Over the past few months, I've discussed different platforms to help writers build their author platforms. These include Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Podcasts. Today, I want to discuss another underrated social media platform that many writers aren’t taking advantage of - Youtube.
Therefore, I wanted to invite writer Bethany Atazadeh to the blog to answer a few questions and teach us a few things.
Note: This blog post will be styled as an interview.
J: As many of you guys are familiar with here on the blog, I’ve done a lot of tips and tricks for writers to build their author platform and their author brand. These include articles on Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter. Recently, I also did an article on Podcasting with my CP. However, some readers also wanted to see an article on tips and tips for starting a YouTube channel and using it as an effective tool to build and market their author platform. Therefore, I wanted to invite Bethany Atazadeh onto the blog to provide us with some helpful advice.
Bethany welcome to the blog! I have about 10-12 questions that I’m dying to know the answers to. Ready to get started?
B: Let’s go for it!
J: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
B: Sure! I was a writing major in college, but only really got serious about it around the end of 2016. My entire department at work was laid off, but we had some notice plus severance pay, so I used a lot of that time to come back to the book I’d started in college, which is my debut novel, Evalene’s Number.
J: What made you decide to start a YouTube channel?
B: When I discovered Authortube, it had such a HUGE impact on my author journey. I feel like it put me on the fast track, where I could skip a few steps because someone had been there before and paved the way. So now that I’ve gained so much experience, I want to also share what I’ve learned and hopefully help someone else in the same way.
J: And you’re doing just that! I loved the series you did on children’s books after you wrote The Confident Corgi!
What did it take to get started on YouTube? Did you need specific equipment or hardware? What would you recommend people starting out on YouTube purchase?
B: Thank you so much!! That was such a fun series!
Funny you ask, I didn’t purchase anything actually. I had my MacBook computer already, which comes with iMovie, but that’s it! Because my YouTube channel was originally for my music videos, I’d done a lot of editing in the past, so I just kind of jumped into it. Last month, I finally invested in an inexpensive microphone and a light.
The microphone is a Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone, Cardioid – Black and the lights were a LimoStudio softbox lighting kit. I think they did wonders for my videos but definitely weren’t vital. A good window, daylight, and volume control make a huge difference too!
J: I’m curious. What made you switch from music to Authortube? Do you still do both? Do you think already having a platform on YouTube made it easier to do Authortube?
B: I haven’t switched, so much as just gradually stopped doing music videos over the years. When I met my now husband, I was all twitter-pated and had no time for making music videos. I also got a promotion at work at the time. Long story short, I just sort of stopped making videos a few years ago, with an occasional video here and there. I still enjoy doing music with my church worship team though!
To answer your second question, about platform, I’d say that it helped that I knew how to edit. That was a steep learning curve back when I did the music videos, but Authortube is a whole new animal and so is speaking on camera versus singing, so I’m still learning all the time!
J: Do you record your videos using your MacBook or do you use a video camera?
B: I record on my MacBook. I don’t actually own a camera that records besides my phone!
J: Your videos look so professional! You do such a great job with such a few items!
What’s been the biggest challenge for you when it comes to YouTube?
B: Thank you so much!!! They’re getting better. The ones when I started are embarrassing!
The biggest challenge I’d say is making sure I post content that’s both relevant and not a regurgitation. Something that people really need, that isn’t already overdone. For example, I don’t want to repeat what another Authortuber is doing at all! I really respect all these amazing authors and point people to them and their videos all the time, so if I’m going to do a video, I’m going to make sure it’s a) my own unique take on it or b) something I haven’t seen anyone else do.
J: That’s a great attitude! Because of your viewpoint, do you find it hard to come up with content ideas? Do you have a vlogging schedule?
B: Maybe at first when I was starting, but now I have literally written out enough content ideas to last to the end of the year! I have so many I want to do, it’s driving me crazy! I have a list of all my video ideas planned out, but they’re flexible. Usually, the next 4-5 are pretty solid. But I’m slow to actually record them. I’ve decided to try “batch recording” in the future which is when you film 2-4 (or more) in one day. That would be a huge time saver. Up till now, I’ve been too busy with Pearl’s Number to film more than one at a time.
J: Do you have an expected release date for Pearl’s Number?
What do you love most about YouTube and the Authortube community?
B: I do! I’ll be announcing it hopefully in the next couple of weeks!
I love that you can share more than just one tiny post of information. I love learning and I’m super wordy. When I share what I learned in an Instagram post, I feel like I’m barely touching the surface of the iceberg. And I keep finding more Authortubers to follow – the community is larger than I originally realized! I have enough videos in my “watch later” queue to last me a month!
J: Same! My “watch later” queue is jam-packed! I need an entire day to get through everything! Who are some of your favorite Authortubers?
B: I started with Jenna Moreci and Kristen Martin and I also really enjoy Kim Chance, Natalia Leigh, Brooke Passmore, Mandi Lynn, Alexa Donne, iWriterly, Jessi Elliott, Lindsay Cummings…oh my gosh, I’m blanking on who else right now, but I know I’m leaving out a bunch of people.
Oh! My friend Brittany Wang just started her brand new Authortube channel and it’s already amazing!
J: I was just about to mention Brittany too! All of those Youtubers have been helpful to me as well! Do you think YouTube has been helpful in helping you grow your author platform? If yes, how so?
B: I think it’s helpful in that it’s a search engine. While Instagram or Twitter posts will continue to be pushed back into the past, a YouTube video can continue to be found by new people all the time. If I make awesome content, then that could be viewed for years! So, I imagine that as I carefully cultivate my channel and continue making helpful videos, it can only benefit my author platform!
J: Any tips or tricks for authors who want to try Authortube?
B: I’d say a good tip would be to watch Sunny Lenarduzzi on YouTube. She’s amazing! She basically gives a ton of advice to anyone wanting to start a YouTube channel and how to grow. One of her biggest tips that I think is most important is getting really focused with your channel when you first start. I could have done a travel vlog plus a Penny video plus more singing videos or whatever else, but I narrowed my focus to writing and publishing tips. That really helps people know what they’re signing up for.
J: Great tip! I’ll have to check her out.
I know you do writing tags and collaborate with others on YouTube. Has it been hard to reach out to other writers? Do you have any tips for doing so?
B: I would say it hasn’t been hard because I’ve really made an effort to form relationships first, and to make sure we enjoy chatting and would have fun collaborating on a video. Looking back, I’ve learned a lot, and I would probably try to spend even more time building a friendship before asking to collaborate, just so they would always know it comes from a genuine place. When I do ask, I always make sure that it’s also beneficial to them. For instance, I’m not going to ask someone with a huge following to collaborate because that’s not fair to them. I try to ask people with equal or similar passions and subscribers.
J: Good tip! I blog, but when I do collaborations or guest blog posts, I try to do the same.
How do you advertise your channel or get it in front of your audience?
B: I try to remember to share the videos on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, but I don’t always remember! I’d say because YouTube is basically a search engine, the best way to get in front of an audience is to 1) create content people are actually searching for and 2) make sure I use really intentional keywords in the title, description, and tags.
But, I’m brand new at this so I should add that I’m not by any means a pro. I’m still researching and learning about keywords all the time!
J: That can be good though! I would rather interview and watch people who are like you and friendly, helpful, and down to earth; it’s so much more fun with people who are approachable rather than with those who act like they have it all figured out.
What about graphics? Do you find it hard to create your images for your videos?
B: Aww thank you!
I didn’t even know that creating thumbnails was a thing when I started! But, when I discovered Canva, which is completely free, it was a game changer. I’m not saying I always know what I’m doing, but I always have fun with it!
J: I love Canva! It’s what I use for the blog and it’s so easy. Free always helps too!
Last question: If you could change anything about your YouTube channel what would it be?
B: Yes! Love free things haha!
There’s a ton of stuff I messed up, but that was the learning curve, you know? I feel like if I hadn’t learned by trial and error, I’d probably just make similar mistakes down the road with more followers watching. Better to dive in now and accept imperfections. I sometimes wonder if I should have started a brand-new channel separate from my music, but that’s a huge part of who I am, and who knows, maybe I’ll go back to making music videos too someday!
J: I really hope you do! Thank you so much, Bethany, for agreeing to do this with me! This post is going to be so helpful!
B: Aww thank you!
Bethany Atazadeh is a Minnesota-based author of YA novels and children's books. She graduated from Northwestern College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a Writing Emphasis. After graduation, she pursued songwriting, recording, and performing with her band, and writing went on the back-burner. In 2016, she was inspired by the NaNoWriMo challenge to write a novel in 30 days, and since then she hasn’t stopped. She is passionate about God, her husband, writing, painting, music, and dogs, specifically her Corgi puppy, Penny.
I hope you enjoyed reading this interview-style blog post, as much as I did! If you have any questions or tips you would like to share, please leave them in the comments down below.