My YouTube Channel Just Hit 5,000 Subs!

Several years ago I thought I might try doing some art tutorials on YouTube.  I made an opportunity for myself to get an audience by doing a cross promotional project with work.  I was leading a project on Guild Wars 2, and we were brainstorming with the PR team about stuff we could send to the press to get attention for the release.  Part of the game involved fighting giant monstrous worms, and the idea of gummy worms came up.  Then I thought how cool it would be to MAKE our own custom gummy worms based on the creatures from the game.  Everyone agreed that would be cool, and then I had the idea to record it all and make a tutorial that we could promote the release with in addition to the actual gummy worms we were sending out.  I hoped they would put the video on the official Guild Wars 2 page or something, but for whatever reason it worked out that they just had me put it on my own YouTube channel and they promoted it.  So it was a pretty lucky break for me, getting the marketing team of a AAA game studio to promote my channel.  I don’t think I could have built up my platform like I have without that initial kickstart.  

In the years since, I’ve done a couple more cross promotional videos.  One with a band, and another with ArenaNet AND a 3D printing company called Shapeways.  I’ve tried doing stuff related to other IP as well; a Fallout 4 Pipboy repaint and a The Last Guardian statue mod.  But mostly I’ve done sculpting and painting tutorials that are focused on teaching with my own stuff.

At some point a couple months ago YouTube’s algorithm decided to start putting my videos in the ‘Related’ column that appears next to videos you are watching.  Meaning that anyone who searches for “Sculpting tutorial” can find my videos, or if they are watching someone else’s sculpting vids, they might see mine next to the one they're watching a click on it next.  What that did was shoot my subscriptions up from one or two a week to almost 10 a day.  

The tutorials I’ve been producing are pretty different than most of what I’ve seen on YouTube.  Most of the sculpting tutorials are fast-paced overviews that just show clips of the work with either text, or the artist’s voice over it explaining the process, but never in a very detailed way.  My videos are MUCH longer and every excruciating detail is shown and explained.  I’ve had two separate people now compare me to Bob Ross now.  Sadly, the analytics show that people only watch my videos for an average of 7-10 minutes.  That explains why all the other artists keep their videos so short.  There’s just no point in spending the amount of time and energy making longer stuff if so few people will watch it.  But… for me there IS!  I LIKE teaching.  I like providing something of value to people that doesn’t exist out there.  Well, it does, but it’s not free like mine.  Which brings up another issue.

I almost feel guilty for making art tutorials.  Because I’m not a really fantastic artist.  [Sidebar: This is NOT an attempt to fish for compliments or positive reinforcement.  I’m actually totally emotionally FINE with being simply an OK artist.  I do not base my self worth on how talented I am.  I know that I’m a GREAT artist compared to non-artists, so it’s easy for a non-artist to look at my art and think I’m amazing.  But I work with many many artists, and I can clearly see where I land on the spectrum of skill, and it’s not super high.]  Being a merely OK artist means that the quality of my teaching is going to be less than that of a master.  So in a way, I’m muddying the waters when it comes to disseminating great art education.  I know there are far more qualified individuals who should do what I’m doing.  But that’s the thing.  Those better artists are either not interested in teaching, or they do it for price.  And so I guess my discomfort stems from the fact that I’m producing lower quality education, and so people who don’t want to, or can’t afford to pay money for quality art education are getting my inferior product.  I guess that can be good or bad depending on how you look at it.  One way to look at it is the way Bob Ross did.  Seeing how people are making that connection anyway, I might as well lean into it.  Bob Ross was not a great artist either.  He knew a bunch of fun techniques that appear magical to non-artists, and so watching him work is kind of like watching a really happy, positive magic act.  He obviously took great joy from demonstrating these tricks and giving positive vibes to his fans.  

And that’s the thing that pushes me to keep doing this.  I’m seeing positive vibes from viewers in the comments of my tutorials.

Josh, absolutely loving the detail and depth you go into describing and explaining everything-- with the tips and tricks and all that... which is missing from all other videos. Absolutely fantastic video and series.. my favorite by far.

Kelly Porter4 months ago
Thank you for taking the time to film this! I am taking a 3D art class in college and this was EXACTLY what I needed to know.
I'm a noob about it but maaan you're unbelievable, nice, clear and really detailed !

thank you! I learned so much from you!

Hi Josh,  I just watched video #1.  I've been looking for exactly this.  So grateful that you are sharing your skills.
I've subscribed and will follow along with everything!  ❤
great idea for a series. was looking for something like that for quite some time now
man this is a good video , seriously thank u so much it helps a lot
This was really enjoyable to watch for some reason even though I'm not an artist! Great video looking forward to the next ones
thank you for making these videos. really inspiring and informational for a starting sculptor entrepreneur like me. keep up the amazing work you do :)
Josh, thanks for all your great sculpey videos. I've watched them all and they have transformed my sculpey work. You're my hero!
Thank you for sharing so many tips and techniques!
So impressive Josh. You are an inspiring artist. Thank you for another lesson.

leeeah2 hours agoHighlighted comment

This is by far the best tutorial I found on this subject! Thanks!!
Josh, sorry to hear about your technical difficulties. If possible, I'd like to donate a couple hundred bucks to your cause. Your video series has helped me more than any other I've found! I really appreciate all the time and commitment you've put into these videos and would love to help you out. Let me know the best way to contribute and I'll float a couple hundred your way brother.👍🏻
And so these kinds of comments (That’s just a tiny sample) lead me to believe that just because the average view time is less than 10 minutes, there are still plenty of people who DO appreciate the long format and detailed work I put in.  

Even though my long term plan is to shift the content on my channel to more disscusion around world building for my Tales From Talifar work, I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep making these tutorials every now and then because there are clearly plenty of people who’s lives are enriched by that work.  And that’s a great feeling.


Anonymous said…
Hey Josh,

one perspective lens you might not have looked through offers the following premises:

(1) starting artists only need the basics and you don't need the best to teach those

(2) people with [artistic] potential need to be INSPIRED moreso than taught

And from your writing, your work in GW2 and what I've seen of your videos, that is exactly what you are doing.
You inspire.
Looking at those comments you selected to show, I am not the only one to see you in this light.

So, as usual, thank you for existing and keep being yourself. (:
(and since you're still a human being, that includes keep changing and growing)
sothea hy said…

thank you for explaining all this, it really helped me a lot and i need lots of luck for my A level
I really appreciate your all efforts which is specially for the study.
well done.
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