Updated: May 2, 2022
If you have been getting vague advice about consistency - but are looking for a comprehensive overview of what it actually takes to be a Youtuber - then this is the guide for you! Plus, I have included videos along the way to keep you enticed - and show you how I do things over on my Youtube channel.
First off, let's kick off with some tools you may find handy:
YouTube Monetization Videos: The Content Bug has incredibly informative videos on how this works; the review process, Google AdSense and is uber transparent about her analytics. Shelby Church, an American tech and lifestyle YouTuber has a great videography style, a really fun personality to watch and also not shy to explain how much she’s paid through the channel.
YouTube Studio App: You may have seen some Instagram creators have a scrolling Instagram feed on top of their videos - this is simply achieved through an iPhone’s screen recording functionality or if Android, an A2Z screen recording.
Canva: This is where you can make eye-catching thumbnails by using their examples and editing yourself. You can also create some YouTube channel art which is super easy to do, just remember to prominently display your name and include a Call-To-Action of sorts.
MailChimp & Quora: It’s imperative to promote videos on your own platform. Using MailChimp as a way to release your content on other platforms quickly and with Quora you can for example, search Whatsapp Business as a product and see its trending topics, actually answer questions and cue your relevant video/YouTube link.
Green Screens & Aesthetic Packs: by searching for green screen and fun effects on the YouTube platform, you will find amazing additions to enhance videos, as well as recommendations for copy-free music, overlays and fonts. Searching for copyright-free music is a MUST to avoid copyright infringement.
Right, so you’ve got your content ideas and an action plan, now you need to get filming? This next video takes the daunting thought of equipment needed and breaks it down into the bare essentials…
In this video you’ll see I’m recording on two cameras, and at the end of it you can make a judgment call for yourself, but it does demonstrate that you really don’t need much at all.
1. Something to record your videos with
2. Something to record your audio with
3. Something to edit your video with
Luckily, a newer cellphone can do all of these 3 things pretty damn well! But let’s delve deeper:
Camera: my iPhone camera app used in the video above gives a pretty detailed, wide angle shot. The other film angle achieved using my entry-level CANON760D DSLR is suited to amateur photography and also does the job (remember though to check that it has an aux jack) and definitely trial out /borrow such a piece of equipment before you invest outright in it.
Lens: The camera lens is also very important. I make use of the 50mm lens (best intended for low light or portrait photography) and the camera needs to be far away in order to accommodate for a lens that doesn’t zoom.
Tripod: You may want to consider a tripod. Whilst you can also totally get away with using books or a shelf to balance your camera or phone, there is for example the basic option of a Manfrotto tripod or a really inexpensive mini tripod option from the likes of Takealot, and a flexible tripod is great for more outdoorsy/on-the-go use like hiking with camera.
Audio: given my camera needs to be a meter and half away to avoid an echo (also important is what room you are shooting in, is there a carpet?) My Rode microphone typically plugs into the jack and a great mic for vlogging. I simply needed a longer cable to be able to use my mic not sitting in my jack.
Lighting: windows are your best friend and serve to fulfil that flash function. A simple enough setup for during the day, but what if you (like me) are shooting your content after-hours in evening? You need to look at bringing in additional cool and warm light sources that you can play around to see what works best in your space. My best advice is when starting out, use what you have already! In a day and age when content is king, video content is absolute power, and video editing is an invaluable skill.
My next video is a bit of a mixtape of my favourite content creators and their tips and tricks.
One of my most frequently asked questions is “what software should I use?”
Quite simply - this comes down to your own budget and preference. I myself used to use Wondershare Filmora (paid-for but inexpensive) and now use iMovie. There are major fans of Final Cut and a large group of people living the Adobe Premiere Pro life.
Ultimately, it's about trial and error - and figuring out what works best for you and is the most efficient as they are all intended to up the production value of videos.
Let's take a look at what creators suggest for editing Youtube essentials:
Hannah Elise swears by her editing essentials; a hoodie, candle, scrunchie and iced coffee, and I have to agree!
Louise Henry says the AirDrop feature is your best friend, offering a seamless, far quicker transfer process from your iPhone phone to your MAC laptop.
Kane & Pia: this duo is pure #editinggoals, sharing their golden hack of editing to the audio. This means you can do a rough edit of your videos by simply looking at the audio waves and easily remove faulty speech bits.
Cathrin Manning, encourages creating Canva templates to layout your end cards and transitional jpegs in one presentation. She also is a great reference for using the Ken Burns Effect to do a slow zoom in, which adds interest to your long clips.
Bestdressed videos are often a layered video on top of a video with her look of the day / outfit of the day content. it’s a clever effect, adding texture and little interest to maybe an otherwise boring shot.
Hayls World uses super imaginative intro and outro effects, and Fiverr is a goodie to remember to make use of here! You can see people’s portfolios of work done and their prices when wanting to commission someone to do your intros and outros. • Jessica van Heerden is a South African beauty YouTuber whose quick edits/superset of short frames of the most exciting things that will happen in her vlog gets real interest going by viewers before they’ve even watched the actual piece.
Monica Church is an American YouTuber who has great examples of interspersing slowed down clips in order to make it cinematic and interesting.
Kelly Stamps uses zoomed in crops to her advantage, making a statement of what she’s talking about.
All in all, you need to enjoy the process! Editing can sometimes feel like a big rush, but it’s a fun skill to learn, so slow down, take time and be patient and kind to yourself. You can’t go around comparing your first video to someone’s 100th video, there’s simply lots to be learnt from the aspirational faves I’ve mentioned above. Have you used a tip or trick that’s made the world of difference for you? I’d love to hear more! Now we’re delving into the money-making aspect of YouTube and the 6 revenue streams I mention in this video are testament that you can in fact do YouTube full time and how YouTubers typically use them to make YouTube their profession.
This could be almost be an entire video on its own, but let me break it down simply… When starting out on YouTube your channel will have 0 subscribers and 0 watched time - in order to get monetised, the platform requires you to reach 1000 subscribers and in the last 365 days of your channel, to meet 4000 hours watch time, as a minimum threshold for eligibility.
People could take a year or three, depending on the frequency of their video posts and the number of their views. This isn’t immediate results, but rather a lengthy process. You need to keep close tabs on your analytics and you can do this by logging into the creative studio on YouTube or downloading the YouTube Studio App, which allows you to see the current watched time, number of subscribers and easy-to-read performance graphs. Your next step would be getting an AdSense account, linking your banking details to get paid but to bear in mind the minimum is $100 per month to get paid out.
Just how much you’ll get paid comes down to CPM (cost per mille), cost per 1000 impressions for video (eCPM) if the objective is different to impressions from a campaign. Depending on which niche you’re in, this will determine your CPM as a YouTuber so being consistent in your content and sticking to topics that work, favours the algorithm. YouTube can the easily sell your ad space. Also, it’s a practical consideration to not confuse your target audience. Some niches are more highly paid, for example Insurance, Property, Investment and Stock Trading are said to be the highest paid niches, whereas Fashion and Vlogging have lower CPMs. At the end of the day, you need to stay true to what you are passionate about.
The length of your videos also plays a role (if they are longer than 10 minutes, Google allows you to place more ads, mid-role ads). Where your audience is based sways the income that can be generated. US/Canada based markets are quite developed and more open to ecommerce vs. other markets like South Africa where there isn’t as big of an ecommerce penetration.
It’s important to remember that YouTube is the best search engine in the world - so making beautiful thumbnails and having SEO optimised titles makes sense to rank well off of the algorithm. The more searchable your content, the more views you’ll get. Youtubers make use of 3rd party tools such as TubeBuddy which allows you to see keywords of other creators and recommendations on just how competitive that set of keywords is. These insights help you decide how you frame your video and the angle you take by considering what people are searching for and how you can rank your video for that. Finding that sweet spot between something people are searching for and that content not being really available currently… Having ‘advertiser-friendly’ videos is important because brands want to be associated with high quality content that is neutral of controversy and not inappropriate. Also, using copyrighted music means you’ll be demonetised.
2. BRAND DEALS & SPONSORSHIPS
Commonly found across all social networks; influencers who meet criteria and objectives for upcoming campaigns and typically in South Africa, people will work with agents, it’s not as formal as US markets.
3. AFFILIATE MAREKTING
There are a few small affiliate programs in South Africa, but for a great reference for this is Amazon's Affiliate Marketing Program which works off of personalised URLS that for example can show the purchase of a camera link came from a specific YouTuber. The brand can see direct ROI, a very cool way to use one’s influence to make money.
If you’ve established enough clout, by simply putting your name on something and selling it, fans will want in on that action, like the clickbait brand made famous by YouTuber David Dobrik, Fanjoy.
5. PREMIUM PAID PRODUCTS
Here YouTubers may elect to sell their Lightroom presets for Instagram as their Insta feeds are super aesthetically appealing, like travel couple Marie & Jake , or creating courses on platforms like Skillshare. Your skills are given away for ‘free’ to consumers through YouTube, but now you can have viewers pay/transact for something beautifully structured.
6. MEET UPS & LIVE EVENTS
An opportunity for fans to come and meet their fave video influencers. There are huge conferences for such gatherings in America like VidCon where you could meet the likes of Casey Neistat or PewDiePie. Through the YouTube channel you’ll have create a ‘celebrity status’ to capitalise on.
This next video is a more personal journey of how I got monetised within about 20 months of being on YouTube.
As we’ve learnt, YouTube makes no secret of its basic requirement of a channel needing to 1000 subscribers, and 400 hours watch time on the platform. Now your head is full of questions like “how many videos does that mean I need to make?”, “how long will it take me?” And “how much effort do I need to put into this?” Well, personally it’s taken 20 months of being relatively consistent considering it’s not my full time job (and I created over 70 videos). The factors that come into play with the algorithm as to whether or not people like your content are:
Retention Rate - how long people are watching for.
Click-Through Rate - who sees your videos and clicks them.
Number of Subscribers - how many people are engaging and liking your content. Using my content as reference, it’s clear that Whatsapp Business is the most popular topic amongst my audience, and my niche so to speak. Don’t let this put you off, as there is so much merit in terms of niching down — firstly, I love the WhatsApp Business platform, I am considered a good authority to talk about it, and it’s easier for me to do well in that topic. The YouTube Studio app which I’ve mentioned previously, helps me keep tabs on the performance of my channel and provides a good top-line understanding of what’s working and what’s not.
Analytics: showing real time and watched time views.
Revenue: no matter how small, I get a kick out of it in that it means you’re still being recognised in a small way at least.
Discovery: showing impressions, CTR, and who your audience is.
Playlists - topics that are performing the best.
Once I was able to monetise, the platform then asked me which formats I wanted to implement on my channel and I could see the monetisation column changing from off to on. What’s great here is if there is an issue i.e. a copyright issue with a song used, you’re able to elect to trim out the segment or mute the segment, so YouTube offers you options instead of having to losing whole video. TubeBuddy is a major help with the SEO and Tags side of YouTube; I’ve just been using the free version and this helps me tag correctly and informs me of good search volumes against the topics I am identifying.
Thumbnails are best created in Canva, using typically a photo as opposed to a still. Again, Shelby & Monica Church are great references for what’s aesthetically appealing. A simple tip is finding other YouTubers in South Africa; finding a community of people who also love making videos, being able to support like-minded individuals, and get a sense check on your content with all sorts of tech and relevant emotional questions being answered is super helpful.
Educational content can be a little bit dry, so I’ve found myself adapting more B-roll footage - interspersing clips with things like a cellphone / laptop screen recording appearing on screen or clips of myself working to help break it up and keep viewers attention. Looking at other creatives in your niche and how they keep your attention is always inspirational. Louise Henry operates in a similar space to me - she keeps her videos short and sweet, but has included little, clever nuances throughout her content that keeps it engaging.
There are plenty of opportunities to grow an audience and monetize your videos so if you are thinking about starting a YouTube channel in 2021, it’s certainly not too late for you to shine! I recently had the opportunity to speak at a Future Females event in the Winelands, and it allowed me to reflect on my personal digital journey and can safely say I’ve pretty much tried everything to make money online.
What inspired me to write talk about this was a quote I’d seen on LinkedIn, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can or cannot do.” No matter what channel you find yourself interested in and wanting to learn more about, perseverance, passion and patience are key.
So my advice is simply to go for it - and worry about the rest later! As Marie Forleo says, "Everything is Figure-outable!"