Recently I launched my very own YouTube channel. Why did I decide at the age of 65 to undertake such a daunting new challenge? Simple: I’m an idiot. To fully understand why I did this, I need to go back eleven years, to 2009. That’s when, on an otherwise uneventful August day, I did something unbelievably reckless: I listened to my wife.
She suggested I write a humor blog. Being an obedient husband, I did just that. 11 years, 450 articles and a few thousand frosted cinnamon pop tarts later, I’m still writing. I’d have been a millionaire by now, if only someone had offered me a million bucks – to stop writing. But no one did, so I’m still at it.
Not sure what my point was. Oh right, never listen to my wife. A few months ago, she had another brainstorm: “Hey, honey? Why don’t you start your own YouTube channel? Bring your favorite humor articles to life.” Being a slow learner, I did just that.
I spent sleepless nights pondering a name for my channel. I decided on – now this may surprise you – View from the Bleachers. Having perused the nearly 60 million YouTube channels out there, I noticed there is a serious shortage of juvenile humor content. I figured I’m just the person to fill this void.
This venture has made me a wiser man and I feel it incumbent upon me to share that wisdom. First, if you are even remotely toying with the notion of starting a YouTube channel, DON’T DO IT! If you are a glutton for nitpicking, critical feedback and flame comments from strangers who are easily offended about everything, then sure, go for it. However, to retain any shred of self-esteem, I recommend stamp collecting as a hobby instead.
If you’re still intent on pursuing your own YouTube channel, there are a few tidbits you need to attend to as you embark on your journey toward fame and fortune… and eventual disappointment and despair.
Step One: What is Your Channel About?
First things first. You need to decide on your focus. What do you want to communicate? Is it teaching orangutans to sew a quilt from jungle leaves? Helping inept husbands create gourmet meals without torching the kitchen? Or perhaps something even more futile, like teaching teenage texters the importance of punctuation.
Step Two: Get Your Equipment
Now that you’ve crystalized your message to the world, it’s time to blow your savings on the rudimentary gear needed to produce your incredibly fascinating video series on the history of Paper Mache. You need: a high-def camera, large green screen background, quality lighting and stands, lavalier microphone (a must-have), tele-prompter device (to scroll the script), video editing software program, an agent to promote you, an accountant to launder your vast earnings in the Caymans, and an attorney in case you get sued for copyright infringement.
Step Three: Ask Friends for Input
Accept that you’ll no doubt make several rookie mistakes, like not noticing that your cat was licking its privates in the background through the entire shoot. Invite your friends to give feedback on initial test videos – on what works and what doesn’t. They’ll have no trouble with the latter, offering helpful advice, like, “Slow it down, dude! I can’t understand a word – not that I’m really interested” and “The lighting is way too dim. I can’t see your face – but your bald spot shines through” and “Do you have the slightest idea what the hell you’re doing?”
Step Four: Find New Friends
You’ll soon learn that everyone’s a critic and nothing you create measures up to your friends’ high standards. The most encouraging suggestions I’ve received so far have been: “We can’t all be winners” and “I’m sure you can find a buyer on eBay for all that equipment you blew your money on.” Who needs friends like these? Best to say adios to these dream killers. There are scores of folks eager to friend you on Facebook. Just don’t discuss politics. Trust me.
Step Five: Find a Video Editor
Creating a humor video is 20% humor writing and 80% technical wizardry. I already had a ton of content from my eleven years of writing. All I had to do was read it with some flair, right? Wrong. There is recording (1 hour), editing a five-minute video (five hours), removing all my verbal stumbles (3 more hours on a good take), locating background images, choosing theme music, and honing my acting skills. When it was all done, I noticed I had forgotten to wear pants. I needed a lot of help (in more ways than one).
There are services that will connect you with independent video editors who can do everything you need for incredibly reasonable prices. I found a very capable video editor in Pakistan. Oh, to be sure, he doesn’t understand English, and I can’t speak a word of Urdu, and all my videos end up running in reverse order. But he charges a very fair rate. And he says if I ever make it to Pakistan, he’ll let me ride his camel.
Step Six: Learn How to Maximize Traffic
What good is having your own YouTube channel if nobody knows it exists? That’s why you should google topics like “What was I thinking starting a YouTube channel?” There you’ll find helpful tutorials explaining the 5,000 critical tasks guaranteed to propel your channel to the top 25 million most watched.
You have to learn about keyword maximization, search engine optimization, meta tags, and much more. Thankfully, there are tons of free tools out there to help build traffic to your new channel, just as soon as you upgrade to their Pro version for only $15 / month, or better still, the Platinum package for just $49.95 / month.
There are about 379 more steps, give or take, to optimize your channel’s one-in-a-million chances of going viral. Personally, I suggest just doing all your YouTube videos in the nude – especially if you’re Scarlett Johansson. I’m confident your channel will be trending in no time.
As for me, I’m committed to doing whatever it takes to make my new YouTube channel a tremendous success – unless someone wants to offer me $500 today to walk away. No reasonable offer will be refused.
That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.
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© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2020. Edited by Betsy Jones.