Dan Bull is no stranger to YouTube. He's been making and uploading a plethora of content to the platform for over ten years and is still going strong. His blend of comedy, music, and satire is still resonating across the web, and he's got a thing or two to say about the current state of the influencer scene.
Bull's original intent was to create a rap video about every single video game ever created, and as far as we know, he's still working towards that goal.
We caught up with Bull and asked how he's feeling about the state of YouTube right now, and what it means to be an influencer in 2017.
InfluencerUpdate.biz: Did you have any idea your videos would be as popular as they have been?
Dan Bull: I had no idea. I hoped they would, but I didn't think it would realistically happen. Especially as I was unemployed and claiming benefits when I started making YouTube videos. The fact it's now my career is actually quite surreal to me.
How do you structure your work days? Do you find working from home a blessing or a curse?
I love working from home because I am a Hobbit who likes home comforts and being my own boss. Unfortunately, those things also make it very difficult to stay disciplined when all your favourite food, movies and games are right next to you. I've even gone to bed in the middle of the workday sometimes. It's an ongoing battle to stay disciplined but I wouldn't want it another way.
How much do your audience and target demographic affect your work? Does it make you fearful to express yourself in other ways and styles?
Now that YouTube is my living, it does make me worry more about how a video is going to be received. Years ago I had nothing to lose so I could be more experimental in my content, whereas now if a creator deviates even slightly from the path their audience subscribed to, they're met with a backlash.
How do you make running a channel sustainable? Given the recent changes to monetisation and YouTube revenue, do you think you’ll be forced to monetise in other ways?
I am fortunate to be a musician rather than a vlogger which means I can also monetise the music I make on other platforms like digital stores and streaming services. I also try to do a lot of work with video game publishers as making a sponsored video for a publisher is such a close fit to what my channel's content is about anyway.
My main advice would be to try and have multiple revenue streams even if they're small, it's safer than relying on one big stream (ie YouTube ad revenue) that could be suddenly cut off at any point.
Have you ever considered moving to other platforms or types of content? E.G: gameplay, comedy, streaming on Twitch etc in order as a backup, or just for a change?
Yes. I would like to make a film or TV series eventually. I'm using YouTube as a way to build up a reputation as a valuable and trusted creator so that I can get a head start when I want to do something more ambitious.
Do you think the negativity surrounding YouTube will eventually lead creators to move over to other platforms or is YouTube is too big to fail?
Nothing is too big to fail and YouTube is a hulking leviathan slowly sinking under the weight of its own arrogance.
How do you think your audience has taken to your sponsored content and were you scared to delve into it at first?
They're usually fine with it, as it doesn't deviate much from my usual content, and when it does, I try to do something really special. For example, recently I agreed to promote a mobile phone plan. Pretty boring topic and could have been an awful video but I ended up putting a silly amount of work into making it entertaining.
What do you think it means to be an influencer? Do you think you have a certain responsibility to inspire and stand up for the right things, even if you don’t want to?
I thought this was an obvious question but actually, I'm not quite sure what it really means. I suppose "someone whose opinions or actions are valued by a group of people". I don't know. I'm pretty sure I am an influencer though. I think.
That is a deep philosophical question. I personally feel a responsibility to stand up for vulnerable people and animals, it's never really been a debate in my head, it's just how it is. I was always the one who would be first to step in if someone was being bullied, or to help someone up who fell over.
A lot of people have a group mentality where they think "other people aren't, so why should I?" As I've always been a bit of a social outsider, this never really happened with me.
How do you think the YouTube/Influencer is scene is performing currently? How do you think you’d fare if you started a new channel right now?
I feel old and I don't really understand it anymore. YouTube seems to change so quickly with respect to what succeeds on the platform. I just cling to the idea that if I keep making consistent content to the best of my ability that things will work out.
If I started a new channel right now I'd probably have been more likely to get disheartened and give up, considering a lot of the stuff I wanted to do was parodies, remixes and other stuff which YouTube has made very difficult to do.
What does the future of Dan Bull look like to you?
Slowly and somewhat reluctantly learning to be a grown-up.
Who’s your favourite power ranger?
The Burberry Ranger.