I watch my own videos.
Not all of them, and often not all of the way through. But when I find myself with a spare ten minutes before bedtime, I’ll sometimes take another look at a recently published video.
They’re not new to me, of course. By the time a video hits the channel, I’ve spent an awfully long time with it already. I’ve conceived it (often as a blog post), bullet-pointed it, filmed the a-roll, shot the b-roll, edited it, polished it, and idiot checked every square inch of footage.
But there’s something compelling about sitting and watching your own video in a completely different setting with your ‘viewer hat’ on.
It’s nothing to be ashamed of, either. In fact, it’s one of the best things you can do as a YouTuber.
Get into the viewer mindset
I talk about this all of the time. In fact, I’d argue that it’s one of – if not the – most important strategies when it comes to creating videos that build audiences.
You need to watch yourself on YouTube as though you’re a member of that audience. This means detaching yourself from both the content and the persona on screen.
This is easier than it sounds, and feels more natural over time.
When you first watch your own videos after publishing them, you might feel embarrassed or, conversely, a sense of pride (we’ll get to that in a moment). But the more you watch yourself, the more you’ll feel like a viewer.
Try this. Give your latest videos a couple of days to rest on your channel and hopefully pick up a good few views. Then, when you find yourself with a bit of time to spare, watch it, wherever you happen to be.
I’ll assume you’re a pretty avid YouTube viewer, therefore make sure you watch your video like you’d watch any other. For me, that’s usually on the couch at night, just before I head to bed, or during a quick lunch break.
Forget you made the video. Forget it’s you on screen. Watch it with a completely free, open mind.
Don’t be afraid to ‘like’ yourself
As noted above, you might feel a sense of pride when watching your own videos.
This is totally ok, but it might take a while to like your own stuff. It did for me. But, eventually, I’d find myself smiling while watching my own videos, or even muttering to myself, “well, that was pretty good!”.
Feeling great about the content you’re publishing doesn’t make you narcissistic. Remember – you’re building a personal brand, and it’s important that you’re proud of the work you put out. You can even hit the ‘like’ button if you feel compelled to!
This is the greatest test for your content. If you like it, others will, too. More importantly, if you find yourself liking your videos more over time, it means they’re improving, and you’re becoming a better YouTuber.
Learn from your mistakes (don’t lament them!)
I make several mistakes in every single video I publish.
It might be something as simple as a cut that should have been made half a second later. Or it could be something rather more annoying like a completely misquoted stat, an inaccurate mention of a product feature, or a broken Final Cut Pro plugin (yes, I’ve been there).
Accidents happen all the time when making videos. Some of them are what I’d call ‘happy accidents’, while others can be learned from and improved upon.
As you watch your videos and notice the mistakes you make, don’t give yourself a hard time; you’re human, after all. Instead, make a note (either mental or physical) and promise yourself that you’ll work on reducing or eliminating similar instances in future. It’s the only way to improve.
Look for content inspiration
Your videos are full of inspiration for future content.
I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched one of my videos and noted down a great idea for a follow-up or related piece of content.
For instance, if you’re reviewing a product, you might notice that you touch on a specific feature that has impressed you, but into which you don’t delve particularly deeply.
No problem. Why not make a video that’s focussed entirely on that feature as a follow-up?
Similarly, you may have forgotten that you told your audience you’d further investigate something in the future. I do this quite a lot; while filming a-roll I’ll sometimes say, “that’s for another video”, but fail to make a note of that semi-promise.
Re-watching your stuff will reveal those instances where you’ve hinted at future content. Trust me – your audience will spot them too, and they’ll thank you for coming good on those promises.
Filming yourself is weird. Even after 142 videos, I still find sitting down on that chair and staring at a piece of glass entirely unnatural.
Watching yourself is even weirder. At first. But it becomes more natural after a while, because you have the added benefit of naturally falling into the viewer mindset.
This might sound odd, but I don’t always see ‘me’ when I’m watching my videos these days. I see another YouTuber who’s either doing great stuff or who needs to improve in specific areas.
Try it, and keep doing it, because you’re the most important audience member you have.
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