8 Tips for Successfully Starting a YouTube Channel
February 1, 2021
8 Tips for Successfully Starting a YouTube Channel
As a high school student stuck at home or in a very limited outdoor radius during COVID-19, it’s important to think about how you can showcase your skills and interests to admissions officers. One of the best self-directed projects that can be done from home—or at least the outdoors—is creating videos. As you come across different topics in your favorite subject area, you may be considering starting a YouTube channel.
Starting a YouTube channel might sound easy—you simply need to log on to YouTube and create your account for free. However, it’s not as simple to start creating videos and guarantee that people will watch them. In this blog, I’ve outlined ways that you can make your content engaging so that you build a strong subscriber base and succeed in a sustainable manner.
Make Sure You Have a Niche Topic
Don’t wait until senior fall to think about starting a YouTube channel–it might not grow fast enough to gain you a decent subscriber base by the time your applications are due. Ideally, formulate a plan early in your high school career, around 9th or 10th grade, so that you can build a steady and loyal audience.
Before you get too deep into reaching out to audience members, you should first sit down with a notebook and a pen—or a Word document—and hatch an outline of what your videos will cover. To attract a faithful group of viewers, your channel shouldn’t just tackle random issues that have seemingly no connection to each other. The best approach to a YouTube channel that captivates people and leaves them wanting more is to make sure you follow a theme. What are you passionate about? Do you want it to have a connection with the rest of your college application? Make sure your topic isn’t extremely broad—instead of having a generic channel on movies, a channel on actors with the same ethnic background as you would make more sense and be easier to manage. Conduct research and see what has been done already so that your videos will turn more heads.
Go In With A Plan
One of the most common mistakes people often make when starting a YouTube channel is going in without a plan. Do not start filming randomly! As mentioned in the previous point, sit down on your computer or with a notebook and think carefully about at least the next 5-10 posts you want to create. Your channel will be way more organized. For example, if your channel covers food, and you decide to randomly go out into the streets in search of tacos, you might not find anything good if you have no idea where to go. But if you conduct research, ask friends, and check out different Instagram pages, you will be able to generate a list full of strong contenders of the best tacos in your city. This will make your videos far more appealing.
Promote Your Channel Across Social Media
The quickest way to spread the word out there about your channel is to use tools that you already are familiar with—your social media accounts! You might be used to posting on Instagram for personal reasons, perhaps to connect with friends and family members, but now it’s time to make separate accounts for your YouTube channel–and then use your personal accounts to promote it! Below, I’ve outlined how to use four of the most popular apps, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and TikTok when thinking about how to promote your YouTube channel.
- Facebook: Facebook is arguably the biggest social media platform in the world and it’s the one where you’re likely to have the most access to many different kinds of people. You should definitely make a post that lets your family and friends know about your YouTube channel—and make the post public so that they can share with their friend list. You should also take advantage of Facebook groups, which makes generating topic-centered promotions much easier than on other platforms. Find groups that discuss topics relevant to your videos, and outline in a post what you’re hoping to do and how you’ll be different. You might meet a lot of other similar content creators through these groups and they can help promote your work as well!
- Twitter: Twitter might take you longer to figure out, but this site is helpful when it comes to getting your audience’s attention in a matter of just a few characters. If people don’t have a lot of time to read, you can summarize a video on your channel in a tweet, then include the link in the tweet, and Twitter users can bookmark it to watch later. When you have a new video, you can also pin a tweet about to your profile so that more people can easily view it. Twitter is also great because you can easily see what topics are trending on the app, and curate your latest YouTube videos to suit those so that you get more engagement. A retweet from a big account can make a lot of difference!
- Instagram: When it comes to starting a YouTube channel, one of the easiest ways to reach people who might be interested is to integrate the use of hashtags. Each industry comes with a series of hashtags that are probably necessary if you want to make your mark on the applicable Instagram scene, such as “#foodphotography” for your food videos or “#ootd” for fashion posts. Not using at least a few hashtags will lead you to missing out on potential followers. So, as you post content and link it to your channel (you can include this in your bio), capitalize on those hashtags. Instagram also allows you to share new posts to your stories so that your followers can know when you’ve posted a new video. You should also follow other accounts that are like yours so that they are more likely to follow you back.
- TikTok: TikTok has become the most popular social media platform during quarantine. The algorithm on the app is excellent at showing content curated specifically for each user, so you need to take advantage of it. You can post promotional videos for the videos on your channel and use various hashtags to make sure they show up on the “For You” page for people looking up posts on your topic of expertise. You can also use TikTok to supplement the content on your channel and post bonus videos that encourage people to watch more of your videos and thus click on your YouTube channel.
Together, utilizing these four social media sites not only supports your channel’s marketing, but also slowly builds your brand. The more your target audience starts to see your posts appear on their feed, the more they’ll familiarize themselves with you, and the more likely you are to gain video clicks!
Interact With Your Viewers
Once you’ve received a substantial amount of followers on your social media platforms as well as a stable viewer base, you can start talking to the people who are viewing your content. One of the most important ways to make sure you’re gaining views is by posting what people want to see. So make sure you’re reading the comments under your YouTube videos as well as replies to your tweets and Instagram posts promoting different videos. You can even initiate a poll on Twitter or Instagram stories to ask the audience what kind of content they want to see next. This is also an effective way to get a sense of whether people like your content or not.
Think About What Kind of Equipment You’ll Use
Here’s the thing: there are tens of thousands of excellent YouTube channels out there. In order to make sure you stand out, not only do you need an interesting topic, but your video quality should be top-notch as well. Don’t just use an old camcorder or earlier model of smartphone to film your videos. If you’re planning to use a phone, make sure the camera quality is excellent. If you have it in your budget can also invest in professional recording equipment. Most YouTubers use DSLRs or mirrorless cameras to shoot, along with other accessories such as tripods, lenses, and studio lighting (once you decide you’re in it for the long haul). For audio, look into a good microphone you can mount on your camera.
Edit, Edit, Edit!
Again, the quality of your YouTube videos needs to follow a high standard. If you’re spending money on buying equipment, you might not be willing to splurge on a video editing software. Good news: a lot of easy-to-use editing software is free or available at a lower cost! Start with an easier program, such as iMovie. You can also check whether your school or local library have a subscription to a more advanced program such as Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere.
Watch Other Similar Channels
As you’re starting a YouTube channel, it’s important to know what’s out there, not only to make sure you’re tackling unique topics, but in order to find inspiration. Watch how others present themselves, what kind of aesthetic they have, and in what order they’ve curated their content. Not only should you notice the larger things, but make note of the little details as well, such as outfit choices, and even word choices. Every little detail in every second counts!
Collaborate with Other YouTubers
One of the most effective methods when it comes to successfully starting a YouTube channel is to seek help from other already established YouTubers in your fandom or field. This can include a collaboration exchange—you might star in one of their videos and vice versa. Appearing on content for another channel can help your views reach a different audience that isn’t aware of your videos yet—especially if the other channel has a lot more subscribers.
You also don’t have to limit your exchanges to other YouTubers. If you know podcast hosts, bloggers, or Instagram influencers, these can also be people who feature you. If there’s a popular podcast that covers the same or a topic related to your YouTube channel, see whether you can be a guest on it. Utilizing your connections with people who appreciate the same topics but have an established audience can help you gain quick exposure. Don’t forget to plug your own channel with your social media handles when you write or speak on another platform!
Bonus Tip: Post Regularly
Finally, remember that starting a YouTube channel isn’t enough. One of the most important parts of having a YouTube page is maintaining the momentum. Don’t give up after a couple of videos if you see that you haven’t gotten any new subscribers or likes. If someone stumbles upon your channel and finds it interesting, only to discover that the latest video is three months old, you’re going to lose out on a potential subscriber! As you gain early viewers, make sure you keep the content going. And of course, audience feedback matters—interact with people to see what they like, dislike, and want to see more of from your account.
You should now have a strong idea of whether starting a YouTube channel is the right way to go for you or not. If you work hard and gain a large following, you can not only impress admissions officers, but perhaps even be on your way to a career in vlogging or film. The world is your oyster!