Things to consider if you want to make money on YouTube

Over the years I experimented (and I keep experimenting) with a handful of YouTube Channels. Some ended up being successful and getting some traffic, some are getting monetized and some are complete failures. I also experimented with generic channels with mixed content or super niche channels focussed on one single type of content.

These are some of the lessons learned from my experience. As I experiment more, I’l add my experience to this post so make sure to bookmark it.

The most important YouTube metric is retention

Retention is the most important metric for a  YouTube channel. YouTube wants to see viewers watch your video for as long as possible. Why? It’s simple. You end up staying on YouTube longer and they can feed you more ads, making more money. Simple as that.

Monitor your retention value for your videos. If your video doesn’t have good retention, take it down, re-edit it, upload it again as new and keep monitoring the retention. Notice where users leave, you can see that in Analytics. Maybe you drag it out too much in the intro, maybe you have a long good bye sequence once you delivered the value, or maybe you are not bringing the value fast enough. For example. If you search how to do a specific thing that takes 30 seconds, you don’t want to watch a 20 minute video to find out.

Do not make conclusions on retention fast. Wait for at least 1000 views to evaluate retention in analytics. If you draw conclusions in the first 100 or so views it may not be accurate.

Do I need You Tube subscribers? Are they really necessary?

If you want to monetize your videos, you need at least 1000 subscribers, and 4000 hours of views. Once you pass that threshold the subscribers are only necessary if you build a brand. If you want users to come see your videos because of you or because of your product, yes, subscribers are important, they get notified and they come watch some more.

But, if you build videos containing tutorials, on demand information, optimize your videos for SEO. Subscriber views are a small percentage of the total views for these kind of channels. Less than 5%. Think about it this way. If you teach how to fix your car, nobody will come to watch every video you make because their car is fine, it doesn’t have that problem. But if someone has a car problem and looks for a solution they will search and hopefully find your videos if they are optimized for search. Your SEO optimized videos will also get pushed as suggested content to viewers based on their preference and viewing history.

Why don’t people subscribe to mixed content channels

I had one channel that I made as an experiment with a simple gameplay of a video game. It ended up as a suggested video for a very popular video and got me almost 1.5 million views and about 2k in revenue. As the channel was monetized, I tried to add other videos, not video game related to it. I made it a mixed content channel. Some videos were tutorials for computer programs, I had some travel videos and other type of content. I had very little subscriber growth and very few videos made it as recommended videos.

The reason for that is an algorithm feature that I noticed on YouTube. When you browse the home page of YouTube, you get recommended videos from new channels that you are not subscribed to. Try this yourself. Click on some of those videos, go to the channel, go to the Videos or Uploads section and sort the videos by popularity. Most likely the recommended video is in the top 3 of the videos from that channel. That is because YouTube recommends the most popular videos from a channel to promote a channel.

Now if my channel had a video gameplay as the most popular video and people would click on it and find travel videos, do you think they will subscribe? No, because you only subscribe for the similar type of content that attracted you in the first phase.

So mixed channels may work in some exceptional cases but it is very hard to attract and retain subscribers. 

Take advantage of this feature and work with the algorithm. Make sure your top videos represent well your channel and create more content that complement the top videos.

If you are interested and passionate about multiple niches and topics, like I am, do one channel per niche. 

In future updates of this post I’ll address some more YouTube lessons learned like

  • YouTube Thumbnails – what works and what doesn’t
  • Do you need your face/voice to make money on YouTube
  • How to optimize your YouTube video for SEO
  • Weird simple niches that work on YouTube
  • How to study your competition on YouTube

Bookmark this post and come back