After today’s earlier post on here about Instagram posts all looking the same, I found the timing of this video quite amusing. But I don’t think this video from Zach Ramelan is entirely wrong. I’ve seen it myself. Everybody wants to be like Casey Neistat, Peter McKinnon, or one of the other top performing YouTubers.
They copy their styles, techniques, colour grades and even their mannerisms. I’ve seen it over and over, and it gets really boring, really quickly. Their message and true personality get lost because all viewers see is “Oh, they’re trying to be like [insert famous YouTuber here]”. But there is something you can do about it.
The problem comes when you practically live on a platform and the only content you follow is from a select few people on that platform. Your own content is bound to start resembling theirs.
Zach mentions in the video, that if the only content he ever watched were Spielberg movies, and then he decided to make his own film, whose work do you think his film will reflect? The same is true for a platform like YouTube. If the only people you ever watch are Casey and Peter, then your videos are going to look like they were made by Casey or Peter (or like bad copies).
The advice to fix the problem? Stop following those people. Or at least, take a break from their content. Go and watch something else for a few days, or even weeks. There are content creators that I love watching on YouTube. Peter and Casey are amongst them. As is Austin Augie, Alec Steele, Ivan Miranda and countless others. But I regularly take breaks from them to go and watch other things.
And, sure the names I mention above are all pretty big YouTubers, but I also watch a lot of very small YouTubers, too. Ones new to the platform, who haven’t really discovered what they want to do yet. They’re the ones who are usually making the most interesting stuff because they’re concentrating on what they like rather than what “works” or what they see other people doing. And often, what they like actually works very well, just their content hasn’t reached a lot of people yet.
It seems to be a common thread across many creative platforms. A big chunk of the population tries to emulate the top performers instead of being themselves because they see that what others are doing is working. What they don’t realise, though, is those people they’re emulating became the top performers because they were being themselves. And when others try to copy them, even if not intentionally, they lose that aspect of uniqueness.
As well as trying to be yourself, your own personality, find your own visual style, too. And I don’t just mean the grade, but the entire creation process. Zach suggests watching older movies. Camera techniques, composition & blocking, editing style, they all change and evolve over time. There is some absolutely amazing work out there from decades ago that can really make an impact and make yourself stand out from the crowd today if you master them. Also, check Vimeo’s Staff Picks for some genuinely inspirational and “different” content.
So, shut off your regular viewing habits. Go watch something else instead and be inspired to try something new.