Tools & distribution strategies for YouTubers

Tal Oran

In our exclusive interview with popular YouTuber Tal Oran earlier this week, we explored how he grew his travel YouTube channel into a full-time revenue stream. In this followup post, we delve into how Oran creates his videos – including the equipment he uses, and how he directs and edits each episode.

We also go into more detail about the distribution side of his video blog. In particular, is he worried about his reliance on YouTube and Facebook?

Tools of The Traveling Clatt

During our phone interview, I asked Oran how the video production for his vlog has changed over time. Does he think it’s gotten more professional and has the equipment changed much?

“I have been trying a lot of different types of content to see what vibes with YouTube and what works,” he replied. “So in the beginning, it was very stripped down; a tiny little camera, basic editing. I wasn’t very skillful when it came to filming and editing and stuff like that.”

But as his YouTube channel grew, and especially when he started making money from it in mid–2017, he began scaling his video production up.

“About a year and a half ago, I invested a good amount of money into a professional camera – a mirrorless Sony camera, with a larger zoom lens and a microphone, and the whole set-up with the tripod and everything to make more professional content.”

Tal Oran packing for his Trans Siberian rail journey.

I was also curious to know when and how Oran had other people helping him out with the videos. In some of his early videos, it’s clear he’s filming himself – sometimes with a selfie stick. But in other videos, he appears to have more help.

“On the road, I had people helping me out filming,” he said. “I always had a camera guy, but it was usually just a friend. I tried my best to not travel alone, and that way I could use somebody to help me film the videos.”

A change in editing strategy

After Oran moved to New York City earlier this month, he decided to make a big change in the way he edited his videos.

In his words, he “completely gave up on high quality editing.”

“I was running about 10 to 12 hour shifts on editing for one video,” he explained, “and sometimes a video like that would make me a dollar or two on YouTube, and sometimes the video would get de-monetized and I wouldn’t make any money on the video.”

Just to note, “de-monetized” means the platform declines to run ads on the video. It’s a problem Oran faced last year from YouTube on his slightly racy Japan travel videos. More on this issue later in the post.

“So the investment in time for me just wasn’t worth it anymore,” he continued, regarding the video editing, “and I realized that I could create videos that were stripped down of all the drone shots and the fancy footage. So the story was the only thing that was prevalent. The story was me and what I’m doing, and that’s it. Keep it very baseline: good quality cameras, so the quality is good. Good microphone, but nothing other than that. No fancy editing; nothing more than what the viewer needs to see to get the point across.”

This new, no-frills strategy has “been working really well” for Oran. So while he may have “gone backwards in the style of editing,” he feels like the production of his videos has improved as a result.

The pitfalls and perils of distribution

As we noted in part one of this interview, Oran has gotten more revenue and more subscribers recently from Facebook than YouTube. Part of this is to do with YouTube’s stricter policies on what type of content it will run adverts on.

As Oran explained in the above video, YouTube has demonetized some of his posts in accordance with its “ad-friendly” policy. This is one of the messages he received:

Oran thinks YouTube is “slowly falling through a hole” and that it isn’t looking after its core community. “They’re too scared to stand up for creators,” he told me.

On the other hand, as detailed in the previous post, Oran is bullish on Facebook as a new video platform. Partly that’s because Facebook is paying five or six times more than YouTube for selected creators. But also it’s because Facebook hasn’t (so far) proven to be as feckless as YouTube in what content it deems acceptable.

All that said, Facebook isn’t exactly known for consistency when it comes to its various user communities. Just ask websites like Buzzfeed and Mashable, which both ‘pivoted to video’ based on what Facebook wanted…until it didn’t want it anymore, at least not from clickbait sites.

Apparently Facebook now wants video from indie creators, but how long will that last?

“I don’t know what to expect,” Oran admitted. “Things on the internet change so, so fast.”

No loyalty to platforms

Oran brought up the former video platform Vine as an example of how platforms can rise quickly, and then just as rapidly fall.

After being acquired by Twitter in 2012, Vine reportedly had 200 million active users by the end of 2015. But ultimately it lost out to both Instagram and Snapchat. In October 2016, Twitter announced all Vine uploads would be disabled. It was effectively the end of the service.

“What I have understood from Facebook,” Oran told me, “is that they have the full intention of making Facebook a video-first platform. That’s what they want out of it. I don’t know if they’re going to succeed, but I see myself as a social media influencer who has no loyalty to any specific brand or company or website; simply because I haven’t been shown any sort of formal respect from any of these companies before.”

So while Facebook is currently a gravy train for indie video creators, Oran knows that Facebook could suddenly derail the train at any point.

This is what Facebook Launchpad promises creators…for now.

“I’ve never been reached out to as a person and told we’re going to help you, we’re going to push you,” said Oran. “Even though Facebook has helped me a lot, it’s never been personal – so I have no sense of loyalty.”

“I think the smartest thing to do,” he continued, “is to be shaking hands with both platforms – to be on the good side of both. One of them is going to come out on top, eventually. Obviously YouTube is in the lead right now, but Facebook is trying to catch up. One of them will create the better product and that’ll be better for all of us creators.”

Keep evolving & looking after number one

As you can see, Tal Oran is constantly evolving both his production and distribution strategies. Once he began to make money from his videos from mid–2017, he upgraded his equipment and adjusted his production techniques.

But Oran also knows he can’t afford to rely too much on either YouTube or Facebook. Loyalty is a foreign word when it comes to creator platforms on the Internet. Indie creators of all stripes should keep that in mind.

Going viral: interview with YouTuber Tal Oran, Part 1 (in case you missed it)