The Most Important Element of a YouTube Video: Not Video?

Most people believe there is a holy grail of hidden tricks to success on YouTube. Sure, you can make sexy thumbnails and put Justin Bieber in your tags, but how long can you get by with cheap tricks and an ever-changing YouTube API? Flashy 3D intros, lens flares in your transitions – sure, they’re all eye-catching, but what really inspires people to click that subscribe button and continually check your feed for something new? What causes people to become emotionally invested in your content and stand up against the endless waves of “trolls” across the interwebs? I’ll give you a hint, it has nothing to do with the “HD” in your channel name.

Unfortunately, or, fortunately for passionate YouTubers, there is no secret ingredient for success. Some of the highest quality material on the site is uploaded by some of the smallest channels, and many technical abominations have the highest view counts. Which begs the question,

“The answer: to learn or be entertained.”


The answer: to learn or to be entertained. It just so happens that the most important factor in both of those objectives is how personable the subject is. People pay huge sums of money to learn from professors what they could learn from a machine – because the medium of expression is easier to relate to.

You can’t teach someone to have a personality, because they are born with one, and the experiences in their lives adapt what is embedded in their DNA to something you and I call people. And the simple truth is, not everyone was meant to be in front of a microphone – just as everyone was not meant to be in front of a camera. No amount of SEO manipulation, exclusive interviews or “dubstep” intros will gain you the respect that you seek without forming a bond with your viewers. This is furthest from a technical experience and closest to a spiritual one.

“And in fact, your audio quality effects the personality of your
YouTube video far more than the number of pixels do.”


Although technology does play a fundamental role, hearing the “I Have A Dream” speech as an 8-bit audio track doesn’t really change the significance or the meaning versus hearing it through 7.1 HD Surround Sound. And in fact, your audio quality effects the personality of your YouTube video far more than the number of pixels do. If you use a Cracker Jack microphone, people will associate that low fidelity sound with your physical voice – a part of you being deemed weaker or less impactful than the more meaningful, fuller sound they would receive from your larynx in person. Does that mean you should spend some money on a condenser microphone and learn about post-processing audio? Which yields the better learning experience; listening to your professor’s lecture from across a 1000-square foot classroom with the background sound of a hundred students, or a one-on-one conversation with that professor in a recording studio? In fact, you might even comprehend what he/she is saying better if you close your eyes – get the “picture?”

So, what is the most important element? Some would say soul, others passion – both require dedication. And that says enough about your character to manifest a personality that I’d pay heed to.

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