December 8, 2018

Frequently Asked Questions about YouTube

Content creation

It seems that the more my YouTube channel grows, the more curious people are to hear my thoughts on the ins and outs of making videos. I'm often sent emails or direct messages asking my advice for starting a channel, so I've gathered together all the most common questions here for you.

It's like an interview... but the interviewer is all the people who have emailed me over the past few years. Anyway, let's not overthink it.


How long have you been making YouTube videos?

I started my channel in October 2013 which means that, at the time of writing this, I've been on YouTube for a little over 5 years. It also means that there are a lot of cringeworthy videos of 25-year-old me out there...

How did you get started?

My first introduction to vlogging was when my younger sister Samme started a channel. I was so confused as to why she was filming a video of herself talking to a camera and uploading it to the internet... But then I watched it, and I got hooked. I started searching for other creators to fill my subscription feed; loving getting to see a slice of life from people all over the world.

What I really wanted though was to watch videos from a fellow designer. Not tutorials (there were plenty of those), but vlogs of their life and their process. When I couldn't find any channels like that at the time I took it as a sign to start my own!

I bought a little microphone that plugged into my iPhone to record audio, set up my Nikon D5000 photography camera on a tripod and CharliMarieTV was born. (You can't see that first video anymore though I'm afraid, about a year ago I removed it from my channel because of the sheer awkwardness.)

Getting started on YouTube is so freakin' easy, yet 'How do I get started?' is the question that gets asked most often. You just pick up a camera and film. It's literally that simple.

What's harder is sticking with it.

I set a schedule for myself right from the start. I wanted to post at least one video every week. And for 5 years that's exactly what I did. It would have been easy for me to fuss over every video and keep working on it til it was perfect, but I wouldn't be where i am today if i'd done that. Set yourself a schedule and stick to it.

How long does it take you to make a video?

Honestly, it depends on the type of video. The more structured tutorials take several hours of prep and filming time, and are much longer to edit (perhaps 4-5 hours), because of the length of the footage and how much I screw up in the process of filming! Whereas for chatty videos where I'm just talking to the camera about a topic I'll spend around half an hour prepping some bullet points of things I want to cover, film for about 20 minutes, then spend 1-2 hours editing.

When the video is made, making the thumbnail and writing the title and description is probably another half hour, then its ready for the world to see.

So yes, it's a big time investment to make videos. It did used to take me a lot longer when I was getting started but since I've been doing it for so long now I've got my process down and I know which little errors aren't worth stressing about (I'm not going to reshoot a whole video just because I bumped the camera midway through for example).

How do you get confident talking to a camera/filming in public?

It takes time. I felt awkward talking to a camera for at least a year or so and to be honest it shows. I watch back videos I filmed in my first year on YouTube and think "Who the heck is that person?". These days I feel like I'm totally myself on camera, but the only way for me to get there was to practice a lot, and put up with the awkward for a while.

As for filming in public, that takes practice too, but I don't think I'll ever feel totally confident vlogging while standing next to a stranger. My tip for talking to your camera in public is to do it while walking: that way if anyone is giving you weird looks, you're moving past them anyway, and chances are you never have to see them again!

How do you find the time?

Simple: I make time. My YouTube channel is important to me.

It's the first side project I've had that I've been able to sustain and I love it just as much today as I did 5 years ago. It's hella rewarding to post a video and hear from someone that it helped them out. I've had people say they went to design school after seeing my videos because they decided they wanted to be a designer too.

Don't get me wrong, it's a lot of work. And I don't enjoy every minute of it. But overall there's no doubt it's worth it, so I adjust my schedule to fit it all in.

I spend about 2 hours each morning on my side projects before I start my day job, and often I'll film over lunchtime. This means I break the video-making process up over several days, working on it for a few hours at a time until it's finished.

How do you come up with video ideas?

I try to make the videos I would have found useful to see when I was getting started in design, and I pay close attention to the questions people are asking me in comments and emails: they're a treasure trove of video ideas!

I share a lot of videos about my process, so with every project I work on I'm looking out for challenges I encountered or things I learned that I could share in a video later.

I think that if you know your target audience well and you have a purpose or mission for your channel, it's easy to come up with ideas of what to film. For anyone struggling with this, I recommend you spend some time thinking about what you're trying to achieve with your videos and who you're making them for.

What camera do you use?

My main camera is a Canon 70D DSLR with a Sigma 18-35mm f1.8 lens. I record audio on a Zoom H4n external microphone.

For my 'Life as a designer' vlogs I use a Canon G7X Mk II with no external audio. It's a great little camera that I also take with me when I travel.

(links are affiliate links)

How do you earn money?

(Okay not many people ask this outright; but I know you must be curious about it!)

My 2017/18 income report gives a good overview of this, but the main ways most YouTubers earn money is from sponsorships, ads, affiliate links and products.

I stopped putting ads on my videos a few years ago because I didn't like that I had no control over the companies who would advertise on them. When someone clicks on my video I want them to be able to get straight into watching that video! I do, however, sometimes work with brands on sponsored content. This is like advertising, but I have full control over who I'm promoting and how I'm promoting them. I only ever partner with brands I truly believe are great, and use myself and I've made some of my favorite videos when working with a sponsor!

I also earn a little bit from affiliate links, which is where I link to a product or service I've used or mentioned in the video (just like I did with my camera equipment in the previous question), and earn a small percentage of the sale from the company as a reward for sending a new customer their way. I think affiliate links are great because they don't cost the person purchasing any extra. I always make sure to buy through an affiliate link if a creator has recommended something I'm interested in, because it's such an easy way to support.

Then, there's products: these can be digital or physical. I've run a t-shirt company since I was in university but these days it earns me very little and I'm sunsetting it to focus on other things. I have a few digital offerings though, namely two online communities. One for my podcast, Design Life, which is a monthly membership, and the other is a Patreon where supporters pay a certain amount each month and get rewards.

As I said already, check out my 2017/18 income report for a more detailed overview on all of this!


Got any more questions about YouTube I didn't answer here? Feel free to reach out, and I'll keep this page updated as more arise!