YouTube has become a common component of our cultural diet. Last year alone the platform reported 2 billion monthly active users and that number is only expected to grow in 2020. YouTube is many things to many people. For some, especially those of Gen Z generation and younger, it’s a constant companion. YouTube is a means by which we can interact with our favorite influencers and seek guidance on what to buy and wear, or eat and drink.
For others, YouTube is an infinitely capable resource that can help them to do anything from color their own hair to bleed their radiators, or install new PC components. And, of course, to legions of people, YouTube is a source of short and enjoyable nuggets of entertainment from their favorite content providers. It’s the ultimate way to catch a few giggles or learn something fascinating on our lunch break.
But if you’ve ever thought of trying your own hand at creating video content and exhibiting it through YouTube, maybe 2020 should be the year in which you make that dream a reality. At the start of a new year and a new decade, why not embark on an exciting new creative endeavor? At best you could end up with a popular channel that you eventually monetize and use as a reliable income stream. Heck, you might even get to quit your day job. At worst, you’ll learn a lot about yourself, get to scratch a creative itch, engage with interesting and like minded people and gain an enjoyable hobby.
But if these influencers and vloggers could make a fortune from YouTube in 2019, who’s to say you can’t join their ranks in 2020?
Here are some tips to help ensure that your nascent YouTube channel gets off to the best possible start… and hopefully makes you a little money too.
Ask yourself… what will make you different?
There are already legions of people trying to make a name for themselves on YouTube. So the first thing you’ll need to ask yourself is how you will be different. What USP will you bring to the platform? What unique personal touch can you add to fill a void that isn’t already being catered to by another YouTuber?
Many nascent content creators falter because what they’re doing is already being done better by someone with more experience. Your YouTube channel needs to showcase your unique knowledge, skills and insight if you’re to distinguish yourself from the masses.
If you can speak from a place of passion, knowledge and enthusiasm your voice will be welcomed in the discordant chorus that is YouTube.
If you want your YouTube channel to be successful, you’ll need to approach it like a professional. That means investing time, effort and (if necessary) the capital to create a product of real quality.
For starters, you should invest in a decent quality camera. Yes there are successful YouTubers who started out recording through their smartphones but do you really want to be perceived as a chancing amateur? It’s best to start right out of the gate looking like someone who puts time, effort and quality control into their videos.
Being professional also means watching how you compose yourself on other social platforms, how you interact with fans, how you deal with negative comments (no matter how good you are, you will get them) etc. Finally, it means keeping your promises to your subscribers (more on that later).
Know your niche
In business one of the first things nascent startups learn is the importance of knowing their niche. It’s tempting to try and be all things to all people, but ultimately this is the best way for your voice to be lost in the crowd in an aggressively high-competition environment like YouTube.
Knowing your niche, however, is about more than knowing what you’re going to post about or what kind of people you’re going to target.
You need to think of your YouTube channel as a business even if it takes you a while to start to make money from it. And like any business, you’ll need to carry out market research to ensure that there are enough people out there who want to hear what you have to say. A good place to start is by looking at what other content creators in your niche are creating. How are they capitalising on trends? How are they delivering a voice that is unique and authoritative? How are they engaging followers on social platforms?
Every niche is its own online community, and if you’re to make a positive impression you need to make yourself a part of that community. Interact with both creators and consumers. Share other creators posts and encourage others who are trying to make it in the same niche. If you only show up on social channels to plug new posts and don’t interact with anyone outside of that, you’re not likely to be well regarded in the community.
Create content that is of value to the audience
Of course creating content for your YouTube channel should be creatively rewarding, satisfying and fun. But ultimately, your content will be more popular when you realize that it’s not about you. It’s about your audience.
Not only should you keep on top of trending topics and have a scheduled plan for content creation, you should regularly engage with them to see what they want more (or less) of from you. The better you know your audience and what they want, the better equipped you are to deliver value for them.
Be sure to caption your videos
This is one area which many new YouTubers treat almost as an afterthought but it’s extremely important for several reasons. Firstly, it’s important to make your videos as accessible as possible for the hearing impaired.
Secondly, it’s not just those with hearing difficulties who watch YouTube with the sound off. In fact, in the smartphone era, an astonishing 92% of people watch videos with the sound off. This makes sense when you consider how many of us view videos; either on the commute to work or on our lunch break or in other contexts where it’s not considerate or pertinent to have the sound on.
Finally, don’t forget that search engines can crawl and index the text in your closed captions just as if they were a blog post. This can give you a valuable leg up in terms of Search Engine Optimization and increase the likelihood of visitors coming to your page organically.
But don’t make the mistake of entrusting your captions to YouTube’s own Automated Speech Recognition software as it can struggle with accuracy. Instead, consider outsourcing the creation of your captions to closed captioning services. They can assure you of 100% accuracy without the need to type it all out yourself (an extremely time consuming process).
Make your videos easily searchable
Speaking of Search Engine Optimization, it’s extremely important that you make your videos easy to find for newcomers looking for the kind of content you offer. Like any business, you’ll need to think long and hard about the keywords you use in your video titles and tags to direct users to your videos. And, needless to say, the content your videos should reflect the keywords or you may find that YouTube’s search algorithms look upon you less than favorably.
Consistency is king
Remember what we said before about keeping promises to your followers? One of the most fundamental is posting content when you say you’re going to. If you start out saying that you’re going to put out new videos every Wednesdays, expect your followers to take you to task if you don’t. Likewise, if you have a particular video scheduled in your pipeline, make sure that you deliver what your viewers are expecting. That’s not to say that you can’t be flexible (it’s actually pertinent to post new content in reaction to breaking news in your field or niche). But broadly speaking, you need to have a clear content schedule so that your plans are never derailed by creative block.
Find opportunities for collaboration
It’s much harder to accomplish great things on YouTube when you’re working in a vacuum. While it’s not technically a social platform, YouTube is nonetheless a hive of networking, sharing, cross-promotion and collaboration. If you find that you need a push to grow your following a little, you may find success reaching out to other creators with common interests to suggest opportunities to collaborate. This might include you doing a guest post for their channel or vice versa, or shooting two videos together and posting one on each of your profiles.
Collaboration introduces a whole new audience to your brand, and because you’re associated with someone they already know and trust they’ll be likely to warm to you fairly quickly.
Keep all of the above in mind and you might just find that 2020 is the year that brings you celebrity status on YouTube!
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