Interview with RJ Aguiar – Youtuber: thenotadam
By Matthew John
Matthew: What were the hardest challenges in setting up a youtube channel?
RJ: Setting up a channel is really the easy part. I mean, technically, if you have a username on YouTube, you have a channel, even though not everyone chooses to make use of it. So when it comes to getting started on YouTube, the challenge isn’t so much setting up a channel as figuring out what goes on it.

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Matthew: Is there a general message behind your Videos/ Channel? What do you hope your audience takes away with them after watching your videos?
RJ: I have two main goals with my personal channel: I want to make people smile and make people think. Most videos I make try to accomplish both goals at the same time, but sometimes I’ll make sure to really focus on giving people something to think about and discuss. With the vlog, the point isn’t really to have a message, but more to just simply show the day to day reality of what we do. I mean we like to include messages as much as we can, but the messages are just insights and take-aways that we get from our everyday experiences.

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Matthew: Which video was the most fun to make?
RJ: Oh god, there are so many videos to choose from. I suppose I could start with the vlogs. Aside from obvious answers like “WE’RE ENGAGED”, two of my all-time favorite moments have come from our first year of vlogging. One is from “THE STASIK WEDDING”, where we caught this amazing, heartfelt drunken moment between my uncle and his two son-in-laws. It’s funny cause they’re all wasted, but it’s also amazingly sweet. There’s another vlog called “FAH HIS GLURRY”, and it perfectly encapsulates what made our first VidCon amazing. Again, there was alcohol involved, and it was our first time meeting long-time friends and colleagues like Nick Foti and Tyler Oakley. And yet we all ended up drunk out of our minds at Denny’s at two in the morning because we had unsuccessfully tried walking through the Taco Bell drive thru.

Personal channel videos are tough to choose from since I work in a few different formats. There are videos where I sit down and interview people. One really great one was when I had Pablo Hernandez on as my first guest for “Just The Tips”. I think since it was my first time working in that format and it went so well, it’ll always have a special place in my heart. More recently, “How To Ask Them Out” was a lot of fun, since it involved acting with Will. We had such a hard time keeping it together because we would just burst out laughing all of a sudden. And when one of us goes, the other does, and it becomes this vicious cycle of silliness.

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Matthew: Have you ever had strange reactions or caused issues with a video?
RJ: Oh absolutely. There are two past videos I still get hate comments on daily, and those are my episodes of “Your Argument Is Wrong” that I made about Abortion and Gun Control. Then again, those are such contentious topics that it’s pretty much expected for fanatics to come out of the woodwork.

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Matthew: Are there any elements/ outcomes/ changes to your life that have resulted from starting a youtube channel that have surprised you?
RJ: I mean, there are a lot of opportunities I’ve gotten that I never even dreamed would be possible when I started making videos. Just the fact that it brought us to LA is already pretty mind blowing. And then getting to do everything from mainstage panels at VidCon and Playlist Live, bit parts in feature films, speaking engagements, meetups in all these different countries, an invite to the White House…it’s just incredible that I’ve been able to have all these amazing things come my way all thanks to these silly videos I shoot in my apartment.

Matthew: How much time do you spend on your YouTube efforts? Take us through a typical day or week of playing and recording.
RJ: At an absolute minimum, I devote two hours a day to importing, editing, uploading, and finalizing each and every daily vlog. That’s on a good day. Other days, depending on how much footage I have to sift through and how much I go through the comments, that can easily balloon to three or four hours. Personal channel videos take around four to five hours on average when you total up the time it takes to jot your thoughts down, set up a camera and lights, shoot your video, cut everything together, and export it. That’s also assuming that this is just a plain sit down video and not something elaborate that requires multiple locations, set-ups, and so on. Those can take up to eight hours, give or take. Then there’s the time required to set up sponsored videos, if that’s something that you’re interested in doing. Whether it’s via platforms like FameBit or old-fashioned email, a typical branded video involves quite a few messages back and forth between you and a brand to finalize all the various details and get all necessary approvals. Then, if you have time, you want to make sure and watch at least one or two videos from other creators. Part of doing this job means staying current on everything that’s going on and being able to adapt and/or respond to any new shifts or trends that might be taking place. YouTube is one of those things where you tend to get out of it what you put into it. So if you’re trying to take it seriously, then it can easily take up as much time as a traditional “day job”. It’s just that so many people can’t see all that behind the scenes work, so they just assume that you spend all day dicking around in front of a camera.

RJ Aguiar - youtubecomthenotadam

Matthew: How do you personally measure your success of the Youtube channel?
RJ: Since YouTube makes stats like view and subscriber counts visible, it’s really easy for people to use those numbers to gauge a channel’s success. And I suppose that’s definitely one way to measure success, but I liken that to someone who measures their success by, say, how much money they have in the bank. Sure, it’s a number, and numbers are easy to compare. And if that’s your game, then by all means, play it. But to me, having the world’s biggest social media platform is pointless if it has nothing to say. Sure, you’ve got one or two or five or ten million subs, but what sort of message are you broadcasting to that audience? That’s why I try to measure my success by the number of people we help in some way or another. My bisexuality videos are a great example. The first one I ever made has more than half a million views, which is definitely awesome, but I also get messages from people all the time about how that video helped them understand their sexuality or the sexuality of someone they care about. THAT’s the juice right there.

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Matthew: Advice for new YouTubers: What is a DO and what is a DON’T?
RJ: DO NOT try to replicate someone else. By all means, watch other creators and get inspired, but don’t outright copy. Part of what makes your channel appealing is the unique voice that you bring to it, and that’s something that you can’t achieve by becoming a second-rate someone else. Instead, follow your passion, whatever that may be. Passion is infectious, even to people who don’t necessarily share it. One perfect example I use on social media is “extreme knitting”. I don’t know how to knit, nor do I have a desire to learn how…but seeing some of the things extreme knitters do is so amazing that you can’t help but get caught up in it. So whatever your passion is, share it. I guarantee that there are at least a few others out there who get it, and that’s all you need to start building a community.

rj aguiar pic

Matthew: Name a few people who influence you?
RJ: Oh gosh. I mean, any comedy vlogger who doesn’t pay tribute to Natalie Tran is deluded in some way. That woman popularized the vlog format that virtually everyone uses nowadays, and she will always be an inspiration to me. So many of my online friends are so talented and inspiring: Miles Jai, soundlyawake, Hart Beat, ElloSteph, Vinny and Luke, I could go on and on. I’ve also got to pay tribute to the Vlog Brothers. These are two guys who have built their entire presence on being unapologetically brainy propeller-heads, and they’ve inspired me to not be bashful about using my brain.

Matthew: What made you decide to go public with your relationship?
RJ: Going public was a very gradual process. It started with me making small cameos in Will’s videos during the first couple years we were together. Then it evolved into day-in-the-life videos that we would shoot every once in a while. Those prompted the call from subscribers that we should try posting every day. We resisted that at first. Then we decided to try a month just to see what the response would be. And then we suddenly took off and have been sharing our lives daily (for the most part) ever since.

RJ & WILL // © Gabriel Gastelum Photography

Matthew: What are the Pro’s and Con’s of having a relationship in the public eye?
RJ: The big pro is being able to have your relationship mean something to so many people across the globe, and to help influence conversations about subjects like equality and mental health by simply showing what goes on in your day-to-day life. The con is obviously trying to deal with the added scrutiny, as well as constantly grapple with the question of what goes in versus what stays out. We always have to be cautious not to give away, say, our address online, because people will use that information to their advantage. Plus there’s the need to maintain some privacy for the sake of our relationship and our sanity.

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Matthew: For anyone who was thinking of going public with the private life. What is a DO and what is a DON’T?
RJ: Do realize that, when you put bits and pieces of your life online, that a lot of people are going to feel entitled to make judgements and criticize you based on what they see. And when you put up resistance, so many of these people will tell you “well that’s what you get for putting yourself out there” (often times while keeping their own identity anonymous. Others will take it one step further and feel entitled to you and the rest of your life that’s not on camera. Don’t let these people ruin it for you. Don’t share anything you’re not comfortable sharing. And definitely don’t feel like you have to put up with people harassing you just because you post the occasional content online.

RJ and Will

Matthew: Who has been your biggest supporter or mentor?
RJ: I know it’s sappy, but I have to say Will. He’s the one who inspired me to take this up all those years ago and he’s the one who continues to cheer me on to this day.

Matthew: Apart from being in love. Why do you think you and your partner work so well together?
RJ: Will and I are like two halves of one brain sometimes. He’s the one who thinks more analytically and linearly while I tend to me more dynamic and out-of-the-box. We balance each other out in a really amazing way that helps us emphasize one another’s strengths and minimize a lot of our weaknesses. We both share a certain passion for learning and creativity that really unites us, and then we both bring a different set of skills to the table that just go really well together.

Matthew: Do you have any projects in the pipeline? Or are there any new things you really want to try do in 2016?
RJ: We’ve decided that 2016 is going to be the year of branching out. YouTube’s been great in a lot of ways, but we certainly didn’t move to LA just to stay in our apartment and edit videos all day. Modeling has definitely been one of those new projects that I decided to try on a whim, and ended up having a little knack for. Hosting and acting both fall into that category as well. But my first passion has always been writing, and the same goes for Will. We’ve been hammering away at a number of writing projects, both individually and together. So the goal is for at least a handful of these to start coming to fruition in the next year. That is, after we get married in May.

Please check out and join RJ at the following links:
youtube.com/thenotadam
youtube.com/shep689
twitter.com/rj4gui4r
instagram.com/rj4gui4r
facebook.com/rjaguiarofficial

 

 

Interview by Matthew John

www.matthew-john.com

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