YouTube Millionaires: Jarvis Johnson On The Pros And Cons Of Being A YouTube Perfectionist

Jarvis Johnson Merch

Welcome to YouTube Millionaires, where we profile channels that have recently crossed the one million subscriber mark. There are channels crossing this threshold every week, and each has a story to tell about YouTube success. Read previous installments of YouTube Millionaires here.

Whether he’s making a video about the world’s worst life hacks, reviewing the worst and weirdest mobile game ads, or chronicling the worst animated storytime videos, Jarvis Johnson is always doing one key thing: trying his best.

It’s his channel’s slogan, and it’s a theme that’s evident when Johnson talks about his creation process. He’s a relentless perfectionist, which means that every one of his 10- to 30-minute YouTube videos takes a solid 30 to 40 hours of work behind the scenes. Those hours of hard work involve Johnson ensuring everything, from filming to editing cuts to thumbnails and video descriptions, meets the high standards he holds himself to.

Producing content is now Johnson’s full-time career, but there have been times when his perfectionism and anxiety have stymied his creative energy enough to push him away from the work he loves. Way, way back when he launched his channel in 2006, he was a 14-year-old gamer inspired to share his passions (namely gaming and pop culture) with the world, thanks to top YouTubers of the day, like John and Hank Green. But when his videos unexpectedly gathered steam and began drawing a real audience, he found himself struggling — and worrying. What if he uploaded something that didn’t go viral? What if he uploaded something no one liked at all?

“I then came up with a brilliant solution to that problem,” he says. “Which was to completely stop posting altogether.”

Despite hitting pause on uploading, Johnson never stopped wanting to go back to making videos. So, in 2017, he returned to his long-dormant YouTube channel and revamped it. Two years later, he’s just crossed the one million subscriber mark, and while he still struggles to balance his need to create with his need to create perfectly (not an uncommon challenge in the creator community), passing this milestone has encouraged him to focus on his future goals — including creating more content quantity without sacrificing content quality.

arvis Johnson: Well first off, to my subscribers, I just have to say thank you for everything. I’m so so grateful for all of the support I’ve received over the past year. I’m extremely fortunate to have a platform at all — and, even more so, an opportunity to follow my childhood dream of getting demonetized for a living.

As for how it feels: weird. To be completely honest, it feels mostly the same as when I hit 1,000 subscribers, but with slightly higher stakes. I know a lot of people say that, but it’s true. Thanks, hedonic treadmill!

Well, I was born in the fine print of YouTube’s privacy policy and, over the years, I slowly migrated my way onto the recommended page. Sorry about that.

Okay, ENOUGH JOKES! I’m originally from Gainesville, Fla. (Go Gators!), went to college in Atlanta, where I studied computer science (Go Jackets!), and eventually I settled in San Francisco (which famously has no sports teams).

I grew up on YouTube, so I never even considered another option. I’ve basically been addicted to it since I was in middle school, when I finally learned that the “YouTube” everyone was talking about was (surprisingly) not a fansite for the band U2.

I immediately fell in love with creators like the Vlogbrothers, who were instrumental in forming my worldview as a teenager and still hugely influential to me as I navigate adulthood and my new role as an “internet person.”

Jumping back to goofs, the YouTube funny people of yore like Bo Burnham, Derrick Comedy, and The Lonely Island became my entire sense of humor.

I made my YouTube account, the very same one I use today, when I was 14, as a way to upload videos of me playing Runescape and dancing to High School Musical.

Fortunately or unfortunately, some of my videos started gaining traction, which made me anxious about posting something if it wasn’t going to go viral. I then came up with a brilliant solution to that problem, which was to completely stop posting altogether.

Nearly 10 years later, in 2017, after working as a software engineer for a few years, I went to my first VidCon. I was really inspired by the other creators I saw there, so much so that I decided to dust off the ol’ 37-subscriber YouTube channel and get to work.

A few weeks after VidCon, I bought a camera, and I uploaded my first video in almost a decade about (you guessed it) my fear of not living up to other people’s expectations of me. How poetic.

The rest is, as they say, very recent history.

I’m gonna be real with ya, chief. I definitely had to double-check the definition of sardonic.

But yes, absolutely! My YouTube master plan is mostly about making sense of the world through strange internet content while desperately searching for my creative voice.

In terms of content strategy, I do and I don’t have one. My content has changed a lot in my short time on the platform, and I expect it to continue changing in the future, so it’s hard for me to think of my content in any long-term context. Instead, my strategies are more short-term: “Given what I know about the state of my world today, what do I want to make for the next few weeks/months? What are my goals for that content? What does it aim to achieve?”

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