With 10 mil­lion sub­scribers and over 2.5 bil­lion views, Ali-a is one of youtube’s big­gest su­per­stars. here he of­fers ad­vice on how you can start your own spe­cial­ist channel.

Games TM - - HOW TO -

What should ini­tial ex­pec­ta­tions be when peo­ple start out?

First of all, it’s def­i­nitely pos­si­ble for some­one to make a new channel be­come the next big gamer on Youtube. There’s al­ways go­ing to be peo­ple who are com­ing through and grow­ing. Just be­cause there are big chan­nels out there now does not mean that there’s no space for any­body else. There’s a big­ger au­di­ence and a big­ger mar­ket there ready to watch new peo­ple. You just have to be mak­ing the right con­tent.

The key thing is mak­ing sure that if you’re play­ing games that you en­joy and are hav­ing with it. If you’re hav­ing fun and en­joy­ing it that will hope­fully tra­verse through your videos – the au­di­ence can tell. That’s re­ally im­por­tant; be­ing gen­uine. Play­ing games for the sake of play­ing games, peo­ple aren’t go­ing to be in­ter­ested. I think pas­sion and ex­cite­ment and en­joy­ment of what you’re do­ing is a re­ally key part. So, play games and make videos in games that you en­joy. There are al­ways niches out there, there are al­ways mar­kets out there.

How im­por­tant is hav­ing unique per­sona in front of the cam­era?

Hon­estly, there are peo­ple who are bet­ter a fit for Youtube than oth­ers… I think be­ing ex­treme, be­ing a lit­tle bit more out there, makes you more in­ter­est­ing to watch. You don’t know what that per­son is go­ing to do next or [if] that per­son has a load of en­ergy, which makes the videos more en­ter­tain­ing to watch. I’d al­ways say be your­self, but then some­times there are some peo­ple that just aren’t go­ing to fit with Youtube

– if you don’t bring en­thu­si­asm, and not bring­ing the en­ergy, that’s a neg­a­tive thing. Just try and be your­self and if you do need to over­re­act a lit­tle bit or emphasise your­self a lit­tle bit, that’s fine, so long as it comes across in the videos as still be gen­uine, it def­i­nitely brings that edge of per­son­al­ity and en­ter­tain­ment to the videos that’s re­ally im­por­tant.

Should peo­ple look to spe­cialise in the games they play?

It all de­pends, I think. If you’re a big per­son­al­ity and peo­ple are fol­low­ing your channel for your per­son­al­ity then the game comes sec­ond and you can play any game so long as you’re mak­ing an en­ter­tain­ing video, peo­ple won’t mind.

I went down the route of hav­ing the fo­cus re­ally be­ing [on Call Of Duty], be­cause I knew a lot about the game, and then I in­te­grated my per­son­al­ity a lit­tle bit later down the line. There are those two routes again; the per­son­al­ity route, where the game isn’t a huge is­sue and as long as you’re hav­ing fun and mak­ing a fun video; or you have the gam­ing route, where you’re fo­cused on the game and your per­son­al­ity comes sec­ond. If you feel you’re a strong per­son­al­ity, try a few things out, but if you’re re­ally hard­core about a game fo­cus on that route.

How im­por­tant is edit­ing?

It hon­estly de­pends on the game. With Minecraft you can get away with very min­i­mal edit­ing, but in all hon­esty, the more edit­ing and the bet­ter edit­ing, the bet­ter your video will do. Peo­ple do ap­pre­ci­ate the lit­tle things and that’s some­thing that may not be no­tice­able when you first start out. A well-edited video will al­ways bring a per­son back more so than a video that’s been quickly put to­gether. It’s a fine bal­ance I think, in the game com­mu­nity. You’ve got two routes you can go down. You can have lots of con­tent, but less edited route or you can go down the less con­tent, but highly edited route. Both have their own pluses and mi­nuses, but if you are a good ed­i­tor and you can put time into edit­ing it’s re­ally go­ing to pay off. It’s go­ing to make your video come across bet­ter, the video will have a bet­ter struc­ture, be more en­ter­tain­ing to watch. If you don’t know how to edit then find any edit­ing soft­ware, any ba­sic edit­ing soft­ware and just give it a go. I couldn’t edit at all when I started on Youtube, but it’s some­thing that I picked up my­self over the years. It’s re­ally ben­e­fi­cial and will re­ally help out your channel if you can edit well.

peo­ple for the very first time would prove to be rev­e­la­tory. “I can’t say I ever had any am­bi­tion to be fa­mous Youtu­ber when I was grow­ing up (be­cause it wasn’t even an op­tion), but what I wanted to build was a com­mu­nity. I al­ways wanted to build some­thing where peo­ple who, like me, didn’t have a place to be­long could find some­where,” she says, not­ing that this at­ti­tude stemmed from her ex­pe­ri­ences leav­ing school and head­ing to univer­sity, just as Youtube started to emerge as some­thing more than a mere com­pan­ion to New­grounds and breed­ing ground for the In­ter­net’s ear­li­est memes. “I got a ‘real job’ on my par­ent’s ad­vice; I went to univer­sity and I be­came a mid­wife. But while I was train­ing I was dis­cov­er­ing on­line gam­ing com­mu­ni­ties; dis­cov­er­ing peo­ple that were just like me for the first time in my life.”

It’s here where you get a sense of her work ethic, and be­gin to un­der­stand what it takes to make your­self a suc­cess in this in­dus­try. “While I was do­ing my train­ing I got more and more in­volved with Destruc­toid. I started meet­ing peo­ple there; I saved up and I flew all the way to PAX to meet my fo­rum friends. I started do­ing more and more stuff af­ter that; I wanted to bring the UK fans of this web­site to­gether – do­ing meets so they could also find the friends they wished they could have had grow­ing up like me,” she says, re­call­ing the ori­gin story that earned Ben­nett the ti­tle of Euro­pean Com­mu­nity Man­ager for the pop­u­lar gam­ing site.

Stick­ing with this role part time, pro­duc­ing video and pod­cast con­tent for Destruc­toid, around her work as a mid­wife, even­tu­ally Ben­nett caught the at­ten­tion of pub­lish­ers. It wouldn’t be long be­fore her hard work paid off, from 2012 Ben­nett has held stints as a Con­sumer and Com­mu­nity PR Ex­ec­u­tive for Bandai Namco and, later, as a So­cial Com­mu­nity Man­ager for Sony.

But now Ben­nett is free­lance, work­ing ex­clu­sively with Ac­cess. Her ded­i­ca­tion to pro­fes­sion is what sets her apart, a tastemaker and force of pos­i­tiv­ity fa­mil­iar to mil­lions around the world. Ben­nett blazed her on trail, and you’ll likely find your own with the nec­es­sary ded­i­ca­tion. Here’s the thing, she sug­gests, it isn’t – and shouldn’t ever be – an im­pos­si­ble dream. If you too want to be­come a Youtube per­son­al­ity you can, be on your own or with an­other channel, but it’s all about your ap­proach.

“I think it’s about learn­ing how to por­tray your per­son­al­ity in a way that makes you much more avail­able,” she tells us, not­ing that find­ing suc­cess on Youtube in a pro­fes­sional ca­pac­ity isn’t nec­es­sar­ily about try­ing to mimic the way in which tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ters han­dle them­selves on cam­era but on en­sur­ing that you are able to open your­self up to a viewer in a way that feels gen­uine. “Youtube, Twitch; its per­son­al­ity driven con­tent. The in­dus­try has tried to put Youtu­bers and Twitch stream­ers on a more tele­vi­sion-style set­ting and it wasn’t quite right for their personalities,” she con­tin­ues, giv­ing games™ hor­ror flash­backs to EA’S 2017 E3 pre­sen­ta­tion. “It doesn’t draw them out in the best pos­si­ble way.”

There’s no one sure­fire way of gain­ing the con­fi­dence to feel at ease in front of a cam­era and prop­erly project your per­son­al­ity, though Ben­nett does have one tip on that front: “I talk to my­self all the time! I know it sounds re­ally daft, but I like to think: ‘If some­body was to ask me a ques­tion, how would I an­swer it?’ In the shower es­pe­cially; I’m for­ever al­most in­ter­view­ing my­self, be­cause it’s how I would then por­tray what I want to say to oth­ers.”

A lit­tle chat­ter never hurt any­body, but ul­ti­mately the only way you are likely to get any bet­ter – to see any no­tice­able im­prove­ment in both your de­meanour and the qual­ity of your con­tent – is to ac­tu­ally start do­ing it. You’ve likely heard this one plenty of times in the past but it still rings true to this day: prac­tice makes per­fect. “The thing you need to do is just start mak­ing and up­load­ing. Even if one day you delete them all be­cause ‘oh my god, they are all just so em­bar­rass­ing! I can’t be­lieve I ever sounded like that’ but it is im­por­tant that you get prac­tic­ing. The more you do this the bet­ter you get,” Ben­nett tells us, although she is quick to note that it’s this pe­riod in which so many po­ten­tial Youtube hope­fuls give up. “What is dif­fi­cult about that is that you could work on some­thing all week­end, and you could be so proud, but when you see it get like 15 views it can be easy to think ‘well, why did I bother?’

But its not nec­es­sar­ily about the views, it’s about per­fect­ing your skill and build­ing a port­fo­lio.”

Now that’s not some­thing you hear ev­ery time – but then Ben­nett is no or­di­nary Youtube per­son­al­ity. But it’s true; your Youtube channel can, es­sen­tially, act as a C.V. There are more paths than ever into the game. Even if you strug­gle to crack the spe­cial­ist channel mar­ket – some­thing the likes of Arekkz Gam­ing and Ali-a have had on lock for a num­ber of years with the in­dus­try’s big­gest ti­tles – it could still lead to you get­ting a fan­tas­tic job in the in­dus­try. “Don’t put too much pres­sure on the num­bers, be­cause it can still lead you to hav­ing this type of ca­reer,” Ben­nett tells us, not­ing that Youtube to­day is es­sen­tially about demon­strat­ing your skills, with your channel es­sen­tially act­ing as a slideshow of your style. “What peo­ple need to [re­mem­ber] is that your channel al­most works like a port­fo­lio… if com­mu­nity and so­cial man­age­ment is the way that you want to go, for ex­am­ple, be­ing able to run a Youtube channel is now a skill that [com­pa­nies] re­quest of you.” “A lot of Youtu­bers don’t even re­alise that it’s not even maybe about this one channel be­com­ing fa­mous but it’s a C.V. wor­thy skill that can maybe get you to work for a com­pany where you can be part of some­thing, like Ac­cess. Xbox On is an­other great ex­am­ple; Yogscast too; it’s about prac­tice. Re­mem­ber, Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

With Ac­cess and her own Twitch channel, Ben­nett looks at both en­deav­ours as forces of pos­i­tive change and im­pact in the in­dus­try. Per­haps of­fer­ing the best tip that she can – don’t look at Youtube as a po­ten­tial ca­reer first, but as a start­ing point for dis­cus­sion and en­gage­ment. “I’m happy to see [one of our] videos not even get that many views if its got loads of com­ments and great dis­cus­sion un­der­neath it. That’s a win for me, be­cause it means we’ve cre­ated some­thing en­gag­ing.” “This is when I know we are on the right track, be­cause then I knew we are build­ing some­thing that was not only mem­o­rable but hav­ing a pos­i­tive im­pact on the au­di­ence. To me, that’s the goal; build­ing com­mu­ni­ties.”


Ac­cess is now in­de­pen­dently run fol­low­ing its de­par­ture from the Yogscast Net­work in 2017, a move that al­lows it to be more ag­ile in the space.

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