For centuries, people have wanted to be rich and famous. And it used to be that this was difficult to pull off: the cost of publishing, producing music, or becoming a politician were prohibitive for most. However, the Internet Age has reduced costs considerably. There are more ways than ever to broadcast yourself.
For young people, the dream is often centered around video. In particular, it’s the dream of many a GenZ to become a YouTuber, but just like any other social media influencer on any other platform, there is no maximum age to become an influencer on any platform. And, while “influencers” don’t always generate a positive impression to the general public, YouTubers have become public cultural icons. In this article, I’ll give you my best tips on how to become a YouTuber.
So What Exactly is a YouTuber?
Simply put, a YouTuber is anyone who produces and publishes content on the YouTube platform. In particular, these are people who produce something original. Once they get enough subscribers, YouTube allows content creators to monetize their channels. At that point, YouTube becomes a business for these people. However, for most YouTubers it’s more than a job: rather, they enjoy the spotlight. Some even become famous.
Keep in mind, monetization through YouTube isn’t the only way to make money. We’ll talk about these methods later in the article, but there are outside sources of funding. For instance, wanting to become a paid influencer can be a very lucrative reason for learning how to become a YouTuber.
The 19 Steps for Anyone to Become a Successful YouTuber
Whatever your reason for wanting to be a YouTuber, there are many things that you should do in order to be successful. Fortunately, the experiences of others have made it easy to learn how to become a YouTuber-and be successful over time. The world of YouTube is increasingly competitive, especially since so many people compete for that coveted influence. With that said, here are the best steps to success.
BEFORE You Publish Your First Video
Planning is everything, especially in highly competitive situations. Here, you want to determine what’s most likely to give you success. Keep in mind, there’s more to learning how to be a YouTube than simply picking a subject or randomly recording videos. Rather, you want to start your channel with a careful plan in mind. Here’s how.
1. Define your own success and set S.M.A.R.T. goals
The acronym S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. In other words, what are your goals? How will you measure them, how do they fit in with your overall strategy, and what’s your timeline? In addition, you should make sure the goals are achievable, rather than out of reach. An example of something that’s unachievable might be getting a million subscribers in a week.
2. Lean on your passions and determine your niche
Deciding on a niche is both the most difficult decision and the most important. One of the more important parts of learning how to become a YouTuber is figuring out what won’t have so much competition that it becomes impossible. In addition, you need to pick something with a high chance of success: don’t make it too broad, or you’ll have more competition than you can handle. At the same time, your niche needs to be something that you’ll be able to talk about over many years.
3. Check out the competitors in your niche and be inspired by them
In some sense, this step is also done while choosing a specific niche. In order to become a good YouTuber, you need to be competitive in your niche. Part of this is differentiating yourself. But at the same time, it’s important to analyze your competition and determine what makes them successful. While not everything they do will work for you, there’s an awful lot to learn. These lessons will make it easier for you when learning how to become a YouTuber.
4. Define your target audience and how you will uniquely serve them through video content
Most overall niches have a wide variety of audiences. For instance, there’s no single “fashion” niche. Instead, you have different target ages, genders, and clothing types. So, you might decide to feature fashion for businessmen in their fifties. On the other end of the spectrum, it might be millennial women with a goth vibe. Besides choosing your target audience, it’s important to know what kinds of video content you want to make. One fashion YouTuber might do a lot of wear tests for shoes, as an example.
5. Develop your personal branding and manifest it in creating a differentiated and branded channel
Personal branding is one of the most important ways that you can define yourself as a YouTuber. In this case, it’s about more than niche. Some YouTubers are very straightforward in the way that they present information. On the other hand, others can be very quirky or unconventional. Whatever you choose for a personal brand, make sure that you are consistent over time.
Further Reading: A Complete Guide to Branding for YouTube Creators
6. Plan your content and develop a content schedule
One of the hardest parts of learning how to become a YouTuber is developing a content calendar. Especially in the beginning, many creatives have a lot of new ideas that they simply can’t wait to get out there. However, over time the most obvious ideas get used up, and the hard part begins. By developing a content calendar, you can ensure that there’s always something to talk about-and that you don’t forget something important.
Publishing Your First Video
Now that you have defined your niche and decided on a content calendar, it’s time for the fun part. And by the fun part, I mean scripting and producing those videos. For many people learning how to become a YouTuber, getting to this point seems like the hardest part. However, production is very important: poor quality content will sink your chances of success very quickly.
7. Plan your video branding
No matter your personal sense of style, it’s important that your videos have some kind of internal branding. For starters, develop a video intro and outro, including some kind of channel logo or signature picture. If you are going to be a personality talking as yourself instead of an alias, this is often a brand-consistent portrait. On the other hand, traditional logos are appropriate if you want to remain anonymous.
8. Invest in the right equipment
Your next step in how to become a Youtuber is to have appropriate equipment. Often, this starts out relatively simple: a few YouTubers use a high-quality cellphone camera. Depending on your niche, this might be enough. However, there’s a good chance that you will want a tripod since holding a camera gets old quickly. In addition, you may want a good microphone. Lighting and backgrounds are another common piece of equipment. These don’t have to be expensive: ring lights are cheap, and so is room décor.
Further Reading: The 17 Best Video Marketing Tools for 2021
9. Study and understand SEO best practices for YouTube
Remember, YouTube itself is a search engine, since you can look for videos based on topic or content creator. Using sound SEO techniques is critical for your content to get discovered. This is true both for content searches and the algorithm that recommends people videos based on their browsing history. In other words, without proper SEO your chances of going viral are slim.
10. Be on point in your video
Do you like rambling videos? Chances are that the answer is no. And neither does anyone else. Beyond not rambling, though, being on point requires that you genuinely know what you are talking about, and demonstrating that this is the case. Part of how to become a YouTuber is mastering the art of compelling content.
11. Become an editor or hire one
If you want good-looking content, you’ll need to edit your videos. While there are a few YouTubers who can get everything right the first time, these are few and far between. Mistakes and bloopers are part of content creation. Luckily, editing video is relatively easy with modern software. If you’re a Mac user, there’s even a free program on your machine! With that said, if you don’t want to mess with editing video, there are plenty of editors that you can find on various freelance platforms.
12. Don’t forget the importance of your thumbnail design
There are three basic ways that a thumbnail is beneficial. First, it can grab the eye of a potential viewer (or not). Second, it’ll help people see what your video is all about. And finally, thumbnails give people a view of your overall vibe and branding. Choose one of the default thumbnails from the YouTube video dashboard or create one. Here’s a tutorial on the process from YouTube. Later, after you’ve mastered how to become a YouTuber, you can consider using a third-party tool.
13. Hit the Publish Button
Once you’re happy with the video that you have made, it’s time to publish. YouTube makes this easy: there’s a button in the dashboard that simply says “publish.” Of course, you can’t watch the video just yet. Your video needs to go through a buffering and loading process. You’ll quickly get an idea of how long it takes, but it’s determined by the size of your file. Congratulations, you’ve just become a content creator!
14. Promote your YouTube elsewhere
Once you have some videos on your channel, it’s time to convince people to watch them. While YouTube will do some of this for you, learning how to become a YouTuber also includes self-promotion. So, if you’re posting as yourself instead of a brand, advertise on Facebook when you’ve published a video. If you have a differently named channel, create a Page and do it there. The same goes for other social media platforms.
Another way to publicize your content is by building a website. This is easy to do with simple builder programs like Wix, or using more comprehensive services like WordPress. Besides being a great way to promote videos, websites are a great way to monetize your YouTube influence as it grows. Plus, you can use it for people to get to know you.
Scaling Your YouTube Influence
While everyone has to start somewhere, part of learning how to become a YouTuber is mastering the art of expansion. While some people will find your content through organic search and algorithm recommendations, you can’t rely on these alone. In addition, the more content you have, the easier it is for you to get found.
15. Publish consistently
If you only publish videos once in a while, it is unlikely that you will develop much of a following. After all, people subscribe so that they can be updated when something new comes on. Furthermore, most of us will “prune” our subscriptions of dead channels and the ones we’ve lost interest in. On the other hand, frequent posting increases your chances of both getting viewed and gaining subscribers.
16. Engage with your community
Mastering how to become a YouTuber is about more than just creating and promoting content. Rather, people like to know that YouTubers appreciate their questions and comments. This kind of advice or input is what really builds your influence over time. Plus, as you monetize that influence, engagement with your community will be part of the reason people buy the things that you recommend.
17. Leverage YouTube analytics
Simply put, YouTube analytics help you to see which of your videos are successful, and which ones are a bust. In addition, analytics data tells you who is watching your videos, and where they are located. Over time, you can use this information to improve your overall impact. So, if something consistently doesn’t work, then quit doing it. Likewise, it’s important to know why your best-performing videos are so compelling.
18. Keep up with trends on YouTube as well as your niche
The process of understanding your competition never ends. Consumer interests change, as do trends in content creation. Plus, there are always new products being developed and released. If you don’t keep track of those changes, then you will quickly cease to be relevant. And that’s one of the best ways to see your channel die.
19. Collaborate with Other YouTubers
Finally, collaboration is a great way to grow your channel. While other YouTubers in your niche are, strictly speaking, competitors, it’s often appropriate to form alliances. Plus, many collaborations can be mutually beneficial. One way this can happen is when an experienced YouTuber invites someone who’s still learning how to become a YouTuber on their channel. The newbie learns from a master, and in addition, gets exposed to their audience. In turn, both people get more views.
How Can You Make Money as a YouTuber?
Of course, one of the biggest reasons why people learn how to become a YouTuber is that they can make money. While raking in the big bucks is relatively uncommon, a successful YouTuber will more than make up for their expenses. Both the opportunities, and the money made from them, grow with the channel.
The most basic way to make money off of YouTube is to become a YouTube Partner. In this case, you get a portion of the advertising revenue that Google gets from adding advertising to your videos. You also have some control over the number of ads. While this kind of monetization is the easiest, it also makes a decent amount of money. Industry estimates are that YouTubers make between one cent to three cents per view using AdSense. The average earn is 1.8 cents per view. This is modest, but it adds up over time.
Sponsored Content / Brand Collaborations
While selling advertising is the easiest way to make money, it isn’t the most lucrative. A more profitable way to make money is to produce sponsored content. Sometimes the technique used is simple: putting an advert into a video, often in the middle somewhere. However, other methods are more creative. For instance, tutorials are a common choice for hobby-related brands and beauty/grooming. Compensation is usually free product, a flat fee, or commissions through links or codes.
Selling your Own Products or Services
Lastly, for the truly creative Youtuber there’s often an opportunity to sell products or services. The most basic method of doing this is selling subscriptions to your channel, such as through YouTube memberships or third parties like Patreon. Then, there are other opportunities, such as consulting or your own product line. When you think about it, the possibilities in this category are virtually endless.
For a growing number of young people, becoming a YouTuber is a major life goal. However, unless you know how to become a YouTuber, it’s a tough road. Careful planning is required, as well as self-discipline and the right equipment. However, for those that succeed, being a YouTuber is both satisfying and profitable.
Hero photo by Jenny Ueberberg on Unsplash