If you ask most kids these days, they want to be a social media influencer, a TikTok star, or a Youtuber. All these new career titles hold the promise of fame, fortune, and freedom.
Most adults would deride these ambitions as not having any real substance. And honestly, I used to think the same thing.
How on earth could making videos and posting them online hold any real-world value?
However, recently, I’ve started to have a change of heart. I have to admit that these kids might be onto something.
Confession time: I’m 44 years old, and I want to be a Youtuber, too.
I say I want to be, but I already am.
I’ve been creating videos on Youtube on and off for over a decade.
A Wayward Journey Begins
Back in 2010, soon after I moved to the US, I started recording and uploading book reviews for some of my favorite personal development books.
I wasn’t very good at it, but I was passionate about my subject. And I guess that passion shone through, as I managed to gain a few dedicated followers and reached about 200 subscribers.
However, after I divorced in 2012, I somehow lost focus on my hobby of making videos. In that phase of my life, I was making new friends, busy with work, traveling a lot, and learning to speak professionally.
Public speaking became my main passion and focus for the years from 2012 through to about 2019.
Then in 2020, when the world shut down, I once again started to consider creating videos and posting them online. I needed an outlet to share my passion for personal development, and Youtube was the only one available during the lockdown period.
To my surprise, when I revisited my old Youtube channel, I discovered that I had over 4000 (mostly dormant) subscribers who had viewed my videos and liked what I was doing.
To say I was shocked is an understatement. I was amazed that so many people chose to watch something I’d created. Moreover, what I shared was seemingly helpful for them.
The Freedom to Create
What is amazing about Youtube is that it provides a free, worldwide platform for anyone to contribute to. With the click of a ‘record’ button, you can create something (anything) that can potentially impact millions of people you might never meet.
Whenever I deliver a speech in person (or online), I have a chance to impact those in the room. Sometimes people will approach me after I speak and say that my words affect them. This is the true reward of anybody who speaks, and it’s what I value the most.
When it comes to Youtube, however, the experience is very different. You create a video alone, talking to a camera, and then upload it into the void. At first, it gets a few views and is soon forgotten. Over time, it slowly gains some views when people who are interested in your topic find it.
If you share something that resonates, you can gain a little momentum via the Youtube algorithm suggesting your videos to more people. The more people that watch, the more it gets recommended. Soon, it’s like a snowball traveling downhill.
Of course, not every single video becomes a big hit. It’s similar to delivering speeches. Sometimes the audience loves you, and you crush it. Other times it’s just a mediocre experience.
So too, with Youtube. I have created some videos thinking they would be incredibly impactful, only to have them fade into oblivion with only a handful of views. Other videos created on a whim have had an unexpectedly far-reaching impact.
For example, on the day I turned 40, I decided to record some life lessons I gained during my 30s. It was just a random bunch of ideas I had written down on a notepad. So I did a one-take video, recorded on my 720p laptop webcam. Then, with some very minor editing (and not much forethought), I uploaded it to Youtube.
Today, four and a half years later, that video has over 180,000 views and 9,000 likes. Those numbers are astounding. Imagine giving a speech to 180,000 people. It would be like speaking to two football stadiums at once.
But more significant than the views is the fact you never know who you might impact. My audience (those who subscribe to my Youtube channel) is primarily men aged 25-35 looking for life direction, clarity, and honest perspective.
I have received a lot of incredible comments, private messages, and emails from people sharing that my ideas and life lessons have had a profound impact on them. Some have told me that they turned their life around as a result.
This impact is the true reason why I love sharing personal development ideas. Both in written and speech format, and more recently, in video format. I have the chance to contribute something of worth to the world that goes well beyond what I can do in person.
The Quest To Contribute
For this reason, I want to continue my quest to be a 40-year-old Youtuber.
Whether it ever rewards me with financial riches remains to be seen. Still, for now, the psychic rewards and the chance to contribute matter most.
Today, there are billions of people viewing Youtube videos every day. In fact, over 500 hours of new content are uploaded every minute of the day. It’s a terrifying amount of noise to imagine. And many of the videos are just fleeting, superfluous, attention-grabbing fluff aimed at gaining quick views.
But a subsection of Youtube content offers useful, practical ideas. It allows creators with a passion for any topic to share it with the world.
I value and want to be a contributor to this part of Youtube. I believe that those who add to the pool of wisdom and valuable ideas will be rewarded in the long-term.
While it may remain a mystery to many, I now see the value in creating Youtube videos to share personal development ideas and life lessons. Even if I can help only one person at a time through a screen, all my efforts have been worth it.
There are many ways to broaden and deepen the impact you can make. All it takes is to keep creating and contributing. And then to trust that technology and time will take care of the rest.
Time to press ‘record.’