This is a guest post written by Simon Alexander.
What makes a good and successful Youtube channel? Don’t ask me - that's not really why I’m doing it to be honest. Well, it wasn’t when I started. Almost a full 5 months in, let me Share My Year with you.
On January 1st 2016, I decided to launch a Youtube channel - a kind of spur of the moment/New Years resolution. To be fair, it was probably late in 2015 when I decided, but it was this year when I finally plucked put the courage to start chatting to a camera.
Last year was one hell of a busy year for me with lots of exciting things that I will fondly remember. Sadly, very little of it is logged for future consumption by anything other than just a simple photo, and I thought that maybe Youtube might be a good way to change this.
I had two goals initially - to log my activities of 2016 so that I could reminisce in my golden years, and also to improve my understanding of film-making and learn the intricacies of promoting on YouTube.
I’m one of those people who likes to learn and always asks questions. I also work in digital marking and all things digital and social interest me, so this was a perfect match. Really, it was a great excuse to watch hours of footage on Youtube! I quickly found a number of channels that I really enjoyed and I subscribed for inspiration and entertainment. I enjoy watching Casey Neistat’s daily vlog, it’s a bit like tuning in to your favourite TV show and I really like his vlogging style.
On that Friday afternoon in January, I set up my old digital camera on a pile of books and spoke continuously for 2 minutes and 47 seconds. No edits. No special effects. Now clearly this wasn’t the best video in the history of YouTube, but it provides an excellent yard stick for me now as to how much I have learned so far.
That video to date has had almost 100 views.
Not really setting the world on fire, yet 95 people, the majority of whom I don’t know have all taken the time out of their day to watch me speaking about nothing. Of course, it might not be 95 individuals, but thats even better - someone came back to watch me again!
My first “Share My Year” vlog went live on 17th January, a mish-mash of my week, mainly filmed on my iPhone and edited into around 8 minutes. It featured me walking the dog, going to watch football and holding the camera the wrong way - lesson number one learned.
I treated myself to a DSLR camera, which I subsequently made a vlog about. Now that I had some serious equipment to upscale my video quality, I needed to make an effort to learn how to edit. It was all becoming quite time consuming.
It’s also quite tough when you film your whole week to try and find the most interesting bits, despite the vlog being for my benefit - by uploading to YouTube you are clearly hoping that others may watch your content. I’ve had to learn to manage social media a little better - increasing viewers is tough and the best way to engage with them is via the plethora of social media platforms out there. I’m on Twitter, SnapChat, Instagram, Periscope, Beme, carrier pigeon and smoke signal.
In February I quit my job, not to make YouTube videos I should add, but I believe that the extra time I had available whilst on gardening leave became a turning point for me. In an effort to find a new opportunity, I made a video about quitting my job, which I promoted on LinkedIn and subsequently generated over 200 views and a couple of job offers. Furthermore I scripted my first opening film sequence ahead of a trip to Liverpool, started adding music and really having a lot more fun making the videos.
I’ve learned a few things so far that I would like to mention in case you feel like dipping your toe into the YouTube ocean:
- You don’t need expensive video equipment. Better technology provides an opportunity to improve quality, but it’s not necessary and really means nothing without content.
- A tripod of any kind is very useful - they remove a lot of the shaking in videos, making it easier to watch.
- Seek inspiration. Different YouTube film makers have their preferred way of making videos - find a style that you like and are comfortable with and work with that.
- Practise. I’ve never had an issue with public speaking, but try speaking to a camera in front of a load of people who are looking at you strangely. This is different skill!
- Film everything. Too much content is better than not enough. I try to keep my vlogs to less than 10 minutes, normally around 8 minutes. To do this I tend to sift through maybe 3 or 4 times that much footage. Once you have removed your errors (things which are not as interesting as you first thought) and other stuff, it doesn’t always leave you with much.
- Make sure that you are making videos for you. I read a review that suggested you should try and make informative “How to” videos. I tried it once - it was boring to make, boring to watch and subsequently only received 33 views where as my trip to Las Vegas on a stag do was over 100. Obviously if you make a “how to” video on something you care about, you will be more interested and in turn the video would likely be more interesting!
The progress I have made so far is clear for more to see, and I’m proud of this. But at the same time, I have barely scratched the surface of all of the opportunities available.
I’ve now passed 25 uploads to Youtube, and quite incredibly I have more than 150 subscribers (all of which I would like to thank for taking the time to watch me regularly blurt my feelings to camera). If people keep coming back to watch my vlogs I may make more, but right now this is ideal for me, I’m having fun and whilst still filming my year as it happens, I’m trying to think of ways to make interesting content beyond just me walking my dog.
So what’s in store for me and my channel? I have a lot of interesting things coming up in the remainder of the year, including another trip to the US (my most recent trip is mid-edit and will be live soon). I’ve also just taken on the challenge of fundraising for Prostate Cancer UK by entering the London Marathon in 2017. That will require a hell of a lot of training and you will be able to watch it all unfold, or collapse depending on how my body feels. As part of this, I'm running a competition which you are welcome to enter - just check out my latest vlog for more info.
That's all from me. Let me know if you enjoy making YouTube videos too, I'd love to check them out. And don't forget to Come and Share My Year.
Have you ever thought about starting a YouTube channel? What would be your tips?
I’m Simon and having worked in digital marketing for 10 years. You could say I’m a little obsessed with all things about internet marketing. I’m fascinated with finding out how things work because I love to learn. Outside of the online world, I’m a huge sports and travel fan, so if you can’t find me watching TV somewhere in this country because the football is on, I’m probably in another country doing it. I like to meet new people who share my enthusiasm for the online world, especially Youtube so feel free to come and say hello!