Thanks to Miley Cyrus, Susan Boyle, Erin Andrews, and Megan Fox, President Obama, politics, celebrities, Oakland, and the NFL Draft, My YouTube channel Zennie62 is now over 8 million video views (not channel views) at 8,133,111 views as of this writing.
Today we are at between 18,000 and 24,000 views a day and earlier this year we hit over 100,000 views daily. Even at low end of the current view rate, that's 760 video views an hour each day. It's not my objective - I am aiming for the 100,000 view mark we were at - but its a sign of progress.
My channel was established in 2006, (and its not the only one I have as I'm on several more video systems thanks to Tubemogul) but its grown by 6 million views in just the last year, with my video "Susan Boyle: Who is Susan Boyle" gaining over 1 million viewers in its first month of life. Since then my blunt focus on hollywood and scandal (and tracking Miley Cyrus, Susan Boyle, and Erin Andrews) has paid off: we have several videos of over 100,000 views in the last three months alone.
Zennie62 from 2006 to 2009
All of this growth is due to a decision I made to cover celebrities and Hollywood news and gossip and to the good fortune of having my videos on more blogs like SFGate.com.
My objective has always been to "surf the wave of the Zeitgeist" (or the sprit of the times) and in fact my blog was originally called "Zennie's Zeitgeist". All of this started because I was trying to get more traffic to promote the sim games I created but it turned into this monster that you see now. (Ok, well, that's stretching it!)
But one day in September of last year I elected to move away from that name and to the more easily "brandable" Zennie62. Part of the reason was too many people were misspelling Zeitgeist and the other reason was I wanted to embark on a plan of developing a personal brand. "Zennie62" at first was a little used name, but as I thought about it, the name defined me and the fact that I'm between many generations at once.
The other main reason was my new TV show "The Blog Report With Zennie62" on Denver-based CoLoursTV that features the use of my videos on their network at DISH Network 9407. I'm proud of my relationship with CoLoursTV and Art Thomas and Damon Purdy and believe we've only scratched the surface of what we can do.
The show takes my videos from online to TV and has really made me pay attention to the craft of storytelling beyond just talking to the camera. I think our fall shows will refect that.
I want people to think of Zennie62 as following "what's happening" in industrialized culture. As I say on the TV show, we focus on politics, news, sports, and tech.
Now if you consider what I just wrote that's a tall order. But it's the objective. I want to grow my blog network and Zennie62.com and The Blog Report with Zennie62 TV show into a place to go to find out what's happening from my perspective and regardless of country.
Eventually, I want to have bloggers from different languages here and selected videos that have me and someone else who speaks Russian, for example. And what I already have is an integrated media presentation that's video blog, blog, and social network based to carry that content.
Being a YouTube Partner helped
I could not have gotten this far were I not a YouTube Partner. I can't say enough about this program where the video maker is paid for the views generated by their videos. The YouTube staff, from founder Chad Hurley to folks like Hunter and Heather (you know who you are), have been incredible to work with.
It's too bad that out of the millions of videos uploaded on YouTube there are only about 600 YouTube Partners. I crack up whenever someone writes "get a life" as if I'm not generating income from this activity.
It's also a sad statement on our economy that so many people don't "get" how our society is changing and are stuck in a position where they can't get out of their own box of thinking to try something new.
Being a YouTube Partner is that something.
The Vloggers who made me
I have been influenced by many vloggers, starting with Amanda Congdon and Andrew Barron, the founders of Rocketboom who I met in 2006 at Vloggercon:
And my friend Irina Slutsky and Schlomo Rabinowitz who established that "Vloggercon" event:
Of course, I've mentioned Renetto, or Paul Robinett, many times. His simple conversational style made me realize that authenticity of message was better than presentation of message. That is, I really didn't need a studio set like that of Rocketboom; the World was my studio.
Sometimes Paul does things with his camera I would not do..
Others who fall into this "Renetto style" are Kenrg, who I still plan to get together with and make that video...
and who was a co-founder of Vloggerheads.com - the coolest site for hardcore vloggers ever made.
Sarah Austin, who's welcome back party I attended and is here with Ashton Kutcher, has the business of vlogging down and I've learned a lot just observing her...
Another person who influenced my work is Josh Leo, who's video of his trip to San Francisco for the 2006 Vloggercon is still fresh in my mind.
Finally, Michael Buckley of the "What The Buck" show, who's drawing a six-figure salary from vlogging, has great advice for vloggers and I refer others to this video:
On being African American and vlogging
I have to discuss the matter of being a "black vlogger" because let's face it, there aren't a lot of us who do this. There should be, and the number's growing, but it's not reaching critical mass - yet.
I'd like to think CNN's featuring my iReport video work encouraged African Americans to vlog who'd never have considered it before. In fact, I got a call from someone who said just that several months ago. Her 11 year old daughter was happy to "see a smart black man on TV". That made my day.
What disheartens me are those few who just don't want to see someone black stating an opinion in this format. It reminds me of the movie Nixon by Oliver Stone, and a scene where the actor James Woods played HR Haldeman saying "There's that Negro saying those Negro things." I seem to draw the HR Haldeman's of America.
But with that, people have changed and frankly I've done this so much the concern I have for those types diminishes daily. Plus, over the last three years, I've been helped by folks like Owen Thomas, who was editor of Valleywag.com and now runs NBCBayArea.com, and a number of people in the Tech community who just give a "thumbs up" once in a while.
I hope more women, blacks, and minorities become vloggers and get over the "self-promotion" tag that others - who are trying to find work and can't pay the bills - might tag one with. If you don't stick your neck out there and present yourself to others, you'll go broke waiting for someone else to do it for you. This takes work; do it.
Vlogging's here, but that community...
While vlogging's certainly grown I have the feeling that the once-close community has splintered. I think part of the reason is many just could not make enough money to do it consistently, others didn't want to do what it took to make money, and still another set didn't care to make money. Whatever the reason, we don't have that one yearly gathering that defines the community. We're all just sort of out there doing our thing.
That needs to change, and soon.
The reason is we have a lot to show the sponsorship industry, but we've got to get them to look at us as a viable community. We can't do that if we don't present a united front.