For many consumer-facing brands and emerging media personalities alike, YouTube is a vital sales and marketing channel. But resource-poor brands very often lack the wherewithal to maximize its potential, even when they recognize the importance of doing so.
What’s an aspiring YouTuber to do?
Start small and scale deliberately, that’s what. As you go, follow these six tips that have served budding YouTube stars well.
1. Maintain a Consistent Channel Aesthetic
Don’t take this the wrong way, but your YouTube channel should be like McDonald’s.
Not because it delivers a mediocre if predictable experience. It should be neither mediocre nor predictable.
No, your YouTube channel needs to be like McDonald’s in the sense that all of your video content should have a consistent aesthetic: a constant color scheme, soundtrack, and general “vibe” that carries through every video you produce. Just like McDonald’s draws (very) similar threads through its franchise locations regardless of geography or local custom.
2. Brand Your Channel (Or a Content Series Hosted in Your Channel)
Once you’ve got your channel aesthetic in place, take the next step and develop a consistent brand for your channel.
This might take the form of a prolific content series you take pride in producing, like the Under the Macroscope series popularized by the YouTube channel for Skybound Capital, or a particular mix of “set pieces” within your videos (as your viewers might expect from a sketch show like Saturday Night Live). But how you brand your channel is less important than taking this step in the first place.
3. Don’t Expect YouTube to Promote Your Videos for You
This will happen, to be clear. But we’re talking about a chicken-and-egg problem here. You can’t rely on in-medium promotion (that is, YouTube suggesting your videos to viewers watching similar content) to put your videos in front of people who don’t regularly use YouTube.
Nor can you expect YouTube to find the prospects with the highest likelihood of becoming fans (or entering your sales funnel) and serving them your videos, even if YouTube isn’t too bad at this.
You see where this is going. You need a multichannel strategy to promote your YouTube content, one that leverages your other “owned media” platforms (including social media and your website). And you’ll need to lean on this strategy heavily in the early going.
4. Listen to Your Analytics
There’s not much to say about this one. It’s the same formula that works for other media: Don’t fight the numbers. Lean into what works and move away from what doesn’t.
5. Engage With Your Followers, Even If It Doesn’t Come Naturally
Read those comments.
Seriously. Read them. It’s awkward, even painful at times. But you can’t look away.
Throw out the totally unhelpful feedback and engage with everything else. Talk to your followers. Tailor your content to suit their whims (within reason) and make sure they know you’re doing so.
Heck, put together an asynchronous AMA and promote it like there’s no tomorrow. If your fans are real fans, they’ll go nuts for it.
6. Create a Realistic Content Schedule and Stick to It
Ten videos per week is probably not realistic unless you have a production team backing you up. (If you’re successful, this might be in your future, and then we’ll talk.)
Two videos? That’s more realistic. If you’re able to carve out time to shoot and edit your videos and can get in a production rhythm once you’ve got your schedule down.
More important than the specific cadence is keeping it up. Your followers will come to depend on your video production schedule; don’t let them down.
Learn From the YouTube Pros — Or Chart Your Own Course
Every tip on this list has the implicit endorsement of the biggest names on YouTube. They might not shout it from the rooftops — part of YouTube stardom is making the whole thing seem effortless, after all — but they’ll tell you about their travails in quiet moments of candor.
Because let’s face it: Building a successful YouTube brand is really hard work. Most who attempt it fail, or give up before they’ve had a proper try. If you’re able to go the distance, it’ll be because you put in longer, more productive hours than most of your competitors. And because you did what worked for so many before you.
Or maybe not. Maybe you’ll find a course of your own to chart, an approach to YouTube that few have tried before. Maybe your peculiar mix of tips and tricks will populate lists like this one in a few years’ time.
You won’t know until you try.