Is this realistic?
There are countless blog posts and articles offering technical tips and quick success recipes to aspiring YouTube vloggers. The reality, however, isn’t that simple, and you may soon discover that simply following a checklist is not enough to skyrocket your vlog to the top.
However, it’s not impossible given you’re persistent and able to produce content that your viewers have a genuine interest to watch. Here I’ll share 3 key characteristics that I keep seeing in today’s most popular vlogs.
Put your audience first
Before I start, let me stress this again:
Without quality content, no amount of trickery will make you a YouTube star.
And by quality I don’t necessarily mean the video production quality (however, that certainly helps) but rather making something that YOUR audience wants to watch.
After following some established YouTube channels like Casey Neistat, DanTDM, Cookie Swirl C, James Wedmore, Darryl Eves, Video Creators, and some others, I’ve noticed they all have few things in common.
As you can see, the channels I pick cover a wide range of topics from travel, to gaming, to marketing, and to YouTube tips and tricks, so it’s not about a topic.
Neither, I’m referring to the technical aspects, like thumbnails, tags, or basic video SEO. That goes without saying.
Instead, I’ll be looking at 3 most fundamental things that I keep seeing in every popular vlog I come across. Here they are:
3 must-haves of a successful vlog
1 Be real
Frankly, nothing turns me off more than watching a cartoonish avatar lip synced to a computer generated voice reading something that sounds like a technical manual.
Therefore, the first things I’d like to point out is PERSONALITY. Most successful channels are all built around strong personalities. Of course, there are exceptions, like big entertainment channels like VEVO or huge corporate vlogs but they’re not the focus of this post.
We all want to follow real people, so don’t be afraid to show your face. You don’t need the perfect look, just be you.
Want to build a stronger personal connection with your viewers? Don’t stick to your usual topics only, share a personal story.
See how Casey Niestat shares his love story on YouTube:
A word of caution, though. Think carefully about sharing any sensitive information in your posts.
2 Be a brand
Take some time to create strong and consistent BRANDING. Instant recognition, credibility, and viewers loyalty are just some of the advantages of branding.
Needles to say, consistent branding is essential to growing your channel and standing above competition.
Don’t make a mistake thinking that branding applies only to boring corporate channels. See how Cookie Swirl C (5M subscribers !) starts each video with a short and instantly recognizable intro:
Having hard times coming up with a catchy brand name? Just use your own name!
Quick technical tip: don’t forget to add your custom branding logo to your YouTube channel!
You can create video intros with Adobe’s free Spark software.
If you need a short and catchy musical cue to add to your intro, here’s a collection of affordable music with life-time royalty free license pre-cleared for use in personal and commercial videos (including YouTube monetized videos).
3 Be emotive
How the biggest companies of today (think Apple or Nike) managed to grew from tiny startups to multinational corporations?
They build the EMOTIONAL RELATIONSHIP with their clients that go well beyond simply purchasing a product that satisfies a basic need. Strive to achieve the same with your videos!
Music is one of the easiest ways to instantly add emotion to your video !
Don’t underestimate the power of background music – there is a scientifically proven connection between music and emotion. If you’d like to learn more you can read about why do we get emotional when listening to music.
Do we really need music?
I work for a music library that provides music for commercial videos, so some may say I’m biased. So let me get objective by saying this:
Not every video need music
Depending on the style of your video music may or may not help. In some, the music can be downright distracting.
Yet again, think about emotions and adding value to the video. Using music in a super technical how-to video that explains how to resolve a common computer issue may not provide much value.
On the contrary, using music a in travel vlog episode or a small business marketing video will provide immense value when used appropriately.
How to choose music that adds value to your video?
Here are some basic tips:
1. Use it to set the desired tone and emotion (happy, sad, uplifting, confident, and so on). Don’t use music if it distracts the viewer or does not match the tone of the video.
2. Match the pace of the video.
3. Match the taste of your audience.
4. Don’t pick music just because it’s free, make sure it actually adds something to the video.
Lear more about how to choose music for videos.
Where to get music for vlogs?
Learn music licensing basics or see where to get good quality music that is safe to use in videos and vlogs.
The rule of thumb is that you should not use copyrighted music without a license. See what may happen if you use copyrighted music on YouTube.
Depending on your budget you may choose to use free music (don’t forget to check out YouTube’s free audio library) or purchase licenses. The biggest advantage of purchasing a license is that it gives you the legal proof in case of any copyright claim or dispute. See how to resolve YouTube copyright claims.
For monetized or business related YouTube channels, I strongly suggest getting explicit written permission or purchasing a license from a royalty-free music marketplace.
If you don’t have much choice but to use free music don’t assume you can freely use a particular music track just because someone says it’s royalty / copyright free. Do your due diligence when using “copyright-free” music.
Don’t make this common music licensing mistakes that can get your video removed or music or getting your entire channel penalized.
For commercial or business videos make sure you choose music that is safe to use for commercial videos.
Do prominent YouTubers use free music?
I certainly can’t speak for all YouTubers. In my own personal experience of working with some of them, most prefer to license the music to be able to fend off any possible copyright claims that can affect their earnings.
For instance, Casey Neistat does not use copyright-free music but rather license music from independent artists. He is kind enough to share some of the artist he works with in this Soundlcoud playlist.
If you follow up with the artists, some of them explicitly say that their music is not copyright free.
Looking for music for your videos?
As many vloggers do, you can connect with individual artists and negotiate licenses (or just ask nicely), however working our the agreemens with every new artist might take away precious time that could be otherwise spent of actually making videos.
If you are dedicated to making videos on the regular basis and want to be able to pick a fitting soundtrack for each new video without purchasing new licenses, getting a music library subscription will provide much more bang for your buck.
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