After shooting and uploading over 500 videos on YouTube, I’ve discovered the most common mistakes YouTubers make and I will reveal it to you so that you do not have to spend years in trial and error, trying to figure things out on your own.
First and foremost, let me explain all the different things that I wish I knew starting out, but didn’t. Back then, my growth on YouTube was stagnant for a very long time and I only had a few hundred subscribers. That was because I wasn’t taking it seriously or paying much attention to it.
- Searchability: Have Good Thumbnails and Keywords
A video with no thumbnail or any keywords is a recipe for disaster. For a while, I never even thought of putting up thumbnails for the majority of my videos. They didn’t follow a theme, they weren’t searchable, and they weren’t keyword rich. They were all just random testimonials without even a proper title, they were just random numbers that I didn’t even bother to change. These videos shouldn’t even belong on YouTube. More than half of my videos from the past decade have now been unlisted and switched to private because I don’t intend to confuse the algorithm for my channel any further.
YouTube channels should only be used for videos that have searchability on the search engines, for videos that actually drive, not for testimonials or even members’ area videos. Four years ago, I uploaded a video titled ‘18 Techniques To Dominate Periscope’. In case you didn’t know, Periscope was the platform for doing lives before Facebook Live came about. I did Periscope videos because it was keyword rich. Also, if you don’t have a thumbnail, YouTube will just randomly generate one where your eyes will be half closed, and you don’t want that.
- Don’t Use As Storage: Upload Miscellaneous Videos On Other Platforms
What I wish I knew is that YouTube is not a place to just document random things that I’m doing in life. One of my biggest mistakes when I was starting out on YouTube was absentmindedly uploading any video onto the platform, including random life events and short videos from Facebook just because it did well on Facebook itself. I took what I did on Facebook and I just did the same thing on YouTube, however what I didn’t realize was that the mechanics and the context is completely different. If you are somebody that’s creating content on YouTube, and if you’re creating content on Facebook or you’re thinking one of the other, the first thing to understand is context.
What I didn’t do back then was noticing what people on Facebook were doing. They’re continuously scrolling and they’ll only stop if something gets their attention. If it’s a scroll stopper, a pattern interrupt, or a hook, which is basically the headline, image, or the call out that makes a person stop, that makes them curious. However on YouTube it’s different. On YouTube, which I didn’t realize back then, is all about search and intent. When does a YouTube video get discovered? Number one, during the search on Google and your YouTube video appears. And number two, it appears on the right hand side as a suggested video.
- Have a Theme And Stick To It
Make sure your channel follows a specific theme. I would be uploading personal life events, or even testimonials. Now ask yourself, why would people be interested in testimonials on YouTube? It’s not a searchable thing. I have many unlisted videos, like random gameplays, vlogs, and it eventually confused the algorithm for my channel. What you have to do is you want to be able to follow a theme. One of my biggest mistakes included uploading a now unlisted CrossFit video that I shot in 2012 that garnered over 600,000 views, and somehow YouTube thought that my channel was a fitness channel thus confusing the algorithm. I also created a proposal, and I even uploaded this proposal on YouTube to send it to my friend. It was so messy and there was absolutely no theme to it.
- Create Longer Videos: YouTube Hates Short Videos
Short videos tend to work on Facebook, but it doesn’t work on YouTube. YouTube hates short videos as they want to be able to serve ads. They want to get your audience to stay on YouTube for as long as possible. The way for them to monetize and how they can serve ads is when they can have pre-roll ads or show ads in between videos. So if you have a video that is less than two minutes long, they can’t monetize off that at all.
Try to create long videos that are tutorial based. All my videos when I just started out were all short because they were all great for Facebook, but not on YouTube. The reason why I post 10-30 minute videos now is because I’m trying to make the algorithm happy. I want people to keep watching the videos so that people stay on the platform.
- Turn On Monetization (If Eligible)
I did not switch on monetization for a very, very long time. I always thought that by switching off monetization, I can just focus on growth and that YouTube might show it to more people maybe because less people are watching the ads, therefore more people stay on the video. However, what I realized after speaking to many different people doing it is that there’s no black and white answer to this.
When you switch on monetization, there is actually more incentive for YouTube to start showing your videos to more people. There’s no official report on this that confirms this, but after I started switching on monetization, I noticed a difference because now YouTube is more incentivized to push your videos over somebody that doesn’t have monetizations switched on.
Make sure your titles are optimized for search based on what people are searching for, discovery, and intent. Some of you could be saying, well, that’s not true, PewDiePie, Casey Neistat, and big names on YouTube don’t shoot videos like that. You need to understand this, when you reach a following, you can do and upload whatever it is you want. However, if you’re starting out with zero following, a hundred people at most, start with searchable videos.
These are just some of the many things that I wish I knew when I was starting out. But I know that just by applying these things in your YouTube videos right now, it is gonna significantly help you get traction the same way it did for me in the recent months.