I Became a 68-Year-Old YouTube Star… and You Can Too!
If you think that becoming a YouTube star is only possible if you are a teenager with blue hair and a larger-than-life personality, you couldn’t be more wrong.
While there are certainly fewer 50+ YouTube stars than from other generations, finding your groove on camera is possible at any age. My own channel, Sixty and Me, has over 20,000 subscribers and we are adding 2,000 new fans every month.
Ok that’s not close to Sweden’s PewDiePie’s 55-million subscribers, but, it’s large enough to make a small income and to receive plenty of interesting partnership and sponsorship opportunities.
On second thoughts, I’m probably not a YouTube “star.” Maybe “starlette?” Either way, I hope that these few words of wisdom, as imperfect as they are, will help you on your own journey.
Today, I’d love to share a few tips that I learned along the way. As a generation, we have so much to share with the world. I hope that my own story inspires you to start teaching, entertaining and inspiring the world through video.
What the Heck am I Going to Say?
Along with “What if I don’t like being on camera?” this is the most common question that I receive from potential 50+ YouTubers.
The simple answer is “whatever you are passionate about.” Are you completely crazy for growing roses? Do you collect rare stamps, road signs, porcelain items or minerals? Do you want to tell young people what you wish you had known at their age? Are you a 75-year-old grandma who loves playing video games? The possibilities are endless!
My YouTube journey started with my own desire to get the most from life after 60. With my kids out of the house, I was finally ready to get fit, travel, make some money and explore my spiritual side.
I didn’t think too much about who else was watching. I was just so happy to be interviewing so many wonderful people.
Don’t sell yourself short. If you are truly passionate about a topic, this will come out in your videos. People won’t care about your cat jumping in front of your camera, your granddaughter interrupting you in the middle of a rant about the evils of over fertilizing your vegetable garden or your quirky style. In fact, each of these things will win you more viewers!
Instead, all people care about is that you genuinely want to share your passion with the world and that you do it in an authentic way.
I’ll write a separate post with a few suggestions on how to brainstorm topics, so, stay tuned for that!
How Can I Look Good on Camera?
To a certain extent, it doesn’t really matter how you look on camera. There are plenty of examples of YouTube stars that film from their iPhone in terrible light.
That said, you would be surprised by how little effort it takes to improve the quality of your videos in less than 5 minutes a day.
The simplest thing that you can do to look better on camera is to have good lighting. After a couple of years, I bought a ring light, similar to the one below. But, at the beginning, I just made sure to face a window that let in plenty of natural light. You would be amazed how much better you look with the light in front of you!
Once you have your light sorted out, don’t be afraid to be yourself. I’m not a fashion guru, but, I decided early on to always wear a different funky necklace when I filmed a new video.
What is your signature style? Do you like crazy earrings? Are you a fan of searching out vintage clothing in second hand stores? Are you a suit and tie kind of guy?
Whatever you wear, make sure that it reflects your unique personality. After 5 or more decades on this planet, you have earned the right to be yourself!
How Often Should I Make New Videos?
In my experience, there are two big reasons that YouTubers fail.
The first reason is that they never start. They have an idea and they never find the courage or discipline to actually do anything with it.
The second reason that YouTubers fail is that they give up to early of just can’t find a rhythm.
Unless you are very talented, you probably won’t build a large following in your first year on YouTube. So, it’s important to find a schedule that works for you.
Some YouTubers do well simply by filming whenever they do their chosen activity. For example, you could do a short video every time you head out to take care of your rose garden.
Other people, like myself, find it more productive to film at specific times every week. In my case, I do a new video every two days. To give myself the flexibility to travel, I sometimes record and schedule multiple videos before a big trip.
Whatever you do, keep going. It doesn’t matter how many people watch your videos when they first appear on YouTube. Once you build an audience, your new fans will have the opportunity to go back and watch all of your old videos anyway. Just. Keep. Going.
How Can I Make Money from My Videos?
The media loves to talk about “YouTube millionaires” as if all it took to get filthy stinking rich was to set up a camera and start talking. The truth is that making significant money on YouTube, at least through advertising, is extremely difficult.
If you have a channel with tens of thousands of subscribers, you might make a few hundred, or even thousand, dollars a month. But, you certainly won’t be sipping Champaign on your yacht simply based on advertising revenue.
For most of us, the small amount of advertising money that we make from our YouTube videos is a “nice to have” – it’s a little bit extra in our pockets, not a life-changing windfall.
That’s not to say that you can’t benefit from your success on YouTube. Quite the contrary. As you build your audience, especially in a particular niche, all kinds of opportunities will start to appear. But, you will need to think beyond advertising to get the most from YouTube.
For example, partnerships and sponsorships are a great way to improve the quality of your life while finding new things to talk about. I have YouTuber friends who have been sent on cruises, received direct sponsorships for promoting products, been given products to review and much more.
Once you have built a significant audience – let’s say 1,000 – 10,000 subscribers – you can start to reach out to potential partners on Twitter or via email. They may not be ready to work with you at first, but, it is never too early to start building a relationship.
How Can I Get New Subscribers?
One of the biggest benefits to posting your videos on YouTube – as opposed to only making them available on your website – is that YouTube has a built in audience.
If your videos are engaging (people keep watching them) they may appear as suggest videos or in the YouTube search results. In addition, once people find your videos, they have the opportunity to share them with their friends.
But, to a certain extent, saying, “Just build great content and people will find it,” isn’t particularly helpful. So, here are a few additional ideas.
One of the best ways to build your audience at the beginning is to partner with other, more established, YouTubers. This could involve going on their show or them coming on your show. It could also involve agreeing to each do a shout out for each other’s channels.
If you take this approach, just remember that building relationships takes time. Before reaching out to someone in this way, I would make sure that they already know who you are. Comment on their videos. Tweet your congratulations to them when they do something amazing. Give before you ask. It really works.
Another strategy, which worked really well for me, is to write a short blog post to go with each of your videos. This dramatically increases the chance that your videos will be found in Google search. Actually, it’s your articles that are likely to be found, but, since your videos will be embedded in the articles, the effect is the same.
Your blog posts can be as long and involved as this one. Or, they can be as simple as this one. It’s up to you to find a style that works for your videos. Just keep in mind that articles that are over 300 words long have a much greater chance of showing up in the Google search results as shorter articles do.
Finally, don’t forget that getting your first 1,000 subscribers is tougher than getting the next 10,000. So, reach out to friends and family when you are getting started. Ask them to share your videos with their friends and family. Just don’t listen too much to their advice or “constructive criticism.” As the saying goes, “Those who can do. Those who can’t teach.”
Have you started a YouTube channel in your 50s, 60s or better? If so, what have you learned from the experience? If not, what are you passionate about? Would you consider starting a channel? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.