Getting Started with Content Creation
A work in progress: Updated 21 Sep 2019
So there are a ton of things I wish I knew when I first started being a YouTuber and a Streamer. I have made tons of mistakes and as you can see by my video YouTuber Epic Fail, I spent 3 years and 151 days getting my first 5,000 YouTube subscribers. I’m going to admit this was a really stupid goal to chase.
I spent the summer of 2019 thinking about what I was doing with my channel and mainly what I was doing wrong. I came to the conclusion that instead of focusing on making quality content I was worried about all the other things creators tend to focus on. I was too busy worrying about the subscriber growth to my channel which I have now discovered is pretty meaningless.
If I compare the beginning of 2019 to when I've made some changes, I am up 463% in views, 503% in watch time and 999% in subscribers.
For the people who need this as a subscriber number to prove its valid, I've gained a total of 4,236 subscribers this year but 2,255 have been in the last 28 days, and 2,034 of them in September. I haven't been on some new kick of chasing subscribers, I've simply been making better content.
So the advice I'm about to share, clearly in recent weeks I’ve figured something out. The secret to this growth? I stopped caring if I got YouTube subscribers and I started caring about what really mattered: the content I was making. I go into more detail of all the specifics in the video linked on the the side, but the single line summary is this: Do not worry about your subscriber growth, instead focus on making solid content. The subscriber growth will take care of itself.
I’ve made so many mistakes I wish I could go back and start over, but we can’t go back and start over can we? No, we can only move forward.
Some of this is for brand-new creators, people who haven’t even started yet, people thinking about starting, or people who have just started and it isn’t too late for them to fix some of the mistakes that I’ve made. Other people may be too far along to totally restart, but you can switch up your future
The Importance of Your Name
Is your Content Creator name setting you up for success? Have you chosen a name that is going to be with you for a year? Two Years? Five years? Are you the next Ninja? Shroud? Dr. Disrespect? It is going to take you a long time to reach the success you want, and the very last thing you want to do is find out that to be sponsored, affiliated or monetized you will have to start over. I’ve seen some people do it and it can be done, but it is messy, and you lose all those historical views and minutes watched, the real meat of your metrics.
I am not going to lie, I wish that I hadn’t used Paradox Gaming Network as my organization and I wish I hadn’t included it in my name. There is a plan at work here with the Paradox Gaming Network, it is just taking longer than I planned. Which is ok, it's a long term plan, but now I’m stuck streaming on a Channel with a 22 character name. Sure it is great for marketing, but it is horrible for discoverability.
So the biggest problem for me, is that if you google Paradox looking for me, you don’t actually find me, you find the word Paradox and since it's an amazing word, it fills the entire first page. Luckily in recent weeks, due to lots of hustle, I’ve managed to make myself really discoverable when you search for Paradox Gaming. Unfortunately doing a google search on Jahlon is pretty disastrous, which is why I recommend you do a Google Search on your name before you decide on it and start making content.
Sit down and really think about what you want your name to be. Is the name you are picking setting you up for success? Even if you are doing this for fun, even if you use a stupid, silly in-game name, you might to consider the long term ramifications of standing a brand under the name Killa97, or Prince Slap-a-hoe, or Bitchwhodontmiss. You might find it difficult to salvage results from these names and you may have to start over from scratch.
Remember, it's really easy to stop doing it for profit and just have fun, but it isn’t as easy to suddenly decide you want to be a brand. You never want to have to walk backwards. Imagine having 10,000 Subscribers or Followers and 2,000,000 views and finding out that to capitalize on it and make money you need to start over from scratch. Most people would be devastated and they might not be willing to make the attempt. Even if they did, it would take a long time to recover, and recovery time isn’t profit making time.
Once you have a name, do some research to make sure someone else doesn’t have it and that its going to be good.
1: Check Google. What comes up when you put your new name into the search box? Is this the sort of stuff you want to be associated with?
2: Specifically Check the following sites.
Steam (If a gaming channel)
Your specific community websites.
Is your new name taken on any of them? You are going to want to have that name on all 6+ platforms. Now when it comes to Dlive and Mixer, I have both a Mixer and a DLive account, however, I only have them as reserved names. I’m am completely happy being a Twitch Streamer, but on the off chance that one day I want to change, I already have my names reserved. Since its free to register, go ahead and register and secure the name now.
I also recommend that even if you are going to Stream or YouTube with another person, create your own identify first. Even if you are doing 100% collaborations, make sure you remember anything and everything can happen. You need to be your own identify first, just in case something happens and you end up having to walk away from the other person. Success and money makes people do stupid things, the last thing you want is to be the sidekick in a partnership and the other person gets the channel and the profits.
You should have your own brand, your partner should have their own brand, and then you come together to do collaborations.
Brand New Account
I highly recommend when you start the journey of becoming a content creator, that you create a brand new Gmail Account (you’ll need this for YouTube anyway) and only use this account for your Creator Stuff. This way you will have your YouTube, Streaming Platforms, Twitter, Discord, Paypal (if you start making money) etc all tied into one email address that’s separate from your personal identity.
Branding Across All Platforms
I know some of you think you will only want to make YouTube videos and that you are never going to stream. That’s ok. Go and get your three streaming service accounts (Twitch, DLive, Mixer) anyway. Its free, what is it going to hurt to have them? Why? You may just end up like me, jumping on stream one night start streaming and loving it. Why get all three? You may not want to be on anything but Twitch today, but you do not know what tomorrow will bring.
I also know that some of you want to be Streamers and you know you don’t want to make any YouTube videos. That’s ok. Go create a YouTube account that pairs up with your new name, because after a few months of slow growth on Twitch or Mixer or DLive you are going to figure out that a second source of traffic is going to be exactly what you need.
Oh, you swore that you’d never be on the Platform with the little blue bird? You hate Twitter that much that you won’t use it even if it will get you 50 subscribers? 100 subscribers? What about 5,000 video views? What about 100 people on your livestream? If you think Twitter isn’t a serious platform for helping direct traffic to your content you are mistaken.
My primary content is Video Game work, I’ve had several Game Developers Tweet at Me or Retweet my work. Now, with that said being successful on Twitter is a whole next level of content creation that you will have to study to get good at. It's not just a matter of using it as a hashtag billboard. One of the things we are going to talk about in using platforms properly is Twitter.
Now you will notice that I didn’t list Discord in the list above. That’s because you get to create your Discord and there is quite a bit of flexibility with Discord since people will be joining it via a custom link. Obviously if you can make your Discord Name the same as all your other names just for consistency.
There is a Reddit community for everything, and chances are if you are doing something Content Creation wise. It just looks nicer and neater if you have everything on the same name. Branding is everything. Reddit is another one of those places where I have my name slightly different due to being stupid when I started. Remember that 22 letter name? Yeah didn’t work with Reddit.
If you are a gamer, you will want to make your display name for Steam the same as your Channel Name because of the Guides and Videos Section. This is literally the easiest thing you can do to help drive views. You can drop videos into their video section without any other commitments.
Other Platforms (Instagram, Facebook, etc)
I didn’t talk about Instagram and Facebook as platforms, but they certainly are. I’m not really qualified to talk about them as platforms but I do want to recognize them as potential sources for promotion. Again though, like Twitter, contention creation here is more than just slapping up a picture and adding links; at least if you want it to be effective.
Build a Community
If you are struggling to get the views you need on your videos, maybe
its not your content, maybe its that you don't have a foundation to
build on. Instead of worrying about how to get bigger and bigger,
maybe you should start with a smaller focus.
One thing I've never taken for granted is my Paradox Gaming Network
discord community. All of these people hang out on my Discord, most
of them looking for help with one of the video games I cover, but they
are always willing to take a first look at the content I make and let me
know how it measures up.
So many people are always looking for quick views or meaningless
subscribers who aren't very likely to ever look at the content. If you want to have good long term growth, focus on building a community with the viewers you have and suddenly you'll find yourself growing or at the very least getting the feedback you need to grow.
Using Platforms Appropriately
Content creation is not equal across all platforms and a creator must learn to respect each medium for what it is. What works on a stream won’t necessarily work on a video, what works on Twitter won’t necessarily work on Instagram. Each platform caters to a specific audience, and you need to learn how to deliver what those unique audiences want.
This isn't to say that you can't link between the platforms, you certain can and should but never make the mistake of thinking that one of the platforms is secondary to your chosen platform. Just because it is secondary to YOU, doesn’t mean its secondary as a platform. If you make this mistake you will have alienated the audience you are trying to cultivate on that platform.
The two most accepted platforms are Video Making and Streaming, however, you can also be a very effective and profitable Twitter user, Instagram Personality, anything. If there is a way to profit from content creation you can bet that people are making content on that platform.
With that said I'm only going to discuss using Streaming and Video Making, and mainly as Twitch and YouTube. I'm going to talk about using Twitter and Instagram as secondary promotional avenues, but I am not going to go in to what it takes to be a content creator for those in your own right, mainly because I don’t make content on those platforms, I only use them as to promote my Stream and my Twitch.
YouTube is the primary destination for Video Makers. It is possible to be on YouTube and only on YouTube, however, chances are you are going to want to use other Platforms to grow. Before we talk about those other platforms, there are some things about YouTube you want to know. In the video where I talk about not chasing subs I talk about focusing on your content, this means focusing on every step of your content from inception, through creation, to advertising. One thing you cannot afford to do is ignore what few viewers you get early on.
If someone makes a comment, you answer it. If you don’t have time to answer comments, you don’t have time to build a channel. Until you are getting 500+ comments a day, you better find time to answer the ones you get. Not with just some copy and paste answer either, that’s disingenuous. Respond to everything. Thumbs up and heart good comments, even if they are negative or constructive criticism. Even a negative comment about your content might be feedback you really need.
Now there is advice all over the internet about what the secret formula for a viral YouTube video is. DO NOT CHASE THESE TRICK. Focus on building and cultivating your audience one viewer at a time. Not one subscriber, one viewer. I can tell you that on my channel 70-75% of my views come from non-subscribers. Do not worry about getting people to click subscribe after you have 1,000 and you’ve become monetized.
Streaming is an art. It doesn’t matter what platform you are on, the reason people tune into small streamer is basically the same. They want to watch YOU. Not the gameplay, you. The difference between good streamers and bad streamers is the engagement they do with the audience.
On a Stream you need to talk. Talk, talk, talk. Be entertaining. Genuinely entertaining. Don’t try to force it, but don’t sit there doing nothing for hours on end either. Nobody is tuning in to watch you game, they are tuning in to watch you entertain. I don’t care if the Red Person icon reads 0 the entire time, keep talking.
Obviously the best way to start off streaming is by having a few friends who are willing to dive in and occasionally make comments to you so that you have talking points. Also, do your homework. Have a notepad next to you of 4-5 topics that you can go for 20 mins at a time for. That way if nobody is talking to you, you can just keep on talking to the camera.
Several Things I’ve learned since I got started
1: Do not call out lurkers. They haven't talked because they don’t want to. If they say something, great. If they don’t, let them be. They are supporting your channel
2: Chat is more important than anything else going on. If someone says something, say something back. Now, sometimes this is hard to do, you might be setting up a shot for photography, you might be playing an FPS/MOBA/BR game, you might be live reading something or having a conversation with someone, but as soon as what you are doing is done, go back and catch up on comments
3: Gamers - do not be in discord when you are gaming. I know some games require it, but you really need to think about how you are going to present this. Again, the viewers are here for YOU not for the gameplay. They can go and watch YouTube videos for the gameplay, they want to interact.
4: Don’t take troll bait. You will no doubt get trolled while streaming. Don’t take the bait. Just move on.
Stream to YouTube Content Transfer
So, you can absolutely exist as just a Streamer. You need to recognize there are some growth issues when you are just a streamer, the biggest being that it is a live platform. If people can’t catch you when you are live, they can’t see your content live and can’t engage with you. Some people will watch videos of your content, which is cool. Make sure you know how long your content is going to remain on your platform. For Twitch after 60 days Affiliate videos are removed, that means the record of that day is gone.
So with that there are a couple of options which can help streamers grow. Make sure to download your video. After that, make sure to go through it and chop it up into a highlight reel. Did 5 amazing things happen during the stream? Make a highlight reel and put it up on YouTube. Don’t skimp on your production quality here, make sure its outstanding. This is going to serve as an advertisement for your content, which will drive people to your Twitch the next time you are on.
You can also load the entire Stream to YouTube for the historical record. Some people advise against this, but several of mine have gotten hundreds even thousands of views. So, you figure out what works best for you.
No matter what platform you are creating content on, you will eventually want to create a Discord server for your users, especially if you run a gaming or some sort of life advice channel. Discord allows users interact with you in real time.
Sure, you want them leaving comments on your YouTube videos, but they are often waiting for you to respond to them. When you start getting videos with 100+ comments, it does require a time investment to answer each one, and until you are getting thousands of comments a day you better be answering each and every comment you get because you are cultivating an audience.
Discord is great because not only does it get your audience talking to you in real time, it gets them talking to each other. If they are talking to each other about your content guess what they are highly likely to watch? Your Content.
What are they likely to share with their friends? Your Content!
There are a bunch of tips and tricks for using a Discord to auto pull your Tweets, Streams, YouTube posts, etc. When you are first getting started only use the basic ones and dedicate your time to making better content. As your content gets better and you start growing your audience start doing more and better things with your Discord.
There is a sub-Reddit for every topic on the planet, usually more than one. Here is the thing, you are going to be tempted to join every sub-reddit for your topic and then link bomb all of them whenever you make new content.
DO. NOT. DO. THIS.
Sure, it's going to get you views, but it's going to get you 00:10 retention viewers. These are not the sort of views you want. You want views that are going to be 50% retention viewers. You want views that are from viewers who are going to leave a comment. You want views from people, who dare I say it, are going to subscribe.
If you are reading this it is because you are new and you don’t even know what you don’t know. You’ve been looking for all this advice on how to get big quick. You won’t. Grow small and stable at first. Link bombing your new video everywhere is only going to result in a horrible retention rate and then YouTube won’t push your video out there. If it’s not out there you can’t get impressions and if you get no impressions you can’t get any click-through.
What you want to use Reddit for is being known in your community. Build that relationship, that reputation first. When the sub-reddit knows you you are more likely to get people wanting to go check out your most recent work. Not showing casing a video as a main topic on the reddit will cost you some views, but the quality of the views you get will be better.
So, I made a Twitter for all the wrong reasons. I was using my Twitter as a drive by bulletin board for just pushing my content. Let me ask you, have you gone to Twitter looking for a video on any subject?
I’ve found it is better to use Twitter to engage with people on a topic, and then let them find what your content naturally. I also found it is better to create a short teaser video and upload that to Twitter instead of just uploading a link to a video. In my video on using Twitter I will provide an example of three ways to upload a video and the responses each one provides.
Finally Instagram. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m not going to bullshit you. There is an art to using Instagram to promote content, but I’m still struggling with it. When I get this figured out, I’ll be back here to update you.
What your audience does for you
So the big mistake I see new content creators making is that they do not engage with their audience, they do not build a community. For the four years I have been making content I have made it a commitment to answer ever YouTube comment that comes in. This is not always easy given the lack of a proper tool to check all unanswered comments and it is a time commitment to answer 100+ comments in a day, but this is what has built my community.
Without even asking, my audience shares my content in places that I could never (and sometimes) would never reach. I have found links to my content in reddit threads as answers to questions when my content is a good answer. I know gaming guilds that share my videos to their new members. I mean after all, why reinvent the wheel if there is a premade answer you can link to someone so they can have the answers they need?
My audience has also helped me with generating ideas for content, giving me feedback on the quality of my production (lighting, audio, intros), keeping me motivated when I wanted to throw in the towel. Cultivate your relationship with your audience. It will grow your channel more effectively than just trying to collect subscribers who never actually click or view anything.
Growing that Channel - Set the Right Goals
So the biggest mistake I see with small channels is they are setting all the wrong goals. Small content creators get it in their heads that they should chase subscribers. I talked about this a bit earlier, but to go into a little more depth your channel will attract two types of people: subscribers and viewers.
Think of subscribers as shoppers. They are people who are at your store (channel) who may or may not purchase something (view a video/tune into a stream/view your pictures).
Then you have buyers (viewers) these are people committed to the content you produce.
Focusing on getting a high subscriber count is like focusing on getting your store packed with shoppers. What you really want is to fill your store with buyers.
It is great to have a bunch of supporters who click that subscribe button, but where you get the disconnect is when you have 200 subscribers on your YouTube Channel or 100 on your Twitch, but when you put up a video it only gets 22 views or when you go live you are talking to an empty room. What’s also interesting is that when you dial into your YouTube metrics, I’m willing to bet that 50% or more of your views are coming from non-subscribers. So with that in mind, why are you chasing subscribers again?
Even viewers isn’t a great goal, but it at least leads you towards a better goal. Sure your video got 200 views, but where they meaningful views? Were they click and leave views? What was your retention for those viewers? Dial into those analytics and see what the retention on the video was. Did you get 200 views but lost 30% of the people by 10 seconds in? Did you drop to 50% lost by 30 seconds? How many people got to the half-way point of the video? If this metric is bad you have a giant arrow telling you want you need to fix first: your content.
Finally, there is this sub for sub thing I still see people getting involved in.
This is a bad idea all the way around. Not only is it a violation of the
YouTube terms of service (if you buy subscribers from a third party
service) but these subscribers if they are even viewing your videos (and
most don't) they are doing one-second views and tanking your metrics.
How popular do you think your video is if it has 1,000 views and 900
of them are views that lasted 00:01? Even if you have some authentic
viewers watching, they won’t be able to make up for the negative impact
those 1 second views are causing.
You should be careful when, where, and how you ask people to subscribe
to your channel, if you even do it at all. I talked about in my epic fail
video that I chased subs for years. Since I stopped even asking for subs
I’ve gained 1,500 subscribers. I’ve grown my sub count by 40% (5000 to 7000)
in 8 weeks simply by not worry about it.
You are going to make mistakes. You are going to have screw ups. You are going to have bad streams. You are going to send bad Tweets. That’s ok. You can check the biggest content creators on any platform and find mistakes.
Don't sweat the mistakes, don’t even sweat huge mistakes, just learn from them. Don't keep making the same mistakes.
With that said, also never make rash decisions, especially those types of rash decisions that are permanent. While this is mainly about my mistakes, I feel compelled to share this one with my audience. There was a content creator on YouTube who was trying to get monetized. He had nearly 100 videos and he was rapidly approaching the 1,000,000 view mark.
Having applied for YouTube partner twice and being denied he decided to remove all of the content that he thought was stopping him from getting monetized. He removed 50 videos with over 600,000 views, representing 76% of his channel in an attempt to get monetized. He still didn’t monetized.
So he lost out on the little bit of YouTube money that views generate and at the same time completely gutted his channel. The bad news is that there is nothing he can do to recover those views. Once a video is deleted, it is deleted. The good news is that since he had build a channel that reached almost 1,000,000 views he has the skills to do it again, this time in a more monetized friendly format, but there were probably better ways to go about fixing that channel.
Don’t make rash decisions. Reach out to other people before you do something like that.