28 Mar You Want to Start A YouTube Channel. Now what?
This inspiration for this blog finally came when I was asked again “should I start a YouTube channel?” I work with YouTube, social media creators as well as traditional television producers. I am a content agent. In the case of YouTube, I help find partners for creators. Partners, usually brands, will invest in my clients’ channels by sponsoring videos in which their brand/products are recommended. But, back to the question – should I or how do I start a YouTube channel?
Like anyone out there who truly wants to help you evaluate the value or benefit to doing anything, the first question I would ask is “Why”? Why start a YouTube channel? What does that mean to you? What do you hope to accomplish by having a YouTube channel? If you want to do it for leisure or as a side project, then I would say go ahead and enjoy learning. It can be very rewarding to tell stories you share with people online. If, however, you approach it as a business model, are very committed to making a living from being a YouTube creator, want to build a brand, or you approach it as a way to reach an audience that will elevate your brand, then here are some things to consider:
1- Are you passionate about the topic you want to feature on YouTube? That is, you absolutely love the topic – be it fashion, beauty, cooking, gaming, technology, science, crafts, comedy, etc. You live and breathe it and you want the whole world to know how excited you are about it and how committed you are to sharing all that you know. You want to share your passion to teach, inspire, start a dialogue, engage, and motivate. For the most part, those who rise to the top on YouTube are also really good at and passionate about what they do and talk about. People (your audience) gravitate to that passion whether they share it or aspire to it.
2- Be yourself always. YouTube is a platform where being you is exactly why people gravitate to your content. They relate to you and want to listen to what you have to say, hear about what you are doing, find out how you react to certain things, all the way to what you recommend. You hear it all the time, authenticity is key. This applies not only to what you do on camera, but all the way to the partnerships you will consider and form over time. Don’t compromise or do anything that does not feel natural and comfortable for you – you won’t feel good about it and your audience will know. Also consider that once you put yourself on the public platform that is YouTube there will always be positive and negative reactions from viewers. You cannot please everyone and you don’t have to. It’s all part of being a creator. Many creators have spoken a lot about trolls etc. You can easily find out more online about their take on this. Are you ready to be on camera?
3- Before creating your content, it’s important to be familiar and keep up to date with Google’s advertiser-friendly guidelines right off the top if you wish to start monetizing your content.
4- How committed are you? Having a YouTube channel is a huge amount of work. Your success is anchored in output, schedules (consistency see below), social media work and all things video and content. The creators I represent work relentlessly. They work all hours and all the time (especially in the beginning stages of launching a channel). They are not only writing, directing, producing, editing, post producing, but they are also very busy posting and engaging with their audiences on social media. YouTube is a crowded ecosystem where 400 hours of content are uploaded every minute. If you are going to drive viewership to your channel (what is often referred to as discoverability) then you have to do work once the video is uploaded. Throwing it up on YouTube and hoping for the best is not a strategy. For every video creators post, they do many hours of related social engagement work involving responding to audience posts on top of general social media postings about their brand and themselves. This also involves editing or reformatting the video into formats native to each platform. As an example, if you produce a 3-minute video on YouTube, you will want to do a mashup or hack video for Facebook. You want to grab some great shots for Instagram, post Insta stories, Facebook Live, Snapchat content. You can post content on social related to your uploaded video, even how it relates to current affairs stories. Value-add on each platform is key. Native content to each platform is key. The platforms you focus on will depend on the audience you want to reach. Essentially, you are using all the social media tools out there to drive those audiences back to your channel.
5- Consistency is key. A very big component to a channel’s success can be attributed to consistent posting. Having a schedule for posting a video every week, bi-weekly or even monthly to start is hugely important. Your audience wants to know when they can expect to watch a video on your channel again. It builds loyalty and fan base. People will be encouraged to subscribe if there is a consistent schedule in place by which they can expect a new video on a regular basis. Make a commitment to a schedule, announce it to your audience so you feel some accountability and stick to it. It will be hugely beneficial over time. As your channel grows, increasing the frequency of output has also been a great contributor to audience growth.
6- Search: You know how a great title gets your attention and how when you search for a topic you likely don’t look past the first half of the search page to click on a video or site. Here are the tips Google/YouTube recommends with respect to titles, keywords, search etc. There is a lot out there on this topic and it’s important to understand it upfront.
7- Once you have some momentum and your channel is gaining ground both in terms of subscribers and views, you can reach out to like minded YouTubers and suggest a collaboration video. Collaboration videos are amazing for reaching new audiences. As an example, if you are a foodie, you can reach out to another lifestyle YouTube creator and do a collab video featuring different recipes, each with your own take. New viewers will find out about your channel (since your partner creator will post the video on their own channel) and your audience gets to find out about another creator they may not already follow. It’s a true win-win.
8- Audience and Distribution is important. You need to drive audiences back to your channel as you want as many people to know about your content, view it, subscribe to it and engage with the content through comments, sharing, etc. Casting a wide net to reach an audience is not recommended for distribution. It’s imperative that you know who your audience is. Are they very young, young, older, male, female, both, what is their behavior online, which social platforms are they engaged with most, who else do they follow, etc? Today, you can know a lot about your audience and it’s a good idea to keep close tabs on who that audience is by checking the analytics on your channel regularly. This information can help you know what’s working, how long people are watching your content, what age group they belong to, gender, geographic location, etc. When you produce your content for that audience you want to then increase its distribution. Outside of posting content related to your videos on your social media handles, you can also reach out to publishing sites (ie. newspaper sites, lifestyle sites, platforms like college humour, etc where your audience/demographic goes). Publishing sites all work differently, but connecting with them to see if they will post your video for an upcoming related story, etc is a good idea. If your YouTube video content is available on other sites, once someone clicks on the video they will be directed to your YouTube channel, hence your channel gets the views and new audiences discover your content.
There are other useful tips since digital is a true social ecosystem. Every effort helps the other while engaging existing and new audiences which is important to the overall brand you are creating. It would be my pleasure to answer key questions you may have. From there, let’s see if we can work together.
Here are other resourceful sources:
YouTube Creator Academy
5 Priorities for Creators in 2018
YouTubers have been extremely generous about sharing their experiences in starting and growing their channels, just look up your questions and you will find tons of videos offering insight.