Jun 16, 2021
5 mins read
The following is an excerpt from Reddit that I wrote to commemorate the 1 year anniversary of my channel. I wanted to share it with you all:
This month is the one year anniversary for my channel. I thought I would share some of the things I've learned. In 2020 it seems like everyone and their sister started a YouTube channel. With people staying home from work or getting laid off the content creator population seemed to explode. So I can count myself among those people that took a crack at becoming a content creator. It's been a fun experience full of highs and lows.
For reference here are some of my statistics.
Videos released in the last year: 38
Subscribers per month: 28-35
The most important thing I've learned is this: There is no shortcut to success.
According to most of the research I've read and YouTube's own metrics it takes, on average, 22 months of consistent uploads for a channel to become part of the YouTube partner program. I can completely believe this because my own metrics reflect that information. I currently average about 30 new subscribers a month. If I rely on that amount as my expected growth curve I will obviously miss the 22 month window. However, I started from zero subscribers and each month my average ticks a little bit higher. Yes my growth is slower than some channels but the growth curve is still rising. With future success I can see my channel hitting the 22 month mark right on schedule.
The second most important thing I've learned: Build your own community
With the glut of current content being produced for YouTube you cannot rely on the "Algorithm" to promote your product for you. You need to create a community of followers that will actively search out your content. For me, that's been a combination of Twitter, Instagram and Reddit. However, I am not showing up to these platforms only to dump a link to my video and leave. I'm trying to actively engage in those communities to help build a reputation as a trusted voice. Some people call this becoming an "influencer". If you are seen as somebody with credibility in your niche then you are more likely to attract viewers because you have added to the community instead of using it only for self promotion and "Link Dumping".
You can build credibility in your community by talking with other creators, offering advice of what you have learned in your particular niche and by consistently engaging with your audience. While you engage with the people involved in your niche your involvement will help people to recognize you and your contributions. That recognition builds your community. It may take a little while longer but dedicated viewers will provide a longer term return over bots every time.
The third most important thing I've learned: Don't be an imitator
There are plenty of posts on this board [r/YouTubers] where people will comment that "Mr. Beast does ..." or "I've seen Dream do..." or "If you listen to the Spiffing Brit..." you can get successful too! Take a breath. Those channels are not your channels. The reason those channels are successful is because they have built up a following that is devoted to their style and personality. You may be able to ride some coattails into a few viewers but eventually you're going to need to make your own content and do your own work. The sooner you push yourself to try something new the more you will learn. If you don't try new things then you get lost in a sea of other people trying to be like their favorite content creator. Just because you haven't found what works for your channel it doesn't mean you never will.
The fourth most important thing I've learned: Waiting to "go viral" is not a strategy
It can be hard to see other creators take off because they made one video that went viral. Yet, over the last year I've seen countless posts from creators talking about how they had one video take off and then their channel came back down to their normal level of engagement. A video taking off is never a bad thing, I've had it happen [You are not a fake game master] and it feels really great to get a huge influx of new viewers. However, those "high" moments are exceptions and not the rule. If you expect every video to be a viral smash you'll be left disappointed. Not because your content is bad, but because it's unrealistic for everything someone makes to capture the collective attention of a huge platform like YouTube.
The best advice I've been given: "Treat the time before you're monetized as your training period."
It's a normal instinct to want to blow past the 1k viewer/4k watch hour requirement. However, that period of time, as long or short as it may be, is essential for you to figure out what works. I'm still trying to figure it out myself and with varying degrees of success. I'm not an expert on YouTube, but I've seen a ton of channels start and vanish over the last year. If you are serious about YouTube or content creation in general the number of channels that you have outlasted will continue to grow.
Final thought: Try to remember why you started.
If you started making videos because you thought it would make you rich, I wish you the best of luck. I've seen that train of thought burn out a lot of content creators and I don't really know what to tell you. However, if you started making videos because you enjoy doing it you need to try your hardest to keep that motivation in mind. For me, I've had times over the last year where I improved my efficiency, learned to make better content and pushed myself to work harder. However, I needed to stop and remind myself that YouTube is not a full time job. It may lead to some income some day, but right now it's a hobby. If I find myself losing sleep over a hobby then I'm probably doing something wrong. I started my channel because I thought it would be a fun way to communicate some of my ideas to my students and it's grown from there. If I treat it like a job then I'm missing the point, I'm trying to have fun.