Sycophants, The Lot Of ‘Em

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Those that know me in real life, or “IRL” as the kids say, were surprised that I started a YouTube channel. I think most think I wouldn’t say boo to a goose. Mandy’s sister said on finding out, “What Graham has a YouTube channel? But he’s shy!”

Well, I understand where they are coming from. I worked for a bank, I’m well mannered (shy in some people’s mind) polite, you know the sort of person, at a party, I’m the quiet one in the corner.

I did start a YouTube channel, and, well, it gives me a voice. I’m the sort of person, in a group of people, that would listen. I don’t mean in a group of people I know very well, that’s different of course; I’m not actually shy, or particularly quiet.

So, YouTube gives me a voice. However, it’s been a difficult journey and finding out which voice to use isn’t easy. Since starting a YouTube channel it’s made me look at a lot of “media” stuff in a completely different way. I mean I’ve always been a bit cynical and looked at most things from every angle. I’m not always trusting and mostly think people have an ulterior motive. And wow was I ever right when it comes to the world of, well, I’ll call it “media”.

Not Everyone Is Who They Seem…

Just going back to me deciding which voice to use. I’m somewhat surprised when I meet people as they say one of two things, and sometimes both. “You’re taller than I thought”, and “You’re just like you are in your vlogs”. Now, ignoring the first comment, “You’re just like you are in your vlogs”. That’s a great compliment. It’s a great compliment because not everyone in vlogs, or on other media platforms are the person they are in real life.

It’s understandable with actors, obviously they need to be someone different, but people who portray themselves, well, that’s different. You often hear stories of people in the media, you know the sort of thing, I mean give an extreme example; Jimmy Saville, a completely different person than his Jim’ll fix it, running for charity persona.

So the voice I chose was “my voice”. I decided to be me. I know that the vloggers I meet at shows, and those I call friends are as authentic as me. But there’s a darker side my friends, even in the friendly world or caravans, campers and motorhomes..

Those that I think are somehow “fake” or I don’t actually think are authentic, I avoid, like the plague. The surprising thing is, some of these people are very popular, and they all have the same thing in common. They are very – actually I’m struggling to find the right word. In the work place, you’ll know the type of person, career driven and doesn’t actually give a shit about anyone, but to most people they appear friendly, helpful and do anything for anyone. However, should you cross them, even without really knowing it, you will know – usually by someone else telling you.

Being Honest & Transparent

Honestly, authenticity and integrity. Now, 3 words that don’t always make a “successful” YouTube channel. Naturally channels (by the way, I’m not just talking about caravan and motorhome vloggers) make money by promoting stuff, they might be brand ambassadors, or be paid by companies to promote a product. Now, I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that, just because a vlogger says a product is great doesn’t mean they are lying, but it also doesn’t mean it was a great product.

I’ve seen more than a few vlogs where I know they are promoting a product they’ve been given, but haven’t said it was gifted, but also didn’t say they’d bought it themselves. Although on one level they aren’t “lying”, on another level they’re breaking YouTube’s guidelines and could have their account disabled. Why is that important?

When Buying Stuff, You Accept Your Mate’s Recommendations, Don’t You?

I once read something about product promotion and it’s effected everything I do since then, I’ll paraphrase it below, I think it’s enlightening…

You’re down the pub talking to your mate and he / she had just bought a new car. They’re telling you how fantastic it is, they show you it, take you for a test drive. They tell you how much it costs, what the fuel economy is, you know, really everything about it and they say they love it and they highly recommend it to you.

A few days later, based on your mates’ recommendation you go and buy one and you’re very happy with it, you thank your mate for recommending such a great car.

Now, rewind that conversation a bit and replay it slightly differently. During your mate telling how great the car was, they told you they’d been given the car to promote and help the dealership sell more, also they’d been paid a few thousand quid for doing it, would that make you think differently?

Would you add it to your list of possible buys, or would you just go ahead and buy it. Is it really your mate recommending a car, or is it your mate acting as a salesman for the dealership? How would you know?

Whiter Than White?

Why am I telling you this? Well, this is how I approach my vlogs. I don’t generally do “product promotions”, Yes, I’ve done a few and they’ve been products I like and I disclose I’ve been given it. You can then make your mind up. I don’t really enjoy doing “sponsored” vlogs, you do feel like you have to only say nice things and I don’t like everything. The few I have done though, I have liked the products. I’ve recently been talking to Peggy Pegs. I’ve bought quite a bit of their stuff, although expense, it is good and I do use it.

I realise I’m only giving you my side of things, how I view them. I don’t expect you to just trust me, or anybody you don’t know. I wouldn’t. I take all advice with a pinch of salt. Am I whiter than white? Well, I can tell you I am, but, again I wouldn’t expect you to believe me.

I’ve just read through the latest edition of Practical Caravan. I’m subscribed so that I can trawl it for idea for content. Yes, that’s right, I copy ideas 🙂 I can’t help but read all the articles and wonder if they’re actually giving an honest opinion, or if it’s somewhow backed by a supplier. In fact, I’ve just read an article on tyrepal and at the bottom it says “With thanks to Tyrepal for supplying the kit for review”. But the article doesn’t look like a review, it’s presented as a “How to” guide, or is it an advert?

It doesn’t really bother me that much, but the lines between news / information and advertising are just too blurred.

Here’s Part of the Answer

I’ve been “involved” in being an “influencer” – by the way, anyone can call themselves and expert / journalist / influencer – for about 6 years and I’ve learned a lot.

People that create content can be split into 2 camps. Those that do it as a hobby, and enjoy doing it, and those that are carving out a career. Now, broadly speaking, in my experience, I “hang about”, or am “friends” with those that do it for a hobby. By that, I mean they may get some income from YouTube, but on the whole they have other jobs paying their bills.

That leaves those who make their income from either YouTube, or some kind of media, or working with the industry in some way.

I’ll say here, by no means is it the case that I like everyone who does it as a hobby and dislike everyone who would call it a “profession”, not at all. However, I would say everyone I know, that I consider fake and isn’t 100% doing things for the caravan community, comes from the section of people that might call themselves “professional”, are “caravan / motorhome experts”

Now, I’m trying not to come across as bitter, or sounding like I have an axe to grind, because I really don’t. I just make sure I keep my distance from these people as soon as I identify them. I ensure I have no dealings with them and that our paths never cross. Unfortunately they did once and it really isn’t too difficult to exposure their true colours.

I can understand to a certain degree some of the behaviour. They could look at it that I’m doing something “for free” that they want to charge for. What I would say to them is you jog on and work with the industry and I’ll stay on the outskirts working for caravanners. And there’s the big difference in a nutshell and it’s something I say time and time again in my vlogs.

Those that choose it as a career work for the industry, those that do it as a hobby do it for the audience / viewers / caravanners.

I’m not interested in being a brand ambassador, or the next poster boy for Swift 🙂 I like being able to say whatever the hell I want. You may notice certain vloggers never seem to do vlogs like “Caravans are too expensive” or “This product is rubbish” it’s all rosey in the world of the true influencers as they are trying to influence you to buy something.

So Why Do You Do It CV?

As my retirement loomed, something entered my head and, I didn’t like it. “What about if I could make some real money from this Caravanning lark?”. I knew I could write, I’m happy in front of a camera, I do know some stuff about caravans, although obviously I sometimes pretend I don’t – honest 🙂

Well, I’ve mentioned previously in a vlog, that I was approached by “The Guild” and well, it was a bit like Frodo wearing the ring, as was caught up in a world of possibilities. I noticed my vlogs changed a bit. I remember thinking I should start coming across more professional, big mistake.

Then something changed, the axis of evil had got more power, more control than I’d realised in the caravan / motorhome world, yes Sauron was now in charge. I had a few conversations and realised things were moving in a direction that would 100% not suit me. It’s seems Sauron agreed I wasn’t welcome in the professional side of caravanning….

It all sounds very sinister and it is! Would I lie to you? A similar thing happened to a vlogger, that has much more sway in the industry than me, so I didn’t feel quite so bad. After another conversation I took stock. What the hell am I doing? This sort of thing was never for me.

What Did I Do Next?

After spending a day or so licking my wounds and I’ll be honest, feeling a bit betrayed, by some people I thought I knew, I took stock. I’ve never liked cliques, I’ve never liked people that aggressively protect their own interests at any cost. I’m human!

That’s it, being part of the “industry” never suited my style of vlogging, I’m an anti-vlogger, I’m flippant, I’m a lot of things, but what I’m not is a journalist, an arse licker, or whatever else you call that type of person. Oh I like that word sycophant, I’m NOT a sycophant, although almost all of these people are..

Mandy said something to me after all this. BTW she is ferociously protective of me, some of these sycophants are female and if we every meet them, I’d be worried what she’d do to them! Anyway she said something; “Start up something yourself”. Well, that planted a seed.

I watch some non caravan youtube channels and one guy in Canada that runs a camera channel does something I love. He doesn’t tow the line when doing reviews, he reviews a camera and gives you, what I consider the truth, his reviews aren’t adverts and they are funny. He has over 100k subs, but the camera industry don’t always give him cameras to review, because he doesn’t always say nice things. He has other sources, usually wealthy viewers that keep him supplied with equipment.

As I started my channel, I thought, “I really like that way of doing things” and that’s really what I’ve tried to do. What this does mean is that you’re not showered with things from the industry.

Anyway, that aside, Mandy saying “start something yourself” planted a seed. I’d never want to start anything that directly served the industry. As I mentioned earlier, some manage upwards and make content for the industry others go the other way and make content for their viewers, I’m in the latter camp.

So, do something for caravanners, rather than the caravan industry. After a bit of thinking, I came up with the TalkWrench Community. It’s an online community for us caravanners. Although I like the CaravanVlogger Facebook group, it has limitations, it’s also easy for companies and other people I wouldn’t want to join, join. I’ve had it on a few occasions, although I do my best to vet people that join, they get through the net sometimes. Discussions on a group that’s private, should be away from industry eyes, we should be able to say what we like about anything. However, they’re always lurking. I know I’m sounding paranoid lol.

My theory is, now stick with me, Facebook is free. But of course that “freedom” comes at a price. Facebook is moderated, not only by me, but also Facebook. If you post something on Facebook,it’s likely that only a small percentage of members see it.

TalkWrench Community isn’t free, there’s a small yearly charge. Why? Well, two reasons, firstly it does cost money to run, it’s not free for me to set up. But secondly, and actually for me most importantly, if you make a small charge, people that we might consider trolls, won’t join. These people don’t want to pay to take the piss out of people when they can do it for free.

So, the world isn’t all bad, choose your friends and allies carefully. Caravanning is about having fun and beware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing…

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One response to “Sycophants, The Lot Of ‘Em”

  1. Bill Loneskie avatar

    Just came across this Graham. You are a clever man. Looking at the big picture we are not being told the truth about many things – Gaza, Ukraine, Climate Change Net Zero etc.
    Keep up the good work. Cheers!

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