Finding true, lasting success on YouTube takes work. A one-hit viral wonder will do little to create a sustainable audience. You need to build your channel, your content, your branding, your social, and many other thing to get on the same level as the most famous YouTube stars.
YouTube success is like anything else: You have to work on it for a long time to become an ‘overnight sensation.’ Let’s see what we can do about making that as short a night as possible. Say, a mid-summer’s night where the sun rises early on your shining YouTube career!
Branding yourself on YouTube
If you thought you only needed a cute logo to do branding right on YouTube, think again. Branding is about EVERYTHING. Your first step is to figure out your theme, that one unique thing that your Youtube channel will start out doing. Some famous examples include:
- PewDiePie: ‘Let’s Play’ gaming with lots of swearing and yelling.
- Epic Meal Time: Absurd cooking show. With lots of bacon. And Jack Daniels.
- Smosh: Parodies of famous geek/nerd culture. Gotta catch all the Magic Pocket Slave Monsters.
- Ray William Johnson: Funny takes on viral videos. Think of it as YouTube’s news channel.
Every single subscriber to those channels came to them because they had a brand that the channel stuck to. Even altering it slightly can cause a backlash, like how Epic Meal Time started featuring scantily-clad women. Their YouTube comments filled up with everyone wanting them to go back to just hanging with the usual guys!
Professionalism goes a long way
Let’s be honest for a second here. The guys at Smosh are not professional in the same way your doctor is professional. The professionalism you need on YouTube is different, but equally important. Look at the header and profile image from Smosh’s two most important channels:
They have a unique look and they stick with it. The images are done professionally and are sharp and clear at any size. This is the type of planning and professionalism that your channel needs to succeed.
This professionalism will also apply to creating custom YouTube thumbnails. The standard YouTube thumbnail that they auto-generate for you is always, always BORING. Check out what Smosh make for their channel:
These are all highly polished images created professionally in a graphic editing program. They have added text, created brightly coloured backdrops to catch the eye, and have added fun elements like the ‘No Smoking’ sign and Netflix logos you see. This is the height of professionalism on YouTube, even though it is still pretty silly…
Being social on YouTube
YouTube is a social media platform itself. This involves other YouTube channels, as well as your fans who comment on your videos.
To start, every YouTube channel of note has done a collaboration with another Youtube channel at some point. No one has succeeded alone on an island by themselves. This applies equally to channels as they start, and when they’re well known. This is because every collaboration is a chance to gain a new audience, and it all comes from being social and talking to other Youtubers.
The secret here is that Epic Rap Battles of History itself is a collaboration between two YouTubers who were famous before they started this channel: Nice Peter and Epic Lloyd. Yes, collabos are this important!
How are you going to become friends with these YouTubers? The same as anywhere else: Talk to them about mutual interests! Comment on their videos genuinely. Mention them on social. Talk about them in your videos and push your fans to talk to them about you. Make connections until you can call them a friend.
Once you have that connection, put together a proposal on a video you can shoot together. Be sure to include them in it, meaning make sure it matches their branding. If they’re usually more into low-key humour, don’t turn them into prat-falling fart jokers. They want to protect their brand too.
Cross Promote on all social channels
The mistake that many young YouTubers make is thinking that they can push their videos on the strength of their subscribers and SEO alone. It simply isn’t possible. Having a large group of followers is always going to be a key aspect of getting more YouTube views.
Why is this important? Because not everyone is on YouTube looking for videos. Many people only ever watch something when their friends share it. This is how things actually go viral, they don’t happen on Youtube itself. They happen via social shares and you need to have a large ‘seed’ audience to get them going.
Take a look at how the Epic Rap Battles guys combined meme culture, one of their videos, and the incurable fever that is Star Wars:
— Epic Rap Battles (@ERBofHistory) December 23, 2015
74 retweets seems low, but they had tweeted out similar images for Boba Fett before! Inventive social sharing ideas like this are the tactics you’ll need to be well shared, and have the chance of going viral.
SEO on YouTube
While SEO is the last thing I’m discussing here, that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. It is going to form the basis of all the videos you create as it will help your videos be found. I know it’s boring, and nowhere near as fun as creation, but it’s part of the game!
You can get some professional SEO help from the team here, but you can start out on your SEO journey by:
- Identifying similar YouTube channels, and your competitors.
- Find their most successful videos.
- Look for keywords they use in the written portions of these videos.
- Pick out trends amongst these words.
You’re looking for overall trends amongst a wide variety of videos here. Now run the best words through Google Adwords to find their actual search relevancy. Remember that they could have gotten those high views any number of ways that are unrelated to SEO.
Now that you have a good idea of keywords that work for your videos genre on YouTube, you’re going to start using them in your:
You don’t want to spam any of these section with overuse of the keywords. Insert them naturally, use a synonym or two, and keep it respectful of those who really matter: Your viewers. The search engines are always secondary to those who will actually read your titles and descriptions, then watch your video.
Bio: Matthew is a social, digital, and video marketer. You can find him writing over on the Devumi Social Media Blog every Friday. Expect to read the latest about YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, and so much more!