I get it; YouTube is essentially a social media platform as much as a video-hosting platform. It’s essential for the livelihoods of “influencers” and “content creators”. Because video is not natively formatted online, it’s an easy and cheap way to host and share videos on websites.
There’s a problem with hosting any of your content externally. You have to abide another platform’s ToS, and it’s all too easy to get flagged and get your content unlisted, demonetized, deleted—and if YouTube is a major source of income for you, your income restricted and livelihood affected.
I blog for fun. Even if this blog had hundreds or thousands of followers, I’d still be doing it for fun. I work with a 4-day on, 4-day off schedule, that could allow me the flexibility to create content on the side for additional income. Blogging is a hobby, and I don’t see it as competing against other bloggers or other content creators.
(I tried daily vlogging for a week, and not something I want to do ever again. The amount of energy going into editing videos is far more than what I want to do, compared to simply writing and revising.)
Part of me wishes I jumped onto the YouTube bandwagon a decade ago when I first began to identify as trans, to document my transition—my attitude about being an online persona would be different today. It was easier back then, when there weren’t so many people competing for attention and ad revenue, when advertisers didn’t wield the power they have today, when creators had far more flexibility than they do today, when being out and trans was far less common. Becoming a “d-list celebrity“, if you will.
I have started and deleted too many attempts at blogging to find all my old prior content to being under house onto this blog. I lost everything I did manage to document to the ravages of depression and time. Two hard knocks against trying to start an online career.
I choose to host my content myself, rather than join an established platform with a large membership. I want to blog, discuss, host content without the constant fear of another party reprieving my stuff, and then going through the constant hassle of trying to contact them to no avail. LGBTQ+ content is too often flagged for being “mature” or “controversial”.
Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t mind hosting to external content. If something adds value to a post, I think it makes more sense to embed, rather than link, for the ease to the reader; they would have to open another tab or visit another page, before coming back, a major inconvenience to them. (Mind yourself about third-party cookies, though!) It adds a nice visual component, adding a bit of interactivity and variety.
I blog to write down my thoughts for others to read. My blog is about my thoughts and life navigating this world as a trans man. About technology. About my community. About what I see on the news. Basically, whatever comes to mind, regardless of what my blog stats say is popular or not. (The only things I’ll restrain myself on are anything professional or people I know personally, to mind their privacy.)
It takes far more work to connect with others to build an audience when you self-host. Running and hosting all your content requires much more input, besides the recording, editing, and uploading to a third-party platform; besides the creative and content aspects, you have the technical ones of hosting, and if your site runs into problems, that’s an additional level of maintenance maybe content creators might not want to bother with. Hosting your own videos … there is VideoPress and other services, but those services add to a budget the creator may not currently have; and trying to host and embed on one’s own site requires even more extensive coding, not just for PCs, but for mobile phones, tablets, and so many hardwares that may not be able to view whatever format your video is encoded in.
It’s easier for me to write and edit, than to record and format. I do not feel comfortable in front of a camera. Blogging on my own site also allows me to avoid the hassles of being on a third party site and the constant threat of being censored or flagged. It’s easier to access on a plethora of devices.
But consumers are more about video today. Blogging may not be as popular as it once was, but the community still exists. Because I don’t network as I should, I don’t expect to have much of an audience.
Forgoing having that built-in community and search algorithm, so I can host my own content without fear of being flagged and deleted, I am willing to deal with that compromise.
But self-hosting isn’t just about blogging. I use the site, behind the scenes, for so many other services.