VidCon 2016 ReCap - What I Learned - Smart Creative Social

VidCon 2016 ReCap – What I Learned

I got home from VidCon with loads of ideas floating in my head. This post took me three days to write because I had 10 pages of notes and I wanted to make sure to get all the best nuggets of info down on (blog) paper for YOU! This was my second VidCon and knowing that so many people can’t even afford to go to one VidCon, I wanted to make the most of the opportunity for both me and YOU! I bought a Creator ticket this time and made it my mission to go to as many Creator sessions as possible, learn as much as possible, and connect with other creators. Through Facebook Live and Snapchat, I tried to share about as much of VidCon as I could with everyone who wasn’t able to be there. This VidCon2016 Recap is everything you need to know about video in 2016 if you’re a Creator.


Hey, that’s us! Yes, this year my whole family went to VidCon. We all went to different sessions so be sure to check out Katie’s recaps in her vlog here: Kat Loves

Want my BEST tips and tricks from VidCon? Click the button below to get them NOW!

Get my best tips and tricks from VidCon HERE!

About VidCon:

VidCon is a conference like no other, bringing together the creators who make the videos, the industry big wigs who make things happen, and the community who watch and support the videos that creators make. There are 3 ticket types for VidCon, each one costing more than the previous:

  • Community: This is the pass if you just want to meet your favorite YouTubers and Creators, play in bounce houses, and “be” at VidCon. You can visit booths from TacoBell and Instagram, get swag, buy merch, and see your favorite creators perform on stage. Access to the first floor of the Convention Center only.
  • Creator: This pass is for people who make video content and who want to connect with other Creators, connect with brands and service providers, and learn more to improve their content. You *might* see a Creator in the hall and get a photo with them. Maybe. Access to the first and second floor of the Convention Center. *This is the pass I got this year.
  • Industry: This pass is for people who work with corporations, sponsors, production companies, or across multiple channels. There are classes, keynotes with people like the CEO of YouTube and lots of free food. You have a good chance of seeing your favorite Creators up close with this pass. Access to the first, second, and third floor of the Convention Center. *This is the pass I got last year.

Side note: I wish CHA would do something like this, involving the consumers, the craft “community” in the show, by having different badges available, each with different levels of access. I can imagine security and having “badge checkers” gets pricey though… 

VidCon is everything video, be it YouTube, Snapchat, Periscope, Facebook Live, Instagram,’s new app or virtual reality and drones. If you are into video in any way (or want to learn) I HIGHLY recommend that you attend VidCon!

Main takeaways:

I’m gonna try to keep this brief because there are some video clips I want you to see too. I came home with 10 pages of notes from Creator sessions. Watch this video to see this post summarized, with clips from the sessions at VidCon:

Here are the main takeaways, which I’ll explore more deeply in this post:

  • Know your worth. Know your value, what to charge, and stop doing things for free because you hurt everyone else’s ability to earn when you undercharge and undercut prices. You devalue your own work when you don’t charge what you’re worth.
  • Be authentic and real. Connection comes in those moments you reveal a little something of yourself, not because your content is perfect.
  • Make the best content you can with the equipment you have. Innovation comes from scarcity.
  • You can’t predict virality or popularity so just make what you LOVE. Make content about what you LOVE. People who love the same things will find and follow you.
  • Video creators know about bloggers and are looking at what bloggers do to make money. Bloggers who embrace video are the smart ones.
  • Consistency in branding, themes, and publishing times is good.
  • Consistency in format, style, and content over time is boring.
  • It is okay to change your content as you evolve as a Creator and a human.
  • Look at trends and figure out how to use them legitimately in your content. Or, if all else fails, “galaxy” everything. (no, that’s a joke. DO NOT galaxy all the things!)
  • Do not start making video to make money. You will fail.
  • Make videos more accessible via closed captioning. Eighty percent of views come from outside of the US. CC makes it so your videos can be translated and seen by the millions of deaf, autistic and others who can’t understand your spoken-only videos.
  • Engagement is king.

Get my BEST tips and tricks from VidCon- click the button below to get them NOW!

Get my best tips and tricks from VidCon HERE!

Let’s explore all of these in more detail and see which Creators gave this advice.



Accessibility for your videos means more views

There are not alot of options (if any) for making Facebook Live or Snapchat snaps more accessible but YouTube, they have lots of tools for making your videos translatable and accessible. Consider how deaf and blind people will be able to access your content. Eighty percent of views are from outside of the US. Transcribing your video makes it easier for it to be translated into other languages and for those with auditory issues to access your content.

Use YouTube’s tools for transcribing your videos. Allow translation. Allow audience contributions (crowd sourcing) – they can transcribe the video for you but you need to proofread and approve it. This feature is susceptible to abuse by spammers.

Additional Tools:

  • for transcribing
  • to help with captions
  • Lazarus browser extension for capturing text as you type – good for if you type your captions yourself and don’t want to loose them if YouTube hits a snag during transcription
  • Alexa from Amazon

Rikki Poynter is a creator advocate for accessibility on YouTube. Watch her videos on accessibility and “how to closed caption” here:

Video Length

In the past, I’ve been told that videos should be 2-3 minutes in length. Everything I heard at VidCon disagrees. The best performing videos for eleventhgorgeous are 10,12, and 15 minutes. In another session, the creator said their best performing videos are 70 minutes in length. Look at your analytics to see what length of video performs best. Experiment and then look at the results and figure out WHY some videos performed better over others. Elevenththgorgeous said their videos did well at 10-15 minutes because it allowed them to talk at a natural pace and people liked watching their interaction on camera. The 70 minute videos were cartoon compilations – those did well because kids will watch all the way through. Think about how your audience consumes your content and make adjustments. If your content is good, don’t worry so much about how long the video is. That said, check out your watch time in analytics to see when people drop off.

Use what you have

Casey Neistat and Ben Willngdorf said it in the “Small, Rising, Established” session on Saturday. Mel Judson, the set designer for Fine Bros. Entertainment said it. Use what you have to make the best possible video you can. Some of the best sets you’ll see on YouTube channels are just fabric or pieces of paper tacked up on a wall. You don’t need fancy equipment or a studio space to make great videos. You need great content. You need a great story.


The challenge of trying to “get the shot” with the equipment you have will challenge you to innovate. Ben Willingdorf wanted a shot rolling around a giant snowman he made. He didn’t have the right rigging or a dolly so he took 500 individual images while walking around the snowman and stitched them together to make THIS. The result was better than what he had imagined! With about 4,000 subscribers at the time he made the snowman, Ben used the attention it got to raise over $6,000 for a charity.

Scarcity breeds innovation. You don’t need alot of money or fancy things to make an impact.


Also, just google it. If you have a question, don’t have an expectation that a Creator will stop their day and tell you all of their secrets. Thank you Casey Neistat for talking sense. Google is free, YouTube is free, and everyone has it. USE IT.

Making Money

Money was a big part of the talks this year, hand-in-hand with defining “success”. Here are the bullet points:

  • You don’t need huge numbers to make money.
  • Engagement is king – if you have a small engaged audience, especially on Snapchat, that is very valuable. “Small” is over 6000 views per Story.
  • Interact with your audience – mention them in your videos, answer their questions, respond to every comment/chat.
  • Know what you’re worth. Use Social Bluebook to find out your worth and what to charge sponsors. The site was made by Creators for Creators.
  • Your worth varies all year long – depends on season, time of year, your genre, engagement, ramp up time (how long it takes to get views), and specificity of your niche.
  • Don’t use branded content unless you’re getting paid. “Using branded content dilutes your brand and opportunity for branded deals” – Mel Judson
  • You need to figure out what “success” means to you and work towards that. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing or try to race them in subscriber count.
  • Ask other creators for help in figuring out what to charge for your branded content deals. Get help in groups like Smart Creative Social.


Everyone everywhere said collaborations are key to growing your following and creating better content, no matter if you are on YouTube or Snapchat or whatever. So do collabs. If you are a DIY, recipe, lifestyle, or crafter on YouTube, join our collab group where we have collabs every other month: Youtube Craft Collab

Be Authentic, Be Yourself. Make Lives Better

The biggest takeaway I got from VidCon was to be true, be real, and be authentic. My scopes and Facebook Live broadcasts get more interaction that my edited craft videos. The biggest comment I receive? That I am more “real” in the scopes and live videos. So everything I heard at VidCon was backed up by my own experience. Expect to see some changes in my videos soon! Alot of these tips came from Rob and Corinne from Threadbanger in their session “Knowing When to Pivot” and in the session “Finding Happiness Making What You Want” with VSauce, Allie Marie Evans, Myles, Jim Chapman, and Olan Rogers.

Want EVEN MORE insider tips from VidCon? Click the button below to get them NOW!

Get my best tips and tricks from VidCon HERE!

Bullet points about being YOU:

  • Make people smile, make a difference, be a beacon of hope in their lives
  • Make things that YOU actually want to make. People probably want to make that too. DIY kimono  = NO. DIY terrarium = YES (Rob and Corinne of Threadbanger)
  • Open up your life to the audience a little so they get to know YOU. Don’t just show your hands
  • Be your real self. Show your reactions to your failed projects or when things go wrong. Don’t just pretend it’s all perfect
  • You’ll find your voice and rhythm with your content by being consistent, posting regularly – Taylor Nikolai in the session “What it takes to be a Snapchat Influencer”


Personal thoughts on VidCon:

VidCon vs. CHA

VidCon is a bit surreal for me since it is located in the Anaheim Convention Center, where the Craft & Hobby Association Trade Shows have been held for the majority of the last ten years. Shay Carl was presenting in a room I actually taught a class in for CHA! The energy of VidCon is young, hungry (for fame, to meet famous people, lots of FOMO), and exciting contrasted to the energy of CHA.  It’s all in the same building but a totally different vibe altogether. VidCon is cool. CHA tries to be cool. I remember a past CHA CEO who said he wanted to “make crafts cool”… words from an old guy in a suit. Luckily, he is no longer in charge, but still… I have voiced ALOT that I would love to see CHA have a presence at VidCon. Let’s get crafts in the hands of kids and see what they DO. That is cool. Until then, I’ll keep going to VidCon and try to bring that inspiration home and into my little corner of the craft world.

Small fish in an ocean

The least famous people at VidCon have tens of thousands more followers than the most “famous” crafters or bloggers. It makes the world of craft and blogging feel small. That is both scary and good. It’s scary when you’re a big fish in a small pond to all of a sudden discover the ocean. CHA is like a backyard pond, VidCon is like the Indian Ocean, and then there’s the whole rest of the world. There are people who are VidCon famous who I sat right next to and I had no idea who they were. But they must be important because they had yellow colored “Featured Creator” badges, which means they were on a panel or something. Yup, still no idea who that guy was that sat by us while we watched “The Secret Life of Pets” but a few screaming girls came over and ask for a photo with him. If Angelina Jolie was sitting there, well, I’d know who she is. So there is a world even bigger than VidCon… but VidCon is still pretty big. 30,000 people attended this year!

The exciting thing about VidCon is the idea of possibility. There are people who started YouTube channels last year and now have millions of followers. There is a huge world out there beyond craft. We worry so much about if this paper company will put me on their design team or if that blogger ripped off my idea or whatever other small small tiny ideas we worry about and in the grand scheme, it DOES NOT MATTER. VidCon can give that kind of perspective that can be absolutely freeing. It is also scary as hell – now failure is FAILURE, capital letters bigger than ever. The possibility still outweighs the paralysis. I am excited for the future again… and if I fail, I’ll FAIL big. But if I succeed?!

Want even more insider know-how from VidCon? Click the button below to get them NOW!

Get my best tips and tricks from VidCon HERE!

If you have ANY interest in video, start saving up for VidCon now. It’s completely worth it and there is so much to learn, so many people to meet. I’ll see you there next year.

Questions? Thoughts? Leave me a comment and let’s chat about it!

rmw 2016

Key takeaways from VidCon 2016 for CREATORS by Jennifer Priest of Rainmaker Media Works

scarcity creates innovation - jennifer priest of rainmaker media works vidcon 2016 recap

About the Author Jennifer Priest

A craft industry professional for over 14 years, Jennifer Priest has been featured in major publications and online by the likes of Apartment Therapy and MSNBC. Jennifer's digital marketing consulting firm, Smart Creative Social, has a prestigious client list in the craft and hobby industry, connecting influencers with brands, developing digital marketing strategy, and guiding clients in creating a solid social media strategy for their brand.

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1 comment
Erin says July 1, 2016

This is awesome, thanks for sharing!

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