Monetizing & Growing a YouTube Channel: A Conversation With Kyle Taggart
We recently sat down with YouTuber, Kyle Taggart to talk with him about how he got started as a YouTuber, being an affiliate marketer on the platform and how to grow your channel while nurturing your creativity.
Who is Kyle Taggart?
Kyle Taggart is a YouTuber who has a love for photography, camera gear, and all-things-tech. He got started with Youtube back in 2009. “I didn’t even appear on screen then!” he exclaims. “I did the early version of ‘let’s plays’ where I did commentary over video game footage. It sounds super nerdy, and well…I guess it is! It all started with just wanting to share and be part of a community of people who liked the same thing as me.” explains Kyle. After his first video, he says he was hooked on creating and he created a character for comedic vlogs. After that, he vlogged for 6 months straight and now he makes videos mostly about cameras and tech.
Defining a Niche
As an affiliate marketer on any platform, it is extremely important to have a defined niche. For Kyle, he only found his current niche recently and he explains it was because he was becoming obsessed with watching other YouTubers in the camera/tech/photography industry.
“I had been wanting to get back into creating and not just consuming videos. I grew tired of daily vlogging, and once I felt like I had something to share, the first camera video was born!” he says.
His advice to anyone who is looking to define their niche? “I think the #1 thing is it should be something you’re passionate about. If you’re passionate about pizza, make a channel about reviewing pizza, or cooking it, or putting crazy toppings on it.”
Rhythm & Voice
With any niche, it’s important to find your rhythm and voice. For Kyle, he’s learned who he is in front of the camera after simply doing for so long. “I now know who I want to be in front of the camera, I feel comfortable and relaxed, and it’s because I’m not forcing it anymore. I set up the lights, camera, microphone, and it just flows. I’ve made videos in various niche’s over the years, and I feel like once you’ve found the right one, you’ll just know it.”
The Job of An Affiliate Marketer
In Kyle’s opinion, an affiliate marketer’s job is to be transparent. “I feel like it’s my job to be transparent, and to also give the audience my honest opinion of a product or service. That’s what I look for in others,” he says.
So how do you establish trust with your audience as an affiliate YouTuber? Kyle says two words: Honesty and Transparency. “No one wants to feel like they’re being lied to or swindled or kept in the dark. It’s a guideline set by Amazon to disclose affiliate links within your description, so definitely do that, however, your audience will also appreciate it if you mention it verbally too. In my experience, your true supporters will understand that yes, you’re trying to make money online with their help, and when they hear that directly from you, they will back you up in droves.” he explained.
The Goal of An Affiliate Marketer
Kyle went on to say that your goal as an affiliate marketer should be to make money as easily as possible. It sounds hard to do and Kyle agrees that it is, but he explains that once you get the wheels turning, it gets simpler. “Whether that’s getting your links situated on a site like geniuslink, or setting up all the accounts you need on Amazon etc, getting setup should be your first goal. Then, spread your message. You can always fine-tune your links and how you manage content, but if you spend the time to set things up correctly from the start, you can then focus more on the content you want to put out in the world. If you don’t, then the awesome content you put out there might not pay the dividends you were hoping for.” he says.
Kyle believes that a successful affiliate marketer on YouTube is someone who provides free content with great value and through that, they receive great value in return. “Kraig Adams, who I actually heard about geniuslink from, provides incredible information across so many different topics on his YouTube channel. He provides info for YouTubers, Filmmakers, and Affiliate Marketers. As a viewer, you feel compelled to support him in his endeavors because of just how much he’s giving to you, and on YouTube, this content is all free. So because you’re gaining all of this from him, and add in his charm, it’s driving me (his viewers) to purchase a camera accessory through a link of his, or buying a shirt he’s made, you feel like you owe him something in return for the knowledge he’s sharing, and that, is someone who knows how to market themselves. He’s offering you free and high-quality knowledge, and he’s transparent about how you can help him.” says Kyle.
Who inspires Kyle?
For anyone who’s looking to get started with affiliate marketing, Kyle says that he would highly recommend Kraig Adam’s video “How To Make Automatic Income on YouTube.” “That’s what really sparked me to get started with affiliate marketing and made me realize that AdSense is not the only way to make money with YouTube videos,” says Kyle.
Aside from the Kraig Adams channel, Kyle is also a huge fan of the channels of Olan Rodgers, Peter McKinnon, Ben Brown, Mike Falzone, Hannah Hart, Mamrie Hart, and Wheezy Waiter – to name a few. “If I had to choose one and only one [as my absolute favorite], it may just be Olan Rodgers because the guy is a comedic and creative genius,” says Kyle. “He’s been on YouTube for a decade or more. His videos are some of the funniest on YouTube. He springboarded into owning an apparel company, a soda parlor, and is the creator and main character in TBS’ Final Space cartoon. He’s literally gone from recording himself telling stories in his bedroom, to having a nationally televised TV show. I’ve learned an incredible amount about creating from him, and I highly suggest anyone and everyone to binge his entire YouTube catalog.”
Kyle’s advice to anyone who is looking to get started? “Whether you have a phone, go pro, laptop webcam – simply hit record and get going. Make a video for yourself, or just your mom, or even just your friends at first. Hannah Hart, a very popular YouTuber, broke onto the scene because she made a video about making a grilled cheese for her friend. Don’t worry about the fine details, you will figure it out as you go along, and honestly, that’s half the fun.”
When it comes the equipment you need to get started, Kyle says that all you need is basically any device that records a video, a desire to get started and a desire to share. “That’s literally it,” he says. “If you are waiting for the perfect gear to start, you never will. Casey Neistat has driven this mentality since he began YouTube. The gear. doesn’t. matter. Gear can maybe help you do something you haven’t done before, but it doesn’t help you start. You can start now. The new shiny gear can come later. If you can’t tell a story with an iPhone, chances are you can’t tell a story with a Red camera that costs more than a car’s worth.”
The next step to getting started is defining a niche. As Kyle mentioned earlier, define your niche around something that you’re passionate about and the content will come. After you define your niche, Kyle says it’s time to flesh your profile out. This means, put your profile photo, banner and bio together, and then think about the video you want to make next.
“A tip that I learned from YouTube itself is to make video series, or videos that ‘go together’ rather than one-offs. When you have videos that are part 1, part 2, or lenses, then accessories, that gets viewers to watch multiple videos rather than just one. When someone finds your channel and sees 3 part series, the likelihood of them watching 3 videos on your channel instead of just 1 increases significantly.” explains Kyle.
A tip for YouTubers who want to get noticed is to make the best thumbnail and title they possibly can for each video. “When making a thumbnail you should look at it just as it would display on someone’s phone or PC. Shrink it down or zoom out and ask yourself ‘Is this noticeable?’ You can even go as far as to take a screenshot of your subscription feed or a page on YouTube, paste your thumbnail over one of the existing videos in view, and see if yours truly screams “CLICK ME, DUDE!” It’s hard sometimes because depending on the person you may just want to make awesome videos, and that’s it. There are a lot of pieces to YouTube and thumbnails is one thing a lot of people look over.” says Kyle.
Monetizing Your Channel
Kyle explains that there are multiple ways to monetize your YouTube channel, aside from Adsense. He goes on to say that while more views do equate to more Adsense money, most don’t realize that you can have a smaller audience and still become a full-time YouTuber through other means of monetization such as affiliate marketing, sponsorships, Patreon or a combination of them all.
“Recently YouTube changed their channel monetization parameters. You must have 1,000 Subscribers, and 4,000 hours of watch time within the last year. If you are just starting out on YouTube it will be very difficult to reach these right away and there is an indefinite wait right now on getting your channel approved for Adsense Monetization (though it seems that YouTube has recently grown their team to better handle this). It’s a huge bummer for some, like myself, who were monetizing videos, and had it taken away, only to then surpass the parameters and still be waiting over a month after.” says Kyle.
However, there is also affiliate marketing with all sorts of Affiliate Programs to choose from, like Amazon, Sephora, IKEA, etc. And there are sponsorships, which means you could be working with a company you love. There’s also Patreon, which in my opinion, is the future for creators to make a sustainable living off their creative endeavors. If you don’t know what Patreon is, it’s basically a platform for a creator to be paid for their content on their own terms.”
For Kyle, he’s chosen affiliate marketing with which he’s made more money in the past two months than he’s made in years of AdSense revenue.
Taking Things to The Next Level
To take things to the next level for his channel after getting started, Kyle began utilizing the Amazon Associates Program, monetizing just his clicks from the United States. However, after stumbling upon Geniuslink, he realized he could easily engineer a worldwide approach with his product links.
“Geniuslink has enabled me to utilize one link for multiple countries respective Amazon domains. I would highly suggest any affiliate marketer to expand the channels their links will take after a user clicks on it. If I didn’t look into that I would have a worldwide reach on YouTube, and a limited reach in affiliate marketing.” says Kyle.
Kyle learned a lot from a channel called Think Media when it came to gaining traction with his channel. “The very basic foundation that some people need to work on is clarity. Sometimes as a creator, you want to be all over the map and make a lot of different kinds of videos. However, you have to ask yourself, ‘If I was subscribed to my own channel, would I know what content to expect?’ Having clarity is key to attracting people who share a similar interest. It was only recently that I found my voice and niche with cameras, photography, and tech. People know what to expect, and people with similar interests can search YouTube or Google and find me. That’s incredibly important.” explains Kyle.
“Do what others are doing, but better,” says Kyle. “Look at thumbnails you like, and make yours better. Look at titles that made you click on a video, and see how can improve upon it. Study similar channels and see what you can do that they aren’t doing. This method of thinking doesn’t require expensive gear either, you can be way more creative than someone with a $5,000 dollar camera with just an iPhone. Don’t just copy what others are doing, one up them and people will notice it.”
Nurturing Your Creativity
Kyle advises consuming content on the platform to nurture your creativity. “I think just consuming YouTube in itself is a great catalyst to creativity. Ever see a Casey Neistat video? If you have, you’ll know what I’m talking about.”
On the contrary, Kyle also warns that watching YouTube can also send you into a creative rut. “I know for me, I put this immense pressure on myself. The more people that are watching the more pressure I feel. When you see others doing awesome creative things you wonder if you can measure up. Social Media, in general, can give you this view that everyone is off doing cooler things than you.” He explains that the reality is that you shape your own mindset. “I stop and think about what I want to do, and block out everyone else. Comparing yourself to others is the death of creativity. When you can stop doing that, you get your creative freedom back.”
Honing Your Skills As a YouTuber
“I somewhat agree with the old adage that you can master a skill with 10,000 hours of practice,” says Kyle. “I’ve been on YouTube since…2009? So I’ve had some practice! [I’m] definitely not a master, but I try really hard not to suck too bad. You just have to do it over and over and over. You’ll learn what works, what doesn’t, and hopefully, you’ll have fun in the process.”