Getting Started with YouTube
More than likely you’ve been a long-time YouTube viewer and perhaps you have often thought to yourself, “I’d like to record my game play and upload that content to YouTube for others to enjoy”! This is exactly the thoughts that entered my head a little over two years ago and I’d like to share my journey.
The Fine Print
LOL…yes, there’s a little “fine print” I would like to throw out there for your consideration. First, this is not meant to be the definitive guide to getting started with YouTube. Far from it actually. This is simply my journey, my thoughts, my opinions etc. on the subject. Anyone…yes, even YOU can record your video game play and upload that content to YouTube. The process isn’t rocket science once you gather a few key pieces of software which I’ll discuss later. But is that all you need to do? Can you then call yourself a YouTube Content Creator?
If you Build it, they will come
If you enjoy classic movies, then most likely you’ve seen the film “Field Of Dreams” starring Kevin Costner. The premise behind the movie was if the character played by Kevin Costner built a baseball field in the middle of his corn field, the players from the 1919 Black Sox Scandal would return to play baseball. He built the field and low and behold, the players showed up including Shoeless Joe Jackson. Nice story, but is running a YouTube channel as simple as Field of Dreams? Meaning, if I create a YouTube channel, will viewers flock to it and will I become a YouTube sensation overnight? I’ll return to this question in just a few minutes.
First Things First, WHY?
I just want to get you thinking about one simple word…WHY? Why do you want to start a YouTube channel? Again, this blog posting is not meant to be the definitive guide to getting started with YouTube. I’m merely sharing a few thoughts, ideas, concepts etc. with you which I’ve learned over the past two years. While you are contemplating on your own reasons of WHY, I’ll share mine…
I’ve been a huge fan of YouTube since it all began back in 2005. I began producing content on YouTube in 2007 under a different user account and completely different topic than video gaming. I produced and created “how to” content supporting the hobby and service of amateur radio (also known as ham radio). Amateur Radio is another hobby I’m passionate about and I enjoy speaking to fellow hams all over the country and world. Anyway, the entire idea behind my early start with YouTube was in an effort to share my knowledge with others.
Having a face for radio, I soon moved away from YouTube and started my own audio only podcast talking about and sharing information and knowledge. When I began my audio podcast, it was one of only two or three in existence related to the hobby. When I finally ended that show almost 8 years after it started, there was well over a dozen different podcasts related to amateur radio just in the USA alone. But after producing an average of two episodes per month, I felt I had talked about and shared just about everything I started out to do and felt it was time to move onto greener pastures.
But just like you, I had been watching many YouTube content creators producing excellent content on some of the simulation based games I also enjoyed playing. It felt like a good time to see if I could create a channel with more or less the same concept I used for my podcast so the GrizzlyBearSims YouTube channel was born.
Of course, I thought long and hard about what could I do that was different from some of the others. After all, regardless of the video games you choose to play/record…the general idea is going to be the same. Flight Sim videos will be about flying. Truck Sim videos will be about trucking and Farm Sim videos will be about farming.
Finding Your Niche
Yes, it helps to be different. I had been watching a lot of Farming Simulator 15 channels in an attempt to find one or two things which I could somewhat capitalize on and say this is how the GrizzlyBearSims channel will be different than everyone else. The first was to establish my channel as 100% Rated G. If you are unfamiliar with the motion picture rating system, a “G Rated” film is considered to be suitable for all ages. Regardless of anything else….I wanted the content I created for my channel to be suitable for all to enjoy.
The second area which I felt important was to be helpful. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean that I needed to become an agricultural expert and know everything there is to know about farming. Or worse, pretend to be that expert! No, I’m simply talking about being helpful to those who are wanting to enjoy the game and get more from it. I often talk about the fact that I’m just an IT Guy…I’m not a real life farmer. While I grew up in rural Texas and have had many agricultural experiences which I often reflect back on (including four years of FFA), I don’t actually know a lot about modern day farming. Nor do I really need to know a lot about it. What I know and what I strive to share with my viewers is simply agriculture based on the way Farming Simulator 17 depicts it. Part of this goal of being helpful is keeping an updated list of all the mods I’m using in my game play. Of course, there is nothing wrong with gaining real-life knowledge and applying that to the virtual world. I’ve learned more about real-life farming and I do strive to apply that knowledge as much as I can within the limits of the virtual world.
The third and final thing I’ll mention is remain humble. I really didn’t do much in the early days of my channel to promote it. I stuck to my plan and just produced the sort of content that I desired to watch. Yes, subscribers came and my numbers began to grow. Some stayed and some left. In time, the dozen or so subscribers I had became two dozen, then fifty, then one hundred, then two-hundred, five hundred etc. But each and every time I sit down to record an episode, I’m recording and producing that content based on the original dozen or so subscribers I had in the beginning. It is also why I try very hard to acknowledge each and every comment viewers leave for me on my videos.
Do you need to base your channel on these same principles? No, absolutely not. You’ll need to decide what works for you. But I do urge you to give the subject some thought and once you figure out your niche, stick to it and make it your own.
The Tools I use
At a minimum, you’ll need a method of capturing your game play so it can be uploaded to YouTube. Like most things in life, you’ll find there are a few different solutions for this task. Some GPU’s (graphic cards) may have the ability to capture/record your game play. Nvidia is one of these and provides a solution called Shadowplay a second very popular solution (and the one I use) is called OBS (Open Broadcast Software). OBS is super easy to setup and does an excellent job in capturing your game play (with voice audio) and also livestreaming. I recorded a video about a year ago regarding my specific OBS settings I use. You can view that video here. There are two varieties of OBS at the moment. The first is OBS Classic (that is what I discussed in the video I mentioned) and the second is OBS Studio. I’m now using OBS Studio, but I haven’t had the chance to record a video on that, but will try to do that at some point in the future.
As previously stated, OBS will capture the game video and game audio. But what about your audio. Do you plan to provide commentary while playing? In my opinion, the answer to that question should be YES! Some only upload their game play video without commentary. But very few YouTube content creators can do this is such a way to keep me engaged for the entire video. I personally believe it’s important to have audio commentary as part of your videos. This can be role play based or just talking about what you are doing, the weather, things going on in your life etc. But to do this, you’ll need a good microphone.
I won’t lie to you. I have a $500 microphone mounted onto a boom mic stand which I almost never use. The reason for this is I get pretty good audio from a brand of headsets I’ve used for years. The brand is Plantronics and they are designed for VoIP audio applications. I currently use a Plantronics USB headset model Blackwire 720. Now these won’t be the most expensive, nor will they be the cheapest headsets you can find….but they work very well and most importantly they work very well for me.
I simply have my headset audio configured to capture/record by OBS. OBS records my game play video/audio as well as my headset audio commentary into one file. If simplicity produces a quality product, then why overcomplicate it?
Are there other ways to do this? Yes, absolutely. But remember, this isn’t the definitive guide…this is the GrizzlyBearSims guide or way of doing things.
A Few more thoughts about audio
All things being considered, OBS (or even ShadowPlay) will do a pretty good job capturing your video game play. But you’ll need to do a little experimentation where it comes to audio levels. Most of the simulation based game titles I play (and record content from) have a few different audio controls to adjust audio/sounds from the game. If able, you’ll want to turn any control you might have for controlling music to ZERO. Any music which gets captured and included in your video will be subject to copyright rules. Leaving this audio in your final edited/rendered/uploaded video will most likely get you into trouble with YouTube. This includes the intro music for games like ATS, ETS2 and even Farming Simulator 17. Ask me how I know this? Yep…I learned the hard way.
You may also need to individually adjust audio controls for other sounds including vehicle engine noise, birds singing etc. You don’t want your audio commentary to be lower in volume than your tractor sounds. There is a happy medium and experimentation will help you achieve the perfect mix.
To Record Audio During or After….that is the question!
OK…one last comment regarding audio. I personally record my audio during game play and I allow OBS to capture/mix both the game audio and the audio from my headset at the same time. This process works well for me and I believe I receive acceptable results. Some will use an additional piece of audio software called Audacity to capture their voice audio then they mix the two together during post production. While I personally believe this process will give you more control over your spoken audio, it is an extra step which I simply don’t believe fits into my own workflow.
Finally, some folks will record their audio commentary completely after they have recorded their game play. Almost think of this as being similar to a play-by-play sports broadcaster. Again, this extra step most certainly will give you better control of the spoken audio. But it is another time consuming step which doesn’t fit well into my workflow.
So you have a video file, now what? Am I done?
Congrats! But now what? Can I just simply upload the video file OBS created to YouTube and call it a day? Yes, of course you can. After all, it’s what many others do as well. But should you? I say no….
Up to this point, I’ve given you the basic information you need to record your game play. But if you truly want to set yourself a part from those who just simply upload their raw, unedited OBS output file….then please keep reading.
If you’ve spent time thinking about why you are wanting to start a YouTube channel and you’ve formulated a few goals you desire to focus on for channel success, then take it a step further and edit your videos for a more professional appearance.
I use a relatively inexpensive video editing software called Cyberlink PowerDirector. You should be able to purchase this for around $50.00. I actually use an older version from 2014 and find it still does the job I need it to do. But I believe its very important to edit your videos for YouTube.
Like many I suffer from seasonal allergies. But just because I suffer, doesn’t mean you must suffer along with me when watching my videos. Meaning, I do everything possible to edit out my coughs, sneezes and sniffles in my videos. The other benefit from editing your videos is the benefit of time which I’ll discuss next.
Time Waits for No One
If you are familiar with my channel and my videos, then you know I strive for a finished video to be in the neighborhood of 30 minutes in length. In my opinion, anything longer than 60 minutes is just simply too long and most of your viewers will think so as well.
Just like me, you’ll have lots of competition on YouTube. You’ll certainly earn fans who will watch just about anything you produce and hopefully they’ll sit at their PC’s or on their mobile devices refreshing the page until they are alerted that you’ve just released a new video, but you may not find many who only watches your content exclusively. Well except for your wife, your mother etc. But even then….don’t assume they are not watching other content as well.
Everyone has a limited amount of time. The time I spend watching YouTube videos is part of the available time I have for gaming, recording game play content, editing etc. In the very early days, I used to watch a lot more YouTube videos…but sadly I’ve had to cut back as I have many other commitments. So you must also think about your viewers in the same way. Most likely, if someone is watching your FS17 videos (as an example) they too play that same game. They may also have time commitments of school, work, family etc. This is why the 30 minute video length works for so many.
To Stream or Not To Stream
While the subject of this blog post has primarily been devoted to creating/producing recorded content for YouTube, many enjoy livestreaming as well. When time permits, even I really enjoy livestreaming as it allows me an opportunity to interact with my viewers in real-time. But if you are seeking my advice (and you must be if you’ve read this far down the page) there are a few cardinal rules you must follow.
First, be engaged with your livestream audience. You’ll need a way to view the livestream chat while you are playing and streaming. A game like Farming Simulator (in my opinion) is one of the best simulation based games which allows you the opportunity to stay engaged with your audience. The pace at which you are driving is slow enough that you can glance at your chat, read comments and easily provide commentary and answer questions. Games such as ATS/ETS2 are just a little more difficult, but still very much doable. The key is if you get your audience interacting with you, your livestreams will be much more enjoyable and successful. If you fail to stay engaged with your viewers during a livestream, then you will fail at livestreaming.
Second, This is just a pet peeve of mine. But don’t clutter up the livestream video with a bunch of chat boxes, cheesy animations etc. Yes, I realize a lot of folks like the self gratification of seeing or hearing their name when they subscribe…but to me (and perhaps this is only because I’m of the older, more mature crowd) it just causes a huge distraction and takes away from the main subject. I subscribe to the philosophy of less is more.
Third, operate your livestream the same way you operate your video feeds. Meaning, if you are running a G Rated channel and only producing G Rated content, then you need to ensure that your livestreams follow these same guidelines. Recruit a few of your loyal, trusted viewers to act as moderators. This will help to ensure your chat remains clean.
Getting Rich Quick
With the new rules governing YouTube Partnership and monetization, if you are just beginning your YouTube journey, then don’t count those chickens before they hatch. You’ll be disappointed if you do. Now I didn’t say that because I don’t believe being a YouTube content creator is not a real job. While there are lots of people who have become quite successful in producing content for YouTube and earn a nice income from it, I have a feeling these individuals would find it a little harder to recreate what they have today based on the new rules. But that’s not what this article is about so let me force myself to get back on target.
Once you meet the criteria to begin to monetize your videos, you have the potential to earn a little money. I use the word “little” because until your channel grows and all the other factors grow along with it, you will only earn a little bit of money in the program. But don’t let that discourage you from starting a channel if you desire and certainly once you start a channel, don’t let this discourage you from monetizing it if that is also something you desire.
Be Prepared for Criticism
Unfortunately, haters are gonna hate. There are some YT viewers who make it their daily job to surf from one channel to another writing crude, rude and generally obnoxious comments just for the sake of getting under your skin. For the most part these folks are not even watching your content. They just write these comments and move to the next video. While this is an issue, don’t let this stop you from seeking comments from your viewers.
The Power of Suggestion
Do you ever wonder why fast-food restaurants always ask “would you like an apple pie with your order”? It’s because most of the time when you step up to the counter (or drive thru) and order that burger and fries combo, you are only thinking about burger and fries. You may realize they also sell apple pies, but you aren’t thinking about that. When that person utters the words “would you like an apple pie” your brain goes, oh…yea…that’d be nice and you say YES! Well the same somewhat applies here. During my videos (when I can remember) I generally always ask my viewers to “Like, Comment and Subscribe”. Because if you don’t ask, you may never receive.
Hopefully I’ve provided you enough information to help you get started. Once again I just want to remind everyone that this isn’t meant to be the definitive guide to getting started on YouTube. These simply are just a few thoughts of my own based on my own experience. While I must thank many individuals for helping me start my YouTube adventure, over the past two years I believe I’ve also mentored a few as well. It’s all part of the “give and take” of life. I hope this article helps you and if I can be of further assistance, please reach out to me via my Discord channel.
As always, Thank You for your time. Please consider sharing this blog article on your favorite social media platforms using the buttons below. I appreciate it and I’ve just proven how the power of suggestion actually works. Funny huh?
Until next time….