A Year of Making Science Videos

A year ago, I sat in front of my computer, frustrated and on the verge of angry tears.

The pandemic had become real a week earlier. My school closed its building, and we spent a week planning for fourth quarter “emergency online learning.” It was a fast transition, but one my school did well. We went fully asynchronous for fourth quarter, and so as teachers we were planning lessons our students could complete without real-time guidance from us.

And I returned to a former dream of mine: making excellent instructional YouTube videos for my classes.

I had a little extra time to do it, and I had a real need. It would be the only direct instruction I’d be able to provide to my students for the rest of that school year.

So I paid $50 to upgrade to the latest version of Screenflow, a video recording/editing program for Mac, and proceeded to start recording a video that I needed to post that same day.

The details of what happened next are fuzzy, but I had a really hard time with the program, which was recording laggy, unwatchable video. A few hours into it, I was frustrated, I felt like I was neglecting my family because of all the time I spent failing at video production, AND I just wasted money on a program that wasn’t working. (For the record, I don’t recommend Screenflow. If you stumble upon any of my older videos where I seem laggy, it was recorded in Screenflow, and customer service was unhelpful in solving the problem.)

I was ready to give up on the whole educational video thing. But after Carol talked me down, I decided to give it another try.

Fast forward a year, and I’ve made over 70 videos (mostly for my A&P classes), and the channel has had a ton of growth:

I get way fewer views in the summer, and the dip in January is winter break.

I also hit a particularly important milestone for any budding YouTuber: monetization!

To start receiving ad revenue on YouTube, you need at least 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours of watch time in the last 12 months. I just hit that second requirement last week. Today, after applying for monetization, I received this email:

So now when there’s an ad on one of my videos, YouTube only takes half the revenue instead of taking all of it!

Really, it’s not about the money (at this point, I have little idea how much I’ll get from this…somewhere between $1 and $150/month). It’s more about the validation that I’ve made something that others find value in, and I’ll get some small compensation for that.

Most importantly, it’s been rewarding to hear from people who have watched my videos. The messages I’ve received from teachers who watch my videos, teachers who assign my videos, or students around the world who kindly take a moment to leave a comment as they’re cramming for the next day’s test have been incredibly rewarding.

Wherever the channel goes from here, I’m glad I didn’t give up on video production that first frustrating night. See you in the next video!

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