A few months ago we announced that we were starting an organization-focused YouTube channel called Abby Organizes that we would run in tandem with the blog. (I think our children were the most excited about the blogger to YouTuber shift because they have no idea what a blog is, but they are definitely familiar with YouTube. Any time I refer to myself as a blogger now, Connor says, "No, you're a YouTuber!"? )
Our biggest reason for starting our channel was simple: we were ready for a new challenge and with everything seeming to be going in the direction of video, YouTube seemed like a logical thing to tackle next.
Neither Donnie or I knew much about video or YouTube when we started, and we still definitely have a lot to learn, but we've been able to grow our channel fairly quickly within the first few months, so I thought it might be helpful to pop in and share what we've been doing in case any of my other blogger friends out there are thinking of going the YouTube route as well!
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Starting with a Follower Base
First, I should note that we didn't start off with a follower count of zero. I had been using my YouTube channel to house videos that I would share on the blog over the past few years, and one of the videos (about creating labels in Microsoft Word), had taken off on YouTube and had about 80,000 views by the time we officially started Abby Organizes. This had gained us about 1,400 followers without us really trying at all.
This was more a stroke of "luck" than anything we really did strategically, but it was certainly helpful to start out with a small base of followers as opposed to starting out with zero.
Choosing to Be Niche-Specific
When we decided to be more intentional about growing our YouTube following, we made the choice to be fairly niche-y about it and only focus on organization, as opposed to organizing and decorating and blogging like we do here on Just a Girl and Her Blog.
I feel like the more people who decide to blog or start a YouTube channel, the harder it is to grow a more "lifestyle" brand that encompasses a wide range of topics. From what I've observed and experienced myself, it's easier to grow a following more quickly when you're focusing on one specific niche and trying to attract one specific audience.
Organization has always been a passion of mine and of Donnie's, and since we knew this channel would take a ton of time and effort from both of us, it made sense to focus on something we both loved and had some expertise in.
I do think that the fact that we came out saying, "We are going to share content about this one specific area only" helped us to grow our YouTube channel more quickly than if we would have taken a "little bit of this, little bit of that" approach.
Cleaning Up Our YouTube Channel
After we made the decision to focus on organization only on our channel, we did a big cleanup of our videos. We were housing a bunch of random blogging related videos and a few decor-type videos on our channel, and we didn't want those to distract from our focus.
We made anything that wasn't organization related unlisted (if we wanted people who stumbled upon the links to those videos to be able to see them) or private (if we didn't want anyone to be able watch them).
We also updated our cover art to include the Abby Organizes branding, still keeping "justagirlandherblog.com" underneath the logo so people would realize that the Abby Organizes YouTube channel was connected to the Just a Girl and Her Blog blog.
Even with kind of "co-branded" cover art, we know that using the two different names is probably kind of confusing, so Donnie and I are still throwing around ideas about how to streamline things more clearly in the future.
Learning to Create Videos
Once we knew the direction we wanted our channel to go and made it look pretty, we still had to go through the process of actually learning to make videos! We had dabbled in video a little bit before, but neither Donnie or I were even close to being pros at it.
Maintaining our usual roles of me as content creator/face of things and Donnie as behind the scenes/tech guy, Donnie was the one that really dug in and begun to learn everything he could about video. He learned a ton from guys like Caleb Wojcik, Levi Allen, and Caleb Pike, watching a ton of their videos to learn about the best filming techniques, equipment, and editing.
I began to learn more about the marketing side of YouTube, taking a Creative Live class by my friend Becki Crosby (aka Whippy Cake) and really just watching a ton of videos to see how other creators were being successful.
As we were learning as much as we could about video and YouTube, we had to make some choices about equipment. There are many people who use an iPhone to film and produce decent videos, so that was an option. We already owned a really nice DSLR camera that I use to take pictures for the blog, so we could choose to film with that.
Ultimately though, we decided that if we were going to get into this video thing, we really wanted to do it the right way from the beginning, which meant investing in the best equipment specifically for video. We bought two mirrorless cameras that are able to shoot in 4K in order to get the best possible video quality. We have LED lighting that is meant to mimic natural sunlight so that our videos can be well lit no matter where we're shooting.
After trying out a few lavalier mic options and not loving them, we decided to go with an overhead boom mic that we use for most videos, and we have been impressed with the quality of it. We also have a mic that we can mount on the camera if the boom mic won't work for a particular video.
We had to make a decision about editing software as well. We've heard great things about Final Cut Pro, but we were already paying for an Adobe subscription to their entire suite of products, so we ultimately decided to go with Premiere for editing, just because we already had access to the software.
We also quickly realized that the amount of storage we would need for video files would quickly fill up our laptops, so Donnie researched and ordered a desktop computer that was built specifically to meet our video editing and storage needs.
The video equipment was definitely an investment, and it is certainly possible to start a YouTube channel without alllllllll of the things that we're currently using! We have found, though, that the combination of equipment we're using has helped us to create high quality videos, and the quality will continue to improve as we learn more and get better at video ourselves.
I will include a list of the exact equipment we're using below in case anyone is interested...
"Launching" Our YouTube Channel
I don't know that it makes sense for everyone to do a big "launch" of their channel, but since we already had a built-in audience of people who knew us from the blog, it did seem to make sense for us.
We didn't do anything enormous, but we did want to build some buzz and make sure that our current blog readers understood what was going on with our sudden change in format.
To get the word out about our Abby Organizes channel, I wrote a post explaining our decision to make a little "pivot" and add more of a video element to the blog. In this post we included a short "channel trailer" we had made that helped further explain what our YouTube channel was all about and gave people an idea of what to expect. We also emailed our list to let them know about the post, the trailer, and our upcoming YouTube channel.
Our next blog post contained our first "official" YouTube video, How to Organize Any Space in Your House. It seemed logical to kick off our channel by explaining the basic process I use to organize just about every space I tackle.
In this post we also included a giveaway of a big bundle of organizing products, and people could earn entries by liking or commenting on the video and for subscribing to our YouTube channel. This helped us get a nice bump in subscribers and also helped our first video get some traction-- it has over 40,000 views to date (which is small potatoes for some, but huge for us)!
We sent another email to our list on this official "launch day" as well, inviting them to check out our first video and enter the giveaway.
After the initial buzz of launching our channel, we have really just tried to be incredibly consistent about posting a new video every Tuesday that will be extremely helpful for people and inspire others to get organized.
We've tried different types of formats-- shorter videos, longer videos, vlog style videos, listicles, tours, etc. to test out what people seem to like and what they don't. We've had some videos that have taken off and some that have kind of flopped. But that's okay. We continue to learn more and try to get better with each and every video.
We also try to be consistent about providing ways for people to subscribe to our channel. We mention it in our weekly email newsletter. We give people the opportunity to subscribe in many of our blog posts.
We talk about our YouTube channel on our social media outlets. We really want to make sure that anyone who comes across Just a Girl and Her Blog on any platform also has the chance to subscribe to the Abby Organizes YouTube channel. (See what I did there? 😉 )
The Pros and Cons of YouTube
In our short YouTube stint so far, I have definitely already picked up on some pros and cons of the platform. On the upside, video can be so much fun! I was feeling like I was in a rut with blogging and needed to break out of it in some way, and video has been a fun new challenge to learn.
On the other hand, as with blogging, video takes a lot more time than I expected to execute well. I usually spend one to two full days prepping a project and getting everything ready to shoot.
Donnie and I usually spend one full day per week filming. If we're really on the ball, we can shoot two videos in that time. Donnie then usually spends one to two days of his week editing the video for YouTube and creating mini versions of the video for Facebook, Instagram, and IG stories.
I also take photos of everything, edit them, and write up a blog post about the topic. I have to create a lengthy description of our video for YouTube, and my sister/assistant Brittany goes in and types out the transcript of our video so we can have an accurate closed captioning function.
I get a ton of comments and interaction on YouTube (compared to on the blog), which I LOVE, but they also take time to answer. And speaking of YouTube comments... I'm a lot more likely to get critical comments on YouTube than on my blog, so I definitely have to develop a tough skin for that--eek!
Another upside of YouTube is that people are constantly using it as a search engine and YouTube is always suggesting videos for people to watch, so I have gotten a lot of organic traffic to my videos that way. A new video on my YouTube channel will get a ton more views than a new post on my blog on the first day, even though I've been blogging for nearly 5 years and have been on YouTube for a little more than 3 months.
On the flip side, YouTube doesn't have to show my content to anyone; they can stop suggesting it at any time, so I'm really at their mercy when it comes to getting that "free" traffic from them.
Whew! This was just supposed to be a quick "here's how YouTube is going so far" post, and it got long really quickly! Sorry about that!
I feel like I need to emphasize that we are still SO new at this and have a ton to learn... we're far from YouTube pros for sure. We have been having a ton of fun with it, though, and we've been pleasantly surprised at how Abby Organizes has grown and thrived over the past few months.
Mostly we owe a huge "THANK YOU!!!!" to you, dear readers (& watchers 😉 ), because we can try as many crazy things as we want, but without you coming along for the ride, none of this would be any fun at all!! Thank you so much for following along with us on this wild journey! ?
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This post contains affiliate links. For more information, see my disclosures here.