How to Build an Online Platform: YouTube

Photo credit: clasesdeperiodismo on Flickr
So wayyyyy back in 2014 I started an online platform series. I covered Twitter, blogging, and tumblr, then decided I'd wait until I had more experience with YouTube before I talked about that avenue. 

I just recently crossed the 10,000 subscriber mark on my YouTube channel, bookishpixie, (which is a bigger following than any of my other social media sites, which is somewhat surprising because it's nowhere near the oldest of my social media accounts)—and it's honestly the most active community base I have, which has translated to a surprising (or maybe not surprising?) amount of book sales and editing clients. I guess you could say I have more experience now. So let's talk YouTube.

YouTube birthday: May 6, 2014 (nearly three years!) 
Subscribers: 10,315 (as of this writing)
Total views: 446,511 (as of this writing)
Time spent weekly: Roughly two hours. 


  • Try to make your videos looks as professional as possible. This means getting a decent camera that can record in HD (which nowadays doesn't require anything super expensive), paying attention to lighting and sound, and learning how to edit videos. I'm somewhat lucky in the sense that I have an Associates in Digital Media/Film and did a year of a film-focused degree at an art college, so I have plenty of experience learning how to work cameras (and their manual settings), how to light a scene, and how to edit video. Not everyone has that obviously, but the good news is a lot of it is common sense and is pretty easy to learn. I want to one day upgrade my camera to a DSLR and get lighting equipment when I have more of disposable income, but I've made do with a relatively cheap camera and using just natural light and room lighting along with my camera's exposure settings to get mostly decent shots.

  • Figure out a script style that works for you. Some people like to write out an entire script, others prefer bullets. I'm more a bullet person, and I try not to write more than a sentence or two per bullet. I like using bullet points because it keeps my vlogs flexible and sounding more casual—and also I don't trip up on the exact wording that way, which helps a lot. (I also use the same technique for public speaking.) The exact method you use matters less than figuring out a method that works for you.

  • Like literally every other social media channel, the biggest key is to post consistently. I’ve already written a whole post about why posting consistently is so important, so I’m not going to get into that again. But the main benefit to YouTubers is by posting consistently, you’re allowing your viewers to get into the habit of checking/visiting your blog on a regular basis. For me, that means every Tuesday. Whether that’s weekly, bi-weekly, several times a week or monthly is up to you, but no matter what, consistency is key.

  • Similarly, your content should be somewhat consistent, too. For me this means I vlog about books, writing, and publishing, with few exceptions. It also means I try to keep my vlogs under four minutes whenever possible—because that's what I've always done and it's what my viewers expect from me now. And many of them have said they appreciate the brevity (and to be honest, so do I—it's a lot easier to edit and caption a short vlog than a long one!). 

  • Cross-posting. Cross-posting is helpful for just about every social media avenue, whether it's blogging, reviewing, Instagramming, etc. YouTube is no exception—I cross-post to Twitter, my blog, Facebook, and tumblr. Most of my traffic still comes from YouTube natively (which is great!) but cross-posting definitely helps get the word out.

  • Answer the (serious) comments. Yes, I've mentioned this for other social media sites, and yes it applies to YouTube, too. The different thing about YouTube is viewers are pretty used to being ignored in the comments, so when you do respond, they take note and kind of love it. But obviously you can ignore and report/block jerk comments because those happen from time to time. The comments on my YouTube channel are the most active of any of my social media sites—not only do viewers ask questions and comment on the vlogs, but they respond to each other, too. As a bonus, I've gotten a lot of great vlog ideas from questions and suggestions people have made in the comments, so really, it's a win-win. 

Have you ever considered starting a YouTube channel?

Twitter-sized bites:
Looking to build a YouTube channel? @Ava_Jae shares her experience and a few tips. (Click to tweet
"Find a script style that works for you," and other YouTube channel building tips from @Ava_Jae. (Click to tweet)

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