Category: The Journal

any blog posts relating to our personal lives and thoughts!

Winter Break Travels: Arabia Mountain

arabia mountain

Not going to lie, it’s been mild in Georgia.

So on the day after Christmas, my family and I (+ one of my close friends, who is practically family which is why this statement is in parentheses) drove down to Arabia Mountain on a cloudy, almost-rainy day for a hike.

Arabia mountain is a massive exposed granite field, kind of like Stone Mountain but without the controversy. The weather was honestly quite nice for the hike (hovering at around the 50s), if it had been hot, we would have had a miserable time as the mountain had little to no shade.

But, my sister did manage to find a tree… and then of course proceeded to climb it.

IMG_4757_1

Arabia mountain also featured some swell looking foliage. This particular shot took me ages to get right:

arabia mountain plants

While I was busy getting that shot, my friend had other ideas–photographic evidence of me taking photographs:

me taking pics at arabia mt

There were a lot more sweet pictures, including sister shots and a cute family portrait, but mostly, we took selfiesselfie on arabia mountain

 

and of course pretended that I was jumping off the edge of the world:

jumping at arabia mountain

It was mostly just a fun, relaxed trip. The trail wasn’t difficult: though it was uphill, it wasn’t steep, and it was only a total of about 1.2 miles. Because my friend and I were both camera nuts, we ended up spending the majority of the time taking pictures instead of hiking, which of course, made our trip much longer. Still, it was a trip that was easily fit into an afternoon. If you’re considering going to Arabia Mountain, I highly recommend it! Be sure to bring a camera and some friends along with you–the best part of going places is always the conversation.

Hope you’ve enjoyed this low key blog post–more of a photo journal than anything else. What are some of the chill places you’ve been to?

 

2016 Youtube Algorithm Change: Some Thoughts

youtube-button

The end of 2016 was a bit… tumultuous on the Youtube front, with big youtubers such as PewDiePie threatening to delete his channel when he hit 50 million subs (spoiler alert: he didn’t), complaining about the Youtube unsub glitch and the recent Youtube Algorithm change. Other big creators jumped on the bandwagon, publishing videos about how this Youtube Algorithm change is affecting their views and subscribers, citing an approximate 30%-60% loss in views.

Even after scouring the internet for various sources about this supposed youtube algorithm change, I couldn’t find official confirmation from Youtube that there was, in fact, a change. All I found was this vague update from Youtube from December 5th that more or less denied that there was an algorithm change. I then looked to youtube and various creator videos on what they thought was happening. The responses varied, most agreed that there was an algorithm change, and some creators were more positive about the change than others. Analytics don’t lie, and I do believe that creators such as PieDiePie are experiencing the decrease in views. However, Roberto Blake, in his video explaining the Youtube Algorithm changes, cited that his views had increased, almost doubled.

So, why is that? Here are some of my own thoughts after my internet search and watching/listening to videos from both sides of the “story,” as well as how creators (especially small creators like me) can potentially benefit from this change.

SEO: Title, Tag, Description

Most big youtubers fail to optimize SEO. For example, in one of PieDiePie’s recent videos, titled “Started a Fire in the Building! (Experiment Gone Wrong)“, there were only a handful of relevant tags, none of which really allow me to tell you what the video is about without having first watched it (in case you are wondering where I got this list of tags, it is a chrome extension called VidIQ that allows me to see what tags creators are using for each video):

youtube algorithm change 2016

The numbers next to the tags “pewdiepie” and “pewdie” indicate the order that this video will show up in if those terms were typed into the Youtube search bar. While ranking 1st in the searches for two of the terms is good, there are much better ways to optimize the video tags feature on Youtube.

So, what exactly is PewDiePie doing wrong? Here are just two things:

  • Failure to take advantage of the tag feature to the max–Youtube will allow you to type in 500 characters total for tags. That’s a measly 80 characters up there.
  • Using one to two word long tags instead of actual search terms. Three to four word long tags are the best, and these tags should be terms that people type into the search bar. For example, “hot glowing knife experiment,” or even, “experiments gone wrong” might actually rank higher in Youtube search than “glowing knife” alone or “experiment” alone. These tags should give me an idea of what I’m watching before I even start watching it.

Those are the two things I could see right off the bat. If you’re interested in seeing more on how to optimize your SEO, check out Roberto Blake’s video on Youtube tags and getting more views–he is very knowledgable in SEO and is practically an expert.

This “lack of tagging well” is prevalent amongst big Youtubers (especially those with more than a million subscribers)–they often use one word tags and just their username. As several of the videos I’ve watched mentioned, this Youtube Algorithm change favored videos that are tagged right–the thing is, a platform like Youtube should accurately videos to viewers based on their interests. If videos are tagged right, they have a higher chance of getting discovered by viewers because, for example, if I had searched “how to set up recording studio,” and watched a video from that search, I would subsequently be suggested videos with similar tags such as “setting up recording studio” or “recording studio set up.” Videos tagged with a random username or simply “studio” or “recording” will be less likely to be shown to me.

Another thing big creators fail to do well is optimizing their descriptions–many only put their social media links. These have a very similar impact to tags, and I now am starting to put blog-style posts (albeit, they are shorter) in my description boxes, filling it with relevant and quality information for my viewers, but making sure to repeat the “key phases” several times within. Going back to the recording studio set up example, I might have a few paragraphs in the description going along the lines of, “Hey guys, today I will be showing you guys how to set up my home recording studio. Recording studios can be pricey, but they really don’t have to be! // For my recording studio setup, I use a mxl 770 condenser mic…..” etc. Again, I highly recommend looking at Roberto Blake’s video on optimizing SEO for your youtube channel. Since starting to do it a few weeks ago, I’ve seen a dramatic increase in the views of some of my popular videos, including my college admissions story and my recording studio set up videos. The latter is still growing in views by about a hundred a day–and I am not a big channel by any means, I have less than 1000 subscribers.

Times Change…

and so does audience preferences. As Tim from Video Creator mentioned in his video, audiences get bored… if you’re doing something that you’ve been doing since 2009, then it may be time to change some of that. Also, it’s never too late to reinvent yourself or your brand. Audiences might not go for 180-degree, completely drastic changes, but they do want a little something different every once in a while. So experiment… algorithm change or not, this is still what you should be doing. Keep your audience on their toes and release new and exciting content. Casey Neistat, a wildly successful vlogger, quit vlogging because he felt creatively bored and wanted to do something different. He changed up his content before his channel could ever start declining… and his channel seems unaffected by the Youtube algorithm change–they’re still garnering millions and millions of views, some doing even better than pre-Algorithm-change videos from two months ago:

View counts

Combatting the Youtube Algorithm Change

From my research and my own experiences so far, I’m unconvinced that Youtube has made a drastic change to their algorithm. After all, it’s always easier to blame an external force that you have no control over rather than reflect in yourself and think about what you could improve upon. I DO believe that Youtube needs to be more transparent about the changes they make and communicate with their creators, both big and small, about improving the platform. But just in case that the Youtube Algorithm change is a thing that’s affecting you, here’s a couple things you can do (and always should do):

  • Reinvent yourself, your content. It may not work right away. In fact, if your experience ends up being anything like mine, you may even end up losing viewers–but fear not. You will get new ones.
  • Make sure your SEO is done correctly! There are so many resources out there that can help you achieve that. And having appropriate title, description, and tags is the best thing you can do to help your videos get discovered.

I hope this article is helpful. Leave your comments/thoughts down BELOW!

How I Set Up My 2017 Bullet Journal

img_4930

Hello everyone! This year I’ve decided to take up bullet journaling–it’s something I’ve been eyeing for a long time (hello, getting organized! hello, beautiful notebooks!) and wanting to get into, and the new semester is as good of a time as any (since I finished my moleskine planner in 2016). So far, it’s been a fun (and a little creative!) process. I try to keep my journal minimal–clean and professional–but of course the ideas are endless! Washis, stickers, the list goes on and on.

I want to show you guys how a newbie (me!) set up her first bullet journal. Already made some mistakes (for example some of the pages are… heh, out of order), but that’s all part of the fun and I figured if I was too careful with it, this process would seem daunting and chore-like rather than something I enjoy doing daily. So here we go: how I set up my 2017 bullet journal! (more…)

A Look Back to 2016 Resolutions

earyikg21d4-maja-petric

Looking back to the beginning of 2016, I only had three “main” resolutions:

  1. Finish 30 books
  2. Be more active on Youtube/Blog and maintain an active social media presence
  3. Be Positive

Of course I had other goals (examples of this include finishing my freshman year with a certain GPA, landing an internship, and achieving a certain number of followers on my youtube channel), but those were the three that I placed at the “foreground” (so to speak) in the beginning of 2016. It actually sounded fairly easy to achieve at first… but here’s how I did with them.

Finish 30 Books

How I did: Meh? At the time of this writing I finished 11. Will probably finish 12 or 13 by the end of this year. I ended up writing reviews for most of them, and you can find them right on this blog.

Thoughts: Disappointed that I didn’t quite get to 30, but I realize it was a pretty lofty goal to begin with once school rolled around. It’s always easy to imagine what you want to do during the holiday breaks but actually carrying it out is much harder during the semester. I was also really sorely disappointed with most of the books I read… which made me less inclined to keep reading, honestly. As I grew older I became more critical of the material I read, and even bestsellers such as My Sister’s Keeper, with a whopping 4.5 stars on Goodreads, ended up disappointing me quite a bit.

As for the best book I read this year? It would probably have to be Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng.

Maintain an Active Social Media Presence

How I did: Alright–it was on and off, on and off–but better than previous years and I’m definitely proud of the content I put out. Originally I had wanted to upload a video onto my Youtube channel every week, but of course that is easier said than done.

Thoughts: I’m actually quite proud of the content (whether it is on my blog or Youtube) that I did put out during this year. I can’t say that my channel has grown a lot, but every vlog and reflection blog post that I did is work that I’m proud of and work that I’m glad I put in during this year. I would like to keep this for the next year as being a content creator is something I genuinely enjoy doing. I would like to keep challenging myself to create more, even when life gets busy and when I feel like I don’t really have time for it.

Be Positive

How I did: This is probably the one that I’m not quite sure how I did. Probably just “ok”, but I think it’s part of growing up. I definitely still find happiness in the small things and I am grateful for every moment, but I think I’ve mellowed out a bit compared to previous years when it comes to my overall happiness.

Thoughts: Last year in particular, I was really bubbly and cheerful (most) of the time. Maybe it’s the sophomore slump getting me down but I definitely felt a change in how I approach things in my head. I don’t think that I was not positive but I feel like I was definitely more realistic and practical as opposed to simply optimistic.

Conclusions

I didn’t do as well as I’d hoped when it came to my 2016 resolutions, but I definitely worked on them throughout the year. At the very end of the day, the “new year” is more of a societal construct… and you definitely don’t need to wait until the very beginning of the year to make a change in your life. I think it was interesting keeping track of my own personal growth and goals from year to year.

sophomore year (so far.)

vvhfbq9d7n0-zachary-young

and when i turned in my final, the first semester of my sophomore year is over. i’m on the next bus to syracuse and the next flight out to atlanta.

it’s a weird feeling–i was homesick for the most part of this semester and was dying to go home. all semester long, i’ve wanted to give my family a huge bear hug and see their faces. not to say that those feelings have gone away after my finals ended, but i get closer to seeing them, the reality that the semester is over is become more real, too.

as i walked to my final final (heh), i had looked outwards at the all too familiar west campus, the day-old snow crunching under my shoes. as happy as i am to be finally done with finals season, the reality is that my time at cornell has an expiration date of four years, and every time i leave campus for break–summer or winter–is one closer to the final time i leave campus. eight semesters, eight departures. i’ve used up two, and tomorrow would be my third. and before i knew it, i would be hitting my eighth and final. while i don’t know what it’s like to feel that way yet–hitting that last goodbye–the bittersweetness i feel now only foreshadows what i’ll be feeling five semesters from now.

yet, even with these bittersweet undertones, i feel as though as my time at cornell goes on, the ‘bitter’ started to overpower the ‘sweet’. whereas freshman year was full of hope and excitement and aspirations and eagerness, sophomore year was… different. i know all too well that a lot of us become jaded by our second year, roughened around the edges by not just cornell’s winters but also its demanding pace… and unfortunately i was not the exception. i was less inspired. numb, in fact. for me, sophomore year was a mix of frustration, loneliness, and defeat punctured by the occasional moments of happiness.

don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t all bad. however, for the better part of this year, i felt lost. i feel like i’m just searching and searching, but what i’m looking for isn’t there. and no, i’m no longer chasing the elusive concept of happiness, but more like a place and a sense of purpose. i think i’ve momentarily lost my place–i know this feeling won’t be here to stay, but it’s something that’s just been bothering me. i go through the motions and i study and i work hard and i participate in the community and socialize and try to be a high-functioning ivy league student who [appears] to have everything figured out. but at the end of the day, i’m not sure where i’m headed, i don’t see an end point, and there’s a bit of fear mixed in with confusion and displacement.

and therein lies the reason that i want to go home–i desperately need a break from this place. the familiarity of home and family is all too welcome after a semester of what feels like swimming against the current.

maybe it’s all a part of growing up. or maybe it’s just sophomore year.