Get noticed, get to know your fans and share your journey with them through videos. YouTube is easily the cheapest, most widely accessible and most effective way to build a social media presence while growing an engaged following of fans.
Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, Soulja Boy, Pentatonix, Lindsey Stirling, Emma Blackery and Carrie Hope Fletcher are just a small collection names that you may recognise in the music world that have got their start from YouTube.
– Justin Bieber – It wasn’t that long ago that Justin Bieber skyrocketed from relative obscurity to superstardom–thanks in large part to YouTube videos of him performing as a pre-teenager. The Biebs was posting homemade performance videos at 12 years old, and those videos convinced execs at Island Def Jam Recordings to sign Bieber to a huge deal before he was even able to drive. With an estimated $55 million in earnings last year, it’s safe to say Bieber got a pretty good return on his time spent uploading videos to YouTube.
– Emma Blackery – From comedy skit vlogger to having artwork featured during Apple’s iPhone X reveal event in California. A huge follower bump on Twitter ensued and streams of her music shot up as the millions of viewers worldwide get to know the Essex-born singer and YouTube star.
– Lindsey Stirling – A classically trained violinist from Gilbert, AZ, Lindsey got rejected on America’s Got Talent so built her brand on YouTube. Now she has 675 million views on YouTube, Billboard chart-topping hits and sold out tours worldwide. Lindsey’s self-titled debut album featured twelve original tracks; including the viral piece “Crystallize,” which has racked up over 97 million YouTube views. The album has sold over 350,000 copies in the US without the backing of a major label and has gone platinum in Germany and gold in Poland and Switzerland.
Now this isn’t an unreachable holy grail, this is something you can start building from home, in your own bedroom with a little bit of patience and mobile phone, webcam or DSLR camera. Alan Spicer is a YouTube Certified Expert and has a few tips to share with you to get started.
The biggest mistake anybody does when first thinking about starting a YouTube channel is OVERTHINKING IT! Maybe you’re worried that the first few videos will be cringey, here’s a secret… EVERYONE’S FIRST VIDEOS ARE CRINGEY!
The only way you are going to get better is with practice. Just like with any skills, the first time you picked up a guitar you were terrible, but you got better. The very first song you sung wasn’t pitch perfect, but you learned to improve. With time, with practice and by learning with each attempt you will get better.
The sooner you start, the sooner you will hit those first 10, 20, 50, 100 videos which will be the basis of your “How I Grew On YouTube” story and will help you win over an engaged audience who has been with you since day one.
Do yourself a favour – Stop Delaying & Start Creating!
You do not need to max your credit card and buy super fantastic lighting and cameras to make quality videos. You can start making quality content from your bedroom today with equipment you already have at home or even in your pocket – here are a few tips.
– What is the best camera for YouTube? – There are loads of good cameras for YouTube out there. For nearly 5 years I used a Logitech c920 webcam to make my YouTube videos. However, you don’t need to get a special ‘YouTube camera’. In fact, since 2012 I have made thousands of videos and most of those was with a webcam or my trusty smartphone. YES – A SMARTPHONE! Your Android or iPhone has a very powerful camera that even at its “worst” is 5MP (mega pixels). This can be used to great affect for Instagram selfies, tweet out your feelings on the latest viral trend and MAKING VIDEOS!
– Lighting? – This one is simple, use the sunlight. You may have already attempted recording some YouTube videos but found the video always comes out orange and gloomy. This is because you are using normal household lighting during an evening. A normal lightbulb has a “warm” light and will come across as orangey and although this can be tweaked with white balancing in editing software its best to avoid the issue in the first place. Try making your videos near a window with natural light. This will give you a more balanced light to your videos and helps you top up your tan, multitasking! Or maybe raid your piggy bank for some daylight brightness light bulbs to help on gloomy days.
– Landscape vs Portrait – One of my biggest pet peeves on YouTube is people getting the format wrong. Instagram lends itself to portrait video, taller than it is wide. It is the home of the selfie and the video base story mini vlogs but YOUTUBE is best in LANDSCAPE. There is nothing more annoying than seeing a good quality video ruined by the content creator uploading it with those black bars on the side. Do yourself a favour, turn the camera on its side, record your video normally and you will not lose half your audience in disgust at your unprofessional camera control.
– Audio / Sound – The key piece of the puzzle for ANY video is its audio. You can forgive a slightly shaky video, you can even forgive the black portrait bars of doom…. But if they can’t hear you, they will give up! You don’t have to buy expensive microphones, but you do need to consider where you record your videos and what the audience can hear. Do not try to shout over music in a night club and do not whisper to your camera at 2AM trying not to wake your parents in the next room. Find a space where you can talk to your camera without any distractions. Make sure you test your audio before you make the full video and then speak or sing clearly for the microphone.
Okay, so you have finally started making videos and you are getting into the flow of things. You start to see your videos get a handful of views and maybe even a few comments, but it seems so small, don’t give up!
YouTube just like any business, skill or dream will not come easy and will not happen overnight. You need to look at YouTube and your music just like anyone else in the industry. Ed Sheeran was singing on street corners for years before he finally got picked up by a record label. Casey Neistat had been making videos on YouTube for nearly 5 years before he switched to daily vlogging and became a household name. Even PewDiePie, who passed 80 million subscribers in early 2019, started by making regular content for years on end.
You need to stop focusing on the numbers and just enjoy making content. Once you have made 50, 100, 200 videos, you will feel more confident with your talent. Over that time, you will build your own community, brand and style that people will fall in love with and give you that edge over anybody else in the marketplace.
Uploading on a regular basis can help you build trust and loyalty within your little bubble of followers. Think of your YouTube channel like a TV show, every week you get to see your favourite show and you know everything about it. You learn the characters, you learn their back history and you may even clap along to their theme tune like friends. More importantly they get used to seeing you every week, once a week, twice a week. You want to make it hard for your audience to forget you and in return they will build a routine around seeing your new videos every Monday, Wednesday and Friday just like they would have done with their favourite TV soap.
Keep going, keep making videos (even on days when you feel you don’t want to) and you will thank yourself for it later when you see how powerful a back catalogue of content can be.
You have done all the hard work of making your videos, checking your audio, sitting with perfect lighting and singing your heart out to a camera that is landscape (not portrait) … don’t let yourself down with optimisation.
You need to optimise your video with killer Video Search Engine Optimisation to stand a chance of being found in the YouTube jungle.
– How to title a YouTube video – You need to make sure your YouTube title clearly explains what your video is about. It also needs to be searchable. There is not point in calling your video “Wow, I sung this song again” because no one will be searching for something so personal, or vague. Title the video what you would search for yourself when looking for that piece of content eg Adele – Someone Like You – Rock Cover.
This allows others who are searching for cover songs, or someone looking for that set Adele song a chance to find you and fall in love with your voice and quirky personality. However, if you are doing something personal maybe tweak the title and tags into a lesson for example “How To Take Singing Classes” vs “My Singing Classes” Have a look around for catchy YouTube titles. Ones that make you click on them, why did they grab your attention and why did you click on it? Try to think of the answers to these questions when writing your next video title.
– How to write a YouTube Video Description – This is often overlooked and seen as a blank space to post all your social media links or spam with weird symbols or emojis. However, a good YouTube video description is very important. It’s a big part of how YouTube ranks your videos. In the first 5-10 lines you need to write a keyword rich description that explains what the video is about. Try to tie in the title of the video so YouTube knows why that is important and then link it to phrases that people will be searching for to find your content. Think of it like a mini blog or news article, you don’t read the only the newspaper headline, the description is the main body of the what you want to read. It’s also a great place to put links to your other social media and website so any visitors can see what you’re up to on a regular basis, listen to your music, find gigs and more.
– How to tag YouTube videos – Another feature that many people seem to ignore, or misuse, are the YouTube video tags. This should not be a dumping ground of all your nicknames and random words. It shouldn’t be a word vomit of industry-based words that are identical on each video either. You don’t want to copy and paste tags for YouTube videos every time, but instead, make them relevant to each video.
The Youtube video tags section is your way of guiding Youtube on where and how you want your video to be ranked. Good tags to put on YouTube videos should ideally be key phrases that are 2-5 words long and directly related to your video. For example, Adele is a single “keyword” and would be very hard to rank for on its own. Unless you are Adele herself. Try to expand the tag into a “keyword phrase” like Adele rock cover or Someone Like You Cover.
There is no point in having the perfect video if you are not setting the foundations for it to be found in the first place. Imagine Apple making the world’s best phone but then only announcing it in a field, miles away from anyone, and then never talking about it in the press. That is a sure-fire way to kill the sales and that’s the same with your video.
You don’t have to spend money to get your videos out there. You just need to start building a promotional network. And it’s easier than you think – You can even promote your videos for FREE!
– Trending Content – Are you making videos that are more likely to be searched for in this moment? Has Baby Shark taken over the world and you’ve made an acoustic cover version? Has Lady Gaga dropped a new album and you’ve made a mashup tribute video? You can ride trends or popular topics to more views, more subscribers and wider awareness.
– Social Media – A powerful tool that everyone has in one way or form. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, TikTok, Reddit are all very good places for you to get your content in front of people who want to see you. Instagram can be great for music artists with mini video stories, clips of you setting up your recording equipment, promoting your gigs or giving fashion advice. Alternatively, you can dive into the niches that you find in Facebook groups or reddit’s subreddits. Focus on what you offer, help people learn and grow and they will watch your content.
– Be Active In The YouTube Community. This is not an excuse for you to spam other artist channels with messages begging people to check out your videos! In fact, this is more of a making friends exercise whilst learning at the same time. Hunt out other up and coming artists like yourself and leave comments on their videos. Watch how they make their videos and see if you can take any tips from them to improve your own content. Over time this can help you build a friendship with other creators in the space and maybe even lead to future collaborations.
– Collaborate Within Your Niche. Once you have made friends with fellow musically gifted YouTubers, why not team up to promote your channels? Maybe you’re amazing on guitar and you find someone that’s great at singing but needs help with their music. This is a great opportunity to team up and record a couple of videos together. This can help you share your audience, get seen by their viewers and grow both channels. Or you could form a friendly rivalry and see how you can push each other to improve video quality and get better at your chosen expertise.
Have you ever gone to a gig, waited for hours on end to get into the show? Then waited hours after the show in the hope of just a wave from your favourite artist but then they just shrugged you off and dove into their bus or hotel room? It can be upsetting and even hurt the relationship you have with that performer going forward. That is the same with comments on YouTube.
You need to actively invite and welcome comments and questions from your audience. Engage them in the video, talk to them directly as if it is just you and that one person. Imagine if your favourite celebrity took the time to sit down and make a video talking to just you. HOW AMAZING WOULD THAT BE? Now you know why it’s important to do the same for your subscribers.
Hook them into your video making process. Let them see what you do, how you do it and get them to pick what video you make next. A good way to get engagement and comments is to ask people a direct question. For example – “What song would you like next?” or “Who is your favourite artist?” This will give you a guide on what your audience is looking to get from you. Then you can double down on that.
ANSWER COMMENTS – I can not express this enough! If you are lucky enough to have someone that is so moved by your video to post a comment – good or bad – then take the time to reply to them. This could be your chance to win a fan for life or learn about something you need to improve.
And finally, it is never too late to learn a new skill. You should always be looking back at your recent videos and trying to figure out ways to make them better. Take a deep dive into your YouTube analytics and find out who your audience is. Then you can tailor your videos to match their needs. Look at your comments and if someone suggests your lighting is too bright or too orange, investigate ways to improve.
Usain Bolt did not wake up one day, pull on his trainers and sprint a world record. It took time and practice. If you improve one thing every week for 52 weeks, you will be 52 times better than you were when you first started.
Thanks to Alan Spicer for writing this and giving you guys the lowdown on how to set up a successful YouTube channel!
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Glad to hear you found this useful! 🙂