If you watch YouTube then you don’t need to be told why it’s a good idea for creators to collaborate. You get the chance to grow by being introduced to your partner’s audience, you make a friend to support and be supported by as you both grow your channels, and it always looks like a ton of fun. The question isn’t why you should collab, it’s how.
Finding someone to collab with, approaching them, and figuring out how to actually make the video can be all be challenging. Here are some tips:
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6 Tips About Finding Collab Partners
Here are 6 questions you should ask yourself when you’re looking for potential collaborators on YouTube.
1. Who Are My Friends?
The easiest way to think of a potential collab partner is just to think of who you’re already friendly with. The best place to look for collab partners is probably in your list of subscribers. Someone who already knows what you do and enjoys it will probably be receptive to the idea of doing a video with you.
You can even sort your own subscribers by their sub counts to find someone with about the same sized channel as you.
2. Who’s In The Same Boat as Me?
You don’t have to already have a friendship, or even a creator-subscriber, relationship with someone to consider them as a potential partner (although it’s not a bad idea to subscribe to them before you send your request).
Consider people who are in the same niche as you who have approximately the same sized channel as you. If you’re in different genres the collab doesn’t make sense, and if there’s a significant size difference between your channels then it’s a lot more valuable to one of you than the other.
3. What Can This Person Offer My Audience?
Part of why you collaborate is to grow your audience, but that should never be at the expense of your current subscriber base. Before you reach out to a potential collab partner, seriously consider whether you think your audience will enjoy a video that features them.
Your partner should be someone who delivers content that is relevant to your own audience (for example, it makes no sense for a tech YouTuber to collaborate with someone whose channel is about cupcakes – their techie audience doesn’t want to learn about cupcakes).
4. Do I Like Their Videos?
Before you send anyone a message, make sure you’ve watched and enjoyed a few of their videos. If you don’t find them entertaining then your audience probably won’t either. Also, if you don’t seem to have any knowledge of someone’s content then they probably won’t want to work with you.
5. What Kind of Videos Could We Make?
The time to start brainstorming is not after you’ve already sent a collab request. You should think of a few ideas before you reach out, both to show your potential partner that you’re serious and to ensure that your audience is getting well-planned content.
6. Who’s in My Area?
You can do a long-distance collab, but if it is possible to physically meet up with someone to plan and shoot the videos then that’s way better.
This one probably seems basic, but it is very easy to send a message where you just say ‘hey’ and jump to your point without actually using someone’s name. That’s a mistake in this scenario. You want to let your potential partner know that you are specifically interested in working with them and aren’t just fishing for anyone who might work with you.
2. Mention Their Content
Show an interest in your future partner’s videos. You should have watched at least a couple of them as part of deciding to reach out, so mention a video of theirs that you liked and talk about why. Let the other person know that you genuinely enjoy what they do and think your audience will too.
3. Pitch Video Ideas
You should have a couple of ideas for videos you could do together ready when you contact someone. You don’t want to reach out to someone and then seem like you expect them to do all the planning. You may not end up doing one of the ideas you pitch, but you’ll still come off better if you have something in mind when you first send your message.
4. Keep Your Message Simple
You don’t want to overwhelm someone with a huge amount of text the first time you contact them. Check out the example at the beginning of this section to get an idea of the length you should go for.
5. Be an Equal
Remember that you are just as wonderful a creator as the person you are approaching. You don’t want to fawn too heavily and cast yourself more as a fan than a serious creator in your own right (not that you can’t be both).
6. Most Creators Have an Email Address on Their Channel Page
It usually isn’t difficult to find contact information for a YouTuber. If you go to someone’s channel page and click into the About tab, there will usually be a section called ‘For business inquiries’ under ‘Details’. Click ‘View Email Address’ next to that and you’ll have a means of contacting the person you want to collaborate with.
You can also reach out through DMs or other social media. If you use a platform like Twitter, however, you may want to be a bit more casual and start a conversation before building up to asking them about a collab.
How to Make a Collab Video
Here are 3 ways you can collaborate with other YouTubers.
Shout Each Other Out
This is the easiest way to collab because you don’t have to meet up or do much planning together. Essentially, you just make your own video and let everyone know how much you like your partner’s channel (combined with linking your viewers to them), and they do the same.
Make sure to agree beforehand on how long you’ll spend plugging each other in your videos, so one of you doesn’t go on way longer than the other.
This probably isn’t a hugely effective method of collaborating if your goal is to grow (I wouldn’t check out someone’s channel just because I was told to), but it certainly is easy.
Be Guests in Each Other’s Videos
This might be the most fun type of collab to watch. The person whose channel the video appears on is the ‘host’ and the video is done in something closer to their usual style (which will be more appealing to their subscribers), and their collab partner is a guest. You might want to do two of these videos so you each have one for your own channel.
Depending on your YouTube niche, you might do a fun activity together or you might interview your guest about a subject you think your subscribers are interested in.
In order to pull off a collab like this, you need to be able to meet in person.
Long Distance Collaborations
It’s harder to collab if you can’t meet up, but it isn’t impossible. You can exchange footage to use in each other’s videos, or you can record a Google Hangout or Skype chat.
Launching Your Collab
Here are some tips for making sure both you and your partner get the most out of the collab videos you've made.
Agree on a Launch Date/Time
If you each have a video for your own channel then you want to make sure those go up at the same time. It’ll be awkward if you post your video and shout out your partner/their collab video and when people go to check that out it isn’t up.
You may want to post your videos as unlisted initially if you’re worried about one of you taking longer to upload. Then, once your videos are both completely ready to go, you can switch their listing to ‘public’ at the exact same time.
Promote Your Collab
Before you post your collab videos, you might want to build hype by mentioning the upcoming collab video in your solo videos leading up to it. If you and your partner are active on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat, you can do things like post behind the scenes pictures of your collab videos to generate excitement.
Comment on Each Other’s Videos
After you’ve posted your collabs, make sure to leave each other comments about how much fun it was working together. You might want to interact publicly on social media too. Overall, just be friends. You want to maintain this relationship to leave the door open to future collabs, and your viewers will want to believe in your friendship too. Your partner's subscribers are more likely to be interested in you when they feel like you're buddies with one of their favorite creators.
Make sure to discuss how much promotion you'll each do for the collab before and after it launches. If one of you does a ton of promotion and the other just does one tweet, it won't make the person who's done way more promotion feel great.
Have you ever collaborated on YouTube? If you could collaborate with anyone, who would it be and what kind of video would you make?
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.