A Guide to Creating a Successful YouTube Channel

This post was inspired by The Complete Guide To Building a Successful YouTube Channel, published by Neil Patel who kindly allowed us to adapt his article for an artist audience. Edited by David Andrew Wiebe.

YouTube is the largest video sharing site on the web. Nothing even comes close to it.

In fact, there are billions of users all over the world, and more than 4 billion upload views every single day.

The beauty of YouTube is that you can find content for any type of audience. From how-to videos to marketing videos, just about any kind of business can benefit from using this popular video channel.

Even with this amazing marketing opportunity, however, not all musicians give YouTube the attention it deserves.

Looking at the latest numbers with the Top 50 most viewed US YouTube channels, you can see that there are still opportunities to break.

Of course the big names are there, like Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, Selena Gomez, and so on (by the way, you’ll notice that all of these artists channels – managed by major record labels – are actually VEVO channels, not standard YouTube channels), but what about artist created channels?

Why are the most popular YouTube channels primarily major entertainment companies? Because there’s more to watch on YouTube than just music videos. You can find everything from gamers channels, to kids/toys-related stuff, to reaction videos, and so on. This makes it a highly competitive space for musicians who want to stand out from the crowd.

YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the web. Nothing comes close to it. Period.Click To Tweet

Are you a musician, a rising recording artist or an indie artist interested in using YouTube as a marketing tool? Here is a guide that will help you take your YouTube presence to the next level.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get a bigger piece of the above pie?

Key Strategies for YouTube

The first thing you should focus on as a content creator on YouTube is your audience.

It’s important to target a specific audience with your content. The more defined your audience is, the more viewers you will get.

  • Determine who you want to create content for.

Who would buy or stream your music? Who would watch your videos? If you were to create a video from scratch, who would you create this video for?

For a modern rock guitar player who wants to penetrate the local market, your audience could be beginner modern rock guitar enthusiasts, expert modern rock guitar players or modern rock guitar players in North America.

See how you can define your audience by adding skills level, genre and location? A narrow audience allows you to create more targeted content.

In summary, learn about your target personas. We may come back to this marketing concept in a future article.

Look at how eager your personas are to listen to your songs. :)

  • Determine what your audience wants to do.

What do your customers/fans like most?

Although publishing content related to your music is a powerful way to connect with them, sometimes creating videos on related topics can help you grow your audience.

For instance, you could create a video called “beginner musicians that want to get their music on Spotify.”

Even if this video is not directly about you as an artist or your music (although you could be selling a related e-book), it will still attract the attention of the right kind of audience.

Discover what your fans need and find out if these needs are being filled. Don’t overlook any kind of opportunity, even if it is not directly related to your product.

Okay, I can hear you scream now, or at least moan: “Hey, but we’re talking about music! Music is art! It’s not a product!…”

Well that’s another debate for another time (i.e. “is pop music art or a product?”), but right now we’re talking about marketing. Let’s stay focused on the topic at hand. :)

  • Determine whether or not your audience really wants to consume information via video.

Does your audience really want to learn through video?

Some may prefer text, audio or other mediums, but a good chunk of your audience is probably interested in consuming video content. Video is a perfect channel for tutorials, strategies, product demonstrations and even product reviews.

Musicians and performers would do well to feature their work on video, not just to attract more followers, but also to show their expertise and skills.

Just keep in mind that not all content types can be placed on a video since videos can’t be scanned like with a blog post. Lists don’t work well in video presentations.

But once you’ve defined a target market with a specific need that can be addressed with video, you can move on to the next strategy.

Getting to know what your fans/audience want is key.

Create Videos That Attract More Views

It’s not enough to put your videos out there in hopes that they will be discovered. This is like publishing a blog post on your site without ever promoting it!

Sure, you might see some traffic to your site over the long haul, but the post-and-run approach is mostly ineffective.

But you still want to get the most exposure you can for your content without putting in a ton of marketing behind it. This is why it’s necessary to create great content.

There are a few “simple” steps to make this happen:

1. Educate or entertain – when a viewer watches a video, there are two primary reasons. He is either there to learn something, or he wants to be entertained. Therefore, your video should either educate, entertain, or both.

Realize that your audience doesn’t care for a long introduction or a history lesson. They are watching your video because they want to learn something from you or they want to be entertained. If you want to keep your viewers coming back, make sure to create content that accomplishes this end.

2. Quality is crucial – one significant thing about YouTube viewers is that they look for quality videos – low quality and poorly shot videos simply won’t cut it. Your goal is to create high quality videos that will please your viewers.

There are actually two types of high quality videos: 1) high quality videos with white backgrounds, and 2) whiteboard videos.

High quality videos with a white background look professional and keep the attention of your viewers. This type of video has great lighting and looks like someone invested a lot of money and effort into making them.

In whiteboard videos, narration is played over illustrations that are being drawn on a whiteboard. These videos explain even the most complex topics in a simple manner, and are entertaining to boot.

These two types of videos require the help of a designer and web illustrator. It is possible to find highly-talented people on sites like Upwork or Guru to get these videos made.

3. Make a name for yourself – in creating your own YouTube channel, you need to create loyal followers who will watch your videos on a regular basis. Therefore, having only one great video will never be enough. You need to commit to creating high quality videos for your channel on an ongoing basis so you can accumulate more subscribers. This can help with video shares too.

Creating multiple videos about your subject matter will make you look like an expert too, and even if your first one doesn’t accumulate a lot of views, it can grow exponentially as you release more and more content.

Make sure that your videos have been optimized so that they will be easy to find on YouTube.Click To Tweet

Basic Video SEO

The next step is making sure that your videos have been optimized so that they will be easy to find on YouTube.

This can also help with ranking in Google. This is how you do it:

1. Fill out your video information – make sure to fill out the description field for your video, as it can help with being more discoverable on YouTube and Google. Video information encompasses the title of the video, the description and tags. If you have a relevant keyword list, you can use it in your title, description and tags but never, ever stuff these fields with superfluous keywords.

Keywords should only be included once in the title, once or maybe twice in the description, and a few in the tags if it makes sense.

YouTube does not have much impact in ranking videos on Google since the video title is only as long as one sentence, and the tags contain very limited information about the video. This leaves the description to do all the work.

Including important information about the video can help Google’s crawlers understand what your video is about and will also make it easier to rank.

2. Engage with your users and provide feedback – in addition to the video information you provide, YouTube also checks how users engage with the video through their reactions and feedback. If users like your video, this is an indicator to search engines that your video is shareable and contains relevant information. The algorithm therefore ranks it higher.

User feedback is crucial in YouTube video evaluation.

If the views drop during the first 10 seconds of your video, then YouTube and Google may view your video as being low quality.

But if around half of your viewers watch the video all the way through, your chances of getting a better ranking increases.

YouTube makes it easier to check this through your account statistics. A graph indicates user engagement from every segment of your video.

Aside from this, YouTube also collects user feedback from:

  • Your video’s overall views – if a video is getting a lot of views without any help, then it may be seen as more valuable. More views equals higher rankings.
  • Thumbs up or down rating – YouTube users use these to rate videos. The higher the ratio of thumbs up, the better.
  • Subscribers – if a video is good, then there will be more people who will subscribe to your channel, and if it is bad, you will have fewer subscribers.
  • Favorites and social media shares – if a video is shared, it will be seen as being more valuable.
  • Comments – the number of comments is insignificant since there could be good comments and bad ones. If a video is good, then it will gather more positive comments, which can factor into rankings.

All of these metrics are used by Google to weigh in on an appropriate score for every video and how it is ranked. Therefore, the best strategy is to create great quality videos.

YouTube Views Rule!

There are a lot of factors that contribute to better rankings, but quality views are the most significant. When the average viewer watches most of  your video, you have a “quality view.”

Top ranked videos generally have 10,000 views or more, but 3,600 is enough to boost your rankings. Once your video has reached a few thousand views, it has what it takes to rank higher.

A few thousand viewers is enough to compare your video engagement to other videos of the same category.

But when you are just starting out, you may want to learn how to use these tactics to promote your videos:

  1. Cross-promotion – if you already have a following in your niche, then you can work with other content creators and make appearances on other popular channels. Your name will be added in the description as a special video guest. Target around 20 to 30 users with a strong subscriber base; you can send them an email pitch to create a video for them.
  2. Leverage your blog or website – share your videos in a blog post or on your website. If a customer or visitor decides to watch your video, then they can do so on your site, and this will also count as a view.
  3. Email outreach – send your videos to top bloggers in your topic. Ask them to help you out by sharing your videos to their audience. Explain why their audience will love your videos.
  4. Advertising – you may also purchase ads on YouTube to help promote your videos. The cost is fairly cheap, around $10 to $30 per thousand views. This is a good idea, especially if you do not have many subscribers.

How to Make Every Single View Count

The whole point of using YouTube is not to get views but to get your business running. It is to capture the attention of your potential customers and to lead them to your site and purchase your products or subscribe to an email list.

So once you have managed to catch their attention, the next step is to:

  1. Add a call to action to every video – add a simple message at the end of your video (or at the middle) of what you want your viewers to do. If you want your viewers to visit and subscribe to your channel, then persuade them to take action. Some uploaders use a large subscribe arrow in the middle of their videos, but you can experiment with different approaches to see what works best for you.
  2. Use a link to a landing page to capture email addresses – the call to action could be at the end of the video, but it could also be in the description area so that your viewers can easily click it.

Important Tips on YouTube Marketing

Here are some final tips on how to handle comments.

How to Deal with Negative Comments

Building a successful channel can take time, and it is important to relate to your customers in a personal manner. For better or for worse, you may get some negative comments along the way, but the key is to handle them in a smart and professional manner.

  • Dealing with trolls – these comments are not worthy your attention. Just ignore them and move on. Focus on the positive comments.

How to Deal with Constructive Comments

Constructive comments provide a great opportunity to improve your channel and of course to grow your business.

Thank your viewers for their feedback and tell them that you’re going to consider their suggestions.

Is there anything you’d like to share about YouTube growth and marketing? Please feel free to comment below.

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