So, you want to start a YouTube channel. The social media website is an absolute juggernaut in the content creation space and this is due largely to its overwhelming popularity. This has also turned a lot of its most well-known creators into bonafide superstars.
One only has to look at the wads of cash, Felix Kjellberg, popularly known as PewDiePie rakes in (a reported $15 million in 2016) and you can see why many people want to jump into the space. However, creating a popular channel on YouTube is no easy task, but if you are still interested in giving it a shot, here are a few pointers to help you along the way.
- Put in the time.
Growing a YouTube channel is time consuming and many of the most interesting success stories come from creators who quit day jobs to focus on the medium. For instance, PewDiePie dropped out of school to start working at a hotdog stand to have more time to create content.
Furthermore, you also need to be ready to invest the time to film and edit which is also a time consuming project. That said, you don’t have to quit your job or drop out of school to be successful on YouTube, but you do need to find the time to grow your channel successfully.
- Know your audience
The most important thing to any YouTuber is their community. This is because a channel is only as strong as the community supporting it. This means you’ll need to keep up with your followers, interact with them, and engage regularly. It also means you’ll need to keep in touch with the things your audience finds interesting and fascinating. Popular YouTuber Michelle Phan, for instance, admits that she wakes up as early as 5:30am to read comments on her channel. According to her, “We know how unpredictable it can be whenever you’re creating content,
“If you know your audience, you know exactly what they’re going to watch.”
- Stay Authentic
In the early days of YouTube, even the smallest sponsor could cause a huge backlash from your community. However, people are more receptive to marketing and sponsorship, but not at the expense of originality. So, the most successful creators are relatable people that carry their channel on the strength of their personality. As Phan put it, “The reason why people love the Internet so much… is that they feel like they’re learning something, and no one is really trying to sell them anything,”
So, even if you are selling a product to your audience, keep in mind that they are there for you and not the item you’re selling. Therefore, ensure that when you do market to them, it is done in an indirect manner that doesn’t affect the content they are there to consume.
- Favor partnerships over sponsorships
Your eyes might bugger out when you get your first sponsorship, but think about it carefully, does the company align with your brand? Is it a short-term sponsorship that won’t lead to any long term growth? These are some of the questions you should consider when starting out on YouTube. Also, seek to strike up partnerships which usually last longer and provide more security.
People’s interests are fluid, therefore it is important to experiment if you want to stay relevant. For instance, PewDiePie gained his popularity from his ‘Let’s Play’ videos but has since then branched to other types of content including reviews, skits, Q and A’s, vlogs and so on. As for Phan, she experiments too, sometimes teaching her audience how to apply face mask using kitty litter and other types of videos.
So, keep experimenting, and if something works, keep it.