YouTubers seem to have some of the best jobs in the world. They perform trick shots, share reviews and video game hacks, or offer tutorials about their interests—and then collect a paycheck. But all of that fun takes a lot of hard work behind the scenes.
We’re pulling back the curtain to show you how to become a YouTube influencer. Regardless of what kind of famous influencer you want to be—whether you want to do comedy, home improvement, gaming, beauty, science, or something the world hasn’t even heard of yet—these steps can help you get started.
What is a YouTube Influencer?
A YouTube influencer (also known as a YouTuber) is someone who has positioned themselves as an expert in a niche and established a massive following on the site.
Due to the platform they have, these YouTubers hold the power to set trends and influence audience members. That’s led to the rise of YouTube influencer marketing, as companies want YouTubers to share their products in front of a wide audience.
Examples of YouTube Influencers
Who are the biggest YouTube influencers? We’ve rounded up a few examples of some of the top YouTube influencers in the world.
Marques Brownlee is a famous tech-reviewing YouTube influencer who has interviewed icons like Elon Musk and Bill Gates. In addition to being a YouTuber, he podcasts and is a professional Ultimate Frisbee player.
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Dude Perfect has been one of the top-performing YouTube channels for years and came in at number three on Forbes’ list of highest-paid YouTubers, earning a whopping $23 million in 2020. This group of five dudes, including twins Coby and Cory Cotton, Cody Jones, Garrett Hilbert, and Tyler Toney do complex trick shots, compete in life-size battles of Battleship or Nerf games, and talk sports.
Photographer, Skillshare instructor, and YouTube star Jessica Kobeissi is known for her fashion knowledge and portrait photography. Her YouTube channel offers everything from witty remarks about photography on the set of America’s Next Top Model to reaction videos to themed series (like taking photos of strangers).
Instagram star Brandon Woelfel is known for his whimsical portrait photography that he creates through wonky props and creative editing. He’s also established an impressive following on YouTube, where his channel documents his progress as he breaks down editing techniques and gives insider secrets about his work (which he also does in his Skillshare Original class).
Liza Koshy is known for her comedic challenges, often dressing herself as characters or only using props from dollar stores. Her social commentary reaches 18 million subscribers on her YouTube channel.
Productivity expert Thomas Frank creates YouTube videos to share advice and exercises to help people better manage their times and lives. Frank’s YouTube channel reaches more than two million viewers and many of his techniques are geared toward creatives and students. His Skillshare Original classes show you how to build systems and habits that work.
How to Become a YouTube Influencer
There’s no one way to learn how to become a YouTube influencer or even learn how to make money as a YouTube influencer. As any of the above influencers would tell you, everybody’s journey is different.
But, if you’re looking for some inspiration to get started, we’ve pulled together a few tips from YouTube influencers themselves.
Step 1: Create a YouTube Account and Channel
Before you dream of becoming a YouTube influencer, you have to start with the basics: setting up a YouTube account and channel.
Choose a channel name that’s unique, simple, searchable, and memorable. For example, Marques Brownlee uses MKBHD (his initials plus the abbreviation for high-definition), a shorter handle that’s instantly recognizable on all of his platforms.
Step 2: Find Your Niche
What is an influencer on YouTube and how do they set themselves apart? The best way to make a name for yourself in the midst of a competitive landscape is to develop your own brand and create a new twist on content.
Most popular YouTubers have a niche that they work in, whether it’s comedy or tech. Your channel needs to reflect something you are genuinely interested in so you don’t get bored or run out of ideas—and so your audience catches the level of enthusiasm and expertise you have.
Step 3: Brainstorm Content Ideas
Before you jump into creating videos, take some time to plan. Brainstorming content ideas sets a direction for your channel that ties into your niche and brand and ensures that you won’t run out of creative inspiration after only a few videos.
The goal here is to come up with original ideas that will appeal to your audience and stand out. Ask yourself these questions:
- What content have YouTubers in your niche created?
- What content is missing? Can you make something new or put a fresh twist on a similar topic?
- What problems is your potential audience facing? How can you solve them?
Step 4: Create Your First Video
What often sets YouTube influencers apart from other contributors is the quality of their content. Many professional YouTubers have a team that they work with to shoot footage from multiple angles and create original sets.
But as an aspiring YouTuber, your videos don’t have to be perfect, and you shouldn’t expect them to be. Your skills will grow with your channel as you get more experience. You also don’t need expensive equipment to pull together a professional look. When you’re getting started, you can film on your phone and edit your videos using free apps. Just keep in mind these best practices:
Step 5: Optimize Your Video for YouTube’s Algorithm
To become a successful YouTuber, your content has to be discovered by people interested in the topic. That means understanding how videos get found and how you can optimize your content, including but not limited to:
- Putting keywords and names in your YouTube video titles
- Using keywords in your video descriptions
- Directing people to keep watching videos on your channel with buttons at the end of each video
Step 6: Develop a Content Calendar and Post Consistently
Part of developing a successful YouTube channel involves posting consistently so your viewers learn to expect new content from you.
Setting this expectation encourages your viewers to visit your channel at specific times of the week. The practice also creates accountability on your end so you don’t skip creating videos and reduces your stress level by preventing you from scrambling to create content.
Step 7: Evaluate Your Channel
After you’ve posted a few videos, you’ll need to evaluate how well your channel is doing. YouTube’s analytics will tell you the number of watch views and comments and audience demographics to determine how well your content is performing. From there, you can create more videos that appeal to your viewers.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What videos have your audience engaged most with? Why do you think that is?
- What kind of content can you make that’s similar to your most popular content?
- Have you received any feedback you can use?
Step 8: Audit Your Social Standing and Identify Brands to Work with
The good news is that you don’t have to have millions of followers to monetize your channel. Many brands are looking for micro-influencers who have a small but loyal audience. You’ll want to prove your level of influence to brands you pitch, so know your engagement rate, conversion rate, demographic data, and any other analytics you think are relevant. Record and track these statistics so you have evidence to share with potential partners.
Next, identify brands you want to work with. Which companies have goals and values that align with your own? Who do you want to work with? Search Google for brands—both large and small—that relate to your niche, and make a list to target.
Step 9: Pitch Yourself to Brands and Create Partnerships
Now it’s time to convince brands to actually collaborate and advertise with you. You can do this using two methods: reaching out directly or indirectly attracting them.
Indirect strategies include giving shoutouts to brands and linking to products in your YouTube videos and on your social media channels, as opposed to pitching them yourself.
If you want to be more proactive about getting in front of the brands you’re interested in working with, pitching is your best bet. To pitch brands effectively, first develop reasoning for why partnering with you makes sense for them.
For example, pitching a auto brand might not make sense if you’re a gamer. But pitching a tech company may get you free merchandise that you can review in a video and share with your growing audience of fellow gamers. It’s helpful to have some statistics about your number of subscribers, average video views, and even social media followers to prove that you have a desirable audience for that brand.
Once you have the proof for your pitch, proactively get in touch through cold emails or social media. If you use social media as an influencer, you can build rapport with brands by giving them shoutouts and tagging them, and then connecting over direct messages.
If reaching out on your own isn’t getting you anywhere, you can try partnering with influencer agencies that handle marketing for you. You may also have more luck landing partnerships with local companies—even small businesses can benefit from influencer campaigns.
FAQs About YouTube Influencers
What is a YouTube influencer agency?
A YouTuber influencer agency is an advertising and marketing company that works with YouTubers to monetize their brands by matching them with companies that are looking for social media influencers for campaigns.
The agency typically gets a cut of payments from the brand, while the influencer doesn’t need to worry about the logistics (like client contracts and other administrative tasks).
How much does a YouTube influencer make?
Some YouTube influencers, including some of the YouTubers listed above like Marques Brownlee and Dude Perfect, make millions if they become popular enough.
However, that’s in no way a guarantee. It’s tough to predict how much money someone can make from a YouTube channel, as it all depends on viewership.
But the first step, of course, is simply getting started.
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