How 13-year-old Rowan Elsmore, “Average Row”, Runs a Successful YouTube Channel
Known on YouTube as Average Row, Rowan Elsmore is a not-so-average customer for Rev.
In fact, at 13 years old, Rowan is the youngest customer ever to place an order with Rev for closed captions on his videos.
In a world where accessibility is an afterthought for many online video creators, we think it’s pretty exceptional that a young YouTuber like Rowan is so mindful of his audience. He knows that some of his viewers depend on captions to practice their English skills and others to enjoy his videos to the fullest.
With this in mind, he’s made it a priority to follow the best practice of getting all of his content professionally captioned. And, in case you were wondering, yes — he pays for that with his own money.
Getting to Know the Average Row
When Row reached out to see if Rev would be interested in sponsoring the captions on his YouTube channel, we were not only impressed but also excited to learn more about his work. I had the pleasure of meeting Row via a Zoom video call to ask him some questions that our team and some of his fans were curious about.
We covered topics ranging from cool things that have happened as a result of his videos to travel, and equipment that he can’t live without.
To hear what Row had to say, check out this video recording of our call or read the transcript below.
Getting Started on YouTube
Erin from Rev: It’s really nice to meet you. I think you might be our youngest customer to date, which is pretty cool. I’m just kind of curious to learn more about how you got started with your YouTube channel. I’ve been doing a little bit of digging around on your website, and I’ve watched your channel today, but I’d love to hear from you, your spiel and what you tell people.
Well, I always watched YouTube from when I was really young, and I kind of wanted to do gaming when I started YouTube, but I started watching Casey Neistat and his vlogs, and I just got really interested in that, and then my dad got a camera, and it just kind of went from there. I decided to start vlogs and that’s kind of how it started.
Yeah, I just watched your first video where you chipped your tooth.
Oh, yeah. Oh, that was so long ago. Yeah.
How old were you in that video?
Oh, that was right before I turned 11. I was 10.
Yeah, that looked pretty painful. I’ve chipped a tooth before too, and it’s not fun to deal with.
Not fun at all.
Kind of going back to that very first video, it was a snow day for you.
Coming up with a YouTube Theme
Did that help you decide on what you wanted to talk about, or how did you come up with your theme?
Well, for the first video, I just kind of winged it. I decided, “Okay, I’m going to talk about my day,” so I just went in front of the camera, and I talked about what happened that day, because I mean it was a pretty eventful day for a kid. Like, I chipped my tooth and there was a snow day. I just decided to talk, and then I made more vlogs kind of following my chipped tooth. The next one was me at the dentist, getting it fixed, and I kind of made videos about what was going on in my life. It turned into what it is today, almost three years later.
Growing Your YouTube Channel
Yeah, that’s awesome. Early on, how were you getting your videos out there and in front of people?
Well, I just kind of posted them to YouTube and I let all my family members know, and a couple of my friends know. That was it, and then I asked people to share my videos with friends, and it just kind of grew and grew. Then I remember, I think it was like half a year after I started my channel, I reached 100 subscribers, and it blew my mind. It was crazy. Now I’m at almost 3,000. I don’t even really know how it happened.
Yeah, that’s awesome I think. I’ve always done content for companies. I haven’t done a ton for myself, but I know how exciting it is when you start to see people reading what you’re writing, watching the videos you’re putting out there, so that’s really cool. What do your friends think? Do you ever include them in your videos?
Yeah, I did some challenge videos with my friend. He had a channel called Diamond Doom, so I mean I haven’t really involved my friends too much in my videos. It’s mostly been just kind of whatever I do, but they do watch them and sometimes I’ll get people saying, “Hey, nice video. I enjoyed it.” We actually watched one of my videos at a school assembly once, so that was a little bit nerve-wracking.
You played it in front of your entire class, or the whole school?
The whole school.
Sharing Your YouTube Channel at School
What kind of reaction did you get?
Well I mean, to be honest, the projector was kind of wonky, so it didn’t look right. I looked extremely pale, and it was … There were some of my friends just giving me a hard time and teasing me, but it was actually my Remembrance Day video, and we had a couple of veterans there, and one of them actually came to the classroom and shook my hand after it was done, so that was a really nice experience.
That does sound pretty awesome. It’s disappointing for me to hear after all of these years that school projectors haven’t improved more.
I thought we would have made more progress by now.
Row’s Take on Filming Travel Adventures
I know you cover a lot of travel and adventure stories. I see you’ve gone to Saint Kitt’s recently.
What was that like? Tell me more about the volcano.
Saint Kitt’s was a whole different world. I’ve never been to a place that was so different and interesting. There wasn’t really … I’d say the closest thing to home that I saw there was a KFC, and there was one of them. Everything was so remote, and then we went up to the volcano. That in itself was one of the most insane things I’ve ever done. To say to someone that you climbed a volcano, that’s next level. It was pretty tough. It was also really intense getting up there, because I’m a really short kid, so I had to hoist myself onto these rock ledges, and make my way up the mountain or volcano, but I did it and the view was just spectacular. That was a great trip. I really liked it.
It definitely looked like you had to work though, to get up there for that view.
Row’s Take on Alligator
When you were there, did you end up trying the KFC? Did you eat any other interesting foods?
I didn’t really eat off the ship, as far as I remember. We only really had stuff on the cruise ship, but they did have some interesting stuff there. I tried stuff that I’ve never had before, like frog legs and … What was another one? I’m trying to remember. Some just really weird, interesting stuff. I can’t believe I can’t remember this. There was something else. Alligator. I had alligator. That was weird. It’s kind of like chicken. I know a lot of people say that. It’s like chicken, but kind of fishy.
And a little tougher? I had alligator recently actually too.
Yeah. I don’t think I would order it again, but I’m glad I got to try it.
I would have it again. It was interesting, but the kind that we had, it was like spicy and there was all sorts of stuff on it. It was really good.
With all of these travel and adventure stories, and it sounds like you might have viewers all over, who do you think most of your viewers are? Are they a lot of kids your age or like people who are planning trips to these places?
Well, I try to get people who are interested in travel and adventure and just going and experiencing life. I have people who don’t really have the luxury of doing that, who watch my videos. For health or financial reasons, they can’t go on as many trips as I’m fortunate to be able to go on, so I share my experiences with these people, and I also try to be a source of inspiration for other kids my age who are trying to start a YouTube channel and follow their dreams.
Your video quality has gotten to be really good, down to the captions of course. That is impressive to see that you’re even giving that level of thought. Who’s your camera man? How are you getting these great, steady videos?
Well, my dad. He films a lot of the stuff that I do, so he’s my camera guy when I’m not holding the camera. He helps with editing, and he helps me with some of the ideas for the channel, and things that I should do. I’m always trying to find ways to have more people watch my videos, so for example, we’ll discuss about something and we came up with captioning. That’s how we started that idea, and decided to go into captioning. We kind of work as a duo, but for the most part, he’s the camera guy and the editor for some of my videos.
Row’s Take on Captioning YouTube Videos
Cool. It sounds like you have a pretty awesome dad. When you started adding captions, did you see that help at all? Has it improved anything for you? If so, what?
Yes, it has. Not only just the better rank in search and all that, but it’s also … Like, I’ve had people from other countries who don’t speak English, I’ve had them leave comments in the comments section saying, “Thank you so much for helping me learn how to speak English.” That’s insane, like I never thought that that would be like a possibility that I would help someone learn a different language. That’s really insane. That’s probably the thing that matters the most to me about captioning my videos, that it’s helped other people to watch my stuff and learn different languages.
Yeah, that’s amazing. That’s really amazing. I’ve been writing some content recently about finding a show that you really like to watch on Netflix and turning subtitles on can help learn a new language if you’re trying to do that. I’m guessing your channel is getting used that way too, which is really great to hear.
Row’s Advice for Other YouTubers
Let’s see, do you have any advice for a vlogger who is just getting started?
Don’t give up. That’s what I always say. Don’t give up, because if you keep going and working at your dream as hard as you can, and just keep pushing and pushing, and pushing, you’ll get there. You just need to really work at it and don’t stop. Just keep creating and keep working at it, and great things will happen.
How about for somebody who is nervous in front of the camera? I know for me, I would be a little bit nervous putting videos out there for everyone to see. What would you tell someone who is really nervous to be in front of the camera?
Well, what I learned when I started vlogging in public, and just not caring about my surroundings and the people giving me weird looks as I walk around talking to a camera, people don’t really care that much. They’re not going to laugh at you or anything. For the most part, I’ve had people come up to me and be like, “What are you doing? Are you making a video for YouTube?” It’s kind of like they’re very friendly with it. I actually was out filming yesterday, and I had this family ask me, “What are you doing?” I said, “Oh, I’m making a video for YouTube.” They were like, “Oh, that’s really cool.” I told them what my channel was, and it was a great experience. People won’t care or they’ll be welcoming and … Yeah, people, for the most part, won’t really care.
Yeah, I think that’s a really great piece of advice and tends to be true.
Cool Things About Being a YouTuber
Do you find that it helps you meet new people and start conversations that might not happen otherwise?
Totally. I’m on talking terms with a bunch of big YouTubers. Not really big, but there’s this one guy, JR Alli. He’s awesome. He’s Canadian and he makes these fantastic little movies and edits. I’ve gotten in touch with him, and so I’ve talked with him and all that, and a bunch of other people. You know the double rainbow guy, that viral video?
Yeah, I remember him.
Yeah? I’ve actually spoken with him as well. He came across my stuff, and I chatted with him. It’s interesting. I’ve met a whole bunch of different people through this that I would never have met otherwise.
Row’s Favorite Camera Equipment
How cool. Still kind of on the note of advice that you have for other vloggers, what’s one piece of equipment that you couldn’t live without?
Well, I know it’s a bit easy, but my camera. I really couldn’t live without it. I’ve had it for so long, like since the very beginning. It was the first piece of equipment that I had. It’s really awesome. It’s served me well. I’ve been kind of mastering the little extra techniques you can do with it, so ISO, and really it’s the way that I’ve learned about photography. It’s been through this camera. If you have a decent camera, then you’re pretty much good to go.
I’m betting people might be curious to hear what type of camera are you using?
I’m using the Canon Rebel DSLR kind of entry level, so not super expensive, but it’s a really awesome camera.
Cool. My first DSLR camera was also a Canon. I’ve taken that with me on lots of trips, and I will probably never get rid of it.
Yeah, Canons are awesome.
Row’s Channel Goals
What is kind of your goal for your channel?
Well, my big life goal is to become a travel journalist, so it’s kind of working towards that. I just want to share my experiences with as many people as I can, and also building a community of different people from all over the world who come together in one place around my channel, is another awesome thing that would be great to kind of happen. I’ve already started to see people from all sorts of different countries across the world leaving comments and talking with each other. I’m just setting a foundation so that I can grow that community later on.
Yeah. That’s going to benefit you big time when you’re ready to look for a full-time job. I don’t think you’re going to have any trouble showcasing your portfolio and how you’ve grown your channel and your following. It’s all very impressive. Kudos to you on that.
Yeah. Let’s see, this is a question somebody on my team had for you. They wanted to know if you had a billboard and you could write any message on it, what would it be?
It would have to be my channel motto, “Live the life, be happy.” I’ve been living by that. It’s an awesome little way to live your life. Just go and do stuff, and try new things, and really experience life, because you’re not around forever. You’ve got to just do stuff, get out there.
Why Row Uses Rev
That’s a great motto. Somebody else on the team asked, why … This is kind of a boring one. They want to know, why do you use Rev?
Well, I use Rev so that I can make my videos accessible to more people. I want to make the scope of the people who can watch my videos as large as possible, so for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or like I mentioned earlier, people who don’t speak English, I want them to be able to watch my videos and still be a part of my channel and share in the experience.
Yeah, that’s so smart. I talked to so many YouTubers and marketers who are just now kind of realizing that that’s something they should be doing, so props to you on that too. One little tidbit, and something I found out recently when we were talking to Facebook, is that 85% of people on Facebook are watching video content on mute. If you have captions on your video content, people are 80% more likely to watch it all the way through to the end, which I thought was pretty crazy, but also makes sense when you’re scrolling through, because there’s no sound unless you turn it on. Sometimes the captions will catch your attention, and then it’s good for people who are commuting or sitting at their desk at work, and can’t have sound on, to still be able to enjoy your content.
Right, yeah. I didn’t know that the percentage was that high. I knew that a lot of people did that, but 80 … What was it? 80?
85% of videos on Facebook. Yeah, people watch without the sound turned on, which I was really surprised to find out too.
Row’s Tips for Visiting Ottawa
Yeah. Let’s see, these other questions are just kind of more fun. I also really love to travel, so I wanted to hear, I think you live in Canada?
I’m not sure exactly where, but …
I live in Ottawa.
In Ottawa, what’s one of your favorite sites to travel to?
In Ottawa, downtown there’s always so much stuff downtown. It is the capital of Canada, so you have a whole bunch of things going on. You have the Rideau Canal in winter, so it’s like the world’s longest skating rink. You can get beaver tails. There’s always something to do.
Parliament Hill is interesting. There’s Chateau Laurier, that’s this big really awesome hotel. You can go and get lunch there. It’s pretty expensive, but awesome. There’s just always events, so it’s a really great place to live if you’re a YouTuber, because there’s always something to go on film.
What do you think is the best time of year to go up there?
I would have to say Fall, because in Summer, Ottawa is insanely hot, although there are a lot of cool things to do. I don’t think it’s worth it, because it gets to like 40 degrees Celsius sometimes. Then I wouldn’t go during the Winter, but that’s just me. I don’t like the cold, and it gets extremely cold here as well. Fall is perfect. It’s that nice weather, like sweater weather, and also you have all of these hikes around Ottawa that you can go and do. I do a lot of hiking in like the Gatineau Hills. The leaves are changing colors, so there’s always some awesome things to do in the nature during Fall.
Row’s Upcoming Travels
That’s awesome. That sounds like a really fun place to visit, and somewhere that should be on my list. On that note, what is your absolute dream trip? Do you have anywhere in mind?
Yes. My dream trip since I was like 8 maybe, has been Iceland. That’s my big one. I’ve always wanted to go to Iceland. I saw the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and it has Ben Stiller in it. There’s this one chunk of the movie where he’s in Iceland, and he’s just skating through these twisty roads going through the mountains. I was just mesmerized by this part of the movie. Ever since, I’ve made it a dream to go to Iceland, and it’s awesome because I’m actually going at the end of August.
Oh, hey. Good for you. That’s so exciting.
Yeah, I can’t wait. It’s going to be a great trip.
Well, my next question was, what’s your next trip going to be, but is that the next big trip you have coming up?
Yeah, that’s the next big one. I’m so excited. Usually, I don’t get excited for trips until like a week before I’m going, but it’s already months before the trip is actually happening, and I’m already extremely excited.
Sounds pretty cool. I’m looking forward to seeing it on your channel.
Row’s Favorite Travel Stories
Winding down, this is one of the last questions I had for you, but this might be hard, but when you’ve been filming and traveling, that can be a lot to manage. What is one of your favorite stories from a trip that you’ve been on, where you’ve been recording and something cool has happened?
Well, the volcano. That was incredible. That was a really spectacular experience, but I think my favorite one was even before I started YouTube. My dad was filming some of it, but we weren’t really doing like a vlogging format, because I hadn’t started yet, but that was when I went to Cuba. We went on this tiny three person catamaran, and it wasn’t much bigger than my dining room table, so very small. We’re just kind of sitting there fishing for these massive barracudas that are like the size of me, and there was sharks in the water. They have reef sharks and everything. We’re just going really fast and the waves coming, they splash over your head, so you’re just soaked as you’re fishing for these massive fish.
I actually hooked onto something at one point, and I was just reeling and reeling, and reeling, and the line snapped. Then I reeled it all the way in. Something had bitten through this incredibly strong stainless steel leader I think, and the guy who was with us, like the guy who was steering the catamaran, he said that it was probably a shark. That’s the only thing strong enough to bite through that. The thought that I had either a massive barracuda or even a shark on my line is pretty terrifying, but also kind of cool when I look back at it.
Yeah, it’s kind of both. Were you recording at that time?
I don’t think we were recording that, because the waves were probably too much to be filming with, because to have a fishing rod and a camera, as you’re in a boat that’s rocking and the waves are coming over your head, it’s a bit too much, but we do have some video clips of me on the catamaran. That was pretty insane.
Wow. That sounds incredible. You have so many good stories. Very cool. That was my last question for you, I think. Let me make sure. Yes. Do you have anything else that you would want us to know?
No. I think that’s pretty much it. Thank you Rev.com. You guys are awesome. I’ve been using your stuff for a while now, and it’s awesome. The turnaround time for it is super quick, and it lets me get my videos up right away. It’s awesome, so thank you guys for making this stuff with me. It’s awesome.
Yeah, thank you. Thank you. We’ve all been super impressed with just how you’re putting yourself out there, and the quality of your content, and the fact that you’re thinking about things like captions, so we’ve all been really excited to talk with you. I’m looking forward to featuring you on our website.
Awesome. Sounds great.
Thank you, Rowan. It was great meeting you.
Yeah, great meeting you too.
Have a good evening.