What I Wish I Knew Before Starting a YouTube Channel

Alt headlines for this post: YouTube Advice From One of YouTube’s Bitter Exes, How To Succeed on YouTube Without Losing Your Goddamn Mind, Do Not Let a Social Media Platform Traumatize You For Life Please, I Only Watch Videos of People Painting Because Anything Else Makes Me Cry

I’m approaching the point where I’ve been on a hiatus for almost YouTube as long as I was actually on Youtube and I’ve been playing with the idea of getting back on the horse. Thankfully, if I do decide to start over with a new channel it’ll (hopefully) go much smoother than the first time around. Here are some things I’m glad I already know, that I wish someone had told me the first time around.

Make Sure You Can Make Money, You’ll Need It

◊ Make sure your videos are monetized up the butt. Click all the boxes, seriously. I personally believe that most, if not all, of your potential viewers understand how YouTube works and believe that ad revenue is most youtubers only source of income. YouTube has ads, there’s going to be ads. Maybe don’t insert a video ad in the middle of all your content, but I wouldn’t blame you for doing it for content you KNOW will be getting views no matter what. Once you get going you’ll know what types of content I’m talking about.

◊ If there’s even a possibility you’ll get a copyright complaint or anything else that will get it un-monetized do not post it until you’ve taken care of the issues. Do some serious research into what you can do to prevent any loss of revenue. I thought my most viewed video was fine in terms of copyright but then it was a 6 month fight with Youtube while the majority of those views racked up without a cent to be made, so when it was finally approved to be monetized, I was getting tail-end views.

◊ When you’re just getting started, you’ll need that $50 in your Google Adsense that is being hoarded for your $100 check. Do whatever you have to to get paid monthly. Research ad networks, call up the adsense people and set up direct deposits, SOMETHING. 

◊ Use Affiliate Links…right away. ANYTHING you mention should get linked in the description with a link provided from Amazon Affiliate or another general aff program. Link your camera and editing equipment in the description of every video. Wearing interesting make up? Have something cool in the background for the first time? Aff link in the description. People are going to ask what it is and where they can get one anyway. Give the people what they want and make some $$$.

Making Good Content is HARD…

◊ Hauls will always be popular but they are SUCH a slippery slope. I didn’t have any money trouble doing hauls because I challenged myself to see how much I could get for, let’s say, under $5, I always wanted to brag about how many books I could get for cheap or free…and I know how exciting it is to get things for free, but now you have to store and actually use these things. I have a room full of books I realized I don’t even want to read anymore. Plus, hauls are such an easy video to put out and there’s no…art to it, you know? It’s lazy and it’s playing into the greedy hands of capitalism, and honestly just for ad revenue I don’t think it’s worth it. If a company is paying you to include their product in your haul, and you disclose that, then that’s another story and a bigger chunk of change that can fund your more intricate videos.

◊ Don’t do what everyone in your niche is doing. Hell, just watch channels that have the same spirit yours does even if its not in your genre. Don’t worry about doubling content in your community by not keeping up because your take will always be unique when you haven’t actually watched the video you’re afraid of copying. 

◊ If you’re gone for a long period of time explain on your other social media, but post a video as if nothing has happened because YouTube is very much an archive of your content and it looks worse to have multiple apology videos than solid videos spaced out.

◊ Graphics really do make a difference. Use vector graphics and/or make sure you get the right dimensions when creating graphics both in your video and for the thumbnail.

◊ You’re still a YouTuber if you’ve never been to a convention. Only go if you can handle it…you don’t want to get locked in a bathroom for two hours because you were in there having a four hour long panic attack…not that that’s ever happened to me or anything…right.

…And It’s Something You Have to LEARN

◊ It always takes longer than you think, every time. Plan ahead.

◊ “In defense of” or “here’s my hot take”  videos do not age well and it’s okay to delete them.

◊ “Your equipment doesn’t matter” is a LIE. You need something that doesn’t HINDER your ability to produce content. I started with a webcam that required at least an extra hour to stabilize after the 1-3 hours it took to import, I had to flip the footage, and then less than a year in the audio gave out completely. Still, I did manage to get a small, chatty audience…I just didn’t have time to respond when I was so busy trying to figure out how to hack my footage/aidio and getting everything filmed before the light changed (natural light is GREAT but it is fickle). I ended up borrowing a good camera and light box that made everything a lot easier.

◊ Listen to the experts and learn, don’t assume because you have iVideo that you’ll figure out the best way to edit. Some creators have great examples on how they create their work and that kind of stuff is absolutely invaluable. My personal editing “aha” moment was watching Hank Green edit in real time. Even watching an unedited VlogBrothers video helped me figure out how to film to edit.


◊ Be responsible. Regardless of your niche, you’re going to have young viewers, it’s YouTube. No matter how large your channel is you will be held accountable. Don’t promote harmful ideals or products. Don’t be an asshole, don’t defend your asshole friends. Include trigger warnings, caption your videos, make them accessible.

The more you do, the more you'll learn. Click To Tweet

Protect Yourself

◊ Disable comments on things you know will be controversial but get you a lot of views. It’s not a cowardly act, no matter what anyone says. Send comments to Twitter or Facebook, that way you only get your dedicated audience and really dedicated trolls. I’ve found Twitter makes it easier to block people and YouTube does so dealing with the trolls is far easier this way.

◊ You’re told to put your channel name in google alerts…don’t. Anyone with any positive links to your channel will @ you. Do not let curiosity get the best of you. You actually do not “need to know what people are saying.” Once again if it’s something you absolutely need to respond to, your friends and industry contacts will let you know.

◊ Get out if you want to, and if you need to, but keep your contacts! They’re super important and nice no matter what you decide to do next!

Not an aspiring Youtuber?

I used all of these tricks I learned from YouTube while creating my own site & blog and continue to use them daily.

Have you noticed I always send readers to my twitter at the end of every article to continue the discussion? This is mostly due to the fact that by doing this on YouTube I cultivated a very friendly twitter following and a steady Twitter habit. I’m always open to comments made on my site but you have to admit it’s pretty contained. It’s much easier to connect and get connected through an open platform.

I made sure I was a confirmed Amazon Affiliate before I published my first post, because you don’t want to waste an opportunity to make money when you’re already going to be serving your audience a link to go buy whatever you’re talking about.

Researching the fundamentals of blogging was a necessity and now I keep everything fresh by reading a ton of blogs in all sorts of niches, as long as they have that friendly, socially conscious spark that I’m always looking for.

I was incredibly scared of starting to blog, especially on my writer website because possible employers may (hopefully!) be reading what I’m writing. To overcome that fear I wrote a little note for myself and put it in my WIP folder. It says something like “YOU CAN DELETE POSTS LATER THAT AREN’T IN WHATEVER NICHE YOU CHOOSE ARE UP TO WHATEVER QUALITY YOU GET TO.” Deleting is fine, it’s great even. Sure, nothing is really gone anymore, if someone wanted to find something you deleted they could, but just having a collection of posts you LIKE up? That’s professionalism, kid. Make your content as good as you can now, get your name out there, get practice, and then delete it later if it’s not up to your standard next year.

Written posts take just as long as video, most of the time, which means it’s still longer than you’d assume. Thankfully I factor that into my blogging schedule and you should too!

Thank you for reading. What are things you wish you’d know before you started making content? Let me know in a comment or tweet me!

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