Alongside their preexisting course load and other obligations, a handful of NAU students also dedicate portions of their time to YouTube. Between coming up with entertaining video ideas, filming and editing, NAU YouTubers said the stress is worth the reward when it comes to being an online content creator.
Katie Austin, sophomore creative media and film (CMF) major, has been making YouTube videos since her sophomore year of high school. She only started getting serious about being a YouTuber a year and a half ago, when she began uploading weekly videos as a way to archive her life as an NAU student.
“I feel like I’ll go through phases where I would do more stuff geared toward fashion, or document if I’m traveling,” Austin said. “It’s all about whatever is prevalent in my life. Since we just came back to school, I’ll do a handful of college centered videos, because that’s what’s going on in my life.”
Austin said most of her YouTube subscribers especially enjoy the college related videos she uploads, and that many of them started watching her because of those videos. While it can be exciting to have lots of viewers, Austin said it can also be stressful to try and please so many people. She finds it difficult to make weekly videos while also keeping up with school work. Thus, Austin makes uploading her videos weekly more of a personal goal than a deadline. She said this helps reduce the stress of maintaining her channel.
“There’s this pressure that I put on myself to have something out every week that I’m excited about, and it’s kind of difficult, especially when I’m not 100% feeling it,” Austin said. “It’s completely self-inflicted — just the expectation of myself to have something good every single week.”
Some weeks, uploading a video she is proud of is harder than others for Austin. Depending on the type of video, filming and editing times fluctuate, and she can work 10 to 12 hours per week on her videos, which can make her other obligations like school and work difficult to manage.
Even when balancing YouTube and work seems difficult, Austin said she must remember that she got her job, a job she loves, because of YouTube. She said after watching a few of her videos, the senior videographer at NAU’s marketing department offered Austin a job making videos for the school. Austin said she is incredibly grateful to have a job where she can do what she loves and learn how to improve at making videos.
“I have a really cool job because of [YouTube] that I love and that I’ve learned a lot from,” Austin said. “I think the fact that it’s turned into something that I can do to help pay my bills is really special. It was like, ‘Oh, I like making videos, and this is a good place for me to put them if I wanted someone like my family to see them,’ and then it just became something I started making money off of. So, I think that to be able to make a job out of something I would do anyways is really fun.”
Austin said YouTube, as well as the job she’s gained because of it, has given her a leg up in the career she hopes to pursue in CMF. Despite her growing portfolio of videos, she said being a CMF major and a YouTuber has its drawbacks when it comes to stigmas that other filmmakers place on DIY content creators like her.
“I feel like in the CMF major there are a lot of people who look down on [YouTube] since it’s on the internet and it’s easy to share,” Austin said. “They view it as just a social media platform, and it is technically. I feel like sometimes it gets looked down upon since it doesn’t take as long to turn around in comparison to a short film or a feature.”
Despite the stigma she’s faced from some fellow CMF students, Austin said people tend to receive her videos well. She said she hasn’t gotten any negative comments that haven’t been constructive, which she appreciates.
Austin said she has sometimes come across viewers of her channel, which she described as a surreal experience.
“Every once in a while, I’ll be walking on campus and someone will recognize me,” Austin said. “Which is cool, because you can see a number on a screen or whatever, but when it’s an actual person that comes up to you and talks to you, it’s completely different.”
Like Austin, sophomore CMF major Chance Arnoldussen said he interacts with people who watch his YouTube videos often, largely because Arnoldussen involves many other NAU students in his daily videos. Vlogs or less scripted videos, compared to typical YouTube videos, document a person’s life and thoughts, and are becoming increasingly popular on YouTube. Arnoldussen focuses on this style of video.
He said he felt as though he wasted a lot of his time in his first year of college and wanted something creative and productive to focus on. Taking inspiration from popular vloggers he follows, Arnoldussen began uploading daily vlogs just before the semester began.
“I wanted to find something where I’m creating, because I was a big gamer, and I just consumed, consumed, consumed,” Arnoldussen said. “And now, I want to produce content.”
Arnoldussen is using his daily routine of uploading videos as a challenge to learn about filming and editing videos. He is also working on creating better content for his vlogs, which are mostly documentations of his life. He is implementing different shows for each day of the week. These shows will vary among discussion topics and different challenges.
The challenges, among other things Arnoldussen does and says on his vlogging channel, make him subject to scrutiny. He said he puts himself out there on his YouTube channel, and he’s received disapproval from friends and family members, and judgment from people who watch his daily vlogs.
“There are some things I’ve said that are definitely inappropriate, and I think people might not like it, but that’s who I am in real life,” Arnoldussen said. “If you’re afraid to show who you are then you have a problem, and you’ve failed to stand up for who you are and be confident in that person. You really shouldn’t be worried about other people’s opinions about you. It doesn’t matter what they think about you. I know who I am, so I’m not worried, and if you don’t like me, that’s fine.”
Arnoldussen said he is publicizing so much of his life and himself online because of the very personal nature of vlogging. Alhough Arnoldussen said having an online audience pushes him to have the confidence to do things he wouldn’t do otherwise, and maintain his daily uploading schedule, as his viewers hold him accountable to produce interesting content regularly.
While having this pressure helps Arnoldussen achieve his goal of creating and being productive, he said it has had a toll on his sleep schedule.
“It’s so much fun and so much work,” Arnoldussen said. “I probably stay up until 2 a.m. every single night editing, but I’ve already learned so much. I’ve learned more in these past 17 days about filmmaking than I’ve learned in any class I’ve taken so far.”
Arnoldussen said while the process isn’t too strenuous on the whole, the daily aspect makes his vlogging routine difficult. Despite this, he said every late night is worth the learning curve and uploading content to his channel.
“It’s easy to watch a 10-minute video, but you never realize how long it takes to make a 10-minute video,” Arnoldussen said. “School is a priority for me, because I have a priority to keep my scholarship. I think school is great if you’re going to be a doctor, lawyer, engineer. But if you want to make films and be an artist, I would rather hire somebody who has a catalog of 100 videos and they get to show me their work than somebody who has a degree and has nothing to show for it.”
Building a portfolio on YouTube is important to senior CMF major Kye Hill, who mostly makes comedy YouTube videos.
“From the moment I could use the internet and know what YouTube was, I was an avid consumer of YouTube content,” Hill said. “The concept of being a YouTuber was always so appealing to me. Things just got to the point where I had so much to say but no place to say it, so starting my YouTube channel seemed to be the obvious course of action.”
She said she has a desire to be constantly creating and expanding her experience on YouTube, but being busy while making movies in school is among many reasons she finds it difficult to upload regularly.
“It is extremely time consuming, and difficult to maintain my channel and be a student,” Hill said. “I’m creating so many videos and films due to my major that it’s hard to make YouTube content for fun.”
Alongside the time creating YouTube videos, Hill said another struggle of being an online content creator — especially a comedy content creator — comes with finding something unique to make.
Hill said while she doesn’t upload regularly or often by any means, her videos tend to be of a certain breed of comedy to stand outside the norm of comedy content on YouTube.
“My channel is really hard to box into one category,” Hill said. “I would say it’s comedy, but not sketch comedy. Sometimes I’ll do challenges on my channel, but they aren’t like the typical viral challenges one would see online. I’m definitely not saying I’m doing anything unique, because my genre of content has become increasingly popular over the last few years. I think the whole purpose of my channel’s content is to satirize things that are popular on the platform and the things that are happening within the YouTube community.”
While she found a challenge in creating original content, Hill said making YouTube videos pushes her to think creatively and edit better. She said her favorite part about YouTube is being able to say she’s created something.
Senior Natalie Worthington agrees that creating content is satisfying. She has been creating YouTube videos since just before starting her freshman year at NAU.
Worthington said her YouTube channel is made up of videos that reflect what is going on in her life at any given time and compared her channel to a public video diary. She said her videos are mostly centered around college because that is what’s prominent in her life at the moment. Worthington doesn’t upload on a set schedule, and said that helps keep YouTube feeling fun and not like a chore.
“I started my channel during the summer going into my freshman year of college, and I mostly wanted to do something new and different,” Worthington said. “I thought it would be fun to document going through college and growing up, and it turned out I really enjoyed doing it, and it has been so cool to look back on. I truly never thought anyone but maybe some friends would watch.”
Worthington’s YouTube channel became much more popular than she imagined. While this was exciting for her, Worthington said it put additional pressure on her to create interesting content and also gave her doubts about being herself in such a public light.
“Sometimes I do look back and wonder if making a channel was the best decision for me because I am actually a very private person, which is kind of ironic,” Worthington said. “I’m more of an introvert, so sometimes I do feel weird that so many people who I don’t know personally know about my life. However, of course I only show what I want to show and what I’m comfortable with being out there, so I have established boundaries in that way.”
Worthington said these boundaries helped her create a healthier lifestyle as both a student and a YouTuber.
Despite the struggles that living publically online can introduce, NAU’s student YouTubers said that creating content on this platform is more beneficial than it is disandvantegeous, especially with the connections and opportunities an online presence can open up.
The YouTubers generally agree that creating online content and balancing a school schedule is difficult, but is ultimately worth the blood, sweat and tears for the satisfaction of uploading something they’re proud of, having the opportunity to meet new people and learn more about making videos through real world experience with a real world audience.