If anyone tells you it is too late for starting a YouTube channel, ignore them. The platform is booming, and while there have been some controversies over the years, it is still possible for a new content creator for starting a successful YouTube channel from scratch.
But before you dive in, there are some things you need to think about if you want to maximize your chances for success. There are no guarantees when it comes to YouTube.
Things You Need to Consider When Starting a YouTube Channel
1. What Motivation Pushes You for Starting a YouTube Channel
Not motivation in the sense of “being eager to act and work,” but rather “the reason why you act and work.”
Maybe you want to teach others how to do something, like how to program web and mobile apps. Maybe you want to tell brilliant stories through short film. Or maybe you want to play and review video games. It can be anything, but it has to be something.
Your motivation is the basis for three key elements shared by every successful YouTube channel: topic coverage, target audience, and reason for existence.
- Topic coverage is WHAT your videos will be about.
- Target audience is WHO your videos are intended for.
- Reason for existence is WHY they should watch your videos.
You have to define these things BEFORE you launch your channel. Otherwise you’ll end up with a hodge-podge channel that fails to capture any kind of meaningful viewership, and no meaningful viewership means no long-term success.
2. How Frequently You Upload Videos on YouTube?
Once you know how to make a YouTube video, what kind of content you will make, and who will be watching it, you need to decide on a production schedule. How often will you release new videos?
It mainly depends on content type:
- For vlogs and Let’s Plays, maybe every day (e.g. Northernlion).
- For research-heavy trivia, maybe every week (e.g. Wendover Productions).
- For high-quality skits, maybe every month. (e.g. Epic Rap Battles of History).
Be realistic and think long-term. You might have the energy to do one video per day right now, but can you keep that up for six months or a year? Do you want this to be a full-time endeavor or would you rather have some leeway for when wrenches are thrown into your schedule?
It may sound silly, but changing up your frequency later on down the road could really tick off your viewership—so much so that they unsubscribe. Even missing one day (or week or month) could trigger discontent with fans. When in doubt, go with a lesser frequency. You can always live stream on YouTube to fill in the gaps.
3. Substance and Style Are Needed for Being Successful in YouTube
Many people will tell you that success is all about “substance over style.” Well, they are wrong. The true key to success is “substance AND style.” YouTube viewers eat with their eyes, and if you serve up a dish that’s healthy but bland, many will turn their noses up at it.
Of the many ingredients to a successful YouTube channel, three involve style:
- Smart titles
- Consistent format
- Video thumbnails
If your channel will involve audio, then you need to work on articulation, confident voice, and getting rid of annoying speech patterns (like upspeak). If you’re going to be on camera, you’ll want to work on standing steady, looking into the camera, smiling, not fidgeting, and so on.
A few ways you can do this: confront and slay your fear of public speaking, learn how an engaging speaker speaks by watching notable TED Talks, and improve your communication skills.
But you also need to edit your videos well. I am not saying you need jump cuts every few seconds, but you should at least pick up a good video-editing app (see the best video editing apps for YouTube), making sure the quality and framerate are high enough, and cutting out all the unnecessary bits.
4. Needed Equipment for a YouTuber
To succeed, you will also need to acquire some essential equipment for creating high-quality videos. Fortunately, you won’t have to spend much to get started.
At a bare minimum, you will want to have:
- Camera: Before you drop hundreds of dollars on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, know that a high-quality webcam can be enough to start. Or you can just use your smartphone! Save the high-end cameras for when you’ve been doing this for over a year and know what exactly you need to improve.
- Tripod: If you have a camera or end up using a smartphone, then you’ll want a tripod to hold it up and keep it steady.
- Microphone: The built-in microphones that come with cameras are often terrible. Get an external microphone and record audio separately, then mix it with the video afterwards. Learn more about condenser versus dynamic microphones to pick the right one for your content type.
- Green Screen: A green screen is necessary if you want to change the background in your videos. While an actual green screen kit could cost upwards of $50, you can use a literal green sheet or DIY one with a white sheet dyed green.
- Screen Capture Software: Only necessary if your videos involve screen capturing, such as Excel video tutorials or PC gameplay. I highly recommend OBS Studio, which is free and can record your screen as an MP4 video file.
5. How Can You Promote Your YouTube Channel?
“If you build it, they will come.” Right? NO! Not for YouTube. You can go many years producing new videos every day and never crack 1,000 subscribers. It is hard work, and you can’t be passive about it.
Want to succeed? You have to promote yourself. Here are a few ideas on how you can do that, without being overly spammy:
- Social Media: Building a social media following can be just as hard as building a YouTube channel, but if you have followers already, they might be your first fans. You can also consider doing social media giveaways for exposure.
- Forums: These are great, especially the big ones like Reddit. Find a community that’s relevant to your content, then share ONLY your best content. Don’t share too frequently, else you may be banned for spamming.
- Collaborate: Working with others isn’t just a good way to network and expand your contacts—when they share your collaborations with their audiences, it exposes their audiences to you. It is a win-win for everybody.
Noted that promotion is a long game. It may takes months, or even years, for your channel to gain popularity. Perseverance is the number one trait shared between YouTube creators!
6. Be a YouTuber and Make Money
Making money through YouTube is harder than it used to be, but it is still possible today even if you are just starting out.
While most people think YouTubers earn boatloads of cash through advertisements, the truth is that ads rarely pay well for the effort. As of 2016, the average revenue per 1,000 views on YouTube was about $1.50 (after YouTube takes its cut). That comes out to $1,500 per 1 million views, and users have reported that rates dropped further in 2017.
In short, don’t expect to get rich off ads even if your channel goes viral. So how do the top YouTubers make their money? A combination of many monetization methods:
- Affiliate sales and product promotions
- Consultation services
- Direct advertisements that aren’t Adsense
- Public speaking events
- Support from fans who donate
7. Set Goals Which Are Attainable
Do you need the quickest way to grow discouraged as a YouTube creator? Compare yourself to others.
Before you even start working on your first video, lay out a few actionable goals that you want to do. Not only will these keep you focused on your own path, and not only will they give you a sense of progress, but they show you what to do when you feel stuck.
An effective goal has three core elements:
- Measurable: The goal should have a quantified component that lets you know, at any given moment in time, whether you have reached it or not.
- Timed: The goal should have a realistic deadline. Not so far out so that you still feel pressure, but not so close that it is overwhelming.
- Controllable: The goal should be an action you can perform, rather than an outcome that you hope will come as a result of an action.
For example, you might aim to put out 10 videos (measurable) by the end of your first month (timed). Note that “put out a video” is an action you can perform, whereas “reach 1,000 viewers” is not an action but an outcome. “Earn $50 this month” isn’t a goal, whereas “find and negotiate a sponsorship deal” is.
Create a few goals, then keep creating more as you reach them. You’d be surprised how effective this can be at keeping you motivated and on track to success.
The Last Words
Hope this article has been empowering and not discouraging. The main point here is this: creating and starting a YouTube channel is easy, but building one that is successful takes a lot of effort. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to practice, and a lot to keep in mind.