It's hard to be super successful

How I built a successful YouTube channel in 9 months

In this article I'll tell you how I built a YouTube channel with a huge reach in 9 months.

And by huge range I mean:

Not a few hundred viewers or a few thousand viewers, but several million viewers a month.

Using my own example, I will show you which things you absolutely have to pay attention to and which things you should avoid in the first place if you want to build a successful YouTube channel ...

I also dispel many common myths that want to tell you what makes a YouTube channel successful. Because most of them are just not true.

Not least because of such myths, the 9 months were associated with many difficulties and I often struggled. I had to learn a lot of skills from scratch and I wasn't sure what to look out for.

But over the months I have acquired a lot of knowledge through practical experience, which has helped me enormously in increasing the number of my viewers.

And I would like to pass on the most important of these experiences and tips to you in this article.

An idea that works: the basis of all success

The idea of ​​the YouTube channel didn't come from me at all.

In April 2017, I had just completed a 4-month online marketing internship and would have liked to try myself in the real world, but I felt way too inexperienced and didn't believe in the chances of success of my own project.

I would have loved to see how difficult it is really is getting a little attention online, but I didn't mean to waste my time either. And besides, I had no idea.

A good friend of mine came up with the idea of ​​a puzzle channel. He had been active on YouTube for years and knew what he was talking about. He noticed that many English puzzle videos have extremely high click rates. That means: the demand was definitely there.

I then did extensive research myself. And my guess was confirmed positively. There were actually some puzzle videos with a lot of clicks. Best of all, those videos weren't even high quality. So I thought to myself: "That should be done better."

What scared me a bit: There were of course many puzzle channels with almost no calls.

I knew my channel could end this way too. But I definitely wanted to try anyway.

And so my business idea was born.

The plan was something like this: Build an English puzzle channel, then generate tons of clicks and ultimately sell a puzzle app or something similar.

And then I started ...

The secret to a good sewer concept

It is extremely important that you have a precise idea of ​​the concept of your channel. And it is even more important that this concept makes sense and that it can be implemented.

You won't get millions of clicks with factual beekeeping tutorials because this topic doesn't interest that many people. That's impossible.

In return, you may have the opportunity to sell expensive equipment there, which means that fewer clicks are quickly worthwhile.

If you're working on a channel concept, ask yourself the following questions.

  • How many people watch videos on my topic on YouTube?
  • How many viewers do I need for my channel to be worthwhile?
  • What kind of value do I give the viewers?
  • How do I entertain the audience?
  • Why should a viewer watch all of my videos?
  • What kind of competition is there? And what do I want to do better or differently? Is there already a lot of competition? Very good! Then just make your videos more entertaining than those of the competition.

If professionalism is very important in your industry, you should find a good mix between professionalism and entertainment. But even in such industries, the more entertaining channels tend to prevail on YouTube.

And now the most important thing: What is the secret of a good channel concept?

The most important thing about YouTube channels is that they only cover a single topic and that the videos are all in the same style.

The goal is: That a viewer who likes ONE video also likes ALL the other videos. And that this viewer watches all the videos that are available on your channel.

I'll explain why that's so damn important later.

You'd rather do 5 channels with different topics instead of operating one channel on which you cover 5 different topics.

Example: If I want to start a channel on the topic of football, I don't publish a tactic analysis, a video where I play football myself and a video with transfer news. I choose ONE topic. And then, for example, I put out a video every week with the latest transfer news.

And in addition to that, I make all of my videos entertaining and recognizable. For example:

  • Similar structure
  • Similar music
  • Similar optical style
  • Always the same person speaking
  • Running gags
  • Etc.

One more time to note: a viewer who likes a video of yours should like all of your videos. If YouTube suggests another video from your channel, he should click on it without hesitation.

Get off to a successful start

It can take a lot of time to get started on YouTube.

It can take a few months for YouTube to notice you and suggest your videos to a few first viewers.

The first 1000 subscribers are usually the heaviest. If you have overcome this hurdle, the development goes much faster.

If you don't want to wait that long, it's best to look for someone who already has a large reach and who suggests your channel to their viewers. So you can easily skip this step.

If you produce really good content and keep helping people with it, then it may well be possible to find someone to help you with it.

My friend mentioned and linked my puzzle channel in a video right at the beginning. In the first week I cracked the barrier of 1000 subscribers.

In the long run, however, it makes no difference at all whether your channel is "pushed" at the beginning or not. Without a push, the development of your channel will only be delayed a little.

Produce successful videos

My first video was junk.

That means: It was short, monotonous and boring.

And yet I published it. And that was important. Because then I got feedback, I was able to work on my next video and improve the quality.

Because the most important thing at the beginning is to publish videos and improve the quality of the videos.

Constructive feedback should be considered and purely negative feedback should not be taken too seriously. The following was one of the first comments on my channel 🙂

That's part of it and as soon as your videos get better, you will get more and more positive feedback.

But how do you improve the quality of the videos? And what makes the videos successful?

The DNA of successful YouTube videos

First I would like to say briefly what I will not explain here:

Because there is already a lot of information on this online, I won't go into much detail on the technical optimization of YouTube videos. There are tons of keyword rules and guidelines on what to put in the description and tags. These are not indifferent and I have followed them too, but these rules are not what ultimately made the bulk of my success.

Other advisors focus on making your videos appear high in search results. But I was never really interested in that either. Because the search function on YouTube is not what it is on Google. I only reached 2% of my viewers using the search function. Not more!

Nevertheless, it can be helpful at the beginning to find viewers via the search. As you can see in the picture, I reached 600,000 viewers via search in 9 months. But you don't get really big with the search engine on YouTube.

For this it is necessary that YouTube your videos actively proposing to new viewers.

Since YouTube is now pretty smart, these are usually also viewers who are interested in your topic and are looking for solutions or entertainment.

3 key factors of successful videos

The 3 most important factors for a successful video are still the following:

All three factors are of immense importance. However, the titles and thumbnails don't take that long to be convincingly optimized. The best way to stand out is with playback time.

Also, YouTube's watch time is becoming more and more important.

Appealing video title:

When YouTube suggests your video, the title and thumbnail decide whether the video is clicked on. If a lot of people click your video, YouTube will keep suggesting it. If nobody cares about the video, YouTube won't suggest it anymore.

So come up with an appealing title.

It can be helpful to check out the competition to see which video titles are being used there. If these videos are successful, it may make sense to use these video titles as a guide.

Seductive thumbnails:

The thumbnail is also damn important. Here I would orient myself even more closely to the competition. If you run a German YouTube channel, get inspiration from English channels on your topic.

I've used thumbnails a lot and they already worked great. I didn't copy the thumbnail, but instead created the same thumbnail in my personal style.

The first thumbnail belongs to a video that has already had several million clicks. The right thumbnail belongs to my video. (The video also has over 3 million clicks today)

Of course, you can also come up with completely new and creative thumbnails. But that's an art in itself. And in order to achieve a similarly strong quota as with proven thumbnails, you need a lot of previous knowledge and experience.

A strong playback time:

The impact of playback time is a complex issue. And that alone could probably fill several articles.

In general, it is not only the playback time of each individual video that counts, but also how long the viewer stays on your channel and how many more of your videos they will watch in the next few days. The channel concept is of course also responsible for this.

I have increased the playback time of my videos over the years. And I paid particular attention to the following points.

The 3 most important tips for a strong playback time:

  1. Give the viewer what they expect: the title, thumbnail and content of the video must match 100%. If the viewer is promised something completely different from the title and thumbnail than what they find in the video, then they are gone immediately! And YouTube will no longer suggest your video.
  2. The first 10 seconds of your video are just as important as the rest of the video! This statement may be a bit of an exaggeration, but the message is clear. The first few seconds of the video are with distance the most important. Therefore, make the start really convincing, exciting and high-quality.
  3. Anyone who wants to increase their playback time is fighting for the attention of their viewers. Make sure that your audience's sensory channels are continuously stimulated.
    Visually: The picture must always move. Something always has to happen. If you stand in front of the camera and talk, it is best to change the camera perspective every 15 seconds or to fade in pictures and video clips.
    Auditory: Bring in stimuli for the ear. Sound effects and music are ideal for this. Music is always particularly effective in the moments when it gets louder or quieter. Also, pay attention to your voice. Speak louder, quieter, higher, lower. This makes the video a lot more interesting.

If the content is good, these tips are enough to produce videos that will grow your channel quickly.

You don't need years of experience or expensive technology for this. For months I didn't even have my own microphone, but recorded at friends' homes who lent me theirs.

The way is always the same: publish videos - improve videos - publish videos - improve videos - etc.

The way to the first great success!

With help, I cracked the 1000 subscriber hurdle in the first week.

For 2-3 days I got a lot of clicks - by the standards at the time - and was happy. But a week later everything looked exactly the same as before.

My videos had no viewers yet and a maximum of 2 people per hour got lost on my channel:

Over and over again I looked into the analytics and hoped that something would happen. Sometimes I checked it every 2 hours. But nothing has changed and my hopes were disappointed again and again, until after a few weeks I looked less and less into the analytics.

My tip on this: Above all, spend your energy on improving and developing your videos. That brings more than just studying analytics for hours.

With every new video I released, I was hyped again and imagined how it would go viral. And 2 days after the release, reality caught up with me again.

After about 2 months, with my seventh video, I had changed a few things. The video was longer than the previous videos and the intro was really good. In addition, the music was more atmospheric and the drawings had improved significantly in the meantime. The title and thumbnail were definitely better than the previous videos too.

And after almost 2 weeks, just before I published my next video, the video was slowly getting a little more clicks.

And then I published the next video. New concept, a little better and a little longer.

I published the video late at night (afternoon in the US) and then went to sleep as normal. And when I woke up the next morning, I could hardly believe my eyes. 8000 clicks. That's 8,000 people. I have probably never spoken to that many people in my entire life.

And the video continued to garner clicks. Sometimes up to 1500 clicks per hour. I was nervous all day and kept checking the analytics to make sure the clicks didn't stop either.

The clicks dropped a bit over the next few days, but after a week the video was still at almost 200k clicks. These sums seemed so gigantic to me. The video had a total playback time of over 16,500 hours at the time.

How did this success come about?

Again through the simple but ingenious concept: publish videos - improve videos - publish videos - improve videos - etc.

You should really make sure that you keep trying new things and improving the videos. If you do the same thing over and over again, nothing will change. Many stagnate at this point and forget about "improving the video". “Publish Videos - Publish Videos - Publish Videos” doesn't work. The gold mine lies between these steps.

YouTube: A roller coaster ride

As is so often the case, success and failure are closely related. My most successful videos were usually followed by my weakest videos. And when I had the feeling that things were no longer really going uphill, a video suddenly went through the roof again.

The best tip: just keep going and staying realistic.

Because although I was happy about successful videos, expectations also increased. All of a sudden, I was scared that I wouldn't be able to make a video do this well again. Maybe the success was just a lucky coincidence.

For example, my first successful video was followed by my most unpopular video.

One of the 3 puzzles in the video was misunderstood by many viewers. It was not phrased clearly enough and everyone criticized it for being wrong. The video had as many dislikes as there were likes.

The video started incredibly well, but after a few hours it was suggested less and less because of the poor ratings and after a few days it almost got no more clicks.

The video was called "5 Pictures To Test Your Intelligence" and these were the top comments.

First of all, my new expectations were properly rebuked.

The next video performed even weaker in terms of clicks, which I had even expected in this case. The video wasn't made to go viral.

And then suddenly came the big breakthrough:

The next video got over 70k clicks on the first day. And the number of viewers continued to rise. For three days, then they remained constant for a few days and only then did they slowly go down again.

I published the video on July 20th and on July 25th it cracked 1 million clicks.

My channel grew by several thousand percent every day:

The following week, from 25.-31.July is still one of the most successful weeks I've ever had on YouTube:

I lived at home and didn't have much to do. And suddenly I made more money in one week, just from advertising, than I normally had for 3 months.

Then the next video followed. To this day, this is the least clicked on my channel. It went like that over and over again. And again I was unsure whether I could repeat the success or whether it was a coincidence.

But if you stick with it and keep improving the videos, you will prove time and again on the YouTube roller coaster that the successes weren't just lucky coincidences.

Who is YouTube recommended to?

I have been asked many times whether it is worth being active on YouTube.

In most cases my answer to this question is “yes”.

YouTube is very well suited for marketing purposes and you can earn a lot of money through the platform.

However, you should then use YouTube to market your products, because the advertising income on YouTube is very low. For this to be worthwhile, you would need a very strong and mass-market concept.

Otherwise you will of course get a reach through YouTube. You can use this for anything you want.

I am now studying and ended my puzzle channel project for the time being in February 2018, in line with my first exam phase.

For me, this project has definitely paid off because I learned an incredible amount from it. In addition, the channel now has over 18 million views and these are still increasing. Such a nice extra income is of course particularly practical as a student.

I would therefore recommend you to use YouTube if you have the opportunity. And with the tips in this article, you already know almost everything you need to get the word out about the channel.

But although the YouTube algorithm is the same for all channels, you should keep in mind that my channel was placed in the entertainment industry. This gave me a huge potential audience. Many other industries have fewer people watching videos on these topics. For this reason, not all of my experiences can be transferred one-to-one to corporate channels.

I hope you enjoyed the article and took something useful from it.

 

Gustav loves to travel around or work on projects that teach him something. He has been studying communication psychology since October 2017 and shares his experiences on his blog kommunikation-lernen.de.