How to make your own YouTubers' contacts list!
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.
Hey! Welcome back. Two weeks ago I had released my 1400+ YouTube contacts' list. Many people asked me if I could write more about how I made the list; my methods, tools, and thought process. It took me a while, but it's finally here!
To make this article as cohesive as possible, I decided to show my thought process in steps. That's how I ensure that you get only the most crucial information without the fluff.
Step 1: Who wants to play your game?
A good friend of mine wrote me a message a few days after I released the big YouTubers' list saying that it doesn't work. He had this cool game, but nobody replied. He asked me, "why?"
There might be a few reasons "why" but one of the biggest problems I had to tackle in the past is that the game you're trying to present doesn't fit YouTuber's channel.
If you're making an RTS, make sure that you approach YouTubers who cover RTS games, not FPS. If you're working on an indie game, contact YouTubers who cover indie games, not AAA.
Step 2: Create the first version of your list
Now that we know who we are looking for, it's time to discover channels potentially interested in our game. Where to start?
There's this fantastic tool called Import.io, which I've been successfully using for two years now. It's not only useful to create YouTube lists, but other stuff too! (e-commerce, cheap flights - nearly everything)
Where do you start? First, visit YouTube, type "Battlefield" for instance and wait for the search results. This is what I got: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=battlefield+gameplay
Now, to make this a valid URL for Import.io, add "&page=1" at the end of the original link.
The final URL should look like this: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=battlefield+gameplay&page=1
Time to create more URLs by changing &page1 to page2, page3 and so on. The biggest URL request I made was 250, but I believe you could do more than that.
Once you have the links, go to Import's main site, paste the first link in the first available box on the site and press "Try it out." Then click "Save extractor" and once you're taken to a new window just copy/paste all links to the appropriate box. Then hit "Run URLs" in the top-right hand corner and wait for the search results to appear.
Also, some pages might be unavailable at the time. Don't worry about it. All you have to do now is download the .csv file and upload it to your Google Spreadsheet. Time to do some magic!
Step 3: Filtering results and building the final list
Once you get the Google Spreadsheet going, you'll see hundreds of rows and columns; unsorted, confusing and useless... Not!
It is everything you need to start building your Spreadsheet web scrapers. Let's begin!
First, find the column with YouTubers' usernames. Delete everything else. Then, list unique accounts. These accounts are the core of your spreadsheet.
Now, we have to prepare the list for basic web scraping. Create a link to YouTubers' profiles by adding "https://www.youtube.com/user/*/about" where * stand for each username on your list.
Once you have that ready, it's time to use a magical function called "importXML" to get all data such as subscribers, total views, country of origin and social media. Once you get good with basic scraping, you can also create a spreadsheet with the last 30 videos per channel.
Step 4: Adding more accounts to your list
Although, 400 links look like an impressive number, my list consists of over 1400. The initial data I received through Import's tools is just the beginning.
Once you got all your channels sorted, you can add new ones by gathering all "Related Channels'" links through the importXML function we used in Step 3. You have to repeat it as many times as you want to increase the number of channels on your list. Now it's time to start filtering the collected data!
Step 5: Removing unrelated channels
What we did through basic web scraping, we gathered channels that might be useful for us. However, because neither Import.io nor importXML function gives us 100% match on every channel; we have to start checking every single one of them by hand (which is one of the toughest and most time-consuming task)
PRO TIP: Use importXML to scrape videos' titles. They should give you an idea of what type of games each channel is covering.
Step 6: Acquiring e-mails
Are you happy with the list you have thus far? Cool. Now it's time to gather as many e-mails as possible. How do you do that? By hand. You have to visit every single channel on your list and then either go through captcha security to find the e-mail or simply read the description.
What happens when there's no e-mail in the profile? You go through the channel's social media. Many YouTubers provide their business e-mail address on Twitter or Facebook.
Still nothing? Well, figure out a way to get those people interested through Social Media posts, mentions or DMs. There are multiple ways of reaching out to the YouTubers you want to cover your game - you just have to be creative and "never give up!" (poor movie reference)
Make sure to have a working build or steam key. Briefly, introduce your title, provide additional links to reviews. Be creative. Be yourself.
My list took me at least three months of work, but you can do yours in less than three weeks. You just have to be consistent.