How to Run a YouTube Channel – Part 2

Video Devices 2

Last week I talked about why I run a YouTube channel.  I think it’s very important to decide what your motivations for running a channel are before you start.  Apart from anything else, it will help you to stay motivated when things become difficult (which they will!).

I’ve been running YouTube channels for about four years now and I’ve had my fair share of success and made a fair number of mistakes!  So later on last week I attempted to share some of the lessons I’ve learned by giving a few tips on how to run a YouTube channel.

Today I’m going to continue the previous post by giving a few more tips.  I actually never got around to talking about what I consider to be the most important tip for running a channel, so we’ll cover that along with a few other keys to growing a successful channel.


Content is King

This is the big one.  More than anything else, you need to realise that content is king.  What does that mean?  It means that the single biggest defining factor for a successful YouTube channel is the sheer volume of content.

The more videos you release, the more views you will receive.  The more videos you release, the more ‘new’ content you will have, which YouTube’s recommendation algorithm prioritises.  The more videos you release, the more they will appear as suggested videos after people have finished watching other videos.

It also provides a certain amount of validation for people who stumble across your channel.  A channel with over 100 videos is going to stand out more than one with fewer than 20.  You obviously have to start somewhere, but if you keep producing videos, the numbers will add up.

This is another factor that affects the exponential growth issue that I talked about last time.  The more content you have, the more people you will attract to your channel to watch your videos.  So you have to be patient to begin with.  Growth will be slow at first because you won’t have many videos, apart from anything else.

Quality matters, but content is king.

Now not everyone is going to like every video you release, but if you produce a range of content, different people will like different things.  Don’t feel like you need to produce amazing smash hit videos that will appeal to everyone.

That doesn’t mean you should abandon any desire for quality and churn out loads of rubbish videos.  Quality matters, but content is king.

Quality Can Come Later

As a maven, I care a great deal about quality.  However, quality takes time, effort and money.  Most people are limited in all three of those things.  If you produce top quality videos, but due to the amount of time it takes you, you can only release one a month, you’re never going to have a thriving YouTube channel.

If you’re producing TV quality content, you might be able to get away with producing one every week or two (like Tabletop), but most of us don’t have the budget for that.  It’s much better to produce videos that are at least reasonable a couple of times a week.  Remember, content is king.

Having said that, you should aim to increase the quality of what you do.  People will be very forgiving of average quality productions if they can see that you’re improving.

Presenting is a skill.

This will happen naturally to a certain extent.  The more you produce content, the better you will get at it.  Presenting is a skill after all; you will get better with practice.

As your channel grows, this will motivate you to improve the quality and perhaps invest some money into the channel.  It’s hard to justify spending money on something that is only attracting a few dozen viewers per week.  When you have a few thousand viewers per week though, it will feel more worthwhile.

Thumbnails

That being said, there are a number of things you can do almost immediately, with relatively little effort, to improve the quality and visibility of what you do.  One of the most important is custom thumbnails.

These should have a consistent look and feel to them.  You’re attempting to create brand recognition with these.  They will appear as suggestions at the end of other videos and you want people to instantly recognise your videos.

Make sure your thumbnails clearly state what the content of the video is.  You’re hoping people will click through to one of your videos when they appear as recommendations and the only thing people have to go on much of the time is the thumbnail.

You also want some kind of image that looks attractive and again connects with the content of the video.  People are naturally attracted to people, so an image of an engaging presenter is often a great option here (see below).

People Buy In To Characters

People like watching people (and animals for some reason!).  Even if you’re making videos about boardgames, you still need a character that people can connect to.  Most people make their decisions about which reviews to watch, for example, based on the person doing the review: “I like her”, “I don’t like him”, etc.

If you’re the only one involved making the videos to start with (which is very likely), that means you need to be the engaging character in your videos.  Now a lot of people find this difficult to begin with, although if you’re considering starting a YouTube channel, you can’t be too camera shy.

Be yourself, but make an effort.

Again, you will get better with practice, but to begin with you really need to make an effort to engage with your viewers.  In practice this means smiling, making good eye contact with the camera, speaking in an animated way, etc.  This can feel forced if you’re not careful.  Be yourself, but make an effort.

Standard Intro/Outro

You don’t need to worry about this at first, but you should aim to develop consistent intro and outro graphics as well as consistent intro/outro lines.

You can get a decent logo/intro animation done very cheaply on Fiverr.com.  Check out the site if you’ve not heard of it.  It’s perfect for small, one-off jobs like logo design.  This will reinforce your brand recognition while people watch your videos.  It also looks more professional.

You also want a consistent intro/outro in terms of the words you speak.  This provides familiarity for the viewer and it makes it easier to record.  It can be all too easy to stumble over the initial/last few words you speak in each video.

A snappy, confident intro speech will reassure the viewer that they’re in capable hands and give you the confidence to present the rest of the video well.


If you’re considering running a YouTube channel, I highly recommend it.  Don’t put it off any longer!  It hasn’t made me rich or famous, but it has allowed me to connect with loads of people I wouldn’t have connected with otherwise and gives me a great sense of achievement.

Do you have any tips for someone running a YouTube channel?

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Jonathan Hicks

Jonathan is the director of Maven Games. He blogs and records podcast episodes several times a week. Whenever he isn't doing anything else, he designs games.

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