I was always a gamer as a kid and played a huge variety of things on the PlayStation, Nintendo Wii, DS and also Call of Duty (CoD). The vlogging sort of came about by accident. In 2009, I started posting a few videos to show my friends at school clips of me getting amazing kill streaks and what I'd been up to on CoD, with me just talking over the gameplay but then of course with YouTube, anyone can come and watch your videos.
It started quite slow, I mean I only got 100 subscribers in my first year, but then suddenly more and more people started watching the videos and making requests. I started using my mobile and doing little bits beforehand, where I'd talk into the camera, and started posting more regular 'Let's Play' videos and the next year was on about 1,000 subscribers, but then it started going mad... In 2011 I was already on 100,000 subscribers. That's when I realised it could be a fulltime job.
The next step was to look at how I could build my following even further and be a bit more proactive about it, being honest this part was a little bit trial and error. I think the fact that I am a gamer myself, made me relate to my viewers and I could quite easily gauge the sort of content people would want to watch. However learning how regularly to post things, what worked best and how much of me, as opposed to the games people wanted took a little while to get right.
To grow it properly, I realised that I needed to really commit a lot of time to playing and recording as many games as possible. The hardest bit now is making sure I remember how and why I built my following initially. While I have to change things and keep it fresh, I also have to make sure that I don't diversify too much from what made the content so great in the first place. A lot of it is about listening to the community that has built around the channels.
In 2016 there is no doubt that vlogging has certainly changed. It is becoming a far more crowded market and also more professional meaning it is both harder to make a break through and do it full time but also a little easier in some ways because there is far more awareness and interest overall.
Some companies sponsor my videos, or commission me to do things, and I get a lot of requests to go to events now. There are also a LOT of guys out there who are now doing Let's Play, which means that if you want to stand out, you have to get people to buy into you and your personality. Because mobile video has got so much better, I do a lot more stuff on my mobile where I am in front of the camera now, rather than just a voice over the games.
I think if you have a box and a voice, you can make yourself heard and if you have interesting things to say, people will listen. Nowadays, with the technology we have such as mobile phones - you can post videos to YouTube or Twitter wherever you are in the world. Plus video technology is so amazing now on your smartphone that there isn't really a difference between that and video cameras. Making a career from just posting videos from your mobile sounds kind of weird but it would be pretty easy to do now, there really is no excuse not to get out and give it a go!
Ali-A writes on behalf of O2 as part of its #newnormal campaign to further understand people's relationships with their phones. To see the films and find out more about the campaign, visit o2.co.uk/newnormal
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