Ramblings of a Nutbar

You’ll probably regret this.

6k&Under – Keep or kill?

So a couple weeks ago I started a program on my YouTube channel called 6k&Under, a program featuring lesser-known faces on YouTube who are far more talented than you’d guess by looking at their subscriber base. I really enjoy doing the show, but I’m having problems:

  1. Production time – Ever tried finding talent in the seas of less-subscribed people? Finding a needle in a haystack is easier, and it’s probably more fun, too. I can spend 8 hours researching for a 4 minute video. User submissions are helpful, but I either don’t get any, or I get 70, and I can’t sort through all of them right away, which means they get lost in the shuffle.
  2. Low viewership – The people gettng featured are watching, and a few of my regulars are watching, but nobody else is even coming over to say hello. When in it’s first day, my stupid Viagra video gets more hits than the latest 6kU episode got on day 1, I have to wonder if it’s worth the effort.
  3. My third point – Because all good lists need three points or more.

So help me decide if the show is worth keeping on life support, or if I need to pull the plug. Answer a few questions, and then comment below. Be honest! (See more to complete the survey!)

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December 18, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, My Random Thoughts, YouTube | , , , | 15 Comments

After piles of mistakes, YouTube GOT IT RIGHT!

I am happy.

Verry Happy.

So happy that I’m dancing around and singing and generally making this recent video look mellow by comparison.

Why is this?

Because today I’ve noticed someting that YouTube has done that will make life for partners on YouTube so much easier.

It’s the custom thumbnail.

 

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

New Feature to upload a thumbnail. Rock on YouTube!

That’s right. It looks like from here on out that YouTube partners (I checked on one of my non-partner sock accounts, and it’s not there) can specify a custom thumbnail for their videos. 

The implications for this are enormous. No more working your butt off trying to get the perfect shot in the center frame (which YouTube recently fried anyway). No more hoping you don’t get three crappy thumbnails to pick from. From now on, partners can control their thumbnail.

You might find yourself saying “Okay. You can pick your thumbnail, big deal. What’s the hulabaloo all about?” It’s a commonly known fact that the thumbnail is a big part of what drives views to a video. It’s the very tiny window into your show, and sometmes it’s the only thing someone will see of yur video. If yu want to market your videos, the thumbnail is very important. And now, thanks to YouTube, partners can more effectively market their productions.

Thanks YouTube. I take back anything negative I’ve said lately. You rock, at least until I find something else to complain about.

December 9, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Tips for getting views & subscribers on YouTube

You’re making YouTube videos. You’re actually pretty good (and that’s not your opinion – unbiased sources have told you this), but for some reason, breaking out of the sub-100 subscriber range just isn’t happening. So how do you climb out of the basement, and into the light? This post should give you some useful tips that I’ve learned myself, and things that I’ve seen from the top YouTube creators out there.

As a disclaimer, I will preface this by saying that I’m not a megastar on YouTube (yet!). I don’t have 100,000 subs and I’m not on the top pages. But I DO have a few thousand subscribers to my channel, and the number is growing literally every day. so with no further ado, here are my tips to gaining YouTube popularity, with important stuff bolded for those too ADD to read it all:

  • Make quality content. This is first and foremost. I’m not saying that you need to go out and buy a $2500 camcorder, or even use anything more special than a webcam. What you DO need to do is produce videos that people (other than you & your family) will want to watch. The secret to learning this is to critically watch YouTube videos. Which ones do you watch? Which ones do you click out of? Watch what the people you watch do, and emulate the positive aspects while making it your own. Important: While this is the first step, as you will soon read, it’s not the only ingredient.
  • Get involved in the community. My friends over at 88improv were the ones who got me to YouTube. They had been there for several months before I was. Today, they have thousands less subscribers than I do. What’s made me more popular? It’s certainly not video quality alone – theirs are way better than mine. The biggest difference I’ve noted is that 88improv is using YouTube more as a storage site; They upload their videos to embed elsewhere, and seldom get involved with comments & community involvement. In contrast, I Was doing shoutouts in my first video, and responding to other folks early on. I made some great friends, and I got involved in the community. If you provide positive feedback to others, they’re more likely to come and see your stuff. And if your stuff is good, they’ll subscribe.
  • Remember that asking for subscribers is okay (sometimes). Not everyone remembers that they can click the little orangish-yellow button to follow your videos. Putting a friendly “Please subscribe” at the start or end of your video is totally cool. If you’re an authentic individual, people will see this. Asking for subscribers CAN be overdone: see the following points on what NOT to do for more.
  • Love thy subs, and be thankful for them. Okay, it might be difficult to thank every subscriber once you hit 10’s of thousands of subscribers, where you might have a few hundred join per day. But since you’re not there yet, go show some gratitude. If someone subscribes to you, click on their name, go to their channel, and in their comment box write something like “Hey (their name), thanks for subscribing. It means a lot”. They like this, and what’s more, anyone who stops by their channel see that you care, and you might catch some incidental subscribers as a result.
  • Collaborate. Make videos with other YouTubers. heck, mak a video with me, I’m always game for a good idea. Collabs typically help both parties in some way (usually the person with fewer subscribers will get the most benefit from the deal, but the extra exposure is always nice for the more popular one). Enter Contests, such as ChristopherMast’s Generic Video Contest. Or better yet, nominate yourself (and hopefully a friend) to be on my new show that features unsung video producers (see below or click here).
  • Enjoy ALL free exposure, even from haters. (Thanks to jischinger for pointing this missed piece.) Any time someone promotes your stuff, it’s a good thing. It’s like they say, “All press is good press”. Sometimes you’ll get promoted in positive places, such as the new show 6k&Under. And sometimes you’ll get views from people called “haters”. These folks range from mild “ur so gay” comments, to more extreme threats and even featuring you on one of their many hater websites.  BUT here’s the rub: everyone knows they’re just haters. Nobody believes them, and in fact, I’ve found many great YouTubers because of them. So don’t hate the haters. They don’t realize it, but they’re doing you a favor.
  • Keep on truckin’. It’s easy to get discouraged. It took me months to break out of the single digit numbers, but it’s a snowball effect. Keep making videos. Keep following the steps above. Eventually, you’ll build a large enough base to get noticed. Patince, grasshopper.

WHAT NOT TO DO: Stuff you should avoid, lest you be riddled with strife and disliking:

  • Don’t Sub4Sub / Beg4Sub. These tactics send a very distinct message to people: I’m not talented enough to get subscribers on my own abilities and terefore I must find other ways to peddle my useless material. Understand this: The people with respected channels will not subscribe to you because you’re offering to sub to them. I am very exclusive about who I subscribe to: I only subscribe to people I want to watch. Sub4Subbing with 10 kids, only to have my subscriptions page filled with hundreds of crappy illegally uploaded Anime videos to the point where I can’t find the people I want to watch is NOT on my agenda, nor the agenda of most regulars on YouTube. And recently I had someone go beyond sub4sub, and just lazily posted a profile comment asking me to subscribe. Again, subbing to a channel full of crappy Animes is not something I, or most established YouTubers will be doing.
  • Don’t be a hater. Some people (mostly dumb kids) think that being a hater (e.g. going to people’s videos and posting stupid comments) will get them noticed, or maybe even get popular YouTubers to respond to them. 99.5% of the time this is futile. When I see a hater, I just delete the comment and block him. Way to ruin your chances of me ever subscribing to your stuff. And besides that, nobody else who comes to my channel will see you now either. Plus, haters are so cliche. Folks, calling me fat, ugly, gay, or stupid doesn’t bug me. I just look at it and laugh at the fact that this is the best you can do.
  • Don’t break the law! PLEASE, I beg of you, obey copyright laws in your videos. As much as you want to use that new Jason Mraz song in your latest video, doing so is a time bomb. Eventually YouTube will find out. Thanks to a recent agreement with the recording industry, YouTube can keep some of these videos on their site now, in exchange for sharing ad dollars with the record labels, but that’s on a case by case basis, and YouTube can pull your video anytime it wants. Stick to royalty free or creative commons stuff. If you don’t know where to find good music, check out incompetech.com for starters.
  • Don’t be afraid to initiate conversations with popular ‘Tubers. This is how I found out Nalts is a pretty cool guy. Just because they’re popular doesn’t mean that they’re not down to earth real people. And if they don’t respond, it’s not that they’re jerks blowing you off – it’s because you were probably one of 500 emails they got that day. Perseverence will usually get you noticed, just remember to be polite and respectful of their time.

In conclusion to my longest blog ever, here’s a great way to get seen: Get onboard with 6k&Under, a new show for unrecognized YouTube Talent.

December 6, 2008 Posted by | Making Better Videos, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

How YouTube Plans to Self-Destruct

I’ve long suspected that somewhere deep down inside the central heart of YouTube Corporate HQ, Chad Hurley has a little room, 10′ x 10′, completely empty save a marble pedestal with a Magic 8-Ball Sitting upon it. And I imagine that every morning he walks into this room, shakes up the Magic 8-Ball, and whispers “Today can I drive it all into the ground?”

Yesterday, the 8-Ball said “Yes”

So Chad rolled up his sleeves, and called together all of his top programmers, including Melvin, the guy who insisted on programming a 500 Internal Server Error into every 6th time you click on your Inbox, and they went to work.

A few moments ago, I happened to spot that Nalts wrote a blog entry pointing to YouTube’s Blog. In a release dated Yesterday, YouTube made the following announcement:

As a community, we have come to count on each other to be entertained, challenged, and moved by what we watch and share on YouTube. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about how to make the collective YouTube experience even better, particularly on our most visited pages. Our goal is to help ensure that you’re viewing content that’s relevant to you, and not inadvertently coming across content that isn’t. Here are a few things we came up with: 

  • Stricter standard for mature content – While videos featuring pornographic images or sex acts are always removed from the site when they’re flagged, we’re tightening the standard for what is considered “sexually suggestive.” Videos with sexually suggestive (but not prohibited) content will be age-restricted, which means they’ll be available only to viewers who are 18 or older. To learn more about what constitutes “sexually suggestive” content, click here.

  • Demotion of sexually suggestive content and profanity – Videos that are considered sexually suggestive, or that contain profanity, will be algorithmically demoted on our ‘Most Viewed,’ ‘Top Favorited,’ and other browse pages. The classification of these types of videos is based on a number of factors, including video content and descriptions. In testing, we’ve found that out of the thousands of videos on these pages, only several each day are automatically demoted for being too graphic or explicit. However, those videos are often the ones which end up being repeatedly flagged by the community as being inappropriate.

  • Improved thumbnails – To make sure your thumbnail represents your video, your choices will now be selected algorithmically. You’ll still have three thumbnails to choose from, but they will no longer be auto-generated from the 25/50/75 points in the video index.

  • More accurate video information – Our Community Guidelines have always prohibited folks from attempting to game view counts by entering misleading information in video descriptions, tags, titles, and other metadata. We remain serious about enforcing these rules. Remember, violations of these guidelines could result in removal of your video and repeated violations will lead to termination of your account.

The preservation and improvement of the YouTube experience is a responsibility we share. Let’s work together to ensure that the YouTube community continues to thrive as a positive place for all of us. 

At first this sounds like a great attempt to clean up YouTube. I would fully support making illicit and profane content harder for minors to get their hands on. I also hate dishonest thumbnails. But when one takes a moment to stop and think about these changes, one can see (even in a state of total sleep deprivation) that the changes are going to hurt more than they help.

First, and what I see as the biggest problem, is the issue of no longer taking the 25/50/75 points in a video for thumbnails. Now, as I demonstrated in my test video, the thumbnails were not falling on the exact 25/50/100 points anyway, but they were close enough that one could aim to make sure a clip was placed that properly represented the video. This is called branding folks! It’s putting a pretty wrapping on your box that shows you the best part of what’s inside.

Yes, people do sometimes abuse the system, but why punish the 95% of people who don’t regularly commit this dastardly deed, just to force the 5% of abusers to figure out a new way to cheat the system (which they will). I lose branding control, and the scum just have to try a little harder to get what they want. Nice. This hurts, especially considering how many content creators wanted MORE choice in picking thumbnails, not less.

Really, the whole article reeks of “Quick! Somebody’s planning to sue us! Let’s do a super quick fix to make it all better!”. It doesn’t look like a lot of time and planning went into this.

My sincere hope is that it’s something that after a few days YouTube will realize their error and correct their mistake, but I do sometimes wonder if there really is a room at YouTube HQ with nothing in it but a marble pedestal and a Magic 8-Ball…

December 3, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

YouTube Live – An Abysmal Failure

But I jest.

 

I got home this evening excited to tune into the first ever live stream off YouTube. And while I was very impressed with the interface, beyond that, the event was just “blah” to me. Some stuff (like the MythBusters – the main reason I was watching) had been waaay too short. Other parts seemed to drag on forever and ever. A lot of the popular Tubers I really would have liked to see (Nalts, thewinekone, etc.) Didn’t get more than an occasional cameo on the backstage cam.

From a technical end, I think the event was absolutely amazing. If they can offer that sort of streaming to the rest of us, it will far surpass the popularity of blogTV or Stickam (though i doubt we regular folk will get that anythime soon!). While I heard some complaints on twitter about losing the feed, I never lost it on my end.

My other gripe is that the event seemed to cater to two crowds: 14 year olds, and people who last logged into YouTube in 2006. It seemed to flip back and forth between the first featured viral videos on the site and acts like Fred. It wasn’t “bad” per say, I just felt like anyone 25 and over was sort of out of place.

Bottom line. It was a neat event, but the performance itself was a little lacking.

November 23, 2008 Posted by | Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Another One Bites the Dust

It’s happened again, online video lovers. This morning I received an email from AOL Video informing me that they’re the latest video site to throw in the towel. Here’s an excerpt from the email that was sent to all registered users today:

Dear AOL Video Uploads User,

We’re writing to inform you that the AOL Video Uploads site is no longer accepting new video uploads and will close on Dec. 18, 2008. We hope that this does not cause you an inconvenience.

And another one bites the dust, it would seem. For those of us using TubeMogul to distribute videos, the list of valid sites seems to shrink on a daily basis. (Side note, even if you don’t “mass deploy” every video out there, Tube Mogul has some exceptional tracking and statistics info. Sign up – it’s worth it.) So why are all of these sites dying? Well, we’ve got a fresh body on the table, put on some gloves and join me for a video sharing site autopsy.

We know that Video killed the radio star, and that I shot the sheriff (but I didn’t shoot the deputy!), but what killed AOL video and possibly a number of the other corpses of video sites out there? Here are a few of my thoughts:

  • Overzealous censorship – People, especially us overweight, needy Americans, are used to expressing ourselves however we want. One of the major issues with AOL video was that where most sites have very mild censorship (think YouTube here folks) AOL video was very restrictive.
    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    Naughty Jim! Crap is a baaaaad word!

    How restrictive? Well here’s an example. About three months ago I created a video about the air cannon I built, which I fittingly dubbed the craplauncher. Using Tubemogul I uploaded the video to a dozen different sites. One site, and only one site rejected the upload: AOL Video. Want to guess why? The term “crap” is apparently offensive and unfit for AOL video. Don’t believe me? Look at the picture! Now I’m no fecal matter specialist, but I don’t find “crap” offensive. My friends at the conservative Southern Baptist church I grew up attending used the word, for crying out loud! Ultimately, people want to have freedom of expression, so they will avoid places that are highly censored.

  • Inconsistent censorship – Okay, so an amusing little video with the word “crap” in the title is unfit for AOL’s viewers, but this shining gem has been on their site for 15 months! If you posted that video on YouTube, you’d have it taken down fairly quickly (at least in comparison) and you might even get booted off the site if enough people flagged it. Here’s the deal – if you’re going to censor innocent fun and allow lascivious behavior to sit there, I don’t want to be a part of it.
  • Awful Interface. As much as we YouTube regulars complain about the 500 Internal Server Errors and quarks that pop up, the bottom line is that most of the time the site works. In contrast, most of the time AOL video didn’t work. I found myself constantly dealing with problems, like having a video upload, but it wouldn’t show up for a week, or when a video uploads, when you click on my name to see what other videos I have, it would spit out pages with stuff like “No videos” or “No such user” etc… It was just unpleasant.
  • Branding identity issues. They started out as Uncut Videos. Then they were AOL uncut. Then they were AOL videos. Imagine going to the store looking for your favorite soda (in my case Jones Soda) and discovering a soda that looks just like your old soda, comes in the same packaging, and is even made by the same folks, but has a different name. Maybe you would buy it, but if that happened a third time, I think the confusion would cause you to go to a more consistent brand, such as CocaCola or Pepsi. This is one of the reasons I am “somecallmejim” everywhere I go online. It’s branding, baby! AOL’s many faces and name changes very likely confused some would-be regulars.
  • They’re not YouTube. Let’s face it, when YouTube came out, they stirred up so much of the world that they instantly became the brand associated with online video, just like how Sheetrock is associated with drywall, Kleenex goes with facial tissue, and in much of America Coke is with carbonated soft drinks. First faces in a new market have the potential to become the household name for that market, and that’s one of the reasons YouTube is still around despite a lot of mistakes. AOL had a well-known brand, but was relatively unknown as a source of online video.

What’s my final thought? I think non-YouTube video sites can exist. One day, such a site might even surpass YouTube for popularity. But for today, let’s stitch up the body and let the next of kin know that AOL was pretty much doomed from birth. Rest in Peace, oh fair and gentle site. Rest in peace.

aolvideo21

November 18, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, Social Media, YouTube | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

New YouTube feature for the hardcore popularity whores.

Okay, so you’re out there broadcasting yourself, but you want more. It just feels as though you’re not reaching your full potential, and there’s got to be some way to bypass YouTube’s policy of only featuring lame videos by people other than you. (No really, it’s in their policy book – they’re specifically avoiding your videos.)

Well today, that way exists.

 

YouTube Says "Go on, whore yourself. You know you want to."

YouTube Says Advertise Yourself

It’s called sponsored videos, and while YouTube has been doing these a while for “real” advertisers, recently they opened the floodgates for all of us regular folk, and implemented a new control over at ads.youtube.com. At this site, users are greeted with a friendly, intuitive dashboard where for a nominal price you can run ad campaigns, promote your channel, and even “self-feature” that one special video you uploaded way back when Chad Hurley himself invited you to be the “fifth ‘Tuber” three years ago.

 

I do have to say that YouTube has made a brilliant move here. They’re going to make money hand over fist from all the popularity seekers who want to be on the front page, and anyone who wants to advertise can now do it on their own, no fuss no muss.

But before you sign up to start sending your weekly paycheck to good’ol YT Corporate, I do have a few points I’d like you to consider first:

  • You can’t afford an effective ad campaign. YouTube gets millions of hits per day, and they aren’t as upfront about their search trends as parent company Google is. This means that the first few weeks or months of a campaign would have to be a sort of shot in the dark method until you get locked in to your target demographic. Further, because even in a specific demographic group you’re likely to have hundreds of thousands of unique hits per day, to actually afford to reach all of these visitors, even at a rediculously low CPM rate, you’re looking at a monthly budget in the thousands. Sure, you could limit yourself to a couple bucks a day, and keep your monthly bill under $100, but you might as well flush your money down the toilet, because you’ll burn up your ad money by 12:03AM each day, and the people clicking are going to be so high or drunk that they won’t know how to subscribe.
  • You can’t take the competition. Let me guess, you want to hit the teens & 20’s demographic group, the largest lot on YouTube. Well, so dos everyone else. So here you stroll with your $0.10 per impression and a $10 daily budget (remembering that this is a guaranteed $300/month expense). But 300 other YouTubers just found this feature, and they’re all willing to pay $0.20 per click, and have a $15 daily budget. Because of this, your ads will have to wait until all these higher paying ads work their way through, and you’ll find yourself advertising at the same hour as the Metamucil folks. If that’s not enough, if there’s a popular movie, or TV show, or water polo game, you can darn well bet that they’re paying big bucks for the top spots during prime hours, and no matter how high you set your ad value, you’ll need to wait for them.
  • Your targets won’t click the ads. Have you ever clicked on a Sponsored Video or Channel? Me either.
  • You’re a partner? You’ll never recoup the money. You heard me. I had a video that was featured last year. To this day, it still gets about 500 unique hits each and every day. Naturally, as soon as I became a partner I added this, hoping that the 15,000+ hits this video gets every month would help me make some green. Well, YouTube forbids partners from sharing how much they make, but I will tell you that if I paid $0.25 per click, for 10 clicks per day, in the course of a month I would spend several fold more than what I’m making as a partner. You might be asking “But what if I get that many hits in a day, because I’m hot crap?” Well craphead, congratulations. You’re current popularity is far more wide-reaching than 10 ads a day. Send your cash to me instead.
  • Etc, etc, etc… The bottom line is that for a regular Joe Vlogger, this is a bad buy.

But wait! Just because you as an individual shouldn’t take the plunge doesn’t mean it’s all bad. This would be the perfect tool for a large corporation to promote an individual Tuber, say one that they’re paying to flaunt their product. If you’re a big business with a marketing budget, this would actually be a great marketing tool. Here are the steps to make it work.

1. Find an existing content creator that reaches your target demographic and has proven they can build a following.

2. Enter into a sponsorship with them, where they share your brand with their viewers who trust them.

3. Go to YouTube Ads and drown him in advertising.

It’s just an idea.

November 13, 2008 Posted by | My Random Thoughts, YouTube | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two years on ‘da Tube

It was two years and two days ago when I joined YouTube. It was actually a freak accident. I didn’t know YouTube existed until four nights before I signed up. That fateful evening, I hosted a benefit show I helped put together for the disabled and elderly, and I was able to bring in my extremely talented friends, 88improv as the main entertainment. (By the way, check them out, and if you need top notch comedy improv, hire them. Tell them Jim sent you and they’ll give you the special…or at least they’ll thank me for sending them business!)

The Show was hilarious, and afterwards I took the whole crew to Applebee’s for a thank-you-for-driving-400-miles-to-do-us-this-huge-favor dinner. During the dinner, Nate and Tim told me about this cool site they’ve started uploading a few of their videos to, called YouTube. They said it was a place where you can promote your own stuff, and strangers will come and watch it.

Now, I’m just a little bit of an attention whore (no, really?), and so the idea of being able to make videos and get an audience online appealed to me. A lot. After taking the rest of the weekend to unwind from the event, I hopped on the site, and started poking around the site. I found my friends from 88improv, as well as a bunch of great talent. In a fit of insanity, I took the plunge and signed up.

Once I signed up, it was actually almost two weeks before I posted my first video, a vlog about employers using the Internet for background checks. In that time, I made a couple friends, and I got the lay of the land. And life has never been the same.

I have pils of thoughts, and questions that I want to bring up right now, but honestly I’m just too tired. Maybe tomorrow will bring more? Who knows.

August 19, 2008 Posted by | YouTube | , , , | Leave a comment