Build a YouTube Following: Shira Lazar Shares Insider Advice
At the recent Streaming Media West conference in sunny Huntington Beach, California, we were pleased to get YouTube audience-building advice from an actual online celeb: What's Trending host Shira Lazar. Many creators want to build a huge viewership, but few can pull it off. What's the secret to creating serious buzz?
"I think you have to figure out what you're actually doing and who you're speaking to, why you're producing this," Lazar said. "Is it a passion project? Is this something you're good at? Is it a vanity piece? If it's just something you're doing just to get views and become YouTube famous, then that's not going to work."
It takes passion to create a hit show on YouTube. After all, attracting viewers take a lot of work, and only someone passionately interested in their project is going to stick with it.
"If it's something based around a hobby, something you love talking about, and you're passionate about, you're an expert on, then you have a possibility of an audience finding and you finding your audience because it's something that you love to do anyway and so being part of the YouTube community in terms of a real way, just not a brand or a network, you need to care about what you're talking about and be authentic and it's a lot of work, and it's a 24/7 job to connect with that audience," Lazar continues.
To see the full interview, watch the video below.
Troy: Hi, this is Troy Dreier coming to you live from the red carpet at Streaming Media West in sunny Huntington Beach, California. We're doing a series of interviews with some of the big names that have passing through our conference today. I'm so thrilled to be joined today by Shira Lazar, the host, creator, founder, the big name on YouTube from What's Trending. You know the show. I'm so grateful that you sat down and talked to us. Shira, what's trending today?
Shira: This! #StreamingMediaWest.
Troy: Awesome. Thank you.
Shira: Just go to whatstrending.com and you'll find all the answers.
Troy: Whatstrending.com, people. You're talking to YouTube success on your panel today.
Troy: I thought we could pick your brain for some of the creators in our audience who would like to be famous and successful and powerful someday, also. If you got a show and you think it's a great show and you're having trouble getting viewers, what are some solid ways to get people to tune in?
Shira: I think you have to figure out what you're actually doing and who you're speaking to, why you're producing this. Is it a passion project? Is this something you're good at? Is it a vanity piece? If it's just something you're doing just to get views and become YouTube famous, then that's not going to work. If it's something based around a hobby, something you love talking about, and you're passionate about, you're an expert on, then you have a possibility of an audience finding and you finding your audience because it's something that you love to do anyway and so being part of the YouTube community in terms of a real way, just not a brand or a network, you need to care about what you're talking about and be authentic and it's a lot of work, and it's a 24/7 job to connect with that audience.
If you don't care about it, you're just doing half-assed just to get views, it's not going to work. The more you care, the more you'll beat out someone and work harder than someone else who's trying to do it. That's what I would say is find that one thing that you love and you'll find so many ways to talk about it and produce content around it.
Be involved in the communities around that topic. Collaborations—in person, offline, but then also within your content and the way you approach that creator, whether they have a million-plus subscribers or 1,000 subscribers, it makes a difference. Don't just be like, "Yeah, let's just collaborate. You have a huge amount of viewers and I'm trying to get viewers." What value can you bring them? It's like any sort of relationship.
I think if you approach a creator that has a big following, they see that you're creating consistent content and you care, you have a vision, you have a chance of having them collaborate with you. If you're just like, "Hey, just be on my channel because you're going to bring me views," they're probably not going to do that. And have an idea. Don't just expect because they're big and you're going to do videos like, "Oh, hey, you're a big YouTuber, go, be on my channel." Have a good idea and inspire other people to want to be part of that.
It's just anything. It's just like if you started a company, a startup, it comes down to vision and people see that and they want to be part of that energy.
Shira: Then also, I would say try to build that off of YouTube, so the brand should be alive all the time on social media, how do you bring that other dotcoms, somewhere else where you can promote that vehicle or YouTube channel of yours. There's many ways to do it.
Troy: That is fantastic. Let's take the next step with our hypothetical creator, they've got some viewers, now they want to start making some money and maybe work with some brands, brand entertainment is big right now. Give us some tips for working with brands and making companies happy.
Shira: That's a general question, obviously, but there's different ways. Some YouTube creators are part of networks but just like agents and managers of old Hollywood, you can't rely on that. Just because you get signed to a YouTube network like Maker or Big Frame or Fullscreen doesn't mean you're now going to be YouTube famous or make money. But I do think the more specific you are with your audience and your subject, the more brands will find you and you can find brands.
If you're into cooking or DIY lifestyle, you can really target companies that align with what you're doing in your audience and create authentic and seamless content with them. It's not just a shoutout or something that's really obviously branded but it makes sense for what you're doing. If you're always talking about fashion, working with fashion brands or sites around fashion, same goes for cooking or DIY or sports, even, there's so many sports brands or male products and I'm sure you want to be involved with that.
If you're someone that's really comedic and inappropriate, there are brands that align with that as well. I think the more specific about that, get in touch with the brands that you feel will have those authentic connections with your audience of what you're doing. There's no point in reaching out to a brand that doesn't make sense because as much as you pitch them and you even have a big audience, it's not going to matter. They won't see the connection because that's not the audience they want to attach themselves to.
Troy: Right. Are there creative to make money with YouTube, maybe more than people would think?
Shira: Obviously besides the partner program. That's the one percent, you have to get millions of views a day. Yeah, think about people do shoutouts at the beginning of their shows, they have integrations within their content, so it will be wearing the brand, they'll be holding products of the brand, they'll be doing giveaways, and I also think a lot of a lot of YouTubers are getting smart in terms of using YouTube but also their other communities, so Instagram, Facebook, Twitter. Create package deals around what you're doing. Don't just say, "Okay, you're buying in YouTube." You're buying into also my other social platforms. Not only will I mention this on YouTube and in the description below but I might tweet it, I'll do an Instagram picture. Look at those other platforms for push to get money from the brand to get leverage.
Troy: Excellent. Listen to Shira, people, she's been there, she knows.
Shira: Totally listen.
Troy: Thank you so much for joining me today.
Shira: Thank you, and best of luck. Have fun and work hard.
Troy: This is Troy Dreier coming to you from the red carpet at Streaming Media West.
Any voice can find an audience on YouTube as long as viewers believe it's authentic and honest about what it wants to communicate.