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How to Use YouTube to Promote Your Writing

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Video may have killed the radio star, but it could do wonders for your career as a writer.

If you haven’t considered YouTube before, now’s the time to do so. YouTube is a wonderful marketing platform, and you need to be on there to hawk your wares and corral your community. Because the future’s passing us by, let’s jump right into the whys and hows of using YouTube to promote your writing.

Why Use YouTube?

When you think “book marketing,” you don’t immediately think YouTube, but here’s why you should:

1. Everyone is on YouTube. It’s the second largest search engine on the Internet (second only to Google). And here’s another fact: Google owns YouTube so it also sends traffic to YouTube. If you’re looking for exposure, it doesn’t get any better than this. You can have a commercial on Times Square and still not get as many eyeballs as you could with a well-designed YouTube video.

2. YouTube is different from other social media platforms. You may be accustomed to using Facebook or Instagram for book promotion (and definitely keep doing that), but YouTube has an edge that the others don’t: YouTube users are more engaged. You see, on Facebook and most other social media sites, users simply (and mindlessly) scroll to find inspiration and information. However, on YouTube, users are actively searching for content. This distinction means that your audience found you through intent, which is huge. You’re more likely to capture their attention than you would on other platforms.

3. YouTube offers you a chance to build your community. Set up a channel and upload at least one video on YouTube and you are guaranteed to get subscribers. And, if you consistently produce quality content, those subscribers will turn into your loyal fanbase, being the first to buy, review, and promote your books in the future.

4. YouTube is free. A lot of other platforms require that you pay for promotion (ahem Facebook ahem), but not on YouTube. At least, not yet. While you can certainly buy YouTube ads if you’d like, you can absolutely build a community and promote your work without putting one dollar into it.

5. YouTube offers another stream of income. YouTube may be free to use, but it also pays. YouTube has made a lot of folks millionaires. There are several ways to monetize your channel, from enabling ads to doing sponsorships to linking up to a Patreon account.

In addition to all of the above reasons to join, there’s AuthorTube! AuthorTube is a burgeoning community of— you guessed it— authors on YouTube. Along with promoting your book to potential readers, you can also help other authors by providing book writing advice and other tips.

Convinced about starting a YouTube channel? Great! Now, let’s dive into the how.

Start Here: Choose a Name for Your Channel

Your first step is to come up with a name for your YouTube channel. Now before you go too creative and choose a channel name that will only make sense to you, consider this: Simpler is usually better. In this case, the simple choice is going with your name. This also includes your pen name, if applicable.

Why choose your name?

Remember that people use YouTube as a search engine. If someone is searching for your name on YouTube (or even Google), they will find your channel. But if you’ve given your channel an esoteric name, you and your channel are less likely to be found.

Also, resist the urge to name your channel after your book. Unless you only plan to write one book, your name is the better option. This way, you can continue to use the same YouTube channel for multiple books without confusing your audience.

Have a Goal for Your Channel

We’ve discussed the benefits of creating a YouTube channel, but what’s your number one goal? Is it to promote your newest book? Is it to build a community? Is it to join the conversation with other authors and provide support?

By identifying your goal on YouTube, you can create content that aligns with what you’d like to accomplish.

This will also help you find your true audience on YouTube. Know who you’d like to reach with your content before you go to the next step.

Choose the Right Topics

The types of videos that you create will depend mostly on who you’re trying to reach. If you’re posting videos about the writing process, your target audience will be fellow writers. If you’re interested in sharing details about your books, such as book trailers, you’ll target potential readers.

Videos can also be vlog-style, following a day in your life. Or you can create a funny, book-related video to entertain your audience.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TITLE

Now, let’s dive a little into SEO. SEO is short for Search Engine Optimization. Remember how we said before that YouTube is a search engine? Because you’ll get found primarily through search, it’s important that you optimize your channel for searchers. That starts with your title.

Your title should include the exact words that someone would use in a YouTube or Google search. Include keywords that describe your video’s content. This is how you optimize your videos for the search engines.

Authors, this is how you optimize your YouTube videos for the search engines:

Speaking of SEO, be sure to fill in the description box, too. Add all of the relevant information discussed in your video to your description box. Include the keyword phrases that are associated with your video. Also, link to your website, your Amazon sales’ page, and your other social media profiles.

KEEP YOUR VIDEOS SHORT

Shorter videos are more watchable than longer ones. When filming content for your channel, try to keep your videos at 10 minutes or less. If you don’t think you’ll be able to tackle an entire topic in under 10 minutes, consider turning it into a series of videos.

CREATE A CHANNEL TRAILER

Create an introductory video for your channel. In this video, introduce yourself and discuss what topics you’ll tackle on your channel. This video shouldn’t be longer than two minutes, which is just enough time to give new visitors a taste of your personality and the type of content that you’ll share on your channel.

FILM MULTIPLE VIDEOS AT THE SAME TIME

Once it’s time to create a channel for your channel, consider filming multiple videos at once. This allows you to take advantage of your filming mindset and be ultra-productive. Instead of setting up, getting dressed, and shooting one video a day, you can film four or five videos in the span of one afternoon. Depending on your posting schedule, this can equate to a month’s supply of videos.

If you’d like, you can change clothes and the setting to give more variation to your videos, but it doesn’t really matter on YouTube where content is more important than wardrobe changes.

POST ON A SCHEDULE

It’s critical that you post videos on a schedule, especially if your goal is to build a community. By posting on a predictable schedule (i.e. every Thursday), you’ll get your subscribers in the habit of looking for your videos on a certain day. Create themed videos, such as Q&A Tuesdays or Watch Me Work Fridays to further reinforce your posting schedule.

Be consistent. Posting erratically is the surest way to not build an audience.

Don't Worry About the Equipment

Don’t worry about getting the latest camera and best lighting package— at least not right away. The camera on your smartphone is just fine. And you can edit your videos with freely acquired phone apps, too.

After you build up your subscriber base, you may want to look into purchasing higher quality content, such as a decent lavalier microphone, or a legitimate vlogging camera. But for now, film in front of a sunny window to get the best video quality.

Additional Resources

Creating a YouTube channel is a great way to promote your books while also building a community of fans. Use the above tips to create a successful YouTube channel.

But before you go, check out these related posts:

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