It’s no secret that having a YouTube channel for your brand is one of the most important ways to increase your online visibility, as well as spread your brand’s message all over the internet. YouTube is owned by Google, after all, so if your YouTube channel is good, then it’s safe to assume that your Google juice will also get… juicier?
If you’re looking to start creating video content for your brand, YouTube is the way to go. That said, there is definitely a difference between using your YouTube channel for video storage, and becoming a successful YouTube channel.
Here’s how to create a successful YouTube Channel.
1. Know Your Brand, Know Your Content
The great thing about having a YouTube channel is that you can make it a completely unique viewing experience, and cater it specifically to the topics in which you or your audience are interested in. The first thing you should do is ask yourself why you want to make a YouTube channel. Is it for growing your brand? Sending people to your product? Pure entertainment?
Also ask yourself who you think your audience is and what you yourself are interested in doing, saying, or showing to viewers. Write them out if you have to, so you can see actually see a visual record of your goals and ideas.
Once you have written it all out, you can start to make a mood board and put together what you want your channel’s visual style to look like. You can use visual examples to influence not only your channel’s style, but possibly even some of the content you plan on making.
Remember that people are primarily coming to YouTube to be entertained, inspired, or educated, so take a minute to look at each one of these end goals and prepare your workflow and content schedule to accomplish one or all of them.
Most channels/brands have content that falls into one or more of these three categories:
Hub videos are to keep viewers coming back to your channel. These are videos that people put a lot of value on, whether they’re episodic or part of an ongoing series that is published throughout the year. For instance, the Pond5 tutorial series. You want to make these videos because these help you keep a loyal fanbase hungry to learn more about you and your subjects.
Hero videos are the attention-grabbers. These can be one-offs or can happen only a couple times a year. They help increase your brand’s message with a blast of creativity, and can coincide with special product launches or seasonal events. Our “Made With Pond5” series fit with this type. You want to make these videos because they stand out from your normal videos, have a little extra “oomph” or production value, and help bring in viewers who may have never seen your video.
Help videos are designed to help or give useful information to the audience. You can have a Q&A with fans/followers, or you can, of course, make a tutorial or how-to video. This is a great way to utilize evergreen content that is relevant any time of the year. An example of this are Pond5’s Quick Tips. The reason you want to have help videos is to have a connection with your audience, or to teach people something new.
You can cover more than one of these categories with every video (like in our tutorial videos), or you may find that you gravitate toward one type over another, but either way, they are essential to having longevity and keeping it fresh.
2. Create High Quality, Interesting Videos
The difference between a 10 minute video with only 2 minutes of watch time vs. a 10 minute video with over 7 minutes of watch time is almost always due to the video’s quality. People will tolerate shaky or blurry footage or blown out audio only for so long before it stops holding their attention.
You should always follow the basic guidelines of shooting high quality video with lighting, composition, and audio quality. When it comes to post production, you should always follow the basics there as well. Cut out repetitive or unnecessary sections. Make your transitions count with different types of edits between shots. Mix your audio well, and do some basic color correction or grading to make your colors pop.
One thing nearly every popular YouTube channel has in common is they start their videos with a hook. You should pick the part of the video that makes viewers want to stick around and watch the whole thing, then follow it up with a credit or title sequence before going back into the main subject of the video. Keep title sequences to 10 seconds or under, and make sure they’re an encapsulation of your channel, your personality, and your subject matter.
Animations and motion graphics like titles, lower thirds, transitions can be intimidating or costly to produce yourself, so you should consider searching for stock media that is pre-made, inexpensive, and easy to manipulate yourself. Pond5 has thousands of motion graphics made by professionals that are ready to drop into your project with minimal effort and time commitment.
This goes the same for footage and music. You may find yourself needing some transitional b-roll or a mellow background track to complement your video or give it some life, so always consider looking for pre-made content that’s simple, quick, and affordable and made by professionals, for professionals.
3. Optimize & Market It
In order to enhance your channel’s ability to be seen, you need to spend some time on optimizing it. This means using relevant keywords (not too many), an enticing title, and a captivating thumbnail that isn’t misleading. Choose a still image from the video from your thumbnail, or find a nice stock photo from Pond5 and add some text on it that complements the title of your video.
YouTube also gives you the ability to add cards throughout your video and at the end, so maximize the time that viewers are watching your video by linking them to other videos, your website or other outside links, or inviting them to subscribe (a “call-to-action” or CTA). Keep the cards and end screens to a minimum, because too many options can lead to 0 interactions. You also don’t want to constantly show people other ways to click away from your video, which can hurt your watch time.
The last and most important aspect of creating a successful YouTube channel is marketing it. YouTube videos can be embedded pretty much everywhere, so put it on any social media network or website that you own or operate. Create playlists of your related videos to keep eyeballs on your content and boost watch time.
Repurpose the full length video into smaller, social-friendly bits that are specifically designed for different platforms. Post GIFs, still images, and soundbites from your videos that make people want to check out the longer piece. If you’ve got extra footage, bloopers, or outtakes, turn those into a separate post on your social channels.
4. Consistency Is Key
Consistency as a channel mean a few different things. First off, by consistently providing your viewers with a set time when they can find new videos, you’re giving them something to look forward to.
Secondly, you can create consistency in your personality, tone, and the types of videos that you’re posting. If viewers get a consistent sense of who you are and what you’re about, they are able to connect with you over time and understand why you do the things you do and are more open to you experimenting or switching your focus.
Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, you can create a consistent shooting and editing setup that allows you to produce your videos more quickly and efficiently. If you’re in a home office, set up your tripod/camera in the exact same way, or leave a mic stand exactly where you left it last time. Use the same table and the same visual language that you use for every one of your videos to give a sense of comfort and reliability to the audience.
When it comes to editing, try and give your videos a similar structure or color, and create master templates or libraries that allow you to import your footage onto a pre-made timeline or project. If you have a bank of stock footage or b-roll, make sure to include that in your master template so you can easily drop it onto your timeline.
Lastly, (but also kind of first-ly), if you’re just starting out, it’s best to record several videos before you publish your first video. I would say a month’s worth if you’re going weekly, or a week’s worth if you’re going daily. This gives you time to get your workflow, style, and publishing schedule figured out, as well as make any major adjustments or fixes before anything actually goes live. You can then post a video and see how it goes before having to immediately worry about what’s next.
5. Add Variety
Even though I just explained how having consistency is important, that doesn’t mean you should avoid having some variety in your storytelling. For one thing, you don’t want to make the same video over and over and over again, because it’s redundant…and runs the risk of being uninspiring. Another reason is because having diversity in your videos can open your channel to different audiences, and can also open up your audience to new ideas!
You can even start your channel with this in mind, and let your audience know that every Wednesday is Q&A day, or that every Friday is when you post a video podcast. This has an added organizational benefit as well, because you’ll be able to organize your videos into different playlists and series, so everything can easily live all in one place.
Creating a successful YouTube channel is a lot of work, and it’s not something that happens accidentally. Successful brands on YouTube become take the time to strategically develop interesting ideas for their content, they publish them on a regular schedule, they use smart SEO strategy, and then market and distribute their videos effectively and efficiently.