Why I Run a YouTube Channel

YouTube

I started my first YouTube channel about four years ago.  It was to help students learn Maths (I am a Maths teacher by trade).  A little less than a year ago, I started a new YouTube channel called Boardgame Opinions, which (as the name suggests) aims to provide opinions on boardgames.

I’ve learnt a great deal about running YouTube channels during this time and I’ll be giving some tips on how to run a YouTube channel successfully later in the week.

However, for today’s entry, I’d like to talk more about motivation.  Why do I run YouTube channels?  Have you ever considered running a YouTube channel?  Before we discuss the ‘How’, I think it’s very important to address the ‘Why’…


Most YouTube channels aren’t successful, but to even decide whether a channel is successful or not, you have to decide what the criteria for success is, and much of that comes down to what you want to achieve.

Fame

For some people, it’s all about the numbers.  In order to be successful, they want to achieve a certain number of subscribers and/or views.

Now this is obviously a very good measure of success in one sense.  If a million people have watched your videos, you must be doing something right.  However, for some people this is only a means to an end whereas for others it is the ultimate goal.  They simply want to be seen by the world.  They want to be famous.

Now I have no intrinsic issue with this.  I have no interest in being famous myself, but if someone else wants to be famous that’s fine with me.  While I might question whether they will be truly satisfied even if they achieve their goal, they’re not doing any harm.

Money

If the number of views is only a means to an end, what’s the end?  Well, for some people the end is financial.  If you have enough viewers, in theory you can make money from the channel.

Why in theory?  Well, you really need to have a lot of viewers to make any significant amount of money.  To earn enough to pay your wage for example, you need millions of views really (it varies depending on the target audience, how much they ‘engage’ with the channel and how you intend to make money).

There are a few different ways that you can make money from your YouTube channel once you have enough viewers.  For example:

  • Ads

Once you have around 10 000 views you can switch on ads and earn money from the number of people that view the ads.  This is obviously annoying for the viewers though.

  • Sponsorship

If you are reaching enough potential customers with your videos, retailers will be interested in sponsoring your channel to generate exposure for their brand.  This is less annoying for viewers as sponsorship is so commonplace that most people accept it without question.

  • Pay Wall

If you are providing something of value (eg. education), you can place some or all of your videos behind a pay wall (YouTube allows you to do this or you can set up your own website to do it).  However, this is super-annoying for viewers who were used to being able to watch your videos for free and now they have to pay.

  • Patreon

There are other sites that let your fans support you, but Patreon is probably the most famous.  Essentially, people donate money to enable you to create more content.  This is a win-win situation in my book, as long as you’re not crying, “Support me!  Support me!” in all your videos.

  • Sell

If you sell products connected with the channel, you can drive sales through natural promotion.  For example, Team Covenant, who produce some excellent X-Wing content on their YouTube channel, sell X-Wing movement templates (among other things).  This comes across very well if it’s done tastefully.

 

Personally, I have no expectations of making money from YouTube.  I would consider the less annoying options once we have enough viewers on the Boardgame Opinions channel, but this wouldn’t be for the purpose of increasing my wage.

I would be very keen for any monies made to be used to improve the quality and range of content provided on the channel.  Being a maven, I always want to produce the best quality content I can.

Promotion

This is connected with selling products and making money (see above).  Many companies will run YouTube channels for the sole purpose of promoting their products.

If this were the only benefit from running a YouTube channel, I wouldn’t do it.  However, it is a nice bonus.  To Kickstart a boardgame, you really need an audience who are already familiar with who you are and what you do.

The Boardgame Opinions channel does that well.  Not that everyone who watches the channel is going to back our games.  In all honesty, I wouldn’t necessarily expect any of the viewers to become backers, but those people who are interested can check out the channel and get a feel for the people behind the games.

Service

When I started my Maths YouTube channel, my vision was to educate a million people.  The channel is up to half a million views, so it’s getting there!  Some people start YouTube channels to provide a service to the world: to share their knowledge and experience.

This may not be purely philanthropic.  I hoped one day to earn a wage from the channel so that I could give up my day job and work on the channel full-time.  Things didn’t go as expected (do they ever?!), but the channel led to other opportunities that I would never have had without it.

In the case of the Boardgame Opinions channel, I found I was wanting to watch short videos that provided a range of people’s opinions on boardgames.  I couldn’t find any so I decided to try doing it myself hoping that other people would find it useful.

Community

Ah, this is where it’s at!  This is the top reason (by far) that I run the Boardgame Opinions channel and the reason I play boardgames.  YouTube allows you to connect with people from all over the world who share your niche interest.

By way of example, there was a guy who came up to me while I was filming at the UK Games Expo this year.  He said he enjoyed watching the YouTube videos and wanted to say ‘Hello’.  I asked if he’d come with anyone else and he said he was there playing games with his son (who he pointed out at one of the gaming tables).  It was great to chat to him and make that connection.  It was one of the highlights of the convention for me.

I remember the first time I met Tom Vasel and Sam Healey from The Dice Tower with my own son (at a previous UK Games Expo).  Having watched so many of their videos, it was a pleasure to make that connection in person.

These meetings are rare, but I can connect with people via the comments at any time.  BoardGameGeek (BGG) is a great resource here as we post all our videos on BGG.  Some people comment on YouTube and some people comment on BGG so we can connect with them there as well.

Another great benefit of the channel though, is the development of local community.  Since I started the channel, along with the dozens of people who appear regularly in the videos I film, there are now four other people who are regularly involved in creating their own video content for the channel.

That’s the part that excites me the most: inspiring people to pursue their dreams!  I’ve made new friends, deepened existing friendships and seen people come together all because we started recording a few videos.  Magic.


So those are my reasons.  If you have any experience running a YouTube channel, I’d love to know your motivations for doing so.  And if you’ve been considering starting a channel yourself, check out How to Run a YouTube Channel – Part 1.

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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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