Randy Lau, founder of YouTube cooking channel, "Made with Lau."
Randy Lau launched his YouTube cooking channel, "Made with Lau," in September 2020 to highlight and preserve the foods of his Chinese heritage. — YouTube

Starting a YouTube channel is an undertaking that many small business owners consider, but often don't follow through with due to time constraints or fear of putting themselves out there.

Like any marketing endeavor, launching a YouTube channel can feel intimidating. But with consistent, engaging content that resonates with a defined target audience, you can create a profitable platform for your brand.

To help you get started, successful YouTube content creators offered some lessons they’ve learned about creating and growing a successful YouTube channel.

Focus on planning and continuous improvement, not perfection

Randy Lau launched his YouTube cooking channel, "Made with Lau," in September 2020 to highlight and preserve the foods of his Chinese heritage. In just over a year, Lau amassed nearly 500,000 subscribers by creating videos showcasing the 1,000-plus traditional Chinese recipes his father has been cooking for the past 50 years in his restaurant.

“Growing up eating [my father’s] food, I just wanted a way to document that love and preserve our Chinese heritage, and to have something to pass down to [my kids],” said Lau. “But it ballooned into this huge community and platform that we get to share with hundreds of thousands of people. It's something that I find really fulfilling and something that can really scale. And this is really only just beginning.”

When creating a new YouTube channel for small business, Lau believes that planning ahead of your launch, by doing things like setting deadlines for yourself and creating a backlog of videos, will help you grow a successful channel. He recommends paring down your content in order to work through ideas and only show your best work, emphasizing quality over quantity.

“We actually shot eight full recipe videos before we launched, just to have a backlog, and I ended up scrapping three of them,” Lau said. “They were fully edited, but I just scrapped them because I just didn't like them.”

That being said, new content creators shouldn’t worry about creating the “perfect” video right out of the gate.

“There really is no perfection,” added Lau. “You just keep improving.”

[Read: How to Create a New YouTube Channel for Free in 5 Easy Steps]

 Talaat and Tai McNeely, founders of His and Her Money.
Talaat and Tai McNeely started their YouTube channel, "His and Her Money," to share their financial journey to a debt-free life. — YouTube

Work with the equipment you already have

Talaat and Tai McNeely started their YouTube channel, "His and Her Money," to share their financial journey to a debt-free life. This incredible couple went from being $30,000 in debt to debt-free — including paying off their entire mortgage — in just five years.

“We had some failures in the area of finances. We weren't pros. We didn't have it all together, [but] we decided to literally take our journey … put it on YouTube and bring people along the way,” said Tai McNeely.

“We know that finances is one of the things that destroys marriages, and so we wanted to try to be a resource for people to figure this money thing out because we're not taught [how to do that] in school,” added Talaat McNeely.

For the McNeelys, sharing their financial tips and knowledge with the YouTube community didn’t require a huge budget or fancy equipment. In fact, some of YouTube’s more successful channels create their videos using just their smartphones.

To that end, the McNeelys recommend setting a budget and initially working with what you already have, rather than purchasing new equipment.

“When we started 'His and Her Money,' we started with only $500,” said Tai McNeely. “We made that commitment that we were going to grow our brand, and whatever money the company made, we put it right back into the company.”

As with anything new, there are learning curves that come about. But as you practice more, over time you’ll develop a sense of how to do things properly. This is what happened to Talaat McNeely as he learned how to feel comfortable in front of the camera.

“The more times we did it, the more comfortable I became,” Talaat McNeely said. “I think you have to get through that first. You can't get to video 100 without doing video number one. It's just imperative to have a reason that's bigger than yourself to turn on this YouTube channel.”

[Read: 8 Tips For Making Engaging YouTube Videos to Promote Your Business]

The more times we did it, the more comfortable I became. I think you have to get through that first. You can't get to video 100 without doing video number one. It's just imperative to have a reason that's bigger than yourself to turn on this YouTube channel.

Talaat McNeely, "His and Her Money"

Learn content creation skills from the YouTube community

Content creator and serial entrepreneur Chris Bossio originally created his YouTube channel as a way to find some help at the barbershop he launched nearly a decade ago.

“One of the things that we were struggling to do was find really good help,” said Bossio. “We decided to use YouTube to try to reach the barber community, since it was so accessible to the barber industries and barber students who were looking for jobs.”

Thanks to those initial YouTube videos, Bossio was able to grow his team quickly. In the last five years alone, he has scaled his barbershop business to seven locations and employs more than 100 people in Tampa, Florida.

“From there, we [have] just continued to build within the industry,” he added. “We started a product line that really took off based [on] the audience and the community that we built because of YouTube.”

As someone whose YouTube success has been rooted in engagement from the barber community, Bossio advised small business owners to add value to the community through their content. By creating videos that are an educational resource for others, you can establish your channel, and your business, as a go-to source of information for the YouTube community and beyond.

Initially, he didn’t have much experience when it came to creating content for YouTube, but he found that by watching videos created by others in the community, he was not only able to sharpen his barbering skills, he was also able to develop his own video editing skills, and ultimately create a successful channel.

“I learned how to edit from YouTube,” said Bossio. “[When] I started out with iMovie … it would take me four or five hours to edit one video. It gets easier, and those four- or five-hour-long editing nights turned into one hour.”

 Chris Bossio, YouTube content creator.
Content creator and serial entrepreneur Chris Bossio originally created his YouTube channel as a way to find some help at his barbershop. — YouTube

Be your authentic self

In front of the camera, Bossio says to present yourself as authentically as possible. He believes people connect with honesty and rawness, rather than a fake online persona.

“I'm naturally an introvert… but I told myself, this is a topic you're passionate about — just act like you're having a conversation with another barber,” Bossio said.

While you may not find success overnight, with dedication and consistency, your channel can ultimately lead your business to prosper. According to a recent study by Oxford Economics, 80% of small and medium businesses with a YouTube channel agreed that YouTube has helped them grow their customer base.

Growing your business with a YouTube channel is a powerful way to reach a wider audience while helping you establish your business as a trusted, knowledgeable resource.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published December 20, 2021