Remember my article “A new adventure begins, on YouTube?” Yeah, the previous one. That was almost a year ago. Joining the ranks of YouTubers turned out to be a fall down a rabbit hole, and I absolutely love it. It’s nothing like what I expected, and it’s pretty much a full-time job. I certainly didn’t expect to be talking to hundreds of people on daily basis. But I’m getting carried away. Let’s go back a bit.
I’ve always been terrified of video recordings and camera appearances. Hell, even actual phone calls, where you have to use your voice to communicate with another human being, have always been traumatic for me. It’s so much easier and safer to put things in writing. When writing, you have the privilege of taking as long as you want to produce content. You get to shape and reshape your words until you’re 100% happy with what you want to say and how you want to say it, and you get to do it all in your pajamas, with no makeup on.
I got comfortable at my keyboard. I didn’t ever want to get into video, except that many of you, my fans and colorists, kept asking for video art lessons. So, one day, after watching Peter McKinnon videos, I declared that it was time. I would take the leap and just set up a YouTube channel. What’s the worst that could happen, right?
What I immediately discovered is that video is scary. Recorded video is straight up weird. That whole “just pretend that the camera is your friend” thing is not helpful at all. I don’t have any friends who look like lifeless, glossy, unblinking, black circles. You can’t just flip a switch in your head and pretend that you care about sharing something with the camera. Live recording is even more terrifying, because you get just one shot. No post-production, no chances to take out all those Um..’s. You just talk and hope for the best.
In my very first video I look like I’m about to cry. That’s because I am. That awkward, tense, three-minute episode took a full day to record and three days to edit. Scratch that. It took three months to record, considering all the time necessary to get the first camera equipment, make the art, film the art, write the scrip, rehearse the script, and then spend the day recording it over and over again.
Today, I can produce a video like that in less than three hours, artwork and all. Instead, of course, I still take three days, but produce much more involved episodes. So, what changed, and how did it change?
The one biggest piece of advise that you will hear from any YouTuber is “stick with it.” Producing weekly content, basically grinding, is the way to make it on YouTube. And, what do you know – it’s true.
I thought that getting used to the camera, to the workflow, and learning the editing software would take many months if not years. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that I advanced at a geometric progression, leaping from terrified to mildly uncomfortable, to pretty chill, to “hey, this is cool,” to “hell yeah, let’s do this!” within the first three months.
I cannot stress this enough, if you’re new to YouTube, STICK WITH IT.
Of course, an entertainer is nothing without her audience. YouTube only works if someone’s watching. You wouldn’t think it, but one of the biggest time hogs in art and video production is marketing. I spend almost as much time talking about my new video releases and upcoming live-streams as I spend on video production and editing.
I believe that this is one of the most difficult things for artists and creators to overcome. We just want to be left alone and create art. We unrealistically expect that the simple act of posting a video will get someone to watch it. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Internet is oversaturated with information, and getting anyone to see your video takes nothing short of a miracle.
Building an audience is as big an art form as the actual art that I share with you, and this is where things come full circle. Remember back when I could not for the life of me think of the shiny black camera lens as my friend? Well, now I can. In fact, now I have a difficult time seeing anything other than a curious, smiling face staring back me, because that’s essentially what’s happening.
All of you, my viewers, the people who say hello in the live streams, and hit me up on Facebook chat after the show, all of you with profile pictures and personalities, and coloring styles – I’m talking to all of you, each of you, individually every time I look at that camera lens. I see you Laurie, and you Sam, and you Kat, and you Cyndie, and the rest of the 1,000+ colorists in my Facebook group TALM. I see all of you, and all of you are there in my studio, and I genuinely enjoy our time together.
This is why now, you will rarely see me without a huge glowing smile on my face and my arms spread wide open when I start my show yelling “Hellooooo! aaaaaaaand welcome!!!!!” You can’t fake that emotion. You can’t learn it. You have to experience it. But, to get there you have to grow your audience and you have to get to know them. One feeds off the other. As I get more animated and personal and professional, more people join. As more people join, I get an emotional reward for all the hard work, and I take my game a level higher. And on and on it goes.
Now, I’m not at all a big channel. This isn’t one of those “I went from nothing to a million subscribers in a month” success stories. The truth is, my niche – adult coloring tutorials – is quite small, and having started my channel with no video or social media history at all, I had to work very hard and a lot to get to 1.5K subscribers.
I won’t tell you that it’s easy, that you just need to do it and have fun. That wouldn’t be truthful. The truth is, you have to work your butt off, spend some sleepless nights, sacrifice some hobbies and even jobs, accept a life with perpetually dirty dishes and piles of laundry, and reevaluate your whole attitude towards public feedback and criticism, if you want a chance at simply remaining active on YouTube.
I look at channels started by friends and family of famous YouTubers, or see celebrities bored with quarantine kick off brand new channels and immediately get a million or more subscribers on day one. At first, it’s discouraging, but then I remember that it didn’t take John Krasinski one day to get 2 million subscribers. It took him 20 years. 20 years of building up his professional career as an actor and a tv personality. That first YouTube episode invited his entire 20-year dedicated audience, his virtual family. I didn’t have that. I’m building it up now. I’m on day one.
Don’t compare apples to oranges. You are not me. I am not John Krasisnski. We cannot be jealous of each other or be discouraged by the other’s success. We should learn from it. You absolutely can be where I am now. And I absolutely can get to 2 mill subscribers. But we all have different paths that we take. Paths that have already been greatly shaped by the lives we’ve lead so far.
We cannot complain about not getting a head start or a boost, but we can work hard to get to the milestones that we set for ourselves, and remember to set realistic expectations. If I really want a multi-million subscriber channel, I probably need to explore more popular niches, but I may not necessarily want to. I would rather be a big fish in a small pond, and stick to what I’m good at and passionate about. An epic adult coloring channel is better than a mediocre lolcat channel.
So, what’s happening on lisa.mitrokhin.tv these days?
When the pandemic started, I switched from my weekly high production 10-minute recorded art tutorials to daily live streams called Survival Coloring, and it dramatically changed the mood of my channel.
Coming up on two-months of Survival Coloring, my personal community has grown quite a bit, and I developed much closer connections with many colorists. I enlisted the help of my husband, inviting him to be my “lovely assistant” and a character on the show, known as Tek Support. We’ve had weekly live guests, including molecular biologists, med techs, professional artists, homeschooling parents, crystal collectors, etc. It’s really been life changing, and now it’s time to re-adjust to the flow of things yet again.
Starting Mid May 2020, I will reintroduce recorded tutorials, keeping occasional live-streams, and of course the big two-hour weekend shows like the one I have coming up on May 23rd. I’ve been really enjoying having special guests on the show, and the next guest is indeed special. Albert Jones, the man behind Black Widow pencils, my new favorite brand, will be live on my stream.
I will be working on my original drawing of Black Widow, the Marvel character, using only Black Widow pencils, while Albert talks to us about his new pencil set release, how he got started making pencils, what’s involved in this business, and anything else that the live chat participants wish to know. Additionally, we’ll have a giveaway, where three lucky winners will get new Black Widow pencils sets sent to them directly from the source.
This kind of a collaboration is one of the greatest rewards of being a YouTuber. Suddenly, the people and the companies that you look up to as giants and deities, become regular approachable people that you can invite to your house for a chat. Where else would this be possible?!
If you’re an artist or a colorist, I hope to see you there. It will be quite epic, with much to learn, enjoy, and even win. Coloring Black Widow with Black Widow Pencils
Help my channel thrive!
Many don’t realize, but video production takes A LOT of time, time that I don’t get paid for. What you can do to help my channel grow and succeed is simple. All you have to do is watch my videos all the way through, and hit that thumbs-up button. That’s it. It’s free and fun.
The watch time hours and the likes are literally what drives my channel. The more minutes and likes that my video gets the more likely it is to get picked up by the algorithm and be recommended to someone else, therefore getting more views and more likes. So, if you enjoy my content, please let me know by doing this one simple thing.
I have to say, so far you guys have been an amazing audience, and I cannot thank you all enough for making this journey possible. I’ll see you on lisa.mitrokhin.tv shortly.
Bye. Don’t lick strangers.