One of the things I hear constantly—and certainly more than I would expect—is “I want to start a YouTube channel but I don’t know how/I don’t know if I should” and my answer is 10 times out of 10: “Go for it!”
Starting a YouTube channel two years ago has been one of the most fun things I have ever done. To put it shortly, I had been watching YouTube religiously since 2006 and it wasn’t until 2015 when I finally decided to dedicate myself to a YouTube channel. It’s never too late to start! Yes, it is harder to gain a following and get views (without buying them which I DO NOT RECOMMEND), but it is well-worth it if you love doing it.
Now, I am certainly not the most popular YouTuber out there, I only just hit 500 subscribers, but I’ve been doing this for a few years now and I think that I have some good insight to share with fellow newbies.
Regardless of genre, here are some things to definitely expect:
- Gaining subscribers is HARD. If you really want people to watch your videos and see them, make sure that you promote yourself anywhere you can. Make a Twitter account where you can promote yourself and interact with viewers and fellow YouTubers. Make an Instagram for the same purpose. Tags are your BFF. Make sure that your videos are ending up in the right hands. (Eyes? Yeah, maybe eyes. And also maybe ears.)
- There are going to be really nice people, but there will always be haters. Don’t listen to them. Don’t even engage. Every hate comment I have gotten has gone directly in the trash. I don’t even leave them up. It is entirely up to you whether you delete hate or not, but NEVER ENGAGE. I think that’s the golden rule.
- People within your video genre (and sometimes outside of your genre) will want to be your friend. Do not feel obligated to be friends with everyone, but be as friendly as possible.
- Views and subscribers will not come overnight. Most big YouTubers had to wait a year to even get 100 subscribers. Sure, a lot of them started years ago when YouTube wasn’t so saturated with content, but it’s even harder to start up now. Count ever view and subscriber as a victory. Don’t get down about low view counts and subscriber numbers. They will come. (P.S. Amazingphil didn’t get 100 subscribers until the end of his first year on YouTube!)
- Coming up with video ideas is hard. If you’re just starting out, I recommend doing as many tags, challenges, and other “viral videos” as you can. Definitely mix in some original content, but the silly challenges and tag videos are what will inevitably get people to give your channel a chance. They’re fun, I promise! And you won’t have to do them forever.
Starting my YouTube channel has been one of the greatest joys in my life, and making videos does not require you going out and buying a Mac and the latest Nikon camera. This does not have to be an expensive venture. Of course, you can do those things and your videos will do just fine, but these high-tech gadgets are not required.
Here is a list of things that I use when filming:
- My 2-year-old iPhone 6
- A tripod I got from Amazon for about $20
- Natural light
- A background consisting of books, small trinkets, and a tapestry I bought on Amazon for $9
- iMovie app on my phone
I get compliments all of the time on my video quality and many people assume that I use a camera meant for filming video. They’re usually pretty surprised when I tell them I use the front-facing camera on my iPhone 6! But the trick is lock-focus and natural lighting. That’s it. Filming in direct lighting is usually a pretty big no-no, but if you can film at a slight angle from a window where the sun isn’t shining through but you’re still getting the light, then you’re pretty much set.
Don’t worry too much about what camera you use to film or even if you have good lighting or a tripod. For a long time I didn’t have the money for a tripod so I would prop my phone up with books and other miscellaneous items until I could afford something better. There are a lot of YouTubers out there with more subscribers than me with worse lighting and no tripod. These things aren’t keys to success, but they do make your life a little easier.
The main thing to remember when deciding to make a YouTube channel is: do it for yourself. Don’t do it because you think it’s a get-rich-quick scheme, because I can tell you right here that I am getting no money from doing this. After two years of making videos I am still not generating enough views to make money. (And that is not to say that wanting to make money is bad or immoral. But there are much easier ways of making money. YouTube is NOT one of them!) This stuff doesn’t happen overnight. Make videos because you love watching YouTube videos and you have something you want to say. Make videos about what YOU love, not what you think is going to get the most views or get you popular the fastest. Those kind of YouTubers fizzle out and die FAST. If you’re making videos about what you love, you’re going to have a blast!
With all of that being said, if you’re wondering whether you should start making videos, here is the sign you’ve been waiting for: DO IT!