Managing YouTube Channels for Fun and/or Profit

By Rob Ciampa, Theresa Moore, John Carucci, Stan Muller, Adam Wescott

In addition to the pleasure that comes from a job well done, there’s also (potentially) a business side to running a YouTube channel. If you post videos that draw a lot of views, it’s worth your time for you to monetize your channel — generate some income from ad revenue, in other words. But that’s not the only business purpose YouTube channels can help with:

They can serve as a great showcase for your particular skills or services, or act as a delivery system for product descriptions, tutorials, and testimonials associated with whatever your business is selling.

Creating content

Whether you grab a 10‐second video of a gathering of friends, have something meaningful to say on your video blog, or plan a highly structured ­production with sets and actors, you’re creating content.

Almost every topic under the sun is represented on YouTube. That diversity in topics is matched by an equally broad range of production levels. Some videos are quite sophisticated, displaying amazing production values, but many are fairly average. And a great deal are just poorly done and end up ­getting shown in film classes as examples of what not to do.

Better production values increase your ability to grab viewers’ attention — maybe enough for them to watch the entire video and maybe enough for them to even consider watching whatever else you have to offer. The Holy Grail, of course, is having them feel so enthusiastic about what they see that they then share it with others.

But great video quality doesn’t happen accidentally; rather it’s done consciously, from conception to upload. Here are some key suggestions to always keep in mind.

  • Plan before you film. Great videos begin in pre‐production. That means having an idea of the shooting location and working with some sort of script (or at least a storyboard of the kind of shots you want for the video).

  • Know your audience. When you’re just getting started, you try to make solid videos with good descriptions and hope that your audience finds you. After you have attracted a following, it’s still important to understand who they are and whether your content is right for them. For example, if you start an entertainment blog that talks about up‐and‐coming hip‐hop artists, you should use language that’s consistent with a younger demographic. Don’t overlook the importance of being highly aware of your potential audience.

  • Keep viewers entertained. Regardless of the subject matter, it’s important for viewers to enjoy the experience so that you hold their attention. Remember that hooking a viewer’s attention starts with the first ten seconds of the video (Why? Because viewers may leave before the good stuff and continues until it’s over).

  • Let them learn something. People generally click on a video link in search of information. If they find it quickly and they were entertained, chances are good that they will love you.

Building an audience

After you create great content, you have to find people to watch it. After all, isn’t that the entire purpose of sharing your video with the world? Whether it starts with ten people who run across your student film, or a million people viewing your talking puppy video, building your audience is essential.

YouTube is no different from other media when it comes to emphasizing the importance of building an audience. For example, you may have the catchiest song of all time, but if no one has ever heard it or even knows it exists, then that song cannot by any stretch of the imagination be called a success. The same is true for your videos — you need to work at getting as many people as possible to watch them.

Successfully building your audience depends on understanding their needs and making sure you can deliver on what your channel promises. Catering to your audience — whether it consists of one person or ten million — centers on understanding them and satisfying their appetite.

Building a business

In addition to letting you upload your videos to satisfy the fun side of your personality, YouTube can work wonders for your business side. You can easily set your account to monetize video content, as mentioned in the next section; as long as enough viewers click on your video, you can earn some extra money. If you’ve got something to sell or a service to offer, you can also leverage YouTube for some pretty cool and powerful advertising.

Monetization

You can earn money with your YouTube channel every time someone clicks on your video. The more people who view your content, the more money you can potentially make, and YouTube makes it easy to do so. All it takes is an account in good standing, an understanding of the guidelines, and your ­guarantee to upload only original content to get approval from YouTube.

Now that users have found the potential to make money on YouTube, it’s become like the California gold rush of 1849. Motivated entrepreneurs are setting up shop in the hope of striking it big with their YouTube channels.

As you might expect, not everybody will strike it rich. In fact, very few will strike it rich. Nevertheless, it is possible to earn a goodly amount, especially if you take advantage of the multiple ways you can make money through your YouTube channel, including views of your video (an ad plays at the beginning) or clicks on a banner or other display ad on your channel’s page. Just keep in mind that slow and steady wins the race — making money takes time, or at least it will take time until you build a massive following.