I realised last night that I watch more YouTube content at the moment than anything else.
I devour the stuff.
There’s one simple reason for this: I love it, deeply. Indeed, I wouldn’t have started my own channel last year if I didn’t have an affinity for the platform itself.
I’ve always been of the mind that to become a successful YouTuber, you have to be one of its biggest fans.
The only issue with this is that, like everything in life, YouTube isn’t perfect. Far from it, in fact; there are several niggling issues which are either self-inflicted by creators themselves or dealt upon them by the platform and the way viewers interact with it. This can result in burnout, a lack of self-confidence, and that nagging feeling that you might as well pack up your camera and do something else.
But that would be silly.
Here are three problems with YouTube and how you can banish each one from your mind.
1. You’re only as good as your last video
YouTube Studio is arguably one of the greatest free analytical tools on the web. In seconds, you can discover how far you’re spreading your influence, who you’re reaching, what those people saying about your content, and where you’re both winning and losing in terms of engagement.
There’s just one massive issue with YouTube Studio, and it’s one of the first things you see when entering the app.
If any YouTuber suggests that the ‘Latest video performance’ section doesn’t occupy huge swathes of their attention, they’re probably telling you porkies. I, for one, am more obsessed with it than I should be.
For the uninitiated, this is a performance table for your ten most recent videos. It reveals their ranking by views, based on how long the most recent video has been published. So, thirty minutes after you’ve put out your latest masterpiece, the performance table will update to show you how many views your last nine videos achieved in that same timeframe.
Trust me, when that latest video slots in at either number nine or number 10, it’s hard not to let out a heavy sigh. All that work for… bottom of the table? Why bother?
Sometimes, those videos will begin to climb after a few hours (days, even). But, in my experience, you know almost immediately if your latest work is going to be a hit or not – because of that table.
On one hand, this is useful feedback, but it’s also rather unfair. Because YouTube views are so unpredictable and – for most burgeoning channels – completely inconsistent, the performance table is totally skewed when you publish a big hitter.
A case in point: two of my videos from a few weeks ago absolutely blew up. To date, they’ve achieved nearly 500,000 views between them. But they’ve also thrown my top 10 table into disarray; everything that preceded those two videos looked like it performed dreadfully.
However, if I dig deeper, it’s clear that this isn’t really the case. In fact, I can see that my views are actually starting to become a little more consistent, depending on what type of content I publish. And that’s why it’s important to look past the top 10 itself and at the numbers behind it. You’ll never achieve big hit after big hit, but you can focus on being a consistent YouTube creator, which is where the real success lies.
2. You’re creating it wrong
The vast majority of comments I receive on YouTube fall into two categories:
- lovely people who appear to go out of their way to thank me for creating something they enjoyed watching; and
- lovely people who add to the conversation with their own experience and knowledge, or by helping others whose questions I was unable to answer in the video.
Then, there are the trolls – the worst of whom are those who are seemingly incapable of delivering constructive criticism.
People will critique your work on YouTube. It’s important that they do; it’s how you learn, improve, and grow as a creator. But some will go about it in entirely the wrong way and it will always get your back up. Trust me.
The trolls who cheese me off the most are those who tear apart my work and accuse me of attempting to ‘trick’ my audience. “This isn’t a proper battery test. You are misinforming people and offering bad buying advice – what you should have done was run an overnight test against these three laptops to work out…”
Sorry? I nodded off then.
Invariably, whenever you encounter one of these idiots, they’ll have produced precisely zero content themselves. Nothing. Nada. Not a single minute of video footage anywhere to be found.
It’s much, much easier to sit on the sidelines and throw needlessly abrasive criticism the way of someone who is pouring their heart and soul into creating stuff that is free to consume, and which places them on a huge, worldwide stage than it is to do it yourself.
Remember that irrefutable fact whenever someone suggests you have created the wrong video.
3. You shouldn’t be running it like a business
Yes, you should.
Let me explain.
To run a successful YouTube channel, you need to treat it like a business. Inevitably, that means you’ll need to accept some money at some stage to keep the lights on.
Some viewers won’t like this. In fact, they’ll ensure the entire world is informed that you’re doing entirely the wrong thing by accepting a product endorsement, or – god forbid – a paid sponsorship.
They are obsessed with any content creator who makes money from their hard work. They’ll tell you that you’ve “sold out”, or that you’ve “clearly been paid to say those things”.
I get this regularly – particularly when it comes to headphones reviews. “It’s so obvious Sony paid you to say this,” said one idiot.
They didn’t. Obviously.
These people are idiots. A bit like the aforementioned armchair critics, they also have zero experience running a YouTube channel. Do you think they’d turn down the opportunity to plug a product they like in exchange for a meaningful fee? Of course they wouldn’t.
It’s all about balance. You’re not running a commercial TV station, of course, which means sponsorships and dedicated videos need to be treated with care. But your channel won’t grow if it isn’t funded in some way, and that means working strategically with partners you trust and whom you’d recommend to your mates.
You won’t always get it right – I certainly don’t. But anyone who berates you for thinking like an entrepreneur when building a YouTube brand is wrong.
You are brave enough to put yourself on the internet. That’s a big deal – particularly when you do so on a platform that’s as wide open and as huge as YouTube.
The performance table in YouTube Studio doesn’t matter.
You’re always creating the right content.
You should never feel bad about generating revenue from your channel – particularly if it comes from partners who want to support your efforts and get something out of it for themselves.
Keep going. Keep making stuff. Keep experimenting. The more you look past these three issues with YouTube, the more successful you’ll become.
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