If you have ever fallen down YouTube’s rabbit hole and spent hours on the platform (don’t we all…?), you might have thought: “Wow, there is content about literally everything.” Seems to be true, right? Yet it shouldn’t stop you from launching your own project if that’s your dream. In the Starting a YouTube Channel course on MZed, filmmaker and YouTube Guru Kitty Peters offers a beginner’s guide on how to succeed at YouTubing. Below, we share a sneak peek, and also some valuable tips for kicking off your creativity in video blogging.
Kitty Peters runs Atola Visuals – a filmmaking empire, as she calls it. Almost 80,000 subscribers follow her self-made YouTube channel, and since 2016, Kitty has posted over 300 videos. Gear reviews, tech tutorials, and video tips form a huge segment of her content. Apart from YouTube, Kitty also manages a video production business and has active communities on Twitch and Discord.
If you’re interested in watching the complete course, please head to MZed.com and check it out.
How to start a YouTube channel – finding your niche
Imagine that you’ve always wanted to start your own YouTube channel. You have some ideas about the content, but no clear vision yet. The very first step, according to Kitty Peters, is to look for your niche. It ought to be narrow in the beginning, and in the best case, it should be based on an SEO-worthy topic. (SEO means search engine optimization, and it helps YouTube to understand what niche your channel belongs to and what audience might be interested in it). Here is a creative path to follow:
- Make a list of your interests. What sounds like fun to you? Are there things you want to learn more about?
- Prioritize these interests.
- What are your goals? Do you want to create a business from your YouTube channel? Or will you use it as a portfolio? Maybe you just want to review your favorite products. (As Kitty points out, there are even channels out there where people only unbox toys).
- Find the point where your interests and goals align. What interests of yours will help you achieve your goals?
For Kitty, it was obvious: filmmaking, video how-to’s, and filming equipment. Some other popular content areas right now could be, for example, fitness, business tips, gaming, and tech. But again, don’t address all of your interests at one time—this will confuse YouTube and your potential audience. Start narrow and then expand as you go.
Getting over the negatives
After you’ve listed topics you want to cover, you might find that there are so many, you get demotivated. There are already plenty of exciting channels for filmmaking; why would anyone need another one? (At least, that’s what my brain whispers every time I think about a video-blogger career). Kitty Peters’s answer is obvious:
Very true, but in the history of humanity, people had been doing the same things forever. (…) That shouldn’t stop you from creating videos. YouTube offers enough space for your own opinions, ideas, and creative perspective.
Kitty Peters, from the MZed-course “Starting a YouTube Channel”
In her view, it’s very important to get into the right mindset and fight negatives like this first. For example, in the beginning, you might worry about being on camera. For most people (especially those who are usually behind the lens), it can be very nerve-wracking. But regular practice makes it better as you learn your vibe and flow.
What else? Some people are afraid of being seen in a public space by people who know them personally. But look at it this way: they will definitely click on your video, give you a view, and maybe even some feedback and/or support afterward. Others, on the contrary, get nervous just thinking about how strangers will judge and criticize them (you will eventually get to this point, as every hardworking YouTube blogger does. Should it worry you? No!). There is also the annoying “impostor syndrome”—a frequent feeling of not being enough of an expert, even if you have a sustained record of achievements. But just think about how much you will learn by doing YouTube videos on your favorite topics! That alone can help you get over your self-consciousness.
According to Kitty, the easiest way to defeat a negative mindset is to know exactly what your ROI (return on investment) is, and not necessarily in terms of money and products. Could it become a creative outlet or another possibility to have fun with your friends? Stick to this motivation.
Tips on setting up your YouTube channel
If you think you are ready, let’s set up your very own YouTube channel right now. Head over to youtube.com, get yourself a new Gmail account if needed (for example, to match the name of your channel), and push the button. We won’t dive into the technical details of creating a channel, because I think this process is rather self-explanatory. Instead, we will focus on some creative tips you should try out.
First, while filling out the description field, add keywords connected to your channel’s topics in the top text line. In the example below, these are “technology”, “camera gear”, and “filmmaking”. They should be integrated into the full sentence and will, again, help YouTube’s SEO put your project into the right category of interest.
Next, and very importantly, don’t forget to verify your channel. It will enable crucial features like custom thumbnails or uploading videos longer than 15 minutes. Just head over to your settings –> channel status and features -> click “verify”. After 30 days, and when your project has over 100 subscribers, you will be able to customize the URL as well.
A further piece of advice from Kitty is to make sure you put enough time into customizing your channel. For example, look for the best layout for your topics and divide content into convenient sections for your audience. Also, what does your channel look like? You might want to upload your own logo and Subscribe button, as well as get creative with the top background image. A quick tip: always bear in mind that your channel will be viewed on different gadgets and should be aligned with most of them. In her course, Kitty shares a useful table for that.
The creative workflow or how to REALLY start a YouTube channel
All done, and your YouTube channel is up and running. Now comes the most difficult but also the most exciting part—creating content. For real! What Kitty recommends here is to observe your project like a kind of TV channel, which has different shows (hers cover events, tutorials, reviews, and the occasional travel vlog).
To generate new ideas, research what people are not talking about yet. Is there anything they can learn from your video? If you go for an existing topic, make sure you mix it with your life experience and put a twist on it by creating something personal.
Limitations can also help with creativity. Kitty once had to do a DJI video review during the COVID-19 quarantine, so she made an abstract video using creative lighting, and also flew a drone indoors. It made for an unusual moment!
Sometimes ideas pop up on their own, so always carry a notebook around. Using some newly available tools, try a deep learning language model ChatGPT to brainstorm. (We gave several tips on enhancing your creativity with its artificial intelligence here).
And we’re ready for preproduction!
Your channel exists, ideas blossom, and we can start getting ready for the first preproduction phase. If you are a filmmaker, the next part is obvious: writing a text script for the video (or rather bullet points, if you speak in front of the camera), defining a concrete shot list, and maybe setting a shooting order to make production day efficient. If you are not accustomed to shooting videos yet, we suggest you join one of our courses and learn all about filmmaking and video production. Kitty’s course “Starting a YouTube Channel”, gives insights into setting up the space, editing workflow, and promoting your videos as well.
What about you? Have you ever wanted to launch your own YouTube channel? Is there still something stopping you? What is it? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
What else do you get with MZed Pro?
As an MZed Pro member, you have access to over 300 hours of filmmaking education, including Starting a YouTube Channel with Kitty Peters. Plus, we’re constantly adding more courses (several in production right now).
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- 50+ courses, over 750+ high-quality lessons, spanning over 400 hours of learning.
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- Course topics include cinematography, directing, lighting, cameras and lenses, producing, indie filmmaking, writing, editing, color grading, audio, time-lapse, pitch decks, and more.
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Feature image credit: Kitty Peters / MZed