Finding an audience for cubing on YouTube

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Finding an audience for cubing on YouTube

When Diamond Bar High School student Kevin Lee booted up his computer on May 23, 2015, he made the life- altering decision to create Cubing Encoded, a YouTube channel where he posts Rubrik’s cube related content.

Lee’s goal for freshman year was to reach 50,000 subscribers for his channel before graduation. Now as a junior, he already surpassed his initial goal, gaining 53,000 in five years.

The aspiring youtuber was first introduced to the 3×3 Rubik’s cube by a friend in sixth grade. After weeks of frustration, he finally solved it after learning techniques from YouTube tutorials. Lee drastically reduced the time it takes him to solve one cube–from four hours to a personal record of 8.74 seconds– by repeating the steps he learned from the videos daily. He began posting his own videos in sixth grade and came up with his channel name by combining two of his hobbies: cubing and coding, creating Cubing Encoded. 

“I was pretty open with my family and friends with what I was doing, even when I first started. Today, basically everyone that knows me knows that I do YouTube,” Lee said. 

Prior to joining the YouTube community, Lee competed in the Orange Coast Puzzle Meet 2015 on April 18, 2015, solving a 3×3 in 31 seconds. Fours years later, during the CubingUSA Western Championships, Lee surpasses his previous time with his current best of 8.74 seconds. He also placed sixth in the 5×5 which placed him in the top 50 overall in the nation. 

Since his debut on the channel five years ago, Lee has upgraded his filming room with a white desk and filming equipment: a Panasonic g7 camera, lights and a plain white background. 

Lee says his editing process is very simple. He shoots a video in about 25 minutes, depending on the content. He then edits the footage for three to five hours, applying music, pictures and transitions if necessary. Originally editing with iMovie, Lee has transitioned to working with Premiere Pro this month. 

He reads every comment posted about  his videos to brainstorm for ideas of the upcoming videos. Lee said that the comments give him ideas for what to post next.

Two years into his YouTube journey, Lee has gained 2K subscribers and his first sponsorship deal. The sponsor sent him a cube for free in exchange for a review of it.

“Despite it not being very significant, it was very special to me at the time,” Lee said. 

The sponsor, Rubik’s, a cube store, has been sponsoring him since his early stages. As Lee’s channel began to grow, he gained more deals with companies such as Dashlane, an online password manager, and SkillShare, an online course platform. 

Although Lee has had much success with his channel, he is also susceptible to harsh criticism, especially comments that criticize the lack of effort in his videos. Lee said that that is not true, as he puts in several hours of work into each upload. He often works until the middle of the night to finish processing his videos. 

“There’s always going to be the occasional irritating comment and, although it can genuinely bother me, I never let them have a lasting impact on me,” Lee said. 

Lee experienced one of his first memorable moments during a recent competition. As he walked into the competition room, he unknowingly found around 10 to 20 of his fans waiting for his autographs. 

“That’s when I realized that it wasn’t a number or even views going up was that they were coming from actual people. Seeing the people in real life was very special to me,” Lee said.