What I’m Doing Wrong on YouTube (And How You Can Do Better)

It may be a surprise to some of you, but not all of you, that the second largest search engine on the Internet today is not Bing, Yahoo or Ask.com. Instead, it’s YouTube… which just happens to be owned by Google, the Internet’s number one search engine. Of course, this really depends on your definiton of “search engine,” but if nothing else, it really speaks to the power and value that the video platform can provide for your online business.

This is true for professional bloggers, just as much as it is true for retailers and e-tailers, companies that produce physical products, and online service providers. If you can build up a large enough presence on YouTube, you gain access to a tremendous audience that is anxious to hear what you have to say (and what you have to sell or promote). That’s all good news, but how do you get there?

I joined YouTube way back in 2006 when I was just getting started with freelance writing and I didn’t have much of a clue when it came to Internet marketing or anything of that sort. At the time, I didn’t understand monetization and I didn’t see YouTube as a means of making any money or growing an audience. I just liked how I could easily upload and share videos with my friends, family and readers. And maybe a few fans too.


What this means, though is that my YouTube channel isn’t nearly as optimized as it should be and, to this day, I’m still not maximizing the potential of the platform to develop my audience and build my brand. There are several areas where I’m coming up short (and where you can do better). This is despite having over 1.4 million lifetime views.

Let’s have a look at a few of these shortcomings.

  1. The channel name isn’t consistent with the rest of my branding. By and large, I’ve tried to secure the same or similar username across multiple social media channels. I’m either @michaelkwan or @beyondtherhetoric in most places. On YouTube, my username is nte604. This hearkens back to my earlier days on the web (nte stands for “Now That’s Entertainment,” the precursor to my current blog, Beyond the Rhetoric). It would be far better if the YouTube channel was also “michaelkwan” or “beyondtherhetoric.”
  2. I don’t have a channel trailer. I’ve been meaning to put one together for some time, but haven’t gotten around to it. Part of this is because I’m not sure how I want to handle it. If you’re going to attract more subscribers, having a proper unsubscribed trailer is highly recommended.
  3. The video content is too eclectic. A focused YouTube channel where subscribers know exactly what to expect from you is ideal. My YouTube channel has a mix of product unboxing videos, sample footage from smartphones I’ve reviewed, hotel room video tours, Street Fighter online matches, and baby product video reviews. Variety is fun, but it may not be optimal for brand messaging and monetization.
  4. Videos are released sporadically. The most successful YouTube channels have a new video released on the same day every week, if not even more often than that. Again, subscribers know what to expect and when. While I maintain a very predictable six day a week schedule on the blog, my videos come out at rather random times. Consistency is important.
  5. Nothing is particularly viral. While you may not necessarily always seek the “shock” factor of a viral stunt, it’s not a bad idea to give it a shot now and then to boost your numbers.

Of course, the nature of YouTube is such that even if you do everything right, even if you have great content and you release a new video like clockwork every Sunday night, you might not “make it.” And as with blogging, you just have to stick with it and be prepared to adapt.


Even when you look at John’s YouTube channel, you’ll notice that some of his videos are naturally much more popular than others. Some only get a few hundred views at best. Is this because his username is MotoTTZ and not JohnChow or some variation? That’s doubtful. Again, YouTube can be a fickle nut to crack.

So, what can you do? As John pointed out in an episode of Driving with John Chow last November, one of the best things you can do is take the shotgun approach. Upload more videos, do it on a consistent basis, and you could see your YouTube income increase by upwards of 60%. And it’s not even about the direct monetization from YouTube either; it’s about building your audience, developing your brand and making even more money on the back end.

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