Making creative changes
Tap into your creative potential and evolve your channel to work for you and your audience.
Unlocking your creative thinking
Being innovative can help you stay successful on the platform. There are lots of ways to do this, from introducing a new video format on your channel to creating a new channel entirely. It’s understandable if you’re nervous to try out something new because you’re not sure how your dedicated audience will react. But, in order to grow on the platform and achieve longevity in this industry, you may need to take creative risks or try something new.
There’s no magic formula to creativity—if there were, it would be easy for everyone to stand out. As you’ve probably observed from family or friends, children have an easier time being creative because they tend to think more “blue sky.” Research shows that, as people gain more experience and expertise in a given field, their creativity can begin to decline. Many creators say they felt super creative when they just started their YouTube career, and later they can find it hard to come up with something fresh. How can you tap into your inner creative child?
Consider under what conditions—like where or when—you tend to be the most creative. Maybe it’s when you first wake up or when you’re lying in bed at night. You might try disconnecting from the internet or your devices for a bit. Find out what enables you to unlock your creativity—and make time for it.
Some ways to spur creativity:
- Jot down or sketch your ideas in a notebook.
- Exercise or engage in other physical activities.
- Listen to your favorite music or podcasts.
- Talk with your friends or family.
See it in action
not being creative can kill youAnna Akana shares what she’s learned about the importance of “creative play”—and how she’s pursued different projects that give her more joy.
Trying out some new ideas
So you’re ready for change, but you don’t know exactly where to start? That’s OK. Even if you’re not doing a major pivot, you can still push your creative boundaries. Here are some examples of things you can try out:
- Start live streaming. YouTube Live lets you connect and engage with your audience in a different way. You can share unfiltered moments, emotional reactions, and even behind-the-scenes events. Learn more.
- Explore new collabs. Collaborations can be a fun and effective way to attract new fans. Think about which creators you would enjoy working with and what topics would allow you to branch out from your niche. Get tips.
- Engage with community posts. Community posts allow you to interact with your audience using polls, images, text, and more. This can be a nice way to be creative and complement your regular uploads. Find out more.
- Express yourself in Stories. Stories can give you a way to connect to your viewers via a personal, in-the-moment experience that allows you to express your creativity and expand your YouTube presence. Learn more.
Another way to introduce change is with a new format. Formats are important on YouTube because they provide structure to a channel, helping viewers navigate content. Formats also give viewers an incentive to subscribe and come back. Here are some elements that contribute to a consistent format:
- Characters. The British Museum has a “Curator’s Corner” series in which curators of the museum tell viewers all about themselves, their research, and what it's like to work with some of the world's oldest and most significant objects.
- Topics. Hannah Witton organizes her videos around relatable topics such as sex and relationships, women’s health, and travel. Her series “The Hormone Diaries” deals with contraception, fertility, and pregnancy. After two years of doing this series, she invited her viewers to contribute their own experiences to spark future conversations.
- Narrative series. These can be scripted, like Third Leg Studios comedy sketches. Or they can be non-scripted, such as Louise Pentland’s “The Weekly” long-form vlogs, which chronicle her love of life and motherhood.
Some creators are reluctant to experiment on their main channel because it’s the foundation of their business. So consider if you want to start a new channel. This can be effective if you’re targeting a distinct audience or your new format is really different from your original channel. (Just keep in mind the time and effort required.)
See it in action
Learn the Spoons Into Cup TrickMike Boyd’s “Learn Quick” videos document the process of learning stuff quickly. This guest episode features other creators trying their hands at it.
Exploring new directions
The first step to making creative changes is opening your mind to new opportunities. Here are some ideas you might be able to draw inspiration from to figure out where you want your channel to go:
- Listen to your community. Read your recent video comments and look for themes. Compare to comments on older videos. Are your viewers encouraging you to go in another direction?
- Check out industry trends. Look at online blogs that are relevant to your channel. For example, Tubular Insights often publishes articles and research about top creators and content.
- Re-examine your interests. Review your original channel mission statement. Do you have a broader perspective now? Perhaps you have new interests that you want to explore on camera.
As you collect ideas for creative changes, consider how a transition on your channel could fit into the bigger picture. To come up with a game plan that works for you, consider:
- Your readiness for change. How much are you prepared to change at once? Some creators experiment with different approaches on a smaller scale, while others pivot their content completely or start a new channel.
- Your audience. Does most of your viewership come from subscribers and repeat visitors? Or does your content regularly attract new viewers? Try to identify which videos drive greater viewer loyalty to get an idea of what content themes your audience likes the most. Do you want to expand upon those?
- Your channel history. How long have you been running your channel? If your brand and programming are well established, maybe you could experiment with a second channel so that your core audience isn’t confused with something experimental.
Remember, it can be easy to stick to something that you’ve been doing for a long time. It takes courage to change, but not changing is also risky because your audience may gradually tune out. Don’t let criticism deter you from trying something new. As you pursue a different creative direction, ask yourself why that’s important to you. Be confident in your new path. Passion doesn’t guarantee that you’ll grow your audience, but infusing it in your channel can make your videos more genuine and help you connect with your community.
See it in action
Changing Creative Direction on YouTubeCreator Sawyer Hartman shares his experience around doing a creative pivot on YouTube. He offers tips on what research to do and the potential growing pains and benefits of changing creative direction on YouTube.
Looking at your results
It’s not possible to predict how your audience will react to something new. You can set expectations by telling your audience up-front that you’re trying out some new ideas. Let them know why you’re making changes and what you hope to accomplish. For example, if you were getting burned out, explain how these changes will motivate you.
It usually takes time to observe the true results. Instead of experimenting with a single video, consider making four or five videos on a new topic—or in a new format. You can space out your experiments with more typical videos until you’re ready to pursue a new creative direction.
After you’ve introduced your changes, be sure to ask for your audience’s feedback. Accept that some viewers may not like seeing different content at first. Your core audience may be averse to changes, so be prepared for some criticism, but don’t let this deter you from exploration.
In YouTube Analytics, you can dig into the data to see how your new videos perform relative to your previous videos. Try using the “Since published” metric (in YouTube Studio) for easy-to-understand trends and comparisons against your channel benchmark.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Think back to when you started your channel—was it a hit right out of the gate? Or did you need time to figure out what worked? With dedication and patience, you can implement creative changes that help propel your channel forward.
- Try changing gradually and measuring results.
- You can test and iterate different formats.
- Avoid changing too many things at once.
- If something doesn’t work out, stay positive.