The EDE-model: Exploring, Developing and Established Creators

Moin.

A while back, I posted a thing about “Why Grinding is bad for you” on r/youtubegaming, where I encouraged gaming creators to try different formats, instead of going for the first thing which comes to mind, which quite often is just a Let’s Play. To aid this discussion, I developed the EDE-model, which I wanted to expand on here.

The basic gist of the EDE model is that creators who just are starting out have much more freedoms on what they can do than big channels.

1. The Exploration Stage

At this first stage, a creator just made a channel with the intend to upload something, starting from 0 subscribers, 0 views and 0 videos, or something very close to this. This crucially means the following:

  • Nobody has any expectations on what this channel is going to upload. Because of this, the creator has the tough fate of complete creative freedom where they can do anything.
  • Typical channel recommendations (“upload on a schedule! stick to formats! consistency is king!”) aren’t really applicable yet, because they’re strategies which optimize for existing subscribers and thus require some degree of following to be effective.

My advice for creators at this stage would be to try anything that’s vaguely interesting to them. To not get started doing regular formats and series just yet, but just try everything they always wanted to try. To create as if view counts and subscriber counts don’t exist.

This freedom is not something which you really get later on in the process, at least not without alienating vast portions of your audience.

2. The Development Stage

At this stage, the creator probably has made a few dozen videos (depending on the type of content and effort which went into each individual video), and figured out which kinds of content they want to do more of, as well as which kinds of content they don’t like doing. With the experience they’ve gathered in the Exploration stage, they probably also have considerably better video making skills and equipment than in the very beginning, and possibly already have gotten feedback from friends and family on which videos were nice to watch and which ones didn’t work out as intended.

Based on this, the creator now can start transitioning towards doing what established channels do, namely:

  • Find a niche to be in
  • Develop formats and serial content which can be uploaded on a regular schedule
  • Start putting more care into marketing, ie SEO and good thumbnails/titles

If a developing creator and finds their initial niche to be a dead end for whatever reason – too much effort per video, copyright trouble, getting bored of it – it’s completely fine to go back to exploring other options. This is where it comes in handy to have had this exploration stage beforehand, so they already know what they’d also want to do and come up with a somewhat thought out plan on how to transition between the niches.

But, if you’ve found your idea to be sustainable and fun, you can continue on your path and eventually reach…

3. The Established Stage

At this stage, the creator has probably made hundreds of videos, and is decently well known in their niche. This also is the stage where fans start to become a significant force, be it for promotion, merch sales or patreon stuff. Micro-optimizations can become surprisingly powerful here.

Since their channel probably generates some decent amount of money one way or the other, the creator can invest into the channel much more, be it through buying better equipment, dedicating more time to the channel that they otherwise would be working on a “real” job, or getting opportunities which smaller YouTubers just don’t get. Note though that the money doesn’t come on its own, but drags a whole tail of bureaucracy behind it.

The niche they live in is pretty set in stone and difficult to escape from without losing a lot of attention from subscribers. That said, it sometimes can be very necessary to pivot even as an established creator, eg. if the niche they’re in is very small and/or shrinking, causing the channel to stagnate. Further, because the fans and subscribers have very strong expectations of the channel, it can become increasingly difficult to meet these expectations.

Which isn’t to say that an established creator has a worse fate than someone in one of the other stages; there’s a reason why all the bigger YouTubers can be found in this category. It’s just that it comes with a different set of challenges than a small one, so it’s not like the moment you become established, all your trouble will go away.

Why this model can be useful

Often, creators who start out have a fairly concrete idea of what they want to do, so they skip the exploration stage and then go straight for the development stage. And while this may work, it often times leads to this “small YouTuber mentality”, in which the creator “grinds” out videos day after day or week after week, without getting anywhere, and the advice from peers being “just keep at it, do these micro-optimizations and hope that the algorithm picks you up eventually”.

The problem I have with this mentality is that it reduces something which can be very much fulfilling – video production and the creative process in general – into a 9-5 kinda job in which the modus operandi is “preservere against the odds”, and this job doesn’t even pay well.

My hope is that this model encourages people to pursue extreme levels of creativity at first, and once they know where their creative preferences lie, start making a channel geared towards success.

The SEE–NTS Model. A better model for Online Video Programming.

Moin.

The Hero–Hub–Help model which YouTube developed in 2014 has been a helpful tool for video marketeers to help them understand what they can do on YouTube. Namely:

  • Hero content is big events, which you can advertise in a big way. It gets huge attention on the day it’s happening, and then quickly becomes uninteresting again, such as the E3 presentations.
  • Hub content is regularly scheduled content, to keep subscribers (and viewers you’ve reached through the other content) interested in your channel. This content gets watched by your subscribers in the first couple days after upload, and then basically never again.
  • Help content (originally named: hygiene) is helpful content teaching users how to do stuff, ie tutorials. This content gets found at any time via search, but doesn’t add much value to subscribers to your channel.

Now, this model kinda makes sense if you have a product you’re making videos about. But it kinda breaks down once you put it into the context of a normal YouTuber: It doesn’t make sense to make a big event which only is relevant for a week, so Hero content is out. Hub content is more in line to what YouTubers do, but YouTubers do so much more than make videos which just are consistent and appeal to their current subscribers.

So, out of this model, only a few bits actually are usable for YouTubers, and even these only are so with caveats. So I thought about it a bit and came up with a new model instead:

The SEE–NTS Model

SEE-NTS is short for the following aspects:

The SEE-NTS model can be thought of as 3-dimensional space.
Also, I like to pronounce it as “sea ants”.
  • Subscriber Content. Ie content made primarily for subscribers, featuring funny in-jokes, references to previous videos, stories that make the creator more relatable to their fans and such.
  • Evergreen Content. Ie content which will stay relevant to the world for the (forseeable) future.
  • Event Content. Ie content which is tied to certain events.

— with their counterparts —

  • New Viewer Content. Ie content which is accessible and fully understandable to someone who never has seen any of your content before.
  • Timely Content. Ie content which is relevant during a specific window of time only, and then basically never again, eg news.
  • Serial Content. Ie content which you can sure you’ll see more of next week anyway.

The individual aspects make predictions on whether the view distribution will be flat over time, or have a spike shortly after publication:

  • Subscriber content is watched by subscribers, so it’ll get most of it’s views within the first week of publication, while New Viewer content may get discovered by potential new subscribers at any time.
  • Timely content is only relevant shortly after publication, after which it’s old news. Evergreen content is ever relevant.
  • Event content is most watched during the event (→ Tentpoling), while Serial content is watched all year round.

As such, the model explains why Hero-Hub-Help makes the predictions that it does: Hero content is minmaxed for spikeyness (Event/Timely, with a lot of advertising thrown at it so that talking about the Subscriber/New Viewer axis kinda is pointless), Hub content is Subscribers/Serial/Timely content (and doesn’t nearly spike as high), and Help content is minmaxed for flatness.

SEE-NTS also allows for other content to be categorized sensibly:

  • Mr Beast’s content is no doubt Serial (it’s not really a surprise what he’ll do next), but features some Event-like qualities (he basically makes his own events in each video by giving away a lot of money). His videos are accessible for New Viewers, yet appeal for Subscribers as well. And the stunts he pulls generally age well, so: His content sits pretty much in the middle and manages to more or less cover all bases.
  • A band doing a concert live stream is an Event for everyone who already knows the band (ie Subscriber-ish), but since music doesn’t really get outdated, it also is strongly Evergreen.
  • Videos like “how to decorate your house for Halloween” and similar seasonal content is Evergreen while the (yearly repeating) Event is going on. This kind of content technically could still work for Subscribers primarily, but realistically it’s probably gonna be a optimized for New Viewers.

Using SEE–NTS for Content Programming

SEE-NTS can be used to assess a channel’s current standing to make decisions for future content programming.

Most obviously, if the vast majority of views a channel has come from subscribers and all formats on the channel are made for subscribers, that channel may want to develop a format which is meant to appeal to non-subscribers and draw them in.

If a creator feels like they’re grinding away in a hamster wheel, but can’t afford to take a day off because all their subscribers will lose interest, maybe Evergreen Subscriber content would be able to bridge these gaps in the future.

If a musician can only realistically make one big Event/Evergreen-type video a year and struggles to re-activate subscribers in-between uploads, them making Subscriber/Serial/Timely content in-between to fill the gaps and keep people engaged throughout the year may be useful.

Of course, as always: It’s hard to recommend any specifics without knowing the actual channel. I hope however it can help creators, at a glance, find out where they are with their current programming, and where they have potential left to explore.

Limitations

SEE-NTS as a model doesn’t predict how successful content is going to be, it only can predict the rough shape of the view curve. The real world (and “The Algorithm”) of course can always throw a spanner in the works by having your viewers receive the video differently than what you designed it for.

Unlike Hero-Hub-Help, SEE-NTS doesn’t do content recommendations. For example, it’s not entirely clear to me what Subscriber/Event/Evergreen content would even look like, while for Help content, the hint already is in the name, and thus are the strategies you should take (ie SEO on your customer’s troubles).

SEE-NTS is untested as a tool for content programming. The questions that need to be answered in the future are:

  • Is SEE-NTS useful to accurately describe different channel programming strategies?
  • Is SEE-NTS complete, or are there more factors which are essential for programming?
  • Do creators who use SEE-NTS understand their programming better than those who don’t?
  • Is SEE-NTS useful to find gaps in the content programming?

Overall thoughts

From what I can tell so far, the SEE-NTS model seems promising. Even if it fails as a “practical” tool that can tell creators “do this”, it may still be a worthwhile academical tool as it categorizes content way better than Hero–Hub–Help.

Of course, I’d love even more for it to be useful as a practical tool. I guess time will tell how good this thing is.

Gnome 3. A review.

Moin.

You may know Gnome as the “ah, something simple, which… — wait, where are my desktop icons and task bar?” desktop environment. Which, no doubt, it is; it’s what I liked about it when I first started using it in version 3.8 all those years ago. But recently, I discovered that it hadn’t just been that, but that it actively helps making things more seamless.

Let’s back up for a bit.

My theory on Desktop Environments is, in a nutshell, “if you notice them, they do something wrong”, or in other words: “A good desktop environment lets you focus on your tasks without getting in your way”. This basically also is true for programs in general, if it lets you do the thing you want to do easily and in one flow, it probably is a good program.

This effectively explains why Windows 10 keeps greatly displeasing me every time I use it. It’s design changes between the most recent Fluent Design, all the way down to Windows 2000/XP-style depending on which program you use (even built-in settings programs), and things like dark theme pretty much don’t work on anything at all. And even simple settings changes like adjusting the mic gain, require you to either dive into almost-invisible text-links in the settings app, or finding the right pop-up window of the old system control center. And after each somewhat major update, Cortana and Edge greet you yet again. To add to that, there’s my personal clumsiness which causes me to click on the wrong icon in the taskbar not quite daily, but enough that I now have “padding apps” between apps which take very long to load, so that a misclick doesn’t cause years of waiting. All of these things take me out of “the zone” whenever you encounter them, and I very frequently do.

Gnome’s quick access to settings

Gnome beats this any day of the week. Changing the mic gain can be done right in next to where you know the volume slider is, if the mic is active. And since loads of apps are GTK-based anyway, the dark theme (or any theme, really) gets applied pretty much universally, with the notable exceptions of the major browsers and blender – all of which have their own, very capable theming options though anyway – and Qt-based apps.

Encountering a Qt-based app in Gnome is weird every time, but likewise, encountering a GTK-based app in KDE is weird as well. And while there is the minor problem of them looking kinda weird compared to the rest of the system, there is the slightly more major issue that Qt-apps tend to use different things for everything. For example, if I want to open a file in a GTK-based program, it gives me effectively Nautilus (aka Gnome Files), whereas Qt-based programs give me Dolphin. But look closely at the difference towards the folders on the left-hand side:

Top: Nautilus-based “open file” modal (here: for Discord), Bottom: Dolphin-based “open file” modal (here: for kdenlive).

Where Nautilus has shortcuts for the images/documents/music/videos folders, Dolphin instead has basically the same, just slightly-different looking icons for a completely different function: Clicking on them filters the current folder for the type of file you’re looking for. And don’t get me wrong, it’s a very useful option, and on KDE, this Dolphin-modal does have the same shortcuts to drives and places, it’s just that this particular Qt-to-GTK-port is kinda confusing because it breaks the “there are shortcuts to your folders to the left” model that is established everywhere else by putting a search filter there instead.

But this is a small price to pay for what is my favourite part of Gnome: The Activity Overview.

The Activity Overview combines so many things into one place, it’s just awesome. Dead center, you have all your open windows. Not as window previews forced to the same size or just a bunch of icons as you may know from alt+tabbing or taskbars, but as actual windows which do a very decent job at conveying which windows are big and which aren’t. If you do need a taskbar, you can find it here as well, and if you need something which resembles OSX’ Launchpad and Spotlight search, they are here as well. In this view you can close windows you no longer need, or drag them to other screens, both real ones and virtual ones.

Opening the Activity Overview is as easy as pressing Super (the “Windows” key), or flinging your cursor into the top-left corner. It feels so good to use and I use it so often that it’s become my second nature: whenever I’m using a desktop environment which doesn’t have that, I’m actually starting to struggle a bit, to the point where I put the taskbar up top in Windows and KDE, so that flinging my cursor up left at least brings it in the right vicinity of the “Start” button.


Until recently, my review of Gnome would’ve stopped about there. The activity overview is awesome, and the rest is out of the way and (mostly) consistent, therefore, it’s a good desktop environment for me and I will continue using it whenever possible.

But, as I alluded to in the beginning, it’s taking steps towards making things more seamless.

Gnome’s Noficiation center

As a small example, the notification center shows notifications (duh) and your calendar, but also give you player controls for the YouTube tab that currently is playing. So you can pause and skip videos playing in the background at any time without having to find the right browser tab.

The bigger example is Gnome Online Accounts. Which isn’t actually that new, but I didn’t bother trying it beforehand. Because, what I associate with “connect your account” is that it just grabs your email and avatar for account creation purposes, and maybe starts posting farmville status updates to your timeline if you aren’t careful. But that isn’t what’s happening here. If all you have is a Google account and put it into Gnome Online Accounts, it automatically…

  • sets up your Email account in Geary and Evolution,
  • syncs your Google calendar with Gnome Calendar and Evolution,
  • imports your contacts in Gnome Contacts and Evolution,
  • adds a remote server connection to Google Drive in Gnome Files,
  • adds Google Documents to view in Gnome Documents,
  • imports photos from Google Photos to Gnome Photos,
  • does possibly more! I haven’t discovered all of the integrations yet.

Now, this sounds exactly like what Android does with the Google account, OSX with the AppleID/iCloud and Microsoft with the Microsoft Account, and to some degree, it is. The difference is however that it doesn’t try to get you into it’s ecosystem at which point it can extract money out of you for more storage space or whatever, but that it rather lets you keep your existing accounts and allows you to work with them faster. For example by letting you move stuff from and to your favourite cloud provider without having to open a browser, downloading it, finding it in the downloads folder and then moving it about.

Of course, we are still in FOSS-Land, so some of these integrations are kinda janky – I notice for example that the Gnome Files/Google Drive integration refuses to go much faster than 90 kiB/s despite me sitting on a 25 Mbit/s line – and some of the Gnome-specific apps aren’t quite as stable as the old guard – Geary sometimes refuses to connect to accounts until a system restart happens and sometimes insists that I’m working offline even though I’ve done nothing but watch YouTube videos for the past 3 hours.

And this shows the one gripe I do have with what Gnome’s UX decision imperative to keep things simple: The Geary team won’t build in a way manually reload. It instead shows you a banner saying “You are now working offline”, which you can dismiss, and that’s it. Which is immensely frustrating, because if you as a user are encountering an error which isn’t your fault, are you really supposed to… just wait until the program eventually decides to fix itself? Or did it fix itself and I am online again, but the banner didn’t remove itself afterwards? There’s no indication for when the next refresh happens either, because the only setting in Geary for updates is “automatically check for new mail”, which is either on or off, so when I see the banner, do I just click X and wait around for… ten minutes? Is that even enough? That’s not what I do! Monkey no patience! Monkey do thing! MONKEY SMASH BUTTONS!

… I’m beginning to wonder if Windows’ automatic “error fixing” thing actually would be a good feature for Gnome, because even if it doesn’t do anything, it at least lets you play around with a thing until it fixes itself…

Mockup: An “you’re offline” banner that’s actually useful and lets me retry manually.

So yeah. Gnome. Very awesome almost always, but can be kinda frustrating when it doesn’t work. Highly recommended, 5/5 toes. Get it on https://gnome.org

Ein schreckliches Schicksal

Der Glöckner saß oben auf dem Glockenturm und las ein Buch. Der Mond rahmte ihn sehr schön ein. Seine Silhouette war einzigartig, niemand sonst würde solch zerzauste Kleidung mit einem Zylinder kombinieren. Er hatte sich gerade umgeblättert, als ein weißer Blitz, gefolgt von einem zweiten, ihn zusammenzucken ließ.

Der Glöckner drehte sich um. Er sah, dass der Mond einen neuen, riesigen, roten Krater bekommen hatte. Und dass der Mond langsam größer wurde. Der Glöckner fing an, die Warnglocke zu läuten.

DONG!

Niemand regte sich. Aber nach nur einem Schlag hatte er das auch noch nicht erwartet.

DONG!

DONG!

Die ersten Fenster schlugen auf. Verwirrte Menschen guckten zu ihm hoch. Es war weder Feuerschein zu sehen, noch fernes Hufgeklapper von Pferden zu hören, noch schwere Winde zu fühlen.

DONG!

Mit lautem Krachen kamen die Schockwellen der Explosionen an. Die Bewohner der Stadt richteten ihre Blicke nach oben.

DONG!

Die Bewohner der Stadt wurden sich der Lage bewusst. Der Mond war gerade dabei, auf die Erde zu fallen. Auf ihre Stadt.

DONG!

Panik machte sich breit. Die ersten fingen an, in ihrem Nachtgewand durch die Straßen zu laufen. Alle mit einem Ziel: Das Stadttor.

DONG!

Das Stadttor war um diese Uhrzeit verschlossen. Doch so gut es darin war, Feinde daran zu hindern, unangekündigt in die Stadt einzufallen, so schlecht war es, die Bewohner am ausfallen zu hindern.

DONG!

Die Bewohner hatten den hölzernen Riegel entfernt und versuchten, das Tor aufzudrücken. Es leistete beträchtlichen Wiederstand, da niemand die eigentlich dafür vorgesehenden Winden verwendete, doch die Masse an schiebenden Menschen war endlich erfolgreich.

DONG!

Weitere Bewohner kamen aus ihren Häusern. Sie hatten sich die Zeit genommen, zumindest noch Schuhe anzuziehen, Mäntel überzuwerfen und etwas Proviant, und waren es nur rohe Kartoffeln, mitzunehmen.

DONG!

Eine Familie lief Richtung Tor, doch das kleine Mädchen stolperte über ihre ungeschnürten Schuhe. Der Vater ließ seine Koffer fallen, die er extra für Notfälle wie diese gepackt hatte, und griff seine Tochter und lief weiter.

DONG!

Ein Mann, der anscheinend seinen halben Hausstand retten wollte, wurde an einer Hausecke von jemandem angerempelt, verlor das Gleichgewicht und verstreute seine Habseligkeiten über die dunklen Straßen. Er verfluchte die Person, die schon wieder verschwunden war, und machte sich daran, die Sachen wieder zusammenzuklauben.

DONG!

Ein Kind suchte weinend nach seinen Eltern. Sie hatten die Stadt schon verlassen. Doch niemand hatte die Zeit, dem Kind zu sagen, in welche Richtung es suchen sollte.

DONG!

Der Mann wurde ein zweites Mal angerempelt, er verlor ein zweites Mal sein Gleichgewicht, und ein zweites Mal verstreuten seine Sachen sich über die Straße. Bäuchlings liegend hob er seinen Kopf um abermals zu verfluchen, doch dazu kam es nicht mehr, ein starker Fuß stolperte über ihn, und drückte sein Gesicht mit einem hässlichen Knacken in den Schlamm.

DONG!

Ein flüchtendes Paar hielt inne und diskutierte kurz. Einer von beiden lief darauf hin zurück, um etwas zu holen. Der andere wartete nicht.

DONG!

Der Glöckner hätte eigentlich schon lange aufhören können. Wer jetzt noch nicht mitbekommen hatte, dass ein Notfall bestand, der würde es auch mit weiteren Glockenschlägen nicht mehr mitbekommen.

DONG!

Der Mond war nun schon viel näher und hatte sich gedreht. Die beiden Einschlagskrater leuchteten wie böse Augen.

DONG!

Der Glöckner konnte besser sehen als alle anderen, dass Flucht im Prinzip zwecklos war. Der Mond war wesentlich größer als er je gedacht hatte, und wenn sein Experiment mit der Stahlkugel, die er mal von der Turmspitze fallen lassen hatte, irgendwie hochzuskalieren war, dann würden die Trümmer der Stadt noch Meilenweit fliegen.

DONG!

Die ersten Trümmer vom Mond regneten hinab. Einer traf den Partner, der zurücklief um seine Katze zu retten. Er stand nicht mehr auf.

DONG!

Ein Mensch seilte sich in den Brunnen ab. Er mochte vielleicht als einziger die ganze Geschichte unbeschadet überleben. Begraben unter Meilen starkem Mondfels.

DONG!

Der Boden bebte, oder war es die Luft an sich? Um den Mond herum hatte sich Feuer gebildet.

DONG!

Der Glöckner zog das Tempo seiner Schläge an.

DONG!

Auch die Letzten waren jetzt aus dem Stadttor raus.

DONG!

Der Glöckner fühlte selbst langsam die Panik in ihm steigen.

DONG!

Und Bedauern.

DONG!

Er hätte die Stadt friedlich entschlafen lassen können.

DONG!

Nur er hätte Angst gehabt.

DONG!

Der Glöckner verbrannte als erstes.

DONGDONGDO–knack

Die Glocke läutete noch ein paar Male ohne ihn auf ihrem Fall nach unten, bevor sie zerbrach.

Observations of the VTuber scene

Moin. This thing is mostly observations of the VTuber scene a few weeks in. I end up making some content recommendations in it, so it might be useful to long-time VTubers as well, though it shouldn’t be understood as “this is how you should do something”, but rather a “this is how I see it being done currently”.

The obvious

Starting with the obvious: As a VTuber, your body can look like however you want, but your movements and expressions typically are fairly restricted. Even if you are 3D and have roomscale tracking, you still can’t really interact with objects or other people in a convincing way. At least not now, and not in real time.

That said, even with these limitations, being a VTuber just gives you a lot of benefits that you wouldn’t get as a regular person:

  • Full privacy. Which you’d also get doing Podcasts, radio or voiceover-stuff in general, but all of which would lack…
  • Facial expressions. Just having head bops and wiggles and a mouth that can change between an eternal smile and a 😀 when talking is enough of a fixpoint for me that I can actually watch a just-talking-stream of a VTuber without feeling the need to do something else. (For comparison, I cannot listen to podcasts on a couch, as my eyes start to wander off fairly quickly. Which then leads me to doing something else and abandonning the podcast altogether, more often than not.) Now, you also get that just talking to a camera, but then you’d be giving up your privacy.
  • A more-interesting-than-average brand, without doing anything. Even as the most generic anime girl, you’re still way, way more recognizable than a generic gaming channel that has some 3D-dubstep intro as its only “branding” element.

Branding

Umbrella brands are surprisingly powerful. You can see this most clearly with Hololive and Nijisanji IMHO:

The Hololive brand is super strong. Every new member gets to start out with thousands or tens of thousands of subs, simply because it says “hololive” next to it. And that already sets expectations: It’s going to be a woman, the woman is going to be an idol, and there in general won’t be any unbearable technical issues.

Nijisanji in contrast doesn’t have these expectations as strongly, although their members also start with at least a few thousand subscribers. That is partially because there’s just so many more members, partially because new members could be anything, man or woman, quality ranging from good to “average new YouTuber”, technical ability ranging from good to permanently clipping audio. That said, Nijisanji is offering quite a valuable service (VTuber avatars and support) to quite a lot more people. And this non-exclusivity gives the company quite a bonus in my book.

Update: It has been pointed out to me by various people that I completely misunderstand Nijisanji and the impact they’ve had, and that Nijisanji ID’s technical troubles are more a problem of Indonesia not having that good of an infrastructure. The problem is, these technical issues, though not their fault, are translating into what image I’m seeing of them, and all the awesome stuff they did in the past is invisible to me, unless I really start digging. To be clear, this is an issue of the brand, not an issue of the individual creators among them. And even though the different regional branches are more or less independent from each other, the overall brand still is Nijisanji Region (apart from China), not some wildly different naming like you get with Mars, Twix and Snickers (which all belong to Mars).

These umbrella brands are fairly rare on YouTube these days. For me, only Machinima comes to mind. Like, even the EDUtube empires of the Green brothers or Brady Haran don’t have an umbrella brand. Instead, they have SciShow and CrashCourse with direct sister channels, but keep those brands fairly separate.

Formats

Formats really matter. Most VTubers are doing game streams and talk streams. Those who do game streams tend to get discovered better, while people who do talk streams tend to get loads more super chats. For example, Flare manages to out-rank Aqua in super chat revenue, despite having less than half her subscriber count.

Doing unique formats which are more than just the generic talk/game streams also seems to be an advantage:

  • Coco grew insanely fast with her Asacoco news show,
  • 3D shows (especially 3D debuts) perform super well,
  • non-standard game streams like speedruns/races work quite well, and
  • non-standard talk streams (interviews, fairy counselling, etc) work as well.

This is true across all of YouTube, btw: Having a unique format at least gives you a chance at standing out, and even though you run the risk of having a format which just doesn’t resonate with viewers, you at least are looking for doors with each format you try instead of bashing your head against the wall with generic gameplay in the hopes of breaking through eventually

Highlights and clips are super important, especially for the Japanese scene. I don’t think Fubuki would be where she is now without her viral meme videos, I don’t think any of them would have anywhere near that large of an international audience if it wasn’t for the translators and the translators only translating highlights, rather than whole streams.

I do think that VTubers (and streamers in general) should try hiring fans to make highlight videos and upload them to their own channel, so that their channels become more accessible for those living outside of the normal streaming timezones. Nijisanji in particular has been getting better at that recently, on their company channels at least.

Misc.

Ultra-low-latency with DVR disabled is everywhere. I don’t think this is benefiting any channel that gets more than 100 concurrent viewers or so, because at those sizes, the chat starts being more delayed than the stream itself. This is because YouTube polls chat at set intervals for new messages instead of sending out each message on its own, and those poll intervals get rarer with more messages being sent.

Also, it makes it rather difficult to watch the stream on slightly subpar connections, or just if you’re half a planet away. This is because any rebuffer that sets back the latency to >5s will cause another rebuffer and skip ahead, resulting in large parts of the stream just being constantly buffering. Really as soon as you’ve got a few viewers, Low Latency is the way to go, with normal latency being great for anything which doesn’t have any meaningful chat interaction built in (eg singing streams).


Sexuality is quite a thing. It probably is easier to be that sexual in public if your real face isn’t attached to it, and it’s quite surprising how far you can get with that on YouTube without even being demonetized. On top of that, it tends to generate quite entertaining content by default. That said, I think the process of sexualising others is more problematic among the VTuber scene than other communities on YouTube, whether that is fans commenting on it on every occasion, bosses putting their talent into swimsuits, or character designs having tits so large that you’re running out of alphabet to describe them. I hope for the women involved that the disconnect between their character and the real person can helps with this.


VTubers in general seem to do disproportionately much live content, with the notable exceptions being Kizuna AI and Ami Yamato. I think there’s a lot of potential for non-live content which strictly works with motion capturing (as opposed to hand-animation). It doesn’t need to be the current livestreaming VTubers doing that either; in fact, most of the VOD content I see from the current live-VTubers is somewhat similar to the early 2006-level YouTube nonsense. There really is a lot of different directions to explore here. Putting it out there right now: I want to see a VTuber with a degree in Astronomy teach me about Supernovae.


VTubers being mostly Japan-based obviously results in a lot of Japanese content. The search interest in the USA in VTubers is growing quickly though, so any VTuber who can do English content is at an advantage here. Also, assuming that VTubers become popular in the US, you can bet that they’ll spread to the rest of the world as well, so it might be worth to start doing VTuber content in your local language, so that by the time it gets big, you’ll already be ready and at the forefront.


A lot of VTubers have been doing daily streams. And while that definitely isn’t bad, please, do yourself a favor and take days off, where you don’t spend a single thought on your channel. Daily content tends to be unsustainable, with even the largest YouTubers burning out with that after just a few years. More well-being advice can be found in the Creator Academy.

Overall, …

… I’ve been very impressed by how compelling the content various VTubers make have been to me. I’ve never watched more than 5 episodes of Anime I think (including Pokemon or the Simpsons), but the charme of a dog girl doing cute things while playing Doom, or a chubby devil trying to convince an art student that eyes don’t grow back just gets me. More recently, I’ve been hanging out with the Indonesian crowd, as their content is 75% English anyway, so I actually have a chance of getting the jokes.

In that sense, otsuu, I’m strapped in and ready for a wild ride.

The Money Rat

It had been a surprisingly quiet day at the Imperial Mint. The money printers had been running smoothly, not even once causing a paper jam or complaining that yellow was running out, and most jobs already were done by noon. On such a day, any minder or guard would be bored to death, if it hadn’t been for the engineering prowess of Josh, who had managed to tune one of the CCTV monitors to the sports channel. While this technically was a fireable offense, the guard room had large windows watching the fabrication hall. So they probably would notice a van coming in at the parking lot, masked people jumping out and running towards the entrance on the remaining CCTV monitors, and even if they didn’t, they surely would see those people jogging by to reach the freshly minted piles of cash.

But today was a surprisingly quiet day, and the only thing moving in the parking lot was a lonely rat. Even if the guards had paid attention, they wouldn’t have seen the rat, for the rat was small and the parking lot unreasonably big for a building that so few people would visit in their entire life. But the Imperials wanted their buildings to make an impression, so of course it had to be big, and of course it had to be near the most beautiful landscape the country had to offer.

The rat meanwhile was rather unhappy about its situation on the parking lot. The only thing kinda looking like food was painfully obvious rat poison, real cover against predators was eternities away in all directions, and the pavement was annoyingly rough compared to anything it knew from the sewers and later, enclosures. But all this pain would soon be forgotten, it could almost sense the cheesy smell of success.

A red dot was dancing across a gateway of the building in front of it. The mission was clear: Gnaw through it. The rat ran towards the gateway and went to work. The rubber tasted terrible. But, rubber being rubber and rat teeth being rat teeth, the rat made quick work of it. It was in, but the helpful red dot was nowhere to be found. The rat decided to wait for a minute for it to show up, but even after two minutes, the red dot wouldn’t show up. Cursing at its unreliable partner, the rat went on, searching. It had trained for this.

As with anything in the area, the unreasonably large hall contained unreasonably large buckets and contraptions, and a stair with unreasonably large steps leading up it. People noises were coming from upstairs, and the rat decided to check those out first. Grated stairs, the rat sighed. Of course. Humans seemed to enjoy tormenting their feet.

Finally having arrived at the top of the stairs, the rat saw a familiar color scheme in one of the buckets below. Unfortunately, it had to pass the guard room to get there, but fortunately, all the guards were staring at a screen. The rat closed in on the room, the people in it sparsely making noise. But just as it was in the room, the people started yelling and jumping around. The rat hasted forwards, through the other door, away, away from the stomping feet, which celebrated Josh turning one of their walkie-talkies into a TV speaker for the sports broadcast.

The rat looked down onto the bucket with the familiar color scheme. In it, there were more 1000 ¤ bundles than it had ever seen. The fall down onto it was, while unpleasant, definitely not dangerous, so the rat jumped. Just as the rat had landed, the guards started cheering again, their team had scored a touchdown. One of the guards quickly went back to dutifully inspecting the other monitors and the hall, but there was just as little happening now as there was fifteen minutes ago. Even if he had tried, the grey rat was basically invisible against the grey background of the bin.

The rat grabbed one bundle with its teeth, jumped out of the bucket and back towards where it came from: A dirty van, parking on a nearby road leading to the forest. The handler gave the rat the promised bit of cheese. Then, he opened the doors to the mobile enclosures. More rats were waiting. The money rat, pleased with the bit of cheese it had gotten, but still hungry for more, scurried back to the Imperial Mint. The other rats followed it.

They had trained for this.