YouTube is a vast place, with millions of YouTubers creating content every day. With this mass influx of content, it can be easy for those who don’t have that many subscribers to get lost in the wave of videos and the almighty algorithm. This series of articles aims to uncover some of those hidden gems of YouTube.
Stuart Hardy, best known as Stubagful to viewers of YouTube, has been uploading videos on the platform for eight years, his content ranging from reviews of miscellaneous shows, to original stories of his own. He’s well known for his “cynical hipster” takes on media, and his stick figure art style that surfaces in most of his content.
What motivated you to start YouTube?
“I was looking for a creative outlet after I got out of university. My creative writing degree had taught me the cold hard realities of the entertainment industry, and I knew that my skill at writing entertaining pieces was limited. Everyone sucks when they first start writing anything, so I wanted a space where I could experiment and express myself and allow myself to suck for a while. It meant I was plugging away at my channel making gradually improving content for years with barely any views at all, but you can’t get better at something if you don’t take the first step. ”
You make a mixture of original and review-style content, is there one type you enjoy making more than the other?
“I prefer the original content, but there is a symbiotic relationship between the two. The reviews are quick and usually quite easy to make, while the original content takes much more time and planning, but the formation of it is often rooted in a point or an idea I’ve recently expressed in a review.
For example, the inspiration for my original cartoon series Class was formed off the back of a point I made in a review-type video when talking about a Doctor Who spinoff show. Every writer’s original work is a product of inspiration derived from the content they’ve absorbed, be it a TV show, a book or a movie. My reviews are a part of my creative process. I find that if I watch a piece of media and then write down and air my thoughts about that piece of media, then that will lead to ideas for original pieces.”
What videos are you currently most proud of?
“I recently made an original story piece called ‘Merry Easter’ – it’s about a family gathering set in a world where we celebrate Easter the way we celebrate Christmas, with similar levels of bombast, enthusiasm and ceremony. It was a very personal piece for me because it’s inspired by my memories of the last weekend I saw my Granddad (with a reality-blurring filter over it of course).
I also love the two hourlong interview with Robert Shearman. I’ve been a huge fan of Rob’s Doctor Who episode and his Big Finish plays since I was a teenager. I actually made friends with him through the comment section of one of my videos. Its still surreal to me that I made friends with my favorite writer off the back of my YouTube channel. 4. What aspect of your channel do you think attracts people? I think its the fact they always know that I’m being sincere and that I’m making what I make with legitimate enthusiasm. I cover a wide variety of topics and have experimented with a lot of different things over the years, and I think my viewers appreciate that if I’m talking about something or trying something out, then I really REALLY want to do it. I’m not just making videos for the numbers or to pander to a trending topic.
My cartoon style is popular among my viewers too. I enjoy inserting little Easter eggs, visual gags, or sarcastic bits of text and then reading comments where people have noticed these little details that you’ll only pick up on if you’re really paying attention.”
YouTube has been the target of criticism lately, how would you change the platform if you could?
“The key problem with YouTube is its lack of communication with its users. Recently I had a thumbnail removed because apparently it ‘violated community guidelines’ – but I wasn’t told HOW this thumbnail broke community guidelines. They didn’t tell me what exactly it was that I was supposed to have done, so I couldn’t learn anything from this mistake.
Similarly with its automated content ID system – the automated system will flag up a clip I’ve used and block the video, I will submit a dispute saying I’m using footage for critical analysis, and sometimes they will drop the dispute, sometimes they won’t, but they never explain WHY they won’t. All of the interpretations of YouTube’s arbitrary guidelines are left up to the users and figuring out what’s okay and what isn’t okay is a case of trial and error. Its as if there’s no one in charge of this platform at all.”
Do you have any advice for people who want to become YouTubers?
“Yes: make what you want to make and ONLY what you want to make. Its much more satisfying if your channel is a product of your own enthusiasm. I am a small-time niche Youtuber and that’s probably the way I’m going to stay, but I get much more enjoyment out of my channel because I know I’m not chasing a trend or trying too hard to become relevant and stay relevant – I’m doing what I want. If I want to make a specific type of video, then I make it, if I don’t, then I don’t. It means my enthusiasm is present throughout every video I make, and my audience really appreciate that. Although this means my audience is small, it means that the people who are watching me are much more passionate about and supportive of my content, and that’s a real ego-boost. I like to think of myself of one of YouTube’s best-kept secrets.”
You can subscribe to Stubagful’s YouTube channel here.