YouTube is an incredible platform for indie musicians, and a few recent updates will make it even better. YouTube has always been a great platform to attract new fans and forge deeper connections with your fanbase, but there are actually a lot of features that enable you to monetize those fans and drive them to your website, merch, and crowdfunding projects that most people don’t know about.
Recently, YouTube added Cards. They are basically an evolution of the annotations. Eventually YouTube plans to phase out annotations and replace them with cards once cards have the same capabilities as current annotations. We’re not quite there yet, so expect annotations to be around for a while longer.
So what makes cards different? For one, they look better. Annotations tend to look really unprofessional and a lot of people find them really annoying. With cards, you add in a image, a title, and a call to action. It’s much cleaner, much more professional, and much more customizable. They are also a lot less intrusive compared to annotations. When they pop up, all you see is a small info button with your title. If you want to see the card you can click it, if not you can just ignore it.
Another awesome improvement is that they work on mobile. More and more people are watching YouTube videos on their phones and tablets, so you really want to be able to capture those audiences. On top of that, YouTube Cards will be trackable in analytics, so you’ll be able to see just how well they are performing.
Currently, there are five types of cards:
1. Merchandise cards can promote your licensed merch from the video. This is a way to drive your subscribers on YouTube to support you on a deeper level.
2. Fundraising cards can link your viewers directly to projects on certain fundraising sites like Kickstarter, Patreon, or Pledge Music. This is a great way to raise awareness about your project.
3. Video or playlist cards link to your other videos or playlists on YouTube. This is a great way to keep people watching your content instead of clicking off to other people’s videos.
4. Associated website cards will link to your associated website if you have one set up. YouTube is great, but you really want all of your social media channels to drive back to your website. I would definitely recommend taking the time to set up an associated website.
5. And lastly, Fan Funding cards allow fans to give you donations right on the video page. A lot of your YouTube subscribers and fans would support you if they had the opportunity, so this is a great way to take advantage of that. The key is to bring their attention to this capability in the video since fan funding isn’t very common on YouTube yet, and cards are a great way to do that.
At the moment, there’s still no subscribe card, so you’ll have to keep using annotations for that.
So let’s walk through setting up YouTube cards. If you want a step by step tutorial with pictures, check out this article on the CD Baby blog. The process is a lot like using annotations, so if you’re familiar with that, this will be a piece of cake. Just go into your video manager, click edit on one of the videos you’d like to add cards to, and choose the “Cards” tab at the top. Now click “add card” and choose the card you want to add. You’ll then be able to add in a url, an image, and some text. You get 50 characters for the title and 30 for the call to action. Also, keep in mind that if you’re linking to another video or playlist of yours, the text and images will be set automatically to correspond with the video. You can also adjust the timing so it pops up at the right time.
Let’s take a closer look at the associated website card. Being able to link to your website in the actual video will help you convert more of your viewers into fans and buyers. The easiest way to associate a website is to go into your channel settings, choose the “advanced” tab, and adding your artist website in under “associated website.” Once you do that you’ll have to verify your website with one of the options they provide. Just choose whichever is easiest for you. Once you’re verified, you’ll be able to link to that website from your videos with cards.
YouTube is also releasing YouTube for Artists. Basically, it will be a music-specific version of their Creator Hub with lots of great information and tutorials. After that, they’re looking to release an analytic tool that will show you information on your viewers down to a city level. This could be huge in helping artists route tours and book gigs. So keep an eye out for both of these things and if you haven’t already, make sure you check out YouTube’s Creator Hub for more YouTube tips for making great quality videos and growing your subscriber base. It’s an awesome resource.