It’s scarily easy to focus on what really doesn’t matter in life.
The second doughnut you decided to eat and now feel guilty about. The tiny, hairline scratch on the bumper of your new car. The notch on the new MacBook Pro.
Inevitably, that stuff eventually disappears from your mind. You get over it and move on. Occasionally, you’ll look back and wonder why on earth you were so bothered about it in the first place.
This happens regularly when building a YouTube brand. You’ll worry about the lack of ideas for next week’s video, that out-of-focus b-roll at 03:18 on the previous video, or the troll who has just called you out on an inadvertent piece of misinformation you delivered to your audience.
None of that stuff matters. The only thing that does matter is that you stick to your guns, remain consistent with your publishing and continue to learn from your mistakes.
Oh, and it’s probably a good idea to read up on the following five things you really don’t need to be successful on YouTube.
1. A really expensive camera
Whenever I coach fellow YouTubers, one of the first topics of conversation we inevitably stumble into is camera gear.
“I’ve only got an iPhone, but-“
“Stop,” I’ll say, cutting them clean off in their tracks. “That’s all you need.”
And it doesn’t matter how old that iPhone (or any other make of smartphone, for that matter) is, either; if it shoots video (which it will), it’ll work perfectly for your channel.
There’s one technical element that matters beyond anything else on YouTube: audio. If people can see you in beautifully framed, lit and colour-graded 4K footage but you sound like you’re speak from inside a garbage can, they’ll move onto the next channel.
If you’re going to spend money on anything, spend it on the best mic you can afford. A better camera (if you ever need one at all) can come later when you’ve built an audience.
2. A fancy studio
I recently moved into a new studio. Arguably, at 43,000 subscribers, I really didn’t need to; I could have easily continued shooting videos from my back bedroom.
If there’s ever an instance of “do as I say, not as I do”, it’s this. I don’t need my fancy new studio to be successful on YouTube – I’ve taken it on purely to realise a dream I had of having my own creative space from which to work. Timing, funds, and a new “screw-it-let’s-do-it” mentality all lined up for me.
But I wouldn’t recommend doing this – particularly if you’re just starting out, or if renting such a space would push your finances a stretch too far.
I attracted one million views during the first eight months of my channel going live, and every single one of them was earned from the comfort of that back bedroom. You can do the same.
Just like nicer camera gear, your own space (if that’s what you want) will come, but it will in no way make any difference to the rate at which your new channel grows.
There’s a reason some of the biggest YouTubers on the planet still operate from home.
3. Presentation skills
Before starting my YouTube channel, I’d done a fair bit of podcasting and spent over ten years delivering pitches to potential customers as part of my job.
I was used to ‘performing’, in that respect.
But nothing prepares you for the process of being a YouTuber. The first time you sit in front of that camera, on your own, and with only a few loose notes from which to work, you’ll feel completely lost at sea.
You could be the best speaker on the planet, or someone who has spent thousands of hours addressing a radio audience – it doesn’t matter. Sitting there, on your own, talking to a piece of glass is just weird, unnerving, and totally unnatural.
This is why you can leave any concerns about your lack of presentation skills at the door – it shouldn’t hold you back. In fact, if you feel ultra awkward about putting yourself in front of the camera, you’re off to a brilliant start.
Genuine personalities win on YouTube. Being yourself is a surefire way to find an audience.
Stumbling over your words, relying too heavily on certain phrases (count how many times I say “to be honest”, or “however” in my videos), and losing your train of thought make you, you. That’s what your audience will come to love.
4. Additional time
I started my channel in 2020, and, since then, I’ve told people that this was because I finally had the time to do so.
With hindsight, I’m not convinced that’s true. Fortunately, my business remained extremely busy during 2020. Sure, we weren’t going out quite as much, but my personal time was still my personal time.
I didn’t invent new hours within the day. I didn’t shun an evening in front of the TV with my girlfriend for a few hours in front of the camera.
Somehow, I found the time I needed to invest in my new YouTube channel. And it worked, big time.
You’ll always find the additional time you think you need to start your YouTube channel – because it already exists. You just need to suss out where it fits within your week.
It always comes back to consistency. If you discover that you can shoot your videos during your lunch hour on Mondays, and then edit them at the same time on Tuesdays – go for it, and stick with it.
We all have more time available than we think, and the more you want something to happen, the more that time will reveal itself.
5. Unique ideas
Most of my videos have been published before by other people.
The same goes for this guide. I’m not the first person to write about the things you don’t need to start a YouTube channel. I’ve simply put my own spin on it.
Songwriters only get to play with a specific number of notes and potential chord progressions, but, still, to this day, we hear new music that feels fresh. The same goes for your content ideas; they may not be first to the post, but because you’re the one presenting them, they become unique.
So, stop searching for those elusive unique content ideas and make videos which you’d want to watch – even if they’re heavily inspired by other creators. You’ll find your rhythm and realise that people will visit your channel regularly because of you.
Put it this way – if I can make a dent (no matter how small) in the tech YouTube space, you can absolutely make a dent in whatever niche you’re targeting.
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