Updated: Jul 30, 2020
My mother had a refrigerator magnet with this poem on it and when I was a teenager, my best friend would read this out-loud every time she came to visit me.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will, When the road you're trudging seems all uphill, When funds are low and the debts are high, And you want to smile but you have to sigh, When care is pressing you down a bit, Rest if you must, but don't you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns, As every one of us sometimes learns, And many a failure turns about, When he might have won if he'd stuck it out. Don't give up, though the pace seems slow - You may succeed with another blow.
Often the goal is nearer than It seems to a faint and faltering man; Often the struggler has given up When he might have captured the victor's cup, And he learned too late, when the night slipped down, How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out - The silver tint of the clouds of doubt, And you never can tell how close you are - It may be near when it seems afar; So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit - It's when things seem worst that you mustn't quit.
- by John Greenleaf Whittier
That poem never meant much to me then but recently when I thought of giving up on my YouTube journey I thought of it. I could recall some of the lines from those many years ago when my friend would stand in my kitchen and read these words.
If you make YouTube videos or have watched any videos about how to grow your YouTube channel or how to get started on YouTube then you probably know about the all-powerful "algorithm." It's a beast that will destroy your channel if you don't feed it what it wants.
People have studied this thing, guarded it, kept careful watch over it and tried to tame it. Some have mastered it. I am not 'some'.
I started my channel making picture videos of all the projects I had done and taken photographs of before I even knew about YouTube. I have been a DIY fanatic since before there were tutorials or how-tos plastered across this platform. A friend of mine encouraged me to start a channel and I did, using the footage I had available. I threw those slideshow-styled videos together, added a voiceover, slapped on a title, and uploaded them. Things picked up slowly. Very slowly.
I started doing little home decor updates and made subpar videos. Things were still slow but this was the reason I started out on this journey, to share my projects.. Then I participated in some DIY challenges and got more people's attention and a few subscribers. I didn't have a niche and I didn't realize the importance of this at the time.
My favorites were hair videos because I found it relaxing to watch people talk and style their hair. I also got into fashion videos with hauls and try-ons. I saw people trying on and reviewing outfits from companies like Shein and BooHoo, Pretty Little Thing and Zara. I had seen ads on my Facebook for a company called Rotita and realized nobody was reviewing them. I decided to.
I made a Rotita reviews video and got a ton of views and subscribers. I saw a little success but didn't know how I would continue making fashion review videos when I had no intention of ordering clothes every week. I continued with DIY. Then I ordered from Rotita again and made another review video. It did well. But the next video I made was a DIY.
Now my 2 passions were conflicting. I loved both of these but every YouTube tips video I watched was telling me to "niche down." I fought against this and decided I would make whatever kinds of videos I wanted. I made ASMR videos, cleaning videos, videos about Christmas, Halloween, and being a germaphobe. I was all over the place. My channel name matched my blog after all. It was 'Random Bites of a Sweet Life'. I made videos about any random topic I thought of and the possibilities were endless. I ignored the algorithm speeches I heard and I disregarded the advice about picking a target audience and speaking to them.
At the point of my indecision about continuing to upload, I had a little over 3,500 subscribers, a few likes and comments here and there and a channel I really loved, fulfilling my need for a creative outlet.
Then I started making comparisons. I compared my channel to all the successful DIY channels I had grown to love. You know, the ones who had been solely making DIY videos since before I even published my first video. The ones who had fed the algorithm choice meats and delicacies to its hearts content instead of, like me, throwing it a bone or the edges of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I compared my channel to theirs and thought it was a failure. I hadn't seen the same results they had and I was ready to walk away from all of it.
I almost gave up. I actually prayed about my channel. Seriously. I thought so hard about making this choice and my channel had become so much a part of me that I had to bring it to God in prayer. 2 days after praying about it I checked my analytics and saw that I had gained 45 subscribers in the 7 days prior. When I checked the average views on my channel, they were above average, and each day I was seeing more and more comments on videos I didn't think anyone was still watching.
I was already uploading a video every week but for the most recent few months before I had stuck to a schedule of posting every Thursday at 10 am. I told myself that my final "sign" for if I should continue is if a video idea came to me before it was too late to post for that week. (Before this I had videos planned for weeks and at this point I had no ideas).
I walked out onto my porch and saw a chair that I had said the previous week would be used to make something because it was ripped and needed to get thrown away with the rest of the rubbish we piled together from out basement clean-out. When I saw the chair that night I froze. I had forgotten about it but here was my next video idea right in front of me.
I decided to give YouTube another week.
Now I have a whole social media schedule outlined for myself with video ideas for the next several Thursdays and I'm about 70 subscribers away from 4,000. I'm not totally niched down but I'm sticking with DIY and fashion with DIY being primary. We'll see where the next few weeks take me.
So this is a message to remind myself and it's a message for you.