When the lockdown hit us in April of 2020, I finally had no excuse. It was time to do YouTube. I was planning to start doing video, even just to get comfortable with it for at least two years now. But there was always some other project to pursue. Some other goal to reach first.
My very first video was more of a test. I took out a 720p Fuji camera I had and just recorded myself talking. It was awkward, but with a lot of iMovie editing I managed to get it up and online.
My goal for YouTube was to create educational content from the very start. I wanted to share both the things I know about design, and my various life-hacking attempts. These range from meditation, breathing to cold water exposure and sleep tracking.
So not your typical ‘tutorial channel’. It was ambitious and I’m still on my way of getting to where I want it to be. But at least due to the lockdown I started moving forward.
The plan was to start cheap — after all I didn’t know if it’ll pick up, so no need to overspend. I bought the cheapest Canon DSLR capable of shooting in 1080p and a Lav mic. Total cost was around $500 for both.
The Lav mic was something that helped a lot, as there was a lot of echo in the room, so the built in mics of the camera weren’t enough to get clear audio. And Audio is one of the most important parts of educational videos.
I quickly understood, that most people don’t want to subscribe to a channel with almost no content. Unless you have a viral hit that is. I didn’t.
So I put on a super-ambitious goal of first filling the channel with videos that were as high quality as I could possibly make them. That lead to having TWENTY videos in just the first month alone.
Now the channel looked “alive” for all the newcomers.
I also tested various video themes and categories. I wanted to see what forms were the most comfortable for me to record, and what resonated the most with the subscribers. Some series in their current form didn’t make the cut to “standard programming”.
But having a couple, varied themes allowed me to test and improve faster.
Instead of just linking to my videos on Social media, I actually made videos that were relevant to the posts there. So if I wrote a medium article, I made a video that explored its topics in more detail.
That led to a “read more” or “watch more” scenario. My materials were relevant to one another and not just “advertising” my stuff on social media.
Consistency is the key
When it comes to growth it’s all about consistency. There needs to be at least one video a week, preferably more. Growth is always slow at first and then compounds, so you just need to show up and do the work for long enough.
Engaging, replying, being there
My goal for this channel was to help out beginner designers and entrepreneurs on their way to success. I wanted to share my findings, failures and plans so they didn’t have to repeat my mistakes. But I also wanted a two-way communication.
That means that whenever I can I try to reply to all the comments as quickly as I can. It shows the initial subscribers that I do care, which makes them care about what I do.
Back to technical details
Over the last seven months I realized that there are two main factors to doing better videos. One is being more comfortable on camera — that slowly comes with time. Even a 1% improvement with each video compounds and you’ll see the results over a few months time.
The other thing is good lighting and audio. I mentioned audio already before, but the lighting is also important. It’s even more important than the camera. The cheapest makeup-lamps will do just fine, just get two and experiment with placement.
Building an audience
It took me seven months to grow from a little over 100 Subscribers to over 3600 as of today. It shows that dedication and hard work are the key, but there are a few things I wish I knew sooner. Mostly good lighting, composition, pacing and style of the videos. But this all comes in time and you need to edit a lot of stuff to find your path forward.
You can check out my channel here:
I also wrote a popular UI design eBook: