The mindset of a “professional” YouTuber

Eugene Capon
4 min readFeb 14, 2023

A decade. That’s how long I’ve been in this industry, and my career is still growing. I entered what kids these days would consider the dream career by accident. In my earlier days, I was going to school for design and was cast in a low-budget film that was shot at the WSU campus in Pullman, Washington. There, I learned I liked being part of the filmmaking process both behind and in front of the camera. This was around the time that YouTube had launched. Back then, there weren’t these massive creators. No one had a million subscribers or even knew how to navigate to use the platform to make money yet. It wasn’t the subscriber-hungry, “why am I not growing with my 10 videos,” inflated views over drama, an overly fake platform that a lot of the platform has become. There were no shortcuts. There were just people finding it fun to make original content. That’s it. On some level, it was very wholesome. Today we have massive creators that so many look up to, not realizing that it took almost the same amount of time as I did to get there. They strive to reach the peak of their career without putting in the time others put in to get there.

I have this personal goal of interacting with 5 new people a week. This is both for business and my own mental health. As an extrovert, being locked up in a house during quarantine was quite taxing. So, I started jumping onto a platform called Omegle. It pairs you up with a stranger by random, but you can include interests to increase the chance that you both might have something to talk about. But when I put YouTube as an interest, I started meeting people trying to make YouTube videos or those begging for subscribers. These are usually people between the age of 15 to 25. You can tell right away what they are after. That shameless “Let’s subscribe to each other to support each other” with their gaming chair and a string of neon lights hanging above them. It’s a polite way around straight asking for a subscriber. The second I tell them “no, thanks”, they either get super discouraged or angry at me. When I explain to them why, though, things change.

Letting them know that I work full-time in this industry and have been full-time for 5 plus years really changes the dynamic. These creators (we are all creators at all levels, no matter how many subs you have) will quickly follow up with “how many subs do you have?” or “how much money do you make?” It bugs me that these are the go-to questions asked. Asking how many subs isn’t about the number; they want to know if you are popular or famous in some way. The question about money is a personal question. In any other industry, it would be considered rude to ask someone this. You wouldn’t ask a doctor or auto mechanic how much they make in a year after meeting for the first time, and being a YouTuber is no different. I had explained this on a popular Facebook YouTube group in which a moderator told me it’s good to ask this question because new creators need to know what to expect. There is a strong difference between financial literacy as a professional YouTuber and asking someone how much they make.

The other phrase I hear a lot when I tell people I’m a YouTuber is, “Oh! What’s your channel? I’ll subscribe.” This saddens me a lot because they don’t know anything about the channel they just found the creator of. I make 360 animated films and short-form “Metaverse” educational content. It’s a small niche that doesn’t have many creators in it, even though there is a huge interest in the content. The most mature reply a YouTuber can give to this line is, “Thanks, but I’d ask that you watch a couple of my videos first to decide if the channel is right for you.” Having subscribers can be great, but having inactive subscribers can make it look like you have a dead channel. You don’t want people to subscribe to your channel and never watch anything else of yours again.

It took me a couple of years to figure out what is truly important as a creator during the beginning phase of YouTube. Ultimately, it’s to do what you love, whether you can make a living from it or not. Not every hobby needs to turn into a career. Those who truly want to do this for a living have to understand that there are no shortcuts. You may have to sacrifice what you want to make and replace it with what others want to watch. You just need to put in the work.

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Eugene Capon

Social Media Futurist. Public Speaker. New Media Artist. Co-founder of Studio Capon. http://www.studiocapon.com #VR #AR #Tech #Youtube #Design