The Toolkit to Building a Successful YouTube Channel

Having now racked up 1.82M subscribers on her YouTube channel, Natalie Tran has forged a name for herself within Australia’s comedic film industry. She explains how she started out on the platform and tips that may help you grow your own channel.

After launching communitychannel over 10 years ago, Natalie Tran has amassed a loyal subscriber base who continue to watch and engage with her videos all this time later.

“I started out after reading about YouTube in the newspaper one day while at university and hopped online to see what it was. Wow, that’s an age revealing sentence. Youtube was much smaller at the time, the community was very interactive and I loved how intimate it felt,” says Natalie.

It was this love for YouTube that compelled Natalie to start her own channel, where she found her niche in comedic skits that make light of the everyday issues of people in modern Western society.

The success of this channel has brought along with it some amazing opportunities in film and life that Natalie says would never have been possible without it.

“I got the opportunity to act in the TV show Mr Inbetween which was directed by Nash Edgerton, a director I had reached out to years ago after loving his short films. The show was also written by Scott Ryan who had written The Magician, one of my favourite Australian movies. When I heard the two were working together on something, it felt like secret fanfiction I had written was coming true. For someone who wrote scripts for fun and used to make terrible films as a kid any time she got a hold of a camera, all of this sort of stuff is incredible.”

Read on to find out Natalie’s top tips in building a successful YouTube channel after spending over a decade creating content on the platform.

CONSISTENCY IS KEY

Perhaps one of the greatest aspects of building a successful YouTube channel is to consistently create and upload content to be rewarded with views, subscribers and channel growth.

“I’ve been told this often by YouTube and though I don’t always practice it, I believe very much that this is key to building a subscriber base so I’ll pass it on,” says Natalie.

“Consistency is a wonderful thing for a viewer. Especially now when people have so much to pick from, it would be advantageous to be a reliable source when they go to check your channel.”

To put it simply, Natalie believes people like routine and if you become a part of someone’s routine, then that’s helpful in forming a longstanding relationship.

“There were a few years where I had a consistent upload routine, right down to the time I’d upload and it definitely helped. I’d say being less consistent has been a disadvantage.”

So, how can you keep on track? Stick to a set day each week or month that you’ll be posting to hold yourself accountable.

You may also like to film your content in batches when you’re feeling motivated so you can schedule them in advance.

KEEP IT SIMPLE

When making your YouTube debut, you will understandably want to produce the best quality content you can, but it’s not always feasible to kick off with cinematic films that use a tonne of resources.

Natalie says initially, it’s important to be realistic. “I’d recommend first starting with videos that are easy for you to make. That means videos you can finish with the least amount of external help.”

Natalie believes this helps with maintaining that consistency. “Making the process as easy as possible is one less mental barrier. Corralling people and crews together, or raising funds just to be able to make something takes a lot of effort before you even film, so keep that in mind.

“Obviously I’m not saying don’t make videos with other people, but make sure you minimise the amount of excuses you can have to not make something. Remember it’s a long stretch-years if you’re lucky, and it involves prep, production, post, and probably community management. Be kind to yourself and your process.”

GENUITY GOES A LONG WAY

It may go without saying, but one of the best things you can do for both yourself and your channel’s longevity, is to create content that you enjoy.

Whilst Natalie knows of people that make specific content with the aim of growing a subscriber base, she believes you can probably worry about that less. With so many people online, you can find your niche.

“Creating content you are passionate about means it won’t get tiring as quickly. And it will get tiring. Anybody who has made content for a long time can tell you it becomes a job.

“Make things you can see yourself making hundreds or thousands of times and still care about... something you’d be happy making even if you got 1 view and a thumbs down.”

Creating genuine content that you are enthusiastic about will also help you form a close knit community of subscribers who can really help advance your growth.

It is this community aspect that drew Natalie to YouTube in the first place and she still makes a conscientious effort to interact with viewers who comment on her videos.

“Having a sense of community is lovely. When I’m a listener of a podcast, watcher of a channel, subscriber of a newsletter, it’s great to feel like I’m part of a club,” she says.

PREP BEFORE YOU BRING OUT THE CAMERA

So you’ve got an idea, now what? Take the time to develop your idea further and really plan out the direction of your content, to minimise efforts spent in filming and editing later.

Natalie finds inspiration within her everyday life. “I usually start with one tiny idea I notice in my day-to-day life and then I’ll draw a map of where that idea can go.

“From there a script starts and that will usually take a day or two to write,” she says. “I’m terrible with ad lib or improvising things so I write full scripts for all my videos before I pick up the camera.”

Once you’re ready to film, Natalie recommends printing a copy of the script as is and another copy where your scenes are arranged in accordance to filming locations to save time (shot list).

“I also print out a checklist to make sure I’ve filmed all scenes. It's awful when you pack down and then realise you've missed something after a long day. Sadly it happens every now and then because it’s just me and one other person. Not being prepared can be a really big contributor to burn out.”

NATALIE’S EQUIPMENT TOOLKIT

Whilst technology has advanced since Natalie started, she explains you don’t always need the latest and greatest gear and instead opts for a simplified version that works best for a self-filmer.

“Thanks to my current freelance work, we use cameras like the Sony FX6 Full Cinema Camera. However, after recently trying to film a video by myself again I realised this wasn’t the ideal workflow for my channel.”

“The fewer barriers the better, so I’m going to find a small, light camera that’s easier to move around and tether it to a tablet that can be used like a monitor. And I’ll grab a smaller tripod!”

Natalie stresses how important it is to have reliable storage on hand to help the editing process and maintain a neat system when old files need to be revisited.

“Gah, it’s expensive but if I could go back in time… storage really helps the editing process by not having a computer clogged up with clips.”

“I store footage on a RAID system and work off that or externals. I used to be terrible with file organising.. but after working with other editors I’ve quickly learned how important this is.”

You can visit Natalie’s YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/user/communitychannel

Natalie Tran

YouTuber

Natalie is a video creator who has over 1.8 million subscribers in YouTube. She usually does monologue and sketches, focusing on humorous style to present her daily life and discuss social issues.

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