So you want to be the world’s biggest YouTuber, huh? Well good news, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve got here for you a nice easy guide with a few simple steps. If you follow them correctly, you can expect to dethrone Pewdiepie in a matter of weeks.
First thing’s first: If you want to get big for making content, you’ve got to make big content. While you can find everything from Spider-Man/Elsa romcoms to puppy daycare videos on this site, there are a few things that will always be gold.
Storytime videos are chief among these. The catch is, you have to make sure that your story is hardcore dramatic. Interpret this as you will, though. Whether it’s an intense story or just an intense delivery, if you leave your viewers thinking you were either viciously wronged or a hero in action, you’re all set to go.
If stories are less your style, there will always be a rampant market for drama. This is another category you can take in two ways. The first path is to be the drama. This is, by far, the easiest thing to do. Most viral stars who hit it big this way make it look like they’re not even trying. Try vlogging a corpse, starting beef with someone who doesn’t know you, or just being egregiously racist. You can reliably count on any of these shortcuts to get you the kickstart you’re looking for. Otherwise, you can dish the drama. Create a news show entirely out of online issues, giving your opinion on whatever you’d like, and watch the clicks roll in.
It’s these categories, ASMR, challenges, gaming, and the like that are inexplicably evergreen here on the web. Whatever you choose to do, you have to make sure it stands out. Really, viewers are going to see your content before they see you. While your personality is what keeps them in the long run, the meat of your content is what’s going to pull them in in the first place. After all, any video could be a viewer’s first, so you have to ensure that every upload you put out there could be a good entry point to hook a new subscriber.
All that aside, one-hit-wonders are rare on YouTube. You can’t just upload a video, vanish for a few months, and come back with another one, expecting to make it big this way. You’ll want to have something out every week; multiple uploads in a week are going to look even better for you. Consistency in everything is key. Try to set a weekly schedule and stick to it so your viewers know when to pop on by and see what’s new. This isn’t even taking into account things like blooper reels, extra vlogs, second channel uploads, or anything like that. Even if you’re just a solo creator without a production crew, you’ve got to have the goal of weekly high quality content without fail.
It doesn’t matter how good your content is, it still has to have the production quality to make it watchable. It’s 2018; most cell phones come with at least a 1080p camera. Laptop webcams are a thing of the past. Unless you’re classic Miles McKenna embracing low-grade footage for its novelty, you need to get on the HD train, or even 4K if possible.
That being said, there’s more to the perfect setup than your resolution. Your filming background has to be absolutely pristine. It doesn’t matter how fake it is, you just need to give the appearance of being rich and tidy at all times. If it’s cluttered, boring, basic, or off-putting in general, viewers are going to get tired of it and click off.
Don’t forget to think about lighting when getting ready to film. If you can’t use light from the sun, store-bought is fine. Pick up a couple of softboxes or a nice ring light and you’re going to be all good to go — in terms of visuals at least.
You simply cannot forget your audio. ASMR through your camera’s onboard mic just doesn’t cut it. You’re going to want to get an external microphone, and you HAVE to be sure it syncs up with your video. The second things slip up and your voice is coming out of your closed mouth, it’s all over.
The easy stuff is all out of the way now, so let’s get introspective for a bit. Who is making this content? Before you answer with any sort of deep or honest response, make sure that it’s the right thing to say. You have to be absolutely genuine on camera. You’re not genuine in real life? You’re going to have to fake it. You’ve got to be quick, funny, and emotionally open. You’ve got to be able to make your viewers believe that you feel a deep connection with each of them personally, whether you know of their existence or not. Viewers don’t tune in because they want to slow down for a bit, or be bummed out, or feel detached. You have to keep it fast and upbeat, keeping viewers engaged at each and every frame.
The exception, of course, is being genuine while not being fast and upbeat. You can bring things down, but only if you bring the viewers down with you. If you’re going to be open about a bummer, you’ve got to get the viewers involved so that they feel that bummer right along with you. Otherwise, they won’t hesitate to turn off the sad guy and click away to their recommended bar.
This high-speed high-energy high-quality high-entertainment energy can’t stop just because you turn your camera off. You’ve got to be sure that you keep up this constant engagement at all times, even when you’re not rolling. YouTube is no longer just about the platform; it’s all about the life brand you’re creating. If you’re not going to keep it up on all social media platforms at all times, you can kiss your hopes of that sweet sweet YouTube money goodbye.
If you’re keeping your brand alive at all times, you know what that leaves time for? That’s right: nothing. If you’re not filming, you’d better be editing. If you’re not editing, you’d better be scripting. If you’re not scripting, you’d better be filming. You have to stay on that grind. If you’re looking to be a full time YouTuber, you’re not looking at 40 hour weeks; you’re looking at 168 hour weeks — more if possible.
The now what:
So you’ve got your content. You’ve got your production setup. You’ve got the personality. The next step? Getting someone to actually see it. Social media is your best friend from here on out. As soon as a video goes live (which, if you’re not doing during peak hours, you might as well not do at all), have a blast go out on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Facebook, Words with Friends, Myspace, whatever you’ve got. And you’d better not be planning on posting about it once and stepping away. Persistence is key. Someone sees a tweet about your sweet new unboxing video once? They might forget it. They see it twenty times in a row, pinned to your account, and promoted to their feed? They’ll remember it. But a middle ground is probably ideal if you don’t want to get blocked. You’ll want to have semi-regular reminders going out every day or two, at least until your next video is live and you can start the process all over again.
Now, yes, social media is going to be your bestie, but you’re going to need to chum it up with everyone else on it, too. Networking needs to be in your bones from here on out. Pass out cards at conventions, on the street, in a bed in post-op. You never know where your next influencer friend is going to be. Collaborations and shout-outs are going to get you in front of a whole new audience. Going to guest in a video with someone with a similar subscriber count? Get ready to potentially double your viewers. Finally, friendship has a purpose. Plus, the more you collab, the more faces you get in front of, the more people may want to collab with you. The spiderweb of networking just never ends.
The real how:
There’s no reason to be shy about it. We all know the reason to be on YouTube is that good good ad revenue. The big question, though, is how much money and effort should you be willing to drop to get there? If it takes money to make money, just what all is it going to take? The easy choice is to go the Emma Blackery route: charge an expensive DSLR to a credit card with no way of paying it off, wait six years, then have over a million subscribers and multiple international tours. That’s always going to be on the table. No matter how vehemently she advises against it, it seems to have worked out well for her.
If that’s not in the cards for you, it’s a tough balancing game. This is where things are going to get tricky. It’s easy enough to know all the right steps to become popular and profitable if you’re the right person. It’s something else entirely to be practically able to get there.
YouTube success, mental health, and general life stability exist on a triangle, and most of us can only afford to pick two of these at most. Do you have enough money to invest in yourself and your content while not living in financial peril? Great. Do you have the extra hours in your week to plan, film, edit, upload, and manage your content without running yourself into the ground? Sweet. Do you want to live a life spending money on the important things, being happy and healthy and content with where you are? That’s cool and all, but YouTube might not be the best career for you.
The fact is, it’s a long road from launching your content to seeing any sort of return on your investment. If you’re in it for the love of the sport, fantastic, but you’ve got to be prepared for a lot of work, time, and possibly actual money to go into what you’re doing before you can expect quantifiable success.
With the huge commitment of making both consistent and quality content, you really have to be something special to make it all the way to stardom.
Then again, you already are, aren’t you?