The session on 14th July was led by Jay Rixon, Senior Manager in Access, Open and Cross-curricular Innovation alongside our guest, Finlay Games. Finn is an LGBTQ+ Youtuber, blogger, and Motivational Speaker and is currently studying Psychology and Creative Writing with The Open University.
One of the blessings during lockdown is access to a wealth of information online. Blogs, vlogs, and podcasts can help us to feel connected to others, to find information and support, and are a way to spend our time. My name is Finlay Games and on the 14th July I joined Jay Rixon for an Open Programme student/staff drop-in session, to chat all things vlogs, blogs, and podcasts.
The session began with a discussion about what everyone was watching, reading, and listening to. People also spoke about how they discovered content, with some following specific people and others following particular topics. There were some great suggestions of blogs that people were enjoying and I have added some of my favourites here too:
There was a diverse range of podcasts suggested by everyone, from in-depth learning podcasts through to more light-hearted listening. Here are people’s top recommendations:
Lots of people also mentioned audio books as a great alternative to reading. The consensus was that audio content meant that people could do other things, like housework, whilst listening. Other people mentioned how listening to podcasts and audio books could serve as a distraction for low mood and anxiety and provide a way to relax. Here are some of the links that were suggested for audio books:
Jay then invited me to share about my own blogging and vlogging journey. I gave a brief history of how my blogging began as a hobby back on the old dinosaur, My Space. I shared how blogging initially was a way for me to deal with my problematic mental health. I found that blogging was a great outlet and a way to connect with similar people. Blogging very honestly about my experiences also helped me to realise that there was no shame in having mental health challenges.
I shared how my love for vlogging developed many years later when I came to realise I was transgender. The transgender community on YouTube had helped me to find the courage to come out and to start my own transition. I was 37 at the time and there were few people my age on YouTube. I therefore decided that I wanted to add my voice to the collective, to show an alternative trans narrative. At the same time, I started a new blog to run alongside my YouTube channel. On both mediums I began to share my entire life.
I explained how this hobby gradually became my passion. I came to realise I wanted to make creating content my full-time career and a couple of years ago I declared myself self-employed. I shared how blogging and vlogging has brought out an unexpected entrepreneurial side of me. Now I am developing a wellbeing business centred around my blogging and vlogging, where I write, speak, and support others.
I finished by saying that I get as much joy now from vlogging and blogging as I always did, even though it is now my job. I get so much satisfaction from being able to pay it forward and help others, and I feel blessed to have such a large community of people who have become my ‘FinnFam’.
Jay then invited people to ask any questions they had about blogging and vlogging. There were lots of comments from people who said they had often wanted to try but didn’t know where to begin. Blogging and vlogging can seem technical, but you can learn that as you go along. For people looking to start blogging, or vlogging, I suggested that in the beginning, you just keep it very simple. Start with a basic blog, and as you practice writing, your skill will improve. It is the same for vlogging. In the very beginning, I just used a simple camcorder: I pressed record, talked, stopped, and uploaded. Now I edit and add effects and create flashy thumbnails, but you don’t have to start that way. It’s good to remember that every expert starts as a novice! I have a handy blog which details how you can start your blogging adventure:
People also ask about how often you should post if you are blogging or vlogging. I explained that from my experience, it doesn’t matter so much how often, but rather that you are consistent. If the blog is just for you, it isn’t so important. Many people shared how they wrote a blog but never shared it. Rather, it was their personal online diary, just for themselves. However, if you are looking to have followers of your blog or vlog, then consistency can help to keep people interested and let them know when to find your content.
Another question was about how to find inspiration for creating content. I talked about how I use Evernote on my phone, so that I can write and record all the ideas that come to me. Then, when I sit to write a blog or a script for a video, I have seeds of ideas to develop. I also shared that I get a lot of inspiration from watching other vloggers. These are some of my favorite YouTubers and YouTube channels, and of course mine is in the list too, it’s important to love your own content!
I was also asked a very poignant question about the old content on my blog and YouTube channel. I shared that I approach each very differently. With my vlogs, I leave my old content up, because I feel it is important to show the journey. However, if I have said something which I now feel differently about, I will make an up to date video on that topic. With my older blog content, it is great to look back and see my development as a writer. As my writing has improved greatly, I do like to tidy up old posts, improving grammar and so on.
We finished with discussing how we might support each other in starting our own creative adventures. We shared ideas such as beginning a blog or vlog, but only sharing it with close friends, until we felt comfortable putting it in public. We also talked about using social media platforms to connect with other content creators. I mentioned that there is a large engaged community on twitter, where people can participate in chats and read and share each other’s work.
This was such an inspiring and fun session! Thank you so much for having me as a guest and I look forward to reading and watching your creations in the near future!