I Have a Dilemma.
And it’s not burnout or anything like that. And it isn’t because my wife thinks that the older I get, the more goofy I get. It’s because I am still blogging more than 7 years after I started my blog. Has anyone else noticed that Philippine expat bloggers seem to be a dying breed? Maybe because many have succumbed to the dark side of vlogging ? I have also reached a point in my so-called blogging/vlogging career where I’m really not sure where my focus should be. I will address vlogging first. For me, creating YouTube videos is challenging and fun, and provides me with a creative outlet that is desperately needed while living in the Philippines (and in retirement to avoid retirement insanity). Even though I have more blogging years than vlogging years under my belt, creating videos has also come to provide me with a sense of self-gratification – like a an artist who completes his/her masterpiece (at least in their mind) – coming with an appreciation of each and every accomplishment. When the style of videos produced is lifestyle oriented, it becomes almost like a video diary of daily life that can be revisited over and over again (like going through an old photo album), and that is what is most gratifying to me – when I can review old videos and witness family and friends at their best (and sometimes their worst), our travels, and our daily experiences. I’m also provided with a feel-good when people “Like”and “Comment” and interact with my videos. Just knowing that viewers are enjoying my efforts provides me with a sense of fulfillment and drives me to want to produce more videos. Anyone who is retired can affirm that any feeling of achievement in our later years is gratifying, whatever that may be (for some, it’s just climbing out of bed without aches and pains!). Because I don’t produce a lot of videos and treat my channel more like a hobby, my subscriber list remains modest. I could grow the channel faster I suppose, but that would require much more effort (work). Currently my channel is approaching close to 3,000 subscribers on purely “organic” growth (meaning I used no trickery, nor have I purchased subscribers, views, or paid placements, etc.). I just post videos whenever I feel like doing so. I do share my vlog (and blog) content on certain popular social media sites just for added reach. I only recently decided to begin using Instagram but I’m not all that excited about having “one more thing” to worry about.
I really do enjoy making videos but, like I alluded to previously, it can become very time-consuming, especially the style of videos I enjoy doing. Most folks are aware that there is a huge difference when it comes to vlogging formats and styles. The more simple and unrefined “info” vlog which basically entails sitting in front of a camera reading from a script (talking-head videos), then processing that video with the bare minimum editing effort, is a world apart from the more complexly edited travel vlogs that are becoming very popular. Making “info” videos on one hand is just plain boring (to me anyway) and on the other hand, this genre of vlogging can become stale and doesn’t always remain Germane. I look at making info-oriented videos like baking cookies… they only remain edible for so long. Here is a good example: While searching for help with understanding Facebook, your results returns old videos discussing methods that are archaic, like how to set up a Facebook account… some 8 years ago. Sorry, not applicable! So what do you do? You keep searching!
Travel videos on the other hand, especially those of the extreme-cinematic variety, are just way cool and hold on to their relevancy for a long time, but cost much more in invested time and money to create (equip, travel, etc.). While this style of vlogging attracts lots of views, subscribers (and subsequent advertisers), it requires more work and hustle (and capital) than a typical full-time job (something I am not interested in!)
Another style of videos that are ever popular are those “living-drama” formats (further described as an exclusively millennial portmanteau) that feature a cast of characters, many times a family, who record their daily lives – everything from the mundane to the exceptional (from toilet-break thoughts to dramatic break-ups). I have no time for that either (I’m supposed to be retired, remember?) The style of video I enjoy doing is one that does not overly consume too much time and with NO schedule. That is why you will never see me advertise something like “New Videos Every day or Every week.” I do videos that make me feel good or where I see fun and humor, and that drives me to create variety. I’ve done neighborhood walks, hotel reviews, and excerpts of my daily life. I’ve done humorous little short skits where I might drag a family member in as an actor. In summary, I create videos on impulse, that do not consume my life… and that my rather small group of subscribers have come to like… or so they proclaim (I believe them!).
Back to my little dilemma. Seven years into it, blogging still provides me a much-needed creative outlet, but of a significantly different kind. When the focus is on writing about day-to-day life or events, it’s easier to communicate as feelings and experience dictate that content. But when writing about other things [official topics] like immigration, customs, medical, travel, etc. (info blogs), it requires much more reading, research, and the practice of due diligence. Again, drearily dull and potentially perishable information (not unlike video). All too often I’ve happened across a fb post, micro-blog, or fully written article that presents misleading or BAD information to readers. I’ve written about this in the past (I Blog, Therefore I Know), so I will not dwell on it again here. I think most of us know by now that anything consumed on the internet may not be factually accurate, and requires confirmation before it is taken as truth.
Should I Vlog or Blog or…?
I like Blogging. I like Vlogging. I like doing a lot of things… and that’s my problem. Everything I do seems to get in the way of everything else I do. Does that sound like a big controversy? Or does that come across as potentially burning the candle at both ends? Well, some days it sure feels like it. One thing I can say for certain is that I have NOT allowed either blogging or vlogging to consume me (but I’ve come close). That’s what golf, racquetball, snorkeling/diving, beaching, fiestas, fishing, and everything else I do is for… to consume me. There are simply many other things more enjoyable than sitting in front of a computer screen for hours on end. Take sunsets for example… so underrated by many, and thoroughly enjoyed by few. And if you are one who takes sunsets for granted, you are just too busy!
For me, blogging has distinct advantages over vlogging. When I’m involved in writing something, I can suspend my creation at anytime simply by smashing the “Save as Draft” button. If my wife says, let’s go get some pizza or frozen yogurt, I can be ready to go faster than a New York skinny minute. (And just so you’ll know… I took a writing break from this post to watch a little bit of the NCAA Basketball action on TV and you didn’t even miss me!) The most difficult thing about blogging is the assimilation of thoughts and spelling (and I have a half-assed spell checker for that). I should also mention that taking a photo for a blog – also not all that difficult. Another advantage to blogging is that I can go back and edit something years after publishing. With published videos, anything that needs to be revised or edited is pretty much a “do over,” and that’s not good on the video monetization front.
Producing videos on the other hand involves a much longer and more tedious process – and one that involves a committed period of time. Shooting hours of video can be taxing. In video speak for example, there is A-roll (principle) footage and B-roll (supplemental) footage with the fundamental differences being that principal photography is the footage used to tell the story, supplemental footage, is used to support or add depth and context to the A-roll. Sometimes there are multiple cameras and video formats that need to be coordinated in production. Many hours can be consumed just sorting through and organizing video clips for use in projects. Once you begin a project, the creative mind is set in motion and equates to both productivity and quality. For me, once I start a video project, it is difficult to simply shut it down moment’s notice. When I am “in the moment” with video editing, any disruption can affect my current thought process and ultimately, my creativity, and then it takes much longer for me to get back on track. My style of editing requires me to keep a high level of undivided attention. At my age, if I forget what I was doing or thinking about yesterday, then tomorrow may hold no hope for thought recovery! This might just be me, but I have been known to log over 15 hours of processing/editing videos in compiling just a ten-minute video project. I know of a few travel vloggers who might squeeze in a couple of hours of sleep a night after a day’s worth of shooting video, in order to process, edit, and upload that video to their anxious list of subscribers/fans (most times just to remain on their radical self-imposed schedule). There is allot to be said for those ambitious and energetic young 20-something year olds! The only sleep I ever intend on loosing these days is the time it takes for me to hit the comfort room at 3am. Sorry for that analogy, but it was a necessary comparison of me vs. them.
Meanwhile, back to my conundrum (remember the dilemma?). Because I realize that I enjoy blogging and vlogging equally well, I’ve decided to NOT let one take priority over the other. If I concentrated more on making videos, it would definitely be at the expense of my blog (and visa versa), and I just cannot let that happen. I enjoy expressing my thoughts and feelings in writing too much and besides, my blog has had a consistent and dedicated viewership for over 7 years now. If I’m buried in video editing, it can be several weeks between blog posts, maybe longer. On the other hand, I’m not much of an on-camera person, as many of my subscribers have probably already realized. I’m just not one for doing those “talking-head” videos (like that Philippines vlogger from California that offers relationship advice videos when he can’t seem to stay in a relationship himself.) At one time I thought of recruiting actors for my videos, but almost all family members have declined that offer of steady employment with little or no pay (perks, but no pay!) I am successful at times getting my wife Teri to make a simple cameo appearance, but the chances of that happening on a regular basis is like squeezing a fat man through a tiny, non-functioning porthole.
So here is my self-serving solution to my dilemma (I’ve always been fairly good at problem solving) – I’m going to remain retired, continue to do some traveling, shoot some more video, continue to blog, and enjoy Living in the Pacific “One Day at a Time.” While it is easy to write and post blog articles and shoot video in the Philippines, production of videos for dissemination there can really be more time-consuming (slow) due to poor internet services. At least on Guam, I have much better internet as far as reliability and speed is concerned. I can concentrate more on blogging while in the Philippines and producing Philippine related video while on Guam. So as far as blogging or vlogging goes, I’ll keep doing both. I guess it all depends on what side of the bed I roll out of (and the speed of the internet). I know for certain, I will be shooting allot more video in the Philippines this next go-round.
All I ask is that nobody hold their breath for that next video or blog post… because that could be hazardous to your health and I will not be held responsible.
Your comments welcomed!
About the author: Arel (Filipino for R.L.) first arrived in the Western Pacific in 1974, and has been coming and going ever since. He and his filipina wife of 33 years moved to the Philippines in 2013 and now share residency and travel between the Philippines and the island of Guam. He pulls no punches when he blogs about life, liberty, and happiness under the tropic sun, all the while Living in the Pacific… the Western Pacific – One Day at a Time!
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