Hosting a YouTube Channel

I have a 5 year old niece, Madeline. She’s awesome. She wants to run her own channel on YouTube. Like her uncle. 🙂

I don’t have a very big channel. Yet… But it’s new and it’s growing. And already I’ve learned quite a few things about filming videos and getting people’s attention without resorting to crazy clickbait titles like “I’m quitting YouTube” (only to announce you’re taking Saturday off)

Madeline called the other day asking for tips to host her own channel. She likes to film herself playing with her toys. That might sound a little odd to someone out there without any young kids who watch YouTube, but it’s a really popular genre. My two year old has watched a video of Madeline changing her doll about 20 times. And keeps asking for more.

But this isn’t advice just to 5 year olds playing with toys on YouTube. This is for everyone.

Schedule yourself

A common piece of advice about creating content is to: “Setup a schedule. Publish one post a week. Publish one video a week. Fans love regularity.”

But scheduling your content on a regular basis also has a much deeper reason.

We are often under the impression that we are happy when good things happen to us. But in actuality, we are happiest when we decide to pursue a particular goal and then achieve it.

Alex Korb, The Upward Spiral

Your content isn’t going to be very popular for a long, long time. If ever.

And you will have a hard time controlling that. You can’t force how viral something becomes. You can do your best to get better and that makes a big difference. But there’s a lot of great people making videos and content and they get a fraction of the audience they probably deserve.

It doesn’t feel good if your stuff doesn’t grow like you want it to. And that can be extremely demotivating.

But what you can control are the decisions you make in terms of quantity and quality. You can set up small and then larger goals about accomplishing certain types of videos and their frequency. That’s going to feel good because it’s something you actually have power over. And that will keep motivating you to do more. Until one day, you might just get the audience you setout for.

So get on a schedule and feel good accomplishing it. Once it gets easy, make your goal more aggressive and challenging.

Don’t sweat the name

It’s funny how often people starting things worry about the name. So much that they end up without starting anything.

It’s all changeable.

Especially a YouTube channel. Don’t worry about the name. You can change it later. The only thing permanent for a YouTube channel is the custom url, and you can’t even get one of those until you’ve gotten a little bit of traction on your channel.

Give the channel any name and move on. Call it something else later.


If you’ve watched anything on YouTube, there’s a good chance you’ve watched an unboxing. People open up every conceivable thing under the sun on video. And other people spend billions of hours watching it.

Why? Hope.

They’re opening up something you don’t have yet. You want just a glimpse of what that’s going to feel like when you one day get a box just like it. It’s a big element of surprise too. Is this thing they want going to be worth it? Are they going to enjoy the new thing, or criticize it? We don’t know, because they haven’t opened it yet. And that suspense, even in such a trivial way, is powerfully interesting.

So as you make videos or articles or whatever you do, put some time into thinking about how to unbox things. What are you going to surprise people with as they watch your show. If you are doing a toy show like Madeline, I recommend keeping your stuff literally in boxes until you are ready to open them up on camera so folks can share some of your suspense, but for most of us it doesn’t have to be so literal.

No shaky video

I won’t belabor the point here. I’ve already written an entire article on this subject alone. Keep the camera steady. Get a tripod. Don’t just let someone hold the camera. Of course they can in a pinch, but really they should have lens stabilization on their camera, which is unlikely (iPhone 8 Plus has stabilization by the way, and fancy camera lenses.) But even putting a camera on a stack of books is better than someone holding it. Keep it steady.

Keep it short

Make everything you do in video as short as you can. Don’t repeat yourself or spend too much time on one thing. Use short shots.

One thing you probably don’t notice about the TV/movies you watch are how short each shot is. When two characters are talking, the camera is probably only stuck in that position for less than 10 seconds. If they stay on the same person’s face, you’ll probably see the camera at least change to a different zoom or angle.

Pretend there’s a ten second time limit on the camera. Take some video. Stop after 10 seconds max. Take some different video of another thing or from a different angle. This is easier if you have multiple cameras or you’re willing to spend some time editing. But for now, just get clips that are 10 seconds or less, and you’ll be a lot less frustrated editing your footage.

Add music

Short shots and music can make the most mundane things interesting. Don’t take my word for it:

I bet you watched that guy do his office work longer than you thought you would 🙂


The easiest way NOT to come off as a clone of someone else is to only borrow pieces of ideas from people doing different things.

Want inspiration to make videos about toys? Spend more time watching videos that aren’t about toys. Learn interesting things they do that people aren’t doing yet in toy videos. Bring ideas from other things you are interested in to this thing.

For me, there’s definitely people vlogging about their families or showing off their work. And there’s people writing books about business and doing TED talks about psychology. But I’m trying to marry a lot of those interests into a single YouTube channel that I think is pretty fresh. Still isn’t quite what I envision it to be, but it’s off to a good start.

Here’s a great example of Ellen and Violet doing most of the above things with their toy unboxing channel:

Which is off to a great start with just over 100,000 views. Even Ellen has trouble getting huge view counts for everything 🙂

P.S. You should follow my YouTube channel, where I share more about how history, psychology, and science can help us create better businesses. And if you find yourself overwhelmed while starting your own small business, handling customer support or staying in touch with all your new fans on YouTube 🙂 check out how Highrise can help!