The temptation here is to just apply “Betteridge’s Law of Headlines”, say “no” and be done with it, but that would be a pretty short article.
My answer to the headline is an emphatic “NO”. But I guess as a YouTuber myself I should actually justify it.
If you are reading this, then I’m going to assume at some point you have the thoughts:
- “I do interesting things”
- “I like sharing what I do with other people”
- “I should start a YouTube channel?”
And if you haven’t had those thoughts - you are probably having them now. That’s the power of suggestion!
I was chatting with a friend very recently and we were discussing my YouTubing, how it was going, what type of stuff I post, was it popular, did I enjoy it…
We got to talking about the steam train he has in his back garden and the various plans for building a workshop, laying more track and future projects.
And he said: “It’s probably quite interesting for people, maybe I should put it on YouTube…”.
What’s sad to me is that he is exactly the kind of person who should be on YouTube. He’s got something that is really interesting - how many people do you know who have a steam train running around their back garden!? He’s also interesting to talk to, has opinions on things and has a personality.
But, I did my utmost to convince him not to bother.
The problem is, starting a YouTube channel only sounds like fun.
The reality is that you will spend hours and hours and hours making videos, editing videos, uploading videos, promoting videos, and you will get very little in return.
A good rule of thumb is that for every minute of video, you need an hour of work - and that is just in the editing. Doing an actual project can take up your weekends, evenings, holidays, etc.
You may say: “Well, I’m going to do the project anyway, so I might as well film it…”. Oh, you sweet summer child. Try it and see what you end up with.
Now, there’s definitely lower-effort content
- you can just sit in front of a camera and pontificate straight out to the internet
- mailbag videos can be great - after all, it’s just opening boxes…
- teardowns can be fun, but hunting down rare and weird SMD components can be a massive time sink.
It takes a lot of work to produce anything remotely worth watching.
So it’s hard work.
And that’s not the worst part. You will start off with the best intentions in the world - you’ll just be doing it for fun, you won’t care if no one watches your videos, you’ll just be doing it for yourself.
I can hear you saying right now, “Oh don’t worry, I’m not interested in becoming popular, and I certainly wouldn’t expect to make any money from it. I just want to share my hobby with people, I don’t care if I don’t get millions of views…”.
It’s this last part that contains the killer contradiction, “I just want to share my hobby with people - I don’t care if I don’t get millions of views”.
Well, let me pose a question to you. Do you care if no one watches your video?
How will you feel when you post your first masterpiece and it gets zero views?
What about the second video you post? Or the third? Or the fourth?
How will you feel when you’ve posted 10 videos and you’ve only got 10 subscribers and they are all either your close friends and family? And what if even they don’t watch your videos?
The problem is, unless you have superhuman willpower, you will care.
And your reaction will be to start trying to get more views.
You’ll start looking at your thumbnails and titles and trying to figure out how to make them more “clickable”.
You’ll start pushing your content on social media, X (formerly known as Twitter), Facebook, Threads, Reddit, etc.
You’ll start looking at your analytics and trying to figure out what you can do to get more views.
You’ll begin reading all about the “algorithm” all about how CTR and AVD can trigger YouTube to push your content.
You’ll even start writing articles about YouTube - all in the hope that someone will stumble across your content, look at your channel, and maybe even watch one of your videos.
You’ll be one of the many “NewTubers” asking on the forums “How can I tell if I’m shadow banned?” or “Why doesn’t the algorithm like me?”.
You may even be tempted to pay YouTube to “promote” your videos (please don’t do this - it’s a waste of money).
Sadly, YouTube is full of people on the grind - they’ve been sold the “Just make better videos and the views will come”. Everyone dreams of being the next Mr Beast, Linus Tech Tips, or PewDiePie.
But the reality is that the vast majority of people who start a YouTube channel will never get more than a handful of views.
So my advice to you is this: If you are thinking about starting a YouTube channel, don’t.
At this point, it would be fair of you to ask me “Why do you do it then?”.
It’s a very good question. There are a few things that keep me posting videos.
I’ve found a community of people that I like - there are some great people in the maker space. They are my people.
I do actually have fun, I’m not sure people viewing my videos always appreciate it, but my inside jokes, daft animation and general silliness amuse me no end.
I’m also one of those people who like to get better at things. And I can see when I compare my first video to my latest that I have improved. I’m not saying I’m good, but I’m better than I was.
I also like to think that I am helping people. I’ve had a few comments from people who have said that they’ve found my videos useful. That’s a great feeling.
If I knew what I know now, would I have started a YouTube channel? Probably not. I do wonder sometimes if I carry on simply out of habit.
Now go and watch my videos and subscribe to my channel. Here’s my latest video - at least watch the intro - it’s my favourite bit.