Do you want to start a booktube channel? If you’re not aware of what it is, congratulations for just waking up from a deep slumber.
Booktube is an amazing community on YouTube that talks about books. Think of book reviews, TBRs, wrap ups, book hauls, book challenges, book tags and book discussions. There’s so much more than that on Booktube and I am a proud member of this community.
I am also one of the first few and oldest Booktubers in India. Even though, India has a large reading population, the community is growing at a snail’s pace in the country. However, I have been running a Booktube channel for about three years (on and off) now and I have a few tips to share with the budding Booktubers.
A lot of the advice is unique to the community but there’s a lot of advice that will help anybody who wants to start a YouTube channel as well. Warning: It’s going to be a long post, like every other post on this blog. I like details and stories.
I have been running the channel for three years (on and off) but the point to notice is how many subscribers I got in two years – just about 1000. Then I made videos regularly for 2 months and 18 days and I got a 1000 more. At the time of writing this post, I have 7700 subscribers growing at the rate of about 800 new subscribers every month. The quick growth can all be attributed to my consistency of making videos.
You cannot ignore the point that growth on YouTube after a certain point (which I safely assume is 1000 subscribers) is indeed exponential. That means, once you hit, say, 5000 subscribers, you’ll grow at a much faster rate than when you had, say, 1000 subscribers. But even then, your consistency matters a lot.
Not only would your viewers appreciate your effort even more but also the YouTube algorithm naturally favours consistent YouTubers. Now, either you can wait for years to let YouTube know that you’re consistent (by making 1 video a week) or you can hustle and let YouTube know how serious you’re in a faster way (by making 1 video every day or every other day).
I chose the latter and make one video every alternate day. Here’s my experience on what difference this strategy could make in just one month.
2. Understand that you need to work hard on your Booktube channel
Being prepared for what you’re about to do impacts your performance. The term would mean the world to athletes but if you don’t know much about that field, let me share this.
There’s no quick way to gain popularity on YouTube. Of course, there has been some instances which made people popular in a day but they can be counted on fingers. All those thousands of Youtubers who are super successful have reached the point by working hard.
So, get ready to invest your mind and soul into what you’re about to do, into starting a Booktube channel and then, only then, move on to read the next points.
3. Focus on your video quality
Video quality isn’t just about having a good camera. Video quality is the overall experience you give the viewer and it includes the following points that you need to work on.
- Deciding the content of your video: Most of the Booktube channels out there focus on the usual formats of TBRs (where you show which videos you’ll read in the coming month), wrap ups (what books you read in the previous month), book hauls (what new stuff you purchased) and book reviews. However, there’s no limit to your imagination and you can make really different kinds of videos. There are book recommendations, reading tips, book buying tips, book tags, book challenges and more that you can do. You, ultimately, have to decide what content you want to make.
- Research on the content: Once you know what video you want to make, you need to focus on the technical aspect of it i.e. decide what the title and actual content of the video will be. Having a well-made layout of the content is necessary not only to grab attention of the viewer but also to market your video in a good manner after a point.
- Camera: Next part is shooting the actual video but it also includes several points you must know. First one is related to the main equipment you will need – a camera. You must invest in a good quality camera that would produce an HD video. Gone are the days when you could use just any device that would record. YouTube is a competitive space and people are choosy about what they see. If the visual appeal isn’t good enough, forget about your success.
- Lighting: Nobody likes dark videos. When it comes to daily vlogging, some footage shot in dark may still work but a whole video made while you sit in a badly lit room is a disaster. A lot of people may emphasise on natural lighting but you also need to learn how to use the lighting properly. If you’re very serious about the booktube channel, invest in artificial lighting for it will give you the liberty to shoot whenever you want to.
- Audio Quality: An external mic is needed to cut out the buzzing sound which is certainly very annoying to the ears. Also, good quality cameras like a DSLR would make your sound very weird because such cameras don’t have good built-in microphones. You will need to invest in an external one for good voice quality which makes a major difference to the overall appeal of your video.
- Framing: The subject of the video should be in focus. Read this line over and over again until you understand the meaning of it. What’s the subject? If you’re going to make a video talking about your life, you’re most likely to be the subject. Say, you’re discussing a book, the book and you are the subject here. Whatever you want to show the readers in the video is the subject. If you’re in the frame and talking to the viewer directly, the main subject is you. Most of the times in case of Booktube channel, you’ll be the subject. So, ensure the focus is on you. The frame should bring you in focus. Cut out the extra spaces, whatever will make the viewer divert from the subject even for a second or you will lose out viewers without you even noticing.
- Voice modulation: While making a video, voice modulation is often underestimated by people but talk to any good presenter and you will find them emphasising on the voice modulation. It makes your speech much more impressive and makes people hold on to your content and make them watch for a longer time without getting bored. Public speaking is an art. And making videos is very much public speaking. Learn it and master it.
- Editing: Lastly, learn how to edit videos or hire somebody to edit your videos. Editing is never just about joining the clips. It’s about cutting all the crappy parts of your videos, all those boring blabbering you did and all those filler voices that make your video longer than it should be. Adding in animations and slides are advanced editing techniques which you can do in advanced stages of your Booktube channel.
- Upload and optimise: Is a Youtube video just about uploading and forgetting it? No. You need to upload your video and optimise it so that people can find you. You already know the topic and know the title from step 1. Now, fill in the title, a good description, add some useful links, and add tags to your videos. Also, focus on building playlists that would help you organise your content. Make a good thumbnail that looks impressive. Use Canva for making your thumbnails. It’s great.
- Promote: Promote your videos on other social media channels. Don’t spam but never miss the chance of promoting your Booktube channel at relevant groups and occasions.
4. Don’t be discouraged by slow growth and haters
Never ever make the mistake to compare your channel about books to a channel of some other niche. Here’s what happens.
When you compare your channel to some other channel from the same niche, you can pick some valuable tips and advice on how you can make yourself better. By being in good terms with successful Booktubers, you can also learn some well kept secrets on how to get successful. But if you start comparing yourself with niches like beauty and comedy, you’ll probably end up in depression.
Their niche is different and really very popular. Funny videos are one of the most popular content that’s being watched on YouTube at present. People search for such videos much more than they search for books. So, your growth will be limited due to your very specific niche.
Is having a specific niche wrong? Hell No! It makes you unique. When I started my Booktube channel, nobody was doing that in India. Everybody asked me not to do it. They thought I should make a beauty channel.
I personally tried a beauty channel for a while as well. Fun fact: My booktube channel was actually a multi-niche channel until my first 100 subscribers. Then I decided to focus completely on booktube even when I knew there’s nobody in India who was doing it then and the publishing industry in the country is just not ready to accept this form of marketing. They still very much focus on promotion in traditional print media. So, ultimately there was no viewership, and no scope of business. I jumped into it while knowing that I will have to carve my niche, fight for viewership and convince some hard headed people that this works. I chose to do it.
Things are rapidly changing and Booktube is getting accepted even in India now. But the pace is slow. Let it not discourage you at all. Most of the successful Youtubers, even in the book community, have made videos for years (at least 3-4) before they actually got to the point that they inspire you to make videos. So, don’t expect the Goddess of luck to do you a favour and make you skip that wait period.
You need to be making videos during this time to actually have the luck be on your side.
Another thing that may get difficult to handle is hate. Check ‘hate on youtube’ and you will find several discussion videos about how tough it is and then how many people stopped making videos due to hate. When I say I made videos from 2015 on and off, it was purely because of hate.
There were people who said nobody wants to watch videos about books, I talk in a horrible manner, I don’t know how to talk in English, I am a sell out, I should not be reviewing books because I don’t deserve to, I don’t know how to wear lipstick properly so I shouldn’t make videos and what not. Such comments will bother you a lot.
They will keep bothering you until you decide to ignore them, learn to ignore them and learn that hate is a part of life of every successful person (moderately successful or highly successful, both). Deal with it. But never let it make you dwindle from your path. Never miss your schedule and keep making videos.
5. Run your Booktube channel like a business
A few days back, a person messaged me on Twitter saying how I should be a business woman for I run my channel so professionally. And that was a moment of accomplishment for me for I was lucky somebody noticed it. By no means I am saying I am professional at what I do.
- Professionalism (in general sense): It can be putting up videos on the schedule you have decided, having a professional appeal in your videos (everything I mentioned in point 3) and dealing with people in a genuine professional manner. It’s all very much required and is obvious I assume.
- Credibility: When you’re a Booktuber or even a YouTuber, you get to talk about a lot of products and get your message across a big platform. The more people you attract, the more responsible you have to get. While reviewing products and doing sponsored videos, you literally dance near this line that separates the genuineness from being fake. Although it’s your choice on what side you want to be, but in the long run, it will pay off to be on the genuine side. Trust me! Even when you think you’re smart and clever enough to never let people notice which side you’re on, they will. And if they discover you’re fake, they’ll burn you. So, better work on your credibility.
- Charging for the reviews: I am a firm supporter of charging for reviews and sponsored videos. Do it because you deserve to get paid for the effort you will make while creating your videos. But develop policies that will always help you maintain your credibility, no matter what amount you get paid. For example, I charge for doing book reviews. To maintain my credibility, I have a clause on how reviews would be totally based on my opinions and paying me doesn’t mean the author would get a positive review. It’s explicitly mentioned in every contract/email in bold. And then to exercise this point, I only take advance payments. So, no matter what I have to say about the book in the end, I get paid. It never makes me even need to think about credibility issue.
So, there you go! That’s my advice on how to start a Booktube channel and make it successful. What do you think of this? Do you have something to add in? Please do. Support the community for if we don’t support one another, who will!