I’m British. I have an inbuilt aversion to anything that smells too much like self-promotion. I even hate publicising this blog; it feels a bit…impolite? In-your-face? Ill-mannered? I don’t know. I can hear my mother’s voice in my head and I know what she’d think: tacky. Too much self-promotion feels a bit tacky.
Of course, that’s total rubbish. Self-promotion itself isn’t tacky, although the content you’re promoting might be! It’s a hustle out there and as long as you’re not shoving your content down the throats of unwitting consumers then a little self-promotion can go a long way. Having your own YouTube channel can be a highly effective way of sharing your own work and getting it out there.
Let’s look at some facts – YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year olds than any cable network in the United States. 1.3 million people use YouTube every day. In SEVEN years time half of viewers under 32 will not subscribe to any pay-TV service. 6 out of 10 people prefer online platforms to live TV. YouTube covers 95% on the internet, 76 different languages and 88 countries. 60% of users are under the age of 44. YouTubers are now writing best selling novels, selling screenplays and creating content for other platforms.
The old studio system is dead, the days of broadcast TV is nearly dead, the next global superstar isn’t going to come from harnessing the power of the internet, as we’ve seen so far. The next global superstar is going to be created on the internet. The worlds most popular YouTubers are reaching daily audiences that network channels can only dream of. 1 in 3 children in the UK today plan on being a full-time YouTuber when they grow up.
I’m not talking about making money out of a YouTube channel, the top 3% of YouTube channels get 90% of the traffic, but a curated space to share your own work and build your audience can be beneficial to your career. People used to think that the number of Twitter followers you have could help you land a role (we do run Twitter audits you know and we can spot those of you who’ve bought your followers!) But nowadays YouTubers/Influencers are appealing to producers because they can help to promote a show. You don’t need a huge following on social media, just to be really active on it, pushing the trailer for your latest indie project, performing the songs from your latest musical – you’re saving them money on their marketing budget and possibly bringing in a new audience to your performances.
Like all social media, YouTube is broadcast media. What you put up there will stay there – forever so use it to showcase only your best work. Create your own content, learn editing skills, decide what you want your channel to be. Use it for your showreel, yes, but don’t upload your self-tapes (that material could well be confidential), comedy works well, dramatic monologues not so much. Original songs will keep you out of copyright trouble, as will songs out of copyright. Uploading cover songs might get you in trouble, but it’s rare – more likely is you’ll get a Content ID claim and the copyright owner will monetise your video.
If you think you can create interesting content, promote yourself (without being tacky) and use YouTube to work alongside your career in a way that supports and emphasises it rather than detracts from it, then have a read of Heidi Dean’s Ultimate YouTube Checklist for Actors and start to build your own channel.