Are you thinking about making art videos to promote your art on YouTube? Before you take the plunge, I encourage you to ask yourself the following 4 questions to see if it will be a good fit for you.
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But first. . . why make videos of your art at all?
There are two main reasons ANYONE tends to get into the video/YouTube scene.
The first reason is to document a journey or keep a log of their growth. Maybe they’re doing something remarkable like surviving cancer or bicycling cross-country or hiking Europe, and they want to record the journey.
The second reason is because they’re sharing information or promoting a product or service. It doesn’t matter what business you’re in, either—no matter what, you’ll find videos about that business on YouTube. There are experts out there who can help you do ANYTHING better, faster, easier, or cheaper, either through a product they sell, a course they teach, or some other thing that makes people’s lives better.
Artists easily fit into both of those categories. We have an artistic journey we can document, and create things that make people’s lives more fulfilling and beautiful.
Is the video scene right for you?
Video production, like all forms of marketing, are not a good fit for every artist. So before you start making plans to produce videos and build a YouTube following, let’s take a look at 4 specific questions to help you decide.
Question 1: Do you have the time?
To draw a decent following on YouTube, you need to publish new videos on a regular basis. Once a month is probably the minimum. Once a week (or more) is far better.
And remember, good video production is labor-intensive. Even if you can sit down and record a video by the seat of your pants (something few of us can do) you still need to edit it afterward. On average, expect to spend at least twice as much time editing a video as recording it. That doesn’t include exporting it to a YouTube-friendly format, uploading it, and promoting it—all of which take additional chunks of time.
Once you’ve published enough videos to attract viewers, you need to allot time to interact with those viewers. That may not amount to much at the beginning, but responding to comments and answering questions can definitely take more time than you expect if your videos become popular.
And then there are all the behind-the-scenes things like service and equipment upgrades, and so on. Those activities probably won’t require regular weekly attention, but you need to be prepared to spend the time and money when necessary.
Question 2: Do you have something to talk about?
Just like blogging, you need a specific focus for your videos. Your YouTube channel could be about your artwork style and techniques, and could center around tutorials. Or you could talk mostly about your life as an artist, with behind-the-scenes looks at how you work and live.
If you specialize in any kind of found art (let’s say modified antique household gadgets) you could make videos about your experiences looking for subjects, and how you modify them.
The key here is to know what you want your channel to be about. If you can condense that topic into a single sentence, so much the better. For example, the tagline on my blog is “Helping You Make Art You can be Proud Of.” That’s the kind of short, specific sentence you want to be able to come up with for your YouTube channel.
The more specific you can be in defining your topic, the better. Your tagline will help you decide whether or not a video idea is a good fit for your channel, and help you stay on course with your videos – essentially, if a video doesn’t fit under your tagline’s “umbrella” you’ll want to choose another topic instead.
Question 3: Can you think of 50 possible video topics?
Expanding on the previous question, it’s a good idea to list 50 topic ideas as titles related to your chosen focus before you get started. 100 is better, but list as many as you can. If all you come up with is 50, you know you have one year’s worth of videos to publish (if you’re aiming for at least one per week).
If those ideas also include a little description and plan for the video, so much the better. A description is helpful, especially several months later, so you can remember what the idea was originally.
The good news is, you don’t have to edit yourself as you write this list! Just let your imagination run free and write down everything that comes to mind. You probably won’t use all the ideas you come up with, and that’s OK. Some of them might be the springboard to other ideas. Don’t limit yourself by crossing off ideas before you write them down.
Question 4: Do customers or clients often have questions for you?
If you’ve been doing art for a while, stop and think about the things people ask you about your art. What questions are you asked frequently? What aspect of your work arouses the most curiosity in the people you’ve talked to about it?
Questions are a great way to get started making videos (as well as flesh out your list). If you go on camera and answer the question as completely as you can, you’ve got the perfect excuse to email the person who asked it, and share a link to that video. At that point, you’re just about guaranteed to have at least one viewer, and maybe they’ll subscribe to view more of your videos down the road.
The neat thing about questions is that if one person has asked a question, there are probably a dozen or more other people wondering the same thing. So you’re not wasting time by answering a single question – you’re probably answering questions for tens or hundreds of people who will view your art.
If you have enough questions, you can create a separate list from your video idea list. Just add new questions to the list as people ask them. Something as simple as answering questions could be a great foundation for your art channel on YouTube!
A lot of artists are making videos for YouTube to market themselves, and many of them are succeeding wildly. But that doesn’t mean you MUST produce videos to succeed in art.
There are many more factors to consider, including your own skill level (for example, are you ready to teach or share about your art?), your technical ability with cameras, lighting, and the internet, and even just how interested you are in creating videos in the first place.
If you don’t come up with satisfactory answers to the questions above, don’t sweat it. Videos may not be the marketing tool for you! Keep looking for tools that fit your business goals and circumstances. There are tons of different ways to get your art in front of a larger audience, and YouTube is only one of those many options!