A YouTube channel and be hard to grow as trends change and viewers’ opinions adapt. Whether you’ve been on YouTube for years or just starting, there’s always room to keep your channel growing.
The most important thing to do to grow a channel is to establish exactly what the channel idea is. With the channel idea solidly defined, focus on making good content that applies to that idea, and YouTube’s algorithm will be able to take care of showing your channel’s videos to the right audience.
Keep reading to learn more about why it’s so important to identify your channel idea, the three factors you need to invest into making your channel, and a step-by-step strategy for building up your channel to improve its performance.
Why is Your Channel Idea SO Important?
Every channel starts with an idea, but not all ideas will make successful channels. What you need to figure out is how to improve upon and specify your idea.
This may seem hard to believe, but YouTube wants your videos to be successful. People talk about “beating the algorithm” to gain views on YouTube, but that’s really the algorithm working for those videos, not against them. After all, YouTube makes money from the ads, not just the creators.
“Beating the algorithm” is really just about showing YouTube what your channel is about. When YouTube knows what kind of content you make and what kind of people watch your videos, the algorithm will know who will watch your videos and suggest them to those viewers.
That’s why you need to really understand what you want your channel to be. When you know what you want it to be, and come through on that with your content, the algorithm will start to understand.
What is Your Idea?
So, what makes a good channel idea?
To know that, we first need to know what a channel idea is made of in the first place: your interests, your skills, and your circumstances.
Now, this doesn’t mean your channel is made of ALL of your interests, skills, and circumstances. That would be a channel just about your life in general (though if you’re making a vlog, you might get pretty close to all of that). What we’re looking for are your interests, skills, and circumstances that will work together to make a winning channel idea.
One example that comes to my mind is GoodTimesWithScar. Scar likes having fun playing Minecraft (interest), he’s an incredible builder and very funny (skills), he’s a member of the Hermitcraft server and he has health problems that confine him to a wheelchair (circumstances). His channel has upwards of 1.77 million subscribers, and it’s created a fun, wholesome, and supportive viewer community.
What is your idea? How do your interests, skills, and circumstances play into it? Use that to make your idea your own. Establish what your channel is, and why it’s unique to you. Going back to the example of Scar, there are hundreds of Minecraft YouTubers, and though you can fit many of them into certain categories, each one has a unique way of doing it, because they’re all unique people.
You’re unique, too. Make that work for you by using these three things (interests, skills, circumstances) to show viewers what makes you and your content worth their time.
Once you’ve established what your channel is about, focus on making good content that validates that channel idea. When you enjoy what you’re doing, when viewers enjoy what you’re doing, and(/or) when they enjoy watching your content, you will get devoted subscribers who want to watch all the videos you make. Then, it’s just up to you to keep making good content.
Three Things You Need
If you want any level of success from your channel, you need these three things: enough time, the right skillsets, and the right strategy.
You can have the skills and apply the strategy, but if you don’t invest enough time, you’ll never have the content to make a good channel. Make time to set up your content, record it, and edit. If you rush it, the quality will suffer.
Likewise, if you have enough time and understand the strategy, but don’t have the skills, your channel will flop. Learn what skills you need, and build those up. These skills include YouTube skills as well as skills pertaining to your chosen field. Practice, and work to become better than you already are.
Finally, if you have the time and the skills but no strategy, your channel will never take off. Strategy can often be overlooked, but it’s so important!
That’s why I’ve included my take on the first five steps of Nate’s strategy video “If I Were Starting A YouTube Channel In 2022, This is What I’d Do (7 Steps).” You’ll have to see his video for the last two, but he moves pretty fast, so I’ve done my best to break these steps down for you.
Break Down the Barriers
This step is just to go for it: make and publish a bunch of videos, 12 to 20 videos, and don’t let barriers hold you back. What are the barriers? Basically anything that might have stopped you from putting videos out before.
Don’t worry about research or whether it’s good yet, just take what you already know and start going.
Worrying about what people will think of your videos is a barrier.
Holding back because you think you’re not good enough or don’t know enough is a barrier.
Even an inconsistent sleep schedule could be a barrier if sleep deprivation is keeping you from making videos (get some sleep!).
As you use this step to pump out videos, you will find the things that are getting in the way of making your videos, and you can resolve those issues.
You’ll get past the anxiety of starting something new by jumping right in (I can’t guarantee you’ll never be anxious about it again, but you’ll at least have some momentum).
If there are practical things that are getting in the way, you’ll need to set priorities, and maybe rearrange some schedules. Your job, family, and health should take precedence over YouTube, but you can rearrange more trivial things.
If you’ve been putting videos on YouTube for a while already, you might be passed this step, though you might still benefit from it if you’re worrying too much about this, that, or the other.
Once you’ve broken down your barriers, take another look at your idea direction. We already talked about establishing your idea, but this step is a more practical approach to knowing whether your idea has space on YouTube.
Do some research into the area of your idea. How are other channels doing in that area? Are they running well, gaining lots of views and subscribers? Or are they dead, flatlining, or never taking off?
Look into what these channels did to get them where they are. If they’re successful, what can you learn from them? If they’re dead or dying, what mistakes did they make that you can avoid? If all the channels in your area are failing, is it because the channels aren’t doing it the right way, or is the idea the problem?
During this step, you also need to figure out whether your idea is right for you. It may have the potential to work well on YouTube, but if you aren’t going to enjoy your time working with this idea, then you need to find something else to do. Don’t stick yourself into a pigeonhole that you don’t like.
This is the step where you need to start really diving into your idea. Learn about the space your idea has on YouTube so you can focus on showing YouTube what kind of channel you’re making. Again, the algorithm wants to show people your channel, but it needs to know what it is so that it can figure how who to show it to.
Finally, learn how to create good ideas that work for your channel idea. When you can consistently create videos that stem from your channel idea and that people will enjoy, your audience, the people to whom your channel idea appeals, will want to watch all of your videos.
Make and publish about 20 videos during this step as you start applying the concepts that you’ve learned.
Develop Core Skillsets
After you have solidly established your idea direction, both to yourself and to the YouTube algorithm, you’ll want to start developing the core skillsets that will help you as a creator. Like the previous two steps, keep making videos as you do this. This time, publish at least 20 videos while you build and apply the following core skillsets.
Understanding the Algorithm
Learn how the algorithm works. It changes periodically, so keep in mind that you’ll have to keep up with that as well. Sometimes it pays more attention to likes, other times it looks at comment engagements. Find out how the algorithm is working currently, and use that knowledge to make your videos work better within the algorithm.
Use body language to your advantage. Own the screen, and get really good at creating your on-camera presence. For every video you make, try to get better at being on camera.
If your channel only does voice-overs without any on-camera time, this still applies, just with more focus on your voice. Pay attention to improving the way you use tone as you speak. The quality of voice can be really important to viewers of such content, and as you don’t have facial expressions to give them clues, the tone and dynamics of your voice are vital to expressing your feelings.
This is where you need to get really good at your field of choice. Before now, research and authority didn’t matter as much, but if you want to be successful in the area you’ve chosen, you need to learn as much as you can about it.
Immerse yourself in content that will help you learn and grow in that area. Learn and improve as much as you can so that you can be confident in what you’re giving your viewers.
At this point, you need to start considering outside factors. This step might take a while to get right, so be patient with yourself.
The reality is that in order to be successful on YouTube, you have to be making something that appeals to people and keeps them on YouTube. You have to be making something that helps them, brings them joy, or entertains them.
Another way to keep viewers watching is to tell stories. Good storytelling is engaging: people don’t want to skip through parts of a good story or click away. Related is the skill of leading viewers from one video to another. Maybe your videos are connected by a story, but if not, you could relate them with similar methods like ending a video with a transition or hook into another video.
Improve your thumbnails. Learn what makes clickable thumbnails, and apply that to your videos so that they reach more people.
Use calls to action to improve the viewer engagement on your videos: ask viewers to like, share, comment, etc. Find creative, original ways to do this: “smash the like button” has gotten to be cliche, but if you come up with a catchy phrase that’s unique to your channel, your viewers will be more likely to enjoy that and leave a like on the video.
When you know your channel is working, you can move on to step five, which is replicating the formula. Usually, you’ll know your channel has reached this stage when you get monetized, but you’ll also want to make sure you understand why it’s working.
When you know something is working, build on that. It might be good now, but there will almost always be a way to make it better.
Start using your analytics to make decisions. Make your viral videos boost up the rest of your channel, and make sure the videos that don’t do so well don’t drag down the rest of the channel.
Try to make your videos more engaging. Use the analytics to see where viewers are clicking off or skipping ahead. Does the engagement drastically drop at any point in a video? If so, what’s the problem with it? Studying engagement rates can help you improve your future videos to keep the viewers watching.
At this point, you can also start using YouTube’s community features to your advantage. You might have been using them before, but now is the time to amp up the engagement outside of videos so that viewers feel like they’re part of something.