‘I Don’t Have a Script 90% of the Time’: Swell Entertainment’s Amanda Golka Describes Her Candid Approach to YouTube

Photo credit: uniqdes/Shutterstock Amanda Golka (Licensed) by Caterina Cox

We’re reaching out to some popular creators to get their best tips and tricks for success and better understand the ups and downs of life as a trailblazer on the internet.

This week, we spoke with Amanda Golka, the YouTuber behind the review and commentary channel Swell Entertainment, which has over 347,000 subscribers.

Initially started when Golka was still in high school, Golka used her YouTube channel to post horror movie reviews. She then rebranded in 2018, marking the start of Swell Entertainment as it began to grow into what it is today. While Golka does still review movies, the channel has a bit of a broader focus on media, events, products, and people—such as attending influencer Tana Mongeau’s infamous event Tanacon, going on a Gone Girl-themed cruise, and trying out coffee brands by other creators and influencers.

Golka is known for starting a series that would become a staple on the channel, “I Tried [Blank] So You Don’t Have To.” This series, along with building a fanbase for her relatable, authentic, and likable personality, led to her becoming a full-time YouTuber in 2020. A wry sense of humor makes it easy to dive into Golka’s videos where she shares insight through honest and open dialogue about her experiences, whether she’s discussing a current trending topic or the aspects of an event that worked and didn’t work for her.

In an interview with Passionfruit, Golka spoke about her candid approach to her channel, her shift to YouTube and making content full-time, why she doesn’t chase trends, her content creation schedule, how she deals with obsessive fans, and more. 

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What would you say your approach to your channel is? And has your approach shifted over the last few years at all?

This sounds obvious, but I try not to just make a video to hop on a bandwagon or trend. Like, say everyone is talking about this insane thing a popular creator did, if I can’t do a video on it immediately or I can’t add something to the conversation that I deem important, I’ll pass.

It’s why I like covering more obscure topics and events if I can. If anything, I go in with a secret question that I personally want answered: “Why are people talking about this guy’s TikTok video? Why do people think eels don’t bone? Why is this event $600?” I’m just a nosey person, and I want my questions answered. I’m incredibly lucky that people also want to hear me explain my findings via YouTube video. … If you watch a video of mine from 2021 and one from 2023, you probably won’t see a massive difference. I still use the same camera I bought at 18. 

In terms of being a YouTuber, you made the shift to full-time in 2020. What was that shift like to make, especially during the pandemic?

I would not have left my barista job if it weren’t for the pandemic. YouTube was still so new as a “job” for me, and the income was so all over the place. But I was drifting towards burnout at such a steady pace between working eight hours a day on my feet dealing with angry people in Orange County, then going home and spending several hours editing and filming. 

I was barely sleeping, and my appetite was all over the place. Between the stress of being in a global pandemic and dealing with so many people a day, I was also dealing with having thousands of more digital eyes on everything I made when my previous normal had been a max of 800 views. It wasn’t an easy choice to make, and it actually made filming videos so much more stressful for weeks after I left. … Luckily my dad, who I was living with at the time, was incredibly supportive. 

I can imagine there were certain things that you expected in making the shift to YouTube and content creation full-time. But were there any things that you weren’t expecting?

I really missed the structure initially of clocking in and doing a set clear job. I felt pretty rudderless for a bit afterward because I had been so used to being an employee with a hobby, and now my hobby was my only job. I got really into doing to-do lists first thing in the morning as a way of structuring my day, which I still do three years later.

What have the last two years been like for you as a content creator? Has doing this full-time impacted the way you work at all?

I’m definitely more structured in how and when I film. I batch my content now. I try to only film on Fridays and when I do, I try to film at least two videos in one day. I started working with my editor William in April of 2021 to cut down on the amount of time I spent editing, which has been hands down the best business decision I have made since going full-time. Sometimes, I just stop what I’m doing and think about how I have made a whole video about a fictional role-playing cat dabloon game on TikTok. It’s crazy, but I’m having a blast. 

In your videos, you’ve made it a point to be transparent with your audience, be that through sharing your experiences at different events to sharing the process of being a content creator. How has your transparent approach to your videos helped shape your content creation over time?

I’ve been watching creators on YouTube for years. I have seen so many creators balloon in popularity and then fall off, burn out, or want to change their content. So, when I started making videos again in 2018, I realized I wanted to be as “me” as I could. Sure, there are bits of me trying to be funnier or cutting out my “umms” so I come across as better spoken, but what you see on my videos is how I am. 

I have no desire to play a character version of myself. It’s definitely led to a more laid-back video format. I don’t even have a script or outline 90% of the time. People tell me it’s like we are getting coffee and I’m ranting about what I’m obsessed with that week. … I really don’t like the idea of being a character in my videos. I love acting, the art of becoming someone else in a scene. But I don’t want to play a different version of myself immortalized online with a view count. I don’t smile all the time, I’m not happy all the time, and I don’t want to perpetuate that idea on my channel.

Do you think that your transparency has impacted how your audience interacts with your videos at all?

I do worry about people thinking they actually know me. I have dealt with a few obsessives who are convinced we are best friends or that I must be in love with them since they are in love with me. But that is a small percentage of the audience. … I try to make it clear that even though I am genuine in my videos, you only see about 10% of my personality and who I am. I think it’s like I said, I’m some weird person who info dumps about internet stuff when we FaceTime once or twice a week. 

You’re especially known for your review and opinion videos. Your Tanacon review and your more recent Gone Girl cruise review especially come to mind. Was there anything in particular about these kinds of videos that drew you to make them?

Tanacon was honestly just great timing. I had just come back to making videos a few months earlier and started my “I Tried It So You Don’t Have To” series. I figured that since Tanacon was a brand new event, people would want a video on it if they couldn’t go. Then it imploded in on itself and attendees like a dying star. 

The Gone Girl cruise is more indicative of how I approach products, events, and topics for videos now. I saw videos on TikTok making fun of it, about how weird it was that it existed, and figured no one else like me would actually take the step to actually go. I try it so you don’t have to, after all. 

And lastly, whether you’re looking at the short-term or long-term, what do you see for yourself and your channel in the future?

I can’t see myself doing this at 30, honestly. That’s why I’m pursuing acting and writing outside of YouTube. I also want to make a legitimate production company for movies and shows in the future. Whether it will share the Swell Entertainment name or not remains to be seen. 

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