YouTube With A Disability is a new monthly series on Graphic Organic where I interview a creator who has a chronic illness or disability. YouTube recently came out with a new policy. Only channels that have over 1,000 subscribers and a minimum of 4,000 minutes of watch time over the past year are now eligible for monetization, which means getting paid through ads. This affects so many small channels, definitely those people who need the money for medical bills. I want to help out by promoting those YouTubers on my blog. If you are interested in being featured, send me an e-mail or go to the contact page. There is only one rule: you need to have less than 1,000 subscribers.
February's YouTuber is Shaelene Robar. She's 22 years old and lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has been living with chronic Lyme disease and chronic pain for nine years now and she named her channel: A Girl With Lyme. She shares her experiences of living with chronic Lyme, chronic pain, chronic illness and disability. But she's so much more than her illness. She's interested in Ancient History, Marine Biology, rocks, photography, typography and her cats who feature in some of her videos.
At first she was afraid her content wouldn't be interesting to anyone. One day she came across a YouTuber with Lyme disease called LymeChick. Then it kind of clicked and she decided to just go for it, illness or not. Turned out, there were so much more people making content about their lives with chronic illness.
When she first started her channel back in March 2016, her family and friends didn't quite understand how YouTube worked in the beginning but have always been very supportive. Her parents especially are very proud that she was doing something with her time that she enjoys, is good at and helps other out who are going through something similar. When she made her first video, she was quite insecure of how she looked and sounded on camera. So much, that she didn't upload the video for four months! But eventually she decided to take the plunge.
"I love having the ability to just share my entire story and journey through Lyme and Chronic Pain and have people relate to that. I know that if I share my story it can make someone feel less alone, I think that is amazing."
It is pretty obvious Shaelene is passionately fond of creating videos although some days are rather a struggle due to her chronic pain. Even on high symptom days she keeps pushing herself to write a script, edit or caption a video when she should be laying down and resting instead.
Since chronic Lyme disease is very unpredictable, she can't set a filming schedule like healthy YouTubers can. She usually spends two weeks writing out all the scripts for the videos she plans to film, about seven in total. Once she finished writing them, Shaelene aims for one day that week to spend on filming all the videos. If she isn't able to film that particular day, she will just try again the next day. Pre-filming easy videos like Q&A's help her to make sure she can keep uploading content. If for whatever reason she wasn't able to film that week, she'll have something to fall back on.
Shaelene's favorite part of creating a video is editing. It takes the least amount of effort, It’s something that she can do when she's in a high level of pain and can do it right from bed. "I enjoy the process of editing, I'm good at it and sometimes I just get in the zone and I’m so absorbed by what I’m doing."
Shaelene is working hard to caption all her videos by the end of 2018. After watching Rikki Poynter's video on why YouTubers need to caption their videos for the hard of hearing or deaf, she realized by not captioning your videos, you're excluding an entire group of people. She started learning about ableism and making videos on disability herself.
The videos she is most proud of are her Lyme disease story series, where she went very in depth into her symptoms, the testing she has done and all the treatments she tried. It was extremely hard to make because it was just so much information. She spent weeks typing out scripts, had over eight hours of footage and she had to cut it all into different parts.
You can watch the playlist here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AhgUHqDQy6c&list=PLn0Mk4qpW88eBRhHwSLYhvK1dbRr9TNmQ
Another video she put a lot of effort into, is Testing a Tick & My Blood For Lyme Disease At Home. She spent a few days filming and it took about 10 hours to edit it all together.
Shaelene loves to watch beauty vloggers from Australia and New Zealand when she just wants to relax and not worry about life. Her favorite channels are shaaanxo, Nikkia Joy, Sharon Farrell, Rachel Aust, & Karima McKimmie.
She also enjoys watching other spoonie YouTubers like Amy Lee Fisher, Fibro Mom, Annie Elainey, Chhronically Jaquie, The Frey Life, Chelsie Hill, Christina Doherty, her friend Kimbery from In The Lyme Life, and Lemons ’N Lyme.
One trend on YouTube she will never understand are videos where people make everything edible. Especially the edible nail polish makes her cringe a lot.
She hopes to reach a 1000 subscribers and is also open to collaborations in the future. She would love to collab with her friend Kimberly from In The Lyme Life and Amy Lee Fisher.
Here is one final advice from Shaelene to spoonies who want to start a YouTube channel: "Just give it your best shot. You don’t need fancy equipment, most mobile phone cameras are good enough quality to film on, iMovie is offered for free on the Apple App Store and is the best app to edit on, and you can upload right from the YouTube app on your phone over wifi. If you give it a chance and some hard work than it can be quite rewarding."
Where to find A Girl With Lyme:
Pic credit: PEXELS