At least three of my very favorite people are pretty much addicted to YouTube. One of my best girlfriends has been following British bloggers since before I even realized YouTube was for more than music videos. My brother uses it frequently for miscellaneous tool and vehicle reviews, and my boyfriend faithfully watches at least five (very awesome) nerd channels.
I don’t really have the patience for videos. I prefer to read, where I can skim or skip to the point if I want, and also I don’t have to be somewhere I can use sound. To me, reading is simpler, and so is writing. Video takes a lot more setup and brainpower to consume. But the longer I’ve been blogging, the more I’ve noticed just how many people use blogging as a stepping stone to a video channel.
Take Johnny from sci.casual, for instance. Johnny is a scientist who blogs about science in his spare time (seriously). But recently, he posted this about his decision to (probably) move to YouTube. Which is awesome — science-y stuff is often better portrayed in video anyway, where experiments and weird phenomena can be observed. If Johnny does indeed make the move to YouTube, I’ll probably use my boyfriend’s account to follow him. But I will definitely miss the science-y essays.
Other bloggers I follow are moving to YouTube slowly as well. Catherine Ryan Howard, an Irish author, just started a (possibly temporary) vlog to promote her new book, Distress Signals (which I really want to read). Idle Emma from Puddle Side Musings has done video tours of her planners and I think I remember one of her craft room. And there have been several others from my blogroll who have experimented with video.
Not all of these bloggers will move to YouTube indefinitely, obviously. Video is a great way to add interest to a blog, but moving completely to video isn’t for everyone. But the fact remains that many YouTubers begin as bloggers, and I have a theory as to why that is.
People start blogs because they have something to say. It’s a way to be heard, and a way to connect with yourself as well as with others. I’ve learned a lot about myself since I started blogging, because writing regular posts forces me to shape my thoughts in a way that can be communicated clearly. I have to know myself before I can tell anyone else what I think.
But, blogging is relatively low risk. Posts can be written and rewritten until they are perfect, and we can wait to hit that “publish” button until we are ready. I know videos can be edited as well, but the written word is easier to hide behind. It’s a comforting barrier between us and the world. It’s much harder to conceal things on video. Facial expressions and inflection often give us away.
I think the reason many bloggers use their blogs as stepping stones is because it builds confidence. Blogs are a fairly simple way to put ourselves out there; to see if there is anyone who wants to hear what we have to say. If we’re brave enough, and keep writing, we end up getting responses and encouragement. We realize that we are valuable; that we have something to contribute. We start to want new ways to express ourselves. We become comfortable with the level of exposure blogs bring us, and we end up wanting more.
And that’s where videos come in. Videos expose us. In video, we can’t hide our faces, our personalities, our nerdy excitement over things we love. Videos, while they too can be scripted and edited, are a more naked introduction to the world. As humans, we all want to be known. Video is a great way to achieve that.
I’m not, of course, dissing blogs as a way to be known at all. I am and will always be a huge fan of the power of the written word. Blogging on its own is a great choice and one that I can always appreciate. But I do see the draw toward video. I’ve toyed with the idea of making a few videos myself, maybe once I show myself that I can consistently blog for a year or more. But it will probably be awhile before that happens, if it does at all.
I always have bittersweet feelings whenever I read that a blogger may be switching to video. I love video and all that it can show. But I love the simplicity of writing, too. I guess this just means I need to brush the dust off my own YouTube account and get fully on board the bandwagon.
If you have a channel about books, writing, travel, or other random nerdy things, leave a link in the comments! I’d love to take a look.