I made over 1,000 YouTube videos on one channel in just under a decade. They are all admittedly crummy. I never used a fancy camera or professional video editing software. I rarely drafted a script to think out what I was going to say. I definitely didn’t do any serious marketing to spread the word about me. I just made crummy videos. Here are my five takeaways from the process, brought to you by Crummy Video Productions LLC Inc. Okay I made that production company up, no producers here!
Nobody cares about your videos…yet.
If you are expecting millions of views from any of your videos as a new YouTuber, you might be disappointed. My top video, after 10 years, has just over 10,000 views. Pretty bad. The reality is, nobody knows you yet, and nobody even cares when you pop up on their feeds. One day, someone will take notice. You have to accept that your initial viewership of one (you) is more than adequate for you to keep going.
I look at videos like art. Once the video has been published, the world decides whether it’s interesting now, weeks from now, or five years later. I can nudge it along by sharing the video on various social feeds, but the main traction will be from someone sharing amongst their networks, and so on.
Ignore the stats for as long as you can. Those stats are completely irrelevant until you actually get more eyeballs.
The notion that nobody cares about your videos is actually quite freeing. You can make anything you want! You have no expectations from your audience. You can move forth with your creativity and unleash it at maximum volume. After all, who cares? Nobody.
By being completely free creatively, the best work shines through. Even if that best work only gets a view, it’s a lasting legacy piece that you can reflect back on. You only have to impress yourself for art to matter.
People will care.
I know, I know, you just said nobody cares! Well, this is true to a point. People get very passionate about their YouTube creators, and they show it in the comments.
People will call you weird, send death threats, and demand more from you. Unless you turn off the comments, you have to have thick skin.
This all means people care!
Of course takeaway #1 is still relevant, because if you do nothing, these followers will be sad and eventually get over it. They’ll pop up again when you return.
If you’re worried about burnout, the good thing is you can disappear anytime! Some would argue this makes you more interesting to your followers, if you have the gusto to take a break when you want to.
In terms of growth, your followers are important. If you satisfy their requests, they will always return, watch your videos, and share them with others.
Niche is PROBABLY important (if you want to make money).
You should probably take this YouTube thing more seriously than I did.. or don’t. I’ve seen a person release one crummy ab workout video on their channel and all of a sudden one million people subscribed to their channel. Of course, there are any number of things happening behind the scenes to make a video go viral (social shares, popular topic, good looking individual in the video, etc).
The algorithms can be a mystery if you isolate one successful video from the rest. One of my videos gained traction after two years, all from one social share by a more successful YouTuber. You just never know who could be watching, and that’s why the niche is only PROBABLY important.
If you really niche down to something where people will have a tendency to binge all your videos, then you’ve created a bit of an ecosystem of relevant content. Once people are sucked into that ecosystem, they HAVE to watch the next one! As an example, if people are searching for ab workouts and you OWN the video market on that search term, people will keep receiving video recommendations with your abs on the cover. They’ll want to try your next ab session. They might bookmark it as a permanent fixture on their training routine. Next thing you know, your chosen niche is making you moolah in supplement sponsors and ad revenues.
Some sort of niche or theme will have people coming back to you. It’s not easy to say no to all your gaming videos if your main focus is fitness, but maybe having separate channels would be your best approach if you’re multi-passionate about niches. This is something I struggle with on a daily basis!
You should be intentionally crummy when starting.
You don’t have a crystal ball of what works. If being perfect is holding you back, be crummy. Then, become less crummy week after week (a few more edits here, more script writing there, yada yada yada).
Perfection is literally what will prevent you from making your 100th “successful” video.
Your crummy stats will prevent you from getting that first millionth view.
Your crummy niche selection will stop you before your thousandth subscriber.
Don’t let your crumminess get in the way of your dreams! Keep going and figure it out along the way.
If you’re having fun, nothing else matters.
I truly believe making YouTube videos should be fun. Otherwise, why do it?
The dream of making money should be the LAST thing on your list when making videos. Aim to make videos because you derive joy from it.
When people start as YouTubers, they should be hobbyists first. Certainly there’s a chance your YouTube channel could take off, but answer me this question:
If you knew you’d never make money from YouTube, what videos would you make?
Make those videos. Nothing else matters.