It’s no secret that YouTube offers the potential for skyrocketing your reach. Whether you’re a business looking to get new customers or you just want to talk about the things you love, YouTube’s pretty much the only option.
However, there’s a lot of competition out there. A LOT of competition. Which means that, wherever possible, you need to try and give yourself a head start in any area you can.
TubeBuddy is a tool that claims to do exactly that. Here, I’m going to take a look at what it does and how it can help you manage your YouTube channel.
OK, so what is it?
Put simply, TubeBuddy is a Chrome extension plugin that’s free to install. (Though a lot of the features aren’t free, which I’ll come to.)
You install it, and whenever you head on to YouTube to do your thing, it’ll be ready and waiting to help you out.
Sounds good, but what does it actually do?
Glad you asked. The quick answer is that it does a LOT. No, seriously – TubeBuddy’s feature list is pretty impressive. Impressive enough that I’m going to need to break it up into several sub-headings.
(If you already know the features and just want to know what I think, you can always skip this section!)
Ready? Here we go.
- Advanced embedding codes that’ll allow you to stick your videos on any site easily.
- Gif generators that’ll whip you up a preview GIF for promoting your video on social media.
- Annotation templates that’ll speed that process up.
- Comment filters that’ll let you find the ones you want and ignore the ones you don’t.
- Upload defaults that’ll enable you to use different tags and boilerplates depending on the type of video you’re putting up.
- End screen templates that’ll stop you having to create them from scratch every time.
- A quick-edit toolbar that’ll enable you to edit videos without having to go to the my videos page each time.
Bulk processing tools
- Bulk annotations that’ll allow you to spread those shared annotations across all your videos at once.
- Bulk copy cards, because adding cards to every one of your videos individually is a real drag.
- Bulk end screen copy that’ll give all your videos a professional end, without you needing to do it one-by-one.
- Bulk find and replace, which is a massive time saver if you need to do something like changing your social profile or changing a link that’s included in all your videos.
- Bulk thumbnail overlays, which will allow you to put a branded thumbnail on all your videos at once.
Video SEO tools
- An auto translator that’ll let everyone in the world read your title and description.
- A best practice audit that’ll tell you off if you’ve not set your video up properly.
- A keyword rank tracker that’ll let you know how far up the page you are for different keywords.
- Video A/B tests that’ll let you test different descriptions and thumbnails to see which ones get the best results.
- Description promotion that’ll let you promote one video in the description of your other videos, ideal for sending traffic to your latest work.
- Featured video promotion that’ll help you show off your best ones.
- Share trackers that’ll show you which ones your subscribers love.
Data and research tools
- A tool that’ll tell you when the best time to publish is.
- Channelytics that’ll tell you who’s watching what, when and for how long.
- Channel valuation that’ll show you how much your work is worth.
- Competitor scorecards that’ll show you where you are.
Phew! *Deep breath out*. As you can see, TubeBuddy does a LOT. (The scary thing is, that isn’t even a full list. Head to their website if you want to see the dictionary-sized full list.)
Of course, all these features won’t mean much if it doesn’t work effectively. If you’re going to spend money on a plugin like this, you need to know you’re going to get a positive ROI, after all.
So, how does it actually work?
For software that boasts such a monstrous range of features, TubeBuddy is actually quite simple to use.
As with any Chrome plugin, you install it onto your browser, and when you load up YouTube, you’ll see the TB logo in the top right hand of the screen.
It loads in the form of a drop-down menu, from which you can head to any of the screens you prefer.
(I’ve got to offer some Kudos for the design, which slots in perfectly with the rest of YouTube. If you showed it to someone and they didn’t know what it was, they’d never guess it was an after-market feature. It just looks like part of the website.)
Getting Started with TubeBuddy
Who is TubeBuddy best for?
Again, this is a good question. Because a lot of the tools included in the extension are based around bulk editing, it’s fair to say that you probably need to be a reasonably prolific YouTuber to take full advantage of it.
Remember, TubeBuddy isn’t a totally free tool. (Again, I’ll get to pricing in a bit.) It does cost some money each month to run, so if you’re only uploading one video every fortnight and you’ve only got 24 live, you probably won’t get the same benefits as someone who’s been YouTubing for five years, has 3,000 videos and uploads once a week!
Of course, the alternate view is this: if you’re in your early days on YouTube but you know you’re in it for the long haul, TubeBuddy could save you a lot of time on things like adding end screens or thumbnails that otherwise might frustrate you.
If you used it as a time-saving tool – which it definitely is – then you could spend more of your time working on the videos themselves.
What’s more, the analytics and data tools will give you the information needed to grow your channel quickly. You’ll be able to get traction a lot faster than someone who’s trying to work out everything for themselves.
OK, so how much does TubeBuddy cost?
Now, I’ve mentioned a couple of times that TubeBuddy costs money, but I should preface this by saying that you can get some of the features without paying anything.
The free version includes about half the productivity tools, none of the bulk processing, just under half of the video SEO, half of the data and research tools and all the promotion tools.
Once you move into the paid features, there are three options: pro, star and legend. These cost $9, $19 and $39 respectively and as you go up in price you’ll get more features.
It’s also worth noting that there are a number of discounts. You can save money if you have less than 50,000 views, pay yearly, have more than one channel or are part of a non-profit.
For us, the star package – which costs 19 dollars – is probably the best option. Let’s face it, that’s only two or three hours worth of a low-paid job, and make no mistake, TubeBuddy will save you WAY more than three hour’s work a month.
In the end, TubeBuddy is a tool that’ll save you time. If you’re someone who loves doing things like video admin, editing and so on yourself, then just pick up the free version. But if you want real YouTube success without having to give up hours of your free time, TubeBuddy is definitely worth spending some money on.
Are there any alternatives?
There’s no beating around the bush here: TubeBuddy is definitely the market leader.
If you really want to explore other options, though, vidIQ is worth a look. It offers many similar tools to TubeBuddy, including SEO, keyword research, Twitter and Facebook links, video analytics and descriptions. It also offers the best time of day feature that’ll tell you when to upload your videos.
Pricing is similar to TubeBuddy: there’s a free package, a ‘pro’ version, a ‘boost’ version and an ‘enterprise’ solution.
The thing to bear in mind is that vidIQ is a bit less specific about its pricing. Costs are listed as ‘starting at…’ rather than just being a firm price, and you can’t enjoy the same early discounts.
Are there any cons to TubeBuddy?
As you’ve seen, TubeBuddy’s feature list really is impressive, and it works very well. With any after-market plugin, there’s always a stability risk. However, everything I’ve tried so far works perfectly.
If there is a con, it’s that some people might see the software as a ‘magic button’. TubeBuddy is a brilliant tool that’ll save you time and help you get your videos seen by more people. However, the videos still need to be good! Having top-notch ending screens, eye-catching thumbnails and keywords that rank well won’t do much good if your actual videos are dull and dreary!
As a productivity tool that’ll help you manage your YouTube channel more effectively, it’s mighty hard to pick holes in.