Tips, Help & Advice for YouTube Makers

In this video I talk about how to be a maker on YouTube... In my opinion!

I get asked a lot for advice from people either wanting to start a YouTube maker channel, or people who have already started one and are finding it challenging.  I am not an expert on this stuff at all, but I have learned some stuff about what works and what doesn't work for me, so this is just me sharing my experiences, learnings suggestions and opinions.

I'll cover various topics, including how to make what I believe is "good content", the importance of thumbnails, using "tags" in video descriptions and titles, patience and perseverance (which is perhaps the most important thing!), doing it for the right reasons, confidence for those who (like me) are camera shy, working with brands and sponsors, equipment, interacting with community and video scheduling.

Apologies that the video is quite long, I tried to condense it down as much as possible but didn't want to miss anything I feel was important.

LINKS FOR THINGS I MENTION IN THIS VIDEO:
My TELEPROMPTER videos: version 2: https://youtu.be/cvpQnfyRzFw original version: https://youtu.be/1OIUdzvJxGU
SOCIAL BLUEBOOK for knowing the value of your channel to help negotiate with sponsors etc: https://home.socialbluebook.com/
GID JOINER who I mentioned films everything with only a mobile phone: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCHddVj8KYk3UNBM9Uc-VP3Q
The video about the EQUIPMENT and process that I use to make my videos: https://youtu.be/cOHJaCbmP3Q

In this video I'll be talking about tips and advice for YouTube Makers.  I don't consider myself to be an expert on this stuff at all, but I've been on YouTube for over 5 years now and I've learned a lot along the way, and I frequently get asked for help and advice so that's why I'm making this video.
I'll start with the most important things, and then come on to some of the real nitty gritty stuff later on.
1. GOOD CONTENT
Most importantly is simply make good content that is going to make the people watching a) want to see more of your videos and b) click the subscribe button.
My personal opinion is that I think that a good way to do that is to make videos that add value for anyone watching.  You can do that by imparting your own knowledge,  experiences, tips, tricks, whatever it might be, in the video - because if people learn something while they're watching, they're more likely to want to come back and see more from you. 
Now it's true that there are some really popular maker channels that don't have any narration or talking in them - some really good channels some of which just rely on sped up or timelapsed video footage, but personally, and this is just my opinion, I don't think that makes for a very engaging video.  There's one channel like that that people keep recommending to me and I've checked it out a few times, and that particular maker is extremely talented, a much better woodworker than me, but the videos just don't retain my interest because I'm not learning or discovering anything about that maker's thoughts or experience so I end up watching something else instead. 
Try to get your viewers to want to see and find out more from you.
Another thing that I personally think is really important is not wasting viewer's time.  I like to make my videos as short and concise as possible - I want people to get the maximum amount of value and entertainment in the minimum amount of time when they watch my videos.  I believe the reason that the younger generations are no longer interested in watching TV and far more interested in watching YouTube is because YouTube videos are not bloated and long-winded like most of the stuff that is on TV.  I've completely stopped watching TV myself, and I'm not even young, aside from maybe one or two programmes on TV, I only watch YouTube now, and until the people who make TV shows realise that their current old fashioned format no longer appeals to most people under the age of say 50, TV will have no future whatsoever.
If I'm doing a build project where I'm making something I might use the tablesaw for an operation that takes me maybe 20 minutes to do in total in real life, but I'm only going to show maybe four or five seconds of that in the project video - enough to show people what I did, but not so much that the viewer gets bored and clicks away on to another video. 
Now I know that there are examples where longer form content is popular too - take for example Paul Sellers videos on YouTube, probably one of the most well renowned well regarded woodworkers on YouTube.  His videos are quite slow paced, which gives them a different appeal because they're kind of relaxing to watch.  But for me I have to be in a certain mindset to watch one of those videos - like if I'm relaxing in the evening.  Whereas any videos under say 10 minutes long I tend to want to watch sooner and more frequently.
Another thing I notice frequently is people will have a long introduction to a video and again I think the majority of people don't want to see that or aren't interested.  If you talk about what you had for breakfast for 3 minutes at the start of a video, yes some of your regular subscribers who know you and are interested in you might sit and listen to that,  they might enjoy it, but a lot of people who are seeing that video for the first time are probably wanting to see that video for whatever it is about, that's why they clicked on it.
2. THUMBNAILS
Thumbnails are so important.  Think about how important a good window display is to a shop on a high street - the thumbnails for your videos are your best opportunity for getting people to click on your video and watching it.  If you don't take the time to make a good thumbnail, you're missing out.  I know of channels with good thumbnails that get loads of views, even though the videos themselves aren't always great, I also know channels which have amazing video content, in fact some of my very favourite channels, but very little effort has been put in to the thumbnails, so those videos don't get the number of views that they deserve which is a real shame. 
A good thumbnail should be eye catching, punchy with good colour and contrast, and it should make you want to watch the video. 
There's a rumour that the YouTube algorithm favours thumbnails with human faces in it too - I'm not sure whether that is true or not.  Personally I don't put my face in many of my thumbnails because who wants to see this ugly mug? Maybe I'm missing a trick there, who knows. 
Another thing I like to do is have a consistent look to all my thumbnails - you'll see I always use the same font and I have my same channel branding at the left hand side of my thumbnails.  That's optional, but I think it's useful because it strengthens the brand of my channel, and if someone's watched one of my videos before and enjoyed it, it might make them more likely to click on another one of my other videos that pops up in their feed in future. 
3. DESCRIPTION AND TITLE
Using key seach terms in the description of your videos is really important.  In the past YouTube was set up so that you could add searchable tags to each video but apparently that's less important than the description itself nowadays, and that's why they've buried away in the video upload settings.
Try to include key words in the description and try to think about what people who might want to see your video might be searching for.  So for example say I made a coffee table with a drawer in it.  Chances are there are woodworkers out there who might want a coffee table where they can store their remote controls in or something, so the key words I would try to include in the description would be things like "coffee table with drawer", "coffee table with storage", " DIY coffee table", "woodworking project", "handmade coffee table", "how to make a coffee table" - those are the kind of things that people who want to see your video might type in to the search bar.
4. PATIENCE AND PERSEVERENCE
If you're just starting out making videos on YouTube, it can be so disheartening when you've put so much time and effort in to a video only to see that the number of views and interest that the video gets is really low.  But if you want to be successful on YouTube, in most situations, you need to play the long game and that leads me on to point 5
5. DO IT FOR THE RIGHT REASONS
For me personally there were three main motivations when I started 1) I was excited about sharing my projects with other people 2) I was passionate about working with reclaimed wood and materials and I wanted to encourage others to do it to and 3) I enjoyed the process of making videos.  That was it.  When I started, I was not concerned with number of views or subscribers, but when people found my videos interesting, that was really exciting, and that made me want to make more and more.  I definitely wasn't in it to make money.  And if making money on YouTube is your main focus, then I'd suggest you need to do something else because there are far far easier, quicker and better ways to make money.  I'll give you an example - this Baby Play Gym video that I made took me about 21 hours to make and probably about 9 hours to edit the video so in total let's say about 30 hours.  How much money has that video generated in total since it was published? £14.03. And that's on my channel with over 100k subscribers.  That works out at 47 pence per hour.  and the minimum wage here in the UK is over £8.20 an hour.  Now I'm not saying that you can't make money on YouTube, you can, but it takes a lot of time and hard work to build things up to a point where you have a big catalogue of videos that are generating ad revenue, plus other streams of revenue like for example Patreon, website, affiliate schemes, merchandise, whatever it might be.  I've been doing this over 5 years and I still haven't managed to quit my day job.  So I can't stress enough, if you really want to do it, do it for the right reasons.
6. WORKING WITH BRANDS
Working with brands.  As you persevere with making videos and your channel grows, you will get approached by brands wanting to collaborate.  I'm not talking about sponsorship here, I'm talking mainly about free products. The offers you are likely to get are going to be quite diverse - there'll be companies that are just happy to see you use their products in one of your videos, and they'll be happy for you to incorporate and use it in a natural way and leave it entirely to your discretion giving you full creative control about how you do that, and they're just happy to work with you and help support you.  I've met some really good people through working with brands that I would actually now regard as friends.  And if you're open to the idea of working with brands, those are the companies that I would recommend working with. 
At the other end of the spectrum there'll be companies with more of a strict marketing agenda who might have specific ideas about what they want to get from you and your videos.  Those are the offers to avoid in my opinion - because if you start making videos to please brands, it's going to come across to your viewers that your main priority isn't to make good quality content, it's to get out of YouTube whatever you can, and get free things, and in my opinion that's not what YouTube is all about.  Really it's about being authentic, knowing the value of your channel and your videos, and once again good content is the most important thing - never let the quality of your videos suffer, because all you'll do is drive viewers and subscribers away from your channel.
I've had some really positive experiences working with brands and some really negative ones too - I'm not going to publicly name and shame in this video but if you're a YouTuber and you want to know the companies I've been happy to work with and the ones I'd recommend steering well clear of, drop me an email or a private message on instagram or facebook and I'll let you know what I've experienced.  When I think about the negative experiences I've had, they tend to be really big brands who get marketing agencies to act as their middle man to get everything they can from YouTubers, and two big tool companies and one well known UK based DIY chain store immediately spring to mind.   That's about all I should say here I think.  But just know that despite what they might tell you when they approach you, those brands do not give a shit about you or your channel, they just want to make as much money as they possibly can.
7. WORKING WITH SPONSORS
As far as working with sponsors is concerned, that's not something I really have much experience with as I've turned down every offer I've ever had apart from one, mainly because most of the offers I get have no relation to the content on my channel, or they are not products that I feel I can fully endorse.  Again, be authentic and know your channel's worth.  And if you don't know your channel's worth, there's an online tool that can help with that - it's called Social Bluebook, it's free to use, you just need to sign up, enter your YouTube channel details and it will analyse the stats for your channel and give you a recommended price range for a shout out, a direct link, and a dedicated upload which you can use to negotiate with sponsors.
I know that some maker's refuse to accept free tools or sponsorships or anything like that, and to those people, I applaud you, but my personal stance is that let's face it, YouTube ad revenue leaves a lot to be desired, so we have to take advantage of some of the benefits that come our way within reason - for me that's predominantly been about accepting free high quality tools for me to use in my videos, tools that I really enjoy using and that I'd probably never been able to afford otherwise.  I'm less interested in taking sponsorships for mattresses, website design software and all that stuff that has no relation to the content on my channel, but still, I'd never say never and if the price is right and I'm able to integrate a sponsor in to my videos in a way that's not massively detrimental to the video, then I might consider it - but know your boundaries and stick to them, and don't let companies take advantage of you.
8. CONFIDENCE
Anyone who has been watching my videos for a long while will know that i'm an introvert, that I'm not good at talking off the cuff or unscripted, and that I'm not comfortable in front of a camera. 
So when I started my channel I had to find ways around those issues.  For the first 30 or so videos on my channel, I just filmed some action shots of whatever project I was doing, and then later on I wrote a script for the video, and recorded some narration in to a microphone that I could then splice up and put over the video.  Even that was a real struggle for me, because I hate listening to the sound of my own voice and I just wasn't comfortable doing it.
Talking to a camera was a fear that I really wanted to try to conquer though so in my 31st video, I had a go at it.  I looked really uncomfortable but I kept having a go at it from that point onwards.  And I got tons of comments from people on those videos telling me about I was wooden and I talked like a robot.  I really don't know why people feel the need to tell me stuff like that, because I am my own worst critic, and I am fully aware of how much of a robot I am.
Anyway the point is I persevered, I carried on doing it and over the course od the next couple of hundred videos I got better and better and now even though I'm still not comfortable doing it, I think I come across much more naturally, and others have told me that too.
Another thing that really helped me was having a teleprompter so I could write down exactly what I want to say in my videos, and simply read it out to the camera. And that's what I'm doing right now with this video too.  I have a couple of project videos about how I made my teleprompter too, they're pretty easy to make. 
So my advice would be, if you're not comfortable talking to a camera, just film what you're doing and maybe try narrating your videos instead, either verbally in to a microphone, or even putting some text on screen, but just know that some people are going to be put off as they might not want to read a video as well as watch it, so narrating is a good thing to aim for in my opinion.  If you make a few videos like that, maybe one day you'll feel like having a go at talking to a camera, and you'll probably be a whole lot better at it than I was.  And like with anything, if you keep doing something, you'll get better at it.
9. EQUIPMENT
I've put this towards the end because while a good quality camera, lenses, microphone and video editing software is going to help you to make better content,  it's really not as important as you might think.  Some of my favourite channels, Gid Joiner being a prime example, is shot on a mobile phone - which further emphasises that good content is far more important than anything else.
What I would say though is that before you spend money on a camera, it might be worth considering audio first - because bad quality audio in a video is far more likely to make someone click away from your video than video quality, because video quality is so good nowadays, even on smart phones, that you're still going to be able to get good footage on just about any modern camera. 
I've talked about the equipment I use before in a video so I'm not going to talk about that here, but I'll link to that video in the description box below if you'd like to check it out.
10. COMMUNITY
In most apects of life, other people who are doing similar things to you within the same environment are seen as competitors.  I genuinely believe that that is practically non-existant among the maker community on YouTube and Instagram, or social media in general.  Since I started my channel I've been continually and consistently surprised by just how approachable, helpful, supportive, genuine and down to earth everyone is.   And I think that's because the people who produce online content just want to share knowledge and experiences, and that is a wonderful thing.  I've had the pleasure of meeting, not meeting physically but speaking online with some of the nicest people I've ever met, who I now regard as good friends.  So know that there is  very little competition out there - just a community of like minded people all trying to help eachother out. 
Try to respond to those who go to the effort of commenting on your videos or sending you messages. Once your channel grows it's going to get diifficult to keep up with responding to everything, but even if it's just saying thanks or hitting the heart button to show you've taken the time to read it.   Be kind.  Because that kindness will definitely be reciprocated by most.
Obviously there are also negative and trollish comments to contend with, especially on YouTube where there's more anonymity of those that are leaving comments.  Try not to take them to heart.  If the criticism is non-consutrctive, or if the comment is offensive, hide that user from the channel and you'll never have to deal with their nastiness ever again.  You will need a thick skin at times - there has been the odd comment on my videos over the years that I've found particularly upsetting, but the vast majority of negative comments I get do not affect me at all, and if they're at least constructively criticising something, then those comments are fine by me.  But generally I think the adage that if you don't have anything useful to say then don't say it applies quite well.

SCHEDULING
This is something that won't work for everyone, but for me having a schedule for uploads has been really helpful - I've maintained a weekly video upload schedule for years now and even though it's sometimes hard to keep up with, especially back when I was working full time and making YouTube videos on the side, it's helped me to be prolific in releasing videos.  I also like the idea that some people are excited to see my videos every Friday when I release them.   But I know that working to a schedule doesn't work for everyone, some people work best without, so just do whatever works best for you and whatever aides your creativity the most.

Thanks for watching!

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