Most, if not all of us, have considered starting a cosplay YouTube channel. This video platform has been a source of DIY material since 2005 and the videos are only becoming more and more intricate.
I’m not going to lie; I had literally no idea people made a living off of YouTube until I nonchalantly uploaded my first video around 2017. I was still under the impression that YouTube was a video version of Photobucket (which I also realize is as ancient as the Yellow Pages and the telegraph).
So for someone like me (who had been living under a rock for the better part of a decade), seeing the possibilities that YouTube presents enthralled me. There’s money to be made on YouTube, but more importantly, it gives creators a chance to develop a community more tight-knit than anything you could hope to accumulate on Instagram. There’s just something about broadcasting that intimate, live version of yourself that’s vulnerable and unfiltered that YouTube audiences are grateful for.
Okay, I’m done rambling. I put together this article coming from the perspective of a wide-eye newcomer who had a hard time learning the ins and outs of YouTube. But after intense and continuous research, these are the first 8 steps you should take when starting your cosplay YouTube channel.
Step 1: Create a Google Account
Whoa, ground-breaking, I know. But in case you were wondering if you could create a YouTube channel with your Yahoo email, the answer is no.
When you click ‘Create Account’ you can set it up for yourself or to manage your business. I’m not sure the difference between the two as the latter is a new option I haven’t seen before. Either way, your Google platform will be your central hub for managing emails, uploads, and settings concerning your cosplay YouTube channel.
Step 2: Research, Research, Research
It should go without saying that this is the most important step. Don’t overindulge in this step (like I did) though or else you’ll come out with more than you can chew. Everyone has their own opinion on how to run YouTube channels, and you’ll only know what’s best for you through trial and error.
That being said, if you don’t already have a handful of your favorite channels, start exploring. It doesn’t just have to be cosplay YouTube channels, either. Having some inspiration can help you come up with your own channels’ aesthetic and overall purpose.
Mykie’s Glam and Gore channel is actually what made me want to start my YouYube. She has a Playlist of info on starting a YouTube channel that was paramount in my overall research. Here are some factors you’ll learn in her videos:
- Filming setup
- Camera Equipment
Step 3: Write Down Ideas for Your Cosplay YouTube Channel
So, after you’ve researched what other cosplay YouTube channels are out there (part of Step 2), you’ll need to decide where your own ideas come into play. What do you have to offer that nobody else does? Do you want to do tutorials? Convention storytimes? Short and concise cosplay advice? Or do you want to provide some sort of entertainment like MELF’s quirky cosplay videos?
Write down a list of ideas and figure out how you can mold these into a channel. Also, if you already have a cosplay audience established on other social media, I would stick with the same name (easier to find).
Keep in mind that you don’t have to stick to one niche (despite popular opinion). YouTube offers Playlists, which means you can cast out a net of ideas and see which ones stick. I started off doing cosplayer interviews, but if you check my Playlists, you’ll see I also do cosplay tutorials and product reviews. And over time, it’s become obvious that reviews do the best for me.
Here are just a few categories and ideas for your cosplay YouTube channel to get you started:
Entertainment: cosplay blogs, parodies, challenge videos, opinion/unpopular opinions on your favorite fandom, storytime videos
Informational: short DIY videos, cosplay advice, SFX and makeup tutorials, full cosplay tutorials, product reviews
Niche: Focus your content on your favorite fandom with just sprinkles of cosplay. Some fantastic cosplay YouTubers who do this are Tessa Netting, Traci Hines, and Chris Villain.
RELATED: Subscribe to Cosplay & Coffee’s YouTube!
*Disclaimer: If you look at my channel and decide I don’t know what I’m talking about purely based on numbers, you can get outta here with that bs. This info is based on years of research and my own trial and error. Just be cool, damn!
Step 4: Gather Supplies
I’m going to do a whole other blog on cosplay YouTube supplies, but for now, let’s keep it simple. Your phone is the best and most practical starting point. In fact, sometimes I prefer to film with my phone instead of breaking out my expensive camera and backdrop set-up.
Here are the only things you absolutely need for your first cosplay YouTube video:
- A video camera
- An editing system (if you have an iPhone, congratulations! You have one for free on your phone and computer)
- Good lighting (either in front of a window for natural light or one of these $5 things that you can clip to your phone)
Step 5: Practice Filming and Editing
The one thing that I don’t think many people address when it comes to filming for YouTube is just how incredibly awkward it is. Even if you script out your videos (which I recommend), it’s unnatural to film and talk to yourself in front of a camera.
You may think of yourself as a natural performer, but even then, you may find it’s hard to come across as your true self in this type of setting. My best advice is just to go for it. Film yourself over and over again until you feel somewhat comfortable. Uploading your first video might be extremely daunting, but there’s really no preparing for it. Just do it.
The toughest and most tedious part of having a YouTube channel is learning how to edit. Your iPhone’s free iMovie editing system is a great place to start, but eventually, you’ll probably be like me and want to move up to systems like Final Cut or Adobe Premiere Pro. Then again, there are times when editing a quick vlog on iMovie is preferable to me than trying to work in Adobe Premiere.
Step 6: Familiarize Yourself with the YouTube Settings
When you go to upload your first video, you’ll notice that it asks you to include more than just the title and the thumbnail. You’ll want to add tags and write in the description for SEO optimization.
Take a look at the descriptions in my videos to see how I set mine up. It includes links to related videos as well as contact information and links to my other social media platforms. Trust me when I say that including this information is important.
Step 7: Create a Cohesive Look
I’m personally still figuring this out because I’m God-awful with design and branding, but I feel better knowing that my channel looks at least a little bit more professional. Your cohesive look is speaking specifically to your thumbnail photos.
These front images should be enticing above all else. People will judge your videos by their cover, so you want to create thumbnails that will intrigue viewers to click on them. And don’t underestimate the use of bold lettering.
This step isn’t super important but if you’re big on aesthetic, then coming up with a couple of staple fonts and a color scheme will make your overall channel look that much more impressive.
Step 8: Set Realistic Expectations
Are you going to start earning millions off of YouTube right away? No. Are you even going to hit 1K subscribers right off the bat? Not unless you have an established and engaged audience already.
The hardest thing that I had to learn is that staying consistent on YouTube is hard work. You have to treat it as a job if you want to be successful. Which is really hard as a cosplayer because building cosplays is already a tough gig on its own. Most people recommend posting 1-2 videos a week to grow a following, but I have yet to find a cosplayer with that kind of time of their hands.
If you want to provide cosplay tutorials, aim for one video per month. And even that will take a lot of will power. You can create filler “episodes” by filming shorter videos like the ones I mentioned above that require less editing.
YouTube is a ruthless beast and I think it’s especially tricky for cosplayers. We already dedicate so much of our time to the actual crafting process that it can be hard to stay consistent like the more successful YT channels. Just remember not to compare yourself. Everyone’s journey is different and one person’s success won’t define how you find yours.