Basics on developing a Youtube channel?
June 7, 2021 12:45 PM   Subscribe

I have an idea for a series of YouTube videos that I believe would get a pretty significant number of views. I'd like to create a new YouTube account/channel to post these, and ideally monetize them through ads if they get enough traffic.

Can you point me to a primer or high level guides for understanding how this all works? I am an avid YouTube watcher, but have never created any videos or made a channel or anything. (I'm aware that it's likely very hard to drive eyeballs to a new account posting new videos, and that's okay - this doesn't have to be something big. I'd just like to at least better understand the lay of the land in terms of how my video could show up as a recommended one on the sidebar of another video, how it could show up in search engines, how monetization works, how many videos or views I'd need to run ads, whether a brand new account would be put in the penalty box from getting views, etc.)

posted by NorthCoastRiver to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
In my experience, YouTube itself is the best place to find this info! I'm sure someone else will come in with specific recs, but I see these kinds of videos all the time on lots of channels. I think it's a pretty common meta-video for successful YouTubers to make, so maybe try to find some similar channels that are successful and see if they've made any videos about how they do it?
posted by nosila at 2:10 PM on June 7 [1 favorite]

If all the Youtubers I watch are correct, then there is a ton of this content on Skillshare. Several who I follow who shill for it specifically highlight that there's a lot of "how to start a YouTube channel" on there.
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:13 PM on June 7

Dottotech comes to mind, he has 329K subscribers so pretty successful. I know he does blog posts about how to be successful youtuber. Or Facebook posts? Zoom seminars? Not sure and didn't have time to Google it, sorry
posted by cda at 2:15 PM on June 7

The Creator Insider channel has a focus on new features but covers a lot of the basics too.
posted by Lanark at 2:35 PM on June 7

Setting up a channel is pretty basic: create the channel, create a banner, make or have an intro and outro made, and... create the content. Then upload it! Monetizing it is an whole different story. You need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of accumulated watch time over the past 12 months. (This is partly to prevent you from just buying subscribers, which obviously won't work as they won't be watchers.)

Stats from big channels are not hard to find, but stats for tiny channels are a lot harder to come by and it's hard to understand what your trajectory might look like at the start. So here are mine:

My teeny channel is two years old next month. It has 350 subscribers, 150 videos, and 2,361 watch hours. There is no promotion, this is just organic, and I (obviously) do it for my own enjoyment. If I gave it some marketing wellie (which is literally my day job!) I'm pretty confident that hitting monitisation would not be hard. If monetisation is your goal, don't ignore that aspect and market consistently.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:57 PM on June 7 [2 favorites]

As mentioned, there are so many resources which claim to understand how to make a successful YouTube channel, it's become something of (profitable) cottage industry in itself.

In my experience (7000 subscribers, 5.5 mil views, 250,000 watch hours) it's all a black box run by an AI that not even the engineers at Google fully understand - that's the point of AI, it learns on its own how to maximize views. You don't care and don't know how it does it.

Google "tests" your videos out by showing your thumbnail to viewers who may be interested - based on their vast knowledge of every email they've sent, every Google search they've done and every prior video they've watched. They measure the click-through rate on the thumbnail impression, then they scrutinize the heck out of their "engagement" with the video, how many seconds they watched it, did they tab to a different screen, at what point did they "disengage". They then use this feedback to figure out if this video is good or not - their AI is trying to optimize for maximum watch time and hence ad revenue. They even send me feedback on what point in the video the audience loses interest, and suggests that I might do something to fix that.

As to your point about it being hard to drive views to a new channel - I don't think that's the case. My channel grew completely organically, I posted videos and never linked them anywhere, never intending for anyone to watch them except my 3-4 friends I was posting for. Most views seem to come organically through "suggested" videos - YouTube will flash your thumbnail on the screen and see if the user clicks on it, and there's literally nothing you can do to affect that besides making a good thumbnail and a good video. Who knows how the mysterious AI works, I've had many people express appreciation in the comments that my channel doesn't have any of the typical BS like intros and outros and bugging people to subscribe. At some point, 50% of my views were coming solely from being recommended at the end of another person's video, who likely never knew who I was. I never even understood the point of subscribers - only 5% of people on average enable "all notifications" and even get notified of your new video, of those people who get notifications, apparently the global average is just 2% click through.

Of course, labelling your video accurately (description, title) is important. But I'm very certain their AI also does image pattern recognition to figure out what is in your video: if a gun appears in the video, for example, YouTube will likely ask me about it, which will then affect how the video gets classified for viewers / ads.

Is there a shortcut to "tricking" the AI? I'm pessimistic, it's very unlikely. But can you optimize your thumbnail so it looks more attractive (improving your click through rate) or make a BETTER videos that will engage the audience? Surely yes, but that might be a different question altogether...
posted by xdvesper at 3:25 AM on June 8 [3 favorites]

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