After auditing hundreds of YouTube channels of all sizes, I’ve noticed there are 4 common mistakes that people are still making. In this post, I’ll outline those mistakes so you don't make them.
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4 Common Mistakes YouTubers Still Make
Here are the basic errors I see YouTubers still making - but the good news is that you can correct them fast!
#1 Neglecting your YouTube Channel Banner
The channel banner is essentially the first thing people see. Somebody does a search, encounters your video, and clicks on it, likes what they see then they click on your name to go to your channel to get more of your content.
The first thing they see is right at the top of your page is your channel banner. Your banner needs to tell the viewer two things:
- What is the channel about?
- Why should I subscribe?
The what and the why? Those have to be conveyed visually in your channel banner, but what I see time and time again is none of those things. Don't make that mistake. Don't lose your audience right at the beginning when they're about to engage with you, but you haven't sold them. You haven't given them the reason for being here, the reason to watch your channel.
Ask yourself the question. If somebody instantly sees your channel banner then closes the page, will they remember you? Will they remember what your channel is about? Do you think we've achieved that with the vidIQ channel banner?
Whilst we talking about branding, don't forget about your thumbnails. Your thumbnails and your branding go together. I call it the ‘10,000 Thumbnail Test’ where if you take three or four random thumbnails that you have on your channel, you drop them into a bucket with 10,000 other thumbnails, can we go ahead and pick out just your thumbnails out of that bucket? If the answer is no, means your branding isn't consistent across all your thumbnails. If the answer is yes, means you're doing a good job.
If you are not able to design, and a lot of us are not designers, let's be honest, use a service like Canva, or buy templates online from designers who specialize in this. You can commission people to do private banners specifically for you on services like fiverr.com for example.
Or reach out to your designing buddies and say, "Hey, can I pay you for your time? Can we do a trade exchange?" Try get your channel banner to be absolutely on point. It is the business card of your channel. It tells you the what and the why. People lose so much traffic just by not doing this little tip.
#2 A Lack of Real Focus
The next mistake is not being focused, and here's what I mean by that. Imagine you're watching Netflix or Hulu or one of the streaming services. 10 minutes into the movie, a sports game pops up. You go, "Wow, that's weird. I wasn't expecting that." Then it goes back to your show, but 15 minutes later a music video pops up. You go, "Wow, what's going on? I'm trying to watch this video. Why is this coming up again and again?" And it goes back to your movie and then 15 minutes later, the sports game starts again.
You're going to get frustrated. You're going to realize, "Hold on a second, something is wrong. I'm not here for that. I'm here to watch my movie. Why am I being interrupted?" That is exactly what's happening on your channel when you don’t focus.
If you're not focused you're giving people content that's all over the place, and they get frustrated. Your subscribers subscribed because of a certain type of content. Now, when they're not getting that content, they just simply won’t watch it. But if you're going to give them content that is focused, that is niche, the stuff that they came on the channel for in the first place, odds are pretty good they're going to keep watching again, and again, and again.
I'll give you a personal example. On my technology channel, I was doing technology. Technology's pretty niche, right? Well, not really because within technology there are lots of verticals, there are lots of things within the technology sphere. I was doing lots of things. I was doing phones, I was doing gadgets, I was doing apps, I was doing cars. I was doing tech in everything.
But people were getting frustrated because they came in for certain type of content and they just weren't getting it. I thought I was pretty niche. I was in the technology sphere. But it turns out I wasn't niche enough. You've got a niche within your niche. You got to focus within your focus. The second I made that transition and that focus, I realized that people were here for certain content. Then I made more of that content. That is when my channel really started taking traction and really started growing.
Now you may be thinking "I don't want to do the same thing again and again and again. Essentially, I don't want to be pigeonholed." That is ridiculous, and let me tell you why. When you're pigeonholed, you're essentially telling the world you're the best in the world at doing your content. You're the best PUBG gamer, you're the best Fortnite tutorial helper, you're the best plumber on how to unclog your toilet. Well guess what happens? When you're the best in the world, when somebody has a problem, they're going to go to the best in the world. The one that comes to the top of mind, and they are going to go to that channel to get the solutions they're looking for.
Think of it in your own personal life. You know who to call when your car breaks down. You know who to go to when your kids get sick. You know who to go to when you have an accounting issue. You go to the best people that you have in your circle because those are the people that could help you. Now, if your accountant was also your GP, was also your creative director, was also your designer. It's weird. You don't do that. You go to the specialist in their field.
You want to be known as the best in the world for whatever content you do. Again, I'm going to tell you from personal experience on my channel. As soon as I doubled down on how to make faster Wi-Fi and Wi-Fi related products and services. My channel grew, and grew, and grew. YouTube saw me as an authoritative channel in that industry on that particular topic. When people do a search for that, my channel comes up. Now I am known as the Wi-Fi guy and people know that they're going to get those solutions on my channel.
Let me answer your next question as you're thinking about it, which is “am I suck doing the same content forever?” No. As soon as you grow, and you're going to get some traction, and you're going to start building a community, and people are going to start engaging with you for you. Being you, being the personality. Then you can start pivoting to other areas. You can grow your channel, doubling down on the same content, and giving people what are they for so they watch your videos again, and again, and again. You're going to get those subscribers, you're going to get those views and slowly you can start moving to other areas.
#3 Not Making The Videos Viewers Want to Watch
Another common mistake that I see people doing again, and again, and again is filming for hours, then editing, adding the best B-roll they could find, adding music, uploading, only to discover that nobody's watching those videos. Then they think YouTube hates me, YouTube doesn't like my content, YouTube always favors the big creators.
Newsflash, YouTube doesn't hate you. In fact, YouTube loves you because YouTube makes money based on ads. The better your content is, the more it can serve a bigger audience, and the more money it's going to make on ads. So, how do you make content that people want to consume so that YouTube will distribute your videos longer? That is the better question versus why YouTube hates me. And the answer is, do the research.
What I see people doing time and time again is filming for hours on end, editing, splicing it up, thinking of a title, getting a screenshot or a screen grab to make a thumbnail, uploading onto YouTube, and wondering why they're not getting any views. Start the other way around, do that research. Find out if people actually care about the topic that you're about to spend hours filming. Find out which angle you should actually be taking. What's your competition like? What is everybody else talking about on the same content? How are you going to be different? How could you stand out and still capture that same audience? Ask those questions first. Do that YouTube keyword research.
Of course, you can use the keyword research tools within vidIQ, or simply go onto YouTube, go up to the search bar and then start typing in your key phrase. Let's just say it's chocolate cake. Type in ‘chocolate cake’ and press enter. See what comes up, what are the top videos that are ranking there? Is your content going to be better than those videos? That's the first question.
Then go into your search bar again and instead of just typing in ‘chocolate cake’ or whatever your key phrase is, type in ‘chocolate cake’ space A. Then delete that and ‘chocolate cake’ space B. And delete that, ‘chocolate cake’ space C. That way you're essentially invoking the YouTube auto-complete. You'll see titles coming up again, and again, and again. Those are phrases that people have used to type into the search bar so many times that YouTube is making it easier for the next person.
Very quickly you'll be able to find topics that you can actually make videos about still within the ‘chocolate cake’, still within your niche. But something more specific, something that people are typing in. Don't forget to go to the beginning and type in how, what, where, when, why, who too!
The lesson here is do not pick up the camera until you have your title in hand. Have two, three, four titles that are going to focus your video, going to focus your shooting. You know that you're off to a winner before you even pick up that camera because you've done your research. Research, research, research, it takes work, it takes time, but it's going to save you all that headache and all those hours of creating a video nobody cares about. Go and do that research - it’s super, super important. Here’s a fantastic video about the whole keyword research process:
#4 Ignoring Your YouTube Analytics Data
Okay, so you've done your research, you know what your title is, you've shot your video. You've got the best thumbnail you can get, you got the best title you can get, and you’ve published your video. But YouTube is still not recommending your videos. What's going on?
Okay, so now you play detective; you're looking at your analytics and you're looking for clues. One of the best places to look for clues is in something called retention. Retention basically is an indicator telling you at which point people dropped off your video. Are they watching to 20% of your video and then leaving? Or 50% of your video and then leaving? That is a very, very important signal for YouTube because it talks to the quality of the content.
Think about it from YouTube's point of view. If you have a video that's got an amazing title and an amazing thumbnail, but people are watching 1% and then leaving immediately, it gives off a signal that maybe it's a clickbait video. Maybe you're not delivering what you promised on your title and therefore YouTube is certainly not going to recommend your video. However, if your video has a 50, 60, 70% retention rate, YouTube will say, "Okay, well if people are watching it to 60 and 70%, let's try it with a different audience. Let's distribute it more, and more, and more."
The first thing I would do is I would look at the retention of my individual videos. Look at what shape the graph is in. Is it a hockey stick shape? Do people drop off right at the beginning? That tells me that I didn't capture them enough, I didn't hook them enough, I didn't deliver on my promise right from the outset. I didn't grab their attention. They came to the video, they saw the beginning and they went, "This is boring, not from me. I'm out of here." Then they leave your video.
If you see people are staying for the beginning part of your video, but they're leaving in the middle, find out why they left in the middle, at which point. In fact, in the retention graph, you can actually click on those various points and play the video at the same time. Maybe you repeated yourself again, and again, and again. Maybe you spoke about a topic for too long. Maybe it was something that went off-topic and then you've lost some of your audience. Learn from those mistakes so that you don't repeat them in your next video and then your next video.
Then finally, do they leave right at the end? Is it a sharp drop? Maybe you've already said, "Hey, my video is over." Maybe you did the whole, "Hey guys, thanks for watching. Really appreciate it." As soon as people hear that, well they know that your video is done and they’re off to the next one. Maybe you need to work on your outro.
Retention is actually divided into three, your intro, your beginning part, your middle, which is your meat and bones of your video itself, your content, and then the outro, which is the ending bit. Improve in each section. Especially the beginning so make sure that people don't leave immediately. Work on your intro, maybe cut out your intro, make it shorter. Maybe cut out those beautiful animations - people don't care about that kind of stuff, they just want that information. If you finding that's what people are dropping off, get rid of it, cut it out. Then start getting into your topic early, early on. Retention is a super, super powerful, very underrated feature that we need to pay much, much more attention to.
How Many Mistakes Are YOU Making?
The question I have for you is, how many mistakes are you currently making? And more importantly, are you going to go and fix those mistakes? So many people really want to level up their channel. They really want to get to that next level, but are not prepared to put in the work.
Don't be one of those people.
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