I launched my Patreon page yesterday. I was very nervous. For some reason, I thought that my asking for support might make people upset or angry. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I’m painfully aware of the general cultural attitude that we have towards artists, the attitude that says they should not be compensated for their work, and the attitude towards YouTubers, that says they should not earn anything from YouTube because it’s just a hobby and not a job.
But for me, it is a job. I approach it like one. It’s a fun and fulfilling job, that’s for certain, but I pour enough of my time, energy, and love into it that I do consider it to be a job. Actually, it’s sort of more than a job…
I’ve had ideas for other careers before but none have ever stood the test of time. I’ve thought, “I could do this or do that” but never really gotten too excited about it, never really felt like it was exactly right for me. I’ve considered being a forest ranger, freelance writer, actor, published author, librarian, copy editor, and professor. I’d think about each of these things for awhile and then move on to something else, never quite landing on what I wanted to do.
And then I found Kat Blaque.
Kat Blaque is a YouTuber who makes videos on a range of topics from feminism to institutionalized racism to lgbt+ issues. She also creates content for Everyday Feminism, the Huffington Post, and Pride.com. What’s incredible is that, after years of hard work and dedication, she is self-sufficient. Blaque is able to make a living off of her creative and socially conscious work. As I watched her videos, joined some of the live streams on her Facebook page, perused around her store, and went over to her Patreon page, I took in a lot of new information, and not just about social justice issues, but about how to support yourself while pursuing what you’re passionate about.
I remember thinking, almost immediately, “This is what I want to do”. I had no idea where to start or how to make it happen, but I knew that I had found it. This was the thing. I could tell that this was the kind of work that would make me feel creatively and intellectually fulfilled.
I got my brother to help me set up a YouTube channel. I started making videos. Save for some of his advice, I had almost no idea what I was doing. Now, six months later, I have (maybe) half an idea. I’m not “there” yet (what counts as there?), but I’ve learned so much and had a lot of fun doing it. My world has expanded. I’ve met and talked to tons of amazing people. I’ve discovered a new outlet for my creativity. I’ve been inspired by a bunch of fascinating content. I’ve started picking up some of the building blocks on how all of this works.
My channel is still quite small, but six months ago I didn’t even have a channel so that in itself is something. I’m not done here. I’m not slowing down. I feel like I’ve only just gotten started, that this is just the beginning of my creative/career-related/YouTube/online journey.
When I first started my channel, I wasn’t in a great place. I was in a lot of pain and there were a lot of things happening to me that I couldn’t control. I’m in a better place now and things are consistently getting better, but having this outlet really helped me through some of that hard stuff. There were points where YouTube was the only thing I enjoyed spending my time on, the only thing that was making me feel happy or even just okay. And now that things are better, YouTube feels like an old friend that got me through some really tough stuff. Now this friend and I are going to soar together. We are going to pursue our wildest dreams, not because they’re realistic or practical or anything, but because WE CAN.
“I can” is something YouTube has taught me. “I can” and “I deserve”. No longer do I feel like the least talented person in my friend group, the writer who “isn’t any good” at writing, the desperate and repressed creative with little artistic skill, the one who will always be frustrated, or the one who will never be good enough. I still have my doubts sometimes, but I’m on track. I have found my path and sometimes I feel damn proud of what I do. I feel confident in ways I never did before. I think that’s because, until recently, I had never really found “my thing”.
Here it is. This is my thing. I don’t know what it will turn into, but I’m going to hold onto it and keep on going for the ride of my life.
Honestly, I didn’t think anyone would support me on Patreon at this point. I put my video out there worried I may lose subscribers and thinking it would say $0 per month for a very long time. Within 24 hours of my posting it, however, two people pledged.
$4 may not be a lot of money, but it counts. It is something. It counts because it shows me that other people believe in my too. It counts because it shows me that I was not wrong to ask for help. It counts because it raises my YouTube-based income from almost nothing to $4, and that is growth. However small it may be, it is growth and all growth counts.
I want to thank the two of you who chose to become my patrons. It means a lot. It has reaffirmed for me that this is the right path and that it’s not all just some idealistic, unattainable dream.
I also want to thank everyone who’s ever watched, liked, or commented on my videos or the other things I’ve put out online. As a small creator especially, all of that feedback and support really counts. I’ve had comments before that have put a small on my face for a whole day. I’ve had comments that have sent home the “Yes! That’s why I’m doing this” message.
I cannot predict the future. I cannot see where all of this is going to lead exactly, but it’s going to lead somewhere. That much I am sure of.
Thank-you for believing in me.