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Friday, December 22, 2017

The Big 50k

Holy crap, 50,000 subscribers!

I remember jumping for joy the day that I hit 100 views on my first YouTube video.

I was never afraid to create and put myself out there because I spent the larger part of every day getting picked apart by students and teachers in school. Sure, maybe I was making a fool of myself, but people would criticise me regardless. I had nothing to lose.

YouTube has been a really long road for me. I've had 8 active channels between creating my very first in 2007, to 10 years later, today in 2017. I've waffled between what content niche I belong in, swapping from vlogging, to beauty, to comedy, to vlogging again... and the list goes on. My channel, itsbinkybee hit 50,000 subscribers this month. I woke up to 49,999 and I felt like time was frozen, because I couldn't quite believe that any of this is real. 50 thousand is a lot of anything, especially people.

In 2014, I started fresh on YouTube (for the 8th time) with the intention of leaving all my other channels behind. I was tired of splitting my time between them and feeling like I was constantly playing catch-up with the subscriber difference between them. Honestly, I was terrified. Starting a new channel meant ditching 7 years of YouTube history, thousands of subscribers collectively, and starting from 0.

Photo by Tim Chung @iamtimchung
It's incredible to see how my channel has grown in the last year alone. I only hit 20,000 subscribers on Christmas Day 2016, and I'm now standing on a platform that's more than doubled in less than 12 months. Incredible as this may look, this YouTube ride hasn't been perfect. Growing your platform is a long, difficult process, but so is trying to "fit in" with everyone else that does it.

For those that haven't ever felt the urge to become a "YouTuber", it can be really easy to assume that we'd all have enough in common. It doesn't seem like it would be hard for us to get on. The truth is- most of us turned to YouTube because we had nobody else. Most of us have and/or still struggle with social interaction for various reasons. Being social has become our job, but for a lot of us, the reason we started YouTube was because we struggled with being social in the first place.

This isn't meant to sound as bitter as it may come across, but it's actually really difficult to form genuine friendships with other YouTube creators. Second-guessing people's intentions is hard-coded into the nature of what we do:

Does this person really like me? Are they indirecting me? Is their friendship genuine? Are they using me for exposure, or because I'm somehow useful to them? Are they bitching about me behind my back? Can I really trust them?

The list of doubts goes on, and I've been on the receiving end of enough fake "YouTube friendship" bullshit to know and understand that other YouTubers might look at me with the exact same doubts.

Hard as it may be to prove yourself, I have YouTube to thank for everything that is has brought and continues to bring into my life. I have met some of my absolute best friends through YouTube, and all the money I make from it helps me pay off my student debt from University. I get to go to cool events, meet amazing people and most importantly, I get to connect with new, incredibly supportive people through social media every single day.

I don't quite know how to round off this post, other than to say a massive thank you to the people that have supported me, believed in me, befriended me, engaged with my content and subscribed. Whether you joined me for the ride 10 years or 10 minutes ago, I am so grateful to have you in my life.

Thank you.


Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Taking Control Of My Life

I was never really good at anything in school. Granted, listening in class never took priority over trying to keep myself together while bullies threw bits of paper at me, stole my pens and kicked me under tables. School was pretty shit for me, and maybe that just added to the fact that I wasn't really interested in any of it. Not going to university was never an option from me, as it was just a given expectation in my family (though I did want to go anyway), but my lack of interest always worried my family.

When I moved to the UK for boarding school, I experienced pure education bliss for the last 2 years of high school. For once, I felt like I had total control. I studied the subjects I was interested in, I did well in most of them, and I really enjoyed going to school with people whose primary focus was not making my life miserable.

When it came to choosing what to study and what university I wanted to go to, what I wanted didn't matter. My father decided in his head that I should go into Hotel Management, which still makes me laugh because he couldn't have found a worst fit. I knew didn't want to go, but I also didn't know what I did want. I was forced to pack up my life in the UK and say goodbye to the only people I ever considered to be my real friends.

I moved to Switzerland for 3 miserable months. I sat through lectures about cutlery, learned the correct way to chop a zucchini and frankly, I was drunk for the rest of it. I was at the height of my depression, and I took control of my life the only way I could. After mistreating my body for 3 months straight, I got so ill that I couldn't physically get up to mindlessly autopilot through my day. Once I hit rock bottom, something shifted in my mind. I didn't care who it would upset anymore, because I was done living a life I hated to fuel someone else's happiness. Dropping out of that University and getting on a one-way flight back to Portugal was, and always will be the best thing I have ever done in my life.

After 9 really difficult months of dealing with the consequences of my decision to drop out and go home, I moved back to the UK to study Advertising and Film Production. After a year at that university, I transferred to a university in London. I knew I wanted to go into Advertising, but doing a joint course was pulling my focus from what I was really interested in. I felt like I was falling behind, and I didn't feel like I was in the right place yet. So once again, I weighed out my pros and cons, packed up my life and started over again.

Sitting here with a First Class Honours degree in my preferred field of study still feels surreal. It might have taken me 5 years and 3 different Universities to get here, but I got here. I have a job I love at a company I'm passionate about. I get up in the morning and do what I love every day, surrounded by like-minded people that keep me laughing when things get stressful.

I grew up being told that it doesn't matter what you do, so long as the pay is good. I'm here to tell you that there isn't enough money in the world that makes up for hating your work life. Don't get me wrong, every job has its challenges and I certainly don't wake up excited to spend 2 hours commuting and 8 hours in front of a screen... But it's MY commute and it's MY screen. I picked it. I worked for it. I took control of my life and I relish the sense of ownership I have over every good and every bad day. And it feels fucking great.

Photo by Tim Chung @iamtimchung


Monday, September 18, 2017

YouTube, Blogging & Life

Let me catch you up.

I finished university, and got a graduate job. The day after I graduated with 1st Class Honours, I was made redundant. The next few months were filled with job hunting and moving house without any income, and living off savings and the gracious help of my family. Bit stressful.

I got a job at the end of August (deep breath)  and now I'm working full-time. All my free time is spent with my boyfriend, with my friends and visiting family as much as I possibly can, and as much as money will allow. Where, exactly, am I meant to get a spare several hours to film, edit and upload new videos every week? I'm finding that I will need to sacrifice time with my loved ones to do YouTube.

"If you really want to do something, you will find a way. If you don't, you'll find an excuse." - Jim Rohn

I don't want to think of wanting to spend time with the most important people in my life as an "excuse", but is it? I have never wanted YouTube to be a job or a responsibility, but more so a hobby that I enjoy. Recently (and I know I'm not alone) YouTube has felt like the source of all my anxiety and self-doubt. Why aren't my videos doing as well anymore? Am I getting boring? Do I need to change? Should I present myself differently? Should I change my content to be more ad-friendly? The list goes on.

It's just not fun anymore. The reason I do it is that I value you, and I don't want to let you down. I have people, actual living, breathing, feeling, people that have dedicated time to becoming invested in me, what I do, how I feel and the content I make. I appreciate your constant love and support so much, and I know that my videos are the reason you're here. I don't want to lose you. I don't care about being irrelevant in the face of all that is the YouTube community, I fear becoming irrelevant to you.

I won't quit. I'm not enjoying YouTube right now, but that doesn't mean I won't find a way to love it again. Maybe I need to change, not for those that so desperately love to remind me that I'm not good enough as I am, but for myself. Maybe the reason I doubt myself and my content isn't that the hate is getting "too much", but that deep-down, I'm also not happy with myself and how things are.

I'll figure it out. For now, writing about it helps.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Living in London

I don't just live in London.

I always knew that I'd want to experience London someday, but I never thought that I would move here. I never considered the fact that I might end up here and that I might love it. In fact, I fought against it for a good few years before I settled and allowed myself to be happy here.

I moved to London in bad circumstances. It wasn't the plan I'd set out for myself, my plan's failure wasn't due to my own mistakes and I felt like it was my only option. It would've been fine if I could have blamed myself- but I couldn't.

I spent my first 2 years in London wishing that I could run away. I remember sitting in my University's bathroom cubicle in 1st year, sobbing my little heart away when I found out I wouldn't be able to transfer to Huddersfield. I was stuck. Nothing breaks me like feeling stuck. 3 years later, I sometimes still go into that cubicle and think about those tears, and how happy I am that I stuck it out.

The day I freed myself from it all, I started to love London. It took me over 2 years to see the freedom in it. You can go anywhere, anytime. You're one person in a crowd of 8.6 million. Nobody needs to know you, or see you if you don't want to be known or seen. You can do anything.

The day I let myself be free, I loved London and I loved me.

London is beautiful, no doubt about it. But the best thing about London isn't the wonderful buildings, the vibrant people or the freedom. The best thing about London is how you feel here. I can tell you that I don't just live here- London lives in me, too.

One day I will move away and I will take this little (big) city away with me in my heart. For now, I can't wait to go on walks by myself, take a million pictures and fall madly in love with pretty little whereabouts (and maybe someone in them, too).


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Multi Channel Networks : The Lowdown

I'm free!

Photo credit: Jon D Barker

After 6 months of being signed to an MCN, my YouTube channel has finally been released. I didn't make the decision to sign with a network lightly, and it look a lot of discussion, negotiation and empty promises to talk me into giving it a second chance.

For those of you that aren't up-to-date, years ago I lost all legal rights to my YouTube channel after signing with a dodgy (very well known) MCN, which ultimately led me to quitting YouTube for a couple of years. I made a video about this if you wish to hear about that experience, and I'll link it here.

Are multi channel networks worth it?

No, not really. Not in my experience.

I signed with an MCN after I met somebody from the network at Summer in the City 2016. A couple of my friends had signed with them, and they sang their praises to me. I felt strongly that I had my foot in the door, and that this network would take me seriously.

It can seem very appealing to sign with a network when they promise you more sponsorships, entry to events and a connection to other YouTubers they have signed. In 6 months of partnership, they were really great to help me if ever I had a question or a problem. However, they did not follow through on any of the promises they made me before signing. I was handling all my own sponsorship offers and didn't receive any further support. I did not get put on the guest list to events I was promised. I was not put in contact with other fellow creators.

All they did was take a 30% cut of my AdSense revenue (which I now know is a ridiculous amount), and they did nothing for me in return. I'd love to say that I just got unlucky, but nobody I know has ever said that signing with an MCN helped their channel in any way.

It's not the end of the world. I lost out on some money, but I've learned a valuable lesson. Never again will any network or management touch any percentage of my AdSense money, and I know better than to fall for empty promises ever again.

My take on MCNs? Save yourself the headaches and fly solo.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Why Blogging?

You wouldn't think I'd want a blog.

My schedule is becoming more and more manic every day. With all the things I have to do, blogging should be the last thing on my mind... and yet, it isn't.

Writing has always been a passion of mine. Not only because I love to do it, but sadly also because it was the only thing I was good at when I was in school. I'm dyscalculic, so really struggled with Maths, Physics, Chemistry, etc... "the smart subjects".

Dyscalculia (/ˌdɪskælˈkjuːli.ə/) is difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics. It is generally seen as a specific developmental disorder.

I've always found solace in language, and in fact the process of learning new languages is one that I really enjoy. English is not my first language, so it brings me incredible pleasure to be able to speak it and- yes, write it.

My YouTube channel has become a place for me to unload my creativity onto, but recently I've found myself craving a literary outlet. I guess that's how we got here.

I hope you like my little blog, I love the feeling you get when you start a new project.


All My Tattoos

I think tattoos and body art is super interesting. I love talking to people about my and their tattoos and our different experiences.

The most popular question is "did it hurt?" and to be completely honest with you, my answer doesn't matter. None of my tattoos hurt, but that's just due to my own pain threshold and how I personally felt it. It's different for everyone!

I won't go into loads of detail about each one of my tattoos, or we'd be here for ages. Let's make this short and sweet!

Butterfly. 13th of April 2009.

Dream Catcher & Compass. 3rd of May 2012.

* I am in the process of removing this tattoo at the moment. Make sure you're subscribed to my YouTube channel so you're the first to hear about why!

Camera Lens. 8th of March 2013.

Happiness Key. 6th December 2013.

Saudade. 9th July 2015.

Carpe Veritas. 3rd March 2016.

When getting a tattoo, please remember that it may not look like one, but it's an open wound. Do not mess with it, and leave it to heal. Make sure you follow your tattoo artist's instructions for aftercare and that you do not scratch or pull the dead skin when it begins to peel. It will come off naturally when you wash it. Get in touch with your artist if you have any questions or concerns.

If you want to know more about my tattoos, I made a video about the stories behind them!

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