Not too long ago, I didn’t realize how YouTube could help my writing career. When people asked, “Why Should Writers Start YouTube Channels?” I was always left scratching my head without a good answer.
But then I did a little insider research. I purchased a $500 program for writers (I won’t name the program here because I’m not trying to sell it to you), studied the experts, and started my own YouTube Channel.
Here’s my conclusion:
While all authors should create YouTube channels, there are specific reasons for different types of writers, different niches and different stages in a writer’s career. There are also a few downsides and common mistakes that you’ll definitely want to avoid. I’ll cover all of that in this post.
That screenshot above this sentence is my YouTube channel. As you can see, I’m not an expert (not yet, at least 😊), but I do study the experts, apply what I learn and report back to you. That’s why the end of that graph is shooting for the moon. I’m a fellow writer like you that is launching (or relaunching) a YouTube channel. I hope you’ll join me in taking YouTube by storm.
#1 Reason Writers Should Start a YouTube Channel: Get Noticed (Brand awareness)
YouTube has 2 billion subscribers so simply by putting videos out about you and your writing, you are getting yourself and your books in front of millions of eyeballs. Some of those eyeballs will be interested in you and your type of book.
YouTube can be a wonderful way to promote yourself so that you stand out from all the other authors too shy to get on camera.
New writers who are just starting out can exploit YouTube to ramp up their audience faster than ever before. Nonfiction authors can double and triple (or 10X) their exposure to an audience ready, willing, and able to buy from them.
The key is knowing what kind of videos to make, how to make them, and how to optimize them to rank high and YouTube search so that more people see them.
Here are some tips for better ranking in the search results on YouTube
- Find high volume low competition keywords
- Include this keyword and your title, tags, and the description of your video.
- The tool I use to make this a completely brainless process is TubeBuddy.
This screenshot shows the TubeBuddy Keyword Research Tool (Notice I am searching for a keyword phrase almost identical to the title of this blog post). This tool shows you keyword (or search term) search volume, competition, and how optimized your channel is to rank for your search term. 100 out of 100 is about the best results I have ever produced with this tool.
Why Should Writers Start YouTube Channels? Reason #2: Drive Traffic to Your Content
One of the most important and profitable reasons for an author to launch a YouTube channel is to drive traffic to their content. That content could be their book pages on Amazon, books they sell on another website or their own blogging content.
More traffic means a bigger audience and more book sales over time. The more people that watch your videos, subscribe to your channel, and follow you, the more traffic you can drive to your content.
YouTube has a massive user base searching for informative and entertaining videos. You can fill the gap. Again, the more traffic to your content the more sales. The best way to do this is to create insanely helpful or entertaining content based on what YouTube viewers are actually searching for on YouTube.
Then, during your videos, you can verbally and visually direct people to your content by saying, “Check out my website at [Insert your website]”. You can and should include links to your content in the video descriptions underneath your YouTube videos. Then you can direct your video viewers and subscribers there: “The link to the blog post is in the description underneath this video”.
Here’s one example of how you can do it:
Another way you can leverage YouTube to build your audience is to direct viewers to your opt-in page for your email list. Don’t have a list? Create a free one with MailerLite or MailChimp. Or, when you are ready, try this email manager the professionals use. By building your mailing list, and taking viewers off of YouTube, you now can communicate with them anytime you want and promote your books, products, and services to them forever (or as long as they remain on your list 😊)
New and advanced writers can benefit from the traffic generation of YouTube. One warning: YouTube wants people to stay on YouTube so you may want to experiment with sometimes not adding outbound links to your video descriptions. Instead, on at least some of your videos, simply include “internal” links to your other YouTube videos.
You’ll get more views and watch time (that’s important later for monetization), plus there are some whispers in the hallowed halls of the internet that YouTube’s algorithm might favor your video a bit more in search results. Run your own experiments, watch your results and adjust your approach.
Why Should Writers Start YouTube Channels? Reason #3: Build an Audience
Another huge reason (that I’ve already hinted at) for writers to start a YouTube channel is to build an audience. The bigger your audience, the more sales you will make.
The visual medium of YouTube allows you to build stronger connections with your audience because they can see and hear you. It’s the next best thing from being right there in the room with them. These personal connections can not only be hugely satisfying as an author, but they can also allow you to communicate with your audience.
This is invaluable.
Here are a few things that you can and should seek out from your audience:
- Their favorite type of content that you produce
- What they don’t like you to produce
- Their biggest challenges
- Their biggest questions
- Their biggest goals
By collecting this information from your audience, you can write and produce books and other digital products that give them exactly what they want. This is one of the secret strategies to long-term sales to support your writing career.
Another way to reverse engineer some of this data is to look at your YouTube analytics. A simple example is to look at which of your videos gets the most views, comments, and engagements. That can give you a hint about what kind of content might do well on your channel. Keep experimenting, watching the analytics, and tweaking your content until it clicks with your audience.
Let’s say you make videos about topics related to writing. One month you look at your YouTube videos and notice that your video about writing for Medium has the most views and comments.
Here’s what you can do next:
- Make 3-5 more videos about subtopics related to Medium.
- Watch how many views and engagements they get.
- Study the analytics. If you notice a sizeable upswing in channel views, watch time, subscribers, affiliate clicks, etc., that’s a good indication that you are on the right track. Make more videos on that topic until you dominate all (or most) of the search ranks. Shoot for 10-20 high-quality, super useful videos of varying lengths.
- Get ready for your channel to take off like a rocket ship!
- Keep making more and more high-quality videos on this “viral” topic
- Every week or month, experiment with a new topic and watch the results. If another topic does well, dominate that topic with high-quality videos.
- Rinse and repeat this process.
Not only can your audience be a continual source of information, but they can also be a continual source of repeated sales for long-term income.
Why Should Writers Start YouTube Channels? Reason #4 Establish Authority
Another awesome benefit to writers for starting a YouTube channel is to establish authority as an expert. By creating and publishing videos on a topic or series of topics, you demonstrate your knowledge, credibility, and experience.
This is true whether you make videos about your fiction writing process or some nonfiction topic like roofing or fixing lawn mowers. (I’m not making this stuff up, there’s a popular YouTube channel about lawn mower repair!)
Look at that guy go! He has earned 3.18 million views since he started his channel with 70 thousand in the last 30 days alone. He has a whopping 280 videos up on his page. He’s rocking that lawn mower niche.
Developing trust and credibility as an expert is helpful in converting passive audience members into active fans and paid customers. If a guy making videos about lawn mower repair can make YouTube work for him, I KNOW you can figure it out.
Here’s what Mower Man is doing right:
- He’s super niched down
- He posted videos consistently (280 is a ton of videos) Sidenote: It doesn’t look like he has posted lately. But that means you can front load a lot of content and still have amazing success.
- He optimizes his videos (I don’t’ know for sure but he very well may be using TubeBuddy)
- He has a professional-looking channel cover with a clear statement of what his channel is about
All you need to do is copy his strategy. His success leaves clues. You can niche down, post regularly, and build your YouTube empire one subscriber at a time.
Why Should Writers Start YouTube Channels? Reason #5 Passive Income
The last but definitely not least reason writers should start YouTube channels is to set up passive income streams. These streams can be ads, affiliate links, and information products or courses.
Once you reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time, you can make money from ads on every single video you produce. You simply connect your YouTube Channel with Google AdSense.
In the meantime, you can sign up for affiliate programs (Like Amazon Associates and Click Bank) where you recommend products and get a commission when people buy them. During your videos, you simply mention those affiliate products that you believe in and add affiliate links in the description under your YouTube videos. By doing so, you can drive traffic to those affiliate sites and make commissions when people buy.
Read my post on How To Start a Blog for Free and Make Money
And remember, you’ll be driving traffic to your books and your other content, like a blog where you can also get money from Your own product sales and affiliate commissions. Effectively, you’re getting paid to market products where you get paid again. It’s kind of the best of both worlds!
Why Should Fiction Writers Start YouTube Channels?
If you are a fiction author, it might be harder to understand how a YouTube channel might help your writing. After all, you are selling stories for people to read not watch.
But novelists, short story writers, screenwriters, and poets can benefit massively from YouTube.
The biggest reason writers of fiction should seriously consider starting a channel right now is to build an audience for their stories. One of the best and most sustainable ways to make a living as a writer is to create an audience ready, willing, and able to buy every book you put out.
You will be building your audience so that every book launch is an instant success. I’m not saying it’s easy, but that it’s very doable with a bit of focus and work. And the dividends can keep paying out with each new book.
What can a Writer of Fiction Make YouTube Videos About?
- Your writing process
- Writing tips and techniques
- How to get started as a writer
- Your challenges (and how you have overcome them)
- The settings of your novel(s)
- How to get published
- Your daily writing routines
- Your writing successes
- Your writing failures
- Cool writing tools that have helped you
- How to make a book cover
Topics related to your novel (like if your book features dragons, computer nerds or cowboys)
Access readers everywhere
When Should Writers Start YouTube Channels?
Yesterday would have been ideal, but today’s the second best day. In fact, today is perfect. The sooner you start your YouTube channel, the sooner you can start building your audience, moving toward the goal of putting ads on your channel, getting affiliate sales, and driving more traffic to your books and blog content.
The sooner you start, the sooner you can start building your audience and driving traffic to your affiliate links, blog, and books.
How Do You Set Up a YouTube Channel?
- Go to YouTube
- Click start a new channel
- Click Get Started
- Select to use your name or another name (depends on your brand)
- Type in your YouTube channel name
- Choose a cover photo for your YouTube channel (You can use a free graphic design website called Canva. I use it for all of my graphic design needs (website graphics, YouTube Video Thumbnails, even some book covers).
- Write a short description of the type of content you’re going to produce.
- Then start uploading high-quality content videos on a regular basis. Use your phone and natural lighting to get started. You can upgrade your video equipment later. The more consistent you are, the better.
- This really cool tool will help you pick video topics and optimize your videos to be more successful.
Don’t want to follow along with the steps? I don’t blame you. Here is a screen recording video of the important first few steps for starting your YouTube Channel.
Check out my post on 20 Best YouTube Channels for Writers.
You are now armed with all of the information you need to go start putting these steps into practice. While you are at it, check out my YouTube channel for more writing tips, tricks, and secrets.
Ultimately, I want you to know that the main reason why writers should start YouTube channels is that you and your writing career deserve every chance for success.