At the time of writing, I’m approaching 30,000 subscribers on YouTube and the channel has just passed the 2,000,000 views barrier.
I’m bowled over by the performance and growth of my channel. I did not expect to be experiencing these numbers after just a year of publishing videos. But I am, and I’ve never been more proud of anything I’ve created.
I’ve also learned so much over the last twelve months.
So, with that in mind, I’d like to share with you ten things that have made a particular impression on me during my first year on this wonderful platform.
1. I should have started it ages ago
I’d always wanted to build my own online business, and that’s exactly what I’ve created with the Mark Ellis Reviews brand.
But I know I should have started much sooner.
This is with hindsight, of course, which is about the most useless tool available to any of us. But I hope my words will inspire you to just get on with your own.
Seriously – just do it.
There’s never a good time to start a YouTube channel because it involves damn hard work, persistence and determination. All of that is in short supply in the modern world, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find it.
2. Consistency is the most important thing
Since August last year, I’ve published a video every single week, without fail. Since the start of this year, it’s been two videos per week.
I haven’t missed a beat, because it has become abundantly clear that the key to success on YouTube revolves heavily around consistency. Keep pumping out your stuff and you’ll both improve your craft and find that elusive audience.
Just make sure that you have a stellar content pipeline machine to keep those ideas banked and manageable.
3. Most viewers are absolutely lovely
They really are.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s a nasty side to YouTube, which does take you by surprise when you encounter your first troll.
But those people are idiots with, clearly, very little going on in their own lives. They’re jealous of your desire and ability to place yourself in the spotlight and resort to bullying – rather than attempting anything remotely creative themselves.
In my experience, that accounts for about 0.01% of the people who comment on my videos. They’ve increased in number as the channel has grown, but so too has the number of lovely people who say ridiculously nice things about my content.
Every day, I’m genuinely humbled by several comments I receive – it’s an amazing feeling.
4. Stat addiction isn’t a bad thing
“Don’t check your stats all the time,” they’ll say.
“Just delete the YouTube Studio app from your phone,” they’ll suggest.
Don’t. I enjoy checking my stats, and, hands up – I do it constantly throughout the day.
For me, it provides a live, up-to-the-minute data feed for how the channel is performing. I know when it’s gaining traction, and when I’ve made a misstep. It’s one of the best things about YouTube’s brilliant analytics platform.
Seeing those numbers rise (which they will, if you remain consistent – see tip 2), is incredibly satisfying. But seeing them fall will also encourage you to improve like nothing else.
Trust me – you’ll know if you’re checking your stats too much.
5. Sponsors come to you
When I started my channel, I knew that I’d need to reach out to sponsors at some stage in order to generate meaningful revenue.
Or at least, that’s what I thought.
Every sponsor I’ve been lucky enough to have supported the channel has come to me. I’ve not had to reach out or contact anyone.
The same goes for review units. As my channel has grown, the direct contact from genuinely interesting brands has increased without me having to lift a finger in terms of networking.
Focus on your content. Keep pumping out those videos. The opportunities to increase your channel’s revenue and gain support from sponsors will come naturally.
6. The most unexpected becomes your selling point
I’m from a place called Northampton in the UK. We’re not known for our luxuriously classic British accents. At all.
But one of the main things my audience appears to like – unfathomably – is my voice. I get comments about it all the time.
I genuinely don’t get it (like most people, I hate the sound of my own voice when hearing it back during the edit). But, for some reason, it has become one of the biggest selling points of my channel.
I can guarantee the same thing will happen to you; something totally unexpected and unplanned will become your channel’s USP.
7. SEO isn’t the be-all-and-end-all
I’m going to let you into a little secret. I implement the bare minimum in terms of SEO (search engine optimisation) on my YouTube channel.
I have no doubt that this has resulted in less than stellar view counts on certain videos, but on the whole, it hasn’t damaged the growth one bit. Remember – I somehow achieved one million views in just eight months.
My SEO consists of an educated guess at a decent title, using vidIQ to find relevant tags (although there’s plenty of research out there to suggest that YouTube barely pays attention to tags these days) and taking in some tips about how to write SEO-focused descriptions from this guy.
When I feel like I need to invest more time in SEO, I will. But as far as I can tell, consistency, decent titles and a great thumbnail technique are far more important on YouTube.
8. The algorithm reveals itself quite readily
Whenever I publish a video about M1 Apple Macs, I get loads of views. Similarly, if I conduct a six-month follow-up on a pair of big-name headphones, the numbers arrive pretty quickly.
If I review a smaller brand’s product accessory or undertake a studio tour, the numbers are always far lower. Without fail.
The YouTube algorithm isn’t a strange, mythical, completely untameable beast. It’s actually pretty sensible, reasonable and predictable. In my experience, the algorithm picks me up and blows a huge gust of wind behind my sails when I create content that feels like it’s going to be successful. The experiments, on the whole, rarely draw in a sizeable audience.
I’ve worked out what the algorithm likes from my channel, so I make more of that stuff and keep the experimenting to a minimum. It’s that simple.
9. Investing time in your audience is vital
When I first started to experience traction on YouTube, I’d reply to every single comment I received.
Now, I’m at a point where that genuinely isn’t possible – or warranted – but I still invest time every day in responding to as many comments as possible.
I have no doubt that being active in your comments section helps improve the reach of your channel. But it also reveals to your audience that you care. I’ve received several comments from people who have clearly witnessed and been impressed by my viewer interaction.
What’s more, your audience will usually hold the keys to some superb content ideas for the future.
10. AdSense doesn’t make you a living
When you reach 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time as a YouTube creator, you can apply for their partner program.
This is an important milestone, but it’s unlikely to be the start of a new career.
If you’re set on making YouTube your full-time occupation, you’ll need more than AdSense to make it a going concern. Sponsorships, affiliate revenue, and selling your own digital products are just three examples of the type of revenue-generating avenues I’d recommend you explore.
Don’t get me wrong, AdSense can bring in meaningful revenue each month, but it is also wildly out of your control, massively inconsistent and not at all profitable when you take into account the cost of your own time. Some niches (financial, for instance) buck this trend, but that’s rare.
If you’re starting a YouTube channel, make sure you plan multiple sources of potential revenue.
Consistency. That’s the takeaway today.
Just start your channel, right now, and publish at least one video each week. Don’t let up. The numbers may take a while to trickle in, but the more consistent you are, the more you’ll start to see significant improvements.
Finding your first 1,000 subscribers is the hardest part of the climb – trust me. But once you pass that stage, the world is your oyster.
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