I Once Was (Almost) A YouTube Star

Bipolar disorder giveth, and bipolar disorder taketh away.  Case in point:

Fueled by mania, I almost became a YouTube star – then depression returned and my dream of YouTube stardom died like so many projects before, and so many projects since.

Right after I graduated college I became obsessed with Minecraft like a lot of other people around that time.  I also became interested in video editing because mania makes you interested in totally random crap – so why not?  Then I married the two and voila!  A Minecraft gaming YouTube channel was born!

Good old Pugnation!  And no, this is not a shameless plug for my YouTube channel.  I promise you, there’s no reason to go there unless you really want to hear my faux-excited / nails on a chalkboard announcer voice.

OK, maybe 5,000 subscribers doesn’t make me a YouTube “star” but at the peak of the channel the growth was incredible.  I was gaining subscribers by the dozen every day, and like a snowball rolling down hill, it was picking up momentum at an incredible rate.  I started getting big views like this:

big vids
These actually paid for the computer I’m writing this on.

Stardom was still far away, but it seemed inevitable.  Fantasies of quitting my job ran through my head.  I became obsessed with making the absolute highest quality content possible.  It took hours to shoot a 20 minute episode, and then that was followed by many more hours in the editing room (And by editing room I mean the unused bedroom of our two bedroom basement apartment).

Everything had to be perfect – the footage, the edit, even the video thumbnail.  It seems strange now that I had that much time to do anything, but that was before children.

Just kidding.

I remember this obsession was a source of stress in my still new-ish relationship with my then girlfriend and now wife.  She always supported my little (or big) projects and still does; but this one was truly consuming.  This was years before my bipolar diagnosis so I didn’t fully understand all the reasons for the obsession myself; but really, it makes sense.  Bipolar mania hooked me at the beginning, and it slowly became an addiction.

At first, you’re sustained by your interest in the topic alone.  You spend hours working on a video, you release it, and nobody watches it (just like writing a blog!).  Then you do it again, and again, and again.  Eventually you get a trickle of views and some comments, and you’re thrilled!  It feels amazing seeing people interact with your work; it’s a high!  As you build an audience the positive feelings grow and grow.  And just like that, you’re addicted.

“Hit like, comment, and subscribe!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…”

But like alcoholism, it requires more and more work to keep getting the same high.  The pressure to release more videos grew and grew.  Eventually it’s all I wanted to do, and anything that interrupted my video making was extremely frustrating.

Ultimately, the channel collapsed.  The stress of continuing to release high quality content as quickly as possible began chipping away at it.  The strain it put on my personal life began to take a toll as well.  Eventually the depression returned and finished it off; one day I simply lost interest and stopped making videos.  The channel has since faded into obscurity, but still exists as a living monument to my bipolar disorder.

This all seems pretty negative, but there are some lingering positives that came from the whole attempt at YouTube stardom.  I already mentioned that it paid for my computer, but I also gained a ton of knowledge about video editing, image editing, and internet advertising; not too shabby!

Additionally, I gained some other valuable insights:

  1. You’ve got 5 seconds to hook people: YouTube lets you see exactly when people stop watching your video, and it’s very frequently in the first 5 seconds.  That’s how long you have to convince people to watch your stuff.  I can’t tell when you stop reading these articles, but I imagine the same principle applies to this blog.
  2. If you’re not passionate about your topic, nobody will watch: My voice might be annoying-as-hell in those videos, but at least it’s enthusiastic.  People hate it when you sound bored in videos.  They’ll be bored too.  Again, the same thing applies to writing.

In closing, I wanted to point out that Loudest Minds actually does have a YouTube channel.  Granted, it’s not exactly something I recommend you visit since there isn’t a single video there yet.

But hey, I can fix that!  Why don’t I just apply what I learned while making Minecraft videos and make a Loudest Minds video?  As I recall, the recipe for a successful YouTube video looks something like this:

  1. Get people’s attention FAST: Blow something up in the first 5 seconds.  Whatever you have to do to wake people up.
  2. Be enthusiastic: Drink 5 cups of black coffee.  Channel your favorite annoying sports announcer.  Hit record and let whatever happens happen.
  3. Give people a reason to watch: People have approximately 400,000 TV channels, 3 quadrillion webpages, instant access to free porn, 2 trillion apps, and Words With Friends all at their fingertips.  They have a lot of other stuff they could be doing other than watching your video.  Remember this and work tirelessly to give them a reason to watch. 
  4. Keep it short: Ever load a video and see that it’s 20 minutes long and think, No. effing. Way?  Me too.  Remember, brevity is the soul of wit.  Keep it as short as possible.  I made a successful tutorial series that promised you’d learn the concept in “3 minutes or less.”  People loved it.
  5. Cut Mercilessly: Record 3 hours and keep 10 minutes.  95% of what you recorded sucks.
  6. Include shameless self-promotion: Hit like, comment, and subscribe for more!  I need your views to validate my self-worth because I have crippling self-esteem issues that fuel an incredibly destructive alcohol habit that’s threatening everything I hold dear…

So with all that in mind, here’s the very first, very awesome video from Loudest Minds!

Hit like, comment and subscribe for more!  See you again soon.  (Side experiment: If you made it this far in the article, leave a comment that says “Rosebud” and confuse the 95% of people who stopped reading in the first 5 seconds).

Published by


Bipolar husband, father, and professional. Author of loudestminds.com blog - a place to learn about mental illness and yes, maybe even laugh a little.

11 thoughts on “I Once Was (Almost) A YouTube Star

  1. Love this Matt! And ‘before the dark tomes’ lol I can relate! 🙋🏽‍♀️ My two older but still young boys are Minecraft obsessed, as to other things like Legos and Star Wars. And they’ve been asking for a YouTube channel since I can remember. So glad you gave me an insight on this. You should definitely continue, your views – or stats, don’t know what to call them, were and can still continue to be incredible. Be the ‘almost’ YouTube star!

      1. I’m sure and if you work outside the home, you have even less time. But if you want, I’ve tried getting up before the kids or work on the blog after they’ve gone to bed. Maybe you can do that for you YouTube channel. Perhaps alternate days, when you work on the blog and on other days, the channel. Just a thought. Ugh, I know what that’s like, truly a juggling act. 🤦🏽‍♀️😌

      2. Matt, I thought of you today. I’d like your two cents, I’m thinking of doing something on YouTube, did I mention I’m an introvert and incredibly shy?! Yes, YouTube’s perfect for me. No, not like that, I was thinking of starting perhaps the 20,000th nail tutorial channel for beginners – like myself. I’m an artist at heart and recently began creating nail art, I’m learning – no pro here, yet. I don’t want to do voice anything, simply text the nail steps on the screen, and show my hands, no face on camera. I got that idea from a YouTuber I recently discovered and thought she was brilliant.
        These are my thoughts, however, I have NO idea where, how, what, to get started with this YouTube thing. I have no camera, just the iPhone, so there’s that, I know, aren’t I off to a promising start, much less microphone, etc. what editing program do you suggest, ahem, free program if possible. 🙂
        Thanks, Ana

      3. That sounds great! I’ll have to refresh myself on editing programs since the last time I got one was in 2011. I use power director but it’s not free. I’ll let you know what I find out

    1. Thanks for reading all the way through! I’m happy I’m not the only one who turned to youtube for that particular itch. I actually did go back to this channel too very briefly on another manic episode.

  2. I’m always afraid to like something because of my addictive personality and also I’m a Leo a control freak so when i try something in I get that mind blowing omg I like this or I love this I make myself say its trying to get me its trying to control me and my paranoia helps there but i think some things really do control me because there are a couple things I still do but I’ll do em for a while and stop just to make sure I’m still in control but the fact that I go back now I realize they’re laughting at me saying she don’t have a clue that we’re still controlling her WOW. I Literally just figured that out hum back to the drawing board

Leave a Reply