DisrupTech: Starting your YouTube channel

It has been years since I put pen to paper; in this case, fingers to keyboard to write an article, far be it a column. With this, I hope to help out original content creators in Sri Lanka to start off, develop, and monetise content on and not limited to platforms such as YouTube. If my writing is rusty; I apologise in advance. So let’s get right to it.

Is YouTube and original content creation a viable profession in Sri Lanka? If I got a packet of stale peanuts for every time I’ve got this question I could definitely run my own sub-par airline. Short answer: It is! A slightly longer answer: There are many who are doing it as a full-time profession, earning good money, doing the things they love and not being tied to an office chair and an HR department that is overtly obsessed with you fingering (sic). If you’ve gotten this far in this rant, that means you are at least interested in creating your own content and do something you are passionate about, showcase it to the world, and ideally make money to sustain it. YouTube, as it stands right now, is my advice for you. Not only is it the most popular video platform to date (approx. six million Sri Lankans are registered on YouTube), it also shares revenue with creators to encourage content creation, which has been a driving force of the platform. Since we’ve now decided on the initial platform, let’s get into planning.

Planning your channel

It is very important to have a clear idea of what your channel is going to be. “I will have a travel vlog channel” does not suffice as much as owning a bat makes you a cricketer (timely joke). After years of coaching budding YouTubers, this is my exercise for you! Think of your channel trailer – it should be a concise video ideally not exceeding 1.5 min of you or your team speaking to your audience setting out what the channel is about.

Jot down what you will say; who you are, what you hope to accomplish with your channel, who should subscribe to your channel, and most importantly the frequency of your uploads. I have given this exercise to over 1,000 creators and this helps them zone in on what they are really good at and also realistically think how often they can churn out a new video. My recommendation is a channel should post a video at least once a week.

(Do not flip the page now because you think this is unrealistic with your current job. I will be giving tips on how this is easily possible with things such as block shooting in a future column.)

Naming your channel

This is one area I consider comic relief from when mentoring. I have heard absurd names that creators have given their channels and this is the first and biggest mistake. There are three things you must think of when naming your channel:

1. My name or brand name

If you are an individual and wanting to start a channel, this is your biggest dilemma. Should you start it with your name or create a separate brand? There is no easy answer to this and it wildly depends on a number of things. If you plan on becoming a personality and your name is relatively easy to remember and type, you have benefits of using it. However, then you miss out on an important step which is to target your audience through your channel name… which is No.2

2. Targeting your audience through the channel name

If you are running a travel channel, having the word “travel” in your channel name is a no-brainer. It gives you easy visibility, better discoverability, and overall is a good strategy to employ. However, if the vertical you are entering is saturated with channels that use the same word, then it might be prudent to use something creative but still target the audience at the channel name level itself; for example if you are starting a recipe/cooking channel there are many synonyms such as kitchen, baking, chef etc. that can be employed in the channel name.

3. Is my channel name advertiser-friendly?

No form of creation can be sustained without an income. Unless you are the spawn of a Sri Lankan politician – then you have an endless supply of money from the Sri Lankan taxpayer (or so it is alleged). Hence, there are two forms of revenue you will potentially have by becoming a YouTuber. Firstly, you will have YouTube monetisation (we will get into more about the YouTube Partner Programme [YPP] and how to earn from Sri Lanka in my next column) and secondly you have direct sponsorships, product reviews, subtle branding etc. For especially that second form of revenue, you must ensure that your channel name is something a big brand might like to associate with. Just because your family calls you “Bunny” having “Food reviews with Bunny” as a channel name is not cute (don’t shake your head, it still is not cute) and will most definitely not help you in finding direct sponsors.

Key take-home points to make your day-dream your dream job.

· YouTube is a good platform to host your content
· Do the exercise: Plan your YouTube channel trailer
· Introduce yourself
· What will your channel be about?
· Who should subscribe and why?
· Frequency of uploads (E.g. – every Thursday at 9 p.m.)
· Naming your channel
· Name or brand
· Target audience from channel name
· Is it advertiser friendly?

Catch you next time, where I will go into the basics of monetising on YouTube as a Sri Lankan, and in the preceding one we will go deeper into kicking things off and lighting, shooting, and editing. Jay out!

Next time around, I will be answering your questions too; so connect in any of the following ways and fire away.


By Janeeth Rodrigo

Janeeth Rodrigo is the General Manager, Digital, of the Derana Media network. He is also the General Manager of IdeaHell, the first and only YouTube MCN and Creator Space in Sri Lanka.