As a third of all kids in the UK and US want to become a YouTuber when they grow up I was keen to write a book about what’s involved and how to get started. If you want to know more about this then check out my previous post on supporting your child when they say they want to be a YouTuber.
How to get your kids off their screens
As a parent I faced the same challenges as many others, I wanted my kids to spend less time on their screens and more time reading. I found that the kinds of things that would encourage my kids to get off their screens was when I set challenges. They could immediately relate and get excited when I package up a non-screen activity into a challenge. I would set a cake baking challenge (they like cakes!), a pizza making challenge (they love pizza!), a robot wars challenge (involving two remote control cars and an insane amount of batteries) and a TikTok or YouTube video challenge (they love watching videos!). You should try it.
In order for kids to create video they need to know where to start and what equipment to use as well as a number of very important video best practices. I thought that explaining the world of YouTube videos would work well in a book.
I wasn’t entirely sure how exactly I was going to write a book let alone publish one, I’ve never had any ambitions to become an author. I would love to make a film, I’m a frustrated filmmaker, I admit it but how did I end up writing a book? You may then be wondering then, why as a YouTuber, I didn’t just make a video about it how to start a YouTube channel for kids. That’s a good question.
I guess the answer is that I wanted to encourage my own kids to enjoy making videos rather than just watching YouTube all day long.
How I got started on publishing my first paperback
I knew nothing about the publishing world, only what I’ve learned from Younger and Bridget Jones’s Diary. Surely it couldn’t be that hard, right? After a little more research, it seemed like a minefield. You needed draft manuscripts, illustrators, book cover designers, proofreaders, editors, agents, publishers (who would inevitably reject your work, we’ve all heard the story of JK Rowling’s Harr Potter rejections). I was nervous to say the least, so I put it off.
I noticed that even though I was moving away from making kids YouTube content and had started my YouTube consultancy, my personal need to educate kids on how to start a YouTube channel kept niggling at me. My desire to teach my own children and kids today what I had learned over the last ten years far outweighed the obstacles I faced with publishing a book on the subject. The growing trend for kids wanting to become a YouTuber meant that there wasn’t time for me to jump through the various hoops it appeared I needed.
I couldn’t fight it any more so in Dec 2019, I took a typical YouTube creator approach and I sketched out my book plan just as I do with my videos storyboards. I wasn’t sure if this was the right way of starting a book but it felt right to me.
I wrote the headings, sketched out some pictures and padded out a little black A5 sketch book until the end. I showed it to my kids who approved of the concept. Now all I had to do was write the draft.
The next generation of YouTubers
In February 2020, I was invited to speak at VidCon London where I moderated a panel of top YouTubers, including Wilbur Soot, Lee Hinchcliffe, Adam B and Blanks.
Later in the day I hosted a session with my talk on How To Start A YouTube Channel – The Easy Way. I’d been given a 4pm slot and I wasn’t sure if anyone would stick around for this as it was late in the day.
As I set up my mic and presentation notes, I saw the room was filling up and eventually I was talking to a packed room with over 500 people. After the session, I had a large number of eager kids (with their not so enthusiastic parents) asking some great questions.
I knew at this point that I would need to get cracking on getting my book out as soon as possible and I was especially keen that the book spoke to the next generation of YouTube creators and their parents.
Working from home
Just 4 weeks after my VidCon sessions at Excel London, Covid hit and we went into lockdown and incidentally, Excel London was turned into an emergency Nightingale hospital. So just as I thought my new career as a YouTube Speaker & Coach was taking off, I was, like everyone else, thrust into working from home and finding new ways to pivot my business.
Without the hustle and bustle of everyday school, clubs and work routines, I had time to think carefully about what budding kid YouTubers really need to know and what I could offer them as a YouTube creator, a parent, and YouTube consultant.
There is so much to learn about starting and growing a YouTube channel and all the parts are equally important. The most important was to focus on the 5 key elements outlined in my previous post. I wanted the book to support all your budding YouTubers whether your kids want to be a gamer, entertainer or educator. The YouTube video principles are the same and haven’t changed much of the years.
Locked up in lockdown
As we all felt locked up in lockdown, it became clear that, even in the absence of activities and clubs, children need to feel connected with their friends and that’s why I created a group of 6 characters to narrate this book. They personify most YouTube creators I personally know. Charlie and friends were created to deliver all the very best YouTube support and give advice in an easy, relatable and inclusive way. This group of friendly characters are passionate, focused, knowledgeable, patient, hard-working, funny and very creative of course.
I thought that writing as a group of characters would help the book come alive, create a sense of friendship and conversation and would give the reader a sense of being part of their YouTube world. Each character has their own individual specialisation and personality. They guide the reader through the book and cover everything there is to know about starting a YouTube channel for kids – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Keeping in with the creative theme I wanted to create illustrations and an activity section at the back, so that there is practical fun and learning.
I also created the font which was based on my own daughter’s handwriting. There’s a lot to read in this book and I felt it helped to make the book even more accessible and easier to get through.
To make it easy to follow I also created a full colour version of the book so that it makes it even easier to dip in and out of the sections and enrich the reader experience.
I was ambitious and often asked myself why had started and complicated the process by adding these various creative elements. I know if I hadn’t tried, I would regret it later. Those late nights and early mornings soon paid off.
Mental health and social media
Thankfully we’re all more aware of the importance of mental health. Social media is great for creativity, connection and education however there’s always a downside and I wanted to highlight some of the ways to manage haters and negative comments that come with being on social media. Understanding the dangers of social media and learning how to stay safe, keeping boundaries is a good way to protect against the negative effects of social media.
I knew it was going to take me even longer to get this book done but there was no way I could release this book without including a section that offered support, tools and direction for those kids who felt they wanted help when they recognised they were not feeling right. I’ve also included some of the best children’s support groups and charities that can help young people when they are feeling uncertain or confused. I’m hoping that being aware of the help and support out there will encourage kids to create video with confidence
I’m not an expert in this area but having taken part in numerous conversations with the initiative HumaneTech.com. With movements such as this, I am confident that we will find a way to make social media a safer and less addictive place to be. But we have to take action and play our part if we want to see positive change.
YouTuber support for the book
When I spoke to some YouTuber friends about the book I found that they were incredibly supportive and very enthusiastic about educating the next generation of YouTubers. They were also very generous to give their exclusive top tips for kids who are serious about becoming a YouTuber.
Why I self published
As mentioned earlier, it was my first time entering the world of book publishing and it seemed so new to me. I planned, wrote and illustrated the book as fast as I could. It got to the point that when I finished my workday, I would start illustrating in the evening while relaxing in front of the TV, I’m not sure how long it took me exactly but I managed to get through the full series of Downton Abbey and Schitt’s Creek. With the draft manuscript and illustrations done I just needed an editor.
It’s funny how things happen, just as I finished my draft I bumped into Deborah Pezzuto, author of ‘Listen’, who promptly recommended her editor Claire Jennison. Bingo! Within just a week Claire was editing my book and encouraged me all the way to the finish line.
Just when I thought I was done, I had to learn how to format my illustrated ‘How To’ book for kids. I’m not going to lie, it was a steep learning curve. Fortunately with the help of Amazon support and many YouTube tutorial videos later, I did it. I had written, illustrated, edited, formatted, designed the book cover and uploaded my book to Amazon ready KDP’s approval within the year.
Thankfully it was approved and self-published on World book day 2021.
Just a few weeks later my book YouTube book How to Start A YouTube Channel – The Easy Way became an Amazon #5 bestseller.