This article has been contributed by Jess Simms.
If you’re a small business owner who wants to build a larger online presence, a YouTube channel is an excellent way of doing it. Effective YouTube videos are a highly effective way to set your business apart from your competition.
If you want to start a YouTube channel for your small business, here are 6 easy steps you can follow.
Step 1: Identify What Problem You Solve for Viewers
More people will want to watch your videos if they know they’ll get something valuable from the experience. One great way to establish this consistent value in your videos is to focus all your content on answering one big-picture question for your customers.
The first step is to identify what niche your content will fit into. This is fairly easy to do if your small business is already up and running, since you’ll want the content on your channel to reinforce the services or products you sell.
Once you know your niche, think about the main questions and problems that customers in that niche will have — and, more importantly, how your product or expertise can solve them. By answering these questions, you can hone in on the ideal topic for your channel.
The UpFlip channel for example, operates in the commercial real estate niche. They target prospective entrepreneurs or established business owners who are looking to grow. All the channel’s videos aim to answer the question, “How can I make my business more successful?”
What if I Don’t Have a Niche?
If you’re still in the idea generating phase of opening a business, you may not have decided exactly what kind of service you want to provide to customers. While that does mean you have a bit more work ahead of you than those who have already done this legwork, you also have an advantage: you can choose a niche based on customer demand, and that can make it easier to become profitable in the long run.
There are plenty of sites where you can find profitable business niche ideas if you’re not sure exactly what kind of business you want to run. Look through these lists for topics that best match your interests and expertise if you need help deciding what kind of business you want to start.
Step 2: Use Search Results Rankings to Choose Video Topics
Before you decide what topics you want to cover in your videos, identify the main keywords associated with your niche. You can then use one of the tools listed below to see which of these keywords gets searched for the most and use those as the basis of your videos. This is a more efficient and successful approach than trying to match popular keywords with existing content.
Once you find popular keywords, use them as a basis for topic ideas for your YouTube videos. Then, take a look at search engine results to find out which ones are the most in-demand.
The best topics are those that have high numbers of searches but aren’t already oversaturated with results. By finding this sweet spot, your videos will have lots of potential viewers, but they won’t have to compete with established channels for clicks and views.
This approach is especially useful when you’re first building your channel. Crafting your early content to directly fill customer needs will help your videos rank higher in search results right off the bat. Once you start to accumulate views and subscribers, your channel will carry more weight with search algorithms and be more likely to rank highly even on topics with a lot of competing content.
You don’t need to be an SEO expert to do this, either. There are plenty of tools available for gathering and analyzing search result data. Just a few examples are:
- VidIQ. Designed specifically for use with YouTube channels, VidIQ has tools for analyzing both keywords and your channel’s viewership. It also gives you helpful insights into current YouTube trends, which can be helpful for growing your channel even after you’re established.
- Ahrefs. This SEO analysis tool includes a ranking tracker along with competition and search keyword insights. It’s a helpful tool for optimizing your content and keywords to rank higher in search results and generate more traffic.
- Keywords Everywhere. With some free functionality, this one is a browser add-on for Chrome and Firefox that shows search volume, CPC and competition.
Step 3: Provide Valuable Content
There are two huge stats you need to pay attention to when you’re building a YouTube channel. The click-through rate, or CTR, tells you what percentage of viewers exposed to a link actually click on it. Basically if 100 people visit a page and 10 of them click the link, you have a CTR of 10%.
The other major stat is audience retention. This tells you how long the viewer stays on the page after they’ve reached it in the form of the percentage of the total video length they watched. Let’s say you upload a 10-minute video and the viewer watches 5 minutes of it before clicking away. This gives you a retention rate of 50%.
A CTR of 10% or more and a retention rate of at least 50% are good goals to shoot for. Choosing topics based on prominent keywords can improve your CTR, but it won’t necessarily do anything for your retention numbers. To keep people watching, the videos themselves need to be high-quality and give viewers real value so they’re not tempted to go on to the next thing that catches their eye.
Quality is far more important than quantity when you’re building your channel. In fact, padding your channel with off-topic videos can hurt your chances of converting viewers into subscribers. A visitor to your channel should be able to click on any of your videos and get a good idea what your business is all about from watching it. Any video that doesn’t satisfy this criteria is only diluting the value and message of your channel.
How do you create valuable content? Understand what your target audience is looking for. Crafting content that provides useful information for your viewers will keep them coming back.
Step 4: Establish a System (And Stick To It)
Creating high-quality videos takes a lot of time and effort. It’s easy to get overwhelmed or burnt out if you’re not careful about how you manage your workload. Putting a system into place for creating and posting your videos is crucial to maintain a consistently well-performing channel.
Deciding when you’ll post your content is just one aspect of this. Equally important is planning when you’ll make and edit the videos and the total time commitment you expect to put into the channel each week. This is something you might not know until you’ve gone through the process a few times, so don’t be afraid to refine your schedule over time until you find a system that works for both your channel and your life.
The type of video you make will play a large role in how often you want to film. For videos that have a long and involved set-up process, you’ll likely find it easier to shoot multiple videos at once. If it’s more just one person with a GoPro or a laptop camera, shorter, more frequent filming sessions might be easier to manage.
Keep in mind that you’ll want to leave yourself plenty of time to edit the videos before you have to post them. You may find it cuts down on your stress to work ahead, giving yourself a backlog of videos to post from so you’re never coming down to the wire with finishing in time to post.
The YouTube algorithm gives precedence to channels that post frequently and regularly, so you’ll get ranked higher in search results if your videos come out on a consistent schedule.
Posting one video every week may be frequent enough to stay relevant for viewers at a pace you can keep up with easily without burning yourself out on the workload.
If you’re just starting out, consider posting a video every other week to start. Once you’ve established a rhythm, you can decide if ramping up to once a week, or even more, seems feasible.
For most businesses, YouTube isn’t your only online presence. Whether you maintain a blog or simply post on other social media sites, you should have a schedule in place that integrates all your platforms so you can use them to their best effect.
Keep in mind you shouldn’t simply cross-post identical content to all of your channels. Ideally, someone who clicks over to your blog or Instagram page after watching your videos on YouTube will find different content that’s of equal value and interest. You can then insert links to relevant videos or posts into your content, driving traffic from one platform to the other.
By using multiple platforms together, you can build a community of online followers with loyalty to your brand. The key is to maintain a consistent schedule for everything. If your fans know they’ll get a new blog post every Friday and a new video every other Tuesday, they’ll check back with your channels on those days, and that’s a great way to generate more clicks and views.
Step 5: Use Your Title and Description Wisely
The text that goes with your videos might feel like a throwaway after all the work you’ve put into making your videos. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The description and title of your video serve two very important functions. First, they tell viewers what to expect from the video and whether it’s worth clicking on. Second, it’s where you put the keywords that determine where your video ranks in search results.
Both the title and description should be informative, accurate and concise. A viewer should know from the description what they’ll see in the video, and what value they stand to gain by watching it. Keep the language in the description natural, too. You don’t want it to be just a listing of relevant keywords. That can be seen as “keyword stuffing” by search engines, so it won’t give you the high rankings you’re hoping for.
For titles, active language is especially important. You don’t get much space to entice potential viewers to click on the video, so you want to make every word count. One approach is to ask the viewer a question, such as “$105K Invested to Start a Food Truck Business (Did It Work?)”.
Step 6: Boost Traffic by Connecting with Influencers
You don’t need to start from scratch to build your brand. YouTube influencers have massive platforms and thousands of followers. Finding and collaborating with influencers in your niche can turn those followers into your potential viewers.
If you’re tuned in to your industry’s online community, you might already know who the main influencers are. If not, there are lots of places you can find them, including online marketplaces like Grape Vine Village, which provide a platform for brands to connect with influencers.
One great way to draw an influencer’s fans onto your channel is by bringing them on as a guest in one of your videos. Keep your main goals in mind during these collaborations, though. Ideally, you want to grow your following and find new viewers who will continue to engage with your content into the future, not just create a one-time spike in traffic.
The Bottom Line
As a small business, YouTube can be a great way to build your online reputation and engage with your customers in a new way. Having a system and using analytical tools the right way will help you make the most of the effort you invest. By staying focused on the value you provide to your customers, any business can build a thriving YouTube channel.
About the author: Jess Simms is a writer and regular contributor to the UpFlip blog. Their actionable business content is informed by years of first-hand experience in small business management.