Age is no bar to becoming a YouTube star

16 April 2018

If you have a hobby or passion you’d like to share, then why not build up a following on YouTube? More and more 50-somethings are showcasing their creative skills, while earning a bit of cash on the side. Here’s how to get started.

There are few more influential websites than YouTube. The video-streaming site has more than one billion users – in fact, almost a third of the people on the planet who use the internet have used YouTube.

With so many people viewing videos on the site, there are plenty of YouTubers making a significant amount of money. According to media company Forbes, YouTubers such as Daniel Middleton (English professional Minecraft gamer), PewDiePie (Swedish comedian) and Ryan, the six-year-old ‘host’ of Ryan ToysReview, earned more than £7 million each in 2017.

It’s easy to assume that this is simply a young person’s world, and it’s true that YouTube views are dominated by the under-30s. But an increasing number of more mature content creators are tapping into that market and even making a bit of money from it.

An excellent example is Tricia Cusden, who has built up a following of more than 25,000 subscribers with her make-up tutorials and interviews. This has translated into the launch of her own beauty firm, Look Fabulous Forever, specifically aimed at the over-50s.

So if you fancy trying your hand at producing YouTube videos, how do you go about making it a success?

Find your niche

There are so many channels on YouTube already that it’s crucial you find something to help you differentiate from everyone else.

Gary Bembridge runs the Tips For Travellers channel, which is designed to provide travel inspiration, advice and even moneysaving ideas, based on his own experience as a travel writer.

Gary explains: “The tighter and more specific your chosen topic, the more likely you are to build followers and a reputation. Few generalist channels work on YouTube these days. Choose what you are most passionate and knowledgeable about and focus.”

Ceri Wheeldon set up her Fab After Fifty website eight years ago, after feeling frustrated at the lack of inspiring content being produced for people over 50 who aren’t thinking about retiring and instead want to continue to enjoy new experiences.

The site covers everything from beauty to fitness tips and even property downsizing, with the YouTube channel particularly focusing on make-up tutorials and fashion.

Although she admits that she “totally hates” being in front of a camera, she says: “People are interested in visual content, but also in real people rather than models who are paid to wear things. We aren’t supermodels, so if it looks good on us it can look good on them.”

What are people searching for?

It’s useful to view YouTube as a search engine rather than simply a video-streaming site, as it’s somewhere people turn for answers, whether that’s how to install a car seat or which camera to purchase.

Gary notes that videos that are simply entertaining will have a place, but if you want more casual viewers to find your channel then you should put together plenty of instructional and ‘how to’ videos.

“Think about what people are likely to be searching for on your topic and focus on making videos on those areas. This is the fastest and best way to build views and followers,” he explains.

His own channel is an excellent example of this – some of his most popular videos cover topics including how to pack for a cruise and which cabins to avoid. Similarly, some of the most viewed videos on the Fab After Fifty channel are tutorials, such as how to apply foundation and how to style a little black dress.

You can give your videos specific ‘tags’ to ensure they appear when viewers are searching for specific relevant terms. Be sure to take the time to do this, as it can make a big difference to your overall views.

Make your videos stand out

There are other steps you should consider to help the content you produce to stand out from the crowd. Think about the title you are giving your video: will it be enough to tempt a casual viewer into clicking? If you saw that title, would you want to watch that video?

Similarly, think about the cover art for the video. Much like the cover for a book, this is a crucial tool in attracting viewers. Don’t rely on an auto-generated image that YouTube proposes, but take time to produce something that is more likely to increase your number of views.

It’s also a good idea to keep to a regular schedule so that viewers know when to expect your next video.

Gary advises that a key factor to succeeding is simply to have a lot of videos. He says: “You should aim to post at least one video a week, and more if possible. The YouTube algorithm favours content creators that produce consistently and frequently. You are also more likely to build subscribers as they see you have a consistent and frequent flow of content.”

Including a call to subscribe on each video, whether you do it verbally or via some form of artwork during the video, is a smart move too.

 Get them watching

Gary points out when building your video content, it’s crucial to bear in mind the average watch time of your videos. He says YouTube wants to keep people on the platform for as long as possible, so it rewards the channels and videos that retain viewers for the longest time periods.

He adds: “Everything you do when making videos should think about how you can ensure people will watch for as long as possible. Make longer videos of at least five minutes, but up to 10 minutes long – as you have a greater chance of building longer watch time – and think of ways to keep people watching. For example, if you make a video about 10 ways to do something, then people may stay watching to get all 10.”

It is an investment

Ceri suggests it is important to be realistic from the outset about how much time you will invest in your channel as “it swallows up hours”.

It’s also important to invest in decent equipment and lighting. “Yes, you can do it on your phone, but people expect more than they did before. So many channels have slick production now,” she adds.

Monetising your channel

There are a few different ways that you can make something back from the video content you produce.

The most obvious is from YouTube itself, by joining its YouTube Partner Programme. Doing so will see ad breaks inserted into your videos at certain points, with ads generally running for a couple of seconds each time. Channels are then paid for every 1,000 views they get, with the amount paid varying based on advertiser interest in different video genres.

Only channels that have had more than 10,000 views can apply to join. You will need to put in a substantial amount of work to build a following before you have any chance of taking a slice of that partner programme cash.

Another option is to restrict certain videos behind a paywall. This could be by using a site such as Patreon, where supporters – or patrons – pay a small amount each month and have access to added content.

Or you could follow a similar model to what Ceri is doing with Fab After Fifty, using video content for online courses, for which users need to pay a subscription fee.

She explains: “We are developing online courses, covering all things related to life over 50. Some will be in collaboration with experts in their field. The first one will be on dating when you’re over 50.”

Producing sponsored content is another way to monetise your channel, though these opportunities are more likely to emerge once you have built something of a reputation and gained respectable subscriber numbers. Ceri says her channel will do more sponsored content.

Don’t expect to get rich

For all the stories about people making a packet off the back of their YouTube following, they are very much the exception rather than the rule.

As Gary notes, it can take millions of views to make a decent income from your channel, and that’s a big ask. Instead, you should view your channel as a chance to share your passion and expertise about your chosen subject with others.

He adds: “It is very unlikely you will earn much money from it, but you can build a reputation and acknowledgement of being an expert through it.”

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