YouTube is about strategy, not luck.
How do we know?
Our co-founders, The Fyfe Brothers, grew Shopify’s YouTube from 0 to 230k subs in 18 months.
To prove it wasn’t a fluke, we launched a new YouTube channel and got 12M views and 20K subs in less than 30 days.
1. Use other platforms to find inspiration. If a topic or theme did well on a blog, forum or social network, use it as a spark to create something new. Every creative person is a collage of things that were before them. Originality is about how you synthesize inspiration and execute with style.
2. Choose inherently shareable topics with communities already built around them. The Fyfe Brothers created content on Star Wars because there are millions of raving fans around the globe. What communities can you tap into?
3. Understand that your videos will thrive and die by their first impression. Put a ton of effort into thinking what the headline and thumbnail would be before you create the video. This will help you make sure your concept has emotional stakes and is inherently clickable.
4. The hook is the most important part of your script. Make sure that your hook leaves a curiosity gap. Your hook should leave your viewer with questions that need to be answered.
5. Bad YouTube scripts talk down to viewers and sound like subpar blog posts read aloud. Great YouTube scripts take viewers on a journey and give them an emotional pay off. Even educational information is best absorbed through a story. It makes facts easier to remember. At its core storytelling is simple— a person needs something but must overcome a challenge blocking their way to get it. What stories can help you take the viewer on a journey?
6. Great YouTube videos deliver high amounts of novelty per minute. Most people forget when writing scripts that they are writing for the screen not a lecture. Plan visual moments of novelty throughout your video in the scripting stage. Plan to go off the dome instead of writing dialogue? Still write a script to plan moments of visual novelty. You can’t edit what you didn’t shoot.
7. Focus on the content, not the algorithm. Most new creators get distracted by things like “post times”, “growth hacks” and “video length”.
The reality is YouTube only cares about one thing…how long people watch your videos. So focus on making videos that are worth watching.
Don’t know how to do that? Pick one person you know that represents your target audience and make videos for them. Don’t think about the approval of a sea of faceless strangers. Make videos for your ideal audience of one. You’ll be surprised how much clearer creative decisions become and how much more authentic and original your style becomes over time.
8. Stop following a victory by volume strategy. Gary Vaynerchuck has convinced an entire generation that they need to put out a disturbing amount of content weekly to be successful.
In fact, scaling up too soon is the #1 downfall of businesses because it results in bad decisions.
At its core, Gary’s message is right—to master anything you need to put in the work. It’s his prescription of shitting out content like you ate a gas station burrito that is wrong.
Because this isn’t 2010 anymore and the truth is that the world doesn’t need more content. What the world needs is better content.
At the beginning, don’t focus on volume of posts. You’ll saturate your audience, and burn yourself out. You’ll also have a way harder time levelling up your skills because you’ll be so focused on the churn and publish that important details will escape you.
Instead focus on volume of effort. This means put a high volume of work into making videos that are truly valuable and publish consistently. At the beginning, it’s better to spend 50 hours on 5 amazing videos than 50 hours on 25 below-average ones.
Don’t expand before you’re ready.
Figure out how to make great videos first…then scale up.
9. Learn how to edit or partner up with an amazing editor. They say that a video is rewritten 3 times: once in scripting, once in production and once in the editing room. Great editing is about the pace at which new information is revealed to the viewer.
There is a bit of a trope in editing, where people advise you to make fast-cuts.
The truth is that if everything is fast, nothing is. There’s no contrast. It’s just a new baseline.
The pace of editing should reflect the context of the story, taking the viewer on a journey.
Rather than thinking about speed of cuts, thing about the flow of the story and how you can add moments of novelty. Punch-ins, motion graphics, PNG pop-ups, sound effects, and b-roll are all ways to add interesting moments that keep the viewer hooked.
10. Learn how to light your videos and record sound properly. Both of these are cheap to learn and will add more to your videos initially than an expensive camera.
Learn three-point lighting to understand how to illuminate your face and separate yourself from the background. Bad lighting can make footage shot on an expensive camera look unwatchable.
Invest in a good microphone and use blankets to soften surfaces and reduce echo. Learn how to mix and master sound for your video. Bad sound is one of the things that viewers won’t put up with.
11. When you have enough traction, collaborate with other notable creators in your niche. Until then, use brand-jacking to include the names of popular creators, brands and celebrities in your videos. This is a great way to borrow some of their credibility and land in front of their audience. Ryan Trahan masterfully did this in his Penny Challenge series, where he overcame a series of obstacles to give Mr. Beast 1 penny. The Penny Challenge helped Ryan gain 2 million followers in 30 days and raise $1.24 million to support Feeding America.
12. Lastly, test a new style of video regularly. You don’t want to become trapped in the same format, which can get stale for your audience and for you as a creator. Run tests often and then, double down on what works.
Storytelling is the most powerful skill on Earth. Use these 5 components to knock your writing out of the park.
Ask these short questions to gather invaluable data on your demographic.