Starting your own channel on YouTube is a great way to share what you are doing in the hobby, so I thought I would share a few thoughts when it comes to creating your own channel. I need to thank Zach (ZakuAurelius), Henry (Vegeta8259), Jiminboo (Gunpla Fixation) and Justin (JustiniusBuilds) here as this was something we recently discussed in the GunplaTalk and where a lot of this advice comes from. I’m drifting around the 2k subscriber mark and have kind of let up on YouTube for a bit, but my experience does count for something.
First of all, decide what you are making the channel for. Are you making the channel to document your building process? To do a kind of V-log of your life in the hobby? Reviewing kits, paints or tools, or offering some tutorials? Showcasing your completed works?
You can do any mixture of anything really, it is after all, your channel, but I would offer up a few tips to bear in mind if you want to gain a following or produce good, watchable content.
Goes without saying, but so many new channels attempt to copy other peoples ‘style’ and end up being called out for it. Reproducing the same old tired review format too is not going to get you anywhere – unless you do it incredibly well. Inject your own personality into it, don’t try to be a ‘presenter’. Be conversational. This is not TV.
Talk about stuff.
Talk about what you are doing, why you are doing it, what your opinion is. Engaging people and drawing them into your subject is a great way to interact through comments. Don’t hold back on what you think too – not every point of contention breeds negativity, it can often draw a great debate that can be helpful rather than shit-slinging. Just train yourself to blank stupid, and engage with those who are offering up valid arguments amicably and respectfully.
Don’t ignore people, especially those offering helpful points.
Some of the larger YouTube channels do this, and it’s incredibly ignorant. It also breeds that ‘ol ‘holier than thou’ mentality that will only result in you losing subscribers. Answer as many comments as you can, where required. You can, contrary to this point’s title, ignore trolls and obvious dickheads.
Show what you are doing, in detail
I often watch a video of a completed model or part and think to myself “wow, that’s amazing! how did they do that?”, or “they used this paint.. but how was it applied?” You may not want to share your secrets, but doing so will encourage you to experiment more, and share your findings – as well as spark conversations.
Edit your videos. Those moments where you go blank when starting a new sentence don’t need to be experienced by viewers. Slurping from your cup, looking something up online or text messaging someone is lazy. People are taking the time to watch your video, give them a little respect at least by editing out your idle moments. Some YouTubers are blessed with flowing charisma, in which case they don’t even need to edit – most of us are not.
You don’t need huge production values
Just a good camera, good sound and good lighting. You need not be an expert film maker, but you can tell at least when something is watchable, so always watch your own vids back. You don’t need a flashy, graphical 30 second intro, but it helps to have a little something that give’s your vids familiarity, even if it’s just a still.
Humans love routine! On a Friday, I get home from work and I watch a few regular shows that are a nice highlight to the end of the week for me. Knowing when the next vid is coming makes watching them habitual – and this is something you want to get people doing. Just make sure the content warrants habitual viewing 🙂
Keep the content consistent, and throw in something different now and again
When I used to do regular vids, I did one every Sunday – normally just a WIP of my current model. Then, every couple of months I would have a kind of “catch up” where I discuss community things, stuff I have bought, new paints, tools and so on. Mixing it up from the usual now and again keeps it fresh.
Don’t beg for stuff
Want to open up a fresh can of hate? Then ask people for stuff. Honestly, this is a very dumb thing to do, especially when you have a low amount of subscribers. Unfortunately, a promise in return for products is not enough. If you are established, have great, regular content and a positive following you’ll know how to ask in the best possible way, because you will know your audience – and they’ll know what they can expect from you.
Don’t be conned into positively promoting shit
Being contacted by a potential sponsor is great, although you should be aware that you need to make it clear that you are being sponsored. Some sponsors may ask you to promote a product you know is terrible – either decline it, or just be honest and say it’s shit in your review. People do not like people without integrity who are obviously lying through their teeth. Honesty is a far better route. A retailer that respects your opinion of a product, positively or negatively is a great retailer to work with.
Don’t misuse Patreon
Patreon is a smashing platform to offer up a ‘tip jar’ to your audience, who can regularly donate small amounts of cash to help you produce more content. Offering up your Patreon page, and just starting “help me do my hobby” is the wrong way to do it, especially when you are just starting out in the hobby and no one really knows you. “help me make better content for you, and offer you some extra nice things” is the right way to do it. I recently too saw a very prominent youtuber make the most terrible pitch for Patreon I have ever seen – offering another video of the same kind of content they had previously done in a completely nonchalant manner. If you are considering this, get a good pitch going and research into what works best for you, and your audience. Speak with some other YouTubers in the community and ask what they did. Look at how your videos can be improved – set a target perhaps to purchase a new microphone or camera to improve the quality – at least then the audience will experience what they have tipped you for.
Personal problems? Need to check out for a while?
Then do. If you’re starting to feel like it’s not fun, then stop – just let your audience know you’re going away for a bit. Everyone know’s we all have lives we need to live, letting people know you’re taking a break is a positive courtesy and allows your return to be welcoming.
This is the dumbest route to get subscribers who will never watch your videos. It’ll also make you look like you want to ‘cheat the system’ without providing anything worth watching. Don’t be one of these people.
Interact with other channels
Comment, like and subscribe to other channels you like in the same hobby. The more interactive you get, the more YouTube is likely to feature you in searches – not only this you’ll get to know others who are doing the same stuff as you, which can lead to channel shout-outs, collaborations, build-offs and more.
Let people know what you do
Don’t be too worried about promoting your channel through other social networks or forums, just make sure you read and understand any rules in these places regarding spamming. Creating Facebook and Instagram accounts for your hobby is a good way to promote what you are doing too, and offer up a little more interaction. it’s good too to separate this from your personal Facebook – it’s likely people want to see what you’re doing Gunpla-wise rather than what you are eating for dinner, or what you think about Kanye West.
Hopefully something here will help you out. There is a ton of really excellent channels out there so you’ve got plenty of inspiration to draw from, so get out there and start interacting and talking. From my perspective, I like to share on a bite-size level the hours I spend making models, and I am glad a few folks enjoy watching what I do. I’m not all that fussed about gaining a huge following (although it would be nice) but I do want to make content that’s worth watching and to contribute something to the community at least. I’m still refining and interacting as much as I can to improve and still have a lot to learn. Hopefully I can get back to regularly posting, I just need to finish off Fallout 4..