So, you want to start a YouTube channel?
I started in 2015 and since then it has grown to over 300k subscribers on YouTube and it went from a hobby to a full-time job for me.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Luka, just a normal guy who finished architecture school, but failed to enroll in the University of my choice due to a lack of credentials, and decided to search for a way to make money online.
The origins It all began back in 2012 when still lot’s of people didn’t care all that much about Adsense and the concept of online business, let alone using Youtube as a way to make extra money!
After finding out that one of my friends started making some serious cash from a similar career, I decided to pursue it!
The first thing I did was get in touch with him, in order to ask some questions about the small nuances that made the whole thing possible.
We had a long Skype conversation where he explained everything from how to make a Youtube channel, Adsense profile, and ultimately, how to turn it into profit and now I am gonna tell you how to make a successful Youtube channel.
How to Start a Successful YouTube Channel
What Doesn’t Work (or How To Kill Your Channel Early)? First, let me tell you what doesn’t work or how to kill your channel early (learn from my mistakes).
Attempt 1 in making a YouTube channel
The following day, on February 8th, 2012, I began the whole operation, by opening my first Youtube account. I had the channel all to myself and Adsense profile setup and ready to go, so I began to wonder where should I begin?
What is the content that’s gonna draw the most viewers, and more importantly, put more cash in my pockets! I took the path of least resistance (or so I thought at the time) and decided to make funny fail complications, but I also “borrowed“ content from other channels. Naturally, due to several copyright claims, Youtube shut down my channel, but it gave me a good idea of how many views I’ll need to get in order to gain money.
Back then, the CPC and RPM were significantly better than they are now, and you could earn a decent profit from 100,000 views.
Attempt 2 in creating a Youtube channel
Can you guess what it was? Yep, none other than a Music channel, which I created on September 18th, 2012. It worked to my advantage that some bigger music publishers didn’t have their own official channels at the time and that the content was spread all across the web.
I downloaded the content from over 1000 channels and uploaded it one by one. I worked on one song at a time, making lyrics video in the process, and honestly, it was like taking candy from a baby.
After a while, my channel started growing exponentially, with some of the songs reaching over a million views, and I ended up receiving my first „MAJOR“ paycheck (which amounted to $300).
Sure, that might sound laughable to some, but considering that I was 17 at the time, I was doing pretty well in my book. The income steadily grew over the next couple of months, reaching $600, and that lead me to believe this was the start of something great!
The crash and newly found determination
One morning I woke up, and much to my surprise, I failed to log into my account time and time again! THE CHANNEL WAS SHUT DOWN! I never even received a single email of warning, and it was all gone.
Due to my copyright strikes and the fact that one major publisher decided to open their own channel, all the content was suddenly made unavailable. When you get used to the good life, and a steady $500+ income coming your way every month without moving a finger, plus you’re only 17 years old, and all get taken from you in an instant…
I felt like I was run over by a train.
After trying out a couple of similar feats, failing miserably each time, I started to lose my will to pursue it any further. I searched for my place under the sun elsewhere, finishing school and working a part-time job as a waiter.
Still, this was grueling, and I came to a realization that I’m not made for that lifestyle. Work my butt off in college, only to work for someone else my entire life? Nope, that’s not how it was going to end.
This time, the outcome will be different! I’ll invest 100% of my efforts to make a Youtube career, and whether it took me 5 or even 10 years, I’ll come out on top!
What not to do if you want to grow your YouTube channel?
- Do not steal other people’s content, make your own. YouTube will find you and terminate your channel and worst case, somebody can sue you for stealing intellectual property.
- Do not buy views. If the views are poor quality or low retention or coming from blacklisted sources, you’ll more likely get your video banned rather than ranked. Btw, traffic isn’t always good – focus on quality traffic that converts well, not just numbers. I don’t see the point of spending money to get millions of views that are not even monetizable.
- Never do Sub4Sub. You don’t want a subscriber with no intentions of watching your videos. This strategy will leave you with a significant amount of subscribers that won’t watch your videos when you upload them, your CTR and your views to subscriber ratio will be really bad and the YouTube algorithm will see your content as low-quality content.
How to Get Your Youtube Channel Out There
YouTube success is about planning and timing. Here are the exact steps I made to create a successful YouTube channel and you should follow them if you want to succeed on YouTube.
Determine your niche
Among many interesting topics, lifestyle and gameplay were the most popular ones, but that really wasn’t my area of expertise. I decided to forge my own path, and do something never seen before in Serbia, a Do It Yourself channel!
Since I always excelled in the creative areas of work and considering I graduated from architecture school, it was tailor-made for me. I named it „Kucni Trikovi“ which roughly translates to „Lifehacks“. Tip: Focus on one niche, don’t be all over the place if you talk to everybody you talk to nobody. Try and make a unique idea that people want to see, but still can be made frequently.
Define Your Audience
This is one of the most important steps you have to do before you even start your YouTube channel. When you ask new Youtubers who is their target audience, 90% of them will tell: Everybody, I have entertaining content that anyone can watch.
It is really important to understand your target audience and what you can offer to them. Start by researching other successful channels in your niche, subscribe to them and determine a specific group of people who are watching that kind of video.
See what people like to watch in your niche, see what’s trending, stay up to date on what everyone else is talking about and make those videos. Find subscribers of those channels outside of YouTube, in Facebook groups, Google+, Instagram as they are interested in your topic and they are potentially your subscribers and viewers of your videos.
Promote but do not spam and use these groups for research on future topics for videos.
Create an appealing YouTube channel art and profile icon
Invest in channel design (you can hire a designer from Fiverr for cheap). This is the first thing people will see when they land on your channel. Youtube channel art for your channel is the same as the cover photo for your Facebook profile. The profile icon is the photo that shows next to your videos and channel on YouTube watch pages.
Make sure your channel art is appealing to visitors. It creates the visitor’s’ first impression and many will make a subconscious judgment based on what they find here.
Create Quality Content
Maybe I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s so true. Thumbnails can draw the viewers in, but quality content will turn them into subscribers.
Due to my previous experience with Youtube, I know that the audience is expecting a complete package, so in time, start to perform voice-overs.
One tip I can also give you is to keep an eye out for current trends, as Youtube has specific algorithms which push video with currently interesting topics to the top, just make sure you put your own spin on it, be different enough to separate yourself from the rest of the crowd.
For instance, those were the fidget spinners in recent memory. Look at your videos from the viewer’s perspective.
What videos would you click on?
Spend some time researching SEO, tags, keywords, use the TubeBuddy extension…and most of your viewers and subscribers will come from the YouTube search and via suggested videos.
In short: be remarkable. It’s not enough to post weekly videos, you need to convey your content in an engaging and entertaining format that separates you from the crowd. The biggest sin on YouTube is to be boring.
How to gain an audience on YouTube?
How to get big on YouTube?
You might be wondering, what’s a good place to start? Most people overlook one fact: YouTube is the second largest social media network, right after Facebook.
There is an existing community on YouTube and some of those people don’t even have profiles on other social networks.
Don’t waste your time trying to get someone from another network who never watches YouTube to watch you, when there are people who already watch YouTube and follow YouTubers.
Now, when you understand that YouTube is a community, not just a place to host your videos you should start to interact with the other members of this community and start working on a bit of self-promotion by commenting on other videos in your niche (perhaps include a few humorous remarks, so that your comment reaches the top where it can be seen by a lot of people).
Commenting on other people’s videos will have a major impact on the number of views your videos and profile receive
With commenting you make about 50 subs a day on average, additional to the “normal” gain. Be careful, spammy comments are very risky. If you get flagged, you´ll be “shadow/ghost-banned” for an uncertain time.
At this moment you think everyone can read your comments, but no one else except you can really. This happens also, if you comment too much, or if you do not really watch the videos and comment within the first seconds.
This happened once to me, and so I wasn´t able for a few days to comment seriously. I guess I´ll comment about 5-10 videos a day (1-4 an hour).
Instead of being spammy, my tricks were to be fast to comment after you publish your video, to be funny AND to like the comment yourself so you stay a moment longer at the top comments for other viewers to read and like it, too.
Don’t forget to comment on other users’ comments on the videos in your niche. People like to be noticed and probably they will be curious about, visit your channel, watch some videos and eventually subscribe.
Other YouTubers in your niche are not your competitors! They are and they will be your most loyal fans.
Connecting with other YouTubers in my niche, via their YouTube videos and social media, enabled me to make reciprocal relationships. They would share my content with their audience and that was the turning point for my channel.
How to do it?
- Type your keyword in YouTube’s search bar
- Go to “Filter” on the top and “Sort By” column. Then click on “Upload Date” and select the most recent videos
- Choose a video you like that relates to your niche. Watch it, comment it and share it with your audience
Trust me, that YouTuber will do the same for you!
Promote your videos on other platforms
Facebook also offers a ton of opportunities, where you can share some of your videos to attract the audience. Share the content with your friends, and perhaps ask them if they could do the same. Do you know someone who has a big number of Instagram followers? Go ahead and ask them for a favor. Even if you get a negative response from that person, what’s the worst that can happen?
Create Engaging Thumbnails
My advice would be to always design 3 or 4 thumbnails and ask some of your friends which would they click on first. In my experience, this works like a charm. If your thumbnails suck, many won’t click on your video if it isn’t relevant or attractive. At the end of a day thumbnails (and title) will determine your CTR. If your thumbnail fails to capture your viewer’s attention, then you have failed. You can use TubeBuddy’s Thumbnail Generator to create thumbnails and save your precious time.
Trust me, none of your videos will go viral (you can forget about that), none of the bigger YouTubers will shout you out (don’t waste your time contacting them), you are on your own and you have to utilize the YouTube algorithm and try to get your videos shown in the suggested videos of popular YouTubers, and get your videos at the top of semi-popular or long-tail search terms. Some basic tips for SEO:
- use the main keywords in the title
- use a 5,000 character limit in the description (use your keywords)
- create playlists around your main keywords
- meta tags (use relevant tags)
How I do it? First I SEO friendly title with main keywords. Then, once again in tags, I add the keywords from the title, and several long-tail tags combinations using my main keywords. Then, if I have some extra space left in the tags, I will add other relevant keywords that aren’t suitable for the title, and last but not least I use the “description section” to support the other keywords related to the video.
In the video watch page, press “CTRL+U” to open the source code page, then click “CTRL+F” on your keyboard to open a search box, type “keywords” in the search box, hit Enter twice and voila there they are…tags for your competitor’s video.
If you don’t want to do that every time then use Tube Buddy which has a built-in tag viewing function that will come up for every video on your screen. Do not just copy the tags from the competitor video. If you do it, your video will be a view feeder for that competitor’s video.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine and SEO is a huge issue so you should pay attention to it. Tube Buddy is one of the best tools out there that helps you with YouTube SEO.
SEO is the only way to get your videos to the top of search terms and in the suggested videos section.
Do some keyword research and take those tags seriously. Tube Buddy allows you to search for keywords for tags and it’ll tell you their search volume and the competition volume.
How to get YouTube subscribers
Now, when you have an audience, viewers of your channel it is time to turn them into subscribers. It is quite obvious what is the biggest thing with grabbing subscribers so make sure that you have really, I mean really high-quality content. If your content sucks people won’t really care.
Subscribers are the main asset of your YouTube channel and as soon as you post a new video, the majority of your subscribers will watch it right away and you will have those initial views which are most important for the YouTube algorithm.
If your videos are good enough, then most people will do subscribe on their own but still, I never assume that my viewer can read my mind and I like to ask for likes and subscriptions at the end of the video and so should you.
Add the subscription button “click here to subscribe” to encourage users to subscribe – the key is to make it as easy as possible.
Likes are very important. The more likes (and dislikes :))you get, the more engagement your video will have. The higher the engagement, the more Youtube’s algorithm will promote your video and suggest to other people.
As a result, you will get more viewers and hopefully more subscribers. You can use this simple trick to increase YouTube subscribers.
Simply add “?sub_confirmation=1” to the end of your channel URL and you will have this URL form http://www.youtube.com/user/XXXXX?sub_confirmation=1. XXXX is your channel ID. You can share this link on social media, blogs, forums, or in emails.
You can run Giveaway or PayOff
Post your goal in public, you can use your Facebook profile and this simple step-by-step process of the “subscriber payoff method”:
- Tell them your current number of subscribers (e.g., 100 subscribers)
- Tell the world your goal (e.g., 200 subscribers)
- Choose something fun, interesting, unique or different that you will do once you reach 200 subscribers (e.g., shave your head, do a funny thing in public do a crazy dance on video, a free giveaway, embarrass yourself, or whatever)
This is a great way to spread the word about you and your channel with little effort and having a fun time doing it. People love this kind of stuff, they will jump on board to support you and help you accomplish your goals.
Comment your own video
Comments are another indicator of engagement. Encourage commenting by posting your own comment in the form of a question when you release a video. Once again…more engagement = more views + more subscribers.
Tip: Comment on every single comment. When doing this drop keywords in the responses and your video will start indexing in google for those keywords – this obviously drives more traffic.
Do the hard work with video engagement early on
Do the hard work with engagement early on to get a “snowball” on the channel. At the beginning or start of your channel, you should be doing all the legwork to bring an audience to your channel.
After a while of YT indexing your channel and seeing real engagement coming to your channel, they will start pushing your content, you can see quick results in a matter of days, doesn’t matter if they send you 5 views, at least it was suggested.
That’s a good sign already, you will slowly get your new content among the suggested videos and it will grow on its own as long you stay consistent with your uploads. That’s when the snowball effect comes into play
How can I get my YouTube video suggested on some popular videos
With trial and error method. Optimize your videos properly with relevant tags related to targeted videos. Stay consistent with your uploads, the more you upload the more chances are that one video will take off.
Is starting a YouTube channel profitable business
Sure, it’s like any business. You can make tons of money opening a bar, restaurant, photography business, with Amazon business, etc. But most don’t.
Having a video that earns a few bucks here and there doesn’t seem like much when you publish each one. But when you have hundreds of them, each one becomes one of the hundreds of little “workers” for your budget over time.
Once you get there, even if you don’t publish another video ever, you can expect to earn $$$ completely passively from royalties.
The beauty of this is that those videos will keep earning you money if you never spend another minute on it but you should know that the Adsense = small potatoes.
The pay is horrible, for the same amount of views you can earn 3-4 times more elsewhere.
The real money is owning and promoting your own stuff rather than relying on AdSense. You can do affiliate links, product placement…depending on your niche.
Don’t worry, advertisers will contact you themselves once you reach 50k subscribers.
My final words on How to Create A Successful YouTube Channel
When my channel started to grow, and I adapted accordingly. Furthermore, I always kept a good communication flow with my viewers through social media platforms. This is absolutely vital if you want to build a strong community.
If I wanted to put everything into a short summary, I realized that success isn’t going to come overnight, and in order to become great, I’d have to work hard and make some sacrifices.
At the start, it’s a rough go and it’s hard to stay motivated when no one is watching you. With a bit of luck and most importantly, patience, everything will come around eventually.
If you already gained a huge number of subscribers, it’s important to connect with them and create a community.
You can ask questions through the videos, respond to their comments, or even read some of the highest-ranked ones during the video.
Speaking of community, there’s no better way to maintain it than by creating a popular Facebook and Instagram profiles. In that way, you can design specific polls regarding the content, and that can provide valuable insight.
Another important thing is the average length of your videos. Your goal should always be to force the viewers to watch the content for as long as possible.
It’s no secret that YouTube promotes videos and channels with a large amount of total watch time. The longer the video, the more income you’re gonna generate.
WARNING, don’t go too far. Statistics show that the optimal time for a video length is 5-10 minutes.
Similar to any other business, Youtube has its ups and downs. Because the algorithms are changing every couple of months, the income is gonna fluctuate, but the most important thing is to remain active!
As for me, I’m currently still into my channel „Lifehacks“, which allowed me to meet some great people, and also opened up other business opportunities as well. Honestly, I love my job, and wouldn’t change it for the world!
Ultimately, if you’re satisfied with working in a desk job, it’s your choice, but if you always wanted to find out what else is out there, don’t be afraid and take a chance!
Take it from me, if you put enough time and effort, anything’s possible. Pick your favorite topic, invest the time, and 200% effort, and you’ll reach the top. Remember, creativity starts with self-belief!