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Hot Topic YTtalk member success story: Lightsen

Discussion in 'YTtalk Creators Interviews' started by Crown, Aug 3, 2017.


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  1. Crown
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Administrator
    As part of our YTtalk creator interview series (see: http://yttalk.com/forums/yttalk-creators-interviews.96/ ), I recently interviewed @Lightsen.

    YTtalk member name: Lightsen ( @Lightsen )


    Channel name and link: https://www.youtube.com/user/lightsen
    Channel type: Animation

    Most popular video: "You don't have enough money to train me!" ( 10 million views!):

    Social media links
    twitter: https://www.twitch.tv/lightsen
    twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/lightsen
    tumblr: http://1ightsen.tumblr.com/


    Hi Lightsen. Please tell us a bit about yourself.


    I'm Rachel, a 26 year old geordie from the UK that never really grew up. I have a degree in Animation, and in my day Job I work as a Hard Drive recovery technician. I have a cute pet lizard called Roxy, and I'm currently learning the trombone for comically cartoon sound effect purposes.

    Apart from Youtube, what are some of your hobbies, favourite pastimes?

    I absolutely love cartoons! Growing up watching Tom & Jerry and Looney Tunes had left a big impact on me, and so drawing and animation is definitely my biggest hobby, and what I spend many hours a day doing. I like to play piano which helps my fingers avoid cramping up too much from overdrawing, and I have been playing videogames for about 20 years. Just over a year ago I decided to start Speedrunning to give myself small animation breaks, and more excuses to play my older games, and I feel like I've now become a part of those communities.

    Let's move on to YouTube. When did you start making videos on Youtube?

    I Posted my first video in August 2006, back when I was in school, and before I had a drawing tablet or any knowledge of Animation. A lot has changed since then!

    What is your channel all about and what do you do on your channel?

    My channel is basically all my favourite things combined. Big colourful animated videos that rely a lot on slapstick comedy, and parodies of games I love, like Pokémon and Sonic. I've set a goal of making cartoons that are suitable for kids, but also entertain adults. I only ever make jokes and visual gags that I laugh at myself, and then hope there are people out there that share my sense of humour!

    I've also made my own original animated series called Lizard Cops that started out as a college project. It's a project I've poured a lot of love into, and I can't wait to bring it back, bigger and better soon, and of course, with plenty of slapstick.

    How / why did you get into Youtube ?

    Well, originally I hadn't really used Youtube at all, I was making plenty of amateur artwork for DeviantART in March 2006, and had discovered not only that I could make wobbly digital art with the mouse in MS Paint, but I could combine it with Windows Movie Maker to create something truly cringe worthy. DeviantART had no way to upload my new found video "talents", and a friend of mine told me about this new site 'Youtube' that let you post video online for free! After posting a couple of videos to Youtube, and using it as a place to host my art, I started to slowly spend more and more time on the site.

    I mostly got inspired from my favourite cartoons, I wanted to bring slapstick back because it literally never gets old. Tom & Jerry was as funny to my grandma as it was to me, and I loved that. The first channels I remember watching on Youtube were people like Nigahiga, and others that mainly did skit comedy with plenty of slapstick. At the same time I also got into Newgrounds and found myself following the flash animation community, particularly people like Egoraptor that eventually made their move to Youtube as well. All of these creators have influenced my animation work and entertained me while I made it.

    How big is your channel now?

    Right now, the channel is sitting at 153k subs with 34mil views, with a steady average of around 100 subs and 26k views a day.

    Could you describe the growth? Was it gradual or did it suddenly explode overnight? What events triggered the growth ?

    My channel is pretty much as gradual in growth as you can get. Videos are uploaded very sparsely and very very slowly thanks to the way animation is made.

    By my 5th year of making videos, I had 1,508 subscribers and 1mil views. My videos had a few hundred thousand views each, but the subscribers trickled in very slowly.

    I worked very hard through trial and error to get better at drawing and animating, trying to make every video that came out better than the last.

    by my 7th year, the channel hit 15k subs. I had just finished college with my Animation degree, and with my next upload I had my first semi-viral video. 'You don't have enough money to train me' ended up doing pretty well, and I was finally starting to view youtube less of a hobby art dump, and more of a community. I think the video's slight success came from it being posted on a couple of geek sites, and also the fact that it had no verbal script, so it passes the language gap.

    Once the channel passed 20k in 2014 It started to make me a little nervous. At that time I had started an animated series (That I'm still working on today! That's right, Animation takes that long) called; 'Twitch plays Pokémon animated'. This ended up gaining lots of popularity, which I can't explain since the subject was really a specific niche event that happened and also posted a year out of date of the original joke, but it worked, and now I was aware that things were starting to speed up a little.

    2015 saw the channel pass 50k, and in late 2016 it passed the awesome 100k milestone! A big part of this was due to a well timed animated Undertale video, that I happened to post on the game's one year anniversary. (Timing is everything!)

    Overall, it's been a very slow build up that has eventually started to snowball way bigger than I could ever have predicted.

    Do you use social media to promote your content? If so how?

    Social media has been invaluable lately for giving updates for the channel. I started off with a Facebook account in 2012, it now has 340 followers. (https://www.facebook.com/LizardCops)

    I use Tumblr, with currently 1,711 followers, the site is great for sharing your videos with certain fandom groups, and people there seem to love animated gif's. (http://1ightsen.tumblr.com/)

    I've also used Twitch to show the animation process, and to relax a bit to a small group of 718 followers (https://www.twitch.tv/lightsen)

    Twitter is the major help for my channel with nearly 7k followers, It seems to be the most busy of my accounts, and probably the best for promotion for me. Great place to post work in progress pictures, and to talk directly and publicly with fans. (https://twitter.com/Naysu_Lightsen)

    Do you use SEO? If so how?

    I try my best to work around the scripts I have and make the final animations searchable. First by thinking of how someone who may be interested, would attempt to search for something like it on YouTube. I then use those keywords as my tags, making sure to include any that are 2 word phrases. For example "Pokémon Animation" is useful for all of my Pokémon videos.

    Titles are pretty tough for me and probably one of the hardest parts of any video! I don't have enough uploads to really say I've thoroughly tried and tested this yet, but I now try to include a keyword or two that will be a common search for videos like mine.

    Descriptions have become pretty similar now, always including a couple of links to related videos, and playlists, credits and a short summary of what to expect in the video, like a book blurb.

    What other promotion do you do?

    The only other promotion that seemed to work well for me was fan sites. Sites like 'Pokémemes' and 'Dorkly' picked up on a couple of videos and really helped them grow. If you can find where the fans are for your content subject, then they will be more likely to enjoy you posting it there.

    Are you active in the "animation community" of Youtubers? How important do you think it is to make contacts and to network with other creators?

    After going it alone for years I was suprised to find that there was a community of animators out there. Jaiden from JaidenAnimations contacted me out of the blue, and since we had similar interests (both being animation channels and into Pokémon) we quickly made friends. she introduced me to a bunch of her other animation channel friends, and because we were hanging out a lot the fans ended up coining us the "Animation Squad". It's been a blast getting to know lots of newer channels too, and because of the typical slow upload times for animated videos, it means I can keep up with a lot of their channels much easier.

    I would now say networking and making friends on YouTube is definitely worth your time. Not only do you end up with some good friends, but the viewers from each channel tend to like similar things, so you end up somewhat sharing a collective audience. It's a win-win situation!

    Has YTtalk helped?

    Absolutely! After searching for YouTube related questions on Google, I found myself ending up on YTTalk multiple times. After joining this forum to save the hassle of Google searching all my questions, I found more than just answers, but plenty of advice, guides and feedback. My first collaboration came about from a user I met here too!

    Do you think collaborations are important? Have you ever done any collabs?

    I've only done the one collab mentioned in the last question; "Perish Song Panic" It has become one of my favourite videos I've done. I think collaborating is a great opportunity to connect with other creators, finding people with similar interests.

    Your videos are amazing and they take a very long time to make. What keeps you motivated during those long hours of work?

    Thank you very much! :D

    I think with most artists you will get periods of low motivation no matter what you do. I find it's best to ride them out. When my motivation is really low and not a single line I draw seems to go right, I just take a small breather, and start drawing/doodling other things. I've found jumping to a different scene can help if your eyes start to get stale drawing the same scene for weeks. Sometimes having quiet time with some music keeps me focused, or conversely, voice chatting with a friend who is also working on their own stuff, can keep me going for hours.

    The hardest part is working daily on something that no-one will see for many months until it's completed. People assume your not doing anything if your not uploading regularly, and it gives me stress when people get a bit impatient, if only they knew! Thankfully, social media is great for posting work in progress sneak peeks. And after it's all said and done, the final animation ends up being worth all the hard work, and hopefully others think the same too.

    I know you recently received your silver play button. Congrats. Talk us through the process of getting it. How did that feel when it arrived ?

    Thank you!

    100k was a milestone I wasn't ever expecting to reach. I guess there are still a lot of patient people out there. The YouTube dashboard had given me a code, and though I had heard these can take many months to arrive, It happened to show up in less than 2 months, and right on my birthday no less!

    I'm a bit scared to display it in case it falls off the wall and breaks the case, or my face, so I keep the box on a shelf right now, once I get some industrial supports I may trust myself to hang it up... one day.

    Here is a photo:


    Any other high points of your Youtube career?

    The whole experience has been one big high point! Over the years I've had some really kind and supportive comments and emails from viewers that can really lift me from any low moods. I've been pleasantly surprised to see how incredibly in depth and thorough the criticism I've had, and that's really helped me improve a ton. Recently one of my videos passed 10m views, and that just blows my mind.

    I've always used my account to not only post videos, but to watch, like and comment on others, and recently getting spotted and recognised from my dumb comments has been pretty funny. Another thing would be those that tell me I helped inspire them to start animating or to get back into art, it's part of the reason I leave my first and worst videos up, so anyone that wants to learn can see how poor my art was back then, and if you put the time, effort, time, dedication and time (did I mention time?) then you can improve!

    And low points? Have you ever felt like quitting?

    Since It has mostly been a hobby for me, quitting was never something I considered. Because of how much the YouTube Algorithm has been changing to favour different things, I know my channel is not something that can be considered stable, but that doesn't mean I can't have fun while it lasts.

    Another low point is mainly having to deal with my work getting stolen and reuploaded to YouTube and Facebook. But there's not a lot can be done, so it's not worth getting upset over.

    Can you remember any mistakes you made that with hindsight you wouldn't make again?

    I've learned not to give out promise dates, since as much as I want to believe I can finish something by a certain date, real life can get in the way easily, and then rushing something for a date can be really stressful.

    What advice would you give a new Youtuber who's struggling to grow their channel?

    Most of the best tips are already available here on YTTalk, but here's some things that made the biggest impact for me personally:

    • Take all criticisms to mind not to heart. Don't let it bring you down, but listen to what they say, especially if you get similar criticisms over and over (I used to get a lot on the sound, until I got someone on board I commissioned to do my sound)

    • Reply to as many comments and messages as you can! It always encourages people to comment more, and maybe even stick around and sub when they see their comments are thanked.

    • If you are struggling to get your channel anywhere fast, please understand even after 11 years at Youtube, only the last 3 really saw major growth for me. 6 years in and I only had reached 3k subs! There is always a chance, so don't give up on your channel because of slow growth, especially if you enjoy it!


    Big thanks to Lightsen for taking the time out of her busy schedule to do this interview with me.

    For all our creator interviews, see here > http://yttalk.com/forums/yttalk-creators-interviews.96/
    Tobes, Noobzilla, Mikes and 12 others like this.
  2. DanQZ
    From what I hear, animation channels on Youtube have a big disadvantage because of how long animation takes.
    Mikes likes this.
  3. Loery Potpie
    I Love YTtalk
    Awesome interview and really motivating for youtubers who just started. Thanks guys!
    Mikes and Lightsen like this.
  4. Lightsen
    Animation Yey!
    things change so fast you never know, but I would still recommend it, its nice and chill having your own schedule
    --- Double Post Merged, Aug 3, 2017, Original Post Date: Aug 3, 2017 ---
    I'm glad to hear it can motivate someone! :)
    Noobzilla, Mikes and Crown like this.
  5. KatyAdelson
    I Love YTtalk Moderator
    Awesome interview, and very inspiring!! =) I noticed that the silver play button picture isn't working, but I remember seeing it in the milestone forum. ^_^
    Lightsen likes this.
  6. Crown
    ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Administrator
    Really? That's weird. It's working for me. I've just changed it to a clearer one. Can you see it now?
    KatyAdelson likes this.
  7. Messages:
    Wow this is great! What an inspiring story!
    Lightsen and Crown like this.
  8. KatyAdelson
    I Love YTtalk Moderator
    Yes, now it is working! Before, I just saw ['img'] as seen at the end of this post lol

    It's happened before on my end where I can see the picture, but nobody else can.. =/ I'm not sure what causes it... [​IMG]
    Crown likes this.
  9. TheBaconater
    Good read! Nice to have these interviews because it reminds us that we all have the same starting point, so hearing the struggles of others who are now doing well for themselves can give us that boost we need to keep going!
    Alexander Hoff, Lightsen and Crown like this.
  10. EVO
    I Love YTtalk
    Great write up. Thanks for sharing your story Lightsen.
    Crown and Lightsen like this.

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