YouTube is a massive ecosystem of thousands of audiences ready to take action. Us bloggers like this. People buy, sell, play, download, vote, chat etc every day because YouTube inspires them to. One source reports over 62% of millennials will take action after viewing an ad (think of an ad as your clever piece of content) as do 51% of viewers over age 35.
People are so hooked on random video content it’s no wonder small-scale creators have risen to stardom to become the likes of Grumpy Cat, PewDiePie, Derek Halpern, Zoella, Dude Perfect, KSI, Phil DeFranco and so many more. You don’t even have to be a huge star to be successful on YouTube though – there are far more medium-sized…we can still call them stars. Imagine adding 30,000 views/month to your blogging efforts just because you’re on the YouTube. It’s possible.
So if you’re ready to take your blog to the fast and glamorous world of YouTube video, then this article will serve to show you how. Trust me when I say you’ve really got nothing to lose, but everything to gain.
Note before we begin! I created my main YouTube channel in May of 2011, and started building it actively sometime mid-2013. Just a fair warning – to grow a successful YouTube channel usually (aside from viral videos) takes time! Start soon, keep your expectations low, and don’t be shaken by the comment haters! You can be amazing on YouTube, and we’re here to help!
Firstly, let’s set up your YouTube channel already!
Let’s start basic to keep everyone on board, and to make sure everyone at least gets started with a new channel today. Google has guides on everything these days, so of course, that includes a guide on how to set up a YouTube channel in the first place.
It’s obviously free to create a YouTube channel – Google wants you on there!
Once you’re setup, it’s a good idea to play with your channel art for a few minutes. Get a good profile image like your current Gravatar setup. Think HD and maybe a younger, hotter version of you 😉
So here’s your initial to do list once your channel is created:
- Setup Channel icon – This is your profile image. It’s linked to Google plus – whatever profile image you select on Google plus will show up here, and can take a few minutes to update.
- Setup Channel banner – This is the wide banner that goes behind your Channel icon. It’s a little bit trickier to create because you want high resolution, but YouTube makes you fit your banner into a narrow space. We recommend following PicMonkey’s guide to creating a YouTube banner because it also comes with banner templates to try out.
Okay, so that could have easily taken an hour if it was your first time…but hope I really hope it didn’t, because there are way more fun tasks below! Let’s move on!
Lastly, depending on the type of computer you’re on (YouTube interface on my desktop screen looks different than my MacBook Air screen when traveling) click to your About tab or click CUSTOMIZE CHANNEL and fill in your Channel Description with some nice words – maybe a modified version of your blog’s about page – describing what users can expect from you and where you came from.
While you’re on this About screen, add a few links to your blog and other social channels, including Google +. Google + is less important than YouTube to focus on, but syncing the two will only help to squeeze out a few more drops of traffic.
Okay, really hoping you got through this part quickly, so we can now focus on taking content from your blog to put on YouTube, and can work towards the first milestone, your first YouTube subscriber, or ten! This all begins with your first video, and to make it easy on you, we’ll use one of your existing blog posts for content and inspiration for the first video.
What articles do I convert to video format?
Okay, now that you’ve got a YouTube channel up and running which is starting to resemble your blog in a similar but whole-new-platform sorta way, it’s time to decide what articles on your blog are worth transforming into videos. Another way of looking at it / a good question to ask yourself is “which articles on my blog could use videos inside them to better explain what I’m trying to say?”
If your goal is to someday make your blog into a business (or maybe your blog is already a business) then you could simplify this question to just looking at where your blog earned the best – then transforming that content into video form! Up to you!
Of course, some of our blog posts are generally better for videos, including:
- Articles that got you the most traffic. You can find these in your Google Analytics dashboard > Behavior > Overview. When looking at my WordPress forum, these articles come up as most viewed / most popular topics thus far. Good place to start.
- Articles containing affiliate links which can be transferred to the YouTube description sections. If you write quality reviews which product referral clicks, you can definitely convert them to videos as use the description sections as condensed blog posts where affiliate links are certainly allowed in moderation.
- Heavily commented articles.
- Articles containing an intriguing storyline, which maybe haven’t gotten enough exposure on your blog.
- In-depth how-to articles that require some further explanation.
I would NOT focus on articles explaining something you can answer in 1-2 sentences. Sometimes a written answer trumps a video.
Hopefully, your blog has some of the above types of articles. If it doesn’t, stop writing about Swedish fish oils! Jokes. If you don’t have any of the above articles, it’s fine, because they are just a few of the good types of articles that work well as videos. There are plenty more. Or, you can totally make up your own video content.
With a good idea of which content you’ve made so far performs best, let’s gather the tools needed to put you out there in video form.
Create your first video
So by now we’ve setup the nuts and bolts for your new channel, and have narrowed down a few blog posts that would work well as videos. Now it’s time to create your first video! I know some folks would elaborate on the planning stages more here – get the nice camera or hire a professional filmer, plan the lighting, download the fancy software, write a script, etc etc etc – but regarding when to start making videos, my feeling has always been that more time spent planning means less doing in the moment. Too much planning can make you put off a worth task all together!
Besides, you might be surprised that you probably have all the necessary equipment to make your first YouTube video right now in your home office! It doesn’t have to be complicated equipment, remember content is king and YOU are what they are watching for, not the fancy camera.
Regarding when to start making videos, my feeling has always been that more time spent planning means less doing in the moment.
To show you I’m living proof of how a bootleg setup turned into a pretty darn good and at least watchable video, here’s the basic setup for my first serious blog tutorial video:
- Tall bookshelf I found
- MacBook pro webcam
- $30 Cad mic from Amazon
- Apartment in Chinatown as backdrop
- Camtasia Mac for editing
All this cost under $100 (the MacBook was a gift back in university) and while it didn’t look like a Casey Neistat video all edited to perfection, it served the purpose, and sometimes you have to get content out there to figure out what works and gain the confidence to reinvest in your business.
Besides, it’s fun to a. get content out there quickly and naturally and b. look back on your old work that was a little dusty and sketchy and laugh at how you did things.
I truly do believe a basic filming setup like the list above will work for you too — have fun creating different parts of it from scratch!
Note: For my videos, the majority consists of a screencast or series of screencasts with the purpose helping people learn WordPress and make a WordPress website (recent example), which is a different sort of task to film compared to the more day in the life type videos. Both are fun and challenging. A screencast is when you are typing or building or doing anything on your computer and filming that very process, meaning filming your screen. Camtasia is the screencasting software I started with and still use through several updates and new version. It’s downright amazing. But the sheer fact that I’m screencasting means less time spent creating a set or arguing with actors who are in the set. Which is kind of amazing too because it’s more time I can spend making more videos 🙂
Making your second video better
Once your first video is circulating around and you’ve collected a few comments, you’ll probably blow past your 1-10 subscriber milestone. Assuming you put some good work into the video and are solving a real problem with it, or taking the more challenging route and entertaining people hilariously, people will want to see what you have coming up next and will subscribe.
It’s certainly possible to collect hundreds if not thousands of subscribers from one, well-timed video, but it’s now we focus on #2, #3 and so on.
By the way, once you’re done creating your first video, we’d love to see it linked from the comments and can offer some feedback and free likes!
So here’s what you can focus on to make your second video (and third, fourth etc) even better once your first video is live. I really do recommend taking these steps after you publish that first one because your list of needs may change based on how your audience responds.
- Intro animation: A 5-10 second graphic animation showing your logo and representing your brand. These can be purchased and downloaded from places like Theme Forest and Fiverr. Your best bet, as I did, maybe contacting a developer who can actually insert your blog into the animation and time it nicely. That way you don’t have to spend a whole night learning Adobe After Effects. Here’s an example!
- Visual and sound effects: Another sizable investment, you may want to purchase Final Cut Pro for the sake of adding pretty visual effects, transitions, sounds, media clips, and generally giving your videos that sparkling touch before going live next time. Final Cut Pro is how many YouTubers add content on top of YouTube videos. For me, it’s now a must to record and create in Camtasia, then edit in Final Cut, then I publish to .mov file, after which it’s time for YouTube!
- Better quality sound: Using a better, softer, more powerful mic is always a good idea especially if you’re creating long 1-3 hour tutorials like me and people have to listen to you the whole time. I go with a simple silver Yeti podcasting microphone from Amazon, which is good for podcasting, musical recording, screencasting, and more. It comes with 4 settings which are advantageously based on what I’m filming and where the sound is coming from, including Stereo, Cardioid, Omnidirectional, and Bidirectional.
- A faster pace of content: Scripting or hiring an editor is a great way to get your messages tightened. It will take more time up front planning out what you want to say, or which parts of a blog post you’ll be using, but as you get used to this process you’ll appreciate how it guides the rest of your work. Your readers will appreciate your conciseness too.
- Monetization: It’s your call whether to monetize or not, but if you’re wondering now how to monetize a YouTube video it’s actually extremely easy. Just select one of your better videos, click on the dollar sign next to it in your video manager, then turn on Monetize with ads. Your channel needs to be in good standing, and YouTube will pretty much take care of the rest, then send you a check if you do well!
- Transitions: You can buy pretty much any kind of sound or movement transition just by Googling “transition that looks or sounds like ______” and while it can rack up the dollars, you’ll eventually get the same effects you’re enjoying on large YouTube channels, which is pretty cool from a level playing field perspective.
- Outro: It seems like every YouTube channel has some sort of outro these days where the person on the screen tells you to “Click to the left of my face for a new video” or “click here to subscribe” in some clever way. We all think these outros are redundant, cheesy and even desperate at times, but at the same time, you’ve gotta give people credit. On a blog, you have the conclusion to ask for comments or likes. On a YouTube video, you have peoples real viewing attention. So not making a catchy outro, even if it’s just you standing there, is really shooting yourself in the foot from a growth perspective. Knock a few ideas around in your head and try and find a new way of asking for interaction from your fans — I’m sure you’ll think of something cool!
With these next-level YouTube channel tips under your belt, you’ll be all set to create your next 5-10 videos and really nail down a unique style viewers should keep returning for each time you hit Publish.
Learn YouTube SEO
Ok, progress has definitely been made and you should feel great! At this point, we’ve set up your channel, transformed a blog post or two into a video, and have taken major steps to improve your production quality. Now it’s finally time to work on expanding your audience.
One of the most cornerstone principles of YouTube, and getting bigger on YouTube, is understanding scalability, the capacity to be changed in size or scale. What this means is once you’ve reached some size, say, 100 subscribers, you should aim for 1000. If 100 people like your content, why wouldn’t 10x that many people like it too? Why not 100x? People aren’t that different in terms of online consumption, and once you realize you have a good product that works for X many people, you should focus on expansion to deliver that content to 10X many people as quickly as possible. Expanding and scaling your audience will allow you a lot more freedom in terms of revenue, networking and generally doors opening up to you.
So keep that in mind, you may be happy (or terrified) to know there is literally an endless sea of YouTube SEO you can dive into to improve your videos and reach wider audiences. It’s endless. And if you’ve never SEO’d a video, doing just a little bit of YouTube SEO can help your performance a ton.
Once you realize you have a good product that works for X many people, you should focus on expansion to deliver that content to 10X many people as quickly as possible.
Here’s what to work on right away to improve YouTube SEO and scale your audience:
- Titles: You can cleverly insert good keywords into your titles to attract more viewers. Good keywords can be found in Google Trends using their YouTube Search, or you can simply think them up if you have an idea what people might be commonly searching. Here’s just one example where we compare the terms “Oscar awards”, “Oscar winners”, and “best actor” for the title of a hypothetical video about the upcoming Oscars. Note that the tab for “YouTube Search” has been selected. We’d want to select the yellow line because it’s the most heavily searched.
- Tags: Tags tell YouTube what your video is about and help them place your video in the sidebar for suggested videos, among other things. Use a handful of good tags containing potential words people might Search when they want to find your video. Also use tags to link your video to related concepts and ideas.
- Thumbnails: An HD thumbnail is becoming a must for YouTube to deem your video high quality. Spend time creating great thumbnails. After all, they are the best and only preview people get before they watch!
- Embeds: The more time your video gets embedded into high-quality web pages is a signal for YouTube search rankings.
- Backlinks: Just like embeds, but an even heavier signal as to a video’s quality.
- Playlists: The number of times a video is added to relevant playlists is a signal for YouTube search rankings.
- Calls to action: Simply putting a call to action to subscribe, like, and comment at the beginner and end of your videos is a great start for scaling views and overall audience interaction. You’d be amazed at how many more people do these simple tasks when asked to vs. not being asked to. Even the best channels still shamelessly ask for interaction, which also amazes me sometimes.
- Overall competition in your niche: If your niche is highly competitive aka saturated with other YouTubers creating videos like yours, it’s worth pause. Have they been around much longer? Is there a high barrier to entry? Can you do it better than them? If your answers to these questions check out, go for it! If not, and your goal is to make money on YouTube, you might consider a slightly different niche to create videos in.
Spend time creating great thumbnails. After all they are the best and only preview people get before they watch!
Congrats, you now know more than the average YouTuber when it comes to YouTube SEO, potentially much more. With those skills under your belt, and these above items working for your videos, you’re giving yourself your best possible chance to get a lot of traffic on YouTube and compete with the existing powerhouses in your niche.
Develop a weekly routine for creating, editing, publishing and sharing
You now have a YouTube channel all of your own humming nicely, several videos inspired by your blog posts and perhaps even embedded in them for added traffic, and you know a thing or two more than your peers about YouTube SEO. Bravo for making it this far.
Even with all this under your belt, you are still at risk of your channel declining if you don’t develop a routine for YouTube. Simply put, YouTube likes routines that feed it more content each week. If they see you not publishing for a long period of time, even if you’re spending that time planning the next smash hit video, they see your channel as dying and will send you less visitors over time, killing your momentum.
Here are my three best tips to create a YouTube publishing calendar that works for YOU:
- Be realistic – If you can’t publish a new video each day, don’t make yourself. You don’t want to burn out like a dying star.
- Be predictable – Your audience will be happy if they know they can watch you at 2pm on Sundays, for example. People like being surprised too, but a predictable YouTube schedule helps you not miss people and vice versa.
- Be honest – If you are too busy to publish or going through some tough times in your personal life, make a video and tell people! We’ve all seen this “Hey guys, I gotta be honest…” type videos. They are highly endearing. People will love you for being open and forget about your previous deadline or commitments for them in a heartbeat.
This part in creating your YouTube schedule should ultimately be fun! If it’s not, your audience may soon see that. Keep in fun, relaxed and light.
Conclusion: Don’t forget about your blog!
With a booming YouTube channel up and running you may wonder why should you even bother to write anymore? Than answer is because people will always still read your blog — especially if you’re becoming a start online.
Plus, now you have all this great video content you can great blog posts around.
So take your videos back to the blog, keep people updated and make sure to keep publishing on your blog at least once a week. If things even decline in the video world (it’s not likely) you’ll be glad you did!
Did this help you convert a blog into a YouTube channel? Got any questions for Zac or Greg? Do you think someday you might become the next Pew Die Pie? Is it all even worth it? Let us know with a quick comment on whether you are enjoying your time spent creating content on YouTube and any questions that this article has generated for you. Can’t wait to chat below!
Greg Narayan is a blogger and YouTuber currently based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota. When not helping people understand beginner web design and generally why their WordPress website won’t behave, he enjoys hanging out at the local coffee shop with friends, play tennis and golf (poorly, but slowly improving), and helping out at WordPress meetups around the globe. Connect with Greg on Twitter.