Growing Your YouTube Channel
Since this was one of the few times I've actually written a script for my video voiceover, I thought I would just publish the entire thing for your perusal.
The first thing you need to do is come up with a good brand name. This name should be clear and to the point, completely explaining what your content is about. It’s very important that you get this right, as once your brand name is out there, it won’t be easy to take it back. I liked The Frugal Filmmaker because it clearly says that this content will be about microbudget filmmaking. YouTube will let you search for names to see what is available. “Frugal Filmmaker” was taken, so I added “the” on the front, and I had a channel.
Next, I set up a mini distribution network to launch different forms of media. This network is a group of free websites that each provide a specific service. I have a YouTube channel for video, a Blogger blog for written posts, a Facebook group to invite members to and share links I find from around the web, and Twitter to repeat those links and microblog about filmmaking tidbits. The most important thing about this network is that it constantly refers to itself, making it grow.
When I create a video, I post it on YouTube. I then embed the video on my blog. I post a link to the blog post on Facebook and Twitter. At the end of the week I take all the links that have accumulated on Facebook and publish the list on the blog and in the description of the weekly Q&A video. It constantly comes full circle.
A word about the Facebook Group. When I first set it up, the purpose of the group was to post links and promote my videos and blog posts. Now the thing has taken on a life of its own and has become a thriving forum. There, links, advice, answers to questions and video critiques are commonplace and the responses quick. The members are knowledgeable and friendly and there is a ton of great information constantly changing hands. It’s become totally self-sufficient.
Anyway, back to YouTube. The question everyone wants answered is: how do I get more views and subscribers? While there is no “magic bullet” that will guarantee you anything, you can be sure of one thing: content is king. Make good content and people will follow you. Know your niche and make videos people are searching for.
YouTube is the number two search engine in the world and you should know what your audience wants. In DIY filmmaking, terms such as dslr, crane, jib, dolly, slider, stabilizer, and shoulder rig are all hot search words. If you can, try to do something first. If it’s been done, do it better or add a unique spin. Separate yourself from the pack.
My most watched video is the PVC stabilizer build. There was nothing like it on YouTube at the time I posted it. Now that design is everywhere. Even on topics that may be well covered, your fans will want your take anyway, and you should give it to them. I’ve learned this lesson over and over.
Remember to tag properly. When you upload your video, you have four places to optimize your search results. These are the video file name, the YouTube title, the description and the tags. Fill these boxes with lots of hot terms so people will find you. Only use terms that apply to your channel’s theme, however, or the video itself. Don’t use generic hot terms so you’ll get lots of landings on your page. You don’t want disgruntled people spreading bad press about you.
Next, create a regular release schedule. This is one of the most powerful tools in audience growth, but also the hardest to pull off. I saw a doubling of my daily subscribers and views when I committed to a consistent release schedule, Mondays and Wednesdays. When you create anticipation, people will show up to watch. This takes a lot of work, so be prepared to work hard and put in full-time hours.
Something else you can do to market yourself is to make alliances with other YouTubers who have similar numbers. Deejay of DSLR Film Noob came to me and wanted to network. He now posts a link to my channel in his videos and I post his videos on my blog. I do the same thing with Knoptop and his show Quick FX. We all have a similar audience, but none of us have the same show. It’s a mutually beneficial situation that lets us spread the word and grow our channels together.
It’s important to engage your viewers in conversation. All the venues I participate in allow for two-way conversations via commenting and emails. Take advantage of this. Respond as often as you can. Viewers appreciate it when you take time to answer their questions and make them feel like their voice is important, which it is. Eventually, you can make shows specifically for your fan faithful. The Recap Q&A is a perfect example of this. No one is searching for the content of that show, but people who like what I’m doing will tune in. It’s just one more way to connect.
Finally, use the analytic tools at your disposal to discover trends and important facts about your viewership. YouTube will not only give you numbers and demographics, but allows you to see inside each of your videos and find out which parts people are watching and when they are tuning out. Sites like Socialblade and VidStatsX let you look at trending subscriber numbers, views and projections of future numbers. All these tools can help you make adjustments to keep your channel growing or correct mistakes that may be setting you back. They are incredibly valuable—and free.
Also check out Freddie Wong's "The Secrets to YouTube Success". It should be considered mandatory reading on this topic.