Building a successful YouTube channel takes time and requires commitment. However, commitment only takes you so far; you have to be strategic about your target audience, the niche you are focusing on, and content you are producing - key areas we cover in the post.
It is no secret that YouTube is oversaturated with content, so uploading arbitrary or generic content is unwise, because it will undoubtedly fail to attract attention.
Instead, start your YouTube channel with these 8 core principles in mind and build a solid foundation for your YouTube success.
1. Do Your Research
Establishing a presence on YouTube is a long term endeavor - you will likely spend thousands of hours on it, so understanding your market, key competitors, and your niche from the beginning is extremely important.
Many YouTube creators and businesses spend years creating content before realizing that they're focused on the wrong market, customer, or niche - this is often when most companies and creators give up because thinking about the sunk cost is debilitating.
Don't make this mistake. At a minimum, spend 100+ hours on market research to understand where the opportunities and challenges are. This early commitment to market research can potentially save you from years of wasted effort.
2. Find The Right Niche
YouTube's audience is big enough to support even the narrowest niche, so there is no need to appeal to a broad audience. In fact, most YouTube creators and businesses make this mistake - trying to appeal to a broad audience with generic content. This type of approach will ultimately lead to failure because by appealing to everyone, you end up appealing to no-one.
Don't go head-on against established creators before you establish some level of credibility. The chances of your content surfacing above established creators are almost zero.
Let's look at a hypothetical example to illustrate this point better. An e-commerce business specializing in crafts is trying to increase their reach and brand awareness by creating a YouTube channel; consequently, they begin uploading DIY style videos.
On the surface, we like the idea, but how are these DIY videos different from an established YouTube channel like 5-Minute Crafts? A channel with 56 million subscribers and resources to create 5+ videos every single day?
Simply put, what are the chances of a new crafts video (e.g. "Gift wrapping ideas") outranking 5-Minute Crafts' comparable video ("25 easy gift wrapping ideas and hacks")? Extremely low, because our new video is competing for attention against 5-Minute Crafts' video with over 17 million views and 140,000 likes.
The bottom line is, as a new incumbent, trying to compete against established YouTube channels is ill-advised. Instead, find a niche or your unique take on a particular topic or interest. For example, to gain traction, we may recommend focusing on a specific target market (e.g. young mothers), hence tailoring our craft video content according to their particular needs, wants, and pain points.
3. Produce/Upload Videos Consistently
We are all creatures of habit, so most of your audience will appreciate a regular video upload schedule. Furthermore, it gives your subscribers something to look forward to. For example, if you are consistently uploading videos on the same day of the week, your audience will be far more likely to return to your channel - when compared to irregular uploads.
Also, uploading videos consistently will build trust and loyalty with your audience.
4. Promote Your YouTube Channel And Content
As we mentioned earlier in the post, there is no shortage of content on YouTube, so finding the right niche, creating relevant content (videos), and uploading consistently is not enough.
Promote your YouTube channel and content on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and so on. At a minimum, promote YouTube content on all your existing social media channels.
Also, paid advertising has almost become a necessity in ensuring you get your message across to your target audience, so having some budget for advertising is advisable.
Related: Pay-to-Play Trend in Social Media
5. Study Analytics
YouTube's Creator Studio is full of data and reports that will help you monitor and grow your YouTube channel. At a minimum, you have to analyze views, watch time, avg. duration, engagement, retention, demographics, and traffic sources.
Without question, studying analytics and learning from them is one of the core pillars of a successful YouTube Channel.
Related: Data-Driven Marketing
6. Be Patient
Growing a YouTube channel will take time, so don't get discouraged by your early numbers (first 12 months). Most successful YouTube channels experience an S-shaped growth curve. In other words, the initial growth is slow, but eventually, it is followed by a rapid growth rate.
For example, it may take 12 months to get to 10,000 subscribers, but only 6 months to get from 10,000 to 50,000.
7. Be Realistic
Never compare your YouTube channel with anomalies like PewDiePie or T-Series, or in fact, any channel with astronomical subscriber numbers. For example, having 100,000 YouTube subscribers may seem insignificant when compared to 100 million subscribers, but in our experience, most businesses can be transformed (increase in awareness and revenue) with 100,000-500,000 subscribers.
Finally, more important than the number itself is the quality of your subscribers - a small group of genuine and loyal subscribers will bring you more revenue than a large group of disinterested subscribers.
8. Do It For The Right Reasons
Starting a YouTube channel with the sole purpose of driving more customers to your business is a good example of the wrong reason. Most people will see right through it, and you will get what you deserve - poor view and subscriber numbers.
Most people will understand that you are trying to run a business, so some level of self-promotion is acceptable, but it cannot be the sole purpose.
Furthermore, you shouldn't start a YouTube channel just because your competition did so. It takes a lot of time and resources to establish a presence on YouTube, so you will need a much better reason to persist as growing a YouTube channel is challenging and time-consuming.
YouTube is an excellent medium to get your message across because video content is much more engaging when compared to text and images. And most people find it easier to relate to a person or a brand when the story is told in a video format.
With that in mind, establishing your presence on YouTube will undoubtedly grow your business, but only when you are strategic about your target audience, the niche you are focusing on, and content you are producing - key areas we covered in this post.
Finally, YouTube is the defacto video platform and will continue to be for many years to come, so it's not too late to start, even if it takes you a few years to gain significant traction.