One morning last weekend, Judy Travis got out of bed, scooped up her five-month-old daughter and reflected on why she was upset with her husband, Benji, for leaving the room overnight to sleep downstairs while the baby was crying.
I watched every second.
Judy and Benji are among Seattle’s most popular vloggers. While I get excited if one of my videos gets 100 views (I’m just starting to post more), their daily vlogs, which can last as long as 15 minutes, get more than 100,000 views. Each.
These aren’t jaw-dropping escapades or must-know how-to’s. They’re peeks into real lives, told through the most transparent medium we’ve got — video.
We’ve been hearing for years now that video is it. It’s new. It’s happening.
But while everyone’s been chasing that one-shot viral clip, building a sturdy video presence with your own story still feels like a puzzle.
It’s one thing to post a tweet that takes a second to read. It’s quite another to upload whole minutes of your life that people have to stop what they’re doing to watch.
But it can be particularly rewarding to command that kind of attention.
If a little scary.
“They are a lot more work. But so much fun to create,” said Seattle’s Jenny Ingram, known to her subscribers as Jenny On the Spot.
And with the tools of the video trade getting cheaper, quicker and easier to use, you don’t have to be a geek to make great videos.
But you have to get connected to make the most of them.
That, at least, is Chris Pirillo’s take. Pirillo, one of Seattle’s enduring geek personalities, is a regular vlogger himself. On Tuesday he posted a vlog from his home, featuring, among other things, his dog, Pixie.
The way he sees it, vloggers — people who tell personal stories through video — have plenty of genuine appeal but not a lot of access to good connections and support.
They can join online networks or revenue groups, but Pirillo finds many of them lacking (that’s putting it nicely). The good stuff, he says, comes from meeting real people.
So he’s putting on a June event called VloggerFair that’s out to help vloggers meet vloggers, elevate the craft, and draw some big names to mix and mingle in Seattle.
Since he knows a lot of YouTube stars personally, that last part is pretty much set. Judy, iJustine and Shay Carl, who will be shooting a vlogging documentary at the event, are among the confirmed presenters.
The way he sees it, it’ll be as much a set for vloggers’ vlogging as a gathering.
The venue should make that interesting. It’s a big open warehouse at Terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle. To help distinguish it from other video-centric gatherings like the annual Playlist Live in Florida, Pirillo wants to make the event as much a “fair” as possible, and he’s enlisting some help. Seattle social media queen Jenni Hogan, a new vlogger herself, is working on a kind of beginner’s booth, where newbies can go to post their first vlog.
Pirillo has proven he can put Seattle on the map with a conference. Gnomedex, which ran for six years in Seattle before he retired it in 2011, got a big crowd of techies to hop flights to the Northwest.
But VloggerFair won’t be a geek event. Not really. Vlogs have a technical side, but it’s not their best.
“Tech is an enabler, not a destination,” Pirillo said. “I’m trying to set a stage that has broader appeal.”
In that sense, he’s in new territory.
But if vlogging is still a puzzle, it may be here in Seattle where the pieces come together.
Mónica Guzmán is a community strategist, freelance journalist and award-winning digital life columnist for GeekWire. You can find her tweeting away at @moniguzman, subscribe to her public Facebook posts at facebook.com/moniguzman or reach her via email. See a list of her clients on her website. Also see this archive of her weekly GeekWire columns.