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Viral Video Wannabe Companion site for "YouTube: An Insider's Guide to Climbing the Charts" Fri, 16 Oct 2009 01:48:41 +0000 en I’m Live, Right Now! PRO EDITION Tue, 26 May 2009 19:13:59 +0000 fallofautumndistro

DOWNLOAD NOW (.pdf, 1.5 MB)

Hey broadcasters! Welcome to I’m Live, Right Now! Pro Edition. Last summer I wrote a free eBook to help new broadcasters quickly learn all of the basic functions of blogTV. blogTV is a wonderful site for hosting your own live shows and definitely the place to be, whether you’re a vlogger looking to connect with your audience in a more immediate fashion, or a band looking to expand your live audience.

Since I published that eBook, blogTV has made numerous changes to their website (all for the better, I promise!) So I thought I would continue this eBook where my previous work ended.

This eBook is not meant to teach you the basics. If you need help getting started with broadcasting, or setting up your webcam, if you don’t know what an Op is, or the difference between the main room vs waiting room, you need to read the first edition of this guide before continuing. You can download that first edition here:

The first edition not only takes you through the basic features, but also offers promotional ideas to attract viewers to your show. As these promotional techniques are universal, they are not restated here; download the first edition if you need advice on driving traffic to your show.

This eBook is meant to teach you about the advanced features. Many things have been added to blogTV at the request of its users. Some of these new features are simple and we wonder what we ever did before them, others are a little more involved and require downloading additional plug-ins and complicated XML files. But don’t worry! I’m here to help.

This guide will take you step-by-step through the new advanced features. If, however, you still have questions after reading this eBook, stop by my live show, and I’ll try to help you out live if I’m currently broadcasting:

Overall Sat, 02 May 2009 13:19:40 +0000 fallofautumndistro Last night, Jenny came home from a long day at work and complained the dishes hadn’t been done. Most nights they are, long before she gets home. But of course, you only hear about these things when there’s something to complain about, rarely do people acknowledge work when it’s getting done right.

Looking back at my archive of posts here on Viral Video Wannabe, I seem to only yell at YouTube when the dishes don’t get done, but have failed to thank them for all the nights they do (and the nights they go above and beyond, and even dry them and put them away!).

When the rumored changes of YouTube’s redesign started leaking to various media blogs, I picked up on the rumors and ran an article here. That same day, two staff members from YouTube, the second largest site on all of the internets, emailed me personally. I’m not NBC. I’m not the New York Times. I’m a vlogger who writes a blog with a couple thousand readers. George (head of the Partnership Program) and Mia (head editor) didn’t have to take that time (personal time, I might add, both wrote me after business hours). They have much larger outlets to worry about. But for whatever reason, they did. They sat down and spent fifteen to twenty minutes of their own time reading, and then another ten or fifteen responding to my article.

That deserves a thank you. Thank you.

Sadia is the editor of the DIY category. Sadia watched, and featured (in the DIY category) my first real video uploaded to YouTube. I found her email on her YouTube channel and wrote her a little thank you note. We kept in touch for over a year after that. Wishing each other a Merry Christmas, catching up on how things were going, she even sent me a nice little note about my YouTube book when it came out. Sadia also introduced me to Michele.

Michele is the Music category editor. Michele featured me on the front page of YouTube for the first time, back when that meant three-quarter of a million views easily. Michele and Sadia emailed me the day my video went on to the front page to say congrats. Michele and I also stayed in contact for months after that. Michele also read and wrote me a nice note about my book.

YouTube doesn’t always get it right. But no company ever does. However, these four people, over the years, have got it right with me, anyway. And as much as I might write about the doom and gloom of YouTube here, it’s only because I love the site to death. And I know you do too. We wouldn’t get so worked up if we didn’t. The interactions. The ideas. The people it’s introduced us all to. The opportunities and outlet and audience it’s provided - it is all beyond description sometimes. Forgive my mushy attempt here at describing it.

The New YouTube Front Page Fri, 24 Apr 2009 11:40:34 +0000 fallofautumndistro A few weeks ago YouTube made the pointless swap of calling the featured videos “spotlighted videos” and renaming spotlighted videos to “featured videos”. Yesterday, we got our first hint at the reason why: YouTube has completely removed the Featured, I mean, Spotlighted videos from the front page.

Instead, the front page of, for the millions of visitors a day who are not logged in to an account, displays a couple videos that are being watched now, and the “Most Popular” (a category that anyone still has yet to crack the algorithm of) videos from each of YouTube’s categories (ie, Entertainment, Music, etc. Not surprisingly, People & Blogs is not represented here.).

I saw a few people on twitter last night who were shocked. But honestly, I asked them to think about it for a moment. When was the last time they had watched a Featur-err-Spotlighted video? When was the last time they had watched one that was good? From the averages I had observed, landing on YouTube’s front page wasn’t the boost it once was.

I’ve been featured on YouTube’s global front page twice, and once on their UK front page. From those few features, I gained more than a million views and countless subscribers. But over the last six months, you’d be lucky to crack 100,000 views during your time on the front page. YouTube was featuring more and more videos at a rate so quickly they just didn’t drive enough traffic to your video to make the impact it once did. Your video fell off the front page too quickly for a feature to be account-changing, like it once was.

The YouTube changes I warned of a few weeks ago might not have been as dramatic as I originally wrote them, but one change at a time, it is all still happening. New channels today, without the help of an already-established, huge channels have absolutely no chance of “making it”. Now usually when I mention this, people default to pointing out Fred’s channel as an example of a “new” channel that’s become the number one Most Subscribed channel of All-Time on YouTube. Which is true. But what these people tend to forget is that Fred spent tens of thousands of dollars advertising his channel on YouTube. Remember a year ago, when every partner video you watched had Fred’s face next to it in the AdSense ad?

Now that the spotlighted videos have been renamed to Featured videos, we can all still talk and make videos about how we want to “be featured”. Unfortunately, while you may be featured, you’ll never again have the opportunity for YouTube to drive hundreds of thousands of viewers to your awesome video. Those days are over. Unless your initials are ABC or ESPN.

BUILD-A-BLOG Sun, 19 Apr 2009 12:48:28 +0000 fallofautumndistro It’s hard to find something new to do on YouTube. Collab vids. Check. Annotated interactive vids. Check. Vlogs. Uh, duh, check. So about a week ago I had an idea for something that I hadn’t seen on YouTube before. I wanted to provide dozens and dozens of phrases, half-sentences and other random clips that could be used to construct a video blog. I noticed while I was editing that I always ended up with all these slivers of phrases in my timeline, and I realized how much fun it was to rearrange them into non-sense.

I called the project: Build-A-Blog

With the help of WheezyWaiter, an up-and-coming, amazing vlogger, we were able to make that project happen. WheezyWaiter came to hang out for a day, and we spent the day writing and recording clips for the Build-A-Blog project. After Wheezy left, I spent a few hours editing and rendering out each of the individual clips to both wmv and mov files, so PC and Mac users could both work in native formats. Then posted the entire project to, offered the download for free, and encouraged viewers to mash-up the videos and post their results as video responses.

Hundreds have downloaded the project files already, and three dozen viewers had uploaded their own mashed-up video blogs overnight. The project is still young, if you’d like to have some fun with us, download the project files here, watch our instructional video, upload your resulting blog and leave it as a video response!

I’ve loved some of the entries so far, and I can’t wait to see what you can do with it.

YouTube Channel Redesigns Thu, 16 Apr 2009 11:29:05 +0000 fallofautumndistro The first of many rumored changes taking place today on YouTube has happened to the channel pages. Go here to see an example of the new channel page layout.

YouTube’s new channel layout redesign looks quite slick compared to the channels we’ve had for the past few years. Less boxy, less separated, the channel page now feels like one solid entity. And this is only the beginning of the beta stage for the redesign.

YouTube was also smart enough to make this an open beta, for all users, not a select group of partners or friends of the editors. Round of applause there. If you’d like to try out the new channel design, click here (you can opt out at any time and revert back to your old channel design).

Redesigning your channel and need help? Check out my Free Resources for Your Next Profile Design.

YouTube has started a new blog dedicated to the progress of the channel redesign. You can check this blog for known bugs and issues, to leave suggestions and feedbacks, or to just keep up on what’s in development for the new channel designs. Click here to visit that blog, and feel free to leave your thoughts about the redesign.

I’ve only been using the new YouTube channel design for about five hours, but so far I like it. When you change your settings, you can now see the effects in real-time on your actual channel page, as opposed to the approximate preview we had before. In the future, I believe the modules will be drag-and-droppable to rearrange/design your channel any way you see fit, like they are on the front page of YouTube. So I also look forward to that.

As for the rest of the changes rumored to be taking place today, I guess just… stay tuned.

Surviving the YouTube Redesign Mon, 13 Apr 2009 12:44:34 +0000 fallofautumndistro While my blog titles as of late may sound sensational, they are only a reaction to the first major overhaul of the site… ever. Since YouTube began, the site has functioned more-or-less the same with only cosmetic upgrades from time to time. We, the YouTube community, have not really had to go through such a radical change yet that actually affects the fundamental viewing experience for millions of visitors every day.

After my last blog post, I received two emails from YouTube, one from the head editor (who is in charge of the various category editors and what’s featured, etc.) and one from the head of the Partnership Program. I cannot post what those emails said; I can only tell you that the redesign may not be as doom and gloom as the blogs (this one included) have made it out to be.

That said, here is my biggest concern with the redesign. Currently on YouTube, Britney Spears and I are equals. Our videos both appear in all search results, both of our videos appear on the same honors lists, both of our videos have the opportunity to appear as Related Videos to any video on the site. This is called Discovery, to use a fancy analytics term. Currently, it is theoretically just as easy to discover one of my videos on YouTube as it is one of Ms. Spears’ videos.

However, after the redesign is complete, this will no longer be the case, from what I understand*. Separating Premium Content from User-Generated Content (UGC) will not take away any of the audience we already have, but it will immediately stop all growth of our audience, aside from word of mouth.

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world, behind Google. If your UGC video ranks highly in any search, new viewers are able to find your videos every day. New viewers mean new subscribers. If our UGC videos no longer rank among the Premium videos when searched, or honored, or related… our viewership growth is going to hit a brick wall. With viewers growing bored of YouTube, or moving on to other sites every day, we count on new subscribers to take their place. Without the new subscribers every day, yes, our audience would start shrinking.

The best way to combat this redesign is to make your own views. Don’t rely on YouTube to send viewers to your videos, as they’ve done in the past via search results, spotlights, features, honors charts, related videos, etc. You need to put in the legwork again, like back when you were first starting out and didn’t know anyone else on the site.

  • Let people know when you make a new video. Update your twitter friends. Embed it in your blog. Post a link to it on relevant forums. Put the link in your email signature. Do video swaps with your friends (you feature their video on your channel and they feature yours). Just get it out there.
  • Ask for help. It never hurts to ask. People are always willing to help, but most of the time they need a “call to action”. Ever wonder why the vloggers who ask for comments or ask for ratings have hundreds more of both than the vloggers who don’t? Simple. They asked for them. Ask your friends to pass along your video link to just two other people. If your video mentions, or would be interesting to, a bigger YouTuber, send it to them, ask if they’d share your link with their viewers. They certainly aren’t obligated to, and you wouldn’t want to send them every video you make. But I’ve found the occasional ask for help has yielded amazing results.
  • Reciprocate. No one likes the kid on the playground who doesn’t share. If you see a video that you enjoy, throw the link up on twitter. If you see a video that is amazing, let it spend a little time in your autoplay, or make a video response! If others see you promoting good videos and smaller YouTubers, they will be more willing to do the same for you. Always practice what you preach. And do it because you want to help, not because you expect anything in return.

When you take YouTube out of the equation, and rely less on them for views, then changes like the one we are due to see this Thursday will impact you less. No one can fault YouTube for the changes they are about to make. They are losing money, and are trying to fix that. While not everyone sees eye-to-eye about how this can best be done, it does rally the troops and give us a reason to remember why we’re on the site and care so much about this change in the first place: the interaction.

*this is based solely on speculation and unconfirmed reports from other blogs and online media sources. YouTube has, as of yet, made no official statements about the redesign, so we won’t know for sure until Thursday. Either way, the advice given in the article is still relevant and useful, even if the redesign does not impact us as much as we’ve been told it will.

The End of YouTube? Thu, 09 Apr 2009 12:35:38 +0000 fallofautumndistro As most of you have heard by now, April 16th is going to be a very important day for those in the YouTube community. For those of you who haven’t heard, in exactly one week, YouTube is planning a major redesign of their website.

The redesign will structure the website so as to promote commercial content partners (CBS, ESPN, Disney and many other corporate content creators), while “hiding” the user generated content under a single tab called “Videos”.

Alongside the Videos tab will be tabs for Movies, Music and Shows, all of which will feature premium (read: corporate) content only. This is no doubt a move to make the site more attractive to advertisers. According to Wikipedia, YouTube burns through a million dollars per day in bandwidth costs, and only brings in $200 million per year in revenue. Do the math then and you’ll see YouTube is actually losing $165 million per year for Google.

However, by spotlighting and promoting “safer”, more advertiser-friendly content on 75% of the site, YouTube might be able to even out their expenses-to-income ratio. But I think they are going about it all wrong.

The user-generated content is what gave YouTube its edge, its atmosphere, and its press. No one wants to report about a website that lets you watch the same content you can already watch on TV. Almost every piece of press I’ve read about YouTube has focused on the viral videos or success of its homegrown users, the Michael Buckleys and LisaNovas and vlogbrothers… not its Universal Music videos.

So, unlike most users who tend to complain, but offer no solutions, let me suggest YouTube that you take the following steps before sweeping your real users under the rug:

1. Partner (almost) everyone. This seems like a no brainer. Hire part-time college students to watch and approve monetized videos, because I understand you can’t just blindly approve every video uploaded for monetization. College kids work cheap, and getting paid to watch YouTube videos is a pretty sweet deal. Then, Partner every single user you can. I don’t care if they only have 31 subscribers, they’re using your bandwidth, and getting views on each video, and each of those views could have been monetized. Multiply that by the millions of users who fall into this category, and you’re talking some serious extra cash, YouTube.

2. Promote more of your Partner’s videos. I’ll never understand why, on average, only 30% of the featured/spotlighted videos are monetized videos. You have millions of hits coming to your front page every day; send those views to videos that bring in some cash.

3. Connect advertisers with Content Creators. I know you already do this for a very limited, very select group of individuals. But hire someone full time to connect advertisers with eager content creators. So many companies want to pay your top users to hock a product or service, I know this because, after writing my book, they’ve been contacting me to help broker these deals. Marketers don’t know how to contact your top users, and users don’t know how to negotiate a deal once contacted. Step in and help facilitate these deals, take 15% for your troubles. The content creators won’t mind, because they’ll be making way more than they would on their own, and the marketers would love to have someone to contact about this.

I guess that’s it, for now. I’m sure my readers will have even more ideas for you in the comment section, YouTube. I just think, and everyone else does as well from what I’ve read, that you’re going about this all wrong by burying the worker ants who’ve carried you this far.

Purchase and Download YouTube Videos Thu, 19 Mar 2009 17:21:43 +0000 fallofautumndistro YouTube has recently announced a new feature which allows you to purchase and download YouTube videos in high quality. The feature is rolling out slowly, so only select content creators currently have the option.

Video creators can set the price at any level they see fit, or allow the video to be downloaded from YouTube for free.  In addition to setting the price for each downloaded video, the video owner can also choose from an array of licensing options, including public domain, creative commons or personal use only.

I’m currently making all of my music videos available for purchase, for 99 cents each (which is much less than iTunes charges for music videos) and each video is available with the Creative Commons, Attribution-Noncommercial license. My music video collection includes:

- “Gravediggers on Their Deathbeds” from imadethismistake
- “Sunkist” from imadethismistake
- “Chamber Pop” from imadethismistake and
- “In The Absence of Christmas” from Charlie(issocoollike) McDonnell

I’ve also made other select, popular videos available for download (with varying prices and licenses) including the “Now That’s What I Call Emo” video series and the iPhone parody commercial, “iPwn” featuring ex-MadTV cast member Lisa Donovan, among other videos.

Depending on the license option, I encourage you to remix or “mash” these videos after purchase.

This new option could inspire some innovative uses of YouTube channels in the future (I imagine a stock video channel in the future, supplying reasonably-priced clips for download to utilize in your videos as backgrounds or b-roll). I just wish they’d provide a PayPal option alongside the Google cart.

YouTube Musicians Release CD Tue, 17 Mar 2009 12:30:28 +0000 fallofautumndistro Are you one of the 300,000 people subscribed to DaveDays? How about one of charlieissocoollike’s 125,000 subscribers? If so, you’re familiar with their music. They, like thousands of other bedroom musicians, have been using YouTube for years to reach their listeners and fans. But until now, fans were stuck with refreshing YouTube videos to hear their favorite musicians’ songs.

I recognized this problem a few months ago, and teamed up with Hank Green (vlogbrothers) to create DFTBA Records, a record label solely for YouTube musicians. And, today, we are releasing our first compilation CD, DFTBA Records, Volume One.

The compilation CD features new songs from YouTube musicians Dave Days, Hank Green, Julia Nunes, myself, Chameleon Circuit, Dr. Noise, eddplant, charlieissocoollike, musicfromblueskies, Tom Milsom, Michael Aranda, sweetafton23 and nerimon.

The compilation album is available now as a digital download (mp3 format) from AmazonMP3 and will later be available on iTunes and on CD. It will be exciting to see how these bands grow once they are not restrained to just YouTube video windows.

DFTBA Records has numerous releases planned for this summer, including a full debut album from Dave Days, in addition to the highly-anticipated Chameleon Circuit debut.

Book winners and a special offer! Mon, 02 Mar 2009 17:10:47 +0000 fallofautumndistro Thank you to everyone who signed up for my email newsletter and entered the drawing for one of three free copies of my new YouTube book. The three random winners were chosen and contacted yesterday (I assigned everyone’s email address a number and then asked my friend Rachael to pick three numbers). Please check the email address you used to enter the drawing to see if you won!

If you did not win, my publisher, O’Reilly Media has been kind enough to offer a 35% off coupon, so you can still get a copy of the book, if you’d like, at a substantially reduced price!

To use the 35% off coupon, simply click here to order my book, then, during checkout, enter the coupon code YUT35.

Thanks again everyone who entered. Good luck with your YouTube channels. And stay tuned here for tips and columns about making better videos, getting more eyeballs to those videos, and better enjoying your time spent on YouTube.

PS. Need a video idea? Why not make a video response to my latest video “Ask Kevin Pollak!” for a chance to have Hollywood film star Kevin Pollak answer your question in his next video!