Every day Jeffrey Wisenbaugh sits down at his computer and scours the Internet: he reads and responds to e-mail, he might chat a little on Facebook and every so often he’ll tweet. But the first thing he usually looks at is YouTube.
A junior majoring in psychology at Michigan State University, Wisenbaugh, known online as “KoolJeffrey,” has been a YouTuber since he was 16.
“I started at, I think, the end of 2007, early 2008,” Wisenbaugh said. “I just started making videos from this … webcam in my basement. I had braces, I had a buzz cut. It was a very awkward eight minutes of each video.”
Now almost 21, Wisenbaugh is still going strong. Thanks to his Internet expertise and continued hard work, the Big 10 Network at MSU contacted him to start making videos for them, and last year one of his segments won a student Emmy.
College students use YouTube a lot, and Wisenbaugh said he wants people to realize it’s a site of more than just baby videos and kittens falling asleep.
Some creators post videos a few times a month, others post once a week and a select few post videos daily. The year before “ShayCarl” Butler turned 30, he decided he wanted to do something crazy. He already posted videos on YouTube, but in March of 2009, he and his wife started posting a video of their family, known collectively as the “Shaytards,” — after Butler’s iconic dancing in his wife’s leotard — every day for one year. Butler, his wife and their four kids are now going on four years of daily vlogs.
The Butlers are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They don’t often bring up religion, but little things — pictures of LDS prophets, use of the common “Oh my heck” Mormon phrase — imply the family’s LDS background.
Perhaps the most obvious positive example is the way the family treats each other. Butler’s Twitter bio explains it all: “I’m slowly but surely building a small army of people who believe that happy families are the answer to 73 percent of our world’s problems.”
Becca Mattson, a junior at BYU from Cypress, Calif., majoring in wildlife and wildlands conservation, said she loves watching the Shaytards because of their example as members of the Church.
“They don’t scream out in every video, ‘We’re Mormon!'” Mattson said. “But by just sharing their lives they set a great example. People pay attention and learn from them, even if they don’t realize being Mormon is why the Shaytards act like they do.”
Create a channel, enter a community
The range of YouTube videos is vast. Neumeyer built his audience by making videos about nerdy things he liked.
“In May of 2011, it was estimated that 48 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube every minute, and that there are 3 billion video views every day,” Neumeyer said. “There is an audience for your content — you just have to find them.”
Reaching out to other YouTubers builds community over common subjects. Those faithful to their YouTube channel provide ways to get in touch, be it through email, Twitter or Facebook.
“When people are online, they want to interact and see faces and hear voices,” Thompson said.
Established online communities are often incredibly welcoming. By commenting on videos and communicating with creators and other commenters, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually find yourself interacting with them as friends rather than viewers. Neumeyer’s’ best advice is to “just go for it.”
“The biggest pitfall I’ve seen is that someone thinks that no one would want to hear what they have to say or that no one would care,” Neumeyer said, “but that is the biggest misconception one can have when it comes to YouTube.”