How To Be A YouTuber – Apparently

July 22, 2016

With social media usage on the rise across every platform, online video and live streaming are more popular than ever. YouTube alone has over a billion users accessing the site – and it seems like everyone wants to become a YouTuber these days. I can’t criticise that; I make YouTube videos myself (cheeky channel plug HERE if you want to check it out!) But like many careers in the public eye, there’s always that one key question. Do you want to do it because you enjoy it, or because you want to be rich and famous?

I guess the ideal answer to the above question is ‘both’ to a degree – to have a full-time job that you love, that also happens to pay well and give you recognition for your efforts really would be living the dream. However, the mainstream media are only starting to acknowledge the work of bloggers and vloggers. The most popular online personalities are now living the celebrity lifestyle (a quick look at Instagram documents holidays, designer clothes and luxurious homes). So, you’d be forgiven for thinking that these people don’t actually do much with their time – so it must be pretty easy to do, right?

I’m yet to discover the magic formula which will stop time and allow me to catch up with planning videos, recording them, editing them, uploading them and promoting them. Not to mention, I’d like to have a life at the same time! It’s something that many a YouTuber will relate to; working and/or studying as well as trying to stick to a schedule can feel somewhat impossible at times (unless you’re very organised – something else I haven’t quite mastered).

As you might have figured out, the most successful YouTubers (and bloggers too) are able to live off the income that their creativity provides them with. Advertising is the largest source of income within the media as a whole, and is set to retain that title for a while. But whilst the successful YouTuber juggles brand deals, collaborations and event appearances as well as their upload schedule, the rest of us have the slightly more common version.

Some of you might be wondering why I’m writing this post. After all, I have Summer in the City in less than 3 weeks, where I’ll learn all about the different components and be able to ask questions of those in the know. But the reason for this post lies a little closer to home.

I received an email from a local college (the joys of mailing lists) promoting its evening courses. I’ve done a few in my time; 10-week courses in Photoshop, Graphic Design and the all important Digital Video. However, this email literally made my jaw drop. The latest course? “How To Become A YouTuber/Vlogger”. My initial reaction was one of surprise; my media lecturer has always been supportive of YouTube, and it’s refreshing to see it being accepted within the wider media. I decided to have a look at the course outline, just to satisfy my own curiosity. Unfortunately I wasn’t pleased for very long.

I was bemused by the topics to be studied: the top 10 YouTubers; styles of vlog; promotion; online profiling. As a 10-week course with no qualification, naturally it only covers the basics. However, I spotted one very obvious omission – there’s absolutely nothing on making a video.

I read the course description a few times, certain I had missed something. But there was nothing. Nothing on cameras or equipment, nothing on editing.. And suddenly I was very confused. The description states that the course is aimed at people with basic IT skills in “internet, email and social media”. There’s also a typo in the word Twitter, as though adding insult to injury. But I digress; it does not say anywhere that the individuals should have experience operating a camera. When I decided a few years back that I fancied having a bash at being a YouTuber, I literally had no idea how to do anything other than press the record button on my camera. And it was a crappy little camera. for the record.

I appreciate that there’s a growing number of individuals who record on their phones, given the amazing quality of cameras on smartphones now. But the knowledge outwith that remains unchartered territory for most. How do you set up a shot? What about lighting? What about that super-cool effect where the YouTuber is in focus and the rest of the background is blurry? Unless you have some camera knowledge, which a large percentage of YouTubers starting out don’t have, you’re stuffed.

What about the creative process? Brainstorming ideas? Structuring your video? Building confidence to talk to a camera? Cutting out all the ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ that we all say?

Ask any YouTuber their top priorities when it comes to making a video. Good lighting is generally always up there. A good edit is equally as important. Good, fast-paced content is an obvious one. Promotion is important, it goes without saying, but it’s not the top priority; even when working with a brand. Don’t believe me? I asked Dan & Phil for their advice on promoting videos when I was first starting out – you can watch the video from Radio 1 HERE to see what they said.

The course covers some valid topics, such as how to set up a channel and ongoing maintenance – but to be honest, I’m not the most technically minded and I figured it out. YouTube themselves have a fantastic community and help section as well – so if you’re not sure how to do something, there are plenty of resources available to help you out! Not to mention the millions of tutorials recorded by YouTubers…

Perhaps I’m just having a pessimistic day. In fact, I know I’m having a pessimistic day. but in my opinion, learning how to be a YouTuber starts with how to build up the confidence to make a video, to edit it the way you want, and to have a finished piece of content that you’re proud of. As time goes on, you’ll learn new techniques both in recording and editing. If you really enjoy it, you might upgrade your equipment, which will make the quality of your videos even better. You don’t need to study the top 10 YouTubers (and pay £150 for the privilege) to make good content. The best YouTubers are unique.

What do you think about these how-to courses? Do you think they’re a good idea or a waste of money? Let me know in the comments!

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