(a 7 minute read)
You know YouTube: fake people that will do anything for money, double ads before every single video, and somehow “Baby Shark” managed to get almost 8 BILLION views.
Wait, that can’t be it. And you know what, it’s not. For those of you that need a quick recap, listen up:
YouTube was founded in 2005 and with over 2 BILLION monthly active users, it’s one of the biggest video sharing sites out there. You can pretty much find anything you can think of on there...for real, think of the most random thing you can come up with and look at what YouTube will give you. You’d be surprised.
And since 2007 they also made it possible to run ads, and it’s one of the best hubs to do so. This also why - like for so many people already out there - making a living via YouTube is only getting more and more common.
And the best thing about it: once a video is up and approved, it’ll remain untouched until you decide to take it down, collecting those sweet views all by itself...and the more views you get, the more tasty ad money goes into your bank account. This is the magic of passive income. You only need to do the work once and reap the rewards forever.
There’s More Than You Knew
If you really want to go on this journey and try making it on YouTube, let me tell you this: it won’t be easy...in fact, it will be goddamn hard. BUT there are multiple ways to do it. (read until the end to find out about a more unconventional approach to make money on YouTube without making any actual videos yourself)
But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before you can make any money, you have to nail the basics. That’s why I split this whole YouTube-thing into two parts. Part 1 will be all about starting the journey and growing your channel, Part 2 will be all about growing your wallet.
1 - Don’t Try To Move The Mountain
I’ll say it once more: this journey won’t be easy and it’ll take a looot of time. But that also depends on what it is you’re doing and how much experience you have.
Some people are just better at what they do, some content ideas perform much better than others and sometimes a little luck can make all the difference in the world. So let’s just start from step one and go our way from there.
Before you can even consider starting YouTube, you have to ask yourself “WHY?” What makes you want to put your story out there and let others take part in your life? If your motivation is that you want to become rich and famous, maybe you should reconsider…
Instead, start making videos because you feel like you have something important or interesting to share, value to provide or because you simply like to have that creative outlet. All that brand building stuff we’ll talk about later is just to give everything more structure if you want to take the whole game more seriously later down the road.
So, put short, set your expectations straight. Don’t aim for the top in year 1. This is a recipe for disaster because you’ll only get overwhelmed and burn out on day one. What’s important at the beginning is just to get the hang of it and to get a feel for the whole landscape.
You also have to realize that social media and everything associated with it won’t go away from one day to the next (and not in the near future). It’s here to stay. Once you realize the importance of this you can view the whole journey as an opportunity to grow - as a content creator, by building certain skills or simply by spotting chances when they cross your path.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that you shouldn’t let the clouds of false hopes darken your intentions. Don’t try to move the whole mountain to take over YouTube. Take it easy and do it because you like doing so, not because you feel like you HAVE to.
2 - Learn From The Best
Reverse engineering. It’s the key to getting better at pretty much anything. “What’s that” you ask? It’s basically just looking at success stories and going deeper down the rabbit whole to see where they came from, what they did to become successful and what you can learn from them.
This is incredibly powerful because it lets you distance yourself from their current situation. Already successful people have the reach and resources to do whatever the fuck they feel like doing, but how did they start out? For example, someone like PewDiePie from the first wave of YouTubers, Mr. Beast from new wave YouTube, or one day maybe even you for whatever comes next?
Let’s talk about Mr. Beast for a second. How on earth did he get so popular? Right now he has almost 52 MILLION subscribers (he’s just 22 btw…) and I feel like this number will seem really outdated only a few months or even weeks from now. He basically just figured out the perfect way for how YouTube works and it shows.
But it wasn’t always like that - believe it or not, he didn’t always give out Lambos for free. In the beginning he posted whatever he felt like doing and he did some pretty insane stuff...everything from listening to “It’s everyday bro” for 10 hours straight to counting to 200,000 in one sitting.
What a lot of people don’t know is that a couple of years ago he managed to make some money with Bitcoin and he was smart about it. He didn’t just spend it on useless shit, but he started investing in video ideas so that he can do ever more outrageous stuff.
And now, a few years later, his videos are on a level that 99% of people can only dream of. He can spend huge amounts of money on his videos and he is really altruistic about it. Put short, he’s just great (I feel like I am fanboy-ing over here). And I guess the fact that everyone’s starting to copy him goes to show how right he is. He recently uploaded a five year prediction video of himself and it’s crazy to see how far he’s come since…
On one hand, seeing where someone came from offers soo much to learn but it’s also incredibly motivational for when you’re starting out yourself. That’s because you realize the number one fundamental lesson: no one has any idea what the hell they’re doing.
None of the people you see videos of today had their whole plan laid out. They simply tried it and never stopped. That’s how real success works. Consistently performing really simple tasks adds up and one day you realize how far you’ve come. All it takes is time - the magic of the compound effect.
So what you need to know right now is this: just start by taking action. You’ll find our own style and voice along the way. In the meantime, don’t worry about anything else.
3 - About Content
Once you’ve set your motivation straight and have learned all you need from the best, now what? Where do you go from here? As you can probably guess from the title: it’s time to talk about content.
Let me get the most cliche thing out of the way first: eQUipMeNt dOEsN’t mAttER. Great. And it really doesn’t. For starting out, all you need is the minimum amount - a phone. If you want to pump it up a little, a simple camera and mic can do the trick. But you have to make some sacrifices if you want it to be at least somewhat good.
But to even start out you have to know what you want to start out with...what will you post?
Most people struggle with answering this question - our lives aren’t that interesting after all, right? No. Everyone has something to offer, everyone has a story to tell. Even if it doesn’t seem so at times. But again, if you’re struggling to come up with anything, start reverse engineering again.
Take a look at how others have started out and see if you can learn something from their journey. I bet they didn’t do the exact same thing they’re doing now. It always evolves because people change. So your job is to think about what your place in this whole thing could be and then focus on telling your story in an authentic way while building an honest audience.
(a sincere audience is one of the greatest blessings in the world - but to learn more about how you can grow yours, check out part 2...it didn’t fit in here)
If you still don’t think you have anything interesting to share, I have this advice for you: document your journey. Simply start uploading videos and document your life and what you’re up to - this is great for continuous content but it’ll also be like a photobook you can look back on a few decades from now.
The best way to document is by documenting a specific process from the beginning. So why not learn a new skill and build your channel around that? (I would love to throw in a Skillshare promo in here but I guess we’re not there yet)
For example, you could document how you’re learning a new language - start learning spanish for example and take others on this journey with you (check our blog post on learning any language to get a head start). Or you could also learn tap dancing, how to play the flute or literally anything else. I’ll link someone below that has built their entire career on constantly learning new skills and uploading that to YouTube.
Another way could be to just do random shit and find your sweet spot along the way. Or you could ask yourself what you regularly spend money on and build your content around that. Maybe you love movies and can upload reactions? Or you’re into painting and can document your learning curve? Or a fitness challenge?
And if all of that doesn’t cut it for you or if you’re uncomfortable in front of the camera, there are still options out there for you to make use of. One trend that popped off some time ago was people simply doing Reddit videos and adding a robotic voice to it that “narrates” the whole thing. Or you could start doing voiceover content without being in the spotlight.
OR you can even make use of the special approach I teased in the beginning. You don’t have to create any videos yourself, the process can be outsourced and it’s only becoming more and more popular. I’ll probably put it in part 2 though because it fits better in there, so make sure to read it once it’s out.
Other than that I’ll repeat what I said earlier. Don’t start this whole project trying to become the next big thing. Instead, see this as an opportunity to learn basic media skills like content management, expression of ideas, video editing, voiceovers and much more.
Actually doing it and teaching yourself everything there is to know is something no college or university out there can do...and especially not for free. Everything you need to know is already out there, we’re just trying to help you along the way.
For example: if you want to learn video editing, check out programs like DaVinci Resolve or HitFilm Express, watch tutorials on - you guessed it - YouTube and start practicing. If you want to record voiceovers, buy a cheap mic, download Audacity and practice. What’s important is that you look for an opportunity and then just practice, practice and practice.
These things are only becoming more important and they won’t go away soon. The earlier you start building your skill set for the real world, the better. And if it doesn’t turn out to make you a billionaire by age 23, no problem.
The foundation you’ve laid for yourself can give you other opportunities you can currently only dream of. This is just a nice way to make that whole learning experience a lot of fun at the same time - something most colleges definitely don’t do.
Just Get Started
So, for one final time, just get going. Let your audience in on what’s going on in your life and grow together. Let them witness you developing into who you want to become. It’s one of the best feelings you can ever have.
And if nothing ever comes from it, it could still be the best decision you’ll ever make. Think of it like this: what sticks out more, the most basic person you can imagine or someone that took ownership of their life and started doing things on their own accord, building skills without someone forcing them to?
The fact that you’re still reading tells me you already know the answer. You’re the kind of person that can start this journey and get pretty far...so far that you can even make a living with it. I guess that also makes you someone that should read part 2 of this blog once it’s out - we’ll cover everything from growing your audience, specific tactics to utilize, how to make money and the secret YouTube tactic we’ve been teasing all throughout.