It's the question on every filmmaker's lips: "how to be successful on YouTube?" This conundrum is a difficult one, given all the different ways it can be done. Not to mention the ever-changing nature of the platform that can make it feel like the goalposts have been moved every 6 months, along with the fact that seemingly everyone else is also trying to become a YouTube video creator.
YouTube is more popular than ever before yet, despite your worst fears, it's not too late to jump on board and start uploading. There's never been a better moment than right now to start that channel! Of course, new YouTubers will be prone to mistakes - it happens to everyone when starting a YouTube channel. This might be something that's holding you back, so below, we've put together 8 simple, easy-to-make mistakes that you can avoid when starting out. Of course, we don't necessarily have every answer for how to be successful on YouTube. Still, we certainly know how not to be successful.
1. Chasing the numbers
When it comes to YouTube channel advice, I always start with this. Do not focus on the numbers. The minute you do that, the minute you resign yourself to a joyless experience of mediocrity. Yes, YouTube analytics are crucial, and yes, we are all interested in how to monetize your YouTube videos. Still, they shouldn't be your main focus when starting out. Becoming obsessed with views, subscribers and whatever other numbers YouTube serves up to you puts you at risk of becoming distracted from creating the very best content possible.
In the early stages of your channel, it's far more productive to focus primarily on the creative element and ensure you're creating high-quality YouTube videos. So ask yourself: are your videos good? How is the visual and audio quality? What could you do better?
2. Comparing yourself to others
When you're paying too much attention to the numbers, you're essentially comparing yourself to others, right? It can be very easy to fall into the trap of looking at other people's channels (particularly those doing something similar to you) and worrying about how they've got more subscribers, views, and likes. Unfortunately, this won't help you improve in any way. It's difficult, but ignore what others are doing and focus on your own channel. We all have our own path and journey to undertake on YouTube.
3. Doing what everyone else is doing
How to be successful on YouTube? First, don't do what everyone else is doing. That's a quickfire way to ensure you probably won't be discovered by many people. It sure is tempting to copy someone else who's had success on the platform, but you need to bring some originality to the game. Casey Neistat didn't take off because he was doing exactly what everyone else was doing. He brought originality to the platform. You need to do the same.
While it's okay to be inspired by other YouTubers (we all have our favorites) and take ideas from them, you won't truly find success on the platform until you create something unique and true to you. It's all about finding your style.
4. Not replying to comments or engaging with your audience
This is a huge mistake. We've discussed it numerous times in other articles looking at how to be successful on YouTube, such as YouTube SEO and how to grow your YouTube channel. Engagement is vital - it's one of the key metrics the YouTube algorithm uses to determine where, when and how your videos appear on its platform. If you're not replying to every comment left on your video, you're doing it wrong.
Furthermore, when you're just starting out, there's no reason why anybody should yet care about who you are and what you do. So the fact that even one person may choose to watch your video AND take the time to leave a comment is actually a big deal. So be nice and take the time to thank them for doing so. They'll appreciate it, and it may just help build your YouTube community.
5. Spamming comments
I confess. I'm guilty of this one. Back in the day, I would head over to other people's videos and watch, then leave a very generic, spammy comment such as, "Wow, this was great. I also make travel videos. You should check out my latest one :)."
Don't be me. It's spam, and nobody likes spam on the internet. Also, It's rude and inconsiderate. I liken it to walking into someone else's art exhibition and exclaiming very loudly, "wow! Nice paintings. ANYWAY, I have some really great work just down the road at my gallery. Would you like to check it out?"
Nobody will appreciate this move, and it's one of the classic YouTube mistakes out there. I'm sure you've seen examples of this yourself.
6. Going off-topic
Having a strategy and goal in mind is key in cracking how to be successful on YouTube. When you start off with your channel, make it really clear who you are and what you're creating. Like I mentioned previously about finding your style, you need to go really niche. Pick a topic (it could be anything - travel, filmmaking, makeup, football, surfing) and stick to it.
If you stray from this topic in the early days, your emerging audience will become disillusioned and may not return for future uploads. So stay focused and on track.
7. Being inconsistent
This piece of YouTube channel advice is right up there as the most important thing. When starting out, you need to be consistent with your uploads. If it's one video a week, stick to it. The algorithm recognizes patterns and schedules, and so does your audience. If they know there will be a new video from you every Friday, they're much more likely to keep coming back and tuning in. On the other hand, if you upload erratically, they may miss uploads, and any momentum built on your channel will fade away. It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's vital for new YouTubers.
8. Using copyrighted music, footage and SFX
Another one of the classic YouTube mistakes. Before a channel has even gotten off the ground, it may receive damaging copyright strikes because of copyright issues. As tempting as it may be to use whatever you want in your videos, you need to ensure that you have the rights to do so. And in fairness, it has never been easier to stay on the right side of the rules.
With Artlist, you've got access to thousands of incredible royalty-free tracks that will suit any video you're creating, not to mention the brilliant SFX library. Meanwhile, Artgrid has you covered for all your stock footage needs. It's a no-brainer.
Don't be afraid to make YouTube mistakes
As new YouTubers, we're all afraid to make mistakes. That's why you're reading this article, right? Ironically, the final piece of YouTube channel advice I want to give on mistakes to avoid is that it's actually okay to make mistakes. The exception would be using unlicensed content because this can deliver a killer blow to your channel. But otherwise, don't be afraid to get creative and try new things. Starting a YouTube channel is about experimenting and figuring out what works for you. Not everything will work, but all good creative work requires mistakes to learn and improve. The more mistakes you make, the quicker you learn and the better your work becomes.
So, those are the mistakes new YouTubers can look to avoid when starting out on the platform. Of course, there are plenty more for you to make, but these are some of the most common ones, and if you can avoid them, you'll be well on your way to success!
Remember - the secret of how to be successful on YouTube is the combination of many things. You need to ensure you can make a YouTube thumbnail, create a killer YouTube channel trailer, a YouTube banner and plenty more. When you master all of the small individual skill sets and then bring them together, your channel will thrive.