Stuck creatively? It might be time to visit other genres
Nov 16, 2020 – minute read
When I was a comedy creator on YouTube, I very much operated only in the comedy genre (or “vertical” as they say internally). I watched videos from other comedians, studied what they did to grow their subscribers, hung out and collaborated with them. To me, the YouTube community was the comedy community.
Of course, I was aware of other genres, but didn’t pay much attention to them because I was a proud member of those who were trying to make people laugh with their videos. They were my people! Why would I need to pay attention to anyone else?
As a content strategist, my manager described my new job with these exact words: “Understand what creative formats work on YouTube and why -- then teach them back to the community.”
Note that he said, ”What creative formats work on YouTube”... not “what works in comedy.”
I had to try and become an expert at the whole platform. I had to throw myself into the worlds of tech reviews, gaming, baking, challenges, news, music, VR, ASMR and so many more.
And with that task, I was able to see so much more of the wild and vibrantly creative community of videomakers. It felt like I had been pulled up from 3,000 feet to 30,000, and I could swoop down anytime I saw a video spike in the data, and study why it took off.
Through years of this process, I discovered formats and strategies that seemed completely undiscovered by other genres. Yet, with just a little ingenuity, they could be repurposed for use in another “land.” Here are three examples:
Lifestyle creators like Alisha Marie often upload a burst of videos over the end-of-year holidays in a daily series called “vlogmas.” Even creators who normally only upload twice a month suddenly go all-in with 12 or more uploads in a row. The result is sometimes not just a spike in views, but a spike in revenue since advertisers tend to spend big for the holidays.
Takeaway: Could you perhaps pull this off with lighter, easier videos than what you normally make? Holidays aside, could you produce and upload such a “burst” of content to give your channel a boost?
Creators from the tech reviewing community often compare one product against another, like Marques Brownlee often does. I call this a “versus” format, and they can be effective because they build anticipation in viewers as to which contender will win, driving longer audience retention.
Takeaway: Could you maybe employ the “versus” format in your own genre? What products or concepts would you pit against each other?
YouTube gamers like Fuslie sometimes pull back the curtain to show their gaming and recording set-ups. That idea could lend itself to any genre, since viewers often love to see a behind-the-scenes look at how videos are made.
Takeaway: What camera do you use? What microphone? What editing software? Where do you shoot and what are its challenges?
As for how to do this research, there are a ton of tools and articles out there that curate top videos by category. You can use those as a starting point to study videos, show formats and strategies, then see what you can borrow for your own efforts.
Maintaining a successful channel can be a ton of work; I remember it well. Uploading every week or more can really push you to your creative limits. So, if you eventually fall into a creative rut, try venturing off to new genres. Observe what they do, and see if you come back with some fresh ideas for your own channel.