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Mistakes People Make When Starting Their YouTube Channel


These are definitely things a person needs to know when they want to start a YouTube channel for profit.

Practically anyone with an internet connection is trying to start a YouTube channel now, and why shouldn’t they? Different people have different reasons for starting one, and if you have the time, money, desire, and opportunity to start a channel I don’t see anything wrong with it. However, there a few things everyone should know when they’re starting out on YouTube, especially if they have very little experience with social media and are trying to use YouTube to make money.

1) Thinking You’ll Get 1,000 Subscribers Overnight

Before you can APPLY for monetization on YouTube, there are two main thresholds you have to cross: reaching 1,000 subs and garnering a minimum of 4,000 hours of viewing time on your videos. If you’re only thinking about starting a YouTube channel to make money, or to translate it into a career, and you think getting one thousand subscribers and over four thousand hours of viewing time is easy, you’re already starting off on the wrong foot.

YouTube has changed a lot over the past fifteen years, and if you don’t remember (or aren’t old enough to know) how it was back in 2007/08, then I’ll tell you it’s unrecognizable from what it used to be. Back then, YouTube was more like a cooler version of MySpace (and if you remember MySpace, we’re both probably considered elderly). Believe it or not, YouTube used to have the option of choosing any background you wanted, adding a video to your main channel so that when people visited it, they were greeted with any vid of your choosing. On top of that, you had your very own message board on your channel’s main page, enabling you to chat with people, along with personal inboxes where you could direct message people and hold convos there as well.

Sometime around 2009, all of that began to change, and it started with videos and accounts from different countries being banned from American viewing. One day you were chatting with someone from England, and the next thing you knew, their account had been deleted by YouTube along with all of their uploads. Aside from viewing music videos every now and again, I stopped using YouTube for a very long time. It wasn’t until 2014/15 that I started watching YT again with my niece when she introduced me to a channel called Latoya Forever. I found it odd that my niece was watching this young woman’s videos as though it were a television show, but little did I know that I would not only start watching those videos with her, but just a few short years later, I’d be watching various other people’s lives on YouTube as if they were regular reality shows as well.

Seven years ago was the Golden Age of YouTube, in my humble opinion. I remember visiting someone’s channel that had some of the corniest comedy videos skits I’d ever seen, yet they already had eight million subscribers. Plenty of people had over one hundred thousand subs, and their videos weren’t even high quality. If you look at most of the channels today that have millions of subscribers, their videos tend to go back seven years, and although some of their videos seem average—at best—even their old vids had over a million views. And if their old videos don’t have over a million views like their current ones have, you’ll notice they probably changed up their content. Seven years ago, I think your channel had the chance of growing exponentially within a month, possibly even less, but now, that’s not the case.

Don’t start Googling things like, “Why isn’t my channel growing?” because I’m telling you right now, the answers you’ll find will only make you feel worse than you already do. People will tell you that you’re not producing quality content, that you’re not doing enough to promote your channel, etc. When that may be furthest from the truth. They’ll also tell you that the first video you post should be getting over seventy views a day from the jump, when that’s very unlikely to happen. You’ll be lucky to get one view, if I’m being honest with you. The only way you’ll possibly get decent views on your videos, along with enough subscribers to apply for monetization within a month, is if you have thousands (or millions) of followers already on Instagram, TikTok, and/or Twitter. I can give you an example of what I’m talking about; there’s someone I follow on TikTok, and while she has over seven million followers on that app, on YouTube, she only has 87,000 subscribers. Her videos go back three years, but she only has eight full videos posted, while the rest are shorts, so of course she isn’t posting quality videos consistently, but if she did decide to dedicate some time and attention to her channel, she’d probably hit 200k subs in three to six months with no problem. Depending on what type of video(s) she chose to do, she could probably hit 200k subs in less than three months.

But now, I have to tell you about my cousin’s YouTube channel…

I won’t say her name here, but to date, she’s posted 73 videos, spanning back five years, but she started posting consistently two years ago. Seventy-two of her seventy-three videos were posted between December 8, 2019 and April 14, 2022 (today). She’s been posting one video a week for a while now. However, the important thing I noted were the number of her subscribers and video view counts; she doesn’t have a lot of either. After two years, she has just a little over five thousand subscribers, and her average views are in the hundreds. While some of her videos are in the low thousands—sixteen of them, to be exact—only one hit the high thousands, mainly because other people with larger platforms had promoted it. What do I think of her videos? Aside from the fact that she obviously needs to change her approach to YouTube (the focus of her channel), she has a tendency to ramble. A few of her videos are over twenty minutes long and it’s like listening to someone drone on and on; imagine the teachers from Charlie Brown.

Those are two different YouTubers I’ve mentioned, and they both had a leg-up when starting their channels, and neither of them have hit 100k subs. Therefore, if you think you’re going to start posting videos as a virtual unknown human being, get one thousand subs within a month, along with over four thousand hours of video viewing time, you’re sadly mistaken. I don’t care how good your videos are, unless you have someone on a bigger platform promoting your video(s), it’ll take a while for it to be seen—if ever.

And let’s not even get into the fact that if someone with a bigger platform decides to steal your ideas, you’ll be seen as the one who stole the idea even if you clearly did it before the other person, indicated by the upload date of your video.

YouTube is not a “get rich quick” type of social media financial hack, if that’s your assumption. You’ll have to wait a minimum of six months, and probably twenty-four videos, before you start garnering any attention at all. That’s just a reality. I’ve seen people do the types of videos that I’ve uploaded onto YouTube and some of them have posted hundreds of quality videos for YEARS and they barely have one or two thousand subscribers. Being a YouTube success story isn’t for most people, so if you’ve posted twenty videos and eight months have gone by and you only have a few hundred views on each vid and a handful of comments, just know that you’re in the majority of YouTubers today. Some people are the exception and they have a ton of subs straightaway, and their videos get thousands of views, but you’re more than likely the rule (same as me), rather than the exception.

2) Making Comments Under Other People’s YouTube Videos

I almost cringe when I see comments under YouTube videos that start off complimenting the video’s creator I’ve just watched (or am in the midst of watching) and then the person goes on to say, “By the way, I’m a small YouTuber! Please come and check out my channel!” Sometimes it’s worded a little differently, but in the end, it boils down to the same thing.

For one thing, YouTube has started marking those comments as spam whenever they can find them. Secondly, those comments make the creators sound—first and foremost—desperate and unprofessional. The reason I say it’s unprofessional is because you’re doing your own marketing in the beginning stages, and you’re literally marketing yourself as well as your channel, so when you’re trying to usher in new viewers and subscribers, you have to think about how you’re presenting yourself to others. First impressions are everything.

Third, and this is probably most important, sometimes I will actually go and check out those channels, and they’re all the same. The content isn’t the same, but the presentation the creator makes tends to be the same: videos featuring a creator who has absolutely no idea what potential subscribers would want to see from them. One girl’s channel featured videos of her just going about her day; she was talking about her boyfriend, and her life in general, while buying Starbucks coffee, and her other videos were the same. Her channel had no particular style or theme, she just figured her life could be a focal point and she’d get views because she’s so unbelievably interesting, which was baffling to me. YouTubers with a much larger platform tend to do “A Day in the Life” videos because their subscribers request them. No one cares about your mundane day unless they have a sense of who you are; otherwise, you’re just a random, nondescript person recording their boring life, assuming that people are going to care and clamor to you watch you. Another girl literally just sat in front of her camera and said, “Well, yeah…um…I would like to know what you guys want to see me do. Like, um…do you want mukbang videos, or… I don’t know. Comment down below and tell me what you want to see. ‘Cause, as you know, this is my first video. And um, just let me know what you want to see me do.” I was shocked that she actually had the gall to start a channel, and upload a video announcing that she literally had no real content, had no idea what kind of content to make or where to start, and she believes she’s going places on social media.

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Rather than making those (cringey) comments under other people’s videos, or asking for shoutouts that people really don’t want to give you, pay for advertising. If you’ve uploaded more than ten videos and you truly believe you’ve uploaded A-List material, but you just need more people to see it, drop some cash so that YouTube will churn out an ad for you to people who they think will be most likely to check out your videos.

Besides, you run the risk of some YouTubers that you like not only deleting your comment asking them to check out your video, but also blocking you, flagging your comment, and possibly having your channel reviewed and deleted. You may think that seems extreme, but a lot of regular people flag those “small content creator” comments to make sure those types of creators are reprimanded since many people find those comments very annoying. Again, I know someone will probably say they don’t see any harm in someone doing that, but that’s your personal perspective, not a business one. If YouTube sees you doing that, your application for monetization could be revoked.

3) Buying Expensive Equipment

The reason most people will purchase so much expensive equipment to record YouTube videos (or videos for TikTok) is because they’re extremely confident that they’re not just going to make a return on their purchase, but they’re going to get it back a hundred-fold. Sadly, you could end up throwing away over $2,000 because you were overzealous, under the impression that you were more interesting and talented than you initially thought. Granted, you could be a very interesting and talented person, but your videos still may not get many views.

You’d be surprised at how many interesting, smart people have YouTube channels with good content, but no one knows about them. They’ve uploaded quality videos, and everything about what they did was solid, they were just never able to catch many people’s attention.

Everyone should know that the amount of money you spend on equipment or promotion isn’t automatically going to fetch you a profit. In some cases, you may be fortunate to break even…eventually.

When you’re just starting out on YouTube, unless you have another reason for buying an expensive camera, ring light, and all sorts of editing and graphics programs, just stick with your iPhone and other basics you already have or are cheap to purchase. Whenever you see YouTubers in their videos and everything looks perfect, again, you have to look at how long they’ve been recording and editing videos for their channel. Scroll down through the videos on their channel and watch some of their first few videos; if they have over a hundred videos, look at their first twenty, or so, videos. Their first videos will most likely have a decent amount of views, but they won’t look anything like the videos they started recording later on after they started making serious money from their channel. Usually, you’ll see videos they recorded using their iPhones; the sound quality isn’t the best, they were probably using natural light rather than ring lights, and everything looks pretty rough. Yet, I’ll bet it’s still a watchable video, and either entertaining and/or informative. They were engaging and people wanted to watch them, and they didn't have the best equipment.

Then you need to view some channels with people who have decent equipment—

same as their counterparts with tons of subscribers on their channel and views on their videos—yet they still don’t have as many subs or video views. In fact, some of them have a fraction of views and subs that big-time YouTubers have even though they have good editing skills and their videos are engaging.

So, it’s a toss-up.

Just don’t start a YouTube channel with expensive tech, thinking that’s going to bring in subscribers and will earn you a return on what you’ve spent. If you do decide to buy high quality tech from the beginning, go into it with the knowledge that you may just lose your investment.

4) Tag Stuffing and Viewing Your Own Videos

Back in the day, “tag stuffing” was the way a lot of videos that may have fallen into obscurity managed to get watched. In case you’re unsure of what tag stuffing is, it’s when people add tons of tags to their videos that actually have nothing to do with their video. When we say “tag”, it’s not referring to a hashtag either, but the official tags that help generate people’s searches online. You add your tags in the YouTube Studio app, and there’s a special section in which to do it. The description box is not the place to put any sort of tags at all, although I’ve seen people add hashtags there, which is supposed to be against YouTube’s rules. Viewers usually have no idea which tags creators actually use for their videos; however, the people behind the scenes of YouTube certainly do, and I’ve heard that they may reject your application for monetization if they notice that you’re adding a bunch of tags that have nothing to do with your videos, the way YouTubers did it in the past to attract viewers.

Here’s the funny thing about tag stuffing though: I don’t know if the source of where I heard it is 100% reliable. But that’s just it, if they’re lying, a creator could be missing an opportunity to generate attention to their videos, but if they’re NOT lying, and you try to utilize this particular method of gaining attention as a creator, then you’re setting yourself up for failure. I saw more than one person saying it, but one could simply be repeating what they heard someone else say, and so forth.

Interestingly enough, I never considered the idea of tag stuffing my own videos until I heard about it online as I was researching things that I shouldn’t do when uploading videos for YouTube. The types of videos I upload have tons of tags on their own that are actually relevant to them, but the tag stuffing people used to do tended to involve explicit materials of an intimate nature, if you know what I mean—and it worked! People would be searching for videos of an erotic nature, and instead would come across YouTube videos that had nothing to do with physical intimacy.

But nowadays, according to random sources—just being honest here—doing that could get your videos demonetized or worse. Personally, I wouldn’t take the chance if I was trying to be serious about my (possible) YT career.

Another thing is using copyrighted images. I think people know how serious it is using copyrighted music in their videos, but I don’t think enough emphasis is put on using various images from Google searches that are also copyrighted. While an image may look generic to you, it could very well get your video taken down and your application for monetization rejected if you’re using the wrong images in the background of your videos, or as the thumbnails. I’ve seen people using copyrighted images in the past and nothing happened to them, but I wouldn’t chance that now. YouTube has become stricter and stricter year after year, and to be frank, it’s mostly small YouTubers that get hurt by all the red tape, which is why you have people like me trying to give warnings.

You could also be penalized for viewing your own videos multiple times. You can actually research this particular topic on your own, but I think this one is common sense for most people. YouTube can track who’s watching your videos, so if you’re the one doing the majority of the watching of your own material in an attempt to reach the 4,000-hours mark, you’ll be wasting your time. Ask yourself this: Are you going to continuously watch your own videos to generate money later on? I suppose if you’re desperate enough, you would, but I also think that would get really old, really fast, even if it did work.

You need subscribers, and you need viewers, but trying to cut corners to gain either of those things will most likely only get you in trouble with YouTube. Your best bet is to spend money on advertising if you think your uploads are good enough to gain attention.

5) Don’t Always Listen to Already Popular YouTubers

I know this is a tricky thing to tell people to do, but other than encouraging other people to start their own YouTube channels, I haven’t heard a lot of helpful things coming from YouTubers with over 100K subscribers, and it’s not their fault. Most of them assume that you’ll do your own research on the technical stuff and other semantics when it comes to starting your own channel, so they skip a lot of the things that people who have no clue what they’re doing need to know. For instance, if you’re not tech savvy, that’s not any popular YouTuber’s fault; same goes for if you don’t have the money for a lot of the basic requirements that it takes to upload videos on your channel, and I’m not talking about any expensive equipment.

The majority of successful YouTubers will automatically jump into talking about their sponsorships, which could be paying them $10,000 and upwards, meanwhile, you’re here wondering how you’re going to gain one thousand subs and four thousand hours of viewing time. In other words, what they’re saying is totally irrelevant to you. Sponsorships worth thousands of dollars usually find their way to YouTubers after they’ve had videos up for over a year. Some YouTubers had videos posted on the app for YEARS before they started getting lucrative sponsorship deals, and if you think they’re only making between ten and twenty-five thousand dollars for a single sponsorship, you’d be wrong. Although you rarely hear big-time YouTubers speaking freely about how much money they make, the few that do let you know will tell you that it’s a lucrative business venture, hence so many people saturating the app. However, looking up to one of those successful YouTubers could be your downfall.

I’ve noticed as of late that some smaller YouTubers will use the name of a successful YouTuber to try to garner views on their videos. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. The bottom line is, it doesn’t work in the long run. Sure, the video where you talked about a certain YouTuber—with a clickbait title, no less— that has over 600K subs got you 100K views on that one video, but what about your other videos? Using clickbait-type titles can get you into hot water now. Even YouTubers who were already successful, and had gained much of their success using clickbait-y titles on their videos (for example: exercise gurus), were heavily reprimanded about using them back in 2020/21. You can easily have a ton of views, in the high thousands, on one of your vids, but the rest may still be in the hundreds, or very low thousands—my cousin’s channel is the perfect example of that.

You also shouldn’t look at successful YouTubers, thinking you can follow in their footsteps and gain the same type of following they have. I can use beauty gurus, or self-care queens (as I, and others, tend to call them), as an example. There are some women in various age groups that have started self-care/pamper channels over the past few years that feature them taking showers, as well as recommending hygiene products and perfume. Many channels like that tend to gain subscribers and viewers quickly, but not all of them grow at the same rate. For instance, I’ve seen some young women start self-care/hygiene channels back in 2021, and as of today, they have over 200K subscribers and get thousands of views on each of their videos almost as soon as they’re uploaded. Other young women with the same types of channels, that have the same camera and editing quality, that do similar content, and are even more interesting to listen to than their more successful counterparts, haven’t even hit 100K subs. Some of those same young women have also had their channels for years, and they’ve been making the same content for years, yet they have way less subs than others.

You have to understand that it’s a toss-up. You can’t force people to watch your videos and you can’t predict whether they’ll like you or not. With YouTube, it’s a waiting game to see if you’ll gain viewers and subscribers, and if you don’t after a certain period of time, you either need to switch up your content, or give up on that avenue of revenue altogether. However, if you’re purely uploading videos on YouTube for fun, just because you have the extra time on your hands, that’s even better. There’s no pressure to get monetized, there’s no pressure to go out of your way to impress viewers, and there’s especially no pressure to choose sponsors later on down the line if you make it to that point.

One more thing you need to remember is that if you’re just starting out, the YouTubers that came before you didn't have the same hurdles that you do when they started posting videos. YouTube was not as strict, and their videos had a better chance of being seen than yours without them going above and beyond. It’s always good to put forth your best efforts when embarking on something, but with YouTube, you have to be mindful of the fact that your best may not be good enough no matter how much you try. Just don’t beat yourself up if you can’t earn a living from your videos. I know it sounds cliché, but in the end, if it doesn’t go well, at least you can say you tried.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 WickedLittleLiar

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