- Leverage Other Social Media Sites and Build a Newsletter
If you’re an artist, chances are you’re already posting your work on different social media platforms. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to use these different channels to drive views to your videos. On top of that, you can also try building a newsletter so you have a built in list of subscribers you can email when a new video launches. I’ve been building mine up since I launched my website in 2012 and now I have a dedicated group of people I can rely on to watch any new video I post on my channel.
2. Collab with Other YouTube Artists
Collabing with others on YouTube is a great way to build an audience. You get to offer some unique content to your viewers and get some exposure to the other person’s audience. Some of my top performing videos are from collabs with other YouTube artists. This collab I did with former Disney Artist Aaron Blaise has been viewed over 100,000 times!
Just a quick tip on collabs: If you’re striking out with getting any big YouTubers to work with you, don’t give up. Instead, reach out to smaller channels. Since you’re just starting out you’re more likely to get another YouTuber that has a similar sized audience to collab with you on something. And you don’t have to focus on collaborating with Youtubers either. Any artist with a decent following on other sites will drive traffic to your video. Be creative with how you can work with others and how you can mutually help each other.
3. Show Your Face and Avoid Posting Single Camera Screen-shares
There are a lot of art channels (big and small) on YouTube where the artist refuses to show their face. In my opinion this is a HUGE mistake. If you’re building an audience, you need to build a rapport with them. People like to interact with other people. Showing your face and giving your audience a personal look into your life is a lot better than just watching a screen recording of you working in photoshop or drawing on a piece of paper. Even just speaking directly to the camera can make a difference between someone subscribing to more of your content and someone just viewing once and leaving your video/channel behind.
4. Learn from Your Community, but Don’t Let Them Control You
As your channel grows it’s important to look at the feedback you’re getting from comments and polls. This feedback will come from some of your most avid fans and it’s a good idea to take their responses into consideration to help improve the content on your channel. At the same time, don’t be afraid to go off the beaten path. Although interviews aren’t my most popular type of content, I still like to post them because they offer valuable info that I think my audience should hear. It’s a give and take. Keep that line of communication open with your followers and try to cater to what they want to see, but stay true to yourself and explore your own ideas too.
5. Keep Your Channel Subject Focused, but Experiment with Different Forms of Content
When you’re building an audience on YouTube it’s important to hone in on a specific subject first. If you’re into drawing stylized digital landscapes, focus on building that kind of audience before moving onto realistic portraits in watercolor. If you’re interested in mixing and matching subjects, make sure the content is also similar enough that you won’t alienate your audience by posting radically different content. There are art channels out there that post video game replays on the same channel where they post art and it only hurts their viewership. Don’t split your audience!
That being said, don’t be afraid to experiment with the type of content you post either. You never know what might resonate with your audience. There are a lot of different kinds of videos artists can make for YouTube and you never know which type might go viral on the platform and give you exposure to a wider audience. Here’s a list of some you can do off the top of my head: interviews, sketchbook tours, art challenges, tutorials, draw my life, and art material reviews.
6. A Secret Weapon: Gifs
This might not be a great tip depending on your content, but it can be a good idea to create gifs from your video after you publish it. I’ve had a few of my videos go viral from gifs that I’ve made or from other people making gifs from my lessons. The biggest one that comes to mind is this gif from my lesson on how to draw the pelvis. It’s been shared across tumblr, reddit, and imgur and has racked up hundreds of thousands of views. As a result, my brand, and my channel have gotten more exposure.
If you’re looking for a quick way to make gifs from your videos I recommend using the site giphy.com. As long as your youtube video isn’t too long you’ll be able to quickly make a gif from a clip and post on other social media sites. You can also use them to promote a snippet of your video within your youtube community tab.
7. Watermark Your Videos with Your Name
If your content is good you’ll find that it quickly gets copied, stolen, remixed, etc. When that happens, you’ll be glad that your personal name or company name is watermarked on the video. This is a little tip that not a lot of people take advantage of when they’re posting content. By watermarking your video you’ll be able to help build your brand on the platform in a subtle way.
Tip: Make sure you embed the watermark in your actual video and not the subscribe button that YouTube gives you in the bottom right. That won’t get copied if someone downloads your video.
8. Figure out a Publishing Schedule and Checklist
People like consistency. You’ll find that if you post often and on a dedicated schedule you’ll average more views than if you randomly post your content on an irregular schedule. Having an audience swarm your video when it first launches is crucial to getting YouTube to promote it within their algorithm. Don’t let lack of discipline and planning hurt your chances of growing at a faster rate.
Also, don’t make your title and thumbnail an afterthought. A video with a good title and thumbnail will perform much better than one without. Make your thumbnail eye catching, your title clickable, fill your description with good keywords and links to your website, newsletter, and other social channels. And promote every video you publish to all your other social channels and newsletter. If you want your video to succeed, give it every opportunity to do so!
9. Let’s Talk about Sound
So many artists are focused on making their videos visually awesome that they completely forget to give attention to how the video sounds. Nobody, not even artists, are going to sit around watching your video if it sounds bad. If you’re serious about posting to YouTube make sure to get some kind of mic for your videos. It’s 2019 and there is no excuse for still having in-camera audio being the main source of audio for your videos.
10. Make Your Content Digestible
Don’t be afraid to post short or long content as long as it’s entertaining and valuable. Always ask yourself: is this something I would want to spend time watching? If it’s not, then cut it. Watchtime is an extremely important factor for YouTube.
If your audience is leaving your video en masse to watch something else, that’s a warning sign that your content might be unwatchable. I see so many art YouTubers start out by posting an hour long video of a drawing or a painting they did, but get no views on it. Unless you’re an art god, no one will want to spend that much time watching an unedited video of you drawing. Time is very valuable to an artist. Respect your audience’s time.
Shorten long, boring videos with a time lapse or better yet, spend some more time editing it to include funny or useful commentary. Content that’s digestible is shareable and that is a great way to draw new eyeballs to your videos.
Bonus Tip: Cut the Crap
Bouncing off the previous tip, if it’s not good, don’t publish it. The quality of your content is why people will follow you. If you post content that is uninteresting, lazily edited, or otherwise not engaging, your audience will assume that’s all you have to offer and leave.
You may think that How to Draw the Head From Any Angle was the first video I ever made, but you’d be wrong. You’ve never seen my first video on Youtube because after making it, I realized it was not good. It hurts to kill your darlings and “waste” the time you spent making a video, but it hurts you more to post content that isn’t good. And the time you spent making a video or recording a drawing isn’t wasted; it’s valuable experience that will make your next video better.