If you listen to most of the YouTube gurus out there, you would think it might be taboo to start a channel without showing your face. They all seem to do the same thing… make over polished, phony/over energetic videos that start something like this:
“HEY! What’s up GUYS…” blah blah blah
YouTube didn’t use to be this way in the early days. Now many YouTubers are copying each others format, which is why they all look the same. Many channels are like this because it is considered more brand friendly and good for the advertisers and in theory brings more revenue to the YouTubers.
It doesn’t have to be this way…
You may be procrastinating on building up your YouTube channel as you have fallen into the trap of thinking you have to make videos like everyone else. The good news is you don’t. In fact, there are many different channels that have made a ton of money without ever showing their face.
Keep reading and I’ll provide several examples of videos and channel types that have succeeded using a more private faceless format. And who knows, after you do enough videos like this you may end up building up your confidence enough that you eventually want to do a face reveal.
Why You Shouldn’t Show Your Face on YouTube
There are many valid reasons why you may want to follow your gut instinct and keep your identity secret when making videos. The reality is the online world has changed drastically since the 1990’s. Now, pretty much everything from your banking, credit cards and other data are stored somewhere on the Internet. Identity theft is a very real thing – each piece of the puzzle you put out in the public makes it that much easier for the bad guys to undermine you.
Another issue is how technology is increasing with “deep fakes”. Deep fakes are videos that take samples from a variety of clips and put your face on another clip. Many times such videos are hilarious, but the technology is still young, so it’s fair to say nobody knows what will become of this phenomenon.
General safety/privacy is another concern. If you become a really big YouTuber, you essentially become like a traditional celebrity which has many perks, but there’s always the occasional stalker type that can make things upsetting. Probably doesn’t happen that often, but it’s just a potential risk.
You may also be concerned about how friends/family or your employer may judge you based on your videos. Will it jeopardize your career? Will people make fun of you?
So anyway, those are a few concerns that you may already be aware of. Again, just because you start a channel without showing your face doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind later. Just don’t believe the nonsense that you MUST show your face in order to be successful with videos – because it’s not true.
One more note – you can always use a stage name to provide a layer of security instead of your real name. There’s no reason not to. Most movie stars do, likely for some or all of the reasons above.
Also, you may not want to use your voice. If so you can always use text to speech software or hire someone to read your script for you.
40 Ideas for YouTube Videos Without Showing Your Face (in no particular order)
And now the moment you have been waiting for. Below I’ll give you some real examples of videos and channel types that you can model. Every idea provided below has proven to be successful and never reveals their identity. Ideas are listed in no particular order of importance:
1 – Unboxing videos – one of the first video types that come to mind would be the infamous unboxing video. I’m not sure who started this but they are everywhere now. There are channels that have millions of subscribers all from videos that show a detailed unboxing and review of a specific product. Unbox Therapy is one of the bigger channels – currently at 15.9 million subscribers from over 1,700 videos. According to Socialblade, it is estimated this channel makes up to $2 million a year.
2 – Slide Shows – A slide show video is a pretty simple concept. Show a series of photos accompanied by music, speaking, text and other graphics if desired. For some tutorials a slide show works perfectly. You can also make videos from your latest vacation or show the latest funny memes, pets and more. Use your own photos or stock photos if desired. Here’s one example – a 5 hour looped slide show with music that could be used on your TV:
3 – Screencast Recording Tutorials – Screen recordings are probably one of the most popular ways to make videos without showing your face. There are countless audiences you can target this way. The most popular use is usually a tutorial on how to use specific software app, computer programming, web design, 3d modeling, etc. You can also give quick reviews or roundups. For an example, here’s a screen recording that gives the top software packages to use to make screen recordings:
4 – Gameplay of your Favorite Video Games – What better way to make money on YouTube than playing video games? Live streaming of games or gaming tutorials is arguably the most popular category on YouTube other than music. It’s big enough that YouTube has it’s own gaming mega category. The good thing about this niche is it will never go away. New games are released every year and there’s a never ending demand for tutorials, walkthroughs, tips/tricks or just good old fashioned entertaining gameplay. Check the policy of any game you are considering to make sure they give permissions to make videos. Most do at this point as they realize how much it helps them sell games. Chances are if you see your favorite game title on YouTube by other channels, you can do the same with your own channel.
One of my favorite channels in this category is Lazarbeam. Lazarbeam usually plays Fortnite, but has been starting to move into other topics, so it should be interesting to keep an eye on his channel.
5 – Time Lapse Videos – Time lapse videos are easier to make the more advanced smart phones get. I believe the iPhone and Android phones both have built in time lapse mode. Simply pick a subject such as the clouds, a busy area in the city, nature, a construction site, your cat or dog sleeping, etc. Start shooting your time lapse video and upload. Simple as that. Here are some tips on making time lapse videos with some ideas to get you started:
6 – Whiteboard Animations – This type of video can be used to make tutorials, explainer/doodle videos and more. Some whiteboard animations are done by hand, but software is now available to make the process easier. Whiteboard animations are very popular with companies that want to explain what their product/service is about as quickly as possible – so a potential customer doesn’t have to dig through your website trying to figure it all out. Here’s an article on the subject if you wish to dig further:
7 – Book Summaries – A book summary video is exactly what it sounds like. A shortened summary of what a book is about – usually for non-fiction titles. One of the best channels I’ve found that has built a massive business around book summaries is Brian Johnson. He currently has over a thousand videos uploaded to YouTube. I’m not 100% sure but I believe he started gaining popularity due to his book summaries and then was able to launch his Optimize.me site which now has well over 10,000 members.
Here’s one example: (Brian does show his face in many of his other videos, but is not necessary. Search for “book summary” on YouTube to see more).
A final note on book summaries. You may want to do a little research on the copyright aspects. I honestly haven’t figured out how it works yet. Not sure if permission is required or if it falls under fair use. It could be that a book summary requires permission, but a book review does not. Here’s a Quora article on the subject. I’ll do more research on this and see if I can find out the accurate answer, as it’s a little fuzzy out there. Here’s another site I found called Blinkist which appears to answer the question: What about copyrights? Are you stealing from authors?
8 – Movie Reviews – Movie reviews are a little tricky and require some advanced knowledge of fair use if you intended to use audio/video clips, but can be done without ever showing your face. Simply write out your review and read it like a script. You could even make it super simple and make the video one image or a slide show.
9 – Nature/Environment Scene Videos – This type of video is about as simple as it can get. The main ingredient you will need is access to beautiful, natural scenery and or animals. I recommend to ultimately create a long video, as the ones that do best are background videos with sound that are sometimes 2 or more hours long. Why would anyone watch a video like this? Usually people will play on their TV and use as ambient background while they are cleaning the house, reading a book or perhaps meditating. The key to doing well in this area is filming high quality. Here’s an example video I personally play from time to time:
10 – Animated Cartoons – Using software such as Adobe Animate, Plotagon, Blender and others you can create your own cartoons on just about any subject you can think of. Create comedy cartoons like South Park or educational ones. This area is going to be a little trickier to get into once January 1, 2020 gets here due to new restrictions thanks to COPPA regulations, but you can still take this route if you wish. I recommend staying up to date on the latest COPPA news as it is still pretty confusing for most creators. Here is a quick primer to get you started: Coppa: Everything you need to know.
11 – Stop Motion Videos – Stop motion animation requires a bit of patience, but is another face free option you may have forgotten about. The traditional stop motion films can be as simple as a clay man walking around or extremely advanced as you see in movies like Star Wars. Entertainment is not the only area you can use stop motion with. You can do just about anything your imagination can think of… even product commercials for example. For inspiration, go to Youtube and search for Stop Motion Ideas…
12 – Animals, Pets, Wildlife – Countless possibilities here. You can make a channel dedicated to your pet(s) and potentially earn a living. If your pet is unique enough (like Grumpy the Cat) you could earn a fortune. All you have to do is make funny interesting videos of your cat, dog, etc. and the rest is history. Add occasional informative videos from time to time as well if desired. There are so many pet possibilities beyond cats and dogs including snakes, ducks, parrots, horses, goats, chickens, fish, turtles, mice, rats, hamsters, gerbils, lizards, hedgehogs and more. If you don’t have a pet you can make videos or live webcams of backyard wildlife such as birds, squirrels or deer. Here is one example channel – Maru the cat on YouTube:
13 – Live Webcams – People love watching live webcams, so if you’re out of ideas this is a good place to start and get traffic quickly. There are cameras on every topic imaginable. Animals, travel locations, truck driving, weather and more. In order to be able to stream on YouTube mobile I believe you currently must have 1000 subscribers. But, you should still be able to stream from your desktop computer. For inspiration and ideas, check out Earthcam.
14 – Podcasts – Start your own podcast, or help distribute an existing podcast if permissions are allowed. Some podcasts give permission for listeners to upload as long as proper credit is given. If you’re not shy about putting your voice out there, start your own podcast. The very basic, easiest podcast you can do only will require you to upload a thumbnail image with your audio. Done. You’re in business.
15 – Masked Commentary Videos – If you want to voice your opinion on hot button topics, or simply want to truly speak your mind without fear of being retaliated against, you might consider starting a channel and wear a mask. Before YouTube, somewhere around the 1970’s or 80’s a stand up comic became hugely famous as “The Unknown Comic”. His gimmick was that he wore a paper bag over his head. Today there are channels out there, where YouTubers can remain anonymous by wearing a mask to conceal their identity. There are also famous DJ’s like Marshmello. He’s obviously a millionaire by now, so don’t believe you can’t be successful without showing your face. Another hilarious channel I found today is called “Darth News“. Some may find his videos a bit controversial, so don’t say I didn’t warn ya 😉
Don’t forget disguises…If you don’t want to wear a mask, you can come up with a disguise like the super popular gamer Dr. Disrespect does. Brilliant. He not only stands out from the pack, but is quite hilarious at the same time.
16 – Product Reviews – Many products can be reviewed only showing your hands or using still photos and your your voice narrating the review. For best results, write out a good, solid review before you shoot your video so you can provide value to the viewer. As long as you provide helpful information, most people will not care too much about anything else. In fact, they will most likely be interested in seeing still photos or video clips of the product you are reviewing so they can make a better buying decision.
17 – Tutorials – Some tutorials may be done only using screen recording software or demonstrating with your hands, or perhaps an overhead shot with your camera. I won’t go into too much detail here as most of this was already covered above (#3). Tutorials beyond the realm of computer/software include music – piano, guitar, drum pads, etc.
18 – Music Videos – If you are a musician, you can put together music videos using your own original footage or stock footage. Even if you are not a musician, you can have fun in this area as long as you can get permission to use footage. Technically you could put together music videos from songs available the free YouTube Audio Library. One time, I made a really low quality “video” that was nothing more than a slide show with royalty free music and that video has had nearly 500,000 views.
19 – Cooking & Recipe Videos – People are in a hurry and love cooking videos that get straight to the point and show you how to prepare meals without reading confusing instructions or digging into commentary. The best cooking videos I’ve seen that you could emulate come from a channel called Twisted Recipes. They have the same format – vivid, colorful overhead shots, sped up from being shot in time lapse mode. Here’s one example in which they make chicken fajita lasagna:
20 – Hire Actors – If you have the budget, you can always outsource actors/actresses to be the personality behind your videos. You work behind the scenes as the producer/director. You may need to have some contracts drawn up in the event your videos go viral so everyone knows what they are getting into and won’t demand further compensation down the road. Where can you hire personalities to act in your YouTube videos? Try Fiverr, Veed.me and Upwork. You can also hire locally if you live near a college or try a site like Craiglist.
21 – Travel Videos – The travel industry is huge, with thousands of cities and tourist destinations around the world at your disposal. Anyone planning a trip will greatly appreciate your tips to help save them time, money and minimize frustrations. If you have footage from a recent vacation or plan to go on one soon, you can potentially turn your travel expenses into profit. Share your best advice for the destination and answer questions in the comments section and that’s all there is to it.
22 – Product Demos – These are a little simpler than product reviews. Instead of giving a detailed review of a product, you simply give a thorough demonstration so potential buyers have a better idea of what they are getting before they make a purchase.
23 – Static Image Videos – Probably one of the easiest video types to make. Typically these would be made for podcasts, speeches, audio books or any type of audio that would be listened to while driving. When someone is driving they likely do not want the distraction of video and this will also save bandwidth on their cell phone bill. Create an eye catching image that will also be used as your YouTube thumbnail. Add audio and you’re good to go.
24 – Point of View – This type of video is usually from your point of view – as in what your eyes are seeing, doing whatever you are doing. Examples include outdoor activities such as surfing, sky diving using a Go Pro camera. Hiking is another example. Travel footage where you are walking, biking or driving around can work as well. Actually, when you think about it, a point of view video can be done on any topic you can think of.
25 – Facerig – This is a program that uses your webcam and turns your face into a variety of different cartoon characters you can choose from. It has face tracking and lip sync features so when you talk or move your head, so does the avatar. Check out Facerig.com for more information. Here’s a video demo below from PewDiePie. Note, in this video he uses picture in picture, but that can be disabled.
26 – Playing with Toy Videos – Believe it or not, many YouTube channels have made a lot of money doing nothing more than showing their hand, adding commentary and playing with toys. You can still make videos like this, but keep in mind anything that targets kids will be harder to monetize due to upcoming COPPA regulations. But, it is still interesting to note that some people have literally made millions playing with toys. A classic example can be read about on this article: “YouTube’s highest paid star is a mysterious woman who unwraps Disney toys. For real.”
So anyway, due to COPPA, more restrictions will make it harder to monetize such videos, but you can still borrow the same concept and apply it to other niches. Perhaps there is a demand for a greasy mechanics hands channel that opens up new tools? Who knows!
27 – Kinetic Typography – This type of video is similar to a slide show but instead of showing photos, usually will show animated text to highlight each point that is being made. Can be used with photos and other clips. These are a great way to get a message across quickly in our highly distracted world. Here are some video examples on YouTube to give you a better idea.
28 – Live Subscriber Counts – Believe it or not some channels out there are nothing more than live subscriber counts of top YouTubers. The most famous one that comes to mind is when PewDiePie and T-Series were competing against each other to see who would get to 100 million subscribers first.
29 – ASMR / Satisfying – Another popular trend you may have seen on YouTube and Instagram are ASMR type videos that show someone painting, making slime, mixing paint, kinetic sand and more. So to everyone out there that has worked overtime trying to get a channel off the ground to no avail, take a look at Sand Tagious that currently has over 2 million subscribers. Doing nothing more than playing with sand.
30 – DIY, Crafts, Etc. – Have I covered this topic already? I’m losing track. Anyway, make videos showing how to fix something in the house or perhaps build something. How to plant seedlings in the garden. Anything DIY (do it yourself) has a potentially large audience for you to tap into. Same theory applies to crafts – teach people needlepoint, calligraphy, origami, woodworking and more.
31 – Top 10 (or insert other number) Videos – Make compilation videos showing top 10 things of a certain subject area. Could be anything from top 10 movies for the summer, top 10 songs of 2020, video games, movie scenes or whatever. There are channels out there that are totally dedicated to making only top 10 videos. Here’s a sample video from one called “Top 5 Best” which currently has 3.62 million subscribers!
32 – Question and Answer – This is about as simple as it gets. Take questions from viewers and answer them.
33 – Interviews – Depending on who you are interviewing, these can bring in a lot of views. The bigger the personality, the more attention it will get. An interview video can be done 100% without showing your face and only showing the person’s face you are interviewing. If you build up the nerve later on, you can always reveal yourself in the future. As an added bonus, you’ll never, ever run out of people to interview as there is always someone out there ready to sell their latest book, promote a movie, their podcast, startup or whatever. There are so many people like this one could probably make a prank interview personality like Borat just to zing these people.
34 – Mashups – Mashup videos were really popular in the early days of YouTube, and are still around, but a little harder to do due to risk of getting a copyright strike. You should be safe if you follow the rules, though. To read more on this subject, please read this Wikipedia article: Mashup (video).
A good illustration is when a creator mixes two or more movie trailers together to make a new movie trailer that doesn’t really exist. Such as this Elf recut as a Thriller trailer 🤣
35 – Compilations – These are usually quick clips of top videos under the same category, making sure you stay under the fair use rules. An example would be a few years ago when everyone did the ice bucket challenge, so there were videos all over the place. As a result many compilation videos were made showing a few seconds of the best of each clip. Fail videos are popular in this category, too.
36 – Puppet Shows – Grab a couple of puppets and start making videos. Pretty much no limit to this category. Sure, you could make them for kids, but keep in mind about the new upcoming COPPA restrictions which will limit your advertising revenue. Who’s to say you couldn’t start a news site using a puppet instead of a real human giving the news? Or do puppet unboxing videos? You think I’m crazy, but behold… there is a channel called Shark Puppet that currently has 1.16 million subscribers. I’m not even sure I want to know how much they make a month with a silly shark puppet.
37 – Sound Effects – Short sound effect clips are always in big demand. If you are an audio pro and can make your own original sound effects, you couldn’t ask for an easier channel to start. Simply grab your microphone and record random sounds such as screams, applause, a fireplace, car traffic, birds or whatever. I recommend offering a link to viewers so they can easily download your audio clips for free without annoying pop ups or other spammy tricks you may typically see.
38 – Relaxing, Ambient Sounds – This was touched on a bit earlier. Make long audio tracks of thunder, rain, coffee shops, forest sounds, nature, waterfalls, etc. and add a simple thumbnail photo and you have a formula for starting a new channel on YouTube. For best results create your own, unique audio to share.
39 – Audio Books – If you are an author, you can create audio book versions of your print and ebooks and share sample chapters on YouTube to help with promotion. Or, if you are feeling generous, read and share entire books! You could also read older public domain books to help build a following.
40 – Stock Quotes, Weather, Other Live Data – Entire channels have been built around sharing live data of stock quotes, weather, news and other live data. You can provide like commentary or background music and keep your chat room open for everyone to talk about what you are broadcasting.
And there you have it. Hopefully the above 40 ideas at least gives you a starting point if you’re thinking about starting a semi anonymous or faceless YouTube channel. What’s really exciting is that you can combine one or more of these tactics with each other and end up creating something new, simply by putting a creative twist on a channel type.
You may eventually work up the nerve to start showing yourself on camera. One good way to make a transition is to make picture in picture videos where you are only shown in a smaller screen in one corner, commenting on your main content. You can also only show your face for a few seconds and then cut to “B Roll” and other footage the rest of the video. Another good trick is to make videos, but don’t upload them. Keep them locally on your computer and at a certain point you may feel confident enough to upload them.
If you know of any other video or channel types not mentioned in this article, please let us know and we’ll add them to the list. Good luck! 😊