In honour of making it to 13,000 subscribers on YouTube (though honestly, I’d say maybe 200 or 300 subscribers actually watch the videos), here’s a link to all of my most popular videos (click or tap the image).
My #1 video has almost 4.5 million views. The views drop off quite dramatically after that. Most of my beekeeping videos these days max out at about 200 views, so the glory days are over.
At Mud Songs, we may not make it first, but I think we can make it last.
And the Clumsy Bee video:
And the Tired Bee video:
And the Bee on Wild Mustard video:
And the Honey Bees on Poppies video:
And the Taste of Comb Honey video:
Bumble Bees in Slow Motion, shot on my Samsung Galaxy S7 cell phone, might be my absolute favourite (and Samsung didn’t pay me to say that):
I also like the Honey Bee Crawling on My Hand video:
And my Macro-ish Honey Bees video:
And my First 567 Days of Beekeeping slideshow video:
The Architecture of Honey Comb video is pretty cool too:
I also like this Inspecting Foundationless Frames video, even though I didn’t know half of what I was talking about (but those were good times; I love comb built on foundationless frames):
And I suppose I have to give it up for my most popular video, Cut Comb & Bottled Honey:
I don’t make much money off these videos. (I don’t like the advertisements. Personally, I use an adblocker.) For the longest time I didn’t think I made anything off them, but I recently discovered that I’ve actually earned enough money from them to pay my blog hosting fees. 95% of the money comes from the “Cut Comb & Bottled Honey” video that currently has almost 4.5 million views. I’m not sure how that happened, but I think it got picked up on Buzzfeed or some other highly-trafficked site.
The vast majority of my YouTube views, I suspect, are not from beekeepers but from people bored at work looking for something to grab their attention for more than 30 seconds, the superficial ones that have pretty shots of flowing golden honey and all that. Which is fine.
While there is definitely money to be made, I don’t tailor my videos for that audience. This is a spare time activity for me that I stumbled into. It began as occupational therapy at a time when I was working in freelance film and often had extended periods of unemployment — lots of time on my hands. But I don’t have that kind of time anymore. I suspect that most people who maintain popular websites don’t have full-time jobs. Unless they live alone or don’t have a life, I just don’t see how it’s possible. It takes time and effort to create worthwhile content for a website. It’s pretty much a full-time job, and I already have one of those. (Though I’d drop my job in an instant if I knew I could make a living off beekeeping.) In any case, despite the deceiving semi-polished look of some of the videos, I do all of this as quick and dirty as I can, usually over my lunch break at work. The videos, the photos, the writing — except for correcting typos (I can’t stand typos) — everything I do here is a first draft. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and blogs (the few that people still read them) are essentially vanity presses and I’m a part of it. I’m not writing for the New York Times here. I aim low. I have to.
Aiming high just isn’t my jam, for the same reason I haven’t developed my beekeeping into a business: I can’t afford to do it. I’ve seen what can happen to people who begin posting on some online platform, a blog or YouTube channel for instance, and then become popular. While some of them just keep doing what they did from the start, many of them go a little nuts. They constantly track their stats to the point where what they did for fun is transformed into a job that occupies their mind during most of their waking hours. During their morning shower, while they’re eating breakfast, as they’re falling asleep — they can’t get away from it. What began as occupational therapy becomes an obsessive occupation. (Beekeeping in general can have this effect on people too. Talking from experience here.) They develop strategies for maintaining and building their audience. They become consumed by it as if their online presence is their life’s work. Anyone who checks their social media feed every 10 minutes knows what I’m talking about. It’s insidious. Or can be.
I had a slight taste of that loopiness when I got a call from Curious.com shortly after my “Cut Comb & Bottled Honey” video hit the big time. The people there asked me if I’d like to create instructional beekeeping videos for their website. I did some research to make sure they weren’t another click-bait company like Cheddar. They’re a legitimate and reputable company. Unfortunately, my beekeeping took a turn for the worse shortly after I signed a sort-of contract with them, and then I got hit with a concussion injury that took me away from beekeeping for two years. I’m only now (in 2020) beginning to get back to where I was before my concussion, and I’m not sure I want to get back to it like I used to. So even though I have my own Curious page or channel or whatever it is, there’s not much on it. I should be jumping at the opportunity to reach a large audience and to get paid for it. But I’m not. Not yet anyway. I’m still searching for the middle way.
But we’ll see what happens.
In the meantime, to the couple hundred people who actually watch my videos, thanks. You’re the best. We may not be big, but we’re small.
Postscript: I just spent about 20 minutes watching all the videos copied to this post. And I’m so glad I did. They are a wonderful reminder of why I love beekeeping. Actually, I don’t really like beekeeping. I like bees.