This blog will talk about how I started this project of mine, how the process has changed over the years, new approaches and skills acquired along the way and where I want to go in the future with all of this!
So a little background...
In 2019 you could say I had to adapt and make some big changes to myself, after recovering from some failed relationships and needing to reshape myself and my motivations I was spending a lot of time on YouTube watching various self help and psychological videos, looking to get some motivation and guidance on how I could have a better approach to life and take things in a more positive direction going forward!
One video I found was a basic one but gave me the final push of motivation, the key message from this 'guru' was to apply yourself to something that you can do best, something special that you can contribute to the world...I tried to think about my own skills, knowledge and what made me somewhat unique...and I decided that being an expat here in Poland and having found YouTube to be a great source of help for myself that I would start my own channel...
In the beginning I just threw myself into it, having no real skills in video editing, or even filming for that matter, with just an iPhone I went ahead and made a simple video to tell my story, I let friends, family and colleagues know about this and received a lot of encouragement and advice.
My first video was made in January 2020...and without knowledge of the pending pandemic...it would prove to be good timing, as this was something I could throw myself into during the lockdowns and something to keep me active while the world was thrown into its depressing chaos!
Originally I started doing Vlogs about my life here in Poland, trying to share my perceptions of the country, talk about the challenges I had faced out here and even started some basic videos about Warsaw.
My first tool was this crappy application on my phone and the output of the videos I consider to be of a lower quality, though it was a start and gave me some practice in taking videos and putting together ideas, however whenever I tried to make something fancier than a vlog it came out looking pretty terrible...
In February 2019 I found myself beginning a relationship with a Polish girl Agata, she was a big fan of travel videos and was a keen explorer herself, so she would give me an absolute ton of advice on what I should do with my videos and the direction that would be better for this project...it ended up taking my skills to the next level...
She advised me on a lot of things, mainly the need to use a proper video editing program, so with her guidance I picked up VSDC, watched some tutorials online to learn the basics and instantly there was a big improvement in the look and feel of my videos. I could properly organise the collection of videos I was taking, add music/voice overs and some text and this was enough to take my videos from looking like a failed amateur to a reasonable and watchable quality.
With every video I made Agata would give me her critique, telling me what she liked, what she didn't like and giving suggestions on what I could improve, so ultimately she really set things in motion for me to take this more seriously and give it a professional approach, though it took time to learn...and I could see she would get a little frustrated that I may have missed some of her advice...
Agata loved to travel and while borders were closed, we would travel around Poland a bit so I could start my journey to documenting the cities within this country! Also when she would go abroad I would take the time to start visiting cities on my own, she also taught me a lot about travelling and was a great source of inspiration.
I had some small successes with videos such as Torun which was well received, though the quality of my work was always a little hit and miss while I was refining the way I edited the videos, the hard part for me was getting the balance between what I was showing and what I was saying, over time I learned to take better notes and to establish a more standard format for the videos so I could follow a more consistent approach.
Also I needed to learn a bit about SEO, so how to actually get my videos seen by people who weren't my friends, so after checking out some videos on this topic I started applying tags more thoroughly, having cover pictures for my videos and writing a proper description, it was still slow going but gradually my videos were becoming more visible thanks to the YouTube algorithms
Of course I also had advice from friends and family about my content, Piotr one of my most loyal viewers always gives me an honest opinion on the videos I make and this I always appreciate even if sometimes I find feedback from people difficult, I always try to take this on board and improve the quality of my work.
There was one video I made which made me upgrade things again...a small video discussing the difference between an expat and an immigrant (terms that personally I find interchangeable), there was one comment that complained a lot about the quality of sound and picture and this made me wake up a bit...
So I went out and ordered a microphone to help with on camera speaking and also did some research into how I could improve the video output quality using my editing software.
Over time as my channel grew I started to look at the metrics more and more and realised the most popular videos were the ones that were about Polish cities, so already having taken in a wide variety of topics, I decided these videos I would focus more on and thus I would go out and take longer trips, so while I was exploring Poland I would have a net of a few cities in scope for each holiday I took rather than focusing on one main city at a time, this was more efficient in terms of the number of places I could visit in the limited windows of time and weather.
Though for sure with the harsh winters in Poland, I will focus on other aspects such as history and tradition which require more research than actual travel.
Now we come to the present day, I had the brainwave to look into website creation, something I had always been interested in, but at this point I was not sure about...
After doing some research I found Wix, a website building application...not having any real programming skills this allowed me to make my own site without the technical knowledge, though of course at a slight premium in terms of costs, but ultimately I felt it a fun and interesting direction to take things!
Now as well as doing my videos I will focus on Blogs also to widen the scope and to share my knowledge in this format, over time I want to do blogs about the cities I've visited for those who are less interested in watching videos and more interested in reading, also allowing people easier lists of places to visit.
The website also allowed me to organise my videos in a more structured way than I had with YouTube, thinking carefully about how I could do that, I figured the most logical way was to sort things by region, this approach also gave me a good view of the regions I should focus on more going forward, especially those I haven't visited at all! (Numbering 3 at this time of writing), it has given me a greater perspective of the country and improved my geographical knowledge.
Then we get to my other media, thanks to a good friend Dorota I realised that I should focus on platforms such as Instagram in a better way, I had been using this...but not utilising features such as Reels and stories, also as I was recording things for the purpose of Youtube, I now needed to start taking pictures and making videos more in an instagrammable format (mainly switching from landscape to portrait shots). Also I will use facebook more to help promote my material and keep and active page for this!
Recently I also upgraded to a newer phone, I feel with the improved camera that the pictures quality of my videos can only improve and any photos I take will have that extra life to them! Also I have found the quality of videos taken in Dim light/night time is also greatly improved!
For now I have a lot planned, certainly enough work to keep me busy on those quiet evenings and during those desolate winter months:
More travel: This will be ongoing, utilising good weather especially in the summer months I will continue to explore Poland and build up my catalogue of cities visited.
More videos: I aim when possible to release one video a week and this I want to continue...so I am out and about recording as much as I can so I can continue to release good content even over the winter months.
More Blogs: Getting to do writing is a refreshing change for me and something I have always enjoyed, so I look forward to building up my list of Blogs on this site and to give people that added perspective of the great country of Poland!
Working on the website: I still have things to figure out on backend setup, to appear in search results and so on, I also want to engage more with my viewers through the forum pages and build up a nice archive of suggestions for enjoying Poland and Polish culture in a bigger way!
Working on social media: I want to continue to grow my Instagram and facebook pages, to drive more engagement and also to share more varied content.
Improvement: For sure nothing is ever perfect, I want to learn new skills over time, to make better quality material an continue to offer this service in the best way I can, I feel I am still near the beginning of my journey, with time I will continue to develop and throw myself into this chapter of exploration!