So you want to be the Pewds, get millions of views each and every day with a loyal fan base and more money than you could spend. Sounds great right? But is that the reality of what running a gaming channel is like on YouTube?
That would be a resounding NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
See the reality of being an independent writer, video content creator, or artist is that it is seriously hard work to get a substantial amount of recognition. There are no legitimate get rich easy schemes on the internet short of being given massive amounts of free marketing by someone bigger than yourself.
So Hi, I’m Darkskeleton, you may remember me from such (YouTube) films as “My Salt Has No Limits” and “How Not to Draft Priest in Hearthstone”. Oh you do? Well you must be one of my few long time subscribers who I am eternally grateful for – See without subscribers a channel can’t grow so easily. Every video you put out has to compete with other videos on YouTube of which…. let’s see here…. 100 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. As it turns out, when you put something out there, the internet is not immediately willing to receive. The best way to grow a channel is to get a lot of exposure, and the best way to get a lot of exposure to a video is to be big enough that your subscribers push the video to the top of YouTube search results in minutes. As such there are hordes of channels out there… maybe even hundreds of thousands when it comes to gaming content – that have videos ~ some good, many bad ~ and will pretty much never be seen spare one or two off chance views for the guy who digs 20 pages of search results to find the perfect video title.
But what does everyone else do? How do you grow in the first place? Well in my humble experience (FYI sitting around 170 subs at the moment) – You either have to have REALLY high quality content, something that people are heavily searching for at the moment (For instance, Men Going Their Own Way (MGTOW) is pretty popular at the moment though completely unrelated to gaming), or you have to be one of the first ones on the scene.
For quality content, yeah people will like your video more if its good – but still the problem remains if only 50 people ever see it… even if you get a high ratio of likes it will still be hard to find in the search engines and not too many people are likely to share it to social media (Though commanding your viewers to do so at the beginning / ending of your video is one strategy to boost those shares).
Now the idea that posting videos that should be popular will work is only partially true. Minecraft videos are insanely popular but it’s also an insanely competitive niche. If you post Minecraft Let’s Play Episode 1 then expect your video to be lost in a sea below 500 more popular Youtube channels and videos which brings me to the third growth element – Being the First One There. What if you post a video that is not only a popular subject but is also hot on the scene and no one else has posted it yet? Well that’s where your best results are likely to come in. If no one has posted the same thing yet then you might be able to rank in the first page of the YouTube search engine and people will actually find your videos (This is generally known as Search Engine Optimization – where you choose titles, video concepts, and tags that target a few keywords and try to get your content ranking highly for better search engine traffic). If you can place highly on a popular topic then that’s when you’ll get a lot of video views without having a huge base of subscribers. For instance, one of my most popular videos came back when I was previewing the Goblins vs Gnomes card collection – My Mal’ganis First Impressions video. It’s got around 4300 views at the moment (not bad considering my channel only has 170 subs). Back when I was doing those videos, my channel was growing fast and things were looking good. In the last month or two though, my videos have not been nearly so hot. Although the content might be decent or even better in some ways, the fact that no one is searching for those titles or those titles are completely overshadowed by popular channels means I won’t gain many subscribers.
Essentially, making it on YouTube is no small feat. If you really want to grow a channel you not only have to make good videos, but you also need to be good at marketing those videos. For the record, a couple more things here. Advertising your videos with ads (Adwords for example) is not likely to gain you many subscribers. I think when I spent $15 to market a couple videos over a couple days, they got hits as expected but only about 1 subscriber and very few likes out of that. A advertised view is no where near as valuable as a search engine earned view and a search engine view comes no where near to paying you $0.01 even if you have ads on your channel. Since ads pretty much at minimum cost a cent or two per click if not twenty times more, it’s really not a good payoff. At least that’s been my experience. Before you go checking out the 600 billion SEO professionals out there, know that most articles will just say the same thing I already did here. Good content, good SEO (tags, titles, content, timing), and persistence will gain you traction over time but despite what others may claim there arn’t many easy ways left on the internet to make it huge. Finding a niche can be pretty good though (For instance, I mostly do Hearthstone videos even though I wish I was more like TotalBiscuit making videos about all kinds of games).
If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a comment here or @SupDarkskeleton on Twitter.