YouTube. Ah, the hubspot of gamers, beauty gurus, and aww-worthy puppy and kitten videos. How could you not love it?
If you’re anything like me, the thought of starting your own YouTube channel has probably passed through the old noggin a few times throughout the years. Watching a YouTuber like Michelle Phan go from 1,000 subscribers to over 8 million subscribers will kind of have that effect on you.
I remember her first makeup tutorial video. It was a blurry, amateurish video filmed on her computer webcam. While the quality of the footage wasn’t even close to being up to par with what is considered high quality today, I learned a thing or two. I decided to subscribe and, sure enough, I wasn’t the only one.
Now, I’m not saying you ― or I, for that matter ― are going to be the next Michelle Phan or PewDiePie, but what I am saying is that building a YouTube channel with a loyal, like-minded following is 100% possible. Is it easy? No. Are you going to feel discouraged at times? Yes.
That’s why I’ve written you this guide ― to help you discover what I’ve only recently learned myself. YouTube has been a dream of mine for years, but it was only within the last few months that I finally found the guts to get off my butt and get to work.
With over one billion active users and over 4 billion video views per day, YouTube is the second largest search engine on the interwebs, second only to Google. Since it possesses an audience of this magnitude, you can bet your bottom dollar you can find a tribe that is passionate about whatever it is you are personally passionate about. That, my friend, is awesome news.
I, myself, want to take this journey to YouTube success with you. I don’t have millions or even thousands of subscribers yet, but I’m implementing these key tips that I’ve learned from multiple success stories. Each and every day, I learn from both the accomplishments and failures of those that I look up to ― the people who are where I want to be. I hope you decide to do the same.
A) VIDEO VIEWS
First thing’s first. You need to understand how the YouTube algorithm works. While it may seem like common sense that getting more people to click onto your video would make YouTube prioritize your content, this isn’t the case. Today, in 2017, the monster that is YouTube now favours content that gets a certain amount of view time.
In essence, it’s not so important how many people start watching your videos, what matters is how long they actually stay watching your videos. View time is currently the most valuable metric.
Alright, so how do you get people to stay watching for your videos for as long as possible? That is the question isn’t it? Here are some suggestions that are sure to grasp your audience’s attention.
1. Over-the-Top Value
There truly is no better way to engage people with your content than by giving them something to rave about. One of the main reasons people search for keywords in the YouTube search engine is to find solutions to their problems. Headache? Search “How to cure a headache”. Traveling? Search “Best places to travel”. Starting a YouTube channel? Search “How to start a YouTube channel”. I think you get the point. The very reason you’re even reading this article is because you have a problem that I happen to be helping you solve. Go figure!
We like being helped, and we like people who help us.
2. Create Lists
It turns out that when people begin reading or listening to a list, they have an inherent desire to finish it. I’d suggest keeping it simple at first. Perhaps, start with 3-5 tips, tricks or reasons, and see how much time your viewers stick around to watch. If you can keep them around for that number of tips, it’s likely that they’ll stick around for some longer lists as well in the future.
Lists, How-To’s, and tutorials are sure ways to get some eye-catching attention from your audience. If you’re consistent with creating lists of valuable content, you’re a shoo-in.
3. Do Your Research
You can’t just create videos about topics you are interested in. You’ve got to give the people what they want. When it comes to what they actually want, there’s no need to play the guessing game. The YouTube search engine itself is a great place to find the goods everyone wants. Type in some keywords within your niche, and take note of titles that pop up on the first page. Another very helpful search engine is the Google Keyword Planner which will not only show you the volume of monthly searches, but the level of competition as well. Obviously, the higher the search volume and the lower the competition, the better.
An additional way to get the inside scoop on what your target audience is searching for is to hit up a few other channels within your niche that have 10K + subscribers. On their channels, search for their “Most Viewed” videos and take a peek at what the hot topics are. Once you get a clear idea of the questions your audience is seeking to get solved, you’ll be better equipped to become an authority that’s ready to provide answers.
4. Flashy Thumbnails
Your thumbnails are the first thing a prospective subscriber will see. With that said, you’d be crazy not to attempt to create a thumbnail that demands attention. Large fonts, bright colours, and graphics are all elements that draw in the eye, so make sure you always create a customized thumbnail for your videos. In regards to choosing colours and fonts, be consistent with the theme of your overall channel. You don’t want to keep switching things up in each new thumbnail because, even if it’s only on a subconscious level, it causes confusion and inconsistency. Building a brand identity is an important part of your channel’s presence and authority so don’t undermine the power of consistent marketing.
When it comes to sizing, make sure your thumbnails have a 16:9 aspect ratio, are 1280×720 resolution and in an image format such as .jpg, .png, .gif, etc. Personally, I use www.canva.com to create all my thumbnails and I highly recommend you to try it out.
Without subscribers, you have no channel. I mean, I guess you technically still have a channel but it would have the mood of a dingy old Western saloon in a small suburban town. Not really the vibe you’re going for, I presume. Your subscribers are your tribe ― your peeps. If you hold up your end of the bargain, you’ll find loyal followers who will stick by your side.
Their word-of-mouth, both literally and digitally, is possibly your channel’s biggest asset. So, here’s how to make that subscriber list grow.
5. One-on-One Time
You need to make time to interact with your subscribers. One sure way to do this is by responding to every single comment you receive on your videos. I realize that as your channel grows, this may be a struggle and you may miss a few here and there. Nonetheless, while your channel is small, there’s no excuse not be engaging with people who are viewing your videos. Make sure you keep a “No comment left behind” kind of mentality.
All in all, this one is common sense. If people are supporting you, show them authentic gratitude.
6. Sell Yourself
While YouTube is obviously the main hangout spot we’re talking about here, that doesn’t mean you can’t find your tribe in other communities such as Facebook Groups, subreddits, and forums. Obviously, I wouldn’t suggest that you become spammy by posting videos or sharing your YouTube channel link in spaces that aren’t related. There are, however, specific niched groups and communities where the context to share your value is completely acceptable and welcomed.
7. Ask & You Shall Receive
Although this one may seem obvious, you’d be surprised how many YouTubers don’t tell their subscribers ― through dialogue or pop-up text ― to like, comment, and subscribe to their channels. I, myself, was not asking these very basic requests at the beginning or endings of my videos because I felt like it was redundant and awkward. I was wrong ― very wrong.
Within the human mind are fundamental psychological principles that occur, and both the principles of persuasion and reciprocity increase the likelihood that when something is given to us, we want to reciprocate ― especially when it’s asked of us. Don’t be afraid to ask your viewers for a thumbs up or a subscription. After all, you are working hard to solve their pains, right?
C) MAKE MONEY
Contrary to popular belief, Adsense isn’t the only way nor the best way to make money on YouTube. In all honesty, if you have less than 10K subscribers, it’s going to be hard to make much money from your channel through Adsense.
If you’re looking for YouTube to replace your current income, take a look into the following ways to make a buck. If you’re not trying these methods, you could be leaving thousands of dollars on the table.
8. Affiliate Links
You’ve probably heard some things about affiliate marketing already. You may have even heard it labeled as the “lazy way to make money”. Well, if easy is synonymous with lazy in this context, then, yes, it’s the lazy way.
To be an affiliate with some companies and businesses, you do need to commit to a monthly subscription, however with monster websites such as www.amazon.com and www.clickbank.com, you can become an affiliate absolutely free. What’s more, you have a seemingly endless amount of products to choose from so you never need to promote a product you don’t believe in or wouldn’t use yourself.
Simply link products in your video descriptions that are relevant to the video content, and you’ll receive a commission on every sale made through your link. The cookies on Amazon allow you get commissions off of any sales within 24 hours, while ClickBank’s cookies can track sales up to 60 days. With traffic deriving from YouTube, affiliate marketing is an incredibly lucrative way to earn extra cash.
If you have expertise in specific areas that your videos cover, you may want to consider selling your services. To begin, you can do some one-on-one or group coaching and consulting. Mention in your videos that if your subscribers would like to learn more in depth about any given topic, that they reach out to you. Eventually, you can get to a point where you can offer more professional advice and expertise to entire companies.
If you’re only beginning your entrepreneurial journey, becoming a consultant may seem very far-fetched at the moment, but believe me ― it’s not. I used to think the same way. “Why would anyone pay me to teach them?”, I’d often think to myself. It wasn’t until I read the book Expert Secrets by Russell Brunson (Highly recommend you read it, by the way!) that I realized that I did, indeed, have knowledge to pass onto others, and that I could certainly be paid for that knowledge. I did pay for a great deal of my own learning, after all.
Keep growing and learning, and you too ― if not already ― will know something that others don’t. If you can teach someone else what you know in only 30% of the time it took you learn it, that is incredibly valuable.
10. Email Marketing
I cannot stress enough how crucial it is to build an email list. In essence, your email list will be made up with your most loyal fans and subscribers. These are the tribe members you can share your own personal offers, videos, e-products, and affiliate links with. They’re on your list to receive value from you and your job is to happily provide it. Likewise, it’s an amazing way to communicate with your subscribers on a more frequent basis so that you stay top of mind.
While email marketing may be feel outdated to some, it is still one of the most effective marketing strategies out there, so don’t underestimate the power of the email list.
Well, that’s all for now, folks. YouTube, like every social platform, is ever-changing so what’s highly effective today may not be 7 months down the road. One thing is for certain, however. YouTube is one of the most powerful social media platforms out there, and if you’ve been listening to the likes of entrepreneurs such as Gary Vaynerchuk, you know that the platform will be cannibalizing modern television over the next few years. In fact, it already is!
If you have any remaining doubt that you can find your voice and build a faithful clan of like-minded people, remove it from your mind. It will be difficult and, at times, grueling, but you will achieve YouTube success if you persevere.
See you on the other side!
P.S. In the honour of practicing what I preach, here’s a shameless promotional plug.
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