We live in a world in which almost everything can have the fishbowl effect. From the Kardashians to reality TV, people increasingly want to watch how or what the others are doing either for entertainment or to be able to learn something.
Naturally, then, as technology increases this tendency more and more, along comes the YouTube generation. They are the kids who grew up with technology, mastering its power in harnessing what they are good at. They have made their fortunes in entertainment, showing how things are done, beauty, lifestyle and other areas. Of course, they have shown their capability to work hard, show results and display a canny ability to stay updated with fresh new ideas.
For these stars, what made them start out was a genuine passion for what they are good at. What they loved doing – naturally enough, they became exceptional at it. Of course it must be remembered that what works here is a consistent work ethic and a commitment to excellence. The YouTubers who have reached stardom are not just young men and women – my nine-year-old daughter and her friends relish the videos put up by child YouTubers whose videos of childhood pranks and study, play routines, etc., are watched by millions.
Grasping the opportunity of YouTube is challenging – it is a platform for just about anyone to be able to showcase their talent, their capability and their expertise to the world. You never know who might be watching, but essentially, once they get the views, other deals come along. There’s money to be made from Google Ads, affiliates, sponsorships, etc.
But what really can drive a successful YouTube channel as an entrepreneurship pathway? As easy as YouTube sounds, it is also about a lot of hard work, planning and meticulous execution. It is also about sticking it out, day after day, perfecting your delivery, enhancing its appeal and fine-tuning it until it is just what your viewers want and are hungry for more.
It is also a lot about consistency. Consistency is key to a visual medium such as YouTube – you need to be able to sprout new and innovative ideas with every delivery. It must capture the attention of the viewers who in turn drive traffic. Traffic gets you the money so you need to be able to master the art of delivery that assures enough value for the traffic to roll in.
YouTube is also great because as most tech-driven platforms today, it is an interactive two-way process. The viewers can comment on your video – which is a great way for you to find out what they want and what they do not want. Although some may comment for the sake of commenting, there will be others who can give you great insights as customer feedback.
YouTube sensations, which have made it to big leagues, are mostly to be found in categories such as food or cooking, do-it-yourself, smartphone reviews, music, beauty, lifestyle, self-help and other vlogging themes that resound with many. Most of them work hard at putting each video together but watching it, no one realizes that it is actually carefully choreographed – it is meant to look so spontaneous.
As good as YouTube videos as an entrepreneur initiative sounds, there is a downside as well, one which you need to watch out for. When money comes in the form of sponsorships and ads, you need to evaluate the commercial inputs against what your audience wants. Does it resound with them or as a result of too much commercialization, will the audience switch off?
You need to be able to strike a balance between making use of sponsorships and paid for content and delivering the kind of content which your audience wants to watch. You may lose the commercial gain anyway if you do not have an audience. So it is critical that you retain your audience with genuine, well delivered videos that got them hooked in the first place. The commercial content can be sprinkled enough for them not to switch off yet sufficient enough for an income stream to be generated.
There’s terrific competition on YouTube – many are doing the same thing and it takes an over-all view of YouTube channel as part of a great business plan to rise to the top. Copying others or trying to piggyback on someone else’s success won’t cut it. It is all about a genuine passion that combines with the delivery of great ideas that answers a need – one that can be sustained with unique content generation and increasing views towards optimizing a YouTube business.
YouTube as an entrepreneurship journey has come of age – in countries such as ours, the opportunity is there for greater involvement and action. How some of us will make use of the opportunity remains to be seen.
(Nayomini Weerasooriya, a senior journalist, writer and a PR professional, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)