly demoralizing. So it's good to be able to block out those numbers and just focus on the content. Making something your proud of and making something you enjoy creating.
At the same time I'm now counting on that content to keep a roof over my head and food on my plate, and so it seems a bit reckless to completely ignore the numbers. In an ideal world you're supposed to just create what makes you happy and all of the success you hope for should naturally follow. In reality though, like I said, YouTube is a massive and relentless platform.
I need to consider what does well with views. I need to consider retaining my audience. Numbers like that can be the difference between getting to continue doing this 12 months from now, and being back in an office building in Manhattan wondering where I went wrong. Like all things, it seems to be a balancing act. This past few weeks has had me leaning all the way in one direction, and I need to remember that the proper correction is NOT to lean all the way in the other direction.
On a somewhat related note, I want to try and use the 100k subscriber milestone as a means of maintaining that balance. For years, I've looked at 100k as the goal. It was the finish line that at one point I figured I would never reach. Today it feels more like a matter of time. My fear is that with it having been a goal for so many years, I'll cross that finish line and find myself going "Alright, so now what?" I'm afraid that without discipline, it'll be the point at which I let myself get lazy, or just grow bored with the channel because I'll have no new goal to reach for.
So rather than keep looking at it like a finish line, I'm using the next couple of months to transform it into a starting line. However the new finish line will not be another subscriber milestone. To be frank, 1 million just isn't happening for a Disney channel, and for as arbitrary as that number is, anything in between 100k and 1 million would be even more arbitrary. Instead the goals need to be more powerful than just a number that'll get me a play button to hang on my wall. It needs to be multiple goals.
It needs to be goals for new levels of quality to try and reach with my content. It needs to be financial goals that'll ensure I can keep doing this into the future. It needs to be personal goals of finding the perfect work/life balance. Lastly, it needs to be a goal of knowing where that road leads. As much as I believe in online media as an industry, I don't think YouTubing is the kind of gig that will last forever, and while I have absolutely no plans to exit from it anytime soon, I do want to have an idea in mind whenever people ask "What do you want to do after that?"
The next few months are important to me, because I believe they'll be what determines whether or not this whole thing was just a phase I wanted to get out of my system before settling down with a traditional job, or if it's the start of a lifestyle that'll stick with me for years to come, maybe even till the end.
Seeing that finish line transform into the start of a new marathon might sound exhausting now, but I feel like it's going to really wake me up.