It’s taken me a while, but I’m all about short-form content now.
Ok, that’s not strictly true – the ‘long form’ (can a ten-minute video really be described as that?!) stuff isn’t going anywhere. But I am rather enjoying my foray into seconds-long video production.
This has come as a surprise. I’ve avoided it for ages, you see, but the time really has come for me to join the throng of creators who are investing time in YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and TikTok.
How did it come to this? Why am I bothering? What does the future hold for Mark Ellis Reviews content?
Why I was scared of YouTube Shorts
I feel for YouTube. The emergence of YouTube Shorts was, clearly, designed as a way to combat the wave of users who quickly flocked to TikTok once the allure of short-form content took hold.
As a result – and as undeniably popular as Shorts are – YouTube’s efforts in this area have always felt like the runner at the back of the pack, blowing chunks, desperately trying to keep up with the new kids up front.
This isn’t particularly obvious from a viewer’s perspective. Indeed, Shorts are brilliantly presented and just as fun to dive into as anything TikTok can offer. It’s the stuff behind the scenes that has always been a bit gaffa-taped together.
Until recently, Shorts felt like an afterthought for creators. For instance, to ensure your video ended up in the Shorts algorithm, you had to add the #shorts hashtag to the end of your title. That always felt like a weird hack. Similarly, uploading and publishing Shorts is – still, to this day, in fact – the exact same process as it is for ‘normal’ YouTube videos, leaving creators at a loss as to which boxes to tick, what to put in the description, whether or not to bother with a thumbnail, and wondering desperately if any of the usual settings matter.
However, the biggest issue by far was the way Shorts were presented on a channel. They were simply lumped in with the regular videos – there was no separate category, tab, or area in which Shorts resided.
This was my biggest fear – the idea of Shorts cluttering my otherwise tidy YouTube channel. With a growing audience of people who seemed to like my regular-length videos, the thought of inserting 60-second sound bites into the feed filled me with dread. That’d piss them off, surely? Why would they bother revisiting the channel if all of these hastily shot, vertical videos start appearing in the feed, taking their attention away from the good stuff?
Thankfully, those days are (nearly) behind us.
The big YouTube update
YouTube has received a bunch of lovely updates recently. Most of them are aesthetic but have had a positive impact on the user interface.
Buttons and other interactive elements have been rounded off (finally) and the Subscribe button is… shock horror… finally an actual button, rather than an innocuous, uninviting piece of red text.
But the most exciting update as far as myself and many other creators are concerned, is the new content categorisation on the channel homepage.
It has taken a curiously long time for YouTube to do this, but we now finally have a full, clear differentiation between regular YouTube videos and Shorts. They both reside in their own separate tabs and neither interferes with the other. This is great news for everyone.
Thank you, Susan.
The results so far
I started my YouTube Shorts journey three weeks ago. Since then, I’ve published 14 short-form vertical videos which have collectively generated over 41,000 views and brought in 67 new subscribers.
Why was I avoiding making content of this kind for so long?
This is the lowest-hanging fruit on YouTube. Making a regular YouTube video takes a long time – days, in some cases. Making a Short takes about ten minutes – twenty if I decide to get the proper camera out.
However, as nice as those accumulative views are, it’s the subscriber count that intrigues me the most. The fact that I’m able to convert a small portion of those views into channel subscribers is huge for my business; it’s a super-quick way to get people into my world, and I’m surprised by how many have been inclined to click that button after watching me for only a few seconds.
This brings me to the other channels on which I’m experimenting with short-form content. Four months ago, I opened a TikTok account. I’ve published 40 TikToks (I think that’s how you refer to them) since then which have amassed over 9,000 likes and generated 749 followers. A video I posted on there recently, where I rant about the new 10th-generation iPad, has just surpassed 90,000 views.
My Instagram account has been in action since I started this brand in 2020, but I’ve practically neglected it until recently. Now, with my new-found desire to create short-form content, I’ve been investing time in Reels. Although Instagram’s identity crisis appears to make growing on the platform an incredibly frustrating endeavour, I have experienced some ‘bangers’ on there, too, with a couple of Reels quickly being picked up by the algorithm and hurtling into five-digit view figures.
I’d better crack on, really, eh?
Wrapping up: my new short-form video strategy
Now that I’m over my fear of YouTube Shorts and the numbers are unavoidably positive, I’ve devised a simple short-form video strategy to live by for the next few months.
If you’re in the same boat as me with an established YouTube channel, feel free to take this not-fully-tested-yet blueprint and see how you get on:
- YouTube: continue publishing regular-length videos and Shorts
- TikTok: repost YouTube Shorts and condensed edits of regular YouTube videos
- Instagram: trend-driven Reels
I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for my new focus on short-form content. And if you fancy joining me, here are the links:
Mark Ellis Reviews YouTube Channel