There’s a little spot over on your youtube analytics page that’s hella scary. It tells you exactly when people drop off your youtube videos, when they hit that close button, or clicked on a related video to go watch that instead. It’s called Audience Retention and you’ll find it under the analytics section.
So, why the hell are people not watching your amazing videos? What’s going on?
Your Intro was Too Long
Let’s be honest, as viewers we’ve all done it. Clicked on a video and listened to a youtuber go on about something irrelevant for a minute and clicked off. You just want the info you came for right? Not to listen to some random off topic waffle.
If you’re a youtuber, you’re probably just as guilty of leaving in a video intro that does that very thing.
Sure your regular subscribers might be interested in the fact that you were up all night because Mr McBarkin the neighbours dog was up all night barking, but newbies to your channel probably aren’t. And yes I might have a little pent up anger over Mr McBarkins night time antics because he’s the most annoyingly cute demon dog in the world.
You’ve got about 10 seconds to convince a viewer to carry on watching your videos so you want to make those first 10 seconds count.
Your intro shouldn’t be longer than 30 seconds max and it should be relevant to your video. Save the waffle for the outro where your most loyal subs are going to stick around to watch it. If your lucky some of the newbies might love you enough to have a little watch too.
You’re All Over the Place
This is similar to the crime of having an overly long off topic intro. Your video should be structured in some kind of logical way. If you’re trying to give the viewer some kind of information give it to them. I’m not saying that your video should be devoid of personality, but at the same time avoid going off on tangents or repeating yourself. If you could give the viewer the information in 5 minutes then do it, don’t drag your video out for ten if it doesn’t need to be. People are more likely to hang around and listen if you stick to the point.
When you’re editing your videos start paying attention to what you could be cutting out. Has every clip earned it’s spot in the video? Should it be where it is in the video? In some of my videos there are bloopers, we all mess up sometimes (a lot in my case). Instead of leaving those in I’ll pop a couple after the outro screen on my videos. That way if people want to see them they can, but they’re not in the middle of the video where they don’t fit.
I’m not talking about the content of your video, but I mean if you are making videos about mind numbingly boring things then maybe consider switching niches? I’m talking about visually.
This happens a lot with talking head videos. You know, it’s just you talking to the camera for 10 minutes and visually that’s it. You could have the most gorgeous face in the world and it’ll probably still get boring to watch after a couple of minutes.
Think about what you could do to make your videos more visually exciting. Could you be using some transitions? Could you be throwing up some text here and there to make your points more interesting? Could you be showing something other than you just sitting there.
The best example is a morning routine video. Sure you could just sit and tell the camera what your morning routine is, but that’s going to be visually boring. Showing your viewers what you do would be much more interesting. If you make a cup of tea when you wake up why not stick some shots in of the kettle boiling, and you making a cup of tea?
This doesn’t mean your videos have to become a total feast for the eyes with a tonne of different footage from all kinds of angles. Just keep an eye out for spots where you could spruce things up a bit to make it more visually engaging.
You Haven’t Found Your Voice
Some of us are just not naturals in front of the camera. As soon as that little red light turns on we turn into some kind of deer in headlights. When that happens most people start using their office voice. You know, that voice you use to answer the phone at work in the hopes that the person on the other end will think you’re super professional and definitely know what you’re talking about.
The problem is, that doesn’t work so well on youtube. It makes you seem like a bit of a robot and isn’t very engaging. Sometimes we all watch videos on subjects that aren’t particularly interesting, usually because there’s an exam coming up and zomg why didn’t I pay attention in class instead of playing candy crush on my phone eeeekkk!! But, you’ll find some people are just magical and even though they’re explaining something that’s ridiculously boring they somehow make it engaging and interesting to watch (thankyou you magical beasts!).
Finding your voice can take time and practice and hardly anyone is going to be great from day one, but have a watch of some of your videos and see if that’s your problem. Are you engaging? Do you feel like that’s you doing the talking or have you gone into omg there’s a camera in my face mode?
I Recognise You!
I don’t mean in a wow you went to my school kind of way. I mean that you’ve ripped off someone else’s style and it shows. Part of what’s great about youtube is everyone is unique. We come for the knowledge and stay for the personality.
There will always be people that you look up to on youtube, and some of them you might take a smidge of inspiration from. That’s totally fine! But it really should be just a smidge. Youtube already has one of them, and it probably already has a tonne of imitations of them. Don’t be another one.
I know that you’ll hear tonnes of youtube advice telling you to be yourself, and if you suffer from camera fear and haven’t found your voice it can seem like a good solution to imitate what you love. The problem is, not many people want to watch an imitation when they can watch the real thing.
Work on figuring out what makes you unique, what can make your videos stand out and start doing that. Do your own thing and you might find people are more willing to stick around.
As a little warning, whatever niche you’re in people will probably tell you that you’re copying someone else. For example if you do comedy, you’re copying iiSuperWomanii or Jenna Marbles, if you do gaming you’re copying PewDiePie. In most cases it’s not true, you just happen to be in the same niche. It’s like people saying that Taylor Swift is copying Britney Spears, they just both happen to be singers, if we went by that rule then there’d only be one person per niche.
In other words, you should be able to recognise if you are trying to copy someone else, and if you are, stop.
Everyone has weird little things that irk them. For me I can’t stand eating noises. If you eat in your videos and I can hear it or you eat with your mouth open I cannot watch you under any circumstances. It’s like torture for me. But, that doesn’t mean that everyone hates it. There are going to be people out there that it doesn’t bother at all.
But, there are things that are universally annoying and you’ll want to keep an eye on your videos to see if you’re up to anything that could fall into that category. Usually your viewers are going to let you know in the comment section if there’s something about your videos that grates on their nerves so you should find out pretty quickly. BTW that doesn’t always mean you should stop doing it, maybe that thing you’re doing is an intentional part of your video and you want it. Maybe it’s something you can’t help doing, I’ve legit seen comments complaining about how much someone blinks so…probably not much you can do about that.
The number one thing I’ve noticed with noobs is this weird tongue click thing before every sentence. Almost like they’re tutting. That’s the type of thing you’re looking out for. It could be weird hand movements, it could be a weird nervous laugh you keep doing. Watch through your videos and see if there’s anything you’re doing that is annoying.
You Don’t Know How To Film
A lot of youtubers had no idea how to film when they started out, it shows in their early videos. It’s kind of normal, but you’ll see their videos getting better over time because they take the time to learn and figure things out. That doesn’t mean you need to go on some kind of course, you can learn a lot by watching some of your favourite channels and see what they’re doing.
The biggest sin in my book is an out of focus video. When I started out there were plenty of videos that I filmed that got scrapped because there wasn’t enough usable footage that wasn’t blurry. It makes me feel sea sick watching an out of focus video, so even if you made the best video ever content wise, I’m still going to click off before the nausea sets in.
There’s plenty of smaller crimes though.
If you’re doing a makeup tutorial then chances are your viewers want to be able to see what’s going on so you’ll want to be nice and close up. On the other hand, if you’re a talking head then viewers probably don’t want to see straight up your nose so you’ll want it zoomed out a little.
These kind of things are pretty easy to figure out, go and watch some other videos and see what other people are doing, and what you think would work best for you. You don’t need to train to be a film director or editor, you just need to see what works best, what angle, what distance, what kind of lighting, etc. You also don’t need a tonne of fancy equipment, yes video quality matters and if your video is potato quality you’re going to need to be incredibly engaging to make up for it, but it can be done.
When you look at most popular youtubers you’ll find almost no sign of nerves. These guys are happy to mess about, to do embarrassing things, to use funny voices without a hint of the dreaded awkward twitches popping up.
It’s totally normal to feel a bit nervous about filming and putting yourself out there for the world to see. But, if you come across as nervous then that’s probably going to turn viewers off. It can be uncomfortable to watch, and people come to youtube to be entertained. If you are feeling nervous try filming some videos that you aren’t going to put online to practice, hopefully if you practice filming you’ll be able to shake off any nerves before you film your real videos. Watch back your practice videos and try and identify anything you’re doing that makes you come across as a nervous wreck. When I first started filming I could not look at the camera for the life of me. Anytime I looked at the camera I’d lose my train of thought and start uhming and ahing at the camera instead *nervously looks away from inanimate object*
You Won’t Make Eye Contact
This tends to be another newbie mistake, especially if you’ve got one of those flip out screens so you can see yourself when you record. You end up filming the whole video talking to yourself in the flip out screen, or just staring anywhere except at the camera. If you look at talk show hosts, news readers, any job that requires someone to talk to a camera, they are talking to the camera. It’s like they’re talking to us through the TV screen, it feels like they’re making eye contact with us through the screen. That sounds really creepy but trust me it’s not. I bet you don’t even notice that it’s happening, what you would notice is if the news reader was staring off somewhere else.
If you have problems with not checking yourself out in the flip out screen every two seconds close it. Get yourself in focus first, then close it so that the only thing you have to talk to is the camera itself. This doesn’t mean you need to spend the entire video staring intently down the lens because that can be equally weird.
When you’re filming, pretend the camera is someones face and talk to it like you would a human being.
You Didn’t Make An Effort
I’m not saying that you should put on a full face of makeup, get your house cleaned by professionals, or script your videos down to the last second. But at the same time, you should be making some effort with the content you’re putting out there.
Make sure whatever is in your background isn’t a distracting mess. I’ve seen someone film with dog poo on the floor in the background, you know what the comment section was full of? Comments about the dog poo, not about the content of the video.
Put on some clothes that make you look presentable. Even if part of your aesthetic is that just got out of bed look, make sure your clothes are clean at the very least. No one wants to be wondering if that stain on your shirt is the same lasagne stain that was there in your last video, and the one before that…
As for scripting, this really comes down to you. I only script a video if I feel like it works for that type of video. Usually I’ll just make some notes about things I want to talk about and use that as a guide. I’ll try and limit myself a little as well, if I know something should take about a minute to talk about then I’m going to avoid talking about it for ten minutes because it’s just going to make my job harder when it comes to editing.
Ignore Everything! Kinda…
Everyone has their own ideas about what makes a good video and what doesn’t. You might think some of the points on this list are crazy and in no way are affecting the success or failure of your videos, and that’s totally fine! Mukbangers out there will definitely think my point about eating is way off base because Mukbang is a niche dedicated to eating on camera.
This list is just some of the things I’ve seen on youtube that can hinder a youtubers success.
Remember that it takes time to figure everything out so don’t expect your first video to be an amazing masterpiece. It takes time to feel comfortable when you’re filming, or to work out how to edit your videos well. Some things you’ll shine at from the word go, and some things you’ll have to figure out as you go along.
What do people do in videos that make you click away before the videos through? What are some of your pet peeves?