In May 2022, I started a new job as a writer/editor for the young science video production firm TWENTYTWO Film, based in Cologne, Germany. They are most famous for their YouTube-Channel “Doktor Whatson” and that’s the format I am writing scripts for.
On May 29th, Doktor Whatson released the first video based on a script that I wrote. It is performing exceptionally well, which makes me very proud. It is not all my doing, of course, but having your words heard by strangers more than 120 000 times in just three days is not something a lot of science communicators experience. While the reach is fantastic, I applied for this job for three other reasons: money, fun and experience.
For several years I was a full-time freelancer and independent creator, but I didn’t make a full-time income. That’s because I chose to spend most of my time building my own podcast and video formats for no income whatsoever. It takes a lot of time and work producing content and I was prepared to build a following for many years before I would make a full time salary from it. The opportunity to add a steady income was therefore very welcome. It’s an 80%-contract, so I still have some time left for my podcast.
But money wasn’t the only driver, I mostly applied because it looked like a lot of fun. I actually ignored a lot of job openings that I matched well based on my communication skills and scientific expertise. Just because they didn’t sound like a lot of fun. I am lucky, I can afford to do that, so I waited out the pandemic for the opportunity to become a writer for a YouTube-Channel. I was hoping for this exact job since another YouTuber published a video based on a script I wrote for her.
Most importantly, I think I will hone my craft on this job. I expect to write up to 20 scripts over the course of the year. This will make me build an effective and efficient routine for writing about science in a way that keeps viewers engaged. I also learn a lot about YouTubing. I am forced, for example, to tone down the loathing of framing and marketing that, I think, most academics share. This is the attention economy. To reach an audience, you need to put work in enticing titles and thumbnails. The art is to be as sensational as possible without overstepping. If you lie or promise too much, it will hurt the trust of your viewers. Clickbait me once …
The first month was a blast and the success of the first video obviously makes me happy. I am looking forward to working with Doktor Whatson. For now, it’s a temporary contract for one year, but the company wants to turn this into permanent position, if we all agree I should stay when this contract ends. So far, it looks great!
I will start a playlist with all the videos that are based on scripts I wrote and add it to my portfolio. Check it out!