Hi. I’m Zoe. In the last year (almost) i’ve stuck to a YouTube schedule. (mostly.) And in that year, i’ve learned a lot about YouTube. I’ve learned that it really does take up quite a lot of your time, it requires an entire new skill set far beyond what you knew before, and, it most certainly is, a real job. I read salty tweets and bitter blog posts from journalists at newspapers, observers and well, the general public, at their seemingly bad taste in their mouth for YouTube culture, and i’m constantly baffled as to why.
Let’s rewind to the very start and the core of a YouTuber’s life. At the very start, you commit to something. Whether you begin it as a hobbyist or set out to make business from it, you start up a channel with the intention of working on it – and making it succeed. Not all channels do, and that’s totally fine, but the level of work still remains solid whether it’s a part time thing or a full time thing. You need a camera – that’s our first expense, small or big, it still costs – and you need a set up, lighting, an editing suite and some ideas.
From there you’ve got to market yourself, create a brand, set up a business if you intend to make money, and begin creating. It’s hard at first. Wobbly, unsure, bit nervous on camera. It takes you ALL DAY and when it’s done you’re still not happy with it. You wish you were like the other YouTubers who seem to have it down, but you have the fire in your belly and the love in your eyes to continue. So you do. You keep uploading and uploading until you can eventually churn them out like a machine. But this still takes hours of your day, and most of your life up.
YouTubers earn big bucks. No really, big bucks. I am a YouTuber, I see this. I earn enough to keep a roof over my head, holiday to Los Angeles and buy clothes. I couldn’t say that in my last job, my marketing job. I actually haven’t been able to say that throughout my life until now. So… how is that not a real job? I’m only just starting to feel a bit proud of what i’ve done in my life, and i’m nearly twenty-seven. I understand that for generations who weren’t born with technology, it can be quite confusing and a bit baffling – i’ve spent many a dinner party explaining what it is – my opening gambit being ‘Yes, I sit around on Facebook all day.” Because if you can poke fun at it yourself people realise what you’re doing is something you’re comfortable in, and enjoy.
Being a TV presenter is a real job. But instead of just being the TV presenter, YouTubers are also the PR girl, the camera man, the props department, the script writer, and even the intern. Aint no one else gonna fetch me a tea! So how is that not a real job? We’re all tax registered, we’re all working for ourselves. Quite frankly in a world where jobs for young people are scarce, YouTubers are young people who made their own jobs, and made a damn good living out of it at the same time. How is that *still* source for mockery, for people looking down on us, and for embarrassment?
I don’t think YouTube is a *hard* job. It’s not easy though, and if you want to do it seriously you must invest time and effort into learning the craft. I spent about three months of my life watching tutorials on how to work Final Cut Pro, learning how to use slow motion on my camera, and learning colour grading and presets. None of that stuff is easy, and none of that comes overnight. But like any job, it’s a learning curve. Yes, I know how to work Final Cut now, but i’ll never stop learning, i’ll never stop mixing up my style and i’ll never stop trying new things.
Coming up with ideas can be taxing and a little annoying, but really, it is not the hardest job in the world. It’s also for the most part quite stress free. Why? Because you’re answering to yourself. You have the ideas, and you answer your own questions. When you’re in control of your own future, you either grab it with both hands, and keep falling forward on your face trying and trying, or you give up and let it float off into the distance. That’s probably the hardest part, relying on yourself, becoming confident and secure within your own head, with trying new ideas and ignoring those trolly comments. But the job itself can be done well and done in a day. And maybe that’s why people think it’s not a real job?
Sometimes I wish I could go back to a 9-5 where I left my work at home and enjoyed my evenings. I do still try and do that as much as possible. But when your brain is the little business world you’re running, it’s hard to switch it off. Most YouTubers will actually work a 9am-9pm day, and not complain about it once. Imagine if your boss asked you to work over time that long all the time? I used to get so annoyed when I couldn’t leave the office at 5.30pm. And then imagine that you are your own boss, and you’re internally fighting the want to leave the office but the head that says… “come on, just one last idea!” It can be very depressing, lonely and tough on yourself. I know all too well.
It’s not a total walk in the park, and it’s not for everyone. But what it is, is a very real job, with skill sets far beyond what people give it credit for. I’ve self taught myself things I didn’t even know I could learn – although I gotta be honest the world of tax/accounting/numbers is still a bit over my head – and I make a living doing so. I’m a bit done with seeing the snark toward YouTubers and YouTube culture on the internet, and if that’s what journalists are getting paid to write, I know i’m happier on the other side of the fence, being a positive, happy little lady in my little home run business empire.