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I recently surpassed 100,000 subscribers. Here are some thoughts

the1janitor

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Hi, I haven't been active on this site in some time, but when I was a smaller channel, this site was a good place to discuss YouTube and get ideas, and so hopefully I can share some things that'll get you thinking. This is only my opinion.

1. Your content is the absolute number 1 most important thing you need to focus on if you want to succeed on YouTube. If there is only one thing you get from this post, this should be it. Before you start thinking about anything else, the first thing you need to ask yourself is "how can I make my videos better?" If you're thinking about anything other than this when you're a small channel, you're probably in the wrong mindset. I like the suggestion from I think Roberto Blake, which is to make 100 videos before you even think about anything else. Use that time to hone your craft. If you have no background in video production, your videos will be pretty bad for YEARS. You may get lucky and have a few catch on, but in general, your videos will always have room for improvement and new ideas, and you shouldn't expect YouTube success until you've figured out how to make great videos consistently.
This was a mistake I made, I focused on the wrong things (views, money, equipment etc) and because of this I think it took longer for me to reach this milestone than it otherwise could have.
In terms of how you make your content better, first learn the basics. Learn how to light your videos properly. Make sure you're shooting in HD. Make sure the audio is not terrible. Learn how to compose the shot correctly. learn some basic editing. Beyond that, I would say look at other people who are making videos that you love in the same or similar genre as you. Figure out what they are doing that makes their videos great, and adopt some of those practices. Obviously don't just copy them (although copying people when you're first starting out can be a good way to learn, just don't outright plagiarize.) but figure out the techniques they're using. I was very inspired from from early vloggers and people like Anna Akana and Philip Defranco and I learned many things about composition and editing from watching their videos.

2. Don't expect overnight success. Unless you get REALLY lucky, it is going to take years of blood sweat and tears to make it on YouTube. The only people who find quick success are people who already have a background in marketing or video production and usually spend a lot of time, research, and resources building a YouTube business. For most individuals, this is not the case. You will have to create videos and slowly build an audience. A lot of people seem to be looking for some magic bullet that is gonna magically gain them subscribers and views, but it's really just not a thing. You have to LOVE making YouTube videos if you are ever going to succeed at it, because you are going to probably make a lot of them for a long before you start getting real exposure. Dont quit your day job.

3. Do not take a small audience for granted. If you have 1000 subscribers or even just 25 subscribers, always remember that is 25 real human beings that physically clicked the subscribe button because they like what you make. Make your videos for THEM and always try to make them happy and they will reward you. They will become your super fans who will stick around til the end. If you spend all your time complaining because you don't have the views you want, your subscribers will feel like you don't appreciate them and they will engage with your videos less. That's the last thing you want. Be appreciative of what you have and whatever new subscribers you get. It'll be worth it in the long run.

4. Titles and Thumbnails are almost as important as the actual content. This is basically what causes people to click on videos. If you think you have good videos, but are not getting many views, it's probably because you don't have interesting titles and thumbnails. There is no shortage of information about how to make good titles and thumbnails on the internet, and probably on YTTalk itself, so do some research! They need to be eye catching and semi-clickbaity (without being misleading). Titles should make the person HAVE to click to find out what the video is about. Try to make the title and thumbnail tell a story together. Make people think, "wow I need to see this!" Research news headlines to get ideas for how to make good titles. Make the thumbnails bright colors and make them pop out. Don't make them too busy. Make sure its easy to see at a small size. Avoid text in thumbnails, except for maybe one word or two. (An exception is in gaming. Text seems to work for gaming thumbnails). Pro-Tip: A close up of a face always makes a great thumbnail, because as people we connect and are drawn to faces. Now of course, if it offends your creative sensibilities, feel free to do whatever you want. I know a lot of people hate clickbait, but you don't have to take it too far. As long as you are not lying about what the video is about, its fair game. Some people prefer creative titles and try to make beautiful thumbnails that are artistic. If that's what makes you happy, go for it, just know you could be sacrificing views. I personally believe you should think of your Title and Thumbnail as a billboard for your content, not as art. The video is the art.

5. Do not even think about money. If you happen to make some, that's cool, but I see people with 500 subscribers talking about how they're launching a Patreon, and I think this is a bad idea. You shouldn't be trying to monetize your audience if you are not delivering high value to them yet. Unless you're getting 100,000+ views per month, I do not think you should be worried about trying to make money on YouTube. Focus on your content. Ignore your adsense if you have it. Don't launch a merch line. Focus on your content. Unless you are confident that you are creating high value for your audience and you are being rewarded with very high engagement, money is the last thing you should be focusing on.

6. Quality vs Quantity. Ok here's the deal. When you're first starting out, quantity is most important. You want to practice making and uploading videos as much as possible, so you learn how to do it well and get used to the process. Don't just put out any old garbage, make a decent video and put it other there, then get started on the next one. HOWEVER. Once you've gotten the hang of it and have found your niche and decided what kinds of videos you want to make, as well as begun to find and audience, I recommend taking your time to make great videos. If the videos are very good, your audience will not mind waiting for them. And if you spam their feed with crappy videos, they will not be happy. It is better to do 1 great video a month than 10 sub par videos a month. I will say this, try to post at least once per month. If you go several months without posting a video people will forget about you and move on. However, if you are able to make many great videos per month, that is always better. More watch time on your channel causes the algorithm to suggest your videos more. But bad videos do not bring views because no one wants to watch them.

7. Be Authentic. Unless you are very good at acting, your audience can tell when you are enthusiastic about your work. They can tell when you're just phoning it in and they can tell when you don't really care about your content and are just uploading just to upload. As soon as your audience realizes you don't care then they wont care either. This is why I keep saying to focus on your content. If you get too preoccupied with all this other stuff and neglect your content, the viewers will notice and they will stop engaging. Authenticity is extremely important on YouTube. If you can gain the trust of your viewers, you can succeed.

I know this is all very general, but I don't think you need to get bogged down in specifics when you are still building a small channel. Just focus on the main ideas and you can grow. And I am not the largest YouTuber myself, I still have a lot to learn and a long way to go myself. Just thought I could pass along some ideas because Ive been in that place where I'm looking for answers. If anyone has any comments or questions I'm happy to respond.
 

UhoohExtra

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Its amazing how many people cant take on board no.1 Instead they go on a mission for a work around or shortcut asking questions like "where can I post my video online to get views?".. err Youtube?. but make something worth watching! Or ask "how can I improve my channel?" having never read or worked through the whole bunch of creator academy tutorials- and instead think it can all be rounded up in one sentence answer.
Personally I'm working on making the first 100 videos (slower than I'd like) and just trying to make the next one better each time. Sometimes its hard to self evaluate and I don't always realise what trash I put out until a couple months afterward when I look back and see with fresh eyes how bad it is.
Thanks for taking the time to share what you have learnt with us here.
 

Lord Osh

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This is really great advice. It's almost a catch 22 for me because I promised myself and Viewers that I would never clickbait them, yet I believe that's what missing from my videos. I spend 8+ Hours on just editing on every video, I do believe I check off the Quality category with flying colors. Working diligently on reaching my 1st 50 videos. But in the back of my head something tells me my titles are not coming across as they should be. Thank you for your feed back and contribution.

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the1janitor

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This is really great advice. It's almost a catch 22 for me because I promised myself and Viewers that I would never clickbait them, yet I believe that's what missing from my videos. I spend 8+ Hours on just editing on every video, I do believe I check off the Quality category with flying colors. Working diligently on reaching my 1st 50 videos. But in the back of my head something tells me my titles are not coming across as they should be. Thank you for your feed back and contribution.

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You don't have to carried away with the clickbait. I think your audience will let you get away with more than you think just as long as you're not misleading them.
 

NoSleepTeam22

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That's some great advice for us new people starting out. Thanks a lot, and congratz on the succes. Sounds like it's well deserved :)
 

Dutchie Abroad

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Thank you for writing this! I really agree with you, so many new Youtubers have the wrong mindset. They fuss about their equipment, their watch time and their subscribers, but when you check their channel they'll have less than 10 videos. Ever since Youtube has become an actual job for a lucky few, everyone is obsessed with easy fame. Yet they don't realize it is not easy at all. Youtube is hard work and if you don't enjoy making your content, you're not going to last.
 

MindfulInquirer

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Right yeah it's about content. Nothing but flash or whatever of the sort will get a few interests at first but they'll quickly go look for other stuff if the content isn't actually focusing them in. Hot political topics and exposing opinions will usually get the people to stay for e.g. as it's current and dynamic.
 

YouTube4x4

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Wow congratulations on your 100k milestone. That's impressive. Thanks for all the tips, those of us starting off can really use them!

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Rust Quick Electric

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Point #3 of your write-up certainly strikes home. Since I received my first subscriber and now my 100th subscriber that sense of accomplishment still feels just as good. One of the hardest thing new content creators seem to grasp is that every single subscriber is a real life human being that enjoyed your content enough to follow-up for more. Congrats on 100k!
 
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