April 6-7, 2024
There’s a lot more to being a YouTuber than you might think, as Planet Dolan’s D.J Johnson, aka Danger Dolan, tells Supanova in the lead up to their fast-approaching panels in Adelaide and Brisbane.
What’s the reality of being a YouTuber?
It’s quite stressful. First off, primarily for us, it’s working internationally, so we’ve got people that work from the United States, Canada, New Zealand and that kind of thing. To get them to work on the same project and share their files online is a challenge.
And second off, in order to maintain a YouTube channel, you have to keep putting out videos almost daily. And so, after you do that for a few years, it’s pretty exhausting, but you can’t give up. You just keep going at it.
What are some of the rewards?
Just to be able to write scripts and see the project come to life is a reward in itself. Seeing people enjoy it, too. [Fans] have all these different ways of interacting with the content, such as our Reddit page, or just the comments section. It’s really engaging and it makes it easy to reflect on what you’ve already done, because people can clearly tell you what they like or dislike, and you can see it through information like retention and that kind of thing. So it’s interesting and it encourages you to try new things.
There’s a distinctive tone behind the content you produce – where does that come from?
We’ve kind of changed our DNA from when we first took off. We started off doing edutainment content, which is educational and entertaining at the same time. We started off doing countdowns, and we’ve been branching out into things like animation and art, and having the audience contribute stories that we can retell with our characters, and basically involve the community as well as entertain.
We focus on our characters, first and foremost. When I first started out, it was just me as a voice actor, and I did it out of more of necessity than actually wanting to voice them. After a while, people got really attached to this random Australian accent being in those videos.
What can we expect from your appearance at Supanova?
We’ll be focusing on how to make it as an artist on YouTube, because it is actually quite a challenge, considering how long it takes to build up. Things like animation take quite a long time and YouTube’s algorithm is quite challenging to work around, but there are a lot of global channels that have figured out ways to build a career off of it.
We’re going to talk about how to basically build a brand from YouTube. We’ve done things like had a book published by Pan Macmillan and we’ve got a game that we launched this year.
What advice would you give to aspiring content creators?
Have faith in yourself and what you’re creating. Some of the most successful people in the world, it’s not that they have great connections or they’re extremely smart or anything, it’s that tenacity to create things that really got them out there.
Have faith in exactly what you’re doing, even if sometimes you feel low about what you’re creating, don’t worry about it. Your community will build around what you’re creating, don’t give up and eventually you’ll make it. I started with absolutely nothing, zero subscribers and I slowly built up. Anyone can do it.
What are you working on at the moment?
Something we talked about at VidCon is that we want to make a cartoon because we have such a stable of characters and such an established art style at this point. We are pitching around to try and get a cartoon made.
We’re actively working on scripts and storyboards, getting animation teams together, voice actors, that kind of thing. As far as we’re concerned, it’s still a learning experience for us, so to be able to prove that we could do a cartoon is key.
What were your thoughts when YouTube crashed the other day?
I hadn’t been on YouTube, I’d just been on Twitter. I actually had a good laugh about that, because I’d said to my wife, ‘Can you imagine if YouTube never came back?’ That would be the weirdest thing, but I assume they take care of that kind of thing.
What would have happened to Planet Dolan if YouTube hadn’t come back online?
What we’ve spent the last couple of years doing is diversifying; that’s been a major push for us, and our fan base can actually support us through services like Patreon. After launching the book and the game, it’s definitely possible to survive outside of YouTube.
YouTube is great to get spotted because it’s so easy to find people. Even if you’ve never done anything before, as long as you make quality content, people will find it through some algorithm and then it’s up to you to be able to evolve off the platform.
The good thing about YouTube is that it’s such a networking place. People always help each other, channels contacting each other, just to see what’s up. It just helps you find the opportunities as well. It’s a great place to get started, for sure.
You can catch Planet Dolan at Supanova Comic Con & Gaming this November.