YouTube Icon, Entrepreneur speaks with the individuals behind popular YouTube channels to find out the secrets of their success.
Natalie Alzate started making videos on YouTube four years ago when she was 20-years-old, with the intent of making people’s lives more efficient and fun. That combination has paid off big time, as she has grown a passionate following of nearly 6 million subscribers for her channel, Natalie’s Outlet.
Alzate’s fans can tune in to videos twice a week on beauty hacks from around the world, deep dives into viral trends, cooking and fashion tips and advice for everything from organization and productivity to how to prank your friends.
Now Alzate is expanding into the world of podcasts. With #Viral, Alzate will interview the online creators that she admires about how they have achieved their success Alzate shared her insights with Entrepreneur about the questions you must ask yourself to find your own niche as a YouTuber.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How did you get your start with YouTube?
It was about four years ago. I was a marketing student in college and I was studying business and entrepreneurship. I didn’t quite know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to have something of my own. I had been watching Youtube since I was in sixth grade. I loved following the lives of some of my favorite content creators like Michelle Phan, and all these ladies just left me inspired every single day.
I wanted to have that. I wanted to create my own personal outlet. In 2014 I started my channel and I launched it and I was doing it all. I was producing. I was editing. I was the actor, you could stay. I loved the challenge and it’s been absolutely amazing.
How much of your time do you spend on a video and what does that entail?
That’s a whole process. Right now I’m posting twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturdays. I’ve broken my week up into filming twice a week as well, so I film every Monday and every Friday. Shooting takes anywhere from two hours to eight hours depending on the quality or if I’m changing locations. Editing could take anywhere from two full work days, about 16 hours. Thankfully I now have an editor.
As you can imagine doing this all by yourself can be crazy. My editor is amazing and she really understands my vision. The thumbnail is very important. It’s the little picture that you see on your screen right before you click a video. Taking that and editing takes around two hours and then the backend of YouTube, which is what a lot of people don’t know of, tags and SEO and logistics, and asking how can I get this to trend? All that good stuff — all the numbers. Promo and engagement also takes about an hour. Surprisingly, I never loved numbers but now I’m dealing with all this stuff.
So it is launching the video, engaging with fans, seeing how people respond to the content. Quite a long time. It’s a full-time job for sure.
How do you leverage your YouTube channel and to what extent do you monetize it?
Other than the YouTube ads that run right before video, I also do a lot of brand sponsorships, so I integrate a lot of brands with my content. Recently I did one with Tide, which was really fun. Another was Olay. I’m really grateful for YouTube. I feel like it’s given me so many different outlets to explore. Merchandise is another form of monetizing, and then putting yourself out there [for example, on tours].
What advice do you have for other people who want to build brands on the platform?
Do your homework, watch a lot of content, analyze it. Ask yourself why did the creator say this here? Why are they starting off the videos in this way? What does this all mean? YouTube is such a unique platform. Creators are really changing the game. You have to work from people who are currently doing it and observe them. But also making sure to ask yourself, what could I do that is different? You need to have something that will still set you apart.
It’s so important to really understand the platform that you’re going to be putting your time and effort into. There’s a ton of different ways to do that. There’s YouTube tutorials and there’s simply watching your favorite creators and asking yourself why am I watching this person? What made me intrigued? Why did I subscribe? All this human behavior stuff. Know what type of niche you want to go into as well. There’s so many different categories it’s seeing what organically fits your personality the best.
What’s a misconception many people have about YouTube?
I always hear people say, oh YouTube is so easy. You pick up a camera, you just sit there for seven minutes and then upload it. It’s not like that at all. [My demographic] is primarily female between the ages of 13 and 24 in the U.S. I really have to put myself in those shoes.
It’s not always easy being your own boss. You have to be very strict with yourself. You have to have deadlines. It’s very easy to just want to lay down and watch a movie or something. If you really want to grow this into a business you have to be a smart person who is willing to collaborate and work with so many different people. I have an editor, I have employees. I have an amazing manager and agencies. There’s a huge powerhouse of people helping with all this.
There’s so much more that goes into it. It’s not easy, but it’s always fun.
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