There has been some excellent blog and social media-related chat recently over on Karen’s blog Did You Make That, prompted by her recent post “Can social media help you choose a needle?” In her article she discusses the changing nature of blogging and it’s relationship with social media, and in particular the growing popularity of YouTube as a social network. In the last month or so Lisa Comfort of Sew Over It launched her new YouTube channel, on which she regularly posts what I would describe as ‘sewing lifestyle’ videos: fabric hauls, pattern and book reviews, and even the occasional vintage hairstyle tutorial. Lisa is not alone; in fact she is part of a much larger trend of established uber bloggers and creative business owners making the move to video, such as internet winner Joy Cho, Kristabel from I Want You To Know, and Carrie from Wish Wish Wish. And of course, myself, although I don’t think my blogging efforts could ever be described as particularly uber.
What fascinated me about Karen’s article was how the mention of YouTube divided opinion among her readers. Some, like myself, were very enthusiastic about consuming or even creating creating video content alongside written blog posts, while others felt that videos didn’t hold the same interest for them as blog posts. All fair enough; the whole point of social media is that you can be as involved, or not, as you want. My suspicion is that this division in opinion boils down to how people use YouTube. The site has come a long way from being a place to find cute animals or videos of famous people falling over (although there is still plenty of that). Today YouTube has 1 billion users browsing through millions of channels producing daily episodes on an enormous range of topics. Fashion and beauty, video game reviews, interior design, parenting, day to day life, even car maintenance all have their communities. There are comedians, musicians, filmmakers, extreme sportspeople, and activists. With such a wealth of content available suddenly the statistics that suggest around 22% of teenagers abandon conventional television in favour of their favourite YouTubers make a lot more sense. And goes a long way to explain the rise and rise of YouTube celebrities, turning their online success into extremely powerful global brands.
As you might guess, I am extremely pro YouTube. I started watching videos regularly about two years ago, and today I subscribe to wide range of channels from popular science to beauty to news channels, and now of course Sew Over It. My motivation for making videos was simple: I started making the videos that I wanted to watch. Instead of people sharing the clothes they’ve bought, I want to see the clothes they’ve made, or the patterns and fabric they bought. I want to see monthly sewing favourites rather than monthly beauty favourites. And try as I might I couldn’t find that content on YouTube. Do a quick search for sewing channels and one theme quickly emerges: tutorials. Millions of them. Every technique you ever dreamed of, and many that you haven’t, are all demonstrated multiple times at varying levels of quality. These videos are extremely useful – my personal favourite is Professor Pincushion, who has guided me through many a fiddly zip insertion – but there are definitely more than enough of them. When I first got the bug for making videos, it quickly became apparent to me that YouTube does not need another sewing tutor. Besides which I am still very much a beginner myself; who am I to explain to anyone how to insert an invisible zipper?
All of which brings me back to Lisa (and in a small way, me). To me there is a huge, gaping niche on YouTube for her kind of video: not a tutorial, but a discussion about the day to day experience of being a home sewer. The styles we love, the fabrics we buy, the patterns that we experiment with, the places where we sew, how we style our handmade clothes. And what Lisa has proven with her channel is that there is keen audience for that content.
So come one come all I say. All you need is a video camera, an internet connection and an idea.
And if you know of any other YouTubing sewers that I should be watching please let me know!