Putting the You in YouTube

Since YouTube’s inception in 2005, when the site’s co-founder Jawed Karim posted a video of himself standing in front of elephants at the zoo (aptly named “Me at the zoo”), the platform has skyrocketed. In those 13 years, YouTube videos have put our emotions through the ringer, sending us into fits of hysterical laughter or ugly crying. We’ve also learned useful skills like how to fix a garbage disposer or apply eye shadow properly.

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YouTube has launched untold numbers of regular people—including kids—into international stardom. People have earned millions of dollars by showcasing their personalities, talents and skills. Whether it’s playing music or sharing mundane activities like opening toys and products for the world to see, someone’s always interested in watching whatever it is you’repassionate about.

Now, YouTube has 1.3 Billion users, 30 million visitors hop on per day, and there are a whopping 300 hours uploaded per minute. Per minute, people. But even with its gargantuan presence, there’s always room for one more YouTuber. With so many of our kids following YouTube personalities online, it’s easy to want to join the fray.

If your kids are ready to express themselves by starting their own YouTube channel, we have an encouraging sentiment . . . it can be done. The kids just need a little bit of equipment, guidance and planning and they’ll be on their way. They might also need a little reminder that instant stardom is not to be expected. Although they make it look easy, the best YouTube personalities take their work seriously and have worked hard to build their brand.
Before you share this with your kids, here are a few rules to know. YouTube does not allow children under 13 to have their own account. So if your child is interested, you’ll have to set up an account for them (and, for good measure, monitor it closely). You can set it up with your own Gmail account, or by opening a new one specifically for this purpose. If you’re concerned with safety issues (as you should be), here’s a great article about protecting your child’s privacy.

Technically that’s all you need to start on Youtube. But before you jump in, there is important work to do to make getting on YouTube successful. In addition to the info below, we've compiled our own playlist of helpful videos on our YouTube channel.

 

planning
Planning is Everything

“The most important thing is to come up with a unique idea,” according to Lee Anderson and Patti White, proprietors of the Annapolis film production company, Filmsters. “You have about eight seconds to get people engaged.”
So, before you start shooting, define your motivation. What is it exactly that you want to do?

Showcase a talent—What’s easier than sharing your passion? If you sing, dance, play an instrument, or have a skill to share, like how to fix bikes, make arts and crafts, or show off your gaming skills, this is the way to go.

Create a Personality—If you’re the class clown, or just love being in front of the camera, that’s great. But you have to have something to talk about; so planning your videos (at least having an outline) is key. If you’re looking for a good place start, product reviews can be great. Take your favorite toys, games, electronics and talk about them!

 

lights cam actionLights, Camera, Action!

Gather your Equipment—An iPhone or DSLR camera will do the trick, especially when you are just starting out. As you progress, a GoPro might be in order, or a handheld dedicated camcorder for shooting. A tripod to keep your camera steady and a microphone will help your videos look and sound more professional.
Scout your Location—If you are shooting inside, be sure to test out the lighting in the room, and make sure there are no distracting reflections from windows or mirrors. If you’re heading outside, think about shadows, and make sure that background noise won’t be a factor.

Enlist Help—“Gather friends to help record, edit, and promote your videos,” say Lee and Anderson and White of Filmsters. Friends (or parents) will be helpful in recording your videos, as well as watching them and providing honest feedback before you go live.

 

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Post-Production

Editing—Putting good effort into editing will bring your videos together and make people want to come back for more. It’s where you can take out your dog walking through the shot, or your little sister crying in the background. Free programs are readily available (iMovie on mac, and Movie Studio for Windows), and as you get more involved, you can move up to more involved programs like FinalCut Pro or Pinnacle Studio. If you need help editing, you can find tutorials on YouTube to help you get started with your software. Or if you prefer something a little more academic, try using Lynda.com courses free through your local library.


Market Yourself—Once your content has been uploaded, don’t sit back and wait for the viewers to come. Tell your friends on social media and encourage them to like and subscribe to your channel. And don’t forget to share with your relatives, too. Grandma will want to see you on “the YouTube,” too. Because, say the Filmsters pros, “it’s not fun if nobody sees it.”

Once you're ready to start shooting, enter our You on YouTube Contest for a chance to win a GoPro camera!

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