The highlight of this week’s Rethink Media conference in Birmingham was undoubtedly the panel on YouTube, chaired by Hannah Witton with Anna Gardner and Lily Pebbles.
It was very much in the YouTube genre: a breezy and chatty affair which managed to sneak in mentions of MCNs and CPMs alongside references to the importance of being unique and personal.
Keep doing it – for years
Dedication and persistence was very much a recurring piece of advice from all three panelists. “There is no magic formula, just be consistent,” said Lily Pebbles. “Don’t take your foot off the pedal.”
“Try to publish a video once per week,” advised Hannah Witton, upping that to twice “if you can”.
An image tweeted later by Lily Pebbles (since deleted) showed a video publishing schedule for every Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday throughout January to March.
Commercially, many successful YouTubers make money from a combination of display ads, YouTube ads and collaborations with brands (sponsorship).
Multi-channel networks – a way for YouTube users to act collectively (for example selling advertising across multiple channels or sharing facilities) were mentioned as being more proactive in providing support early on, before settling into something which now worked more in the background.
But it takes time: Anna Gardner, who runs the ViviannaDoesMakeup channel on YouTube, as well as a blog of the same name, noted that it took 2 years before she received her first cheque in the post from Google AdSense.
[UPDATE: My colleague Dave Harte interviewed Hannah Witton last year about the background to her channel and what actual work is involved in that. You can see that video embedded below]
Not just YouTube
Anna won the Best Beauty Blog at the 2014 Bloglovin’ awards. She points out that the focus on ‘YouTubers’ is misleading: “I’m actually a blogger; I have a blog, and Instagram account, and YouTube as well.”
And fellow lifestyle blogger Lily Pebbles feels that the audiences on each platform can be very different. “My Instagram audience is very different from my YouTube audience.
“But we’re the reason [that people watch]. Not the platform. YouTube is just the platform for now, there’ll be another in future”
Hannah Witton who has over 100,000 subscribers to her videos and blog on sex, body image, gender & sexuality agrees:
“For each platform you are running, you need to run a different party. It is important to use different social media platforms in different ways for different audiences.”
The importance of community
The final thread running through the discussion was engaging with your community.
“Audience is very important. Think of their needs,” said Lily Pebbles. But also “be unique, be yourself,” and be open:
“People love the personal stuff.”
Hannah pointed out that: “We call them viewers, not fans. You need to get involved with the community. I see some of my viewers as friends.”
Collaboration – ‘collabs‘ – are also key. The panelists talked openly about being in competition with each other while also appearing in each other’s videos to grow their audience…
…and even passing on advertising opportunities if they feel it is more appropriate to a fellow YouTuber.
But of course YouTube comments are notoriously abusive – especially towards women. Hannah’s response on the subject was brief: “You have to focus on the lovely comments. Not very one can love you.”
What about the technical stuff?
The one thing that was missing from the discussion was a recognition of the technical ability of the panelists. It’s easy to overlook the fact that Lily, Anna and Hannah are not just faces in front of the camera, but producers behind it.
To that end I’ve compiled a playlist of 6 videos by Anna and Lily on how to start a YouTube channel and equipment, photography and filming tips. Enjoy.
Nice summary Paul. I interviewed Hannah via Skype last year. She talks in a bit more detail about the some of the subjects covered by the panel.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4VGAd1hMBcc (30 mins)
I’m gonna check this out later (:
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