My Fitbit data shows that my heart shot up to 106 beats per minute (bpm) when I quit my job as a science teacher. Thats far above my resting heart rate for the day (60bpm). This wasn’t because I was flipping tables in rage, in fact, the human resource manager where I taught is fantastic, and it was a great chat filled with understanding. For a lot of reasons, I was very sad to be leaving – there are a lot of fantastic people there that I will miss. However, the real reason my heart rate went up because I was keenly aware of how pivotal this moment was in my life. I was leaving my secure job as a teacher, and making a leap for some still-amorphous thing I’d dreamt of doing for a decade. Those were existentialist heartbeats. I was finally going to make science videos for a living.
Way back in High School, 10 years ago, I made a video for my Communication Studies class where my reflection chased me around in a dream. I called it “The Chase”, because I was 17. I only uploaded it to YouTube after my Communication Studies teacher cut me a deal that if I submitted it to some “film festival” thing then I wouldn’t have to do the photography dark-room unit. I thought I had him duped – so much less work for me, and the dark room sounded boring. What a sweet deal! Little did I know that I’d win that film festival (a youth branch of TIFF), and end up falling so in love with making videos that I’d spend every possible moment of my spare time in that classroom in the following year. I guess you duped me after all, Mr. Bourdeau. Thanks!
So now, exactly a decade later, having gone to a few universities, lived in a few cities, and having won a few more film festivals, I’m doing it – I’m now going to make videos for a living. How am I going to do this? Good question. Hmm.. Really good question. Should I have thought this through more? Oh god!
But really, when I quit, I had a plan. I was going to be doing more contracted videos for schools, universities, and companies, with a focus on science and general educational content. After casually mentioning to some friends that I am up for hire, and quickly seeing how much demand there is for science-literate videographers, I realized: hey, I should really dive into this. I still plan on doing that, but the weeks that followed my resignation gave me an even more insane idea. This is what happened:
While I’d been making YouTube videos in a very non-serious way for 10 years, the notion of actually making any real money on YouTube hadn’t even occurred as an actual possible thing I could do until this until two weeks after I quit my job, when my YouTube views had really sky-rocketed. My channel generally got less than 100 views a day, usually closer to 25. Suddenly my channel was getting thousands a day, eventually hitting 10,686 views on the last day of school. I realized, hey, a lot of people are enjoying watching this stuff. Then a very scary thought hit me: if I could get and sustain four times that viewership, I could make a living off of the ads in my videos. I mean, I’d be tight-roping the poverty-line at that point (if it was my only source of income), and sustaining four times the maximum views I’d ever gotten was a long shot, but maybe it wasn’t completely impossible. Besides, there might be additional income streams besides ads, right? Maybe things like sponsors, patrons, grants, and oh yah, that whole ‘freelance videography’ thing I’d originally left my job for. So far, I’ve only been putting a few hours a week into The Scope of Science – just some Friday afternoons – and if I treated it like a part-time job, who knows what might happen. Worst case scenario, it’ll be like I did a self-directed grad school program in making science videos.
Well, I spent the summer tutoring, re-cooping from the hectic-ness of being a teacher, and planning for my new life as a video-maker. Now here we are. Back at it; more than ever. Expect more YouTube videos, more regularly, and of higher quality.
Wish me luck, and brace yourselves for SCIENCE!
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