Winning YouTube Next Up: a Week at the Creator Camp
I’m a 2017 YouTube Next Up Winner
About a month ago I was sipping my morning coffee and scanning Emails. Among the usual orders, press releases, and paid requests to post on my blog (no thanks), was a message from YouTube Next Up. It began with “Hello! Sit down, you might not be ready for this…” and for a split second I thought it was spam. I almost deleted it.
Then I remembered the contest I’d entered in April and read on. Again I thought it was spam because it was too good to be true. I’d been selected as a finalist for a competition that YouTube holds every year to help nurture up and coming YouTube stars.
What’s Next Up?
Being chosen as a winner for Next Up is a really big deal. Several times a year some of the best YouTube creators with between 10-100K subscribers are invited to a 5-day Creator Camp. During the week, which is hosted at YouTube Spaces around the world, you meet with industry experts and big names in the vlogging world. You learn everything from set lighting and video editing to how to work with brands, build a loyal audience, and how to make a living on YouTube.
The camp I went to last week was in London. Flights and accommodation were paid for and I arrived on the Sunday, left on the Saturday, and absorbed as much as I could in between. It truly was a whirlwind of creativity, information, and new friendships.
This year I was selected as one of twelve winners from across Britain. We couldn’t have been more diverse in our topics: fashion & beauty, science, cooking, fitness & health, music, teaching, living with Aspergers Syndrome, and me — gardening & natural lifestyle.
I’d never realised before but I don’t really follow many people outside of my own industry. I know gardeners, soapers, beekeepers, and green living experts but I’d probably have never come across the people I met at the camp if it weren’t for the programme. After everything I’ve learned from my fellow creators I realise that I’ve made a big mistake — there’s so much to learn from successful vloggers from all walks of life. These are my fellow Next Up winners for London 2017:
Dan — The Aspie World
Greg — The Hoxton Trend
Jen — Science and Maths by Primrose Kitten
Sergei — The Dad Lab
Tanya — Lovely Greens
I feel a little embarrassed to say so but I’d actually not heard of YouTube Space before applying to Next Up. If I lived in London or one of the other cities where you’ll find one I’d feel even worse. YouTube has gone through great effort and expense to build creative spaces for their creators in major cities across the world. Anyone who has a channel with over 10K subscribers can use these facilities for free.
The main room at YouTube Space is a common area kitted out with wifi and free drinks and snacks. There’s a theme for the seating area along the windows and I was pleased that the designers got the memo that Lovely Greens was paying a visit!
At the Space you’re also granted access to equipment, studios, green screens, and the editing rooms. It’s absolutely incredible and if I lived in London I’d be in all of the time. Especially for the classes — those are free too. The support you’re given as a creator is a little overwhelming to someone who’s been working as a one-woman-band for so long.
Every day of the camp was full-on from morning to evening. The first three days were workshop days and we sat through presentations on monetisation, self-branding, working with brands, analytics, lighting, and camera use. We also signed our lives away with NDA’s so that we could use and give feedback on new features and products. Hush hush on that.
One of the most practical workshops was on our very first day. Simeon Quarrie, expert on video production, showed us some simple tricks to get good lighting in videos. I’ve actually invested in a folding reflector board thanks to his demonstration. We also learned how to film in manual mode which is new to me. There’s lots of adjusting of ISO and light and understanding of frame rate and shutter speed.
Another thing I took away from Simeon’s demo was choosing the right lens for your DSLR. I use a general purpose 18-55mm and have also just invested in a ’50 Nifty’ — a 50mm lens. It’s great for getting that soft focus background while tightening up the frame space.
Successful YouTubers & Next Up Grads
Have you met a genuine YouTube star before? Several times during the week YouTube brought in highly successful creators for us to chat to including graduates of last year’s programme.
Tom Scott and Lucy Moon were up first and spoke to us about how their channels and audience have changed for them since Next Up. Both have huge subscriber bases but I honed in on Lucy’s claim that Next Up was the turning point for her channel.
Since last year Lucy’s gone from 90K+ subs to 268K which is a huge jump and more relatable than a channel with 800K subs (Tom’s audience). Today I’ve been looking back on her old videos to see how things have changed. They start as artistic teenage angst and have evolved into polished adult angst — boy trouble features heavily. It’s not the kind of thing I’d ordinarily watch but I do love her camera and editing work. I’ve subscribed.
Tom on the other hand creates very professional science and ‘Did you know’ type videos. It took him a long time to find the right video format that worked — something I can definitely relate to. His little trade secret is the use of a teleprompter or ear piece to help with the script. And here I thought YouTube was just about improv!
4.6 Million Subscribers
Tomsca was next in the line-up. After finding success in the YouTube world Tom formed a production company called Turbo Punch and hired Eddy who came along too. With 4.6 million subscribers A LOT goes into the production of every video. I scribbled down in my notes that they spend up to £7K for each, often hiring folks from outside of Turbo Punch to help out.
Tomsca is lad-comedy and it looks like they publish around a video a month. A highly popular video per month. The last one was published six days ago and already has 1.6 million views.
Tom and Eddy were there to chat to us about the creative process and ways to think up new material. The main thing I took away from it was that inspiration can come from anywhere — especially eavesdropping on old ladies’ conversations. Once heard, make sure to write ideas down in a project bank. Go through it regularly and keep it stocked up.
Aside from film production and content creation we were also schooled on the practical side of a YouTube business. Creating a brand, channel consistency, intellectual property, ads and brand deals, and also an overview of how exactly YouTube works.
ALL of the information presented was extremely useful and I’ll be using it to help update old videos and to create new ones from here on out. I wish I could say more about this part of the camp but to be honest I can’t remember which parts we were asked to keep confidential and which ones not. I’ll leave it at this.
The twelve of us Next Up-ers were divided into three groups on the first day and assigned a mentor. I was in a group with Sergei (Dad Lab), Warren (Warren Nash), and Jen (Primrose Kitten) and we came up with ‘Spike’ for our group name. The idea was a spike in views in analytics. By the end of the week we all realised we were the 30-somethings in the group and joked around about changing our name to ‘The Grown-ups’.
I think this was the first time in my life that I was the oldest in a group but hopefully you can’t tell. One of the youngsters said that I should tell you my age and share more about my personal lifestyle habits. I’ll take that as a compliment.
Hands on Learning
The last two days of camp were a production challenge. We could make a video using any equipment or topic that we wanted — it just had to be shot and edited in two days. Our mentor Michelle was fab at giving us the right amount of support while letting us goof off and make a wacky video.
Cross dressing may have been involved. The boys in the team may have been more into character than us girls. It may have been a completely rubbish and silly affair. It was fun though and I took a lot out of it seeing how professional equipment is used and how others edit their videos.
Michelle’s experience is in producing documentaries and her knowledge of equipment, both high-end and budget, has been invaluable. I will no doubt take her up on her offer of future help on the topic of gear and video production.
Throughout the week the whole group bonded. Over meals, with our roommates, at evening events, and in our production challenges. We all come from different backgrounds and knowledge bases and I’ve learned so much from each of them. I also love that there was no drama, no in-fighting, and no hassle — we just got along and had a great time learning how to better our channels while helping each other out. I’ve no doubt that we’ll all stay in touch.
Our coordinators were fantastic too — Toby and Jules greeted us with a video call before the week started and continued to guide and entertain us throughout the camp. They and their team did a brilliant job of making the week run as smoothly as possible.
Part of the programme is getting feedback from our channel consultant on where our channel currently stands. I’ve been assigned to Jules and already have a list of things that I can improve on my channel right now. I also have a follow-up consultation scheduled with him this month so I’ll be jotting down any more questions I have for that call.
Besides everything else that we were given, having him as a resource is going to be invaluable. Every time I need help or advice I can get in touch and the same goes for everyone else. Now it’s up to us to take our channels to the next level.
I just want to take the time to say a massive thank you to YouTube for selecting me as one of 2017’s Next Up Creators. Not only that but for the resources and spoiling we were given last week. THANK YOU.
If you’re reading this and thinking about applying to Next Up, head over here for more information about upcoming camps. They take place in Los Angeles, New York, London, Rio de Janiero, and other major cities across the world. It’s still early days for me now but from what I’ve heard, this programme can be the turning point in the career of a professional YouTuber.
Oh, and if you’re a fan of Justin Bieber folk covers, sub to this now.
— Emma McGann (@emmamcgann) May 26, 2017