I Love YTtalk
- Aug 31, 2011
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Taofledermaus is a YouTube channel from video creator Jeff H, Taofledermaus is a curiosity channel filled with exciting experiments using chemicals, asking questions and answering them by conducting experiments.
Interview Questions and Answers
When did you start your YouTube channel?
I signed up on Youtube July of 2006 but I didn’t upload a video until February of 2008.
What is your channel all about and what do you do on your channel?
I do a lot of simple-science experiments, demonstrate the properties of the element, mercury, and post a lot of videos of strange things shot out of a shotgun. Many ideas are driven by viewers’ comments.
What got you into creating YouTube videos?
My very first video was just something to upload to figure out how to upload anything on Youtube. The video was horrible but became semi-popular. Part of the success was dumb-luck but the video was also something that hadn’t been done before. I modified an airsoft gun into a real firearm, legally. I definitely learned that there’s a better chance a video will be more successful when you innovate and show something unique.
I like using my imagination to come up with original concepts. More often than not, one of my ideas will spark a new idea from a viewer that I never imagined. Interaction between the video creator and the viewers is very important. The excuse that someone is “too busy” to reply to comments is a cop-out. It really doesn’t take much time to reply to comments, and viewers, including me, like to know their comments are being read.
Do you think you would have carried on uploading if your first video didnt gain as much success?
I think I would have continued to upload videos despite the success of my first video. Back then, new Youtubers could not monetize their videos, so the only reward was the joy of just making the videos and seeing people watching them.
Do you think no matter how large your audience is that you should respond to your comments? If your channel had 5 million subscribers would you respond similarly as you do today and if so do you think it would become unmanageable eventually?
As my channel grew over the years, which has been slow, I was always afraid how it would affect me on a psychological level. Would it go to my head? Would I have time to do anything else? Here I am in 2015 and I think I still have the same attitude I had when my channel was smaller. I have always set aside a little time to reply to comments and I promised myself I would always do that. Since I did not achieve success overnight, I’ve been able to keep up with things.
I once watched one of those Fine Brothers “Kids react to..” videos and I left a nice comment on it saying how enjoyable it was. Much to my surprise they replied to my comment and it felt great. That was definitely an inspiration to me that even very large channels can still find the time to engage their audiences.
Can you remember any mistakes you made that with hindsight you wouldn't make again?
Probably using the wrong music that had copyright or Creative Commons issues. It’s important to find artists who understand that when Youtubers use their music , it can be mutually beneficial to everyone. It gives the artists exposure, and they provide great music to us.
How did you get into science and experimenting?
I’ve always been a tinkerer and curious about how things work. When I post a video, I am learning something new too. More often than not, the results surprise me just as much as the viewers.
When starting out did you do any kind of promotion? If so how did you promote your channel in the early days?
I never did any kind of promotion and I still don’t. Everything is “natural” and I can only attribute my growth to people stumbling on my videos or finding them posted on forums, etc.
Have you had many issues with trolls, I can imagine some very silly suggestions being made but thats not exactly trolling, if you have had any how did you deal with them and how would you recommend others to deal with issues with trolling in their comments section?
I can’t think of any channel that hasn’t had issues with trolls. My philosophy of dealing with trolls is to use their energy against them. I will often reply with a humorous comment and avoid sinking to their level. Troll comments are still “audience engagement” and it is VERY easy to keep them coming back again and leaving more comments. You have to realize that the trolls are the ones with a broken “switch” in their head and you can’t take it personally. Once in a while I will reply to a nasty comment and it will shock them that I answered them and they will back-pedal and say they were just kidding, etc. It’s nice to be able to “convert” a troll and make them think about how they act online.
What is your favourite element? I have noticed you do a lot of gallium and mercury videos, is one of those your favourite? If so why?
Definitely mercury. It’s really a mysterious and strange element. A tiny bottle of it will blow your mind when you try to pick it up. You think someone glued it down at first.
How would you describe your channel growth from start to this day? Was there a viral video that really helped your channel or has it been steady and gradual?
Growth of my channel has been slow and steady. I have had a few videos on some TV shows like “Sons of Guns”, “Amazing acts of Science” and “You have been Warned”.
But surprisingly, that exposure hasn’t helped my channel very much. I’ve had a number of videos that have been “viral-ish” and have been on news websites like Daily Mail, Theblaze.com and Huffington Post. Even that exposure hasn’t translated to growth of my channel. A few of my videos have just done very well being featured on Youtube and have gotten millions of views that way, slowly.
Do you do anything in particular to encourage your viewers to ask questions?
I rarely ask direct questions to my viewers. My early videos, I didn’t narrate them at all.
I am just NOT a gifted orator. I have found that when I say something even slightly controversial, it will generate a lot of focus and many people will fixate on what I said.
I have to be careful about what and how I say it so people will not get side-tracked and lose focus on what the video is about.
Which video was your favourite to film and why?
A couple years ago I got invited to film an “explosives demonstration” which was a seminar for law enforcement, fire departments and other emergency personnel from the western U.S. They blew up old ambulances, police cars, buses and anything else they could drag out there. I think I was the only civilian there. I never expected to ever witness stuff like that in real life. It really was a fun and informative project. I also left with a better appreciation for the firemen and police and what they have to deal with on a daily basis.
Do you find that asking questions in your videos helps increase audience engagement and do you think that would help smaller channels?
Some of my videos like the “Test tube torcher tests” I make sure I tell people these are viewer ideas, so that does generate a LOT of new suggestions.
Is there anything you wouldn't shoot out of a shotgun?
I get a large number of people suggesting I shoot mercury out of a shotgun. I guess since I have mercury, and I shoot weird things out of shotguns, it seems like a good idea to people. I won’t shoot hazardous materials. I also won’t shoot “creepy” things like sex toys or weird bodily fluids etc. I don’t want to be known as “weirdo Jeff” to my family , coworkers, etc. who watch my videos.
Is there something you would love to do in one of your test tube torcher/torture tests that you havent done yet but dream of doing?
I want to put gummy bears in one. I keep forgetting to buy them.
What is the craziest request you have had from your audience?
Weird bodily fluids (including blood) in a test tube or a shotgun shell.
What is the most dangerous video you have made and have you ever been hurt whilst making your videos?
When I filmed the “explosive demonstration” a piece of shrapnel came spinning out of the side of a fire engine they blew up with C4. It was about the size of a sheet of paper and probably weighed 2lbs. (1kg) It flew about 500 yards and hit a parked car. It could have easily flown towards the spectators and injured someone.
I got hurt ONE time filming a video. I tried to slice through some water bottles with a big knife and my hand slipped and I sliced open a finger and had to get some stitches.
How do you see your channel progressing in the future? Do you have any plans you can share at all with me?
I’ve seen a huge increase of subscribers in 2015, so I see that continuing to grow. My daily video views are growing, but not at the same ratio the subscribers are growing. I tend to put more weight on video views than how many subscribers I have. Because I post a variety of videos with different topics, it’s not the best formula for subscriber growth. But I would get bored posting ONE type of video and I don’t see the point of having a different channel for each topic. Subscriber views make up a tiny fraction of my overall views and like most channels, only 10 to 20 percent of my subs actually watch my new videos. I don’t have any long-term plans other than trying to collab or associate with other channels.
What do the neighbours think?
The test tube torcher tests are done in my backyard. We don’t have any neighbors next door and I film these during the week when everyone is at work. No one has complained. I don’t think they even know I make YT videos.
Where do you see your channel in a year?
I hope to see a significant increase in daily views. I want to continue to make improvements to make my videos more fun to watch. Every video is a learning lesson.
The test tube videos may or not be continued. I originally planned to just make 20 of them and give them some time to see if they have an audience on their own. In a year, I’m sure my subscriber number will have doubled or tripled. I’ll probably still be working my normal job.
If you had one tip to give all YouTube creators what would it be and why?
Make videos only if you enjoy making them. Don’t go into it thinking you will get rewarded with fame or fortune. It really is hard work and it consumes a lot of time. If you are having fun just making the videos, you win. When you have fun, it seems less like work and the fame and fortune may come as a result. The more you try, the luckier you get.
You seem to have an insatiable curiosity, does your curiosity of how things work really drive you and your channel?
Curiosity is very contagious. Sometimes my curiosity sparks the curiosity of viewers and they post a suggestion that I would never imagine doing. It just reinforces my belief that Youtube is a social network and how important it is to engage viewers.
Have you enjoyed answering these questions for us?
Yes I did. It really got me thinking about my channel differently. I remember when I was just a viewer and thought of the channels I watched as superstars. I realized that if they could do it, why couldn’t I? Over time, I‘ve passed up many of those channels and oddly, I still do not think of myself as a star. I think that is a good thing.
Can we have your social links?
Taofledermaus Channel: http://www.youtube.com/taofledermaus
Taofledermaus Blog: http://taofledermaus.blogspot.com/