A year and a half ago I launched a new how-to website, IFITJAMS.COM, to find out if the advice I have been giving about creating a content based website was still relevant. I've written about the progress of that website as it passed various milestones, and this weekend, the little videos I shot while doing car repairs went over a half million views on YouTube. Unlike the little video lectures on self publishing that between preparation and multiple takes take me a couple hours, the car repair videos were done in the amount of time it took to shoot them, between thirty seconds and a few minutes.
Breaking the half million mark for video views is obviously an arbitrary milestone. What triggered me to make it the subject of an update was that I read all of the comments on the videos and censored (eliminated) the ones using foul language or wasting space through unrelated assertions of individuality. I left the criticism, and I learned a few things from it. First of all, the most popular criticism (thumbs up added by other viewers) was that I didn't title the videos in series. If I had four or five videos on repairing a stuck emergency brake, I didn't title them with a common phrase and #1, #2, #3, #4, #5. My reasoning was that the videos were all embedded in a web page I created about stuck emergency brakes, and my previous experience with the self publishing videos indicated that most of the viewers would view the videos embedded in my web pages. That didn't turn out to be the case for the car repair videos which are primarily discovered by people visiting YouTube.
YouTubers tend to ignore the text on the YouTube page explaining where the videos are from, ignore video caption telling them more information is available on the website, and ignore the fact I open and close the audio portion with the name of the website. Serious YouTube users see YouTube as the center of the universe and they send questions through private messages that I only remember to check every couple months. A little over 400 people a month click through to my site through the link on YouTube, another 200 find the site by searching on IFITJAMS or IF IT JAMS, and Google Analytics reports about 1,500 direct visitors a month, some of whom may be typing IFITJAMS.COM into the browser. But those are relatively small numbers compared to more than 500 visitors a day who find the site through text search, or the 2,000 people a day watching the videos on YouTube.
Many viewers offer constructive criticisms that would have been very useful had I created the website and video channel with a business in mind. As repairing cars is an occasional hobby of necessity for me rather than a business or an area in which I plan on publishing books, I don't have much motivation to jump through hoops for viewers who wish the videos were longer, shot differently, or covered subjects in which they have more interest. Sorry about that. Another interesting fact, at least for my channel, is that the wise-acre comments tend to get thumbs-up votes from other viewers. If the viewership was mainly kids, I would think that normal, but it turns out that the viewership is primarily guys my age!
At the current rate of around 2,000 views a day, YouTube is doing more for the IFITJAMS brand than the website, which averages around 750 unique visitors a day. I can't report on a conversion rate for all the IFITJAMS exposure because there's nothing for sale, but if there was a business behind this experiment, it's self evident it would be doing better than an identical business without the YouTube exposure.
So the question that remains is whether your publishing company has books for which you can create videos as a marketing tool. I would suggest yes, in almost all cases. The only question is the efficiency of that effort. If you produce videos about a book on some esoteric subject that only a dozen people a year search for on YouTube, you have a great shot at reaching those dozen people with the right title, but it's probably not worth the effort. YouTube is just another form of publishing where if you don't give the people what they want, you might meet critical acclaim, but you won't get any sales. So before you create a video for YouTube, spend some time searching the site for videos that have some similarity or relationship to what you are planning, and if those videos aren't drawing thousands and thousands of views, or if there aren't any, change your plans.