5 Lessons Learned from Launching a YouTube Channel

On November 29, 2012, I finished editing a crudely shot video, logged into YouTube, and pressed upload.

It was my first DIY (do it yourself) project that I documented on YouTube. I wanted to paint my bathtub but I didn’t see any good videos from a regular guy doing it, just professionals with equipment I didn’t own.

Here’s the creepiest screenshot I could pull along with some stats on that video:

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 6.32.47 AM

Lesson 1: YouTube is bigger than you think

The largest stadium in the world is Rungrado 1st of May Stadium located in Pyongyang, North Korea. It holds 150,000 people.

Three years ago, I would have never guessed that I’m about ready to fill that stadium with the amount of people who have watched me paint a tub.

Turns out there are a lot of people out there with similar questions needing answers.

Just simply saying, “YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google” doesn’t always give proper context for just how large it is.

The other crazy number is the minutes watched of that video. It breaks down to 11,570 hours or about 482 days of watch time.

Lesson 2: Have patience

It took 11 months before the bathtub video really got footing in the search results. You can see peaks and valleys in traffic to the video (in the image above) which is natural and happens for most videos.

Depending on your content, there will be seasonal peaks and valleys that naturally happen as well. Below is a video I created for snowblower flat tire repair; you can see how views peak in the winter months after major storms and just now are starting to ramp back up as people prep for winter.

YouTube’s algorithm is responsible for ranking videos, or sorting them into a preferred order.

The number one factor for ranking videos (as of writing this post) is viewer retention time. A video that keeps people watching will rank higher. It doesn’t happen instantly, however, as it will take time to get footing in the rankings.

Lesson 3: Optimize your videos

Most of my DIY videos are SEO optimized. This means that the descriptions, titles, images, tags, and other variables are focused on one keyword phrase that someone might be searching.

A really easy way to figure out what people are searching is to pay attention to Google and YouTube’s suggestions. Recently, I had an issue with my Macbook’s RAM where it was causing my computer to beep three times and not turn on. Rather than pay to get it fixed, I decided to upgrade the RAM myself and make a video of the process.

I went to Google and started typing my problem: “Macbook beeps” and suggestions started to pop. I took that first “long tail keyword” of Macbook beeps 3 times and wont turn on and made sure it was in the title, description, and tags of the video. I also made sure to use both “3” and “three” in different uses throughout as people will search for both.

It’s important that the thing I am trying to rank for is specifically what the video is about because viewer retention time will drop if you’re misleading them.

If I decided to get greedy and try to rank for a higher searched keyword, such as “Macbook Repair,” then I would have more people dropping off from watching that video quicker because it’s not the solution to the problem they have.

Don’t be concerned about trying to rank for something that is too specific. Remember… YouTube is massive.

Lesson 4: Leveling the playing field

Confession time.

In my life, I have painted one bathtub (which didn’t go that well longterm), repaired three snowblower tires (all within the same week as I screwed up the first two repairs), and repaired one computer after a few frustrating tries.

The funny thing is that people don’t care because I’m honest with them. I make the video and tell them exactly what my experience is. I don’t say that I am an expert but I tell them, “I’ve never done this before and I’m a little nervous, but here goes nothing.”

It works because I am expressing emotions that the viewer is most likely feeling, too. I’m helping them through the physical details as well as acknowledging the emotional ones and giving them encouragement that an average joe can do this stuff.

Above are the stats on that Macbook video. Below are 25 of the 93 countries that those views came from.[/vc_column_text][ish_image image=”6971″ size=”theme-large” align=”center”][vc_column_text]In four months since posting that video, it’s been viewed by someone in almost half of the countries of the world (93 of 196). Remember, that’s my first computer repair.

You can see how recently the views have really started to accelerate; that’s because some videos will rank on YouTube AND Google. In the image below, you can see how my video ranks second on Google searches after apple.com and before mac-forums.com out of 28,500 search results.

There have to be over a million people more qualified to talk you through a computer repair than me. They just don’t know how to leverage YouTube. Imagine what that video could be worth to the company that sells replacement RAM. They could have made the same video and then provided a link at the end back to their e-commerce store.

Lesson 5: A mind of it’s own

I made the bathtub repair video with the best intentions. However, only six months after the paint dried, my tub started to peel and I had to keep touching it up. Finally, I had enough and reached out to a local bathtub finishing company.

I documented the way he did the tub and how it differed from my approach. I then dropped in an annotation in the original bathtub video that links to the new video: “Click here to see how this tub looks in 2015”. That annotation has been up for a little less than seven months and has been clicked 2,432 times. It takes people to this followup video.

You will notice I put two annotations onto the screen. The upper left image is clickable on desktop and the info button in the upper right is clickable on mobile as well. Both direct to the tub finisher’s Google+ page.

The upper left got 261 clicks (44 from New York State) while the upper right “YouTube Card” has 21 clicks total.

Those clicks have resulted in direct phone calls for that local business.

I had no clue when I got started that the first tub video would do so well. Or that a follow up video would get even more views every month. Or that it would generate leads and sales for the professionals business.

Once you have a video that is doing well, it can lead to other new opportunities you didn’t even think of originally. The nice thing is that good content that speaks to a specific problem or need helps to identify people who may be a good fit for what your business offers.

Tips for your business YouTube channel:

You want to put yourself in the shoes of a potential buyer.

What are some of the things that a person that could use your product/service be searching for?

You want to create content that engages with them before the purchase.

Be helpful, don’t be salesy, and give quality answers to the questions they’re searching for. The end of the video is a good time to make an ask, if you have one.

Here are some examples:

Product/service Video concept that identifies potential buyers
Sell computer RAM How to fix RAM related computer issues
Own a nursery How to plan a garden
Own a hotel Things to do in (insert city name)
Sell life insurance How to read a cholesterol report
Own security business How to prevent break-ins

The biggest takeaway I have found for YouTube is to be authentic. It’s not a 60 second commercial; people get to decide what they want to watch. Leave the visitor feeling educated or entertained (both if you’re feeling spunky) and they’ll be more inclined to consider you when the need arises. Be specific to their needs and provide value.

If you can master this, you can create content that feeds leads to your business for years to come.