There are probably 1000 things I’ve learned in growing a YouTube channel from 0 to 50,000+ subscribers over the past 2 years.
I thought it’s be interesting to explore some of the finer points and cut it down to the top 10% of what I think helped me be successful in video marketing, content creation and building a community around my content.
Visual Branding Matters on YouTube
- Have a consistent visual brand that ties to your other social media accounts and your own website, i.e. colors, themes and symbols.
- Make attractive thumbnails that will convince people to click on your videos in search or when embedded on a website.
- Lower thirds that are consistent with the branding can help you look more polished and professional.
- If you’re on camera, your personal look and style can actually be part of your visual brand.
- Your setup, background and environment can be part of your visual brand and help people recognize your video.
- YouTube channel art matters, if you don’t have good channel art or any at all it makes you look like a beginner.
- You can and should create distinct visual branding for different types of content and playlist on your channel, colors and icons or different color borders can help people identify specific content.
- Your YouTube profile picture matters a lot. People use it to build a connection with you and identify with you. If you’re on camera, use your face. If not then use a really good and appropriate logo.
- Your YouTube channel homepage and making sure your video content looks good displayed next to each other and in playlist makes you look more professional and builds confidence in your content. It also makes it easy to identify if content is part of a series.
- When you don’t have a polished visual brand or you do something that isn’t consistent or doesn’t match the rest of what you have established your audience will notice.
Equipment for Your YouTube Channel Can Make a Difference But Isn’t a Deal Breaker for Viewers.
- Great Audio is more important than Great Video Quality. Invest in a decent audio setup. At least get a Lapel Microphone.
- Good Lighting will dramatically improve the overall video quality, even when using a cheaper camera or a smartphone indoors. Lighting can be very affordable if you know what to look for.
- The best camera is the one you have. This means you can make videos with a Smartphone if that is all you have on you. Just use accessories to help you with making it work well, especially for audio.
- If you’re going to use a DSLR make sure you understand how to use it properly when working with video rather than photography.
- Using a microphone plugged directly into your video camera will make editing easier while improving the audio quality dramatically.
- Stabilization is make or break for quality video content. Nobody is fan of shaky cam. Stabilization in the form of tripods is very cheap but you can also get shoulder rigs and sliders and other stabilization gear to help you.
- Storage becomes a real issue when you start making a lot of video content. You need good memory cards that are fast enough to deal with video. You also need an external hard drive to backup your files and maybe a remote system to access them on the go.
- Backdrops can be good for certain types of videos but having a natural setup either indoors or outdoors can feel more authentic. If you get green screen or other backdrops you need to adjust your lighting and settings to deal with this.
- Webcams come in handy for doing live streaming via YouTube/Google hangouts on Air and can be very affordable while providing HD Quality.
- Wireless Microphones allow you to have some more flexibility, especially when working outdoors. These don’t have to break the bank. I’m using a $150 wireless microphone setup for special projects.
You Need a YouTube Content Strategy
- YouTube gives you a “Channel” so that means just like a television channel you need to think of your videos as “shows” and programming.
- Content Diversity can let you grow a larger overall audience, but it does mean that some viewers will watch a certain set of videos and not others.
- The 4 Minute YouTube Video “sweet spot” is misleading. Yes, some people have short attention spans, but this number is based on an average, and the people watching for 45 seconds are partially responsible for that average…
- Having a mix of Long and Short videos, means that you can reach more people and that you can improve your channel watch time and YouTube rankings in search.
- You should make YouTube videos with plan of putting them into Playlistthat you can organize on your homepage.
- YouTube videos should be released on consistent days and if possible consistent times. Consistency matters… same bat time… same bat channel… get it?
- You should have 100 videos planned for channel right now. You shouldn’t have to guess at what your videos will be. Have a plan and a release schedule.
- You need to have established themes to your content and make it easy for you audience to understand what videos they can expect for you. If you’retoo random it can put them off from subscribing instead of just dropping in.
- Have a plan for Tentpole Content. Know when big events that matter to your audience are happening, and have a plan to capitalize on them.
- Understand what content is the easiest for you to produce on a regular basis. Make the this content the core of your channel.
YouTube Numbers, Analytics and Things That Actually Matter
- Subscriber Count doesn’t matter for rankings, Watch Time matters more than anything else.
- Dislikes do not negatively impact your YouTube videos, they actually count the same as likes as an engagement metric that got a reaction.
- Long videos are a good strategy for building up your Watch Time, even if the majority of people don’t watch all the way through, the amount of minutes it ads to your channel for the month, count towards channel authority and overall rankings.
- Subscriber Counts don’t get people to watch your videos, neither do view counts. Shares matter more. Someone will watch a video their girlfriend shared on Facebook… more than a video a bunch of random people watched.
- Search accounts for more video views (in most cases) than anything else. That and Recommended Videos.
- View Retention Rates are very important and tie directly to Watch Time. Keep your audience engaged, sometimes background audio, and list videos are a good way to do that.
- Once you get 75,000 Subscribers you get access to a YouTube Representative and a number you can call to ask questions. at 100,000 you get a Silver Play Button Trophy… the Representative is more important…
- YouTube Demographics can tell you a lot about your audience and help you develop better content strategies.
- Traffic Sources, tell you where people are discovering your content and even what searches are producing the most views.
- Devices your YouTube videos are played on can help you decide how important it is to focus on certain types of videos and production values. If a lot of your audience is watching on Television sets or Gaming Consoles it might make sense for you to invest in 4K video at some point.
Monetizing YouTube Videos and Making Money
- You can’t rely on Adsesne Revenue, especially with AdBlock becoming and issue for content creators.
- Quantity of content matters when it comes to Monetizing your videos. If your videos average making $3/month but you have 1000 videos… it makes a difference…
- You can make money on YouTube in a lot of different ways includingAffiliate Marketing and through Sponsorship.
- Some videos make sense to Monetize, others do not. If you’re trying to market your business, pre roll ads can be a barrier, and could end up promoting your competition…
- Referral Business, is a great way to use YouTube to generate income. I’ve had a single video drive over $5000 in business before.
- Partner Networks take a large portion of your revenue, sometimes 30%-50%. Think really hard about what you’re getting in return. They make a lot of promises… and you may have other options you can pursue… and get the same benefits. Most of them do not grow your channel audience or help you with brand deals.
- Fan Funding can be a great option if you have a loyal following of subscribers. But you may need to make them aware they can donate to you, most don’t know how.
- YouTube can help you sell your own Merchandise to your audience, however the margins are not usually great on things like shirts. Selling your own products where you keep 70%-90% of the profit margins is a better business model.
- YouTube Adsense is tied to the number of monetized views. Not all views are monetized. The average RPM (revenue per thousands views) is between $1-$3 out of the monetized views. 40%-60% of views are monetized on average.
- Sponsorship is a very strong way to monetize your Youtube videos, just make sure that the sponsor creates value for your audience and that you are able to be authentic.
Video Editing for YouTube and Online Video
- Starting with entry level software is the recommended approach, I started learning Professional Software at the same time as using entry level software to actually get videos out. This was about 16 years ago… when I was a kid.
- Adobe Premiere Pro doesn’t have to be overwhelming and can help you produce simple quality videos or something more complex.
- Color Grading can make your videos look more impressive and have a distinct visual look and style.
- Render your videos in HD Quality and with the best settings you can, even if it means slower render times. Use the Best Export Settings you can before uploading to YouTube.
- Background Music can help with your videos by establishing tone, and keeping the viewer more engaged.
- Titles and Animated intros should be kept to 3–5 seconds if possible. I don’t believe every type of video actually needs these.
- Visual Transitions and Jump Cuts can keep a viewer from getting easily bored with your videos.
- Maintaining a quick and practiced Video Editing Workflow will make editing videos go faster and allow you to do more work and release videos more often. Setup an editing schedule and some standard practices.
- B- Roll footage can make videos more interesting and are especially good when doing product or software reviews.
- Screencast have different editing requirements and tricks to them than live action videos. Learning to understand the differences and also what software is required to produce these videos is important.
Building a Community Around YouTube Content
- Building a community around your YouTube videos means engaging with the audience, not just in the comments but in the videos themselves.
- You need to build and Email List or Newsletter as soon as you can, to have a way of contacting your viewers in the event you can’t through YouTube and to introduce them to other content they may want from you.
- Listen to your audience, don’t pander to them and don’t patronize them. Take constructive criticism, but not you don’t have to always do what they are asking you if it doesn’t align to your goals.
- Be as Authentic as possible and don’t do things that you don’t like or are extremely uncomfortable for you.
- Ask your audience questions. Ask what content they want in the future or value the most. Also ask them to talk to you in the comments section.
- Filter and Ban comments and viewers that bully or make the comment section toxic. It is not censorship or infringing on their free speech, it is preserving and taking responsibility for you community.
- Reply to comments and messages as often as possible. Especially after a video has just been released. You can do this when waiting in line at the bank, and first thing in the morning and last thing at night to make it easy.
- Comment on Other YouTubers videos. Don’t do this asking people to subscribe or plugging your own content, but do it to contribute to the conversation and build relationships.
- Engage with your audience outside of YouTube. Make them aware of your presence in other Social Media Platforms and start conversations there.
- Build the community outside of YouTube that can be a hub for your viewers to interact with you and with each other, such as a Facebook Group or a Google Community. Your own website is also an important place to direct your audience.
Promoting YouTube Videos and Your Channel
- The easiest way to promote your videos is to ask your audience to share them with others. I do this at the end of videos because loyal viewers who watch to the end are more likely to take action.
- Google Plus communities are still active and have huge audiences, do not underestimate sharing in these groups.
- If your channel is a How To Channel or you’re doing Career or Business oriented videos, sharing them with a text post in LinkedIn is a great way to promote your content.
- Automation is fine, but don’t be spammy about it. Inventory is part of the key to this. If you’re going to promote video content for 24 hours, it should be 24 different videos, one each hour… Buffer can be a great tool for this.
- Email Marketing, can be a great way to make your audience aware of your new content, but make sure you are giving them the right context and that they will be interested in that content.
- Facebook Groups that have the type of audience you’re trying to reach are a great way to get new subscribers. Just make sure you are respecting the group guidelines.
- Making a Podcast can actually help you promote your YouTube channel. You can reach an audience that likes the type of content you do but may be working or traveling and not able to watch a video right away and make them aware that you also do video content they can watch later.
- Networking Events, Conventions and Meetups are a great way to promote your channel in person.
- Collaborations can help you promote your YouTube content to a similar audience that another YouTuber has built. Reach out to people in your niche ad see what friendships you ca build.
- Do Not Participate in Sub 4 Sub or Follow for Follow schemes. I can’t stress this enough and I’m not going to argue with you about it…
Using YouTube to Build or Grow a Personal Brand
- Answer at least 10 questions that your audience might have, doing these types of videos help establish your authority. This can be your core content for the channel.
- Doing Webinars and Q&A sessions can help you address the pain points of viewers and allow them to interact.
- Doing videos that explain complex things very simply can help you build and audience and become a resource for people in your industry or niche.
- Your video content could help you launch a public speaking career, consider this when producing your content.
- Create a video with your own “Brand Story” telling people about you and delivering a clear and concise message that defines you for viewers. This could or should be your YouTube Channel Trailer.
- Align your YouTube channel content to your personal and professional goals, and don’t be afraid to make your audience aware of what those goals are, at least generally.
- Be Authentic, once you’ve established what your brand is you’re kind of stuck with it. Doing this very young can be problematic as you are likely to drastically change over a short period of time…
- Create content that you are passionate about or your audience will see through it. Also its the best way to stay motivated to actually do it.
- Intent Matters.Have a clear understanding of what you want your channel to do for you and why you are creating content in the first place.Be accountable to yourself and your audience.
- Develop content outside of YouTube and make sure you are pushing your viewers to your own personal website and other social media accounts and of course, your Email List.
The Technical Stuff for YouTube People Don’t Talk About
- YouTube Video SEO is probably the most undervalued and misunderstood aspect of YouTube for 80% of video creators.
- 60% of YouTube videos NEVER get 500 views, getting even 1000 views is a big win for the sheer amount of content and competition for attention.
- Embedding Metadata in Your Videos can give you a slight edge in Video SEO and Rankings for your videos.
- User Psychology matters, it will help you understand what to do, what people search for and why certain videos perform well. A primary example are “List Videos” these are some of the most popular videos to make and are easy to produce.
- YouTube Tags trigger your videos showing up in Related Videos that will help promote them. Get YouTube Tags right.
- YouTube promotes videos that increase YouTube Watch Time, finding multiple playlist to house your videos matter. Your Videos being in other People’s Playlist also matter.
- Time of Day and Day of the Week Doesn’t Matter. When you release a video is not relevant. YouTube has a large enough reach and audience that this doesn’t matter. The exception is tentpole content like when a major event takes place.
- Quantity matters more than quality in the long run. Most people romantically dismiss this but having 1000 videos that represent 80% of your maximum ability vs 80 videos that represent 100% of your quality matters more. YouTube videos are product inventory. In terms of marketing your business or monetizing your videos quantity plays a big role. In terms of ranking and channel authority quantity adds up to more cumulative watch time. Obsessing over quality is a good way to get discouraged by putting in a lot of effort for very little gain. This does not mean you should just put out garbage. Quantity will also lead to quality. You will learn more faster and you will fail quickly which cost less.
- The first 72 Hours of video being live matter the most. During the 72 hour period YouTube gives the video a slight boost in ranking to see how it performs before reevaluating. Get as many views, engagements and shares in this time period as possible.
- Subscriber numbers should not be your goal. You should be positioning you content for what it can do for you and other people. It should create value, even if it only for one person. If it is the right person, it can be a game changer or life changer, for you or them or both.