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Advice on Starting a YouTube Channel & Blog | Q&A

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What’s up guys? It’s Aileen. Today’s video is going to be jam-packed with a lot of information. You guys always give me a lot of questions on how to start a blog, how to start a YouTube, and today I’m just going to try to answer all of your questions. It’s essentially a Q&A video but I’m going to skip reading the questions and go straight to sharing the content itself. This video is going to be focusing on the advice portion on content creating, and I’ll make another video where I get into the technical side of YouTube: what camera I use, what editing software, etc. And if you’re into blogging, I’m going to make a separate blog post on the technical side of blogging like what platforms and hosting services to use.

And later on, I’m going to make another video on how to start a podcast. So if you’re interested in any of those things, make sure to click in the description and check them out. First off I want to share what advice I have for anyone starting out as a content creator, whether you’re going to be on YouTube, a blog, a podcast, or something else. The first thing: You have to know your purpose. Why do you want to start your blog or YouTube or podcast? Why do you want to be a content creator? And it’s really important to know your ‘Why’ because that sets the foundation for everything else. Ask yourself: is this just going to be a hobby where you just want to express yourself and do something creative for fun? Or do you want to take it seriously and actually create a career out of it. Whatever it is, it’s really important to just get down to why you want to do this. Maybe have a mission statement and put it on a notebook or somewhere you will read really often, so that you’re reminded of why you started.

Next up is crafting your brand. Your brand is an extension of your voice. It’s your message. It’s the feeling that you give your audience. It’s your perception of the world. Essentially, your brand is usually an extension of yourself. So for me, my brand is Lavendaire, and it’s all an extension of myself. It’s really dreamy and airy, and I like to talk about personal growth and all these things. Ask yourself: what kind of feeling do you want to give your audience? What kind of message do you want to share? And you craft your brand around that. A question that I get very, very often is: how did you come up with the name Lavendaire? And I think it’s because a lot of people have trouble coming up with that name for their YouTube channel and blog because it’s so important; your brand starts with the name. For me, I had been on YouTube and had been making music under my own name Aileen Xu. My old YouTube handle was ‘Aileenwithit’ and it was just something- like a screen name from high school.

But when I wanted to start Lavendaire, my new blog and YouTube channel, I really, consciously created a word. I wanted to create one word that sounded really pretty, dreamy, airy, something that reflects my personality. And I wanted to make sure that word was not something that was already on Google because I cared about SEO and stuff. So I spent a lot of time brainstorming what kind of names would be good and I kind of listed a bunch of words that described what my personality was and what kind of feelings I like. And there’s no right or wrong way to create a name. You just have to spend a lot of time brainstorming. It’s not going to come to you at once, but I think once you’ve found a name that sticks with you and you can’t forget it, then you’ve found your name. In short, my tips on creating a name are to: brainstorm, take your time, be really patient with it, and it will eventually come; also be mindful of what else is on the internet so you don’t choose something that somebody else is already using.

Just make sure that name describes your personality or that brand feeling that you want to create. The next tip I have is that you have to make sure that passion and joy are at the center of everything you do. Everything you create has to be created out of passion and joy. If you create something that you’re not excited about, that you’re like, “Ugh, this is so boring,” it’s not going to be good and people are not going to enjoy reading it or watching it or listening to it. You really have to put your zest for life into everything that you create. You have to put that passion there, and also that passion drives you as you continue creating because being a content creator is fun and it should only be fun. It shouldn’t feel like a drag, it shouldn’t feel like work. You should always focus on having fun first and focus on the creating aspect. Don’t worry about the results or the rewards that you want to get.

Don’t do it for the numbers, the money, whatever. Do it because you love it. Do it because of the passion and the joy at the center. The next tip for new content creators is a huge one, and this is like the most important thing that I tell all of my friends who ask me about content creating tips. So you have to remember these four letters: Q V C A. Full disclaimer: I did not come up with this. I learned this from Alex Ikonn from a podcast he did like two years ago. I don’t know if I could find that link but if I could find it, I will post it in the description as well. He said this in the podcast and I took it and learned a lot from it.

It’s basically a foundation in all the stuff that I create. So QVCA stands for: Quality, Value, Consistency, and Authenticity. When you’re creating content, you always have to have these four letters, these four words in mind. When you create content, you have to make sure it’s the highest quality you can create as possible. It’s okay that you don’t have the best camera or the best resources, but you do the best with what you have right now. Just try to create high-quality content, because in this day and age, no one’s going to watch a very blurry video or a blog post that’s not very well edited. You just have to keep quality in mind. Do your best, just create the highest quality content you can imagine. Next up, you have to make sure that your content delivers value to your audience. Value can come in many different forms. As long as you give your audience something, whether you entertain them, educate them, inspire them.

Value is something your audience can take away from your content. If your content doesn’t deliver value to your audience, they’re not going to come back and they’re not going to watch more of your stuff. They’re just not going to be engaged unless they’re getting something from your video. Think about the videos that you watch on Facebook. You watch them because they’re interesting, they’re funny, they’re inspiring, they teach you something. Make sure your content always does something where it delivers value. C stands for consistency, which literally I think is the most important thing in becoming a successful content creator because consistency shows that you are a pro. Consistency means that you are uploading frequently at least have some sort of schedule where you’re uploading once a week or twice a week, whatever you can handle. Being a content creator is really flexible. But you really have to be self-disciplined and have that consistency. You have to put yourself on a schedule to create and upload things, post things on a schedule. Having a schedule shows people that you’re not an amateur, you’re a pro. And it kind of lets them know when to expect to come back to keep following your content.

It’s so important. Consistency is everything in life. The last letter stands for authenticity. Whenever you are creating content you have to make sure you’re being your authentic self: be real, be genuine, just be yourself because that is the best version of you that you can be. Don’t try to be anybody else. Don’t try to mimic other people. You can be inspired by other people’s styles but ultimately, you have to bring your own original flavor out and that’s how your content is going to be engaging. That’s how people are going to connect with you because people can’t connect to fake personas. They connect with the real person deep down. Again, those four letters: QVCA are quality, value, consistency, and authenticity. It’s really one of the most important foundation parts to think about when creating content. My next piece of advice for people starting out is to just start now, start with what you have right now.

It’s better to start now with less resources and work your way until you learn more eventually, than to wait until a later, future date to start your blog or YouTube channel. If you really want to do it, start now. Start with what you have. It’s better to start earlier, and get through those sucky stages when you’re not that good at doing everything to eventually grow and build and improve and get to where you want to be sooner.

So the sooner you start, the sooner you can get to that expert level that you want to be at. And the last tip I’ll share today on people starting out as a content creator, is to stop caring what other people think because you really have to just be you. Stop caring whether people are judging you for putting yourself out there, whether people don’t approve of what you’re doing. I know that there’s a lot of factors that a lot of us face while taking that risk to start being a YouTuber, blogger, whatever. But you can’t let that get to you because none of it really matters. What really matters is that you have that fire in you that wants to do it and you can’t ignore it. You have to follow it and do it, just for a while, just to try it out, because you’re just going to regret it if you don’t give it a try.

Moving forward, let’s talk about my process as a content creator. It really varies depending on what I’m going through, but I’ve tried to set up this general structure that I follow through my week. Mondays and Tuesdays are my shooting and editing days. Wednesdays are my editing and writing and meeting days. Wednesdays I’ll write my emails, my blog posts and I’ll have meetings for the podcast, and I’ll write the podcast on Wednesday too. Thursdays are the days where I record my podcast, I have more meetings. Then I have the afternoon to catch up on whether I need to edit or shoot some more.

Fridays I try to make my creative and learning day, where I can work on music or take some online classes. But honestly most of the times I end up catching up on more work on Friday, whether I’m replying to emails, doing interviews with people, or answering comments or something. When I’m filming videos, I’m usually filming one to two videos at a time. I’ve tried to film like three videos at a time but time just doesn’t work out for me because I like to use natural daylight and when the sun sets, I can’t shoot anymore.

So it takes me about an hour to two hours to film a talking video. Videos where I have different scenes, I would probably spread that out over a few days, so I don’t know how long it really takes. Editing videos ranges from like 4 hours to 10 or more hours per video, again, depending on what kind of video it is. So if you guys watch my Words of Wisdom videos, it’s just me talking. It’s really easy to edit. That will take like 3 to 4 hours. And a video that is more complex with more scenes and voiceovers, that can take like 10 to 12 or more hours to edit. Another question I get often is how do I come up with videos for content? How do I stay inspired? First off: if you are truly passionate about this topic of choice, then you will never run out of things to talk about. You might have little spurts where you’re not inspired and you’re stuck, but if you really love it, there’s always some way you can go deeper, there’s always different angles for you to go.

You’ll never run out of ideas if you’re truly interested in it. For me, I get a lot of my ideas from either journaling, reading, or whatever’s happening in my life at the moment. I do morning pages where I just write, journal freely. Sometimes I’ll write things that I’m learning and going through, and I’m like, “Oh my god, that’s a great idea! I should share that with people on YouTube.” So that’s where I’ll get some ideas. Other ideas, like when I’m reading a book that’s really inspiring or that’s teaching me something really important, I feel like I’m obligated to share those things because I’m like, “Oh my god, this is something that everyone should know about.” So for me, I get inspired by knowledge, learning, inspiration, as well as art. I think music really inspires me as well. And because my topic is personal growth and lifestyle design, I’m always learning and sharing what I’m learning.

And I know that, when there are times that I feel like I don’t have that much to share, that’s a sign that I’m not growing as much as I could be growing. So when I don’t have anything to talk about, I know that’s a problem with me and I’m like, “Oh my god, I need to go out and learn something so that I have something to talk about.” So that’s how it is for me.

Essentially, you get inspiration by pushing yourself to keep growing in that field of your choice. Also it’s really great if you could keep a document where you have a whole list of content ideas and you have a content calendar where you’ve kind of scheduled out loosely what kind of content you’ll be posting in the next couple months. So it’s really good to have these ideas brainstormed beforehand so you don’t run out of ideas when you’re there. You’re like, “Oh my god, I don’t have anything to post this week.” No, you always have to plan ahead. Have a list of content ideas and when you get to that week you can either talk about that idea, or you can talk about something else if you want.

What’s important is you have those backup ideas. You have a list of what you can talk about in the future. This is the Google Doc where I put all my content ideas. I call it “Just Write 2016”. I had one for 2015. Up here, I keep QVCA. All the things I want to remember while creating content. And then down here is where I start. I have my goal and I start with the month and I have all these content ideas for that month. You go down, next up I have all these ideas that I just transfer over to the next month. In June I have a few ideas. Whatever ideas I don’t do, I transfer to the next month and the next month. And here I have some more ideas, down here. At the bottom of the document, I have “DONE”. So these are all the videos that I’ve finished.

Once I’ve finished them, I just scoot them over to the bottom of the doc. These are videos that I did in January, all the way up to now. This is all my content, all the stuff. And if I open up my calendar, this is how I plan out when to post my content. Going back, I have a label for Lavendaire. Anytime a video is coming out, I post what video I plan to share, whether I have to write an email that week, and what podcast I’m going to post, etc. All the other things I have to do. Next up, a lot of people ask: how do you promote yourself online? How do you start gaining a following? First off: the content you create must be solid. It must be amazing content that people actually want to see, something that actually benefits people’s lives. That’s the first and foremost, because you can’t sell a product that is broken or that is something that people don’t want. You have to give people something that they want, first of all. And the question here is: how do you get people to find your amazing content? For YouTube, I guess we could start with the thumbnail. Your thumbnails are really important.

Thumbnails are like your advertisement for your video. I’m sure you guys know, as you’re scrolling YouTube, you really look at the thumbnails. If it’s interesting, if it’s engaging, then you’re like, “Oh my god, I want to watch this.” I guess, when you’re creating your thumbnails, keep that in mind. Think about what’s engaging. Does this thumbnail really depict that this video’s going to be about? It has to be high quality and get people’s attention and make people want to watch it. Next up are your titles, descriptions, and tags. You really want to make sure your video and the descriptions are optimized for SEO. SEO is ‘search engine optimization’, and you don’t have to get too crazy into it. It’s like a whole other industry.

But you just have to know that your titles have to describe the content that you’re creating. It’s very obvious but don’t have titles that are like clickbait, and don’t have titles that don’t correlate with the content. You want to make sure that people understand what this video is going to be about, just by reading the title.

You want to pick the keywords in your titles, pick keywords that are frequently searched. You could use Google AdWords search tool, I’m not sure what it’s called. I’ll link it below but you can use that to see what are the hot, popular keywords, and you can pick the popular keywords to put in your titles. What’s most important is your title, the first few words of your description, as well as your tags.

Tag what is relevant to your content. Next up: make sure you take advantage of YouTube’s playlists, annotations, and cards, because I know, more and more, YouTube ranks playlists in the search as well so if you group your videos into playlists that are a good group with good keywords, whatever, then you have more chance for people to find your content. And annotations and cards are great to keep people on your channel, watching your videos because once one video’s over, you can direct them to something else that’s related and it’s just easier for people to find you.

The point is you want to make things easy for your audience. You want to make it convenient for them to keep watching your stuff. Now we can talk about promoting yourself outside of YouTube. Definitely take advantage of your social media. I think when you’re starting out, you have to start posting and sharing on your personal social media: your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and be shameless about it. Just share what you got, because if you worked hard to create great content, then someone out there will enjoy it. There are a lot of different ways that you can go and market yourself online. You just have to be creative, and you have to make sure to stay authentic. For example: you can go on forums related to your topic and you can post in those forums. Make sure that you’re actually being genuine and helping other people. If someone has a question in that forum, you could genuinely give them a real answer based on your knowledge and then say like, “By the way, check out my video, it’s relevant. Blah, blah, blah.” You could also do this with other people’s blogs, so if you see a blog post that’s relevant then you could comment below with something you have to say about that blog post and say, “By the way, here’s my website.

Blah, blah, blah.” So there’s a lot of small things you can do to put yourself all over the internet. I remember I put a lot of my videos on reddit when I just started because there’s a whole personal development group on reddit. You just have to go out there and find your niche. Find where people are hanging out online and promote yourself in front of them. But do it in a very honest, genuine way. Actually try to add value to people’s lives. Don’t just be like, “Look at me, look at me,” just because. You actually have to help people and give them something. Another way to grow is to collaborate with people and I’m sure you guys have seen tons of collaborations. You have to find somebody that has a similar audience to you, and when you work together, it can be fun and help you grow because the audiences crossover.

Lastly, you can also start guest posting on other blogs or magazines, so if you like to write and you’re a blogger, then feel free to write up articles for other people. That’s a good way to promote yourself too. Alright, before I go, I want to leave you with one last piece of advice: don’t sweat the technical stuff. If you truly want to be a content creator, I know a lot of the times, those technical things can be scary.

There’s a lot of things you have to learn, a lot of skills you have to pick up to be able to do it, but everything technical can be learned. There’s so much knowledge online, all these YouTube tutorials that you can watch to learn how to shoot, how to edit, how to design, how to use Photoshop, how to do anything that you can imagine. So really, you have to just do your best. Create the content that you want to create, and all of that technical skills, that will come over time with lots of practice.

So don’t sweat the technical stuff, all those things can be learned. The most important thing is your drive, your passion, and your desire to create and share with the world. Thank you guys so much for watching, make sure you like, subscribe, share if this video helped you in any way. And I will see you in my next videos. Bye!.

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