Puzzling for YouTube

Puzzling for YouTube

What I've Learned as a Youtuber

Written by Emilee Frost / May 16, 2024 / Main Photo: Emilee holding her SOONNESS puzzle collection in her puzzle room


In March of 2021, I sat down with my camera and filmed a Puzzle Haul for my first YouTube video.

I was an avid watcher of YouTube at the time, but was completely unaware of the puzzling world on social media. I didn’t know who Karen Puzzles was, never heard of speed puzzling, I didn’t know many brands and 100% had no idea what I was doing. Before I dive into my life as a Puzzle Youtuber, I thought I’d give a little backstory of my puzzling journey and how I got to where I am today.

When I tell people that I grew up without electricity, I often get a response similar to, “I could never have done that” or “But you seem so normal?.” No, it was not for religious reasons or because we were purposely living off grid. We had moved into a 200 year old farm house, in the middle of the woods, that wasn’t equipped with the modern day necessities. For me, it was just the way of life and I was so young it didn’t bother me too much. Over time my Dad renovated the house and when there were enough people on the road, we finally got power. However, growing up, I didn’t watch tv or listen to the radio. It was before having computers or cell phones and the internet even to this day doesn’t work correctly at my parent’s house. So, I think you can see why I became a puzzler. It was my form of entertainment.

I remember winning my first 100 piece cardboard puzzle when I was four years old from a coloring contest.

It was a Lisa Frank puzzle that I LOVED. I must have completed that puzzle a thousand times. My parents then would get me a puzzle for every holiday and I often would pick them up at yard sales. Every Monday was puzzle day at my house. I would take out all of my puzzles and see if I could complete all of them on the kitchen floor. From wall to wall I would cover our house with puzzles. Only for me to put them all away again until the next week. Eventually as I grew up I continued to do puzzles but once I graduated high school, life got busy and the hobby quickly became a thing of the past. (Sad story I know)

It wasn’t until my husband and I went on a little trip to Lake Tahoe back in 2018 that I fell back in love with puzzling.

We were staying in a snowy cabin with really not much to do. However, there was a cabinet of puzzles and I easily did about seven of them while on our trip. My husband had no idea I loved puzzles, as we didn’t really own any at the time. When I got home from the trip I bought a couple online and there my love for puzzles was renewed.

So what made me start a Youtube channel?

Well, at the time it was an escape from all the stresses in life. I was working full time, was going to school full time, and with the stresses of COVID, I was pretty burnt out. I thought making a Youtube channel was an escape from everything else that was happening. I had named my channel The Casual Puzzler because I never wanted to take puzzling too seriously. I wanted to keep my hobby fun and light hearted.

What are some things I have learned since starting my channel? I love a good list, so here we go.

1. Creating videos is very time consuming!

From planning, setting up, filming, capturing B-roll, uploading, editing, graphics, thumbnails, seo, etc. creating videos from start to finish is a lot of work. I would say I’ve gotten the handle of things but you’d be surprised how long a 15 minute video takes to make.

2. Technology can be frustrating.

The biggest obstacle I have had with my channel is dealing with large amounts of data. If I am filming a timelapse, it may be 8-10 hours of video. If I am doing multiple puzzles for a single video or have multiple cameras going, we’re talking about 200-300GB of raw video being used in my editing software at a given time. That’s a lot!! Data management takes a lot of time and it can be really frustrating when technology doesn’t work the way it should. So, my tip: if you are thinking about making a channel, make sure you have a computer with LOTS of memory & RAM.

3. I need to have some puzzling time away from the camera.

To keep puzzling a hobby I’ve learned that I need to keep some puzzles “just for me”. Not everything has to be for content. This might mean I buy a specific puzzle without sharing about it or completing a puzzle in the living room without the need to take a picture of it at the end. I’ve mentioned one of my favorite puzzles a few times on my channel but am very hesitant filming it because it might spoil it for me.

4. There are so many brands out there!

What surprised me when I started my channel was how little I knew about the puzzling world. I grew up in a small town and there weren’t a lot of places to buy puzzles. Trying new brands was incredibly exciting for me and it’s been so much fun sharing my experiences online.

5. Don’t say yes to every brand that offers.

Over the years I have become very picky on who I work with and who I accept puzzles from. Not only am I unable to complete every puzzle that comes my way, but you’d be surprised how many brands are shady or unethical. It can be very tempting to just say yes to get free things. However, some brands steal artwork, want you to say a script, or don’t want you to say anything negative about the brand. I’ve always been very clear with who I work with that I will be 100% honest in any video. For those who back out I know I dodged a bullet.

Fun Fact: I was one of the first content creators that worked with Soonness! Back in 2021 Soon sent me her Marine Life puzzle when there were only two in her collection. It’s been so fun watching Soonness grow over time and see a brand that is doing so many great things!

6. Every puzzler has their own preferences and that’s perfectly fine.

I have been told in the comments a lot of puzzlers’ preferences and ways that I did a puzzle incorrectly. But in the end, it doesn’t matter if I loved the puzzle. Every person is different and every puzzler likes to do things a certain way. Some people NEED to do edges first for every puzzle, some sort very diligently, some glue every single puzzle while others break them apart after 30 seconds. There is the whole division of speed puzzling vs puzzling slow in the evening. It all works. It doesn’t matter how you puzzle, what matters is if you enjoyed doing it and it’s okay if someone puzzles differently.

7. Smaller piece counts aren’t just for children.

This isn’t something I have learned, as I love smaller piece counts. However, I am surprised about how many people have mentioned that they ONLY do 1000 piece puzzles or look down on those who do easier puzzles. One time someone said, “Real puzzlers only do larger piece counts.” Not true. I love doing 300, 500, 750, 1000+ piece puzzles. I also know there are a lot of other reasons why someone may do something smaller. Maybe they are new to puzzling, have a small table to work on, or want to try a new image style. There’s also people with physical limitations. I have rheumatoid arthritis and some days I can only hold jumbo sized pieces for a 100 piece puzzle. It all works, and if you are working on a puzzle, I think that’s amazing.

8. Casual vlog style videos are my favorite.

While creating sit down videos and time lapses are fun, my favorite videos to make are my Puzzle Vlogs. This is when I take the camera throughout my week and show what it’s like as a Puzzler. I may film at the puzzle library, do puzzle chores, go thrifting, really anything goes. It’s a fun way to connect with my audience and share some behind the scenes content.

9. Puzzling can be a circular economy.

While some people like to hang on to all of their puzzles or keep them together forever, I am the opposite. I always feel bad for my puzzles that really don’t serve a purpose any longer in collection. If I’ve done the puzzle, won’t need it for a video and don’t plan on redoing it in the future, there is a good chance I will be finding a home for it to get a second life. The cool thing about puzzles is they can be done more than once. I love to send them to friends/family, donate them to local organizations or homeless shelters. On occasion I may sell a puzzle or go to a puzzle swap to find something different. I love that puzzles can be pretty sustainable so you don’t necessarily have to buy them new every time. Even Soonness suggests selling her puzzles so someone else can enjoy them after you are done.

10. The puzzle community is so much fun.

It’s no secret to all of us, puzzle people are pretty great. I grew up with no one else around me who was puzzled. But since creating my channel I have met both virtually and in real life so many incredible people who are just as obsessed about puzzles as I am. Going to an event with puzzlers is pretty comical because most of us are introverts. But get us all in a room together and get to puzzling and conversation is easy. I have learned so much from people I have met and it’s been so much fun getting to see everyone’s love of puzzles.

While creating my channel was completely on a whim, I will say I’ve loved it.

Creating content has become it’s own hobby and I love that I have learned different skills like video editing & graphic design. If you are considering making a channel, go for it! I’m not going to sugar coat it, it will take time away from puzzling. However, for me I just fell in love with puzzling even more!

Above: Recent video on SOONNESS Prism Puzzle from The Casual Puzzler Youtube Channel



Get to know the Author: Emilee Frost

Emilee Frost (AKA The Casual Puzzler) grew up in Maine and has moved quite a bit with her husband and kitties. Currently she lives in Washington state where she loves to go camping, biking, puzzling & travel.

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