What’s the one thing that has been a catalyst for change in your business? YouTube is mine, and in this article I’m going to talk about some of the ins and outs of YouTube.
I remember a few years ago when there was online summit after online summit going on, and I was never being chosen as the one to talk about design. I was never the one asked to be on a podcast. Business was good, don’t get me wrong.
But I wondered, would it stay that way?
If I continued to stay on the sidelines, if I continued to be picked over for other designers… would my business stay afloat? I wasn’t sure. And I sure as heck did not want to go back to working in the corporate world.
I decided to start a YouTube channel – which did not come easily by the way, because I was terrified of being on camera.
Will I be good on camera? Will anyone watch? Will it actually help my business? What if I spend this money, even if it’s not much, for nothing?
I don’t want my biz to flatline, I don’t want to go back to corporate, I don’t want to be unhappy.
So I reluctantly pushed all the what if questions aside and hit record.
Well, I had to hit record a few times. When I was trying to record my VERY first video, I actually recruited my husband to help. He’s in the production world, dealing with video and audio, so I figured he would be great to help me with setting up everything.
And he was. He was great at helping me with making my background look nice, and framing the shot. But, I was too nervous to record with him in the room. That’s how nervous I am on camera – I don’t want anyone in the room, even my husband. (Notice I’m not using past tense here, because I’m still too nervous to record with anyone around.)
So, finally we decided we needed a new solution. I had to adapt. I needed to be able to see myself and make sure I was in focus on camera, sooooo we decided that instead of recording with my DSLR camera, I was going to use my iPhone! I put my phone on a selfie stick, and then my tripod held my selfie stick – super official setup, right?
But, it worked. That’s all that matters. YouTube doesn’t have to be fancy.
So, I started recording and publishing my YouTube videos. But then came the next part, learning how to edit videos. At first, my husband was editing my videos – it’s handy to have your own built-in IT and production man, that’s all I can say. So he was editing them at first, but then there was the issue of time and schedule… and then one day, I made a last minute video because of some new Instagram news. I recorded the new video the same day I wanted to publish it, which also meant I needed to edit the footage.
So… I learned how to edit. Literally, I taught myself how to edit in like 20 minutes, with also a quick five minute call to my husband to learn the basics. Now don’t worry, I 110% understand that not everyone can just sit down and learn how to edit that quickly. I will admit I am very tech savvy and learn quickly. There are definitely tutorials out there to help you learn how to edit, so it’s not impossible. And also, I could have pushed my perfectionism aside and published the video one day later than my normal posting schedule.
But, there I was – recording, editing, and publishing. I did it.
I pushed through the fear and the doubts, and was running a YouTube channel. The only problem was, no one was watching. Well, maybe not no one, but like… seven people. One of my fears was happening – I feared that I would do all of this work for nothing. So I had a choice to either keep going or call it quits.
Spoiler alert, as you probably already guessed by the title of this episode, I stuck with it. Business and marketing are a marathon, not a sprint. Just like diets don’t work, you can’t expect one blog post to fill your entire client roster. (And it can also help you grow your passive income!)
And it’s a good thing I kept going because I did get a client from a video. I was talking to a woman who wanted to hire me to design her website, and she didn’t know the difference between Squarespace or WordPress. Lucky for her, and for me, I had just published a video comparing the difference between the two. (Jereshia Hawk and I also talked about how she uses Facebook live to launch services!)
So, I sent her the video, and later that day, she decided to work with me on her website. Fast forward to after the project, and in her feedback form, she noted that seeing me on video was what sold her on working with me over any other designer. That quick one-minute video built enough of the know, like, and trust factor for a complete stranger to hire me. And in fact, many, but not all, of my clients have not followed me online.
I have baffled my mentors and business coaches when I tell them that so many of my clients haven’t been following me or been on my email list. The clients find my content, without me running any ads, and hire me. THAT is how YouTube has transformed my business.
Focus on adding value with specific steps and strategies
You’ll likely feel a little bit stiff or uncomfortable when you record your first several videos. I was so camera-shy when I started that I actually felt this way for a couple months.
Little did I know, this is totally normal.
However, you can speed up the time it takes to shake those nerves if you shift your focus from how nervous you are, and place that focus on the value you’re offering people.
When you offer valuable information in the form of quick, actionable tips that can help people, two things happen:
- You’ll be less concerned with how you appear on camera since you’ll be really focused on delivering great content.
- Your audience will see past any nerves that happen to come across in your video — if they need the information you’re sharing, they’ll be focused on how it applies to them and their lives.
Focusing on the value you’re adding will keep you motivated to make videos, while building lots of trust with your audience.
Give yourself time – More time than you think!
About a month in, you might start wondering if recording all those videos is even worth it.
It’s likely you’ll still be at the point where only a small number of people are viewing your videos, and filming those videos will probably still feel like work.
I’ll be honest, it took me a couple months to start feeling comfortable on camera. And about three months until I got my first client who found me because of video. By the fourth month, I actually started to enjoy recording videos for my channel — and now I’m addicted!
This might seem obvious because you know that nothing in business happens overnight, and success with video is the same way. So give yourself time to gain traction when you first start.
Start your videos with YOU on camera
Super simple, straightforward tip here for YouTube for beginners.
Starting your video with you on camera allows people to decide right away if they connect with you as a person. This will keep the people who connect with you watching, simply because they want to get to know you.
What you need to start a YouTube channel
First, you need a purpose for starting a YouTube channel.
Why do you want to start a YouTube channel? There are an unlimited number of answers to this question. And there’s no wrong or right answer, just your answer. And that’s the most important answer of all.
I see so many YouTubers start and then fail within a very short time. YouTubers start a channel with a passion, posting a video every week. Then it trickles to every other week. Then maybe one video per month until they abandon their channel out of frustration.
I believe one of the root causes of this trend is because those YouTubers never really understood why they were creating videos in the first place. Their channel had no purpose or goals and they struggled to find a reason to keep it going.
That purpose leads us to the second thing you need: a plan.
Your purpose should translate into tangible goals. If your goal is to get clients from your channel, how many do you want each month? Let’s say, 5 new clients per month. Okay, so what do you have to do to get five clients? How much traffic do you need to drive to your channel to make that happen, and how will you drive that traffic?
Your channels purpose can change over time. Brands grow and change. You grow and change as a person. What suited you five years ago may not work for you or your niche now. Taking a few minutes to dig into why you create videos is worth the investment of your time.
The third thing you need for YouTube: a camera.
While this piece of equipment is crucial because, obviously, we need to see you… what camera you use is NOT crucial. If you don’t have any money to spare, just use your computer or smart phone. I promise, this is totally fine. Think about all the funny memes we share on Facebook and Instagram, and how many of them are low quality images – it’s because we like the content itself, and don’t care about it being a high-res image. The same goes for starting a YouTube channel – we care about valuable content, not it being the highest resolution footage.
Now, if you do have a budget, the other two cameras I have used besides my iPhone are a Sony Handycam and a Canon Rebel T4i with an external mic. I’m not saying these are the end-all, be-all cameras for YouTubers. You can search on YouTube for recommendations from other YouTubers and what they use. Soooo many YouTubers make videos about what camera they use, so you just need to find one that fits your budget. Once you have a camera chosen, it’s time to get the show rolling – it’s time to record.
This takes us to the fourth thing you need, which is a story. You need to give people a reason to want to come back, you need to give them a way to connect with you.
And when I talk about including stories in your content, I don’t mean that you need to sit down to make a YouTube video and only tell us a story about your day yesterday. If you want to grow your YouTube channel, this is not a strategy you can ignore.
For so long, my videos on my channel were just direct and to the point – which is good to an extent, because people are watching it to learn how to do something. But, it didn’t give them a reason to come back for more, because they just wanted the tutorials as issues came up.
I knew if I wanted my channel to grow, I needed to connect with people on another level.
So, I started sharing more of me. And it wasn’t anything outrageously personal, except for the video I posted two weeks ago, but people started connecting with me more. I had people asking me about my dog or our foster care journey, or commenting on any little personal detail that I would mention and be like, hey me too!
So now that you have recorded a video… it’s time to edit, which takes us to the fifth and final thing you need: an editor.
This could mean just an editing program or an actual video editor. First, let’s talk about editing programs.
If you are recording with your smartphone, then it might be easiest to edit with the vlogit app. You can edit clips, piece things together, add transitions and text – and it’s a free app! There’s also an Adobe Premiere Pro iPhone app to edit your videos, but it does have a slightly higher learning curve. I have tutorials for both of these apps on my YouTube channel, which you can find by going to jesscreatives.video.
There are also some desktop options for editing videos. If you’re a Mac user, iMovie is super popular because it’s also free and fairly easy to use. WeVideo is very similar, but it’s browser-based so it doesn’t matter what computer you’re using. What’s great is that you can login to your account and work on your projects from any computer, so it’s great if you hop between computers for whatever reason, but it does cost $11/month.
Getting Sales & Subscribers on YouTube as a Beginner
The biggest frustration I hear from business owners is, “Well, I’m not getting sales from YouTube, and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.
A lot of times when I look at these YouTube channels, I’m like, “Where are your calls to action? You’re not telling people to download anything, or to hire you, or to look in the description for a link to learn more, or anything.” People need a prompt. It doesn’t have to be an over the top kind of sleazy like, “You need to hire me right now,” kind of message. I have never said that in a video, and I’ve gotten plenty of clients from YouTube.
Start getting YouTube sponsors
While it may not be the main goal for your channel, YouTube sponsorships are a great way to add more income through your channel. I got sponsors before I had even 2,000 subscribers! Here are my tips:
Brainstorm potential YouTube sponsors
Start by thinking about what brands and businesses would be a good fit to sponsor your content. The key is to consider those brands (companies, tools, etc.) that you’ve used before and would be happy to promote, even if you weren’t getting paid to do so.
Is there a particular topic you’ve talked about before that has gotten a lot of questions or feedback? Try starting there. Keep in mind that potential sponsors need to align with your brand, and they need to make sense when considering your industry and audience as well.
Consider how you’ll be compensated
When trying to figure out how much it you should get paid for creating sponsored content, I found that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. But, there are several factors you can consider to come up with a rough idea of how you should be compensated for your work:
- Your level of experience and expertise with the subject matter
- The time it will it take to complete the work from start to finish (from research all the way to publication/promotion)
- Your audience and social media following (Hint: Having a small audience DOESN’T mean that sponsors won’t want to work with you…)
- Where/when you will promote the sponsored content
In my experience, these are the factors that mattered most when coming up with a ballpark price I could discuss with potential sponsors.
Find a contact
To get in touch with the right person at the business you’re looking to pitch as a potential YouTube sponsor, check out their press page. Companies will usually have specific instructions to follow if you want to contact them about sponsorship.
If you don’t find what you need, reach out with a general contact form. But the content of your message should focus on finding out who you can direct your questions/inquiries to about sponsorships. (Tip: Avoid pitching in the contact form – it can look spammy.)
Write your pitch and send it via email
Now that you’ve done all the pre-work, it’s time to pitch your idea. Here’s what I recommend including in your pitch email:
- Reveal the basics of your idea
- Share some of your “street cred” (awards, places you’ve been featured, etc.)
- Discuss mutual benefit of working together
- Include info about your audience
- If you’ve published anything about their brand before, link to that content
- Mention potential content promotion frequency and where you plan to share the content
Send a contract to your new sponsor
Once you reach an agreement and YouTube sponsor wants to work with you, the next step is to send them a contract. This part doesn’t have to be scary or complicated. A quick google search for brand sponsors should help you get clear on basic information you need to include in your contract. My favorite contract resource is The Contract Shop! (aff. link)
Dealing with common YouTube frustrations
A lot of people start YouTube and then after seven or eight videos, they’re like, “Wait, why am I not seeing any ROI? Why am I not getting any sales or subscribers?”
This problem first starts with topics. Are you providing value to your audience? Are you solving a problem? Video helps you build the know, like, and trust factor so incredibly fast, but to get those sales you need to be helping those potential clients. The first time I got a client from a YouTube video was about three months after I started, so that’s about 12 or 15 videos at that point. It was a one-minute video, I think. I was super awkward. There was no special lighting. I was on an iPhone, I mean yada, yada, yada. It was super basic, basically. I shared it with a potential client I was talking with, and she hired me and booked my largest package. Just a one-minute video, and I know for a fact that it was the one-minute video that sealed the deal because she mentioned it in the post project questionnaire when I asked, “Why did you specifically choose me instead of any other designer?” and she said, “Because I saw you on video.”
The other big problem keeping you from YouTube growth from video is not having a call to action within the video. It doesn’t have to be a call to action like, “Hire me now.” It could be like, “Hey, today’s workout is a 30-minute, at-home routine, but if you’re ready to have more customized workouts, check out the link in the description.”
The second big struggle people have with YouTube growth is that they’ll be doing videos for a few months and then they’re like, “No one is engaging with my videos. I don’t get shares or likes. No one even comments.”
It can be frustrating when you don’t have any engagement on your videos. I get it. I totally understand. I’ve been there. I went a really long time with very low engagement. The thing is, is that you have to keep going. Think about how many Instagram posts or YouTube videos or Facebook posts you scroll past every single day and you don’t comment or like. It’s probably hundreds or maybe even thousands, right? It doesn’t mean that you don’t enjoy those posts or get something out of them.
Don’t quit video or really anything, for that matter, just because you don’t see a ton of engagement right away. YouTube growth takes time, but there are two things you can do to try and increase that video engagement. First, like we talked about earlier, you need to have a call to action. You don’t want to have 10 different calls to action in one video. That would just be overwhelming, but you can ask for people to comment below.
For example, I did a video recently about Instagram apps to use, and after mentioning one app, I said, “Hey, this is an app that probably has a higher learning curve, so if you want a full tutorial on it, let me know.” And guess what? I got comments from people wanting a tutorial. They literally said that in their comment. Don’t just say, “Hey, if you enjoyed this video, let me know in the comments.” That’s a really bland call to action. No one’s going to comment and be like, “I really enjoyed this video.” Ask a specific question.
Second, a lot of people have this subconscious fear of being the first one to comment. If there are no comments already, they don’t want to be the first one. If there are a couple of comments, it’s easier for them to kind of blend in in the comments. The key here is to start the dialogue. You always be the first comment on your video. Now some people are kind of weirded out by doing that, but it’s not like you’re going to comment and say, “Oh, my gosh, what a great video.” You’re not going to compliment yourself. You start the dialogue by asking a question. On my Instagram video that I just mentioned earlier, my question was, “What is your favorite Instagram Story app?
The biggest struggle people have with YouTube growth is not getting more subscribers.
There are pros and cons to subscribers and focusing on subscribers. Obviously, you have more clout when you have more subscribers. People just kind of think people are more reputable or more amazing when you have 30,000 subscribers versus 300 or 30. Whether we want to admit it or not, most of us really want to grow our following on one platform or another, but the data shows that a lot of YouTube views come from non-subscribers. What we should concentrate on for YouTube growth is converting viewers to email subscribers or clients, not so much as to whether or not they are actually just YouTube subscribers.
I’m going to sound like a broken record again, but this comes down to calls to action in your video, and I also know that I’ve mentioned not to have too many calls to action, so you might be like, “Make up your mind. What am I supposed to say?” What I usually do is ask them to subscribe towards the end of the video. Ask a question sometimes in the middle, but usually at the end, and let the content sell itself or sell me. I’m not having a call to action to hire me or go buy something. It’s honestly not even that often that I actually pitch services or digital products in a video anyway.
The other thing you need to think about with getting more subscribers is give people a reason to come back. Give them a reason to want to watch every video. This happens when you provide value, when you’re interesting to watch on camera, or when you tell really good stories in your content. It doesn’t mean you have to literally tell a story like, “The other day I was going to do this,” and you have a 10-minute story in the middle of your video. Tell stories, little snippets of stories that are quick and easy to digest.
You can easily give them a reason to come back by theming your content so it links together. At the end of your video, you can say, “Hey, next week I’ll be back with part two,” or, “I’ll show you how to do the next step next week.”