I’ve been in a fairly reflective mood lately, I mean more so than usual. Typically Trevor and I reflect on our lives once a week to make sure we’re headed in the right path, but I’ve been doing more and more personal reflection to make sure I’m where I want to be. That aside, I’ve spent most of my time reflecting on this blog and wanted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned, now that I’ve personally been blogging for a total of 6 years.
Be Efficient In Identifying What is Most Valuable to You
If you’re interested in becoming a blogger you’ll come across one piece of knowledge in particular across all kinds of articles on how to launch your own site, or YouTube channel. That knowledge nugget? Choose something that you’re extremely passionate about. Now this has a lot of benefits in terms of your writing, but it also helps you feel more fulfilled with your end product. Your audience will have one theme to return for, something they can count on you to provide, and also have a common thread of interest with you.
In your own life, this is also a vital skill that isn’t really taught at home, or in schools. Being able to identify the things that are most important to you as early as possible will save a lot of headache and heartache in the future. Be in tune with yourself and reflect weekly, monthly, or quarterly, to make sure you’re valuable goals/ethics/ideas are at the forefront of your life and you’re constantly working towards them. It’s also important to reflect because, well, we’re all human and we change our minds. It’s okay to believe you want to be in the circus from age 3 to 17, then change your mind and go to a trade school for diesel mechanics because you discovered that captivated you so much more than trapeze ever did. Changing careers, or interests isn’t a bad thing.
If you’re unsure what it is you’re passionate about, there’s only one way to find out: explore. By that I mean you should sign up for classes, a sport, a music or dance lesson and give something a try that you’d never try before. Eat new foods and listen to all kinds of music, look online for festivals and holidays you weren’t aware of and look into them. The only way to recognize an interest or hobby is to stumble upon it, by living your life. I’ve always liked writing and photography, but I didn’t realize I’d liked Philosophy until I took a class in college. I didn’t know I would actually enjoy organizing and decorating until I moved in with Trevor. There are plenty of things I privately am passionate about, like certain political and ethical issues, donating goods/food/time/money every chance I get, English word etymology, and self-sufficient living. Don’t be scared, just be you!
Take Time for You
Another nugget of wisdom you’ll find when researching how to start your own internet personality is to develop a schedule you can commit to at all costs, and deliver. Search engines will reward you for it, YouTube will reward you for it, and your readers will understand when they can expect new things from you. All that is fine and dandy, and I know you want to have a successful product, but so is your mental health.
Mental health is often overlooked, but for me…well, it’s one of my valuables. Sometimes you need to take a break for mental health, and you shouldn’t be afraid to do that. This holds true across all jobs, responsibilities, careers, and beliefs. I take one day a week for myself to veg out and relax, as I work here, for our YouTube channel, or on my home for the remaining six days. Every morning I do allow myself an hour of “wake-up” time. I check Miitomo, the news, Pinterest, Instagram, and snuggle our cats. After that little refresher, I start my day at 8am.
Don’t be afraid to miss one week of posting articles, or videos, for bereavement. Don’t be afraid to publish something at the end of the day instead of the beginning, or to miss your regular day and publish the day after. Granted, don’t make a habit of it, but understand that this internet obligation functions like a regular job: sometimes you can take a break, but definitely not habitually. The important thing is making it clear to your viewership, as early as possible, that occasionally this will happen.
Be Honest, Open, and Genuine
Think about the bloggers, or YouTubers, that you look up to. Do they ever talk about themselves? Do they ever give updates on their lives? Do they talk about health or relationships? Moving? Work or schedules? Let’s talk about Jenna Marbles as an example. Typically her content is comedy sketches, rants, or comedy songs, but she often sprinkles videos that share more about herself. For her birthday she shares a number of things she’s learned that correspond to her age, which is always interesting. She shares health information when she will be missing a regular upload, she talks about her pets and family as appropriate, she also shares when she goes on trips for large events and talks about her friends. From a creator point-of-view this is character development and connecting with an audience to deepen that bond with your viewers. As a viewer, you’re learning more about the personality you’re invested in.
I feel that’s a rather shallow way of looking at the situation and tend to have this approach: you should always be as honest, open, and genuine with your viewers as possible. There are several reasons why I believe you should do this on a moral and ethical level, but those vary from person to person. As an internet creator, being open with your community has a myriad of benefits. If you need to take that time off I mentioned above, your audience will be more receptive and understanding. If you want to change directions, or try out new content, they’ll be more supportive. When you need help coming up with new ideas and request their input, they’ll be more likely to offer suggestions.
If you’re interested in this topic, I highly recommend checking out “The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz, specifically the agreement on “Being Impeccable With Your Word.” This book is such an amazing read and offers a lot of knowledge, most of it we all already know but need an inspirational reminder to act. I keep this book on my desk and read it once a year, as well as “The Fifth Agreement” by Ruiz and Ruiz. Both books have helped me to be more aware of my words and actions, and better understand why I emotionally react the way I do to different stimuli.
Stay True to Your Morals
Sometimes we get so focused on making a buck that we lose sight of our ethics and morals. I don’t necessarily mean things like lying and stealing, but I know that can occur. I more so mean privacy and respecting others. These practices are recommended left and right when researching “how to make money with your blog.” Most of the blogs I visit do these things.
I’m not going to touch upon how engaging in the following actions will impact your audience as you can find a plethora of examples in comment sections of videos, articles, and on forums.
Privacy is one of the biggest things I am passionate about and I hold it very dear in my own life. One of the biggest ways to violate this online is email and personal information sale. I have very few online accounts and I am constantly going through them to close and delete those I can do without. Why? Throughout the years my email address, name, phone number and mailing address, has been sold to different marketing companies. I’ve gotten all kinds of marketing material, emails, and sales flyers for companies I’ve never visited, or purchased from, which I find immensely frustrating. This is why NautilusMODE won’t ever ever ever ever ever ever ever sell your email address, or personal information; we find it a basic infringement of rights and won’t ever engage in that activity.
Now, respecting people online can come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. It could be responding to a comment, it could be thanking fans and viewers, it could be…ads? Now, we do display ads on our YouTube videos in the form of overlay and skippable ads that roll before a video. We try to be non-invasive on that platform, and that ads aren’t ads that we request, but rather they are YouTube’s ads that are displayed. In terms of our blog, the only ads we currently have are affiliate links in, or at the end, of our articles; we do not sell ad real-estate on our site. I’m sure your familiar with trackable ads, the ones that display products you’ve looked at on other sites? We don’t engage in that as we feel it is disrespectful. It’s kind of like that coat you were looking at from that clothing store is a creepy stalker, following you all over your browsing habits. Who wants that?!
Now this isn’t to say I pass judgement on bloggers that engage in these activities, and if you feel these things aren’t a violation of your personal code of ethics, that’s fine. What I’m trying to get at is, we as content and entertainment providers need to take that moment of pause to reflect upon our actions before committing to them for financial gain. This holds especially true when the basic rights of our viewers are involved.