SMG Short Read
– Create a great custom thumbnail
– Have Your email address in the description box
– Maximize exposure by using YouTube tags
– Use clickable links to all your web/social media accounts
Since creating the Shold Media Group, I’ve met some pretty incredible and talented people. A lot of times, those people I found via YouTube searching through demo reels and portfolios of work they’ve posted on the site. I’m always interested in meeting new people trying to find their story on making their way in the media and broadcasting world. YouTube is one of the best places to showcase your work to a huge potential audience of producers and hiring managers. The trick is, to make sure your work can be found and when it is, making it easy for those people to contact you. One of my biggest frustrations when coming across someone I’d like to reach out to for an interview or to share SMG with them, is not being able to easily find their email or contact info. While a lot of this might sound simple or common practice, it’s amazing to me how many people fail to utilize YouTube’s ability to maximize their exposure. In this article, I’ll share the best practices to have your demo reel stand out on YouTube and the best ways for you to be contacted by the person who could potentially lead to your big break.
Your Demo Reel Itself
Your demo reel is the best way for you to showcase your talent, personality and versatility. It’s your best tool in showing what you can do and what you would bring to a network or station. Keep it simple, keep it uptempo and keep it flowing. You don’t want to break up the reel with text boards or slates describing what people are about to see. In your demo, you don’t need to map out on a text slide where people can find your standups, your voiceovers, your anchoring, save that for the description below (if at all). You want to hook your audience for as long as you can and keep them watching. This will help with watch time on YouTube and help the algorithm on the site get your work in front of more people. Make sure when you’re editing your demo reel to keep the aspect ratio consistent. There is nothing more distracting than when a demo goes from 16×9 to 4×3 to black bars on the side to something that has been formatted wrong. Adjust the sizing accordingly to the proper 16×9 aspect ratio and eliminate all distractions so people can focus on how you look and what you’re saying.
Our business is a visual medium. How you look and how you present yourself matters. Your YouTube thumbnail is your first chance to make a great first impression. When someone searches “TV Anchor Demo Reel” and 134,000 results come up, you want to try and make sure people click on yours and not one of the 133,999 others. This means creating your own custom thumbnail that isn’t one of the random arbitrary freezes YouTube will provide for you. The last thing you want your first impression to be is you mid sentence with hair in your face. You want to present your best self. Post your best photo…if you don’t have one, take a photo on set one day or out in the field when you’re working. The extra effort makes a difference.
By creating a custom thumbnail, you’ll put yourself ahead of the crowd instantly. It shows you have a bit of technical skill and that you care about the impression you are sharing with the world. After you verify your YouTube account you can create your own custom thumbnail. Your custom thumbnail image should be as large as possible, as the image will also be used as the preview image in the embedded player. YouTube recommends your custom thumbnails:
– Have a resolution of 1280×720 (with minimum width of 640 pixels).
– Be uploaded in image formats such as .JPG, .GIF, .BMP, or .PNG.
– Remain under the 2MB limit.
– Try to use a 16:9 aspect ratio as it’s the most used in YouTube players and previews.
If you don’t have Photoshop, the website Canva can help with your YouTube Thumbnail. They make it really easy to upload a photo of yourself and to size it right and add some text if you want. Below are some examples of great thumbnails that stand out from the crowd that I suggest you try and emulate.
You’ve created a great demo and a nice thumbnail to get your work seen. Now it’s time to get people to get in touch with you. A lot of people use a slate at the start and end of their demo reels that have their name, photo and contact info on it. That’s great if you are embedding your reel on a website or sharing it online but when it comes to YouTube, put your email in the description below so people can easily copy and paste it. The last thing you want is for someone to mis-type your email as they are trying to copy it from your demo reel slate into their email browser. Eliminate that possibility.
Another thing, if you are in school, don’t use your university/college email address. Chances are, if you at the stage of creating and sending out demo reels hoping to land an on-air job, you are pretty close to graduating and won’t have access to that email for much longer. Create an email with gmail and use that for your demo reel. You don’t want to give employers the feeling that you’re a student with very little experience…having an email from your school doesn’t help with that. Perception is everything these days and every little thing can help/hurt you. You want to look as professional as possible.
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Tags and Description
This is where you can really help gain a larger audience. These are the tools to help maximize your exposure to people other than the ones you are directly sending your demo to. Use your description as a mini resume. “Person X is a multimedia journalist with 5 years of reporting, anchoring and producing experience” You’ve just hit on 5 keywords that people could search for to find you. Use tags to really get in the YouTube algorithm. Use things that people would directly search into YouTube to find someone like you. Maximize the tags, put as many as you can. Some demo reels get thousands of views…that’s not all from people sending them out, it’s by utilizing the right tags, descriptions and thumbnail to get seen in the 1st few pages of the search function. Trust me, taking the 5 minutes to do this will be worth your time.
When it comes to your description, make sure you use clickable links. Are you more likely to follow someone when they post “follow us at @SholdMediaGroup” or a clickable “follow us at http://www.Twitter.com/SholdMediaGroup“? The latter may not look as pretty in the description box, but eliminate the need for the extra copy and paste step and the need to go to a website to input the info…make everything clickable! I would recommend having your description box look similar to what I’ve posted below. Add in all your social media links as well so people can find your work there as well.
SAMPLE DESCRIPTION BOX
The Shold Media Group is a networking site aimed at helping educate and inspire the next generation of young media professionals through great career articles, member profiles, video interviews and media job alerts. You can find us on the web everywhere!
The whole reason of posting your demo reel on YouTube is to gain exposure and land you a great job. In order to do this, you want to make sure people can find your demo in the first place and maximize the chance they’ll click yours instead of one of the other 134,000 other demos out there. Once they have taken the time to watch your work and want to contact you, make it as easy as possible with your email address right in the description box below with links to all your social media accounts. Use the tags to help the site’s algorithm put your demo reel at the top of the pile…with your great, attractive custom thumbnail photo, you’ll have put yourself in the best position to enhance your career. I hope you take these tips to heart and can apply them to your online demo reels. Let me know any other tips you may have or if my tips helped you by tweeting me @tshold!
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