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10 Lessons Learned of a Middle-Aged YouTuber

If you have ever thought about starting a YouTube channel, you should.  Why not start this week?  There are many approaches to being a “YouTuber” or a content creator, and the frequency of releasing material will be up to you.  For me, this Better Preparedness channel is an extension of my work in emergency management and preparedness consultancy work.

It’s been a string of learning experience and here are they are:

1.      Being a YouTuber is a lot of work

Yes, it is a lot of work.  

I have a consultancy and I work with clients in many aspects of emergency management and improving their preparedness.  One of the side projects I really wanted to embark on 18 months ago was to start a YouTube channel to promote a proactive approach to preparedness.  I’ve learned that it takes time, a lot of time, to produce episodes, especially on a regular basis. 

This past year, I aimed for about once a week and it ended up being about 40 episodes.  Ideally, I would have a supply of completed episodes and schedule their release but it’s been work more like complete and release, complete and release… I’m constantly working on the next one, the next one, the next one.

2.     There is a Constant Learning Curve, if you Want to Keep Improving

There is a constant learning curve.  You are either learning how to do your work better, learning new software, learning new technology or learning how to new use new pieces of equipment.  Just keep absorbing and trying new things and ways. 

Learn from other YouTubers’ experiences, how they do it and just see if that applies to you.  Test out a few things.  Sometimes you test something, like some different software, learned it a fair bit, and then realised that it just didn’t work with your laptop or it didn’t work with your style of editing or whatever.  Just make sure you’re always learning.  It will pay off.

3.     Filming can be Easy.  It’s the Editing and Post-Production that Take Time.

Filming can often be easy.  It is the editing and post editing that take a lot of time.  You can have a great idea, be in a great setting, come up with a great little script and you film that episode.  Done! 

Wait, you still need to get back to where you do your editing.  Putting all that electronic material into your video editing software and producing a final product still requires time.  You’ll be viewing reviewing and reviewing and making those little tweaks.  It surprised me how much time it takes to edit even a short episode of 6 to 12 minutes in length. 

Most of my episodes have required a couple of days of effort and I need uninterrupted focus.  That’s not always easy when one has additional family obligations, children school schedules, other work, etc…  An episode of purely one clean clip will take far less time to edit than one where you add in all kinds of additional footage or music. 

I believe fellow Canadian YouTuber, Peter McKinnon, coined the term “B-roll footage”, essentially additional footage you add to an episode, often in the form of close-ups, slow motion, landscapes, transition images, and so.  That additional footage has to be combined into your episode in a way that compliments your episode.  It might provide context, just entertain or provide a connection to your next point.

4.     You Need to Enjoy the Topic

You need to enjoy the topic.  You’re going to be thinking about this on a regular basis.  Thinking of little elements here and there.  You’re going to be editing and when you are editing, you are listening and re-listening, and so on.  If you pick a focal topic for your YouTube channel and you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to have much fun to be honest.  You will struggle to release material and enjoy the journey.  Producing quality and consistently releasing episodes requires enjoying the topic.

5.     Just Finishing the Video is the Start of the Remaining Steps… Ugh.

Finishing the editing and production of your video often feels like, yes, I did it!  Done!  Actually, you’re just going into the next step which is the behind-the-scenes stuff that you have to do for each episode.  You need to write the descriptions, do the thumbnail image, write the tags, and I try to release an accompanying article most the time on www.BetterPreparedness.com.  

After forty or so episodes released so far, I just have to remind myself that when I finish the high definition MP4 video file of the episode, I still need a few hours of work to produce the behind-the-scenes things that go with that video.

6.     Growth Takes Time, Be Patient

Growth takes time.  I don’t think there’s viral success for most people and if it happens, great, but it usually comes with experience, good content, and how you produce things.  A one-hit wonder episode will not guarantee long-term success or boost your subscriber numbers.  Success is more likely to come from having developed a regular group of people who tune in to your episodes, watch the content, and click on that subscribe button.  While you’re at it, please consider subscribing and click the bell icon to be notified of new episodes.  😊

With consistent effort, releasing on a regular basis, your channel will likely grow but just remember that it takes time.  I’ve watched my analytics gradually rise and while I admit that I was hoping things would rise a little more quickly, there has been steady growth.  I’m happy where the channel is right now and that’s due to great people like you watching and reading this content.  I really appreciate it.

When you start your TouTube channel or blog, just give yourself time and don’t expect the viral success.  I think 6 to 12, or 18 months is what it takes for that real growth to start happening.

7.      YouTubing is Often a lot of Alone Time

You do a lot of the filming alone, your writing alone, your editing alone, and so on.  It’s all great being your own boss.  Since there is no one really pushing you, you need to have a bit of self drive, though.  If you think about your favourite YouTubers, you’ll notice how their earlier material was done alone. 

For most YouTubers, it’s easier to record (film) on your own because you don’t want to hold people up if you’re doing a hike or visiting somewhere, re-record something because the shot was not what you wanted, or whatever it is that day.  For example, I recorded an episode on how to hike or trail run Table Mountain and it’s easier to get that footage and do the talking without inconveniencing others, stopping to film this or that, and so on. 

A lot of YouTubing just happens alone and so you have to be good with that.  Later on, with growth and revenue, many YouTubers outsource certain tasks or hire a team but you have to pass a certain revenue threshold.  Perhaps some day.

8.     Try to Edit and Release your Material ASAP, usually

I think it’s best to release something as quickly as possible after you filmed it and after you wrote it because your train of thought was there when you put all that material together and the more time that goes by the more your train of thought might change.  It becomes harder to edit because you are trying to remember “Where was I with that train of thought when I filmed that episode 6 months ago?” and “What were the key messages of that episode?”

I keep a notebook and write down those ideas, the key points of that video in terms, and so on.

9.     Celebrate You and Where You Live

Try to celebrate where you live what makes you, you.  Celebrate what makes things different or special in your setting. 

I’m in South Africa these days and for the YouTube episode that accompanied this article, I was in Cape Town, South Africa for a weekend, one of most beautiful cities in the world.  For that episode, I incorporated local footage as most people have never visited Cape Town or maybe they want to see a bit more of it.

If I’m watching a YouTuber from wherever, somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, South Korea, France or Germany, the fun thing for me is seeing that person in their context and they teach me a little bit about what makes them them and where they live.   It’s kind of fun to see the local flavour so make sure you don’t think that “who really wants to see my context?”  I think a lot of people do and that’s one of the appeals of YouTube.

10. Maybe, just maybe, Your Kids Will Think You are Cool

If you have kids and they realise you are YouTuber, your kids might actually think you’re cool!  For real! 

Okay, they also do tell me that I’m about 100,000,000 subscribers behind YouTuber PewDiePie.  I just have to accept that I don’t think I’ll be catching up anytime soon.  Reaching 100,000,000 subscribers will take some time… 

Conclusion: Should you start a YouTube channel?

Absolutely.  Give yourself time, try different things, learn, get feedback, and give it a go.  You can do this.  I’m curious if your 10 Lessons Learned recap after your first year will be different from mine.  Share your experiences below.  Hey, make a YouTube episode about it!

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