Here is the full transcript of YouTube star Chris Broad’s TEDx Talk: Your Audience is Waiting. Becoming a YouTube Vlogger at TEDxTohokuUniversity conference.
In the space of 24 hours, five billion YouTube videos are going be watched by an audience of about 13 billion people all around the world, with the average viewer spending 40 minutes per day watching YouTube on their phone. It’s a testament to YouTube’s power and reach around the world.
Whilst most people watch it as a source of entertainment, for me, it’s my life; it’s what I do as a “vlogger.” I hate the word “vlogger.” It’s the most awkward, strange word ever. It’s probably the worst word ever made by humans. “Vlogger” I can’t stand it! Nonetheless, I am a vlogger, and here is my channel. It’s called “Abroad In Japan.” It’s a mid-sized YouTube channel with about 4,100 subscribers. I’ve made maybe about 100 videos in the five years that I’ve been doing it.
During that period, there’s been about 38 million views and 120,000 comments that people have left along the way. It’s pretty amazing to think you can get those kinds of views, just by making videos alone in your apartment, right? Even more surprising perhaps is many of the videos are featured in the mainstream media, from the BBC and the Guardian to the Nikkey and TV Tokyo. I show you this at the risk of seeming arrogant, but the truth is I’m surprised as anyone else.
I’m surprised by all this because I’m not special. I’m not particularly talented at anything. I’ve been a waiter, a university student, an English language assistant and then a Youtuber. And the only difference is, one day, about four and a half years ago when I came to Japan to teach, I picked up a camera and I started filming what was going on around me.
And what was going on around me? Well, my first video is just me in my tiny apartment, super impressed by my little futon that I would sleep on for three years. By all accounts, it’s a terrible video. It’s not very good. But, nonetheless I did that and I started to enjoy it. It became a hobby from then on, and every month I would make one video. Originally I did it with the intention that friends and family back home in the UK would see the videos and know that I wasn’t dead. It was a reminder that I was still alive doing something at the other side of the world, but when I asked friends and family, “Have you watched my videos?” nearly all of them said, “No, no we haven’t.” So that was disappointing.
Fortunately, I found that people that were interested in Japan came across the videos, and after one year and about eight videos, there were an incredible 334 subscribers. It was amazing. I felt like a king. But I kept going and I kept doing it. After about another year and a half, the channel reached 100,000 subscribers.
That was when I realized this was something I could do for a living after I’ve finished life as an English language assistant. So I finished teaching in August 2015 and started doing YouTube full time. Since then, the channel has become one of the largest YouTube channels run by a foreigner in Japan. And these days, it’s more like running a poor quality TV channel as opposed to a YouTube vlog; you get into all kinds of crazy situations. For example, look at this. This is Monster Ramen. This is all the things we’ve done the last six months: this is Monster Ramen in Akihabara; this is Matsusaka Beef – there is also Sakurai-san there – the most expensive beef in Japan; Tokyo Capsule Hotel in Ginza; mummies, a real life mummy in Fukushima – it’s terrifying but amazing; and of course the tomb of Jesus-Christ who might have died in Aomori – this is in Aomori, believe it or not.
There’s no real link; the only thing they have in common is that we just think things are interesting. Things that we think are interesting get featured. The one thing I don’t understand though or never really understood, is why aren’t there more people doing this, more people vlogging? Where is everyone? Because you don’t need any qualifications; you don’t need any money. You can do it now. All you really need is a camera and the Internet, and most of us carry those in our pocket today in the form of a smartphone.
To put things into perspective, I think there’s probably around a hundred foreign bloggers living in Japan right now, most of whom live in Tokyo, Kansai or Nagoya. As far as I know, I’m the only vlogger in Tohoku. That hundred figure is pretty small when you think that there’s about two million foreigners living in Japan. It’s strange for me as a vlogger in Tohoku. It’s like being at a party that anyone can join.