The Year Ahead: 2021

In the 2020 Year In Review article, we shared a look at our journey through the difficulties of 2020, while hinting at some of what we have in mind for 2021. After spending time in reflections and conducting a SWOT analysis (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats), we’ve pieced together our plans for 2021 and we wanted to share them with you for another behind-the-scenes peek at how certain parts of Oddities Observed and TheFoundryCast elements operate. These are the objectives and metrics by which we are making some decisions on how to operate for the next 6 to 12 months.

Firstly are our goals. These are the ways in which we will we measure IF we are doing what we need to do. The first of these is achieving 300 subscribers by Dec 31st. We effectively went from 0 to 100 subscribers in 2020, a year in which we could not generate content in the quantity or quality that we had hoped. January is not over and we are up to 150, although we have stalled once already in the last few weeks after Christmas. If we can achieve any level of momentum again, then these numbers are very achievable. Our high end goal would be 500 subscribers, but we aren’t focused on that as much as we are the 300. We thought about setting this goal at higher counts, but in light of what we have seen before, a small steady growth may be most beneficial to what we hope to build.

The next goal is to have 2 videos and 1 article released every month. This is actually a fairly difficult task and a tough benchmark to reach if we are being honest. Full time YouTubers that are monetized, sponsored, and can run their channels full time are able to pour 12-14 hour days into their content. Oddities Observed does not have that luxury, and as the year progresses, our free time may become even more scarce. This will give us 2 weeks per video, 1 week for written content, and then 1 week off on average per month. Real life may get in the way, but we’re committed to trying to make this work!

Our directions are the paths we are taking to meet these goals. Now that we have achievable benchmarks, we can structure the ways that we feel can get us there. Small steady growth, as mentioned earlier, is what we are banking on as the most natural way to build community. By embracing what we are and where we get our viewership, we can look into the preexisting groups and recognize how important a tightly knit community really is. As a result, we are taking the direction to build the community in other places, learning how best to utilize Reddit, Instagram, and possibly even TikTok. From here we might find eyes that are only looking for smaller blasts of content, but whom would come and stay for the longer pieces once the intrigue catches them.

The next direction is that we will have firmer schedules of releases and updates. The planned schedule at the moment is to release only on Fridays at 3:00pm EST, which is theoretically the best time for our channel and for our content based on YouTube analyzations in general. Then we will alternate weeks with what content gets uploaded. As we said, since we have the goal of 2 videos per month on average, then we are going to spread them out every two weeks, and use the other Fridays for different content. For example, last Friday the Charlie No-Face video released, now today is a blog here on the website, this upcoming Friday will be our next video, and the following Friday will be something else TBD. Then we repeat the cycle and keep rolling.

When it comes to our standards, we are needing to elevate our focus in order to make our directions work and to make our goals worthwhile. Everything we do must be intentional. We should not waste our efforts when we can use the exact same amount of energy to maximize the results. Buzzwords aside, this means we will need to work on three standards. The first is our efficiency in HOW we make our videos. The Helen’s Bridge video suffered production delays, but at best it would have taken 2-3 months of research and refinement to produce. In order to achieve our goal of 2 videos uploaded per month, we have to be strategic in our planning, and that ultimately means smaller projects. If a 4 minute video will perform at the same level as a 15 minute video, then we shouldn’t waste too much time on long form productions. That doesn’t mean we won’t get into some of those longer deep dives, but just less often. We will also have to use B-roll and stock footage more in suggestive ways, even if they aren’t 100% perfectly fitting. Too much time gets wasted searching for period and subject appropriate visual content that it eclipses the creating and editing time, which halts projects dead in their tracks. For example: the Biltmore Estate video is our best performer and has brought in the most overall viewership, whereas the Doubles and Shadows video was more niche but was an under-performer by comparison. Niche is good on YouTube for channel identity, but niche is still too small to bring in eyeballs and subscription clicks. In order to have it both ways we will need bigger blockbusters to rake in new viewership numbers, but not at the expense of our timelines, with the smaller projects better serving the subscribers we have in the long run. In the end, it is a matter of balance, where we will try to build on larger projects while working on smaller ones to make the best use of time.

Another standard is our efficiency in WHAT we make our videos about. We would much rather only take on projects that inspire us on a personal level, but we can see in real data what works and what doesn’t. This doesn’t mean we won’t be taking on some of the more niche material, just that we are going to balance it with more community ready subjects. This means paying attention to what is trending, hopping on subjects before there is an unassailable amount of competition. Looking into the preexisting communities, this will help us hone that content direction and hope that our uniqueness will help us standout among the field.

Our last standard is our engagement level. We will be responding to 99% of comments on our videos, regardless of the hosting platform. Focusing on our community is going to be key to the success of Oddities Observed in 2021. Virtually every comment we receive will elicit a reply, if possible. Even if it is a short “thanks for checking out out”. We are doing this for 3 specific reasons.

  • We want every viewer to feel recognized for their commentary.

  • We want them to know we appreciate both their feedback and any stories that they share.

  • We want to surprise them with engagement, which may be reciprocated by further comments, by watching more videos, and by subscribing.

Each response will also be personalized to the comment. We feel this is a strong and genuine way in order to build a close-knit community feel.

Lastly, all of this processing and planning, along with the last three months of contemplation, have revealed that we are really in this sub-genre of Horror content and it is something that we need to embrace. Oddities Observed will not become strictly Creepy Pasta stories and we will not lower our standards of quality and consistency. Overall, it is more of a clarification process by which we learn more about ourselves and our genre in order to make the best content possible for our viewers. If 2021 is a successful year, then we will have much higher expectations for 2022! To get there, we are hoping to find community acceptance, to discover viewers who are engaging with the content, and that we receive a great dose of luck from the Algorithm gods. We do all of this because we think you will enjoy it… we are just hoping that over time, there will be MORE of you enjoying it so we can doing this for years to come.