One of the people I look up to in theater is my aunt, who has directed local productions for several decades. She’s won awards and is sought after by theater companies all over the area. Whenever we have a production, her final words to us before we hit the stage, bring up the lights, and face the audience is, “Don’t suck.”
As YouTube creators, we tend to get caught up in a lot of statistics. How many views did the last video get? How many subscribers do we have? How many times a week do we post, and at what times? How are our ads doing, and how much do we get paid per impression?
Lost in all of this is often the quality of the videos themselves. I have been involved in many conversations in which creators have said that quantity far outweighs quality when it comes to gaining an audience. They believe the mere act of uploading videos to YouTube at the right time with the right keywords and titles will be enough to fool the algorithm into bringing adoring fans to our doorsteps.
In some ways they are right. There is a proliferation of terrible content out there that relies heavily on search terms to bring viewers to their videos. And there are enough people who don’t discern between good content and bad (mostly kids parked in front of their tablets by weary parents in need of a break) to make this a viable business prospect if you land on a formula that works.
However, if you consider yourself a creative person, I don’t understand how it could be at all satisfying to create content that does nothing but fool people into watching. It’s a much more difficult money-making proposition than the same amount of time and effort applied to even the most entry-level of positions, and if you’re going to become well-known, why would you want to become well-known for something substandard?
So I want to remind you that, in all your creative endeavors, try really hard not to suck. Learn new techniques for filming and editing. Dig into your writing process and polish your words. Collaborate with interesting people on interesting subjects. Bring light to the things you want to present to the world.
You can do great things. Just don’t suck.