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11 Tips on Starting a YouTube Channel // #WW4D

It's been awhile since I've made a blog on the #WW4D series, and with my 11 year anniversary on YouTube today, I decided to think of one tip for every year I've been on the platform. I have a few friends starting their own YouTube channels and it got me thinking, what have I learned in my 11 years on YouTube that I can share with others? I've learned a lot, made a lot of mistakes and there's so much I wish I could've done differently. Read on if you're one of the few brave enough to embark on this YouTube journey!

1.) Have a plan, write it down

This is one of the things I wish I was able to do earlier on but as an early adopter, no one really knew how to plan for YouTube back in 2007. Nowadays, if you're even thinking about creating a YouTube channel, you probably have an idea of the type of videos you want to make. Write those ideas down. I suggest trying to come up with at least 8 video ideas to give you some variety, as well as a good amount of content to have BEFORE launching your channel. Writing down your ideas also helps to outline what you're going to say in these videos. Nothing wastes more time than trying to figure out what to say or do once you are actually filming. Don't forget to consider your current schedule. How much time are you willing to invest on this? With the topics you've chosen, how many videos do you think can you do and how long do you think they'll take? Putting some thought into this will help you in your next step.

2.) Choose a day to post weekly

If you're really serious about building a YouTube channel, you absolutely have to post consistently. One of the worst things you can do is build momentum with your handful of videos then disappear leaving your audience with nothing to watch. This is something I've done many times which has definitely stunned my growth while others who were consistent, grew exponentially. Cater to your audience by, choosing a day to post weekly and stick to that schedule. That way, your audience knows when they can expect new content from you which makes them more likely to check back on that day. This also serves to light a fire under your ass to create something when you start to run out of videos for your next post date. This is why I suggest to have several ideas before you launch your channel so you have some leeway to create and think of new ideas as not all ideas will work in time for your scheduled post.

3.) Don't worry about equipment, yet

The number one excuse I hear all the time from people who want to start a channel is that they don't have a camera. Let me tell you, if you have good video ideas and a camera phone, you're already steps ahead someone who has a pro-camera but no intention behind their content. The message or idea behind the video is much more important than the tools you are using, for now.

4.) Aim to inspire or help others

Think about why you watch some of your favorite YouTubers. It's probably because they've provided something useful to you right? Consider shareability. Whatever your genre, you can find ways to tweak your topics to cater to helping others. For example, I had originally thought of titling this post, "11 Things I Learned After a Decade on YouTube." But when I thought about who this topic would appeal to and how they would find it, I decided to change it to "11 Tips for Starting a YouTube Channel." Makes more sense right? Always take the viewer into consideration and think about how you can help them, even down to thinking about how you can help them find you.

5.) Focus on strangers more than friends

To elaborate more on that last statement, the bulk of your audience will probably be strangers. As you start creating more videos, you'll start to find that not all your loved ones are going to watch every single video that you post. A lot of times, the videos you will make will contain things that your friends already know about or have already seen, so don't be offended if not everyone you know watches your stuff. To be honest, I feel weird knowing people I know have watched my videos and sometimes I feel uncomfortable watching some of my friends videos. I know I'm not the only one who feels this way so again, don't take it the wrong way if your friends happen to skip out.

6.) Spend more time creating

The many times I tried to revive my channel, I spent more time studying other creators, trying to find inspiration yet not putting in the same time to actually making something. I know many other aspiring creators make this same mistake, entering a YouTube rabbit hole with nothing to show forth. Be mindful of your time. If you noticed you've been watching YouTube videos for an hour, stop yourself and schedule an hour of filming, editing, brainstorming, etc. As tempting as it is to keep learning, your best teacher is actually doing. Planning is another rabbit hole that you might find yourself sucked into. Yes it's nice to prepare but don't spend so much time planning that you lose time putting that plan into action.

7.) Consider your aesthetics

OK hopefully now you're in the mindset of creating, so next consider your aesthetics. Brush your teeth and check your nose for boogers. I know this sounds funny but it's not so funny when you have to delete tons of footage because you had a piece of broccoli in your teeth and a little boogie hanging out your nostril! Trust me it's happened to be several times. Now you might not have the best equipment starting off but there are several things you can do to make your video look better. First, you can stage your background. Maybe put a backdrop up, and when I say backdrop, this could be a bedsheet or pieces of posterboard tacked to the wall, or even just choose a nice looking corner of your room. When I first started, I thumbtacked a bunch of records onto my bathroom wall and that became my signature style. Try to film during the day and in front of a window. Natural light source, or sunlight, is the best type of lighting you can get and guess what? It's FREE 99! Try to take a photo of your subject matter, or a selfie of yourself if it's just you talking. Otherwise you'll be scrubbing through a lot of awkward facial expressions for your thumbnail. Stick with a thumbnail theme and use apps like Canva to create an awesome looking thumbnail. PRO-TIP: once you have more than one video, consider designing an end card at the end of your videos to advertise any other social media outlets and also direct people to your last video(s).

8.) Audio matters

Be mindful of the audio around you. I've heard of some videos being taken down or muted because there was a TV/radio playing in the background that happened to be a show/song that is copyrighted. Pay attention to ambient sound that you may have grown "sound-deaf" to like a fan, heater or A/C. Close your windows especially if you're near a busy street. When choosing songs to play in the background, look for no copyright infringement music or just use the songs in YouTube's Creator Studio. As much as you might want to put on that new Ariana Grande song, it's not worth risking your video being muted or flagged down. If you happen to be using a fancy DSLR, consider using your phone or an external mic source to record your talking audio (if you have any), otherwise you will probably hear the lens adjusting itself every 2 seconds. I have lots of unused footage for that very reason, don't make the same mistake as me. 

9.) Be active with the YouTube community

Once you've gotten a few videos under your belt, you will probably start to realize how hard it actually is to create these videos and maintain a channel. Send your love to other creators! Comment, like, share and get involved in the discussions happening in the comments section. This is a way for like-minded people find you. If you like what someone commented on someone's video, tell them. If you loved how someone did their travel video so much that you're considering going there, let them know! Acknowledgement is very much appreciated and although not every creator can or will get back to you, it can brighten up their day knowing someone watched their hard work. Lastly, try using the filters when you search and look up videos based on upload date rather than relevance. If you've been in social media for awhile now, you know how annoying and unfair algorithms can be. Show some love to newbies by searching this way and you'll be surprised with what you might find!

10.) Collaborate

My favorite videos of all time are all collaborations. Aside from the obvious fact that you would benefit from cross-pollinating audiences, they are super fun to do. You may learn something new from what they have done with their own videos or channels and it's just nice to connect with others who have the same passion. I have created some life-long friends with the collaborations I've done and I can't stress enough how important it is to put yourself out there and grow your network, away from the computer screen.

11.) HAVE FUN!

I can't stress this enough. It can be overwhelming thinking about all you need to do to start a channel and then build it but don't ever forget why you decided to embark on this journey to begin with. Whether it be for a creative outlet, another form of networking, or in hopes of building a career out of it, always have fun. We are so blessed in this generation to have an outlet where we can express ourselves freely and create stuff that was simply not possible years ago. Stay inspired and keep creating, I wish you the best of luck in your YouTube endeavor!

Here is the video I made in conjunction with this blog. Enjoy!


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