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How to Lose a Subscriber in Ten Days


January 7, 2016

YouTubers by reputation have it pretty darn good.  Society views them as the career equivalent of millennials – well paid, minimally worked, commended (and often bonused!) for simply completing tasks, and with stadiums full of fans handing out participation trophies.  To those jealous nine-to-fivers, I urge you… DO NOT BELIEVE THE HYPE!

 

Being a YouTuber is tough.

You’re always working, you set precedent with every project, you work with demanding buyers and at any given point can see your fan base (read: career) dwindle overnight.  To anyone who has a tough boss and is jealous of these young, successful, work-from-homers, there is nothing scarier than losing your job when your job is just to be yourself. After working with YouTubers for the past few years and seeing many of them grow (and many of them do quite the opposite), I’ve learned some basic do’s and don’ts. Here are a few tips to avoid your fans falling out of love with you:

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First off – find the right volume of content.  

Maybe it’s weekly, maybe it’s twice weekly, maybe it’s daily (really, daily? It’s 2016 – do you not Snapchat?).  Your fans treat you less like a show and more like a friend, so if they like you they’ll usually be excited to hang out with you more, but the way you introduce how often you spend time with them is the key here.  If you go from posting monthly to posting daily you may oversaturate your channel and see fans tune out faster than you can say “Vlogmas”.  On the flipside, cutting back on content without managing that expectation is dangerous. If you’ve committed to three videos a week but are only able to produce two, your fans will not handle the missing videos very well.  It’s essential to both stay consistent and live up to your commitment to your fans.

 

Identify what drives your channel – your content or your audience?

When your audience starts to grow up there’s a fork in the road that has to be chosen carefully – do I age my content up or do I find a newer younger audience? A misstep here can kill a channel very quickly, so the best recommendation is to test audience response before making a change on your channel. Do more family-friendly Instagram posts recruit a new group of young fans? Do more mature tweets keep your existing audience engaged? You have to be extra thoughtful at this turning point but eventually you have to place a bet and stick with it, so make sure you do your homework and test your theories out first on a platform that you are more comfortable risking.

 

Determine how much branding is too much branding.

Branded content that is mismanaged can quickly alienate your audience, so this is a dynamic conversation. First of all, make sure your audience understands why you work with brands and how the funds to be full-time on YouTube help you provide all the content they want at the quality they want.  Make a commitment to them to never hide sponsors and never endorse sponsors you don’t genuinely support or recommend – THEN STICK TO THIS PROMISE.  Respond to your audience’s feedback – sometimes they can tell if the branding is too much (and detrimental to the content) before you can, but that problem is a much easier fix than your fans feeling like you’re dishonest with them…so manage their expectations, set rules, and live by those rules.

All-in-all, it’s a tough life maintaining a YouTube following, and these are just the basics, but with the right tools and thought process it can be a real, sustainable and fulfilling business.  Be careful with your content output, be careful with changing your content, and be careful with brands.  Over the past four years, myself and my team at Big Frame have helped hundreds of creators turn their hobbies into multi-platform careers and have seen the right (and occasionally wrong) steps taken by some creators in their attempts to expand. For the benefit of the broader YouTube community, we’d love to see more of those right steps 😉

 

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Byron Austen Ashley
Senior Talent Manager
Big Frame