Video Uploads: 168
Video Views: 60,497
Channel Type: Entertainment
User Created: Jan 6th, 2012
Jude Valentin, known as MermaidQueenJude throughout her online “Mermaid Kingdom,” is a master of many trades. She describes herself as a “queer Latinx fat storyteller,” but she is also a video editor, a photographer and a manager for other content creators. Her own content on YouTube revolves around candid discussions about fat activism, queerness and mental health based on her own experiences navigating her identity.
“I’ve made a career of yelling about things on the internet, which is very fun for me,” she laughs. Over the past several years growing as a creator, she has gained an array of knowledge and wisdom about creating in the online sphere.
In the beginning
Jude has been online for the majority of her life. “I was a child of the internet. I’ve been on the internet since I was 5,” she tells Creator Handbook. Her debut as an impassioned creator on the internet began with a blog, just for fun, on Tumblr. There, she began to delve into social justice and fat activism. She realized that the plus-sized space there was overwhelmingly white and cishet — identities that alienated her as a Latinx, bisexual and non-binary activist. “I wanted to shift that.” From age 16, she began vocalizing her identity and her experiences in these spaces and became involved in important discussions of identity and marginalization.
In 2016, she participated in YouTube’s “Vlogmas.” It’s an event where creators make daily videos during the month of December leading up to Christmas. This was a turning point for her creatively; “That was the first time I was making content consistently and actively deciding what I wanted my voice to be and what I wanted it to look like. There was this moment where I was like, ‘Oh, this actually is really fun,’” she says. Through creating videos on YouTube, Jude was able to finally find the connection she was searching for — and to watch her content grow into a community of its own.
Keeping it fresh
In terms of the source of her video ideas, Twitter is a major vessel for her creativity. It functions as a “jumping point for a lot of [her] ideas, especially when it comes to body politics and fat politics.” The activists she follows on Twitter provide a lot of talking points and discussions of current events, to which she is asked to contribute. Many times, Jude begins with a thread discussing her thoughts, and she builds off of those points in video format. Once she has an idea, she will either make a Twitter thread or journal about the topic and pull out points to emphasize in a concise manner. “Say all your ideas in 10 tweets or less,” she advises. Rather than scripting her videos, which can make her feel robotic, she gives herself an outline and speaks bouncing off of that.
Like any creator, Jude struggles with creative block. “I’m always creatively blocked. It’s a problem.” This obstacle doesn’t stop her from creating, though. “It’s something about creating content in a specific medium,” she says. Instead of pushing herself to create one type of content, she takes a break and moves onto a different creative outlet and releases her energy through that. For her, this can look like editing other people’s videos, taking photos, writing or going on an adventure in the city. “All of those things help me bridge that gap between my block and creating… When we label ourselves as a video-maker instead of just a creative, we kind of put ourselves in this box.” She stresses that it’s important to be inspired in all forms, rather than just one, in order to avoid getting stuck.
Getting to know yourself
Jude has a following that many upcoming creators strive to attain: a dedicated, engaged group of people who show up for any work that you do. It wasn’t just luck that gifted her with this community; she put in a lot of deliberate thought in creating her channel. “The most important part of building a following is knowing who you are. If you don’t know who you are, you can’t market yourself.” She asks herself these four questions:
- What am I about?
- How am I making that content?
- How am I achieving that content?
- How am I sharing that content?
This way, she has a clear idea of what her goal is in branding herself and a pathway to accomplish it. A direct purpose in your content fosters an energy that will guide people toward you to work with you, according to Jude. And this can shift. “You don’t have to only do this one thing for the rest of your life until you die… It’s about having a jumping point, so you can say, ‘I do this currently.’”
Clarity in herself and her content allows her to know who her audience is. For Jude, that’s queer people or women who live in marginalized bodies or who struggle with mental health. Knowing this information helps her cater to those audiences, which in turn makes it less likely that she will unintentionally isolate and offend them. To do this, Jude says, “I do a lot of asking. I’ll ask people, ‘What kind of videos do you want to see?’” If you’re active on other social media, you can also objectively measure this by taking note of what threads do well, what photos people comment on, what do people engage with?
You can’t please everyone
When people make it a point to cater to audiences, this can sometimes lead to inauthenticity — i.e. doing things just for views. To avoid this, Jude confirms to herself whether she is passionate about the topic: Is it something she would be talking about anyway? Does it light a fire in her? Additionally, when people ask her to elaborate on certain topics in future videos, she asks herself, “Have I said everything I need to say about this?” If yes, then she lets go of that topic and focuses her energy on something else. “You don’t have to show up to every fight that you’re invited to.” Pick your battles with your content, especially as an activist creator.
Being a creator with a dedicated following on any social medium is not without its challenges. “One thing I had to get over is the idea that not everyone is gonna like you, and especially if you’re in the activism space. You’re taught to make yourself smaller or quieter or be more palatable for people… It’s important to realize that you are not for all markets, and that’s okay.”
Still, some people will be cruel online because they “take pride in making people feel bad,” Jude assures us. In these situations, she utilizes the block and mute functions: “The internet is what you make of it.”
Jude believes it is vital to put yourself and your own wellbeing first as a creator. “It’s important to draw the line between when are we trying to be accommodating and when are we actively leaving the self for the consumption of others.”
Advice to new creators
As a versatile and experienced creator, Jude can offer a lot of advice for creators who are just beginning or who are looking to grow a following online. “Your first videos are gonna suck. All of your first year of content is going to suck, and that’s okay.” After you begin and put yourself out there, you are only going to get better. Inevitably, when you are just learning the ropes, you won’t be making the best content of your life. Jude encourages people to put the videos, or whatever content form, up anyway. “Don’t wait on making it perfect.” The longer you wait, she advises, the harder it will be to move forward. “The internet doesn’t stop.”
An important aspect for creators to consider when making content is how to support yourself as a freelancer. Jude jokes, “Screaming into the void,” which is how a lot of creators can feel trying to make their content profitable. However, Jude has found that branching out and doing other things helps. She offers consulting, editing and management to other creators to make money off of her career online. “I do all of this other content creation to support my content creation. I’m making content literally all the time because it’s supporting my own personal content.”
Jude also utilizes Patreon to gain monthly income from dedicated followers, along with income from merchandise sales and donations. This can feel unnatural at times, but this is the reality of creating online. “It never gets less weird to have someone see you,” she says. “I still feel very humbled and very lucky that as someone with various mental illnesses and various levels of physical pain, that I’m able to make ends meet in the ways I need to and have people show up for that.”
The motivating factor
It’s easy to get discouraged, but when you have a passion, it’s important to manifest it in the universe. MermaidQueenJude is a prime example of what it means to be a creator in this day and age on the internet. She’s constantly pushing boundaries and making the most of all of her talents and abilities. Her dedication and exponentially growing success demonstrate that if you are truly committed to a career making online content, whatever form that may take, it is possible to cultivate community.