Tuesday, February 18, 2014

How to have a succesful YouTube channel.

Mug shot smile?  Maybe his move from #18 to #6
on YouTube afterward had something
 to do with it...

Why is that?  What are they doing that you're not.


Debatable, there's plenty of trash with views over a million.


Some would claim YouTube takes care of that all by itself.  Of course if you're already famous then YouTube is just icing on the cake. 

Ok, so what about content?  It's king right?  Only the best and brightest rise to the top enriching us all...
Then again, if everyone watched a playlist of the top 10 YouTube videos for any given week the collective IQ of the planet would plummet 40 points.

That doesn't mean the entirety of YouTube is a wasteland, however.  There are those hidden gems that deserve more attention but never seem to get it.

The most successful YouTuber's didn't necessarily get that way because of the quality of their content but rather the way they delivered it.

I've had an active channel for about 3 years now with a small (as in microscopic) amount of success.  One thing I've learned is that while content may be king, viewers are a picky bunch.  If you manage to get their attention you still have some work to do to keep it. 

You may have the voice of James Earl Jones, the charisma of Harrison Ford and a Wall street banker's  wallet but if your video stinks you'll be lucky to break 100 views.

If you're a YouTube partner, it's all about engagement.  10,000 views that only last 5 seconds each won't make you a dime.   Actually, it'll probably get you kicked off the service.  YouTube protects its advertiser dollars and actively looks for people trying to cheat the system.   So ignore those "pay per view" scams.

Truth be told, I came to the game a bit late.  YouTube was already well established by the time I got around to trying it out and found it a saturated medium.  There aren't any original ideas left just original ways of delivering them.  I thought I had a niche of starting up a channel for older gamers until I found 100 channels with the same idea.  

I've done a lot of things wrong, some because of ignorance, some because of resources but mostly just a lack of talent on my part.

But my failings may be instructive....

So let's take a look at a few.  If they seem obvious that's only because they're easy to forget.  It's not uncommon to get so wrapped up in the message that we screw up the delivery.
I'll start with the basics.

First and foremost make sure you've got a decent camera or capture software if you're grabbing screens from a PC.  Low resolution, bad sound and the like turn off viewers fast no matter how good the content is otherwise.

Second, don't make a video just to hear yourself talk.  Only people that are already famous can get away with that.  You're asking someone to invest precious time in your creation, don't make them sorry with crap content and grainy party videos.  Trust me, nobody really cares about your lost weekend in Vegas.

Third, learn how to use your equipment.  Keep your subjects in frame and keep your edits simple.  You're not going to be the next Steven Spielberg with a webcam and Windows Movie Maker so don't try.

Fourth, grow up and have some respect for your viewers.  If you'd be afraid to see it on the nightly news then it shouldn't be on YouTube.  That means we don't need to hear any of your bodily functions thank you very much. 

Fifth, do some planning.  Meandering dialog and poorly organized content is confusing if not boring as hell.  Want to kill a channel, ignore this.

Sixth, make it interesting!  Think about everything that's in the shot.  Nobody wants to see a window behind you unless it's got a great view outside of it.  If you're the star then make sure you're worth seeing and  be comfortable in your own skin.  If you're not comfortable on camera or speaking to people then why the hell are you on YouTube? 

Seventh,   If you're doing a how-to video then for heaven's sake show HOW you actually do something, don't just talk about it.  Show the tools of the trade and actually use them.  Think of it this way, most people had more fun in auto shop class than English in High School.

Finally, be aware of copyrighted material.  It can show up where you wouldn't expect it.  Embedded music in a video game, a radio playing in the background or even singing a few bars of a favorite song can doom your monetization dreams.  Always upload a video privately and then monetize it to see if it trips YouTube's draconian ContentID system.  If it comes up with a so-called VIOLATION at least you can correct the issue before it goes viral without you getting anything for all your hard work but a Copyright strike and empty bragging rights.

I'm pretty sure why I'm a YouTube failure for many of the reasons above.   Take heed!

The video below will illustrate what we've covered above.  Hopefully I broke my own rules enough for you to get something out of it!