6 Common Mistakes That Could Hurt Your YouTube Channel

Unless you've lived under a rock for over a decade, you already know what YouTube is. This social media colossus dominates sharing and streaming like none other. If that's not enough - YouTube is now the second-largest search engine on the internet. If you want to learn more about something or if you're looking for entertainment, YouTube is your one-stop-shop. 

Being a "YouTuber" is hard work. We all recognize the struggles and pains of growing and maintaining a channel. Coming up with creative ideas, promoting your work, and staying interactive could wear anyone out. There are some errors that most (if not all) of the creators on the platform had done, are doing or will do at some point. These "mistakes" might make potential (and existing) viewers and subscribers click out of a video - or unsubscribe from a channel altogether.  

A while ago, we devised a secret plan to try and find out what irks people most when going on YouTube. In this blog post, we'll present some of the most common mistakes content creators on YouTube make. We'll also point out how or why they could hurt engagement and growth and offer ways to avoid making those mistakes.

#1 - Doing It For The Views: "Clickbaits," Misleading Titles and Overwhelming Challenges/"Tags"

What's the Problem?

We're well aware of the fact that social media is a popularity contest. If you want to be with the "in" crowd, you have to do whatever it is they're doing. You need to dress like them, talk like them, act like them - and create similar (or sometimes even identical) content. 

Buy Why?

Doing things just to get more views is problematic for some reasons. One, you're not your authentic self, and it shows. Two, people aren't stupid. They can usually sense lies and they don't appreciate looking (or feeling) like fools. Three, these are all fads. Tags, challenges, and "clickbait" storytimes are ever-changing. The content people want to see is never the same. You can't just jump on bandwagons and expect everyone to roll along. 

What Can You Do?

Gather inspiration, but don't be a copy-cat. 

If you liked someone's style and personality, try to hone in on it and give it your little twist. Don't fake being "quirky," "nerdy," or "socially awkward." Be yourself. 

Also, you don't have to do that challenge or tag. We mean it. It's perfectly alright to create content that has nothing to do with challenges and tags. There's no need to dump buckets of ice water on your head, have your boyfriend do your makeup, or put yourself in harm's way "for the views."  

Furthermore, you don't need to exaggerate real-life situations for "storytime" views. No, nobody kidnapped you, and saying so in the title will only annoy people when they find out you either lied altogether or made a video that has absolutely nothing to do with the title. Your sandwich isn't "shocking," and there's no need to gush over that brand new product you're reviewing and call it "amazing" or "holy grail"; especially when you're going to say the same thing about five other products in the same video.

Finally, people are tired of the same grey color scheme background and the ambient candles and fairy lights. Make your "studio" or filming space your own - but keep it tidy and appealing. It doesn't have to look like a page out of an Ikea catalog. 

 #2 - A Rocky Start: Repetitive and Elaborate Introductions, CTAs Right Off The Bat and Generic Splashscreens and Intros

What's the Problem? 

Picture this: 

Buy Why?

Good question. You see, this shouldn't be a problem at all. In moderation, these are all necessary tools and aspects of optimizing your videos' performance. 

Some creators took these tools to the extreme. You don't need a whole 1:20 minutes of you introducing yourself with the same line over and over. You don't need a catchphrase. You don't need a theme song.  

Another thing that grinds peoples' gears is looking at the same "glamorous" intro - a winking cartoon of said YouTuber with swirls and generic House/Trap/Dubstep music in the background. You want viewers to enjoy your content for its' uniqueness, not for having it look, sound, and feel the same as every other video on the platform.  

Finally, there's a time and a place for CTAs, and the very beginning of your video is not it. You can't ask people to "smash that like button" or "hit subscribe" on the first 30 seconds of your video. If all they've seen is the same intro speech you always give, they haven't seen the actual content yet. To them, it makes no sense to do these actions at this point. Even more so when they know, you'll repeat the CTA throughout the entirety of the video.

What Can You Do? 

First of all, a simple "welcome and welcome back to my channel! I'm [insert name here] and in today's video I'll..." will most likely suffice. Also, you can (and should!) write what your channel is about in the channel description. There's no actual need to repeat it in every single video. You can even turn your 1:20 minutes intro speech into a channel trailer. It's super convenient and useful. 

Second, having an intro "clip" is cool. It's kind of like having your little TV-opening theme, and we understand the appeal of it. But if you pay $200 for the same 5 seconds clip that every other YouTuber has - it's a bit of a waste. Hiring a graphics designer or animator to create a customized intro clip is a smart idea. The point is, you have to make it your own.

As for CTAs, save them for the ending. People don't need telling twice. Most people on YouTube already know how YouTube works. If your content is so compelling that you're afraid they might forget to show their appreciation, give them a friendly reminder at the end of your video.

#3 - Using Gimmicks And Lazy Editing: Text-To-Speech, Nonstop Vine References, Filming Feet, and Choppy Editing

What's The Problem?

TTS is an excellent accessibility tool found on most technological products for the visually impaired. It allows written text to be read out loud for those who can't see the words but can hear them. Therefore, TTS can voice-out text messages, articles, applications - you name it.

Next, we have the nonstop Vine references. To those who may not know, Vine was a video-sharing app, released in 2013. Its' sole purpose was to allow users to share 6 seconds long videos. Each video uploaded to the platform would then play in a continuous loop.  The app was discontinued in 2016, causing viners to migrate to YouTube's platform. Today, you'll find vine references in almost every YouTube video, whether you were a part of the vine community or not.

Another thing we've mentioned was filming feet, which usually happens in vlogs. The vlogger is walking from point A to point B, but instead of showing the viewers what he or she sees around him or her (or themselves), they'll point the camera at their feet. So we, as viewers, are staring at the ground. You can imagine why - and how - this could get boring, fast.

Finally, we have choppy editing, often confused with "jump-cuts." Jump-cuts are sudden transitions in a film that make the subject look like it jumped from one spot in the frame to another. Sometimes, these are merely abrupt "cuts" between one scene and another. Choppy editing, on the other hand, is like taking jump-cuts to an unpleasant extreme.

But Why?

When YouTubers first started using TTS in videos, it was amusing. Then, as more people started using it in every single video, it became incredibly irritating. TTS is a great tool for people whose first language isn't English or if you have a sci-fi theme going on. But, when overused, it can get old relatively fast. Most people watch your content because they like you and your voice. Using TTS instead of doing the talking on your own is a bit redundant and very much overused.  

Next, we have Vine references. Vine, as a whole, was its' own platform and entity. When it shut down, there was a significant flow of Vine creators turning to YouTube, and their fans soon followed. Naturally, they referenced their former Vine content at the beginning of their YouTube journey, but most have "grown" past that stage and gained an audience that had nothing to do with Vine. However, because those former Viners are now YouTube's biggest stars, a lot of people will "copy" their style and edit in Vine references to their videos. Let's say you never went on Vine or cared much for the platform. Having it shoved down your throat at every turn can get annoying. Vine is basically like an inside joke: you just had to be there. Otherwise, you probably won't get it. Jokes without context aren't that funny.

Moving on to "lazy editing." Filming feet, although somewhat artistic, is a bit dull. Imagine you're watching your favorite vlogger having a wonderful day - but all you can see is their feet. They might have some cool sneakers on, but you can only look at sneakers for so long! Choppy editing is a bit trickier to handle. Everyone does it, and it seems inevitable: you have a lot of "thinking space" or "dead time" in-between sentences and scenes and you want to cut it out and leave the gist of things in. However, when you do it every 10 seconds or so, it can be a bit jarring.

What Can You Do?

As far as TTS goes - stop using it all the time. Insecurities happen even to the biggest Hollywood stars, but they will never use TTS instead of their voice (unless something truly awful happens to their ability to speak). Although it's scary, put yourself out there. Fully commit. More often than not, your subscribers and viewers will shower you with love and adoration.  Same applies for Vine references.

If holding the camera up to your face at a reasonable distance hurts your arm, use a selfie-stick or a tripod. You can even use a drone and have it follow you around. That way, your viewers can see the world through your eyes and not have to look at the ground while you walk and talk. 

As for choppy editing - all you need is to refine your skills and write out a "script" or a plan for your video. A script or a plan will help decrease the "thinking spaces" tremendously and make editing your video more straightforward and less time-consuming. 

#4 Missing The Point - Bad Lighting, Unbalanced Audio, Beating Around The Bush And Excessive Annotations

What's The Problem?

Unbalanced audio - meaning, being too soft-spoken, too loud or too unstable with your volume - can hurt your chances of retaining your audience for longer than a couple of minutes, at best. 

The same goes for bad lighting. How will your audience enjoy your content if they can't see it? Another thing that could throw people off is using too many annotations and cards popping up on the screen during the video. And finally, when creators make a 15 minutes long video about something that they could have covered in 5 minutes, people get bored, tired and distracted - ultimately hurting your watch time statistics and your credibility. 

But Why?

YouTube is a highly visual and auditory platform. Everything uploaded to YouTube heavily relies on the audiences ability to enjoy the video they're looking at and listening to. Keeping your audience happy doesn't just end with technicalities - you also need to know how to keep your audience watching and interested without overwhelming them. 

What Can You Do?

First of all, invest in a good microphone and lights. If you don't have the money for both - go for the microphone. You can film your videos during the day, in front of an open window. Natural sunlight is nature's best skin filter, and your video will have great lighting, free of charge. 

A good microphone is essential for obvious reasons. You want your viewers to be able to hear what you say clearly, and not have to rewind every few seconds because the audio quality is poor. While you're editing, make sure you use headphones or earbuds to get a "feel" of what your viewers will experience when watching your video. You don't like people screaming in your ear, right? Neither do they. If you're shouting into your ear - fix it before uploading. That's the purpose of editing.

As with choppy editing, you can quickly fix "beating around the bush" by having a script or a guideline to what you're going to say in your video. Don't let yourself get carried away, telling stories upon stories until you get to the point. If your video is about growing succulents, for example, there's no need to let the world know about that great phone call you had with your mom and how annoying your neighbor's cat is. The point isn't to make videos long - it's to make them matter. Short and sweet videos are much more valuable than long, dragging videos. 

With annotations - less is more. Don't overwhelm your viewers with clickable cards and bits and pieces of information. If you want to refer them to other videos, make a playlist and link it in one annotation. Also, don't use too many annotations at once - that can actually "block" out the content on which you worked so hard.

#5 - Behind The Scenes: No Meta-Data, No Video Description, and Tags, Bad Thumbnails

What's the problem?

When you upload a video, you have to do a lot of work "behind the scenes." You have to write a video description and make them as accurate and as helpful as you can. You also need to "tag" your video according to specific keywords (assuming you already know what keyword research is, of course) and fill in your video's meta-data. If that's not enough, you also have to create a visually appealing video thumbnail that will make people want to click on your video, and not on someone else's. 

But Why?

Ignoring the "behind the scenes" aspect of YouTube is a lot like shooting yourself in the foot. It won't kill you - but it will hinder your progress significantly. Since YouTube is a search engine, you need to optimize your content for maximum discoverability. Meta-data, thumbnails, tags, and descriptions are all necessary for good video. Ignoring these or skipping them will hurt your content's exposure.

What Can You Do?

Educate yourself on the importance of SEO and don't skip doing the "dirty work" behind the scenes. Yes, keyword research and filling in meta-data could get quite dull, but it's critical if you want to help your channel grow organically

#6 - Being Snooty: Not Interacting With Your Audience

What's The Problem?

You have great content. You're not making any mistakes. For some unknown reason, your subscribers are dropping like flies. People stop leaving comments on your video. They stop "smashing that like button." Ultimately, they stop watching your videos altogether. On the worst case - they start making videos about you, and they're not saying nice things. 

But Why?

Since YouTube is a social media platform, a considerable part of being "good" at it is social. Talking to people, making connections, replying to comments - it's all a part of it. If you pick and choose which comments to respond to or ignore them altogether (or even turn the option to comment on your videos off), people will not hesitate to leave. No one likes it when they feel ignored, and your subscribers and viewers want that connection with you. They want to feel like they know you on a personal level. 

What Can You Do?

Play the game! If you want people to like you, you have to make them feel liked back. Start giving shoutouts to commenters in your videos, reply to comments and e-mails, and start reaching out to other YouTubers in your niche to show that you're down to earth and don't think you're better than anyone. Make friends and build a network you can utilize. The friendlier you are, the more people will flock to you.

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