Over the years YouTube has evolved from a simple social media video site to a money-making machine. Some stars of the website make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year, as much or more than ‘regular’ celebrities. It’s an immensely powerful tool for kickstarting a career in music, art or general entertainment.
But how to ensure that your YouTube channel is a success, and that it gets out the message you want to convey? Well, first things first:
Create good content
All the promotion in the world won’t matter if you’re putting things out that are bad, unpleasant, or objectionable. Just look at the case of Nicole Arbour, who made a video called “Dear Fat People” where she mocked the overweight. There was a massive outcry and she ended up losing her job. She’s still technically a ‘YouTube star’ – but for all the wrong reasons.
The best way of gaining fame on YouTube is to have a video ‘go viral’. That simply means: lots of people sharing and talking about your video. It’s hard to make a video go viral, though – most of the time it happens unexpectedly and sometimes to the most unlikely people. For example, in 2007 the father of two little boys uploaded a cute little video to YouTube of one boy biting the other’s finger. “Charlie Bit My Finger” became a huge success, is still the fourth most-viewed video on the entire site, and earned the family over $150,000. Very impressive, but gaining that sort of success out of the blue is still a rarity. (Just because you think a home video of your pets or kids is funny, it doesn’t mean the rest of the world will!) Yet if you think your content is good, you should be putting it out there for as many people to see as possible.
Have the technical knowledge
If you want your videos to become popular, most of the time you’re going to need at least a little technical knowledge. Smartphones and webcams are easy to use, but you should have a little knowledge about lighting and editing if you want to take your videos to the next level. You could also buy an expensive HD camera if you want your videos to be in high definition, but it’s not overly necessary.
Film in natural light if at all possible, and see if you can download a free or cheap video editing program. With one of those, you may be able to add music or special effects to your videos! Putting watermarks on them is always a good idea – that ensures people are unlikely to try and steal them and claim them as their own.
Present yourself well
If you’re going for a professional look to your videos rather than a casual one, there’s even more to bear in mind. While you don’t need to be dressed by a professional stylist or have your make-up done by an expert hand, you should try and look smart as well as relaxed. Practice in unreleased videos before uploading one to YouTube, if you like. (And remember you can always edit out a few ‘ums’ and ‘ers’.)
And perhaps most important of all: make sure you can be heard! Don’t mumble, and speak clearly to the camera. No matter how good the visuals of your video are, the sound needs to be good as well.
Use other social media
You can use platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr to get your name out there, too. Whenever you upload a video, link to it on other social media! The more you do this, the more people are likely to click on it and give you hits. And don’t forget to tag your videos and social media posts so people can find them in searches – for example, if your video shows you trying on make-up, tag it with ‘#beauty, #makeup, #fashion’, and the names of the brands you’re using. On Twitter, if the brands have a social media presence, Tweet them directly and they may link to your video.
There’s no promises that you’ll become a YouTube star right away – whatever the secret to instant fame is, no-one’s discovered it yet. But release interesting videos that are well put-together, market yourself well, and you should be well on your way.