How to build a tribe on YouTube

YouTube has a reputation for being the hardest platform to build a following on. This is because it’s not forgiving if your content isn’t exactly right.

Here are the five main reasons content creators can’t get a following on Youtube:

Your content is too unoriginal

If you’re looking to be the next anything, and all your videos are just the same as thousands upon thousands of other people’s videos, no one will follow your channel. You have to be BETTER than your favourite YouTuber to gain a following, because their followers are already getting what that YouTuber offers.

Your content is too original

Alternatively, the problem could be that you’re making things that are so fresh and unique that no one is searching for them. People discover YouTube videos mainly by searching the site, then by clicking on suggested videos. If you’re not coming up in search results for things people are already looking for, you’re not going to get many viewers. If you don’t get viewers, you can’t turn them into subscribers.

Your video making skills are poor

Your video doesn’t need a thirty second intro with all the special effects you can find on iMovie. If your video doesn’t hook people in the first 5 seconds, you’ve lost them. In Channel Manager, your watch time will tell you how long you’re keeping people’s attention for, on average. Long, rambling videos need to be cut down into something short and snappy. Speed up visual demonstrations (e.g. time spent applying hair dye) and ruthlessly cut out any snafus or times when you’ve said the same thing again (even if you said it slightly differently later on, cut it). Re-record anything that’s out of focus if you can.

Your lighting is bad

If people can’t see you very well, they start to think there’s no point watching your video. If you’re doing a tutorial, it’s extra-extra important to ensure you have really good lighting. When I started my first YouTube channel in 2014, there were no such thing as ring lights. Now you can buy them everywhere, so you have no excuse not to buy one and place it around your camera to ensure you’re always filming in good lighting.

The ideal setup is the three-light setup. You want a soft light (like your main bedroom light) that illuminates everything, then a bright light slightly to one side at the left and another softer light on the right, to eliminate shadows. A ring light can replace the bright light but you might still find you get better results by adding a third light (like a gentle table lamp with a warm yellow bulb) to kill video shadows and make things seem natural.

Making good use of natural light is also a great idea, and the best place to film is in front of a window during a cloudy day (not too much sunshine or you’ll get harsh shadows). You will probably still need other lighting, however, so experiment to see what works best in your own filming space.

Your sound isn’t great

If people can’t hear you, you’re basically screwed. People need to be able to understand you, so speak clearly (and not too fast or slow). Avoid any kind of awkward background noises such as coughing, clearing your throat, people in other parts of your house flushing the toilet (I’ve heard this before), and dogs barking outside etc.

You also want to avoid any long stretches (3 seconds or more) of silence. Get some background music (legally) by searching for royalty free music online and add this to your video during the editing stage.

By fixing these five things, you are giving your videos the best chance of being found and watched. And that’s the best way to grow your tribe on YouTube.

You can also transfer some of your social media following from other platforms such as Instagram but I haven’t found this very effective because most people are reluctant to go from one platform to another unless they already know and love you. The way to do this is to include your YouTube videos in your posting strategy for your other platform, but it can be very hit and miss unless you go viral.

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