YouTube has changed a lot since its humble beginnings back in 2005. Once a place people visited in search of funny dog videos, in summer 2019 there was an estimated 720,000 hours of content uploaded every day onto the Google owned, video sharing site.
It is definitely not a quick way to fame and fortune if that is what you were thinking, because the chance of your video ‘going viral’ is surprisingly small. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. In reality, when it comes to being famous from the platform, the majority of popular YouTubers that are able to earn an income from their content, were creating, editing and uploading high quality videos for several years before being able to monetize their following.
We say that it’s more difficult now, but how difficult did it used to be? Achieving fame and fortune has always been and will always be notoriously difficult for the majority of the population. The days of being ‘spotted’ in the right place at the right time are all but gone. Today, if you have a camera and a decent internet connection, you could be on your way to becoming a popular figure with a prominent following and an inflated income.
Famous vs YouTube Famous
We are all pretty familiar with the illusion of ‘celebrity’ and all that it entails. Some of our favorite stars may be famous for reasons nobody can quite put their finger on. Others may have starred in countless blockbusters to meritorious acclaim. Being ‘YouTube famous’ falls somewhere between the two.
Taking movie stars as general examples, they typically follow much more regimented paths to fame and fortune. While every path is different, we are all familiar with the rags-to-riches stories celebrities so often tell us, of their lives before getting their big break. For the majority of starlets, by the time they reach glamorous levels of fame, they are pretty accustomed to the life they lead. With YouTubers, things are considerably different, mainly because success can happen instantly, and we are talking in a matter of hours rather than weeks or months.
To become famous on YouTube there is no set process to follow. There are no prestigious schools you can attend to get the right training or lengthy auditions to even be noticed. On YouTube, all you need are some simple video editing skills and access to the internet and you could potentially be on your way. While it usually doesn’t happen instantaneously for most people, it is definitely a possibility, thanks to the concept of ‘going viral’. (Remember when Baby Charlie bit his brother’s finger?)
On YouTube, if you opt to ‘vlog’ directly into the camera, people may come to recognize your face in public. This type of YouTubing can catapult you to fame as the public already has an idea of who you are. If you do not show your face in your videos, this still may well happen, but it will be considerably more difficult for your fans to find you. In this instance, if you wish to be ‘known’ but have no real reason to show your face in videos, a great way to gain more recognition is to attend YouTube conventions and meetups. Here, fans and fellow YouTubers will be able to put your face to the work they have seen.
Ways to Increase Your Popularity on YouTube
Building and maintaining a reputation has always been important in any professional sense and the same is true on YouTube. Making relevant, popular culture centric videos may help you on your quest for YouTube superstardom. For a long time, sharing content online or even speaking to others through the internet was considered ‘geeky’. Today it is seemingly something everyone wants to be part of and that nerdy stigma has all but disappeared. YouTube is no exception to the rule.
In the early days of the video sharing site, you could respond to a popular video with your own ‘reaction’ type video. This would then be visible at the top of the comments section, thus growing your own popularity on the back of someone else’s video, when they scrolled down to the comments. This is no longer something YouTube permits. However, there are still a number of ways to build a substantial following on the platform.
- Working with other YouTubers in what is known as a ‘collaboration’ can help you to reach wider audiences. Look for fellow creators that share videos in a similar niche to your own if you are looking to expand your audience. If you are looking to diversify your following, try collaborating with people outside of your niche or someone with an opinion different to your own.
- Make your channel memorable by providing as much detail as possible. You want to make sure viewers and potential subscribers to your channel will know all they need to know from a single glance at your page. People do not stick around on the internet – if they can’t find what they are looking for, they will click off your page. You want to make sure that does not happen.
- Create eye catching thumbnails for your videos so people are encouraged to click on your video if they see it in their suggestions. The channels of popular creators are often manufactured and constructed in similar ways to television networks, with top level marketing behind each ‘show’ so competition will be fierce.
- Categorize your content to make it easier for people to find, with relevant keywords, enticing video titles and full descriptions.
- Start a series on your channel that will encourage people to come back to see you again. Uploading high quality content that people are engaging with and keen to share is an excellent way to get people coming back for more.
- Put out the energy you want to have sent back to you. As you climb your way up the YouTube fame ladder, think carefully about interaction with others on the platform. Views, comments, likes and shares are all going to be well received. You may wish to host a celebratory giveaway for reaching a subscriber milestone or holding mini competitions to keep viewer interest and sustain engagement.
- Enjoy what you do because it will show in your work. This will bring a level of authenticity to your videos that simply cannot be faked. Consistency is key, so make sure you get joy out of creating new content.
Success is completely dependent on how you define and measure it. Is fame the only end result in which you would deem yourself a success or are there other aspects to consider? Similar to fame, success can be interpreted differently. There is often more to success than having a lot of money. Whether the most important thing to you on YouTube is the number of views you get, the subscribers you gain or the amount of money you can make from your videos, you must know in your heart what success means to you and keep that as your focus. Anything else can be classed as a bonus.
Web based comic, parody artist and all around entertainer Bart Baker spoke to Murray Newlands about their rise to YouTube fame, back in 2017. Understanding that when you are starting out it can feel impossible to build interest in your channel, Bart encouraged people to remain persistent. Bart stepped out of the YouTube spotlight in 2018 after amassing an impressive 10 million followers on YouTube.
Remember, whether you draw cartoon videos with a comic narration or provide insight into political situations at international airlines across the world, on YouTube there is pretty much an audience for anything. It is important to always stay true to yourself.
In the End
If you would like to try your hand at becoming YouTube famous, there are a few things to remember when creating your channel if you want to be taken seriously. There is a lot of competition out there but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try to join the ranks. Define your channel goals and let your personality shine through.
Being your most authentic self counts for a lot, especially in a world where the majority of people on YouTube start their videos with “Hey guys, welcome back to my channel”. Small things that set you apart from your competition can really help to make you memorable and your channel a success. The more people that remember you, the more people will know you. The more people that know you, the closer you get to knocking on the door of the YouTube hall of fame.
While it can definitely help you to get your message out into the world and even reach moderate levels of familiarity in your niche, reaching levels of fame in a more conventional sense is still a little far fetched for the majority of YouTubers. But why not give it a try anyway?