On April 29th this year, my YouTube channel surpassed 1,000,000 views.
I’d only been at it properly since August 2020.
This wasn’t the plan. By now, I had fully expected to still be heading towards the magical 1,000 subscriber and 4,000 hours of watch time tipping point for the Partner Program (the point at which you can begin earning a share of the revenue from adverts).
Instead, by the time spring began blooming in 2021, I’d already accumulated over 10,000 subscribers and over 100,000 hours of watch time.
How did that happen?
I’ve written previously about how I went from zero to 1,000 subscribers in four months, but today, I’m going to reveal four stupidly simple things I’ve done to achieve such early success.
Disclaimer: I didn’t plan any of them.
I started off as a fan
I went to bed late last night, again, because I fell down a Casey Neistat YouTube rabbit hole. Again.
I’m addicted to YouTube. In fact, I have been for a number of years, having grown rather fond of creators like Neistat, Peter McKinnon and countless others who fill my sizeable subscription list.
I have no doubt that this has helped immeasurably with the early success I’ve experienced on YouTube. I’m a fanboy – an avid viewer, and I pore over every detail of the creators I admire.
The way they tell stories, the type of b-roll they use, their thumbnail technique, how they carry themselves on camera, the way in which they nurture their audiences – it all fascinates me.
If you’re serious about starting your own YouTube channel, you’re probably a fan, too. But if you’re not, you need to become one.
I jumped on what worked – immediately
My YouTube channel is based solely around tech reviews, but that wasn’t always the plan.
As I explained during an interview on the YouTube Creators Hub podcast, my original plan was to build a channel that helped freelancers become as productive and profitable as possible. In addition to that, I’d throw in the odd tech review that might help my fellow independent workers.
I started off with good intentions. My first few videos dabbled with the freelancing advice idea. But, then, I published a headphone review and I immediately saw a significant uplift in views and engagement.
So, I jumped on it.
Yes, I could – and, some would argue, should – have stuck with my original plan, but I’m the sort of person who will jump on an early success indicator; I knew I’d hit on something with that headphone review. Comments were flooding in, and every time I refreshed my stats, another subscriber would jump on board.
If you think a niche on YouTube is too saturated for you to grab any slice of the action, you’re thinking as narrowly as I was last year about the tech space. Back then, I assumed it would be impossible to penetrate (hence the focus on productivity advice), but I couldn’t have been more wrong.
I checked my stats every day (yeah, naughty)
When you start a YouTube channel, most people will tell you to ignore the stats.
“Don’t get obsessed with the numbers,” they’ll say. “It’ll just wear you down and take you away from the important task of making great content.”
They have a point. But I totally ignored this advice – and still do to this day.
I’m always checking my YouTube stats. I’ll regularly open the YouTube studio app on my iPhone, pull-to-refresh and see what’s happened since the last time I did so (which is often only a few minutes previous).
This hasn’t dampened my spirit or removed my focus from developing the content. Quite the opposite, in fact; the ebb and flow of those numbers relating to the channel has inspired me with every pull-to-refresh.
Sure, I’m lucky enough to have enjoyed above-average growth during this early phase of my channel, so the numbers have risen pretty consistently. But that isn’t really the point.
I value every single digit that’s added to either my subscriber count, watch time or revenue generated. Viewing it practically in real-time gives me a feel for how ‘alive’ the channel is. I can tell when I’ve published a dud, and when I’m really onto something. It’s exhilarating.
I invested significant time in my audience
“I wasn’t expecting a reply!”
I receive that response regularly when I interact with my audience.
I’m at a point now where replying to every single comment would take far too long, but from the start, I did exactly that.
I still reply to as many as possible. And while YouTube will never confirm this, I’ve always been of the mind that audience interaction is probably a signal for the algorithm that the channel in question is worth keeping an eye on.
More importantly, interacting with my audience has kept my focus firmly on what matters when it comes to content. They tell me what they want to see, what they’ve enjoyed thus far and where not to tread. I treat my YouTube channel like a business, and the audience is one-hundred-percent an indispensable employee.
There’s a misnomer that YouTube is full of trolls, and while I am in no way making light of the dreadful comments some creators have to endure, my experience with the audience has been pretty delightful. On the whole, they’re a lovely bunch; strangers who say the nicest things to me each and every day. That alone has encouraged me to continually invest time in the channel’s most important element – because, without the audience, I wouldn’t be where I am now.
YouTube is damn hard work. It’s not my full-time occupation, therefore I have to find time to plan, film, edit and publish two videos each week.
But, boy is it worth it.
My advice today does not guarantee over 10,000 subscribers and 1,000,000 views in less than a year, but it will hopefully provide some inspiration for budding YouTubers.
You’re never too small for a niche or too inexperienced to start a YouTube channel. Do it. Don’t think about the algorithm and throw SEO to the back of your mind; that’s exactly what I’ve done so far, and it’s working out pretty nicely.