Whilst many 20somethings dream of YouTube success, their own book deal and millions of fans around the world, the dream doesn’t normally involve being an idol to six year old children. But ever since Joseph Garrett started uploading his Stampy Cat videos, that’s exactly what he’s become.
With nearly 7 million subscribers, Joseph has set a president on how to make intelligent, fun and educational content for a young audience that also manages to get the stamp of approval from parents.
Having just released a book – Stampy’s Lovely Book – we caught up with Joseph to chat YouTube Kids, becoming an author and what’s he’s learned along the way…
We The Unicorns: Congratulations on the book!
Joseph: It’s so weird! I always loved books and always enjoyed writing silly stories as a child so I guess it wasn’t entirely out of the question but it’s amazing that I’ve managed to do this thanks to YouTube.
WTU: And what do you think Stampy’s appeal is?
Joseph: It’s totally the character of Stampy and the fact it is a bit more of a friend.
The book is tied very closely to the videos, it’s not just basic activities based around Stampy as there’s lots of direct references to things in my videos. For people that might watch my videos everyday, it’ll be great to have a physical book they can hold which is all about the things they’re watching.
WTU: Did you always set out to make videos for a young audience?
Joseph: It was actually the complete opposite! I started off making gaming journalism videos and on the side I started doing a few Minecraft videos as a bit of a hobby. It was then I noticed that children were watching so I reacted to that and ended up making videos for children.
WTU: What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned from creating content for pre-teens?
Joseph: I think I’ve had to learn responsibility. I’ve accidentally become a role model to children, which is something I never set out to do.
I’ve had to learn the way to speak, too. A lot of children’s television shows can be patronising and talk down to children but I’ve tried to not change too much. It’s important to speak to children like they’re a person – it makes you more of a friend than a teacher or a parent.
WTU: Do you think there was a turning point where parents started to see YouTube as an educational platform?
Joseph: A lot more parents understand YouTube now because a lot more of them are spending time on it themselves. As more people go on YouTube, more people are going to understand it and see the benefits of it and realise it’s not just cat videos and there is valuable content there.
WTU: What do you make of new app YouTube Kids?
Joseph: I think it’s brilliant! I think it was absolutely needed and being able to have an app where you know everything on that app is safe is hugely important – I’m on the app so it’s great to know children can see my content through that.
WTU: Do you think we’ve now reached a point where parents feel safe allowing their children on YouTube, then?
Joseph: Not entirely. It goes beyond things like whether the creators are using bad language, it’s about the themes and topics they talk about which might not be suitable for children. At the moment, I think it is good if parents do check what their children are watching but once the YouTube Kids app is in the UK then it will be a safe place.
WTU: We now have this age of children who are native to digital and have no idea what dial-up was! How do you think YouTube and children’s content is going to change over the coming years to cater more for the ever growing technology savvy age?
Joseph: Right now is the hardest time for a parent because the Internet is so new and there is a generation gap where the parents don’t understand as much as the children do. As a result, I think there’s certain information which can’t be hidden and kids are growing up a lot quicker. Parents need to make sure they’re the ones giving information to children before they find it on the Internet first. If children aren’t finding things out on their own computer then it’ll be on a friend’s.
WTU: Food for thought, indeed. Finally, what advice would you give to a budding YouTuber who wants to follow in your footsteps?
Joseph: Pick a good name before you start – you’ll regret it otherwise. Tip two is to take inspiration from people but having an original slant is a good idea. And finally the most important thing is focusing on the content and not trying to grow the channel. A lot of people put a lot of effort into making people look at their videos but don’t spend as much time making videos people want to watch.
WTU: Great advice! Thanks so much, Joseph!
Not already subscribed to Stampy? Click here to visit Joseph’s YouTube channel.
Stampy’s Lovely Adventure is out now.