Collaborations are responsible for some of the best things ever — fish and chips, cheese and wine, even Tango and Cash (ask your dad).
Two complimentary things working together are often better than the sum of their parts. Collaborating with other creators on content for your channel is a great way to grow your subscriber and view count by tapping into the other creator’s audience.
One of the most useful collaboration types is meeting up with another YouTuber in person and recording content together. But, currently, that’s a no-go, as Covid lockdowns are keeping us all home-alone.
Fortunately, you can still collaborate with other YouTubers, and this article sets out all you need to know about how to collaborating with other creators. The best people to approach and how to approach them. Plus, I’ll also cover the different types of collaboration you could choose to do.
Here we go.
It may be tempting to think, ‘I have a gaming channel. I wonder if PewDiePie is up for a collaboration?’
Not gonna happen.
Your ideal collaborator is someone who has a similar-sized audience to you. Why? It’s an unfair transaction otherwise. Both sides of the collaboration are looking to gain a bump in subscribers and traffic from the deal. If one channel has a vastly larger subscriber base, then why would they bother collaborating?
Also, along with finding a creator with a similar-sized channel, their niche should be one that meshes well with your content. You need to find a topic mix that makes sense.
For example, my channel is in the YouTube education niche, which is a topic that mixes nicely with many other subjects. I can collaborate with a gaming channel because I can teach the other collaborator’s audience how to grow their own gaming channel.
Similarly, the gamer can come onto my channel and talk about the three main lessons they learned from launching a YouTube channel. The topics work well together – they have synergy.
If your videos are all about cooking and your friend has a channel about dogs, this is not a happy topic mix.
Take a little time to think about the kind of niches that would blend well with your channel, and think about how a collaboration would benefit you and your audience?
The easiest type of collaboration is the ones you set up with your friends. These could be real-life friends or be people you’ve met on YouTube and built up a rapport with in the comments section.
In this case, approaching them to suggest a collaboration should be easy. You can brainstorm content ideas together, and there should be less pressure on getting the collaboration right the first time.
As I mentioned in the previous section, the collaboration should make sense from a niche perspective. If none of your friend’s channels mix well with yours, you will have to approach some content creators you haven’t previously had contact with.
The first place to look for potential collaborators is in your subscriber list. From Your Channel dashboard on YouTube, select the list of people who subscribe to your content. You can order your subscriber list by their subscriber count to find people who have a similar-sized channel to you.
It makes sense to try this first. If someone has subscribed to your channel, they like your content already, so organising a collaboration should be easier.
Start by checking out your existing subscribers’ channel pages to see if there are any that might make a good match for collaboration. If you have no luck with your current subscriber base, then you need to hunt down people to work with.
You can search on YouTube or use a third-party tool like vidIQ, which has features to help you track down your competition. But in this situation, your competitors could become your collaboration partner. Just remember to look for channels that have a similar subscriber count to you.
Don’t overshoot and try to set up a collaboration with a much larger channel – it looks like begging.
You’ve hopefully now identified several channels you want to collaborate with. You will need a good-sized list because finding a collaborator is like being at the Junior disco at school. You are going to have to ask lots of people to dance with you before one says yes!
Next, you’ll need to get a list of contact details for the channels you want to approach. You should also message the person with who you want to collaborate directly. It doesn’t necessarily have to be their email address – a DM via social media is OK – but it’s not the best idea to spam their video comment section.
Consider this comment appearing in your comment feed: ‘dude, nice channel, we should collaborate!’ This approach is unprofessional; they didn’t even take the time to find out your name!
Messages like these most often come from someone who only wants the exposure to your audience because you likely have more subscribers. So, take the time to find out the name and contact details of the channels you want to work with.
Look first in the about section of their YouTube channel page. In the details section, there is a place to enter a business email address.
If they don’t have an email listed, you can usually find contact details for people on other social media sites.
Your email or direct message to a potential collaborator is, in fact, a mini-sales letter. You need to grab their attention, then persuade with your words that you are worthy of their time and attention. Then finish with a call to action, such as asking them to reply to your message.
Just because you reach out to someone doesn’t mean they are going to say yes. They may be in the middle of a pre-planned series of videos or have tried collaborations before, and it didn’t go so well.
Remember, a good collaboration is the right blend of two channels that will benefit both people’s goals. So even if you think that a particular creator is perfect for you, you may need to persuade them that you are also ideal for them.
Start your email pitch by using their name. Using ‘Hey dude’ or some other impersonal greeting might seem friendly. But people respond better when you use their first name. You are also showing them some respect that you took the time to find out their real name.
Keeping your pitch short is also a way to show potential collaborators respect. It shows that you acknowledge their time is valuable, and they won’t want to read a long 1000 word email.
After you’ve greeted them by name, next mention one of their videos and why you liked it. Everyone likes a little flattery, so if you start with some praise, they will likely continue reading the rest of the pitch.
Now it’s time to get to the purpose of your message. Let them know you want to collaborate and mention two or three ideas of videos you could create together. You don’t need lots of detail, just some good enough ideas to spark a conversation.
This is the ultimate aim of any pitch message you send – getting a response and a chance to talk further.
Here’s an example of the kind of message you could send;
You will likely need to send out a few collaboration pitch emails before you get a response, so don’t be disheartened if your first few messages don’t get any – it’s a numbers game.
Once you find a partner to collaborate with, you next need to decide what type of collaboration to do. Let’s take a look at the different collaboration types next.
With the pandemic stopping you from meeting up with other YouTubers to record a collaboration, what different types of collaboration can you do? Here are four for you to think about.
This kind of collaboration is the perfect one to start with. It dips your toe in collaboration waters and is the first level of YouTube collaboration.
Giving a shoutout is a simple as mentioning another channel during one of your own videos. Say why you like the creator’s content and why you think your audience should head over to their channel.
Your collaboration partner will return the favour, and both of you should hopefully see a bump in subscribers and a spike in video watch-time.
I did a shoutout with Desiree Martinez. She has a channel all about content marketing that compliments my YouTube education channel nicely. As you can see below, I inserted an image from her into my video. I also linked to her channel homepage in the video description.
When you organise a shoutout, agree on up front where you will place the shoutout segment in your video. Positioning a shoutout near the start of a video is more valuable than ones that appear near the end.
Videos viewership drops as the video goes on. So an agreed shoutout near the start of your video should mean more viewers get to see it.
The video clip swap collaboration is a natural progression if you and your collaborator have found the shoutout collaboration useful. This type of collaboration involves you recording a clip and inserting it into each other’s video.
You might choose this one for when you want to cover a topic in one of your videos that your collaborator has more experience in. For example, let’s assume I’m going to do a clip swap collaboration with Desiree Martinez.
I could film a segment for her audience about video content marketing. At the same time, she could film a clip about promoting a YouTube channel via Facebook. In this situation, both of us are playing to our strengths, and the audience should find a fresh face helpful.
Here’s an example from Brian G Johnson’s channel with someone he often collaborates with; his friend Nick Nimmin. In the video shown below about growing a YouTube channel, Nick Nimmin, with his 700k subscribers, can offer his valuable expertise. So Nick recorded a short clip for Brian to insert into his video.
This type of collaboration is a bit like a more extended version of the clip swap. This time, though, your collaboration partner takes over most of a video.
You will want to record a short intro/outro to sandwich their clip and let your audience know what’s going on, but in the main, your collaborator takes over.
When you channel swap with someone, they can bring you in as the guest star to talk about your expertise. Alternatively, you can also record content on the topic of the other person’s channel but from your perspective.
I did a channel swap a while ago with Sarah Sunbeams. Sarah has a Booktube channel, so her audience is more interested in all things bookish rather than my usual content of YouTube education.
I’m a big fan of listening to audiobooks, so I took over her channel to talk about my thoughts on all things Amazon Audible. Sarah recorded a video in return for my channel that was all about launching a Booktube channel.
We both got to talk about each other’s specialties and get our faces in front of a new audience.
With the pandemic preventing close contact, you can’t appear on camera sat next to a collaboration partner.
One alternative you might try if you want to appear on the screen at the same time is to record a video call. Nearly everyone must have had a Zoom or Skype video chat in the last few months.
Why not try recording a Zoom meeting with a collaborator? There is a feature in Zoom to record a video call, though you may want to use proper screen recording software to have more control over the end product.
OBS Studio is free screen recording software that works on either Mac or Windows. Why not set up your video camera to shoot you from a different angle simultaneously so that you can edit it into your video later, as well?
The Covid pandemic shouldn’t stop you from collaborating on YouTube just because you can’t physically meet up with another YouTuber. Now that many people are either working or learning from home, technology makes it easy to collaborate with anyone anywhere in the world.
When you look for a collaboration partner, make sure to choose one that will compliment your channel’s niche. Search your current subscribers to see if they have a similar-sized channel that could have collaboration potential.
But, you should try to find a few possibles, because not everyone will want to collaborate – it’s about finding the right people at the right time.
When you have your list, send out a pitch message. Greet them by name, keep it short, and say something nice about their channel.
When you find a collaborator, decide which type of collaboration to do. It’s OK to start small with a shoutout or two, and later on, work your way up to a clip or even full channel swap. Good luck.