How to Successfully Collaborate with YouTubers
How viewing YouTube as a collaborative rather than a competitive space can actually make your content more valuable as a content creator
Starting out on YouTube is like walking into a mall on a rainy day.
I remember feeling like I had no value to offer. Every time I felt I had something to say, I started doing keyword research on the idea, and then I found five to fifty other people had said something similar.
I decided to look at YouTube as a collaborative and not competitive space early on in my YouTube journey. The choice has made the content creation experience enjoyable as I have found YouTube to be a place where both originality and collaboration are rewarded.
As a result of the input from people ahead of me, my content also turned out more valuable.
I’ve managed to collaborate with YouTubers from all over the world, and I have picked up a few lessons along the way which would have been helpful to know before I sent my first collaboration request.
I find that email is the best way to connect with a YouTuber. I access this from their “About” page on their YouTube profile.
I fill in my subject line with — “YouTube Collaboration”.
Structuring The Ask
I start the email, getting straight to the point.
I think it is always good to honor the YouTuber for something you admire about their content. This shows that you are not spamming many people with the same request.
Be precise with what you want and make it as simple as possible for the YouTuber to film.
Personally, I always ask for a 2-minute clip, showcasing insight into a specific point, that they can send through to me via a free platform called WeTransfer.
I will explain the question that I am asking them to answer. They can send through a clip answering as if they were on a Skype call.
I describe that I usually address my audience when introducing the YouTuber with whom I am collaborating.
For example, “I’ve asked YouTuber X to share their tip on Y.”
To make it easier for my collaborator, I will often send a script that they can use as a guideline.
For example, “Hi Margs, great to collab with you. My tip is …”
Again, ease is what I aim for.
Knowing exactly what to specify was a learning curve for me, so I’m hoping this is going to make your experience more enjoyable than some of my collaborations.
Specify if you will be including other YouTubers. Rather take the lead with presenting this information, than having the YouTuber you are reaching out to ask. For reasons of their own, some YouTubers prefer not to be connected to others.
However, I suggest for your first collaboration that you keep to one YouTuber only. It is likely to be a learning experience and you don’t want to feel overloaded in the process.
Set a deadline. This makes it easier for the YouTuber to let you know if they are able to participate.
I remember waiting for a YouTuber, who was willing to collaborate, to send me their content for over two weeks. It was only when I reread my mail to them, did I realize that I never communicated the urgency of when I needed the footage. As soon as I set a deadline, I received the footage.
I once pronounced a YouTubers name incorrectly. A few times. For some reason, I had my own idea of how their name was pronounced. These days, I will ask for confirmation on how to say their name. It seems a little silly, but it has saved me from the same embarrassment which I experienced already.
If you are collaborating with more than one YouTuber, be specific with what they need to provide insight into. The last thing you want is all your collaborators saying the exact same thing.
Give them direction. Again, if there are other collaborators, share what you have asked the other YouTubers to talk about. The more you inform your potential collaborator, the more likely they are to participate.
Communicate when you will publish the final video. I’ve collaborated with YouTubers in the past who to this day haven’t published content that was pitched to me in the email where I was asked to be part of another YouTubers video.
When you publish the video, send your collaborator a link via email.
If you want to be extra-epic, send them an unlisted link of the video to approve before pushing it live.
I feel it is wise to ask your collaborator to not add additional music as they could make it too loud or it could not gel with the rest of your content.
Personally, I prefer no background music in clips that are sent through to me. That way I can add my own soundtracks to the video.
Why You May Be Rejected
There are many reasons that you may be rejected, but most of the time, it could be because the YouTuber is too busy.
I find that when I reach out to YouTubers who are a similar size to me, or under the 10k subscriber mark, that they are more likely to collaborate.
Larger YouTubers may struggle to see the benefit for them in the collaboration and may see your mail as further admin rather than a chance to add value.
Doing Too Much
You may be rejected because you ‘fanned’ out.
Definitely honor the YouTuber, but try to come across as level-headed rather than treating them as an answer to prayer.
Be professional and personal. Not a fan.
You may feel that the collaboration is a great fit with the content the YouTuber you have reached out to has been publishing. However, sometimes YouTubers want to make a pivot, and they may be trying to move away from the content they have historically been known for.
If your mail comes across like you are taking a backseat, expecting your collaborator to do all the work- then you are likely to be ghosted.
Collaborating with other YouTubers adds a sense of community to what could be a lonely experience.
If you are respectful, and if you have clearly communicated what you need as well as what you see the final project may look like; then you could be in for a great collaboration experience.
Remember the feeling of being brave and reaching out. As your channel grows, people will start reaching out to you. You will develop grace for the rejections you received, but you are also more likely to give a joyful yes- when a thought-out collaboration email comes your way.