Hallease Narvaez is a digital storyteller based in Texas and an active member of the Alpha Female community and Alpha Female Facebook group. Over 10 years ago she created her first YouTube account to watch videos on the platform. Fast forward to today, and she’s creating dynamic and informative video content for her over 25,000 subscribers. In 2018, she became a YouTube Creators for Change Ambassador, receiving a filmmaking grant for making content on the platform that combats hate speech and xenophobia. That opportunity along with a few other gigs propelled her into starting her own production company, StumbleWell. We wanted to learn more about how she got her start in vlogging, how she plans and creates her videos and her advice for those also wanting to pursue a creative career.
Digital storyteller Hallease Narvaez shares how she manages her YouTube Channel with over 25K followers while running her own production company.
Knowing & Growing Your Audience
“I started as mostly a consumer on YouTube in 2009, when you would have to have an account just to be on it.” explains Narvaez. “I would comment and like different things, and I began to realize that I needed a creative outlet for this film degree because a lot of the content I was making for work was for big data companies, and you can only make servers look so interesting. I began using the YouTube channel just to have an outlet for myself to try new things and it’s slowly morphed into what I’m doing full time now. It’s been an interesting ride.”
Her core audience is made up of black females who want to be better represented in content outside of the mainstream media, so on the micro screen like YouTube. Most viewers are anywhere between ages 18-35, either entering the professional realm or having a mid-career shift. “Many of the women who watch my videos also watch with their daughters. So it’s cool that we can all have this generational conversation together.”
Gaining over 25,000 subscribers is no small feat. We asked her how she managed to do it. “I would say that the way I got there is that I’ve been on since 2009,” explains Narvaez. “I’ve put in the time to organically grow and find my voice on the platform – and I would say I’m still trying to figure that out to be honest. Also a lot of the usual stuff helps – post frequently, be consistent, answer comments and engage in the community.
Planning & Creating The Content
Planning and creating content for YouTube videos can seem like a daunting task, and certainly the reason why so many don’t post consistently or at all. Narvaez has a creative process that she goes through to help the ideas flow.
“The way I come up with the videos is a combination of productivity, but also creating space to be bored. I think creatively you need that space so you can let your mind wander and jot down some notes. Usually video ideas will come to me in the morning and I'll just jot them down. I have a bullet journal that is specifically catered toward creating content.”
“I generally plan out my videos for the next month, so at the beginning of each month I'll have video goals already laid out. Then as I go into each week, I plan out how many I want to make that week and then create the space to think about writing it in an interesting way or filming it in a creative way. The point is that you’ve been so good about planning and being diligent that you have the time and space to add your creative spin.”
Choosing A Solid Vlogging Camera
Narvaez originally used the Sony α6500 for her YouTube videos, and once she started her production company she upgraded to the Sony α7 III.
“I really just needed a solid, strong main camera that I could record longer with and just look professional on set with clients, so that’s why I chose the α7 III. I also just wanted more of a lens variety. I think the two main things I really enjoy about that camera is that it’s got such a great battery life and it’s just really bright, especially once I started playing with the color profiles and figured out what my look was. I really enjoy it – it’s a fun camera.”
Endeavoring To Persevere
Narvaez really believes that it’s all about balance when it comes to running a successful YouTube channel while managing her production company. She finds joy in creating content for her channel – it’s her therapy, her art, how she expresses herself. If she hasn’t posted in a week, she’s just itching to get out there and create more. It’s an attitude that matches the tagline accompanying much of her work – ‘endeavoring to persevere.’ What exactly does that tagline mean to her?
“That's actually what my mom would say when I was growing up. Someone on the phone would ask her how she’s doing, and her response would be, ‘Oh, I'm endeavoring to persevere, as always.’ I think she got it from an old Western movie. It always just stuck with me because it felt accurate, you know? I'm not doing bad, I'm not doing great, but I'm out here trying and that’s what matters.”
"You just have to start,” she says, “because the sooner you start, the sooner you learn and the sooner you grow. You have to put in those 10,000 hours – I still am. Nobody has it all figured out. Just start and keep at it. A big thing too is figuring out why you're doing it. You need to have a strong why, and it can't be an external why. Don't get me wrong, external accolades are nice and it can give you a little bit of that extra fuel when you are noticed by your peers, but that can't be the only reason you're doing it because external motivation is not sustainable for your soul.”