November was the month I decided I really needed to get a solid place to live. I’d been living on the road from June and it was beginning to wear on me. I spent the last third of the month back in the US for the Thanksgiving holiday. This is always a joy, but my family’s approach to the holiday is not what anybody would call relaxing. Prior to that I had to re-shuffle all of my belongings in Istanbul. My month and a half sublet was just long enough to re-collect everything I owned, throw a bit of it out, and then re-distribute it. This, and a fair amount of freelancing kept me limited to just the required 4 videos this month.
As a side note, it was also a fairly grim month in Istanbul politically speaking. In the June elections the ruling AK party had finally lost its majority in parliament after more than a decade. The AK party has done a lot for Turkey, but in recent years the mask has slipped to reveal a more authoritarian face. We were literally dancing in the streets after the June election. But the opposition parties failed to do anything with this victory. No coalition was established, triggering new elections on November 1st, which the AK party won by a larger margin than ever, restoring its parliamentary majority. The only thing that can challenge the AK now is internal party dissension. It’s been a very sad thing to watch, and that too influenced my mood this month.
November 2015’s first video, “3 Reasons Putin Will Never Touch Estonia“, was the most successful, and is now, six months later, my fourth most successful video ever. It’s also the last truly break-out video I’ve had. So it’s worth looking a little harder at why it was successful, and perhaps developing a lesson or two that I can use for future vids. Videos come to me in a number of ways. Some I work hard to put together. Some are one good idea, that I flesh out with some random thoughts. The best videos, and usually the best performing ones, come to me in a flash, almost fully formed. This was one of those. Inconveniently, these typically come to me after I’ve already turned out the light and am trying to sleep. It’s important to write it down quickly when I get one of these ideas. This week, here in May 2016, I’ve got about three video ideas that came to me days or weeks ago that I’ve still got to write down. They’ll probably get done, but they won’t be as good as they would have been if I had written them when I thought of them. When I write them down immediately, the visual ideas that go with the script flow more naturally as well. Coming up with stuff as I edit, my usual practice, can lead to some fun discoveries, but the videos are better when at least some of the visual structure is planned ahead of time. Looking at the video now, I also notice that it’s fairly data-heavy, incorporating solid animated visuals reflecting that data.
That week in November I was already thinking about list videos after the success of “3 Reasons China Will Never Rule the World“, my fifth most successful video. List videos work, that’s a lesson I’ve already learned. Not all of them break out, but almost all of them break 500 views, which still puts a video in the top half as far performance goes. I need to do more list videos. So was it the subject matter? I think that’s a part of it. There is very little in mass media that looks at the “threat” from Russia rationally. There’s a real appetite for videos that contradict the US push for a new cold war. This video does that quite effectively. One other theory I have is the virtue of covering a small country. People from small countries like Estonia don’t get a lot of media that is aimed directly at them or their concerns. This video does that. Over the past year I’ve gotten 5,688 views from Estonia, and 5,464 of them have been of this video, making up over half of its total views.
So there you have it! All I need is to be inspired to make data-heavy list videos that focus on small countries. Then I am sure to go back to churning out break-out videos! Joking aside, it’s a bit of a concern that few videos from the past six months have out-performed. Only two of them have made it close to the 1,000 view mark (“Trump, The San Bernardino Cover-up, and Saudi Arabia” and “Why Bernie Sanders Is No George McGovern“. I think it’s got something to do with creative back up. I’m still delaying completing the cycle of Military Industrial Complex videos I first envisioned back in July of 2015. I finally got another one of those out a week or so back. In November 2015 I also started thinking seriously about a series of videos on the war in Syria. Six months later, not a single one of those has been produced. If my subconscious is busy mulling over those MIC and Syria vids, it’s got less time to get inspired to throw together truly great vids about other issues. I’ve really got to push these older videos out.
Alright, enough navel-gazing. November’s second video was “The TPP is Super Racist“. I love this video. My brother, a fairly serious artist, kindly provides somewhat scathing critiques of each of my videos. This is the first one he ever gave his full approval to. It also provides a damning critique of the new trade agreements you won’t find anywhere else. Sadly it hasn’t done very well. “Stop Saudi Money, Not Syrian Refugees” is a reaction to the Paris attacks, and includes some kick-ass animation on my part if I do say so myself. “Why Turkey Shooting Down a Russian Plane Is a Big Deal” answers exactly that question. I think that actually qualifies as the worst news of 2015. The possibility of a real war between great powers, no matter how remote, is horrifying, and it’s something we haven’t really had since 1989. Tensions between Russia and Turkey deserve a lot more attention than they get. All told I’m pretty pleased with this month’s videos. There weren’t many of them, but they were all killer no filler. Except for the Sound! I’ve only figured out compression in the past couple months or so, and man do these sound rough to me now.
Views recovered a bit in November 2015, up to 12,452 from 11,037 in October. One of the top five, and three of the top ten videos in November were produced in November. Two of the four videos crossed 100 views on their first day, and one crossed 200. Six months later, all four videos have topped 200 views, and three have topped 600. At the end of November 2015 we had 129 videos, all but eight of which were viewed in November (kind of a shocking jump in non-viewed vids), 67 of which were viewed more than 10 times, 15 of which were viewed more than 100 times, and four of which were viewed more than 1,000 times (FATCA, John Oliver, Hillary Clinton, Putin-Estonia).