There’s nothing more intimidating than putting yourself out there.
Especially putting yourself out there on YouTube for all of the world to search and see. It opens you up to both criticism and possibilities, catharsis and inspiration. Or, you know, just plain, old fun. It’s this mix of opportunities that inspired Riyona Abraham, a neonatal nurse from Chicago whose schedule lends itself to dedicating time to YouTube, to create her own channel, Reloaded Reeality.
“My YouTube channel is about my life, my Reeality. I wanted to open myself up to the world so that they can see what I do on a day to day basis. I would like to think that my life is pretty interesting at times, so why not share that with the world. None of my videos are scripted or rehearsed. Life isn’t that way, so I don’t want my videos to be that way either.”
What does it take to create a life on YouTube? How much work does it take? How do you, dear reader, start your own channel? Let’s ask a badass.
YouTube is a hard industry to crack. What made you want to start your own channel?
YouTube is such an interesting industry. Depending on how much time and effort you want to put into it, some channels are very successful and some take more time to grow. I am self taught with editing, so the entire experience has been a learning curve! I started my channel because I had a few people that I watched consistently on youtube who were doing things on a daily basis that were similar to my life. I’m already big on taking pictures and recording on my phone while doing different activities, so I figured I would start to document my life for the world to see, which was scary!. I also did a lot of rants on snapchat and I had numerous people telling me how funny they were and how I should start posting them somewhere….hence the birth of my channel.
How do you choose a topic for your videos?
I choose a topic for my videos based on what I have planned throughout the week. If I’m going out, I take the camera and film in case the footage is interesting. I try not to film when I know the footage won’t be interesting, but lately I’ve been finding out that some of my less exciting footage has been my most popular videos, which is so backwards. I also brainstorm a lot of ideas based on things I have seen on YouTube that I can put my own personal spin on, or things that I like to do with my sister that I feel can make for a fun video.
What typically goes into creating a video?
Creating a video can be challenging depending on what the content consists of. My daily vlogs are bit easier to edit because they are more raw footage, they don’t require a lot of transitions or b rolls (footage that is put to music). My travel vlogs and challenge videos are a bit more detailed so it takes more time to get the cuts exactly how I want them to music and to also keep the footage interesting. Audience retention is HUGE in the youtube world. The first 30 seconds to 1 minute are either make or break. So I have to make sure I’m entertaining, but also showing off my creativity.
What have you learned about yourself through this process?
I have learned that YouTube can be an emotional roller coaster. I feel the emotional side comes from wanting to create amazing content that people will love. I would like to look at myself as a perfectionist, so when a video doesn’t do as well as I know it can (views, likes, etc), it can be discouraging for sure. Overall, I have learned that patience is key and a lot of tutorials are necessary to become better at editing.
Have you learned to be more vulnerable, more open? Or are there aspects of your life that are off the table?
I have definitely learned to be more vulnerable with YouTube. It’s interesting that people like to watch and learn about my life when I tell them about it on camera. I try to be as open as possible, but still staying respectful of the people around me who are involved in my life. For example, my boyfriend and I are very open with our relationship on my channel, but if we ever argue, its something that won’t get filmed or talked about in a different vlog. I feel that some things are ok to talk about and others are just off limits.
What do you think it is about YouTube that has people so transfixed?
YouTube is the Mecca of all things. (Laughs) No, but really. I think that people like YouTube because it allows you to be as creative as possible. Not to mention, a lot of people use YouTube to learn how to do pretty much anything from how to set up a tv to how to make a bird feeder. There is a video for almost anything you could think of if you need a tutorial. Numerous YouTubers are an open book, so they vlog about their life every day and people are really into that. I have learned within the last few months that a lot of people who don’t have cable are ok with that because they would rather watch people who they follow on YouTube.
What would you say to people that believe becoming a YouTuber is easy?
Oh man, that is a loaded question. I would have to just remind that person that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Is that cliche enough? Unless you have a large following on a different social media platform, it may be difficult to jump start a YouTube channel. It took me forever just to reach my first 100 subscribers. So it takes a lot of work on both YouTube and yourself as a person. I have seen many people who have started a channel stop after not achieving the results that they want, which is instant fame. It doesn’t work like that for most. So be humble, you know…Kendrick style and stay focused on why you started a channel to begin with.
What are you goals ultimately with being on YouTube?
Ultimately, my goal is to get better at editing and see where I can take myself with creativity. I use to be really into the numbers as far as subscribers are concerned, but now i’m more focused on views, audience retention, making amazing thumbnails, engaging with my subscribers and learning about myself along the way!
What’s the best part about the YouTuber experience? What sort of freedom does it allow you?
The best part about the YouTube experience is meeting people from all over the world. I have made some pretty cool friends who I have never met, but know pretty much everything about their lives. (Laughs) But it’s such a fun adventure! I actually met one of my YouTube friends on vacation last year because I traveled to her hometown. YouTube does allow for a lot of freedom with creativity though and that’s what makes the platform so interesting and difficult at the same time. There are so many untapped networks of things people can do on YouTube, but it does give anyone who uses it the opportunity to voice their opinions when they want.
What would you tell people who want to start their own channel but see it as daunting?
I would tell people to stay true to why they started a channel in the first place. There is nothing wrong with sitting down, making a list and figuring out exactly why you want to make this channel and what you want to achieve with it. Whenever I lose hope or sight of what I want, I have to take myself back to why I started the channel to refocus myself.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to go off the beaten path?
My advice, DO IT. Nothing beats a failure, but a try. There is nothing wrong with paving your own way with your goals. It may work in your favor and it may fail, but at least you gave it a chance. Then, you can focus on what went wrong, make some changes and keep pushing to achieve those goals.
Creating a life online that allows the faceless public into your world can often be difficult and daunting. Being vulnerable in the digital world is easy behind a keyboard, but putting your face to your story and inviting others into your story is entirely different. It takes a certain type of confidence to challenge yourself and put yourself out there in that way.
But it’s possible. If you’ve got enough nerve, like Ginny Weasley once reminded us, anything is possible. We’re capable of great things, like Riyona Abraham, if we just put ourselves out there and know what we’re capable of.
Cracking YouTube takes time, effort and dedication. If you’re out there wondering if now is the time to create your own channel, listen to someone who’s been there and just did it. There’s no better time than now.
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