17th April 2011… I upload a very awkward video of my 19 year old self trying to cook spaghetti bolognese. Now I’m 29 years old and somehow, 10 years later, I am (still) doing this as my job. As my career. Who’d have thunk it? Not me. But nonetheless, 10 years later, here we are. And so here are 10 highlights, that I haven’t really given much thought to, are in no particular order and I probably forgot a bunch of stuff…
Things not in this list of 10 but that doesn’t mean they aren’t any less important to me: all the film premiers, trips to Disneyland because VidCon was down the road, nourishing and inspiring interactions with my community (in person and online), making money, meeting my husband through a YouTube friend, all my YouTube friends omgg!! and all the free food and alcohol I’ve eaten and drank at events.
1. My first VidCon (2012)
I remember watching VidCon 2011 from afar just a few months after I’d started making videos experiencing the most intense FOMO. I was determined to get myself to VidCon 2012. I saved up as much as possible whilst a student, booked the cheapest flights I could find, shared a hotel room with 4 or 5 other internet friends to cut costs and just had The. Best. Time. Ever. I’ll be honest though, the FOMO didn’t stop there. There were exclusive parties for elite creators (thanks to the Sorted Food boys, I managed to get into one) but when I think about this time I can still smell the desperation I had turned determination to get into those rooms, on those panels, in my own right. Perhaps not the most noble of motivations but I’ve certainly had a lot of fun. One thing I’d like to tell past Hannah is though, no amount of access to “cool shit” will stop you from feeling FOMO and comparing yourself to others. Just chill and enjoy where you are. Also, looook fan girl pictures alert of when I met Hannah Hart, Grace Helbig and MemeMolly (that’s pronounced me me not meme)!
2. My first “meet up” (2015)
This was back in the day when YouTubers would host meet ups in parks but I had a different idea. When I first moved to London, the Wellcome Collection had an exhibition called the Institute of Sexology, I first heard about it in the summer between graduating and moving and I immediately scoured LinkedIn for the right person to email basically saying, I just did a wrote my dissertation about the history of sexology and I make sex ed YouTube videos can we please work together in some way, in any way!! I got in the room with them and we organised a free event for my viewers and it was AMAZING! It felt so rough and ready, like none of us (me and the museum) really knew what we were doing or how things worked because the “influencer” thing was so knew, I don’t even think people were using the term “influencer” at this point! (a quick search on Google Trends confirms this for me)
I would love to do something like this again but I don’t think it’ll be as easy as it was back then! The Wellcome Collection were amazing and basically opened the exhibition privately after hours for the “meet up”, provided drinks and snacks and had staff do mini talks and demos with some of the objects! So cool! And it felt like such a great experience to give to my viewers as a thank you instead of just ‘hey I’m gonna be in this park, please stand in a line to take a photo with me in the cold’.
3. Seeing videos I’d made on the big screen at Buffer Festival
Buffer Festival is one of my favourite YouTubey, industry events that I’ve been to and I am so grateful to have been invited over the years to screen some of my videos! As a creator, it’s the easiest event to meet other creators at because it doesn’t matter if you have or haven’t heard of someone, doesn’t matter how many subscribers you have. If you were at a screening, saw someone’s video and you liked it, you don’t care who they are, you just tell them. It makes it about the content instead of the individual and it creates such a good vibe. Everyone screening something is there for the same reason, no one is any better than anyone else. It’s so refreshing compared to some other events.
4. Finding my passion
I’ve made a whole video about signs I would be a sex educator from when I was younger but it’s easy to add meaning to these past experiences based on present day knowledge that may not have been there at the time. One thing I can say for sure though, is that YouTube helped me find my passion in sex education and talking about sex and relationships.
5. That Trek America trip
Not necessarily part of my job because I’m not a travel YouTuber but certainly something I would consider a perk of my job is some of the travel opportunities I’ve had. This one stands out to me though which is why it made the list. The Trek America trip (#GIFTED) I took in May 2015. 10 days. 1 van. 10 vloggers. Las Vegas –> Zion National Park –> Bryce Canyon –> Arches National Park –> Monument Valley –> Grand Canyon –> Las Vegas. It was just the most incredible trip I think I’ve ever been on. The camping, the scenary, the hikes, the parying in Vegas. It was just something else and I’m so grateful I was picked for that trip. One of the completely wild things about it was we had a film crew follow us around and they would speed edit each day’s video so in the evening whilst we’re all chilling around the campfire we would have a viewing party of the most incredibly filmed and edited video of what we just did that day. So cool!
6. Developing new skills without noticing
Something people are slowly starting to understand is that being a YouTuber or any kind of online content creator takes work and it requires some skills, skills I certainly did not have 10 years ago (other than my organisation skills, I was born this way). Over the last 10 years I have become a jack of all trades and I used to really resent it because I absolutely felt like a master of none. But I don’t see it that way anymore. I have a really diverse set of skills and what I don’t know, because of my small amount of knowledge, a quick Google or someone explaining it to me will usually get me what I need. I have skills in video, audio, editing, writing, events planning, community management, social media, graphic design (ha barely but I’m including it!), content production, research, speaking, finances etc. etc. May sound silly but that professional development feels like a highlight.
7. Speaking at a UN conference about online sex education
Imposter syndrom is a bitch. I don’t think I’ll ever be rid of it but one thing that helps make it go away for a bit is reminding myself that I was invited to speak at Switched On, a UNESCO symposium, about digital sexuality education. I was invited. To speak. At UNESCO. UNESCO as in the UN. What the fuck. The fact that this happened serves as a reminder to myself that I must be doing something right.
8. Being part of Leaders Live during the 2015 General Election
Apart from it maybe being one of the most disappointing and hearbreaking general elections I’ve voted it, a highlight for me was being part of Bite the Ballot’s Leaders Live. It was a series of livestreamed interviews with all the party leaders *cough* except David Cameron who declined *cough* and the focus was very much on the issues that impact young people (I was 24 at the time okay). I often don’t feel ‘qualified’ to talk about politics, whatever that means, but being part of this over several weeks really helped to immerse myself in the world of politics and understand it all a bit better.
9. Doing It Live Book Tour
This is maybe one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever done, which was completely my idea, with my manager and book publishers around me like… are you sure???? You don’t want to do a normal bookshop book tour???? Whatever 2017 Hannah was smoking to get that kind of blind confidence in her ideas and abilities, I want some of that again. To celebrate the launch of my first book, Doing It!, I roped in my friend, Lucy Moon, to be part of a 2 woman sketch comedy show (wtf???? since when did I do sketch comedy, the AUDACITY of 2017 Hannah), which I wrote, produced and directed. We had costumes, we had audio-visual elements, we had audience games and participation. Honestly, when I think about it I’m like how the fuck did I pull this off? But we had such a blast! The theatre, attention seeker kid in me was really in her element! Whenever I’ve spoken to viewers who attended one of the shows I feel like there’s also this feeling of what on earth just happened but I don’t care, it was ridiculous and fun! Thank you for indulging me in my weird experiments.
10. Backstage at Wicked and Glinda’s bubble
I thought I would end on a wild card. Another ‘perk of the job’ which was just completely unexpected but just set my giddy heart on fire! I went backstage at Wicked (maybe my favourite musical???) and got to ride the Glinda bubble. WHAT A TIME! It’s pretty intense all the way up there and Glinda has to do it in her big dress and sing!
Thank you so much for the last 10 years. It has been a wild ride and I honestly have no idea what the next 10 years have in store for me. We shall see…