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Daniel J. Layton

This small-scale YouTuber deserves your attention.

Over the years, YouTube has evolved from its original roots. Moving from teens vlogging in their bedrooms to big budget content and late-night television clips, there is no doubt that YouTube’s platform has shifted. While viewers long for the quieter and more intimate content of YouTube’s past, in walks Daniel J. Layton. With the right mix of nostalgia, simplicity and vulnerability, Layton’s channel serves as his creative outlet and a chill place for viewers.

Since starting his channel in 2011, Layton has developed a small band of dedicated followers. With almost 95,000 subscribers, Layton’s reach is not necessarily broad, but it is deep. He is not afraid to talk about real and relevant topics on his channel, and he is very open with his audience. Everything from self-care to failure to feelings are commonplace on the channel.

In the discussion of these topics, Layton isn’t afraid to put himself out there. There is often a distance between the audience and the creator in discussions like these, but Layton seeks to break down that barrier. His genuine personality and thought-provoking commentary help viewers find ease on his channel. In an era that is dominated by conveying perfection online, Layton’s channel helps to simply portray his life.

For an introspective look into Daniel J. Layton’s life, viewers can turn to his series “Pretentious Monthly Scrapbook,” or “PMS” (yes, the period joke is intended). During the years of 2016 and 2017, Layton produced a monthly video that combined traditional vlogging with a daily vlogging style. Viewers are able to see the month’s events in real time, as Layton comments and reviews his last month.

By taking about both the highs and lows of each month, Layton doesn’t sugar coat his life for the audience. The earnest, yet funny, nature of the “PMS” series honestly reflects both Layton’s life and the realities of the lives we all live daily. Although, at times, the channel got playfully pretentious, it allowed Layton to open up to his widely interested audience.

Even though Layton no longer produces this particular series, one of the longest-running series, “Baking with Layton,” is still ongoing. Along with a new guest in each video, Layton bakes a variety of desserts that do not always go as planned. The videos are always hysterical, considering most of his friends have no baking experience — they take the perfectionist edge off of traditional baking content.

Whether he is making a “betrayal” cake with the Fratocrats or struggling to bake with Hazel Hayes and her broken foot, there is always a bit of chaos in the kitchen.

The gently chaotic nature of the show makes it more endearing, as viewers feel like they are hanging out with friends while watching Layton make a yule log at Christmas. The elemental “hangout” feeling that derives from “Baking with Layton” is the crux upon which YouTube content was originally built. The idea that Daniel J. Layton could be any number of your friends with both his delightful personality and endearing flaws is how many of YouTube’s first personalities became famous.

In Layton’s kitchen, things go wrong, messes are made and people laugh all too loudly. There is a fearlessness and warmth that these videos provide to viewers, which is unlike any other content on YouTube. Because of the success of this series and his passion for baking, Daniel J. Layton self-published a cookbook that features wonderful recipes and charming stories.

Layton has also been a part of many “Video Every Day” challenges. His “Video Every Day April (VEDA)” and “Video Every Day June (VEDJ)” have both proved popular on his channel.

These challenges are where some of his most warmly muddled and endearingly unpolished work is made. Whether Layton shows viewers how to make brownies in only a minute, covers a beloved Disney tune or reacts to the videos that he made the day before, there is always something new on his channel.

Viewers enjoy these challenges even though they haven’t always gone to plan. In his “VEDO” series in October of 2017, he did not complete the challenge. But, in his unique way, Layton was able to use this to open up a discussion on failing in creative projects. Layton is very open about his struggles to find creativity, motivation and success in making projects.

By talking openly about his failures, he helps audiences take ownership of their defeats. Although this is an issue many creators struggle with, few discuss it with their audience.

Although “PMS,” “Baking with Layton” and VEDx are common types of videos on his channel, there is no limit to what Daniel J. Layton can create. Over time, many creators have boxed themselves in to a particular subgenre on YouTube, but Layton manages to create baking, singing, comedy, traditional vlogging and purely random content all on one channel.

That randomness is what draws many viewers to the channel. The intriguing nature of not knowing if he will be talking about feminism, Janet Jackson or just be hanging out with a friend keeps viewers hooked on the channel. Although his videos might come infrequently, each one is a joy to watch. There is a simple warmth in Layton’s tone that makes his videos such a hit with his viewers.

Even though Layton doesn’t have the most subscribers, his fans are truly invested in his content. Many find great solace in his videos and the community he has built. Daniel J. Layton proves that big budgets and fancy graphics can’t replace genuine and honest content.

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