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Jim Chapman’s guide to the vlogging life

Jim Chapman

Vlogger and presenter

Jim Chapman has over 2.4 million video subscribers, 1.6 million Twitter followers, and is part of a family of extremely successful UK video bloggers. As Jim takes on his first documentary presenting gig in BBC Three’s Rise of the Superstar Vloggers, he explains the vlogging rules he lives by.

I always say that vlogging, to begin with at least, is a very anti-social way of being social. You can reach millions of people, but you never have to actually put yourself in the social situation of talking face to face.

It’s like a safety net to find out if being yourself will actually result in people liking you. If you watch my videos in some sort of chronological order, you can actually see how I begin to relax as my confidence grows. I rarely feel shy anymore.

The first time I vlogged was exciting, but I didn’t really think much more of it than that. It’s not like I knew it was going to take off and grow into what it has become today. It was just a hobby, something I enjoyed to take my mind off the fact that I had no idea what I wanted my career to be.

Anyone can make videos. All you need is a camera, an internet connection and something to edit on. I don’t think that just because you can upload content that you'll make a success of it though. I actually think this is a good thing. If you make videos because you want fame then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons and the audience will see through it.

I still have no idea why people enjoy watching me and it scares me that they’ll realise I’m actually not that special. Sometimes I do suspect that this is the very reason it is so special though: I’m a really normal guy and get to take my audience on all the weird and wonderful journeys I go on. It’s not scripted or produced or false, it’s just me.

I think vlogging is contagious. My sisters (Sam Chapman and Nic Haste - beauty vloggers Pixiwoo) started, then my wife Tanya Burr, then me, then my brother John and his friend Leon, then Leon’s girlfriend...

Although it feels like you see everything, we all share only what we want to. We all have a 24 hour day just like everyone else and we’ll make a 10 minute video from that day. There is certainly a learning process involved though. When I first started, I felt a need to share everything and it got a bit too much for me, so I took a step back, realised where my boundaries were and re-evaluated.

On our wedding day, the last thing Tanya and I wanted to do was to keep getting our cameras out and miss the moments we wanted to share with each other. We actually had a no social media rule at the wedding. We just wanted all of our guests to have fun and take a day off with us.

In general, I do think that people’s private space has become much smaller due to social media. But it’s important to remember that people only post what they want to. There is no automatic life update on Twitter. If people overshare, there’s probably a reason for it.

Presenting this documentary was really different for me. I’m so used to rambling on about whatever I want to, however I want to - there’s nobody giving me any feedback. But with TV all that changes.

I don’t think traditional media will ever disappear, but I certainly see that I am in the right place at the right time. This generation (and seemingly the ones that follow) tends to like the choice of the internet. They can watch shows with high production values and also see people like me attempt to bake a cheesecake and fail miserably.

I think the moment you have to think about how real you are online is the moment you lose all credibility. This is the easiest part of my job: I’m me and I can’t not be. I’ve been doing this for about five years now and although I’ve grown up a little and my life has completely changed, I couldn’t fake who I am for all of this time.

But some platforms can be misleading. On Instagram, you may take 100 photos before you find the perfect one you want to post which can lead to a slightly altered version of your reality.  Video content doesn’t give you that luxury. I film when I’m all sweaty and gross after the gym!​

Jim Chapman is a vlogger and presents Rise of the Superstar Vloggers.

Rise of the Superstar Vloggers is broadcast on Monday, 1 February at 9pm on BBC Three. The programme will be available to watch in BBC iPlayer for 30 days after broadcast on TV.

Comments made by writers on the BBC TV blog are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the BBC.


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