Successful YouTube

VIEW sat down with Lan Bui of The Bui Brothers recently to talk about how to build successful YouTube channels. The Bui Brothers specialise in building audiences and consulting for YouTubers, starting this mission back in 2007. We asked Lan to share some of his top tips and strategies for starting a successful YouTube channel. Below is what Lan had to share:

(In 2006 Lan started the web show Noodle Scar with host Bonny Pierzina and broadcast over 200 episodes throughout 2007. It was also the first daily web show produced and distributed in HD. The Video was part of this show)

  • Be real. The very first step has to be to find something you’re passionate about then use that as your base. This way your content is authentic. Viewers can smell when something is contrived.
  • …And be realistic. Think about how much time you have to devote to your channel because the best way to build an audience is daily content. This is a huge commitment, as there are very few people or even companies who have the resources and the budget to put out a daily video. I would say the minimum commitment is twice a week. Anything less than that is going to make it very difficult to build an audience.
  • Get your gear together: It’s extremely important to have quality gear that is reliable. When you create a show or video for your channel, it requires a workflow. If you have talent or crew on set and the lights don’t work or the microphone doesn’t record, think about how much time you waste? You’re going to cost yourself money in the long run, so I recommend doing the research and investing in quality equipment you can count on. After you have a camera and a memory card, at the bare minimum you’ll need a quality microphone, a lightweight tripod and some small LED lights. The worst thing you can do is have bad sound and an unintentionally shaky video. If you don’t have a few good tools in your toolbox the video will end up shaky, the sound quality sub-par and everything will be washed out because a light directly above will have been used. I’ve been using Litepanels and Sachtler for years and they’ve never let me down.
  • Remain consistent. For example, my channel teaches viewers how to shoot film, working behind the scenes and the gear I use – all from the perspective of a director of photography. If all of a sudden I start making videos about playing video games, I guarantee my audience will diminish. So, remember to be consistent.
  • Communicate. YouTube is a two-way street, so have a dialogue with your audience. If someone asks you a question, respond. Don’t be afraid to poll your audience. We send out questionnaires about what content they prefer. If you ask them, they’ll tell you their interests.
  • Have a business plan: Don’t wait until you build your audience to look for sponsors. You need to have a plan to get advertisers from the start, or you’re already behind. For some people it’s an accident, they put up a cat video and have 100,000 subscribers immediately. You’re running a business the moment you start a YouTube Channel, so as your audience increases, you’re building relationships with manufacturers that have products to sell. Contact them with an outline of your demographic, number of views and subscribers. Tell them why their company is a great fit for your audience.
  • Find revenue: It’s the Wild West out there! There are no set standards for how much you make per subscriber or number of views, but following are the primary ways to make money.

Creating an Adsense account on YouTube where Google shares their ad revenue with you. This is the most common way YouTubers make money, but it pays the least and there’s no control over which ads show up on your site. In order to be successful, it requires picking a popular topic, creating a lot of decent content, which needs to cost virtually nothing to create and has to generate a mass amount of views. A million views pays anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000. The benefits, however, are great. You’re not tied into any company, you don’t have to make anyone happy except your audience. Straight advertising is a good way to generate a monthly income and all it requires is a mention of the manufacturer’s name or product at the end of your video. Usually this requires a high number of views in order for a manufacturer to be interested and to pay you generously.

Affiliate programs are another option and probably pay the most. This is when a manufacturer has the software to track every sale through your channel. I prefer this method, since the responsibility lies with me to represent the products appropriately in order to get paid a commission. Once you get into the affiliate game, the manufacturer offers monthly promotions to your audience, which allows you to promote on your channel without having to be overly pushy. You can easily say ‘this video is sponsored by XYZ,’ or ‘I love XYZ’s new product because it’s so easy to use. You should definitely buy one and here’s what they’re offering!’ And be honest; tell them, “if you click here I get paid. I need to eat!”

  • Just do it: The best advice I can give is to just start! It may sound simple, but start your channel because it will never be perfect so just get it going. Most people fail because they try to prepare a perfect plan, but they never execute it. Don’t judge it, just post it.

More about Lan: In addition to consulting with future YouTube stars to help them gain followers, create videos and shoot better content, Lan also recently shot his first feature length film 20 Ft Below: The Darkness Descending, produced by Frank Krueger starring Danny Trejo. Lan also directed and photographed five short films, and an episode of the TV series Team Unicorn.