I have now had a chance to read, YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts. Thanks to O’Reilly for the review copy. The book is very comprehensive, including great coverage of all the technical video stuff. I see the above blog post title as an endorsement, not a criticism. One thing that stands out is that YouTube success requires a lot of work. This should be no surprise as this is an artistic medium. The book focus more on YouTube as an art channel than YouTube as a news or marketing channel but the lessons apply to all uses.
Any artist will tell you that you need to pay your dues and obtain basic competence in your medium before being able to accomplish artistic depth. This applies to both visual and literary arts. I would not be surprised to see courses on YouTube in art colleges than cover video and/or the web. In these cases, this book should be on the reading list.
The book covers how to succeed in storytelling and directing, shooting, editing, and rendering, creating your very own channel, broadcasting user-generated content, re-broadcasting commercial content, handling music, cultivating a devoted audience, fitting into the YouTube community, among other things.
The book was written by YouTube veterans Alan Lastufka and Michael W. Dean and includes a lot of their personal experience. It also has interviews with YouTube stars LisaNova, Hank Green (vlogbrothers), WhatTheBuckShow, nalts, and liamkylesullivan. There are a lot of links to great YouTube clips.
There is also a nice chapter on using other social media to promote your YouTube efforts. You can use blogs for simple promotion but starting a community invites more engagement by your audience. It is interesting how people build communities around all types of interests, YouTube simply being a more recent example. I remember reviewing a documentary on BBQ competitions and the community around these events. There were always those who put in the extra effort and they were usually the winners.
Michael Dean provides a chapter on time management to help with the effort issue. He noted that he wrote that chapter while waiting in his doctor’s office. Ironically, I am writing this review at my doctor’s waiting room and can appreciate his approach.
I liked the background on Hollywood movies and how YouTube differs. It gave me a better understanding of treatments and techniques in both media. In both cases, conflict is the essence of drama. The sequence is similar to what I learned in building sales pitches in PowerPoint. Define a situation, introduce a complication, and then offer a resolution. In this case, whatever you are selling without this sequence there is no story or focus and people lose interest.
So if you want to be a YouTube star, this book is required reading. It will either excite you or test your commitment by pointing out all that needs to be done. In the end all the competence will still need an artistic vision. Skills are certainly necessary but not sufficient. Good luck and I hope to see you on YouTube. If you have some favorite clips, either yours or others, please leave them in the comments to this post. I am a sponge for these.