Where do we even start?!
You know how I gave the blogging world a once over a couple of months ago? Well today I thought I’d do the same for YouTube. Now it’s a funny old one really. I’ve been uploading to the platform for almost eight years and just like blogging it has undergone a makeover from people recording videos on their laptops that sound like they’re about to take off any minute, whilst sitting on their bedroom floors, to an industry that’s glossy and pro and everything is filmed on cameras that cost four times more than your monthly rent. There’s SO MUCH CONTENT on offer and if there’s one thing that YouTube have right it’s their ability to pull you in to a deep hole of video watching that you can stumble out from hours later and wonder how the hell you ended up watching clips of lost dogs being reunited with their owners (to be fair, it did make me cry). As a viewer the chances are that your habits have changed over the past 12 months, and if you’re an active uploader then yours have probably changed too. It’s an interesting time over on the world’s biggest video sharing platform, so let’s dissect what I’ve noticed so far in 2018…
I feel like there’s been a shift in quality and production across the platform. This time last year I was playing with the idea of hiring a videographer to lend a hand with filming so that I could make content that was slightly swishier and felt a little more professional. We tested out some videos and whilst the outcome was decidedly glossier than what I’d usually put out, it just didn’t feel very me anymore. The mantra I try to stick to with whatever I’m creating is to make content that I’d like to watch and actually I LOVE watching a video that someone has filmed on a hand-held camera, propped up, sans lighting and just doing a no-frills straight-to-camera piece. So that’s what I aim to produce and more and more I see others switching down to this gear too. It’s almost like we’re all doing a three-point turn to take it back to the place where YouTube began for a lot of us. Just chatting away that feels like you’re having a good ol’ catch up with your mate. I’m all for it.
Another shift I’ve seen is one that relates to length of content. Whereas everything else we tend to consume online feels snappy and bitesize, YouTube uploads are getting longer and longer and as a viewer if I see a video that’s less than 10 minutes I’m actually less likely to watch it. Isn’t that crazy? We scroll frivolously through our Instagram feeds and if an Instagram story has more than 10 bars at the top we tap to skip past it – but a 30 minute YouTube from one of my favourites? I’M IN. This point coincides nicely with my first one because I tend to listen to them a bit more like a podcast, which is why I favour chatty videos over ones filled with musical interludes. I have them on whilst I cook, or hang up the washing, or paint my nails, or do my skincare routine; and I don’t want them to cut out after seven minutes. Anything around the 20 minute mark is my sweet spot (then I can crack out a face mask too).
This increase in video length, means that overall we’re watching less content. Whereas we might have been able to watch eight videos in an hour-long chill spot before bed before, these days I perhaps only have time to watch a handful a day – if that. YouTube is always affected seasonally, with the summer seeing a dip in views as people generally don’t spend as much time attached to their laptops and phones and more time catching the rays outside, which is balanced out by an increase in views over the cooler months as we all hunker down and hibernate. However, I feel like with the increase in podcast listening figures and the introduction of new social platforms like Instagram Stories and just generally more stuff to watch, listen to and view out there – I rake through my subscription feed in a different type of way. You know the ‘Watch Later’ playlist? It’s genius. I’d never used it much before, but now whenever I log-in to YouTube and see a new video that I’d like to watch, I add it to the playlist. That way all my favourites are lined up and ready to go and no videos get lost in the sea of content. I watch them whenever I have the time and videos automatically one after the other so it doesn’t matter if I’m mid-painting my nails.
As always with content creation, we are a sponge for what we consume ourselves and usually end up excreting a similar sauce when we’re wrung out. It’s actually a great tool to use as it means that if we trust our instincts then we end up sticking to the ‘make what you’d love to watch/read/listen to’ thang without even thinking about it. So for me right now I’m having a beauty moment. I’m seriously into makeup declutters (one coming Sunday!), beauty hauls (coming the Sunday after next!) and just chatty GRWM’s, along with fashion hauls, outfit inspiration and ‘What I Eat in a Days’ and fitness routines too. Which is why you’ll be seeing exactly that on my channel. This flip back to chilled out content is seeing a revival in these kinds of topics that are really deep rooted in YouTube from back in the day and right now I’m digging the throwback vibes.
MY TOP YOUTUBE TIPS
Get the basics down. Whilst we might all get a little caught up in the editing process thinking that we need to produce something Oscar-worthy, really it’s all about the basics. Something that’s clear and catches the eye works best for thumbnails, a non-clickbait title always gets me to click and make sure your key words are filled out all the relevant terms. All these things will hopefully get your videos into the right hands, so make sure you have these down first before you turn your skills elsewhere.
Shout about it. Just like blogging, there are so many videos swimming around out there in the digital space that they’re often not the easiest things to stumble across, don’t be afraid to shout from the rooftops whenever you upload something new. I quite like to show a bit of the behind the scenes of filming and editing in the week, so it gives people a heads up as to what is coming their way on Sunday.
Fancy equipment, schmansy equipment. I’ve got the lights and the elaborate camera to laptop multi-screen set-up, but by far my favourite way to film is on my Canon G7X set-up. Not only is it a quality camera that with a bit of shifting around depending on the light is always bright enough and sharply focused, it’s also small so makes me feel WAY more relaxing whenever I film.
The magic is in the edit. Not only does learning some new skills in whatever video editing suite you use help to increase your repertoire of skills, it also helps increase confidence and the chance of new ideas and formats coming to you that you might want to test out in future videos. Perhaps once a month I sit down and do some googling of a new technique that I want to learn. Surprise surprise, there is always a cracking video tutorial available on YouTube. Like, dur.
Photos by Lauren Shipley
*Sign up to my monthly newsletter ‘An Edited Life’ here*