2 dirty secrets that product review YouTubers won’t admit, but you need to know

Being a successful tech gear YouTuber is more than just telling people about cool new products, and what you think of them. It could be that many tech vloggers just have a natural gift for presenting videos that engage and entertain. But it takes more than just the ability to talk endlessly to a camera about shiny new cameras, drones or phones to grow a channel – you need to be advertiser savvy – but a couple of things are too icky to admit…

1. Product review YouTubers are salespeople

Ok, this may seem harsh – a little unfair – on the many YouTubers that put in hours and hours of hard work to inform and entertain us. And they do work so, so hard to show us new gear that excites and sometimes disappoints us. But a person’s gotta eat, and when you’re working full time on your channel, the money has to come from somewhere.

There are a number of ways to monetise your YouTube channel, and the most common are:

  • YouTube Ads
  • Affiliate links
  • Sponsored content

It could be argued that having ads show on your channel, or placing affiliate links in your video description is in no way acting as a salesperson for those advertisers. And that’s absolutely right. But your channel absolutely must be “advertiser friendly” before YouTube will consider monetising your channel. And even if they do, advertisers have the ability blocklist you from their ads if they’re not happy with your content. So you may get ads, but not ones that bring in enough revenue to buy a cheap coffee and a stale cookie.

If you don’t sell the hell out of that new camera – and it may well be ‘the perfect camera’ – you’ll be eating cold beans out of a shoe this week.

But what’s the ‘YouTubers are salespeople’ crap? So here’s the thing: If you don’t excite enough people with the products you review and feature, or don’t produce an ‘advertiser friendly’ channel, you’re going to lose both subscribers and sponsors, and you won’t be making any ad revenue. And if your subs don’t click on the affiliate links in your description because you didn’t sell the hell out of that new camera – and it may well be ‘the perfect camera’ – you’ll be eating cold beans out of a shoe this week.

They’re still good people

YouTubers know this. And as much as they do create amazing content, they know the stakes are high if their audience isn’t reaching for their credit card before your mid-video sponsored message. YouTubers are salespeople whether they like it or not, but we should forgive them by subbing to their awesome channels.

2. Product review channels are lifestyle channels

Wait, what? I know, you don’t watch or sub to lifestyle channels right? You’re too cool for school. Or maybe too old for school. You wouldn’t ever entertain the thought of watching make-up channels, or channels with beautiful girls showing us how much swag they bought with mummy’s credit cards, or that man-bun hipster who shows you how to become one with yourself by avoiding gluten and wearing natural fibres that were woven by goats in Tibet. Yeah, you don’t watch lifestyle channels, and your favourite tech channel is definitely not a lifestyle channel.

The reality

Sorry, but all product review YouTube channels are indeed lifestyle channels. They grow subscribers not just because they’re reviewing cool gear the viewer wants, but also because the viewer wants to live their lives, and do what they do. They want the lifestyle of these vloggers, and YouTube and advertisers know this. So you’re far more likely to gain subs if you convey a lifestyle that your target audience wants. Just as you’re more likely to sell a car or a fragrance if you attach a way of living or being to the product.

Now you know

Let me make it clear, I didn’t write this article to take a dump on tech YouTubers. Many write, film, perform, edit channels all by themselves. In traditional TV studios and production companies, entire teams would be expected to co-operate on such projects. So my sincere apologies if you feel offended. But please digest what I’ve written if you’re thinking about starting a tech gear review channel, or any product-focused channel, or you’re struggling along with one already, these dirty little secrets are, in reality, pay dirt. They may be just what you need to think about ways to improve your presentation to grow your audience, and effectively monetize your channel.

David @tinybig_

Speak your truth