In the beginning there was Khan. The guy has been teaching young and old alike on practically every imaginable topic out there.
These days there are a lot of guys out there with their own YouTube channel which makes the ‘channel selection‘ process that much harder.
So how does one go about selecting the right one and which ones should you subscribe too? Here’s a guide that will hopefully help you decide.
Your Requirements and the Selection Process
The heading says it all: ‘What do you want?’ Your requirements will drive your selection.
If you’re channel surfing, then this step-by-step guide provides an overview.
I have my own personal channel selection process, which goes like this:
1. Number of Subscribers
YouTube provides us with a view of the number of subscribers via the “subscribed” resource below (in red). Not only do I count (no pun intended) on this as a popularity and traffic indicator, but I usually refer to this – along with other measures below – to determine whether the channel is worthwhile following.
2. Number of Views and Recent Activity
You have to keep current as the world moves fast. Recent Activity provides us with that exact view.
The number of views is a measure I use to gauge the potential relevance of a particular video, particularly when overwhelmed by a number of videos from your subscribed channel.
3. Number of Likes (and Dislikes)
The good videos have a low number of dislikes in proportion to their likes (which stands to reason).
Side comment: I don’t think I’ve seen a video without at least one dislike. You just cannot please everyone.
A fairly obvious choice that I cannot leave out. The only thing Google won’t immediately do is present some good small-time channel at the top of its search results, perhaps due to the small number of subscribers or the lack of strong SEO factors. This post from Lynda.com pretty much explains the high level mechanics of Google.
Let me sidestep YouTube just this once and say that not all screencasts are in YouTube. This is why it is also quite good to hit Google with your search and the word screencast attached in the end as a key word. For example, typing MS Excel + Screencast in Google like this:
will not only results in YouTube videos but also a link to www.screencast.com (which stores Excel training tips). And of course you can replace ‘screencast’ with ‘tutorial video’, ‘video’ or any other related word or word combination.
The first 3 selection criteria are quantitative. It’s now time to bring in a qualitative factor in – one which overrides any of the first 3 factors. How so? Well if a trusted friend gives me a personal recommendation to check out a video or channel, or if a trusted site gives me advice that a channel is worth checking out, I would bypass all the number counts above and check it out. It’s that simple. The power of a recommendation is my personal number one.
Now that you know how I approach my searches, here are the channels I subscribe too.
My YouTube Superstars
If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, then you’ll know I’m heavy on business and technology. So it should come as no surprise that my superstars are around these areas.
Note that the links to the channel have been embedded within the underlined word e.g. click on Bionic Turtle to take you to David’s channel.
I have copied the channel’s address at this point in time which may mean that if you read this sometime in the future, the link might not work. If that happens, then just enter their name in YouTube and hopefully you will still see their logo.
- Bionic Turtle. David Harper has been and still is one of the most detailed teachers out there. Check out a couple of his podcast topics: “Contango & Backwardation in commodity forward markets” and “Nonlinear interpolation with Solver to construct yield curve“. The man is also one of the key contributors in Investopedia. I cannot stress enough how good this man is; he is an an online superstar in the world of finance.
- Wall Street Training. In terms of ability to teach and engage, Hamilton Lin for me, is without peer. The man has you from the ‘Get Go‘ and is quite clear and to the point when he presents. The only knock on his vids is that his original intent was to market the screencasts in a bid to lure students to his courses at http://www.wstselfstudy.com (therefore most of the vids are short).
- Mergers and Inquisitions. M&I are online legends in the investment banking game with great interviews and insights in each post. They have only recently established a channel on the web (only a few vids). But what they lack in the vid count they make up in community support (2000+ subscribers for only a handful of screencasts). The guys are the REAL DEAL.
And there are loads more out there if you keep surfing.
- Mr Excel and Excel is Fun. I could not separate the 2 so thought it would be prudent to add them on the same bullet point. But I will give Bill respect for being ‘The MAN‘ who has been in the game longer.
One thing to keep your eyes peeled for: They do dual casts where they both chip in solutions for the same problem. It’s a good way to see different approaches to solve the same problem.
You will recognise them by their respective logos:
- Chandoo. Just like M&I, Chandoo caught my attention through his website where he has collected a fair few tips and tricks with Excel. I knew I had to subscribe immediately when he launched his channel.
There are so many Excel based videos out there that I haven’t mentioned. And there are others that might not immediately come out as a dedicated Excel channel but they cater for great tutorials on the subject e.g. Lynda.com.
Web Development and News
- Chris Coyier. The design man cometh! He shares, he cares, he shows you a few tricks and covers a LOT of ground in web development. And on top of this channel, I must mention his other creation which I highly recommend – Codepen.io. Check him out here and have a look at some of those links (he has a cool podcast series too – I’ll have to create a separate post on podcasts one day).
- Derek Banas. Derek covers a LOT of ground too like Chris including coverage on how to document stuff (in UML) and general design patterns. One series that grabbed my attention was his Psychology Tutorials. What the? A tough determined mind can conquer all!
- Code School. These guys make web development fun with their creative vids. How many guys out there use ‘zombies‘ in their tutorials and Mr Hig to explain the model-view-controller interaction. Like most of the other guys on this list, the purpose of having these tutorials is to entice the viewer to sign-up to one their courses (so there are some brief tutorials and others without a continuation – but we shouldn’t really complain).
- The Verge. If you want current and relevant news, then look no further. The shows can be brief (unlike most of the other vids before, I refer to all of these as ‘shows’ and not as a ‘screencast’) but can also be quite lengthy when they do panel shows.
- Treehouse. 31,000-odd subscriber strong at the time of writing – that has to be a good thing! Treehouse crew must be doing something right and I’ll put it down to their < 20 minute news update on all topics that have hit Technology for the week (Nick Pettit and Jason Seifer combo gel together perfectly). They also have web tutorials in their channel if you want to see more.
- Hacker News Nation. The guys at One Month Rails (Chris and Mattan) now have their own tech channel. The format is very similar to Treehouse BUT it is a lot more casual and conversational with the guys presenting news on their office lounge. They’re a newbie in the YouTube channel world (not a whole lot of subscribers or videos yet) but I am confident that this will change in the near future.
With so many YouTube channels, I don’t really have time for traditional TV (outside 1/2 hour of Big Bang Theory – so don’t ask me about The Walking Dead or Game of Thrones; I have no idea).
Did I miss naming one of your favourite channels? I probably did. Feel free to point them out and write in.