YouTube for artists
5 steps before starting an art channel
Last year I made 250 videos and grew from 0 to 1000 subscribers. There are a few things I wish I knew before starting my channel. Today I will share them with you so you can start out better than I did.
#1: Define Your Niche
A niche is a special market segment. Imagine your art video is a product, who would like to consume this product? Obviously your art or art videos are not for everyone. Trying to promote your art channel to everyone, you will end up with no one interested. Can you describe your art content using 3 words? For example “watercolor animal tutorial”. Just try your best to take the 3 most representative qualities of your future videos.
What I learned
When I started this channel, I wanted to make art business advice. In fact, I could have narrowed down this niche further. Our channel would be more successful if I would have just talked about social media for artists, or sell art online, or get gallery representation. I felt like my niche was too big, like a snake trying to swallow a rabbit.
#2: Know Your Competition
Although your art is unique, your art channel still has a lot of competition. More and more artists have started their channels on Youtube in the past decade. Learn from your competition! Do your research and write down a list of your competition. You have defined your niche in the last step. Write your niche in the search bar on Youtube, and see the channels on the first page. Install TubeBuddy ( the free version)
- See who is the most successful
- What tags are they using?
- Read the comment section: what kind of things people ask?
#3: Research Keywords
As a small Youtuber with very few subscribers, you will have to rely on the keyword search to give you traffic. Those keywords could be from Youtube or Google search. 40% of my internal traffic is from YouTube search and 50% of my external traffic comes from Google search. As a small Youtuber, likely keyword search is going to be the number one source of traffic.
How to rank for your videos?
You want your videos to rank on the top of the search results when people search for keywords in your niche, you need to mention these keywords throughout the video. Include them in your title, put them in the description and tag them as well.
#4: Schedule Your Uploads
Uploading constantly is the key to success. I recommend at least upload twice a week, e.g. Wednesdays and Saturdays. Reserve some time for your video production. Find it hard to squeeze more time from your already busy schedule? Bring your camera with you every day so you can film yourself doing things, such as visiting an art exhibition or going on a trip. Becoming an artist Youtuber is a commitment. Scheduling will help you keep organized and productive.
Bonus tip: Add Value
Ask yourself, why do people want to watch your videos? Are you telling them something they don’t know? Are you teaching them something? Are you funny? Make your videos worth their time, that’s the value you are giving. List a few bullet points that are the most valuable.
I know you might want to follow your heart when it comes to showing your art. This isn’t the best way to start especially if you are a small Youtuber. If very few people are interested in your subject, there is no way you can grow quickly.
Youtube for artists basics
Light is the most important thing. Luckily it can be done completely for free if you record in a bright place with natural light. You can use the window light in your room. If you don’t have a lot of light, try to stay and put the camera as close to the window as possible, always face the window if you are recording a video of yourself. If you have too much light, then you can put a curtain over it to reduce it and have nice diffusion.
If you record during the night, you need to add some artificial lighting. There are several options in the market, the LED panels, the tubes, the energy-saving bulbs. I use the cheaper ones, it does the job.
You need to ideally have 3 points of light, two on each side of you and one behind you. It’s called a hair light. Of course, if you have hair.
This one you can send 1000 dollars, or nothing apart from your camera. You can use the on-camera mic, but usually, it’s not as good. So I would recommend some kind of shotgun mic if you record any speech. It’s anything from 50 dollars to 150 dollars.
There are 3 kinds of cameras you can choose from:
What I like the most is DSLR because you can use the same camera to produce high-quality photo and video. A good DSLR costs from 800$ to 2500$, for example, Canon 80D is a good choice. I am recording with a Canon 70D migrating from 60D. Make sure you have a flip screen so you can record on your own.
#4 Camera movement
When I say camera movement, it’s not only limited to when it’s moving. Most of the times your camera is fixed on a tripod. You can spend $50$-$100 on a tripod, make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold your camera even in the wind. Also, you can consider camera stabilizer such as an Osmo, so you can make a video while walking around. For example, if you are in an art exhibition and you want to show each work in a smooth shot. Osmo Mobile 2 can help you achieve this at the cost of $150. But it won’t be cinema-quality, so don’t expect too much from $150 gear!
Learn by trying
When you see a movie, you see a long list of crews. It is because there are many specialists in different domain working together to achieve this amazing quality film. If you want to make your video professional and nice, you need to spend time and learn. It can take you a few hours to try different setup and upgrade gears for optimal results.
Youtube artists Channels
Style of content
Before making your first video, you need to make a brainstorm (alone or with others) on the kind of content you will make. It can be vlog or tutorials, or anything you think it can bring value to the viewers at the same time you enjoy doing. Perhaps you can list all the topics and kinds of videos you would like to make, and ask a target audience to point out which ones they think most helpful. Narrow it down a little more to a small niche. You can start making some and slowly find your way.
Here are some types of Youtube video content made by artists:
#1: ‘Draw with me’ type drawing chatting
‘Draw with me’ is usually personal stories combined with a time lapse of drawing. I like the channel of Minnie Small (323K), an artist based in London. She usually draws at the same time talks to the camera. She films from above the timelapse while talking about her life and the story behind the pictures. I like her calming and natural, very straightforward personality. It makes you feel she is already your friend after watching a handful of her videos.
Peter Draws (683K) is another more outgoing crazy version of drawing and chatting. He is also talking about what happens in his life and make a lot of interactions with his fans.
It is a great way if you don’t have a lot of time to make videos. Your filmmaking is not taking more time than making art. One stone two birds! And because it’s personal, you can make a more engaging community, that leads to Patreon patronage.
Making tutorials is like a no brainer idea for a Youtube channel idea. If you are not very outgoing and funny like Peter, you can make tutorials like Katie Jobling (184K). She is quieter just sit there and make art. But don’t get me wrong, I am not saying she doesn’t work much. She does a lot of post-production cutting in and out of her canvas to show the details.
See how Bob Ross (2,4M) nailed it. He had a deep quiet sexy voice and a lot of his audience watched his videos to relax instead of learning how to paint. I don’t think you should copy Bob Ross because he was the very first established television artist, and you will be under his shadow. I’m trying to say you don’t have to be a clown to get views attention, as long as you establish your own style.
#3: Art school Vlogs
If you are an art school student, and you want to use your schoolwork and school life as a part of the video content, then you can see this video made by JelArts (308K) from Canada. She shared some of her art school projects and some of her practice draws. Even when you think you are only an art student while not yet ‘ready’, you can already start making videos, and there is a market for it! Also, it can serve an online portfolio for any potential employer or business partner to see your progress at school, so they know you work hard towards your goals.
#4: Art supplies reviews
Hulloalice (307K) makes all kinds of videos, including fine art material and digital gadget reviews. She has even made a playlist for each subject matter, and it’s very well organized. Making reviews can help you get sponsorship from brands if you are looking for an extra income (and plenty of free samples to try out).
Perhaps you have seen this video called drawing 24h straight recently by ZHC (1M). It’s one kind of challenge videos, you can have also draw everyday challenge, or draw with eyes closed challenges etc. It can be a good way to keep yourself motivated and keep raising the bar.
#6: Artist Tips
Apart from the tutorial you can share some of your best practices with fellow artists. For example, how to not be scammed by people who pretend to buy your art and paying fake cheques, a video made by Lena Danya (448K). Among other content, these artist tips videos I found most popular and helpful.
#7: Art Comedy
Artist life can be a source of humor. Yes, it is! Checkout Robin Sealark (371K), she has many videos just very funny.
Slowly but surely
Perhaps seeing all these huge accounts makes you feel intimidated. Don’t worry, you can start from just a few videos and slowly grow. Once you have a couple of thousand followers you can already make a living on your Youtube channel. For example, Djamila Knopf (5,9K) told in an interview that she could cover her food and rent using Patreon thanks to Youtube and Instagram.
You can see all of the examples above are quite successful, and their image qualities are superb. They are mostly filmed on a DSLR. So you do need to master your camera skills apart from your content ideas.
YOUTUBE STUDIO SETUP (VIDEO ONLY)
- light check
- sound check
- camera setup.
Record your first video
Here is a walk through your very first youtube video production. There are four simple steps you need to follow in order to produce high-quality videos that reflect your personality and provides useful information to your viewers.
#1: Write a script
The first video I suggest you make is your introduction video, which will be your channel cover. It can be set to play automatically whenever there is a new visitor to your YouTube channel. In your script you might want to include:
- Who you are?
- Where you live?
- What do you do?
- What kind of art do you make?
- Why you make this kind of art?
- What will you be doing in these videos?
- What you can bring to the audience?
- Then call-to-action: ‘Please subscribe and like this video’!
Now you are ready to make your very first video? Excellent. Before actually recording it, there are a few things you need to do:
#2: Find your SEO keywords
For every video, you need a keyword strategy. Why? Because your video alone cannot be found. Unless you have an enormous amount of social media following elsewhere (Instagram or Facebook), otherwise you don’t have followers on Youtube who will discover your videos. Find some keywords that best describe your video and enter in Google search bar. For example: ‘abstract artist’ or ‘abstract art paintings’. I use some SEO tools to verify the keywords. My favourite tool is Keywords Everywhere (Update: not free anymore we will propose another list of tools) it’s a web browser plugin that gives you data on search volume and competition.
For example in this case below, there are 2900 persons per month searching for “abstract artist”, the cost per click (CPC indicates that the investment on Google Ads is pretty high, and the Competition is from 0 to 1, so it would be better if you start to find out closer to 0 than 1. We will make an article on SEO for artists later.
#3: Search your competition
Now you can see a list of people making a video or writing articles on how to draw anime. They are your competition. Do thorough research on your most competent competitors and see how you can ‘beat’ them. Perhaps you can make better videos? Or longer video explaining more things? Or very different videos? Make sure you bring more value to your viewers.
Now you can hit the REC button and start recording. Practice makes perfect! Probably you won’t get it right the first time. Don’t worry you can do several takes and later in post-production, you can mix different takes. Just wear the same outfit and same hairstyle so you don’t make your videos ‘jumpy’.
Edit your YouTube videos
Why Premiere Pro
In the past, I was using a different kind of software to edit my videos. Now, I mostly only use Adobe Premiere Pro. The reasons I switched from Final Cut to Adobe Premiere are:
- it works better for teams
- works natively with other Adobe CC software
- it works on both PC and Mac.
There are many more options for hobby filmmaker today and they are not bad options. However, if you are an artist, you totally should learn Adobe Premiere because likely you are working with Photoshop already, and you might do a video art project in the future. It’s a great tool if you have some time to invest.
Now I will show you how I do my editing, and show you how easy it is to make your own videos.
#1: Make a New Project
Launch your Premiere. You will see a welcome screen. Look for the ‘New Project…’ button and hit that. You will see the settings for your new project. Make sure you save this project in the desired folder and make the naming according to your own naming convention. I name it numerically, and this is the video 073 of ‘Art Money Talk’. You don’t need to set anything else, just hit the OK button.
#2: Edit your project
This is a classic Editing layout. The next step is to Import your video files.
- Locate your video files on your memory card.
- Find the right file you wish to import to your video project and drag it to this area of your screen, or double click this area, or go to File –
- Import and select the files you wish to import. You can hover over the file to see its metadata.
#3: Create a new Sequence
- It’s very easy, you only need to drag a video over. It will create a sequence according to the clip. Now you can Trim your video by sliding the beginning or the end of the video.
- Cut the video by pressing ‘C’ on your keyboard to access the cutting tool.
- To go back to a normal cursor, just press ‘V’ on your keyword.
- You Ripple Delete will eliminate the gap between two clips. You can right click on the gap and this option will appear.
- Now you know how to Trim, Cut, Ripple Delete. You can make videos only using these tools.
#4: Add a Slide
It’s easy to add an image on top of your video.
- You can drag and drop a screenshot, and it will just stay on top of the image.
- You can create a Color Matte as a background for your inserted image.
- Choose a color. You can change the color of this Color Matte later.
- Extend the duration of these clips if you wish.
#5: Add Texts
- You can add texts (title or subtitle) if you want. It’s called Legacy Title. Title 01 OK. Don’t worry it’s quite smart it will fit your sequence setting.
- Now you can point and type some words.
- There is not saving button, close this window and it will be saved. Find your title 01 alongside your other files.
- Now you can drag it on top.
#6: Change Speed
Wish to change the speed of your clip? Select the clip and press Command and R at the same time to access the speed panel. This is very useful when you want to show your painting process but some parts of the video you are a bit slower.
#7: Export your project
- Now I have finished my project. It’s time to export it. When you have everything ready, you can export your video.
Go to File – Export – Media. You will see your export screen.
- Make sure it is H.264, that is the most popular encoding for Youtube videos.
- Now go to Preset. There are a lot of Presets but I tend to use Match Source – High Bitrate for optimal image quality.
- Now you can hit Export.
Now you can relax and make a tea, in a while your video will be made. See how easy it is? In as short as 10 minutes, I am able to show you how to make a video. This is just a very simple tutorial. If you wish to do more, there are infinite ways to make different visual effects.
Capture your art for YouTube
The OBS Studio is the older one, originally designed to make online streaming. Their screen recording function made it very popular as one of the favourites among gamers and artists.
As you can see it has plenty of settings, probably too many! You can see the sources, the layout, the image quality, file format as well as sound bitrate and plenty of other things. Once you hit finish recording, you will have the file automatically generated to the default Movie folder (or the folder of your choice).
I like to set it to MP4 and 25 fps, which works with Premiere Pro flawlessly.
I just discovered Loom screen recorder not long ago. It’s a very handy online screen recorder. I have downloaded and installed the Loom on Mac in less than 3 minutes. It is very easy and simple to set up too.
You have 3 options here: your webcam with a screen, just screen or just the camera. What I really like is the cute little dot, instead of a square, which is commonly seen in other screen recording software. Once you hit the Loom logo again, it will stop recording and the file will be uploaded to their server. You can see a window automatically pop up with the video you have just recorded. Now you can share or download, or even trim this video within this ‘my video’ online folder.
OBS or LOOM for artists
OBS and Loom are very different. OBS is for local screen recording with high sophisticated settings, while Loom is the next generation online recorder that is super shareable and social. OBS has a more steep learning curve but more professional, and Loom has a more friendly interface for total beginners. I guess what you can do, is to get them both and use them for different things. For example, OBS for a longer tutorial with a lot of layers and details, and Loom for a quick tutorial you send to individual students. Go ahead and play with them. Happy screen recording!
Best Tripods for YouTube Artists
There are several types of tripod legs: the mini tripods such as Gorillapods, photo tripods and video tripods. Gorilla tripods are great for your phone or travel, but not ideal to shoot your art. Especially if you want to take your photography or videography to the next level, you will find many ‘shortages’ of these tripods.
Photo or video tripods
Now we are left with two choices: photo tripod, which is like this with 3 legs that are separated from each other, independently adjustable; video tripod, that has 3 legs joined together by foldable horizontal bars. If you plan to take photo and video of your art, I would totally recommend you to take a photo tripod. It’s more flexible and versatile.
Some tripods have this horizontal centre column, which is great for shooting overhead shots. For example, you want to shoot from above your desk. If you use a DSLR, you do need to use a counterweight: this function is a lifesaver for many artists.
Once you have tripod legs, now you need to choose a tripod head. There are 3 types of tripod heads:
#1: The Ball head
The most common tripod head. When you purchase a photo tripod, likely it will come with a ball head. If you are shooting a lot of photos quickly in different angles, get a quick-release ball head, which is commonly known as a joystick. It allows you to use one head to operate while the other hand to adjust your camera settings.
#2: The 3-way head
Great for fine-tuning, especially if you shoot certain kind of artworks that requires precision. You can adjust one of the axes individually with more control over during the setup. It’s normally used for studio photography and macro photography. The 3-way head tends to be cheaper. At the same price point, it can hold heavier cameras.
#3: The video head
Also called a video fluid head. It allows you to make very soft movements during your video recording. But it doesn’t allow you to tilt your camera to the side. If you want to make a vertical photo or video, this is totally useless.
The best choice for tripod legs would be a sturdy photo tripod with a horizontal center column. If you would like to use it as an easel sometimes, you also make sure you buy a heavier one. The most versatile tripod head is a ball head. If you photograph a lot of art in a short time span, make sure you get a joystick. Totally you are looking to spend $150-$250 but it would be money well spent.