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2021 Review

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How was 2021 for you? I mean, compared to 2020 it was a big improvement, but that’s a pretty low bar to aim for. Let’s focus more on the projects that I completed and what I learned from them.

The past year has been surprisingly good, I’ve managed to not only sustain making YouTube videos but sometime in the middle of the year I passed the magical 1000 subscriber milestone making me eligible to switch on adverts and start raking in the juicy ad revenue. Or maybe not since also during this year YouTube decided they’d just switch adverts on regardless of how many subscribers you have. So rather than an attempt at making loads of money I figured if someone was going to earn anything from my videos it was going to be me! Also enabling monetisation allows me to choose where and when ads appear on my videos so turning it on made sense.

I’ve also made over 25 videos in the past 12 months which averages about two per month. Not bad really considering I have a full time job and didn’t really have much of a plan - which is something I want to improve this year. Making videos started off as a random “that sounds interesting, let’s do a video on it by the end of the month” adventure, but as time has progressed I’ve found having some sort of plan does help.

From looking at my videos I can see programming ones seem to do better than other video types I’ve made, but more specifically ones to do with interesting topics do better. I’ve been working on learning how the ZX Spectrum Next works and producing videos about that. This is mostly to help me understand the workings of the machine so I can write games, but to also help others as the documentation is a bit hard to follow in places.

I have no clue how to make videos do well though. It seems quite random. Some of my old videos where I’m playing about with Z80 assembler seem to do really well, but more recent ones don’t do as well. Really can’t work that one out, it’s bizarre.

Something I have been working on is making the process of video production more streamlined and slowly working out a workflow for doing this. Part of this workflow was to sort out a more quiet and organised recording space. I was doing it in the front bedroom office in my house but after a few experiments with green screens I quickly realised it was awkward leaving things set up if I wanted to use the room for other things. Also I’d get random interruptions or the awful thing of being watched. Yeah I know, I’m making videos to be watched, but being watched while you mess up your lines for the 12th time in a row is not a fun experience.

In 2020 I had a shed built in my garden I was originally going to use as a summer house - a place to sit in the summer instead of working in my house all the time. This slowly mutated into becoming a YouTube space and now houses a little table and place to set up a camera. I even painted one of its walls green to make a permanent green screen that is flat, not wrinkled and can be evenly lit.

Looking at the projects I made videos on, I’ve done quite a lot of things. It’s nice and satisfying to see some long standing projects finally get ticked off. My Atari ST for example is now working properly with all its RAM in a case that is clean and fixed.

So what about this year then, what do I want to achieve?

Some things are related to increasing my YouTube channel’s size. I have about 1300 subscribers at the moment and videos get about 200 views, with an increase each month of about 40 subs. I have no idea how to increase this quicker, but I have bought a new camera - a Canon EOS M50 Mkii which works really well as a webcam and also as a regular camera. I have noticed that videos where people are in shot are both easier to make, and also more watchable. Thinking about the channels I watch the most, there’s always a person in them talking rather than anonymous hands or just a voice over. I guess you have to give your audience a reason to come back even if the content isn’t really something they’re totally interested in. I’ve watched hours of C64s being repaired and I don’t own one, it’s just interesting to see.

I also want to make some games for the Spectrum Next, which is also why I make the videos about that system. It’d be fun to make some games that people play and might want to give me money for.

A general aim is to make the channel and things surrounding it more sustainable. It’s not massively expensive to run, but I am paying an (academic) Adobe Creative Cloud subscription each month, and a subscription to a royalty free music site. Being able to cover those costs would be nice. Not sure how though. Anyone want to buy a mug or mouse mat?

Something different to programming I want to improve is my artistic skills. I’ve got a graphics tablet and a Surface Pro with a pen and a copy of Photoshop. Also the new camera I bought is an actual photo taking camera as well as a video camera. I wonder if there’s some way to make some interesting stylised computing artwork?

Well, let’s see what this new year brings…

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