Welcome to Creators on the Rise, where—in partnership with global creator company Jellysmack—we find and profile breakout creators who are in the midst of extraordinary growth.
Back in 2020, something happened to Eden Melvin.
His high school, like thousands of others, closed its doors to students, hoping to slow the spread of COVID. By the time the next academic year rolled around, most people had realized the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon, and his school had implemented a learn-from-home option for seniors. Melvin opted for that route over returning to in-person learning, and abruptly found himself with a lot more control over how he spent his time.
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He decided to take advantage of that.
He decided to start a YouTube channel.
Because in the early days of COVID lockdowns, he’d spent a lot of time doing what he always did: staying in, playing video games, and watching anime. That was his comfort zone.
And he was tired of his comfort zone.
Starting his YouTube channel, AyoDen, was a way for him to start pushing his own boundaries, start socializing more, and start putting himself out there. Sure, he stayed a little in his comfort zone by launching his channel with videos about his favorite video game, Minecraft, but the whole concept of making content and just shoving it out there for other people to watch was unfamiliar terrain.
But it was terrain he had to learn fast. Melvin posted his first YouTube video on Feb. 7, 2021. That video and the three he posted after it got a few thousand views each.
Then, on Feb. 18, he posted a video that took audio from Minecraft YouTuber Dream and his friends, and jokingly edited it to look like he’d broken into their call. That video shot to more than 4 million views, and propelled Melvin’s channel to quick growth.
Now, a little over a year later, Melvin has nearly 2.3 million subscribers and nets over 80 million views per month. He’s successfully experimented with making a mix of content, from long-form to short-form to live streams, and lately has begun shifting his content from all Minecraft all the time to more personality-driven videos that focus on him.
Also, he’s due to graduate high school in two days.
We’ll let him tell you all about it below.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tubefilter: So, let’s jump right in.
Eden Melvin: All right. So, first of all, I’d like to explain a little of what my channel’s about. So I do primarily gaming videos, but I’m more of a personality, so it’s not really about what game I play. It’s more about me as a personality in the video. And so often I do more than just gaming videos. Like one of my favorite videos that I did recently was just me learning the moonwalk.
I started embracing more of this personality side recently, so that might be why there’s been more of a growth, because I’ve noticed that people actually like these personality videos more than gaming videos, at least from what I’ve seen with my channel.
Tubefilter: Interesting! So you changed up your content and found people embraced that?
EM: Yeah. And I’m glad because I’ve always wanted to be a personality creator. I want people to fall in love with me, the creator, because I think that’s more valuable.
Tubefilter: So back up a sec. For people who have never seen you or your videos before and don’t know about your channel, who are you, where are you from, and how did you get started on YouTube?
EM: I’m AyoDen. My real name is Eden Melvin. I am from Orlando, Florida. That’s where I was born, but I’ve lived in California for most of my life. I got started on YouTube during quarantine because I was kind just sitting around the house, you know, doing nothing, playing games, watching anime. So I felt like I could be doing something more, and I decided to just step out of my comfort zone, start the channel, and it’s gotten to where it is today. So I’m extremely grateful.
Tubefilter: Was making videos something you wanted to do before, and you’d been too shy?
EM: Yes, kind of. Yeah. It’s basically that I just was afraid of taking that first step. But doing content creation is something that I’ve always wanted to do.
Tubefilter: What were you doing before quarantine?
EM: Before quarantine? I was just a normal high school student, just playing video games. I didn’t really have any extracurriculars going. But I was into parkour. That was my main thing. I was a big parkour enthusiast.
Tubefilter: Is that something that you want to get back into?
EM: Yeah, definitely, down the line. I would love to start a parkour channel.
Tubefilter: You said high school. How old are you now?
EM: I’m 17. I’m turning 18 in two days.
Tubefilter: Oh! Well, happy early birthday.
EM: Thank you.
Tubefilter: Are you still in high school or did you graduate?
EM: I actually just finished classes on Friday, but I graduate in two days, on my birthday.
Tubefilter: Congratulations again, then.
EM: [laughs] Thank you.
Tubefilter: Are you planning on going into YouTube full-time, or are you looking at college? How’s it working for you?
EM: I’m going to be YouTube full-time. That’s my plan for right now. As long as I can stay on top of it, I think I can make it work full-time.
Tubefilter: Have you been going to school in person? How does your schedule work with school and YouTube?
EM: So ever since quarantine started, I’ve actually never been back in person to school. I’ve always just been online. We had the choice for senior year to do online or in person and I chose online because I just don’t feel like I would’ve had the time to focus as much on YouTube to grow this much had I been in person. There are countless nights where I stayed up all night editing videos. So it just wouldn’t work with normal school.
Tubefilter: What is your production schedule? Do you have a set number of videos you put out every week, or…?
EM: I try to stick to the schedule of one video every other day. But it more just comes down to what I’m feeling like. The whole reason I wanted to be a content creator was to have freedom, so I feel like it’s important to not stress too much about stuff. And if I find myself ever getting stressed or burnt out, I just take a step back, take a break for the day.
Tubefilter: It’s cool that you’re pretty young and you know that already. It takes work to be able to be like “Yeah, I need a break. I need to chill.”
EM: Yeah, that’s definitely, probably the most important part of this whole thing for me. Just being able to have that freedom and not stress too much about things.
Tubefilter: Yeah, got you. When you first started your channel, how did you decide what your channel was going to be about? Was it just what you were interested in? Were there other creators you watched and were inspired by?
EM: Yeah, definitely. I knew I wanted to do gaming, starting out. Some of my biggest inspirations were Preston Plays, Wisp was another big inspiration. So when I first started out, I kind of modeled my content around Wisp’s and I had that energy like Preston Plays.
Tubefilter: How has your content evolved over the past two years? As you said, you’ve recently started doing more personality stuff, but in other ways, has your content evolved?
EM: Well, when I first started, I did long-form vids, but I’ve started doing Shorts. And with Shorts, I’ve definitely seen a lot more growth. And like I said, I’ve just been starting to do more personality-related bits recently. I did some skits, Minecraft skits, which I really enjoyed, and I didn’t do those starting out.
Tubefilter: I was going to ask you about Shorts because it seems like you have a pretty healthy mix of long-form and Shorts now. Do you feel like Shorts has been a major factor in your channel’s growth?
EM: For sure. Yes. I would like to transition into a sort of mix of Shorts and long-form, kind of like what Ryan Trahan does. I would love to do that. Two Shorts and a long-form, two Shorts and a long-form.
Tubefilter: Do you feel like you get as much engagement from your audience with Shorts as you do on long-form videos? Do you feel like there’s any difference in audience?
EM: Unfortunately, there is a difference, like since I’m a Shorts YouTuber, not as many people are interested in watching my long-form. That’s one aspect of it. And then the other aspect of it is that it’s just two separate algorithms. So people that get recommended my Shorts don’t get recommended my long-form. That’s something that like most, if not all, Shorts YouTubers struggle with, trying to transition from Shorts to long-form.
I want to be someone that’s successfully able to do that. And once I get to that point, I’ll really feel like I’ve made it as a creator—if I’m able to transfer my Shorts audience more into long-form.
Tubefilter: When did you start doing Shorts?
EM: I think May of last year.
Tubefilter: Is that when your channel really started taking off? Do you remember if there was a specific video where your channel kicked off, or has it just been sort of a rise across everything?
EM: There was definitely one specific video where it just blew up my channel. It was this video where I did this edit of myself on a call with another YouTuber named Dream. I got voice clips from his Dream SMP videos and I just edited them together to make it seem like I was talking to him. And people really loved that. That video has, currently, like 30 million views. It’s my most popular video on my channel.
Tubefilter: How much time are you putting into each video on average?
EM: On average, I think I put about four or five hours into a short video. And for one of my recent long-form videos, I put easily like 24 or 25 hours into it, because I had to film two hours of footage, and then I had to edit that all, and I edited that all in like one sitting. I was just sitting there for a day straight, just editing. And that was like a four-minute video.
Tubefilter: Do you work with anybody else to do edits or anything? Or is it just you?
EM: It’s just me doing all the editing.
Tubefilter: Is there anybody else on the team with you? Do you have a manager or anything?
EM: No I don’t. It’s just me. I’m just a one-man band. I was thinking of getting an editor though, because I do want to start a second channel. So I think getting the editor will really help me with the second channel. But at the moment, I’m content.
Tubefilter: Do you plan to do more personality videos on the second channel? What’s the theme?
EM: I was actually thinking about doing the Minecraft videos on the second channel and doing the personality videos on this channel, the main one.
Tubefilter: Got it. I noticed in your recent videos that you’ve also started doing live streams.
EM: I’ve always wanted to stream. That’s been a main thing for me. I’ve always wanted to stream, and I think it’s just a good way interact with my audience to build a community. That’s something short YouTubers, I feel like they don’t have as much of an opportunity to do because they only have one minute in front of the audience, versus long YouTubers having upwards of 10 or 20 minutes. We only get one minute, so it’s important that we do the community through other measures, like lives.
Tubefilter: What other community-building things do you do? I know you have a Discord server, right?
EM: Right. One thing that I’ve been doing recently that I think is really helping is I’m doing this sort of story across my Shorts. I’m sort of trying to challenge the notion that Shorts are just throwaway videos. I’m trying to make a whole series out of my Shorts right now. You might have looked on my channel and seen like nine of the same video.
EM: Were you confused by that?
Tubefilter: Yes. They all have high view counts, though, so I figured you were testing things.
EM: All those videos are actually part of a series I’m doing right now where someone took over my channel, and they’re basically trying to “ruin” my channel by opening the same video over and over again. But they’re actually different videos. They just have the same title, but they’re all different videos.
So the advantage of that is that it looks normal on the surface, but when you actually go into a video, you can instantly see that something’s up. In one you can see me, but literally like two seconds into the video, I’m getting interrogated. So I’m doing this whole series across my channel right now and I think it’s cool.
Tubefilter: Do you think it’s been working as intended when it comes to audience-building?
EM: It’s been working great, yeah. I think people are tuning in to the series. Honestly, a lot more people than I thought would, so it’s working out great for now.
Tubefilter: I find it interesting that you’re willing to experiment with your channel, and be a little risky with things that may be hit or miss.
EM: I’m still looking at it from, like, I have a really positive outlook—and it might be the death of me, to be honest—but I just have a really positive, optimistic outlook on everything. So right now I’m just thinking it’s the beginning of my channel. Even if this wrecks my viewership, I’ll be able to pull it right back up. And so I’m not really thinking about, you know, stuff failing too much. For me, it’s just the beginning, even though it’s been two years. It’s still just the beginning for me. I still have a long way to go.
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