Sunday, 13 July 2014

The trials of being a female web designer

Sometimes among all the crochet-ness that fills my days I do reflect on my past career as a web designer and a female one at that.

I still do web design of course, these things are built in to you but I no longer work in an office and I don't imagine I will ever work in an office again, especially now I run my own business. I am not sure if that has become a choice or a fact but it got me to thinking about the life span of a female web designer.

The first question I ask you is "would you hire a middle-aged mother for a web design position?" probably not, not that has any reflection of my skill set and I haven't quite reached middle-age yet but it did lead me to believe that being a female web designer is a little like being a model. Although not related to your looks it does seem to have it's own life span and once you hit a certain age, you need to think of something else.

The thing about the web design industry, I have found, is that it is very difficult to progress up a ladder to managerial. Firstly the most you would get is to be a creative director but when you are not competing with outsiders for the position, which seems the norm these days, you will be fighting against the mass of male web gurus that you already work with. In my whole career history as a web designer, the only women I actually worked with were in the stereotypical positions of sales, admin or if I was lucky, content managers but apart from one female developer I never worked alongside a single woman in my own career history. A real shame and I never really understood why because being a web designer is a very creative role and woman are good at being creative right?

In the early days of my career I of course enjoyed the advantage this gave me, I would often hear that I was hired for the novelty of having a woman (hmmmm.... of course I am hoping my skills had something to do with it as well) but then I did start at the beginning of the internet boom back in the 90's, really by default as I studied to do graphic design, where you will find a few more women, but my interest in code and computers led me down the web route and most women don't like to code, not all of course and I love meeting a fellow female web designer/developer but the sad fact is most women don't go in for coding, or science and maths in general. That's a man's job! No, it is not, it's a subject.

I think these days things may be different and ratios of men to women web designers may be different especially in larger organisations but most of us will be working in small independent companies and ones full of men. On one occasion I really had to draw the line against working in a 99% male environment for an engineering company, and one that was in the middle of nowhere. My social aspects were certainly going to be limited.

Even so, I had no problem working alongside men most of the time, I do love my geeks as a geekette but as time went on I did discover that more young people were being hired, the design portfolio types straight out from design agencies that now were everywhere, and they were boys, can't really call them men, and boy's who could talk the talk. I was beginning to feel old and my only chance of progressing in my own career was to move companies, the problem with this was my original advantage of just being female was now a problem. Employers would look at you and start wondering if you would leave after five minutes to go and have children, heaven forbid I had any already. Of course this applies to all women in any career but the problem I faced was my competition. These young lads with their enthusiasm and amazing portfolios they all had time to create (as they looked for jobs) was winning the day and my ten year plus work experience really didn't matter and of course my lack of a fancy design portfolio, because I was actually doing a job, wasn't helping.

I was also tired of being ignored. What does a woman know? Younger, less experienced designers were often listened to a lot more than I was. Of course I hate to use the sexism card but this is a sad truth in some companies. In one position I was supposed to be a senior designer who would look after the team whilst the team manager was out, one day he was and the junior designer (yes a young lad) was messing around. Now I'm not one for spoiling the fun but it was annoying me when we had so much work to do so I asked a simple question of how the project was coming along. His reply? well it basically consisted of 'f*ck off'.

So the time came to leave and probably never go back. That was my last job and now after 5 years of doing my own thing I am probably past it and past caring. Maybe I just lost my passion for the office life and I felt my entrepreneurial spirit and skill set would be put to better use doing my own thing. They do say that why spend your life making someone else rich when you can do it for yourself right? even more so when no-one seems to want to listen to you but I do hope that things will change within the web industry for women and that more women will come into the web design and developing industry and show those men a thing or two and that being a web designer doesn't need to have a life span as a career choice. That we can lead teams and we may actually know what we are talking about!

Thursday, 26 June 2014

How to promote your YouTube channel and get subscribers

As I was debating finishing my French essay this afternoon my mind wandered to anything but learning French but rather YouTube and how people can promote their channel because as some of you know I run my own YouTube channel all about learning to crochet and sharing crochet patterns I have designed and you pick up a few things along the way.

So here are a few simple tips to hopefully help you get people and people that matter interested in your videos.

I say people that matter because although some channel marketers will have you believe (and charge you to tell you how) it isn't always best to just get views, from anybody, it doesn't matter who. It does matter. If your channel is about something in particular, like for example crocheting, then it's great if someone does pop by and watch your tutorial but if they have no interest in crochet then they won't stick around for long and watch it, let alone subscribe to your channel. So what to do...

Stick to your subject matter

Well, the first thing to think about when you start a YouTube channel is think about what your channel will be about. It doesn't matter who your audience will be as long as that audience is interested in what you're talking about so let's take crochet for example. Your audience could be anyone, from teenagers to retired grandmothers, but you need to stick to videos that relate to your chosen genre so if you plan to do tutorials, do tutorials! be limited in your vlogging about your cat or filming your friend doing silly tricks as you will begin to alienate your crochet audience.

A lot of successful YouTubers will separate their vlogs from their main channel, for example the ASMR community. ASMR videos are basically relaxation videos (definitely worth checking out if you suffer from insomnia!) but what I am saying is that a subscriber will assume that all videos from that contributor will be relaxing so suddenly watching a loud vlog will be a little off-putting so many YouTubers start separate channels just for their vlogs, so I highly recommend this if you love to do a lot of vlog videos as well as your normal theme. If you just plan to just do vlogs now and then such as updates about your channel, then I wouldn't worry so much about putting them all on one channel.

Content is key, not views

Now you have your channel subject in mind the next stage is to make your video. I cannot stress enough that you should not worry about views, thumbs up or thumbs down but your content. Your video content is the most important thing to worry about. Good lighting, good backgrounds and good camera quality are key to a good video no matter what the subject matter is, even if it's just talking gibberish!

You can pick up a simple HD camera these days, which will do a reasonable job quality wise and if you can't afford professional lighting then film on a bright day, or at least in the day time. Avoid when it's dark and avoid filming outside if you don't have to as the wind can cause havoc on your audio if you don't have the right equipment.

I could write a whole blog post about what makes for good content but that will be down to you and your subject matter and it would only be my opinion. All I can suggest is if you plan to do tutorials then try and make sure that what you are teaching can be seen, even I have failed in the past to remember to keep my hands in camera shot! And try not to get sidetracked by others things, try and stick to what you want to talk about and show what you have to clearly and efficiently.

Make your video title and tags relevant

The next point is the title name of your video. If your title video is about crochet and is a tutorial then put that in the title. For example if you made a crochet tutorial about how to crochet a cat then your title should be similar to that; 'how to crochet a cat'. If the video is for beginners, then put 'for beginners' so your audience knows. What you should not do is just type 'how to make a cat' as that could mean anything from cooking a cake that looks like a cat to making a toy cat out of play-doh, which means people can come to that video expecting it to be about baking because they have just watched a lot of baking videos and when they find out it is about crochet, they may be annoyed. Obviously you can't please everyone but it is good to try and prevent confusion where you can.

The same goes for the tags you add to your video. Firstly I may be stating the obvious but do actually add tags to begin with! People still sometimes don't bother adding tags but if YouTube don't know what your video is about then they don't know how to share your video to relevant viewers so your video could pop up in all manner of strange places on YouTube and YouTube is a big place! Also think about your tags. Coming back to the 'how to crochet a cat' video, don't just put 'cat' and leave it at that, also add 'how to' (which should bring up a tag suggestion from YouTube for that genre, and 'crochet'. Maybe add 'tutorial' 'beginners' etc etc really describe your video in as many words as you can that are relevant. Avoid putting unrelated words such as 'yarn' or 'knitting' as yes, they may be similar subjects but they don't relate to your video.

The right way to share your video

On occasions I get videos emailed to me, often completely unrelated to what my videos are about. I fail to understand why someone would think I would want to watch someone falling asleep in a cake however funny that may sound to the person who took the video but people will do this. I don't recommend it, firstly it is spamming people and will probably just get you a thumbs down if people can even be bothered to click on the link to go and watch your video. More than likely it will just waste your time and get you limited views.

If you haven't already, work on that Google+ page or Facebook page, share on those social media channels. If you have Etsy listings for products then add your YouTube channel there, share it on Twitter, place an embedded version on your website. Then the right people will see your videos because they are already interested in your subject matter and are more likely to stick around.

The most important thing to remember is things take time. If your videos are any good people will find them and stick around eventually, just be patient and concentrate on making good videos. The more videos you have the more you will be found.

Link and link again

The last point I wish to share is about links and how to promote your channel within your channel. At the end of each of my videos I promote my previous video with a link to that video, which viewers can click on. Some YouTubers also link to other videos at the end too. You can add all these links under 'edit' and 'annotations'. This is a great way to show what else your channel has to offer if someone has only come across that video and don't follow you.

Also adding a subscribe link to your channel on each video can be useful, a simple Google search will tell you how to do this. Also add links in your description box to your social media channels and in your video too to your website if you have one. You can even edit in your Etsy shop name or blog URL, which can sit quietly in the corner of each video throughout the video if you like. So link, link and link again but don't shove it in people's faces, make it subtle and useful to your viewers so they can click about and see what else your channel has to offer. It takes time especially when editing takes time already but you get out what you put in as they say.

Think about what you like and dislike

It may seem obvious but think about what you find useful when watching a YouTube video and copy the promotional ideas that you like and avoid doing what you find annoying. If you find it annoying that big flashy text appears in a video constantly, or the video is too dark and unclear then don't copy those mistakes. Have a look around YouTube at similar content creators to what you do and avoid their mistakes and improve on what they do. Also try and think about how to be different and what can make your channel unique to similar channels.

Never assume .. ass me whatever that saying is

A quick tip also is that never assume people know what you are talking about like I just did. For example if you talk about your website make the link appear in the video and/or add a link in the description and say it is in the description so people know where to look. If you want to talk about another video you can created again link to it, don't just say 'it's on my channel' as people won't be bothered to hunt it down.

Entice people to watch

Another useful tip is to tempt people with your video at the beginning or at least warn them off quick. Some people choose to start their videos with an advert about their channel, showing their logo or channel name (which can also drag on and bore your viewers before they've had time to even think about watching your video). This is fine if it's quick but what I like to do is to start the video immediately, stating what the video is about and then add the channel advert, again keeping it short. This way you entice people in to your video, show them clearly what it is about and you've given them a general indication to the quality of the video and who you are. Hopefully then people will stick around to watch the rest of the video. You can always add a longer advert at the end of the video if you like by which time hopefully people are delighted with your content and feel saddened that it has ended. Oh how we can dream! (^-^)

Also start thinking about a promotional channel video. By this I mean film a specific video about what your channel is about and add it to your YouTube channel home page. State clearly in this video what you do, why you do it and what people can expect from your channel. Look happy, film it well with good lighting, audio and if you can, in HD and throw some music in to the background, not too loud as people want to hear you and away you go! A little effort can go a long way. Also when YouTube ask you if you want your channel promoted for free with 'fan finder', which may or may not be available to you yet, you have a specific video to send them.

Upload regularly

Lastly, if you can, start a regular theme but only if you can follow through with your actions. If you say you're going to start a weekly upload then do just that but before you commit think carefully about the time involved in doing this. It can be a great way for people to enjoy your channel and stick around as they can look forward to a regular video but if you don't fulfill your promise then people can become disappointed and disillusioned with your channel, which can be counter productive to what you are trying to achieve.

But most of all just have fun and look or sound like you enjoy doing what you do! (^-^)

I hope you found my tips useful and I shall see you soon for some more crochet fun.
Any questions or for more free patterns join me on my various social media channels!


or visit my website at