Managing Channels for Fun and/or Profi
Everybody has a reason for making a video, and YouTube doesn’t discriminate on why you do it. Whether you were influenced a little too much by the silly, everyday situations depicted on television a series like America’s Funniest Home Videos or you want to show off your post-film-school prowess or you’re looking to educate the masses with a series of how-to videos, there’s a place for you on YouTube — and (you hope!) an audience that’s willing to follow your exploits.
In addition to the pleasure that comes from a job well done, there’s (potentially) a business side to running a YouTube channel. If you post videos that draw a lot of views, it’s worth your time to monetize your channel — generate some income from ad revenue, in other words. But that’s not the only business purpose YouTube channels can help with: They can serve as a great showcase for your par- ticular skills or services or act as a delivery system for product descriptions, tuto- rials, and testimonials associated with whatever your business is selling.
Whether you grab a 10-second video of a gathering of friends, have something meaningful to say on your video blog, or plan a highly structured production with sets and actors, you’re creating content.
Almost every topic under the sun is represented on YouTube. That diversity in topics is matched by an equally broad range of production levels. Some videos are quite sophisticated, displaying amazing production values, but many are fairly average. And a great deal are just poorly done and end up getting shown in film classes as examples of what not to do.
Better production values increase your ability to grab viewers’ attention — maybe enough for them to watch the entire video and maybe enough for them to even consider watching whatever else you have to offer. The holy grail, of course, is having them feel so enthusiastic about what they see that they then share it with others.
But great video quality doesn’t happen accidentally; rather, it’s done consciously, from conception to upload. Though the topic is more thoroughly represented throughout this book, here are some key suggestions to always keep in mind:
» Plan before you fi Great videos begin in preproduction. That means having an idea of the shooting location and working with some sort of script (or at least a storyboard of the kind of shots you want for the video).
Great planning leads to great production.
» Know your audience. When you’re just getting started, you try to make solid
videos with good descriptions and hope that your audience fi you. After you have attracted a following, it’s still important to understand who they are and whether your content is right for them. For example, if you start a channel that talks about SAT and college prep, you should use language that’s consis- tent with a high-school-age demographic. Don’t overlook the importance of being highly aware of your potential audience.
» Keep viewers entertained. Regardless of the subject matter, it’s important for viewers to enjoy the experience so that you hold their attention. Remember
that hooking a viewer’s attention starts with the fi fi seconds of the video. (Why? Because viewers may leave before the good stuff starts!)
» Let them learn something. People generally click on a video description link in search of information. If they fi it quickly and they were entertained, chances are good that they will love you and click through to products or services mentioned in the video.
Building an audience
After you create great content, you have to find people to watch it. After all, isn’t that the entire purpose of sharing your video with the world? Whether it starts with the ten people who just happen to run across your student film or a million people viewing your talking puppy video, building your audience is essential.
YouTube is no different from other media when it comes to emphasizing the importance of building an audience. For example, you may have the catchiest song of all time, but if no one has ever heard it or even knows it exists, then that song cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a success. The same is true for your videos — you need to work at getting as many people as possible to watch them.
Successfully building your audience depends on understanding their needs and making sure you can deliver on what your channel promises. Catering to your audience — whether it consists of one person or ten million — centers on under- standing them and satisfying their appetite. (For more on building your audience, check out Chapter 10.)
Building a business
In addition to letting you upload your videos to satisfy the fun side of your per- sonality, YouTube can work wonders for your business side. You can easily set your account to monetize video content, as mentioned in the next section; as long as you meet the minimum requirements for monetization and enough viewers watch your videos, you can earn some extra money. If you have something to sell or a service to offer, you can also leverage YouTube for some pretty cool and pow- erful advertising. As you can see in Chapter 13, it’s simple enough for anyone to do it.
You can earn money with your YouTube channel every time someone views a You- Tube ad before watching one of your videos. The more people who view your con- tent, the more money you can potentially make. The minimum eligibility requirements to turn on monetization features for your channel have dramatically changed over the past couple of years, primarily because of what are referred to as brand safety issues with advertisers.
So, what’s all this about “brand safety”? Actually, it’s not that complicated. An advertiser wants to place its ads on videos that are suitable for its brand image, culture, and vision. An advertiser doesn’t want its brands associated with bad press or negative content. What is suitable for one brand advertiser might not be suitable for another brand. For example, a video game manufacturer might be okay with advertising on first-person-shooter videos, but a beauty brand may find that kind of content inappropriate for its video’s ads or just not relevant for its target audience.
Your first hurdle for making money on YouTube is to get accepted into the YouTube Partner Program. To apply for the program, you need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public video watch-hours over the past year.
Now that users have found the potential to make money on YouTube, it’s become like the California gold rush of 1849. Motivated entrepreneurs are setting up shop in the hope of striking it big with their YouTube channels.
As you might expect, not everybody will strike it rich. In fact, very few will strike it rich. Nevertheless, it’s possible to earn a side hustle, especially if you take advantage of the multiple ways you can make money by way of your YouTube channel, including advertising revenue, channel membership, your merchandise shelf, Super Chat and Super Stickers, and YouTube Premium Revenue. Just keep in mind that slow-and-steady wins the race — making money takes time, or at least it will take time until you build a massive following. (For more on monetization, check out Chapter 14.)