September was the worst month of this project, emotionally speaking. Since Mid-June I had been consoling myself with the thought that the drop in views was due to the summer months. September, I was sure, would lead to a return to the exponential growth of March, April and May, and the possibility of actually making some money. Instead, the six videos I released in September remain, as of December, some of the least viewed on the channel. One in particular took a full three months to cross 100 views, which usually happens within a week. In addition, I got back to Istanbul and found myself homeless due to an exploding bathroom. The month spent on couches kept me from moving forward with a series on US criminal justice that I had been planning for months.
But all of that was useful, because it helped me learn some valuable lessons. Turns out, YouTube isn’t all that into 5 minute plus confusingly “animated” videos on obscure topics like finance and legislative corruption from faceless droning voices. Since September I’ve only broken the 4 minute mark twice, and I stepped up my ability to produce on-camera videos. A depressing month, but I learned a lot about video-making and marketing, so it was worthwhile. The videos produced weren’t very successful, but I think they were pretty interesting.
I started off with a five minute video comparing the performance and power of the UK and US financial industries. I think the role of federalism in the differences between Big Finance’s effects on the two countries during the Great Recession is worth further study, but it might not be the best subject for YouTube videos. Next up was the dismally performing comparison of the careers of New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Congressman Eric Cantor. Disturbed by that video’s failure to go anywhere, I produced “5 Facts You Must Accept to Write About Foreign Policy in 2014“, a response to an article by the ridiculous Robert Kagan. I intend to do a lot more in this style, and on this topic in the coming year. Next I used Game of Thrones to attack another one of my great pet peeves, endless comparisons of 2014 to 1914. The next week I broke out the Elvis suit to point out the malign direction of US policy towards Iran and China. We rounded out the month with September’s only edition of Notes From the Golden Age, pointing out why “I Still Love the Arab Spring“.
In terms of views, the bloodbath did finally halt in September. They were slightly up to 5,005 from 4,734 in August. This month also demonstrated the growing power of the back-list. Despite the dismal performance of the new videos, views were higher than August. A website in the Czech Republic picked up the big FATCA video, and some right wing blogs picked up the Hillary Clinton video. Only one of the top five performing videos in September were produced in September. The video count keeps mounting. At the end of September we had 46 videos. All but one got at least one view that month, and 35 got more than ten. It provides a nice lower-bound for viewership as we go forward.
September was a bit of a grim month, but I learned a lot.