Affiliate disclosure: I sometimes use vendor & product links that can pay me a small monetary commission if you click them and/or make a purchase. Learn more about this.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

So, What's Going On?


It's been quite an eventful year for me and my YouTubing adventures, and with a final lull now in effect between release seasons, let me take a step back and let you know where my head is at and how things have been going in general.  The good news is, I still like LEGO, a lot.  I'm also a lot happier with my work today than I was a year ago, with a more positive outlook on the future of my various content publishing channels.  Let me take you through the key points of interest.

The real-time Pure Builds channel has been my favorite pet project in a long time and the number of experiments & changes I've made with it since the first video in April has been immense.  Not until just the past few weeks, though, have I gotten the picture and, more importantly, the sound to where I'm really ready to set it free to roam and seek its place in the world while representing me and the quality of work I want to share.  That means it's finally time for me to take a stab at some branding in the form of a channel icon and a banner.


Meanwhile, JANG Builds It! has benefited from all visual improvements in Studio B and I've gotten a better handle on how to prepare & present the time lapse style videos.  For a channel that's been active for just over 9 months in an intensely competitive and yet specific niche, it's getting strongly positive feedback and excellent watch time numbers.

Speaking of watch time, it's still regarded as one of the most important metrics of successful video content and very important for YouTube's cold, dark, mysterious algorithms, and I've finally made great strides with it on the main JANGBRiCKS channel.  After about 1 & 1/2 years of trials & misses, I've gotten a handle on what I need to do to retain viewer interest for a longer time without a) resorting to cheap/annoying trickery, b) alienating one viewer segment to benefit another, or c) shifting to a format that I, personally, don't feel comfortable using.  I'm seeing "average view duration" numbers dramatically higher than my previous average.  This is fantastic not just "because stonks," but as an indication that I'm making content that more people want to see more of.

This year I've been catching up on a lot of important, overdue maintenance tasks that nobody but me cares about.  These include updating & unifying tags, descriptions, and other metadata across thousands of videos and trimming my video editing template files, followed by expanding the latter in smarter ways to reduce future repetitive work.  After roughly a decade of working exclusively in 1080-line HD at 30fps, I've started doing most reviews in 4K/30, city updates & builds at HD/60P while tripling to quadrupling the bitrate of files I upload compared to 2018. I made four more big changes to how I light & film things in the white void.  Two rooms worth of assembled sets which had spread themselves about an entire floor of my house like Tribbles were finally dealt with.  New Jang City was fully dusted, I finished expanding overhead lighting, my first attempt at a complete "skybox" was installed, and I wired up the entire underside of the main layout with 5V power for in-layout lighting and other future uses.  Just this week I arrived at a simple new setup for recording the complete process of creating MOCs in my building space as well.  During some gaps of time between videos it may have seemed to the outside world like I was slacking off or losing motivation, but I can assure you, reality has not matched perception!

Not everything's rosy, though.  Video view numbers are far less important & meaningful than they were, say, 3 years ago, but they still count for something, and they still don't look to hot, either for me or a fair number of other LEGO-focused YouTubers.  One thing affecting most of us is a worldwide contraction in interest in the subject.  Google Trends shows a drop of 66% in Web searches for the word "lego" in the important US market after the LEGO Movie-fueled 2014 peak. Worldwide numbers have trended decisively downwards as well.  Slightly closer to home, YouTube searches for "lego" are on a perfectly linear downward slope, and popularity of term "lego review" hit a historic low one year ago and remained very weak in 2019, down 70% from non-peak numbers in 2015.  Ignoring unpredictable outliers, the only LEGO-related video sub-niches that are performing consistently well presently are stop motion animations for kids (some now possibly in danger, as discussed in my last post) and aggregations or re-presentations of existing work.


All of this does give me cause for concern, even escalating into fear a few times in the past, but all of my recent positive progress is keeping me thoroughly upbeat in the near term.  I really want to see how this upcoming holiday & New Year release season goes with the combination of my ASMR-tuned Pure Builds, well-sorted & visually distinctive speed builds, and longer-watched reviews, plus a consistent trickle of shorter-form content to my audiences on QUiCKBRiCKS and Facebook.  Before that big rush even hits, I should have some long (LONG) overdue New Jang City overview-type content making the rounds.

Ultimately, to be blunt, much of my work of the past year has been dedicated to striking back against a slew of forces beyond my control that have pulled me down. During this process, I've laid some new foundations and reworked existing ones to attempt to build upward again over the coming 12 months.

42 comments:

  1. Hi Jang. I truly enjoy your vidoes. I grew up playing with Lego sets and stopped building after i got older. Because of your videos, l have purchased 3 modular sets, the ultimate batmobile and the technic Mini Cooper. Thank you for keeping the Lego lover in me alive.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Sounds like a really tough year but glad you're doing what you can to make things better. Best wishes for a successful holiday/winter season and then 2020!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hello Jang,

    I've been back into Lego as an AFOL now for about 3 months, and a big part of what drove me back in after my own ~20 year dark time was seeing your wealth of videos. In particular, I am really fond of how you've designed New Jang City. I've caught other folks' channels as well and I enjoy seeing the diversity of ideas. However, yours continues to impress and inspire me to try and build things up the most, and I hope to see you continue with the city updates in particular!

    Please keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a casual viewer of your channel and I leave comment only sometimes, but I've always enjoyed your channel! I felt your struggles but also so much creative joy, reading this. I hope LEGOs will inspire your joy for a long long time! Many many thanks from Japan :)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for all your hard work JANG!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thanks for all your hard work JANG! Good on you for persisting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Keep at it Jang, what doesn't kill you makes you stronger . You obviously have a love for this so stay positive and keep doing what your doing as long as it makes you happy .

    ReplyDelete
  8. I honestly was like “a blog post, I would never read that. Well here I am. Good luck to you with the view count. I know I will at least keep watching for the New Jang City content and Star Wars reviews.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Love your reviews! I think the length of each is 99.9% on the mark (smaller sets generally getting shorter reviews, etc.). I think you have interesting and valuable commentary on each that truly helps folks guage whether or not a set is going to be fun and/or a good value. Like any toy (or really any subject at all, save porn), interest will inevitably wax and wane. I think Lego itself has been struggling to find "the next big thing". As far as format goes, I think your build/figs/extra pieces/value formula for putting your vids together worked very well. It seems like that has changed a bit recently? No matter, I'll keep watching!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Jang, I am a 42 year old dad with a daughter going off to college and finally a place to build!!I have always loved your videos. You usually lose me at the figures, but that's at the end anyway. I have purchased sets specifically on your recommendation, like Destinys Bounty. Thank you for also doing Mega Construx!! I heard they are going to numbered bags, is that true?

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. It's good to hear that this year has been a happier year for you and here's to a future full of happiness:) Using Tribbles to describe assembled LEGO sets is so good!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I cannot say much at the moment, but what I do want to point out is that you never have failed yet to deliver the content you like while maintaining that multi-level connection with your audience. Including all of your YouTube channels, Facebook, and this blog, you are the first heavily fan-involved AND large scale individual content maker I can think of. Despite all those categorizing terms, I still think that us something that you can always appreciate as your own accomplishment.
    (Alliteration not intended, haha!)

    From a longtime fan, only an individual, but part of a wonderful community

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hey jang. I have been a long time fan. I absolutely love your videos. I started watching when i was in like the 8th grade and im almost 22 and i still watch you everyday. I would like to say it is interesting when i first started to watch i was all about the reviews of sets but as i grow older i am more interested in your customes. I appreciate how much time an effort you put into your build . Im sorry about the last year and the hard ships but just keep building on! You can get past this.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Jang, you have been and still are my favorite channel on YouTube. I love watching your videos and I watch every single one. Your videos have helped me through many struggles in life and I don't know where I'd be without them. I hope that you will always continue making videos and loving what you do, because I love what you do. I collect Lego, mostly Star Wars, and I always make sure to watch your reviews to see your thoughts and opinions. You have given me a greater appreciation for what I have and even made me more interested in other themes. I love your insight and passion and I know no matter what, you will always be the best.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey Jang,
    Watching your videos has re-ignited my love for Lego. Also, since I am retired I have more free time. I look forward to your videos and I appreciate your uncandid comments about sets. I look forward to seeing more of your videos, hearing your comments, and watching as you continue to upgrade and work on New Jang City. Thank you again for re-igniting my love for Lego. As I said before I am looking forward to more content on your channels.
    Thank you,
    Steve

    ReplyDelete
  16. I'm just wondering what are you looking forward to in 2020

    ReplyDelete
  17. I enjoy your videos but of late like you say the sets haven'tbeen as exciting and i'll only watch the stuff i am interested in. Lucly for you i really like star wars so i've been going back and watching the older reviews to see how sets like the x wing have changed over time. In fact having only gotten back into lrgo about a year ago i am annoyed i never picked up pos x wing as it looks fantastic.

    Anyway, keep up the good work, hoefullythere will be some more interesting sets released soon.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Chin up Jang. Keep up the fantastic work that all lego fans love. I feel your pain with having to adjust to Web-based rules and regulations, also the need to future proof your new and old content. If only more people were as conscientious as you are about their content. Then the minority would need to suffer. Have a good festive season to end the year. Grant, Scotland. ��

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for the thoughtful note. I still prefer the MOCs versus the set reviews because I get more inspiration from your creations and methods. I've also started watching some of the pure builds on our new big tv or just had it in the background while I've been sorting. It's always great when I wake up to new videos. Thanks again.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I hadnt realized searches for lego were on a downward trend. Didnt lego lego just celebrate a highly successful year in the financial sector? Perhaps they are moving away from the internet as their main avenue of generating interest.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Your reviews (and more generally your video content) are always the nicest company for us Lego fans. Your love and care about what you upload are what make your channel the top among Lego YouTubers. You bring a quality in your art that others simply don’t. All the best wishes for the new release season and I am certain that you will navigate the overall trends you described with great success.

    ReplyDelete
  22. I wonder what the reason is that people are searching less for Lego reviews, whilst at the same time the brand and profitability of the Lego group is stronger than ever?

    I still think Lego themselves could do more with both their own YouTube channel and also to promote the work of others.

    Anyway my three year old son and I love your channel and hope that you keep up the good work for a long time to come.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Am also worried for Lego as a whole including Lego channels and sales after toys r us closed I knew there was something much bigger going around if a giant like that company could close in the span of about 2 years and thought about other toy companies as well and sure enough many toy sales have dropped very low in the past few years some have gone down more than ever seen from them in decades which causes me to believe that technology has something to play with it I just hope that one day things will be back how they used to be because I too am concerned about the toy community and the huge number of audiences and creators apart of it

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hey I'm 19 and enjoy your content. I can tell its for multiple ages which most likely is why it does so well any age can relate well. I work retail and here lego seems to do well.Even the $100 sets sell. I think Christmas will bring more people back to lego. Best wishes for the holidays friend.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Interesting read! keep on being awesome legojang!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Thanks for being so transparent Jang. It's very inspiring to see someone be so passionate about their living! Utmost respect to you. I was a very active viewer a few years ago up until 2015, in which a took a long (unintentional) break from Lego (my dark ages you could say) but I'm back now to stay! Keep up the great work!

    ReplyDelete
  27. "because stonks" love it ahaha, best of luck!

    ReplyDelete
  28. That is unexpected news about the downturn in searches for Lego, as at least here in Australia, my understanding is that Lego is really going off down here since the hugely successful Lego Masters Australia series earlier in the year. Since then, I read numerous times that Lego sales have dramatically increased down here, we've had our first ever official Lego store open and now a whole lot more of them on the way, in many different states. We are but one country, of course, but I am still surprised at those search trends.

    This is how our family got back into Lego, following the Lego Masters show. With the kids right in Lego age, their Dad a Lego fan since childhood with a decent Star Wars collection from early adulthood, and me freshly enthused by the show, Lego has been a big thing for us this year. I also know from conversations with both kids and parents that the childrens' friends all watched and loved the show, too, and have been really into Lego all year as a result. The show was really inspiring to kids and adults alike, and as someone who only had one small Lego kit as a child and didn't know anything more, it was certainly eye-opening!

    Since then, we've enjoyed many, many Jang reviews and love following your Jang city updates. Your channels have been an integral part of our childrens' enjoyment of and enthusiasm for Lego, inspiring their own creativity, not to mention helping Mum&Dad decide what to spend their $ on for our secret stash of Lego sets for upcoming birthdays and Christmas. Many thanks for all your work, and all the best.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Jang,

    I love your body of work, and feel a sort of bond with you because I grew up in the northern bay prior to joining the military. I have retired on the past year and came out of the “Dark-ages” about 2 years ago.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Yo Jang.. Your videos are literally THE first lego reviews i ever watched.. It was back in 2014 cuz of the lego movie tbh.. But as long as you keep posting lego stuff.. Imma follow amd watch bro. You're legit passionate about it and you motivate me to b passionate with things i do and not care what other ppl think..

    ReplyDelete
  31. I have been watching your videos for more than a year now.I never miss a review no matter if it is a set I want or not. You have fuled my love of and creative inspiration for lego.as an adult. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  32. I have recently emerged from my own 'dark ages' and have begun re-exloring the passion for Lego I had in my youth. Historically, I have been interested only in Soacenor Star Wars Lego. And then I found your channel. There are maybe half a dozen Lego content creators that I follow but yours is, without doubt, my personal favourite. You portray a sense of authenticity and approachability that I really enjoy, and you have, almost single-handedly, broadened my Lego horizons to include other themes within the Lego system portfolio. As a quiet voice from a distant South Africa, I have to thank you, Jang, for being a big part of my re-discovery of the joy of Lego, in all its forms. So, as long as you keep publishing content, I will keep watching. You, sir, with your honesty approach and clear enjoyment of, and enthusiasm for, the great Danish Brick,represent everything that is right about Lego. Bravo, and long may it continue

    ReplyDelete
  33. Jang I will always have your back.i will still search and watch every single video.
    You are my best YouTuber so I will never
    Unsubscribe or dislike a video .

    ReplyDelete
  34. That's quite sobering to hear how life for a Lego-Youtuber is getting harder and harder. I'm happy though your channel(s) still seem to do alright - and more importantly that you are happy with what you are doing!
    About the popularity of Lego in general, I think that it may just be going back to 'normal' levels after being quite massively hyped in recent years. As long it stays popular with kids and has a healthy AFOL-followership, I am not worried about TLG ;)
    I really enjoyed the recent, more casual, longform reviews. Also grouping sets of a certain theme into one video works really well for me. I'm also quite taken by the ASMR-approach with your build-videos. I haven't really seen those from that perspective (and don't really watch them; im more music-focused really), but it does make a lot of sense!

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Jang,
    thank you for your videos, personally I tend to enjoy those about New Jang City most, but I watch plenty of your reviews as well - for the sets I consider to be interesting. I truly like your style, your enthusiasm for Lego, and wish you all the best. You bring a lot of joy to my life by posting your videos!
    Take care!

    ReplyDelete
  36. Hey Jang. I watch pretty much every review you put up and for the duration. I value your insight and opinion on sets even when it's not something I'll be buying. I love your MOCs and new Jang city updates.
    To grab a bit of time, sit and have a cup of coffee and watch one of your videos is a nice switch off from daily life. Thank you for all that you do.

    ReplyDelete
  37. Hey Jang, just wanted to say thanks for the great content. I am delighted to hear your positive news, and that you feel energised and enthused about your projects. Life can be hard, but when your work is bringing you personal satisfaction, you’ve half the battle fought.

    Good to see you expanding the content to deal with the downward trend in lego related google activity which will mean you will continue to produce amazing content.

    Really looking forward you your latest updates from New Jang City. Sending positivity from Dublin, Ireland

    ReplyDelete
  38. FWIW your videos matter to me and my kids. Your honest enthusiasm and informed analysis help us when deciding between a growing number of choices.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Keep it up my man, I really enjoy and appreciate your reviews

    ReplyDelete
  40. Thanks for this essay, Jang. Great writing. I lost some of my Lego time lately because of the meanness and cruelty that seems to be intensifying in the non-Lego world. I have tried to become a bit of a peace and kindness activist, and it is both heavy/spirit-sapping AND a drain on my Lego-therapy time. It's as if we have seen many public figures , and even old friends, unmasked lately, and they, like Stormtrooper Mini-Figs, are all turning out to be Angry Clone. Your beautiful, shiny, intelligent channel has lifted me and kept me company through some lonely, scary times, and I still check every chance I get on WiFi for Jang content. Please keep on keepin' on, because Lego listens to you, and the world needs Lego and you both. (And just one time, Lego, please sell me a happy Stormtrooper?)

    ReplyDelete
  41. Hey Jang - thanks for this post. First, the data about search trends etc is just interesting to me at a macro level. Second, I’m sorry about the crap that’s been dragging you down. You seem like a genuinely good person who tries to do the right thing. Your content distinguished itself. It’s high quality, thorough, reasoned, objective, sometimes funny. I don’t always agree with all of your opinions which is just fine. When it comes to Lego - you’re the gold standard for me. I hope you sail through this patch and emerge stronger on the other side. I, and many others, will be rooting you on. Keep up the exceptional work.

    ReplyDelete