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great advice!THE GUIDE: How to Get BIG On YouTube
So, you’ve watched a bunch of YouTube videos, read tons of articles, and you are still scratching your head as to how to become a YouTube sensation. Don’t worry, I was there once myself – and I only dreamed that I could run into an article such as this when I started. This is why I’ve decided to write this article, and not sell it or use it as a promotional gimmick. First of all, without trying to advertise my channel, I run the YouTube channel “Top10Archive”, which at the time I am writing this, has over 80,000 subscribers, growing at a rate of 12,000 new subscribers per month. At the current “YouTube Snowball Trend”, the channel should reach 500,000 subscribers in the next 12 months. By all means, I didn’t write this article to advertise the channel, as there are much better ways to promote yourself rather than writing an article on a forum. Instead, I gave you my channel name to show you our growth and to add credibility to what I’m about to tell you. The main reason I’m writing this is because I’m addicted to YouTube, watching probably 6-8 hours a day. So, if I can help you better your content, then I’ll have more channels to enjoy! With that said, I’m going to break down, piece by piece, how to run a successful channel.
Find your Niche. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Yes, there are a lot of YouTube channels and niche’s that haven’t been capitalized on or created yet, but you don’t have to rack your brain to figure out if it’s going to work or not. To find your niche, look at other YouTube channels in your field and just run with it. Above all, do something that interests you. There will come a point that doing YouTube videos will become work, and not fun. So, your best bet is to find work that you enjoy doing. Why? Just like the real life, we don’t like to work at things that we don’t enjoy doing. If you don’t have your heart in it, it will show up in your work. If you’ve thought about a specific niche, chances are, there is a crowd for it, and there probably already is a plethora of channels in that field. The biggest piece of advice I can give you is to not limit your demographic or specifically, your target audience. If you like wood working and would like to make a channel based on that, remember that only a handful of people will find that interesting. Sure, you have a chance to make it big in that field, but remember that you’ll never have the explosive growth of someone like Vsauce, because his videos are relevant to such a wide range of viewers. So, you found a niche, where do you go from here? Do your research on all of the channels in that field. When I started Top10Archive, I looked at Alltime10’s and WatchMojo. What are they doing right? What are they doing wrong? Don’t just look at the best channels in your field, look at some of the bad ones, too. What are the bad ones doing wrong? How come they haven’t made it big yet? For me, I realized that AllTime10’s had a major flaw in their channel; they didn’t have a voice over artist. WatchMojo did, and they were growing at a faster pace. What did WatchMojo do wrong? They only did videos on entertainment; Movies, TV shows, Celebrities, etc, whereas AllTime10’s touched on everything. I based Top10Archive on both of their channels. I hired a professional voice over artist, and covered every topic to widen my target audience. So, you’ve found the good and bad channels in your niche, now what? The next phrase is very important.. “Quality of Quantity”. Have you wondered why Vsauce can put out 1 video per month and still have a dedicated fan base? It’s because his videos are very quality driven. They are well thought out, well edited, and above all, very engaging. You shouldn’t be able to pump a video, or 3 videos out every single day. The production time for a Vsauce video is between 14 and 21 days to complete. This is the BIGGEST mistake I’ve seen with upcoming YouTube channels. They think if they can bust out 1-3 low quality videos per day, that it will eventually lead to more subscribers. Believe it or not, this hurts your channel more than it helps. The goal here is to find the good channels out there, and make BETTER videos than them, not MORE. Yes, subscribers love a schedule and more videos leads to more views, which leads to more people sharing your videos on social networks; but if you have low quality videos, nobody is going to share them and you’re going to run off new potential subscribers from watching anymore than a couple of your videos. Once they are gone, it’s hard to get them back. Post production is extremely important – get a good video editing program like Adobe Premiere or Sony Vegas, and put some time into editing.
Don’t get old. Remember to always progress your channel and mix up the content, don’t do the same thing over and over again. YouTube has become and is continuing to become progressively competitive; you can’t post the same videos as you could prior to 2010, when YouTube had a lack of content, and expect to become popular. YouTube is a never ending race of becoming better than the next guy. That’s why channels like Shoenice – the guy that eats anything – has basically seized in popularity. If you look at his statistics, his growth rate is barely even moving. When YouTube was in its infancy, channels like his could make it, because, well, there wasn’t much else to watch. Now that viewers have such a wide variety of channels to choose from, his subscribers have moved on. The attention span is very limited on the internet; you HAVE to keep progressing with YouTube and other channels.
Get a team. Almost every big channel on YouTube is run by more than one person. In some cases, they are run by an entire company. Realistically, how many people do you think run Buzzfeed? Just talking about actors alone, they have well over 20. Now you need a couple of video editors, a social media expert, an SEO expert, a few web guys to run their website, an accountant, a couple of writers – you get the picture. My channel alone is run by 5 people, and realistically, should have another 2. I didn’t see major growth until I started hiring people. When I had roughly 1,000 subscribers, I did all of my own research, video editing, social media, and my wife did my voice-over (she’s not a professional). It surely showed in my final product; I got lots of negative comments and “thumbs down” on my videos. Everyone complained that the voice over artist sounded like she was talking into a potato.. which, she practically was. We were using a $15 headset from Wal-Mart. This didn’t help the growth of my channel at all; in fact, it slowed down its potential. So what did I do? I bit the bullet and I hired a professional voice-over artist on oDesk (great website for meeting professionals). Almost instantly, my popularity started to take hold. People were now sharing my videos, leaving good comments, and giving my videos a “thumbs up”. I soon realized that he could easily keep up with the demand of material I was giving him. I also realized, I wasn’t the best writer, and writing articles took 3 times more time to write than it took me to edit a video. So, what did I do? I hired a script writer. A few weeks later, I hired another script writer. Another month or two later, I hired another one. Right now, my 3 script writers and voice-over artist keep up with each other. As soon as they write their scripts, my voice over artist is able to complete them with just enough time before they send more. Here is my current problem – I have over 25 videos in my queue list that are ready to be turned into videos. So what do I need to do? I need to expand and hire another video editor. I came to realize that you can’t do everything yourself, you need to expand your channel, and that means hiring people that can do things better than you, or just to free up time so you can do other things. With that said, not ALL channels have a team; I believe Matthew Santoro is a 1-man channel, but he is a very small minority. I know what you’re thinking, “Well I only have 100 subscribers, my channel has only made $12 so far, how am I suppose to afford to hire people?”
Hire on Commission. Have you ever worked for a fast food restaurant or convenience store before? Ok, do you remember the feeling of having to “up size” your customers. You didn’t really care if they bought a larger drink, did you? You knew in the back of your head that the extra money is just going in the pockets of the big-wigs, and not yours. So, what’s the motivation? Why should you care? Most big companies don’t pay on commission because they don’t have to; they realized at a certain point that their name alone draws in traffic, so they don’t need to use commission to help advertise. That’s all commission is, it’s advertising. Giving your employees an incentive to do better work and bring in more traffic is basically, advertising. A used car salesman doesn’t want to stick you in a $1,500 beater, even if that is your budget. They want to stick you in a $3,000 car. Why? They make more on commission. It’s a win-win situation – the salesman gets a bigger cut, and the dealership makes more money. Without that incentive, that salesman is going to stick you in any car that you want and not try to up-sell you. Take this thought process with you when hiring your team. I interviewed over 30 voice-over artists on oDesk before settling on Jim Denison. Why did I settle on Jim? He was willing to work on commission, or more specifically, revenue sharing. This gave him an incentive to do the best work possible to help the channel grow. Many other voice-over artists wanted $300 per 10 minutes of translated audio. Why don’t I want that? Because once the channel is making $5,000 per video, do you think that voice-over artist is going to put the same effort into his work? Knowing that he’s getting such a small piece of the pie, and that no matter how hard he tries, he’s just getting a set wage – do you think he’s going to stick around or be happy with what he’s making? Probably not. By hiring Jim in as a commission-based employee, I made him APART of the company. Employees work BETTER when being paid revenue earnings, than just a base pay. My writers are the same way; I have given everyone a raise for 6 consecutive months. The more money the channel makes, the more money YOU make. So make the channel a success! Getting people to understand this concept is sometimes hard, but the people that do understand it, are the people you want on your team. If you try and hire a voice-over artist and they say “$300 per video, I don’t care if you’re making $5,000 per video”, then that’s not the guy or girl you want on your team. Picking your team is going to be a painstaking process – you’re going to go through a lot of resumes and you’ll probably have to fire people that don’t end up working out. Out of the 3 writers I have, I had 5 others that gave it a whirl that couldn’t hack it. Be strong, you can’t be too nice. Remember, your team is your success, and your team is only as strong as your weakest link.
Thumbnails and Titles. Starting with thumbnails, don’t over-think it. First, don’t put words in your thumbnail; that’s what your titles are for. When people look for videos to click on, they don’t look at the thumbnail to read, they read your title, look at the thumbnail, and then decide to click on it or not. With that said, a catchy thumbnail is just as important as the title. Above all, DO NOT make your thumbnail misleading! This will drive away more people than it will attract. If you’re going to use a thumbnail of a woman’s cleavage, you better make sure that picture is in your actual video somewhere. Always use a custom thumbnail, or the best picture that is found in your video. If you do a vlog, don’t use a generated thumbnail that YouTube gives you that has your eyes closed and you making a weird face. Take a picture of yourself, throw it in Photoshop and ad some graphics. Matthew Santoro is a perfect example of how to make a custom thumbnail – if that’s the avenue you wish to take. Me personally, I use the best picture in my video, since my videos are nothing but a slideshow of pictures and a voice-over. Titles are EXTEMELY important! You have to figure that roughly 50% of your traffic is going to come from keywords. If you make a video of “10 Facts I found out today”, the only strong keyword in that title is “facts”. You should be more precise, and your video shouldn’t be all over the place. A much better option is, “Top 10: Interesting Facts About Family Guy”. Why? Family Guy is a strong phrase and “interesting” and “Top 10” are both heavily searched keywords. That gives my video 3 chances to show up on the search results. Not to mention, you know that nifty little sidebar do-hickey? Your video pops up there when similar keywords are found in the current video that you are watching. So my family guy video will most likely show up if you are watching another “Top 10” video from another channel. To wrap up this section – DO NOT MAKE YOUR TITLE IN ALL CAPS!! It’s annoying, it makes you look unintelligent, and it doesn’t drive any more viewers.
Social Media. All social media is both good, and a waste of time. First, you better make sure to snag all social media names and a website before you make it big. When I mean big, I mean anything passed 5,000 subscribers. Why? Because some douche that follows your channel will, and he/she will pretend to be you on social media, or just park your name so you can’t have it. I learned this one the hard way on Facebook and my website. I had to settle on “top10archive.net” and “top10archives” on Facebook, instead of “top10archive.com” and “top10archive” on Facebook. Don’t expect social media to drive in a YouTube following more than YouTube itself. People are segregated when using social media platforms – Facebook users tend to stick to Facebook, Instagram to Instagram, YouTube to YouTube. Many of my Facebook followers just wait for me to post my videos on Facebook instead of keeping up on my YouTube channel. People who spend most of their time on Facebook don’t want to go anywhere else, they are spending 8 hours on Facebook for a reason. The same goes with instagram and YouTube. Likewise, nobody that spends a lot of time on YouTube is going to search on Facebook to find new YouTube channels, and nobody on Facebook is searching for YouTube channels. It’s really hard to get people to cross over. I have 2 perfect examples to prove this point. Alltime10’s has over 3 million YouTube subscribers, but only 60,000 Facebook “likes”, and Coral Reefer has 90,000 YouTube Subscribers, but 650,000 Facebook “likes”. How are these numbers so far apart? It’s because whatever platform you spend the most time on, you tend to stay on. People rarely make a cross-over. I’m not saying that creating social media accounts for your YouTube channel is a bad idea, but spending your valuable time hitting these areas is going to slow down your progress. If anything, hire that job out to one of your family members or friends that you can trust. Your time is better spent making YouTube videos.
Video Collaborations. A great idea, but often used entirely wrong. This is actually how Vsauce gained a lot of attention – because he did it right. He found similar channels to his own and did cross-over episodes. Make a 2-part video and encourage fans to click an annotation to head over to a different channel. If you’re going to do a video collaboration, make sure the channel you are teaming up with is similar to your own. Why? You want the same target audience. If I have a cooking channel and I team up with Vsauce, I’m not going to see nearly as much crossover action as Veritasium would. Why? People who watch Vsauce are interested in Vsauce-type videos. If you have a cooking channel, team up with another cooking channel. Be a “special guest” on their show, and vice versa. Sadly, it’s hard to collaborate with channels that are much bigger than yourself – unless you have amazing content. You have to figure, a big channel is basically sticking their neck out for you, they aren’t going to do that unless they think your content is worthy or if you can’t help out their channel in return. Keep this in mind when you collaborate as well. You are what you eat, you reap what you sew, and your friends reflect your personality. Don’t be too quick to collaborate with someone who might end up ruining your reputation in the long run. I’m not ever going to collaborate with someone like “Alex Jones” or “The Amazing Racist” – not just because I don’t watch their channels, nor is my channel similar to theirs, but also because they have poor reputations that I don’t want to associate my channel with.
Advertising on other peoples channels. This is annoying, but it can be done. Don’t EVER, and I mean EVER, leave a comment on someone’s channel like “Hey guys, awesome video. Be sure to check out my channel because I have cool videos, too.” Or “Cool video, can you watch one of my videos and let me know what you think?” For one, this is VERY poor in taste, it’s a mockery to the publisher of that video, and it makes you look pathetic. Just by saying “Awesome video.. now check out my channel”, it basically shows that you didn’t even watch the video, that you are simply there to advertise your channel, and that’s it. Instead, actually WATCH the video and engage yourself, and post on channels that are similar to yours. For example, my video about Poland.. you should leave a comment like, “Hey, that’s very interesting about Wojtek the bear – I didn’t know that Poland had a bear in their Army during WWII!” This shows that you aren’t just peddling on other people’s channels to gain subscribers, and you actually watched the video. I can’t begin to count how many “Awesome video, check out my channel!” comments I have instantly deleted from my channel. If you are going to make a peddling comment on someone else’s channels, be prepared to reel in more trolls and haters than actual fans. NOBODY likes someone who leaches off of someone else’s success and hard work. As a publisher, I didn’t spend thousands of hours of hard work and sweat, for you to come stomping on my channel saying “Cool video, now check out my channel for even more cool videos!!” Put yourself into those peoples shoes – do you want a bunch of comments on your video of someone trying to redirect your fans to their channel that has similar videos as your own? With that said, you can comment on other peoples videos to bring in traffic, but make it tasteful. Matthew Santoro does it all the time, but his comments are always wity, and he never asks people to check out his channel. His comments are always about the video he is posting on. Remember, curiosity killed the cat. If your comment has 1000 thumbs up because it’s funny, and you have an interesting name or thumbnail image, people will naturally click to go over to your channel to see what the buzz is about. NOBODY who posts a comment “Awesome video, now check out my channel”, is going to get 1000 thumbs up, unless they make a bunch of fake accounts or pay a website to do it for them. In any case, again, comments like those are going to do way more harm than good. Keep it classy.
Adwords. Adwords are a great tool, but can drain your bank account fast, especially if you don’t know what you are doing. Before properly utilizing adwords, you need information. Where do you get said information? Sadly, by already have a few thousand hits on a video, by looking in your YouTube Analytics. Find the keywords that pull in the most traffic to your video that also have the highest engagement. Don’t use a keyword that pulls in 6% of your traffic, but only 2.5% of your total “estimated minutes watched”. You should be advertising words that are opposite. Advertise a word that pulls in 3% of your traffic, but gets 7% of your “estimated minutes watched”. Why? When people use that keyword to find your video, it’s what they were looking for, and end up becoming engaged. Don’t go after the 6% word, because people are backing out. They didn’t find the video they were looking for – so you are wasting your money on someone watching 15 seconds of your video that doesn’t end up subscribing. It makes much more sense to advertise the words that get more engagement, because the probability of those people becoming subscribers are much higher. This idea should be used with every area that you advertise in with adwords – be it gender, age group, region or keywords.
Your own website. This can play a big part of your success. This opens up the doors of advertising on Google and Google images, for free (by free, I mean Google doesn’t charge you, but you have to pay hosting and domain fees on your website). The main drawback is that creating a successful website can be tricky and time consuming. It takes a lot of advanced understanding on how SEO, keywords, meta tags custom layouts, etc. If you plan on making a website, be sure to have a YouTube banner somewhere in your theme that is easily noticeable so viewers can find your channel and not simply think it’s just another website. Wordpress is a great option to create your own website if you aren’t to privy on coding – but even then, you may need to hire a professional to make it look appealing. This is one area that I am still lacking on.
I’ll probably be adding more to this forum, I’m sure I could have made this twice as long, but I think it’s a good start. There are so many areas to cover when talking about YouTube, I could probably write 1000 words on each topic. If you have ANY questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. Chances are, I’ve probably dealt with the problem before.
Thanks for reading, and good luck!!!