As part of my creative sabbatical, I have been posting a new software development video on my YouTube channel every Monday and Friday.
It takes a long time to grow on YouTube, and I knew this going in but I have been pleasantly surprised with my growth in the first month.
YouTube is about consistency over a long period of time. If you can maintain consistency, you will eventually be rewarded with an engaged audience who enjoys your content.
Before October 2022, I had posted 3 videos, none of which had many views and I had a total of 51 subscribers.
Most of these subscribers have come from friends and colleagues who knew I was starting this journey.
So let’s see what has happened since.
As of 1st November, I now have 135 subscribers 🎉. So I gained 84 subscribers in October 2022.
This is what the graph looks like for this period:
My videos go out on Monday and Friday at 8 pm (UK time) and most of those peaks correspond to the day after my video has gone out as you can see from the YouTube logo on the x-axis.
I am happy with the way this graph is headed. I started with just 0 - 1 subscribers a day and now I am consistently getting 4 - 6 a day.
As my video quality continues to improve, hopefully so will my subscribers.
My views have steadily been going in the same direction as well. I got a total of 1,820 views in this period.
This is obviously pretty small by YouTube standards but for a channel of my size, it isn’t too bad.
You can see from the graph things are on the up:
Again views tend to peak the day after the video goes out.
When it comes to YouTube monetization you need to have 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours over a 12-month period.
As you can see I am not there yet by a long shot!
I wasn’t expecting to get there either in one month, so this is not a surprise. Watch time is going up with everything else though and it is fun to see the numbers increase every day.
To reach 4,000 watch hours over the course of a year, I need to be averaging 334 hours a month.
For October my content was watched for 72.5 hours, so I still have a way to go but I can’t expect much with only 13 videos on my channel.
I still think it is pretty incredible that people have watched me talking into a camera for 3 whole days this month.
To be able to grow on YouTube you obviously need to produce videos that people want to watch.
For impressions, I am quite pleased with how my videos are performing. I am focusing on a mix of educational videos for beginner programmers as well as a few career advice-type videos.
You need to get your videos found to start with, which is either through search or by having your video shown as recommended viewing from other people’s videos.
I managed to get 36.9K impressions in October.
Obviously, impressions mean nothing if no one is clicking on your videos. On average my click-through rate is just 2.4% which I could definitely improve on:
There is a general downward trend here.
This is because my previous videos on my channel did very well in search. People were searching for something very specific such as “Traefik vs nginx”. My other videos are getting a lot more impressions but aren’t always going to be as relevant to the audience.
I am hoping things will improve over time as the YouTube algorithm gets to know my channel.
View duration has stayed fairly steady, averaging at 2:23.
This is why YouTubers are recommending shorter videos as they tend to do better as people watch a larger percentage of your video.
YouTube gives a nice funnel showing how these 3 metrics affect your watch time. This is what mine look like for this month:
To succeed on YouTube you need to master these 3 things:
This is the hardest thing to do at the start. To begin with, your video is only going to be shown to your subscribers. So if you have very few subscribers then not many people are guaranteed to see it.
Depending on how your subscribers react to your video will affect how likely YouTube is to push your video out to other viewers.
If you have more subscribers, YouTube has more data to gauge what kind of people will appreciate your video.
It can take a while to begin with for YouTube to know what your channel is about and therefore who would like to see it.
One way to get more viewers and one that has worked on my older videos is to ensure that your videos are searchable. If your video is about something that people are actively looking for then it will likely continue to do well after you post it.
It doesn’t matter how many people’s feeds your video appears on if no one is clicking on it.
This is why the title and thumbnail are so important. Big YouTubers like MrBeast, work on these first and then build the video around them.
This is why you see a lot of click-batty titles and thumbnails on YouTube. They do work, provided you actually deliver on your promise.
Once you have got your video in front of people and got them to click on it your next job is to keep them watching.
I have learned from watching various successful channels that you need to keep things moving in your videos.
Generally, something should happen on screen every 4 - 6 seconds. If you are building an entertainment channel then this is more like 1 - 3 seconds.
If you watch a MrBeast video and count the time between camera angle changes or text and images popping on the screen you will see what I mean.
For educational videos, you can get away with a bit longer but 8 seconds is definitely a maximum.
The first 30-seconds are critical for your YouTube videos so you need to make sure to keep people engaged as much as possible during this time.
If you have lots of people still watching after the 30-second mark then this is a good indicator to YouTube that your video is worth promoting.
I look at these 3 metrics for every video I post and I am trying to improve on them for each new video I post.
My aim at the moment is to get better with each video I make. These are the things I have tried to improve on over the last month.
Talking on camera doesn’t come naturally, it is just something you get better with over time.
In the first few videos I published on YouTube, I tried to “wing it”, with no plan other than a vague idea of what I wanted to talk about.
If you watch some of my earlier videos there are a lot of “um’s” and “ers”, so much so it would make an excellent drinking game!
Starting again this time I started with writing full scripts for what I wanted to say.
This eliminated the “ers” but I didn’t come across as natural talking on camera. They also took a long time to write and record as I would get hung up when I didn’t say the exact words I had written down.
Writing full scripts did have the benefit that they could more easily be converted into blog posts.
For my last few videos, I have stuck with writing bullet points and only elaborating on certain bits.
I think I am coming across more natural and more of my personality is coming across in my videos.
Until my videos start doing well I am not going to pay for an expensive camera. For all of my videos, I am still using a Logitech Brio 4K webcam.
You can get good video quality from a webcam provided you don’t use auto settings and have decent enough lighting.
You can see from these 3 screenshots how my video quality has changed.
The first screenshot is with only natural light with just the automatic settings from the webcam. The webcam is also positioned above my monitor as this was what I used to use for my zoom calls at work.
In the second screenshot, I have a softbox light to my left as well as an LED light shining on the background.
Even on the lowest brightness setting, the softbox is still too bright for my tiny office. So you can’t see the backlight and there is no depth to the image. I have also moved the camera so it is about eye height.
I have started using OBS for recording the webcam and I have Logi Tune installed so I can manually set the exposure, contrast, and focus.
In my current setup (third screenshot), I have the softbox sitting high up on my desk to my right and I have added a grid to it. The grid helps focus the light and stops it from flooding the whole room with light.
I am quite happy with how it looks at the moment, although I could do something to decorate my door to make it look better.
I bought a fairly decent microphone before I even started doing YouTube videos as I wanted something good for when I was in meetings. I am using a Blue Yeti X on a microphone arm.
I have done a few things to improve the audio quality of recent videos.
I don’t have many soft furnishings in my office, and as mentioned it is pretty tiny, so there was a fair bit of echo I could notice in the videos.
I bought some acoustic panels for the walls which has helped. I have also started placing a large cushion behind the microphone when I do my videos to help absorb more sound.
On top of that, I also process my audio through Adobe Audition to make it sound better and remove any background noise.
I followed this YouTube tutorial if you wanted to do it too. I have all these steps saved as a favourite so I can just apply them to each of my videos in one click.
I have been trying to improve engagement by keeping to the 4 - 6 second rule at least in the first 30 seconds. With long videos, this is quite difficult to do.
I have been trying to include more B-rolls, that I film myself as well as relevant stock videos to keep the viewer engaged. I am currently getting all my stock videos from Pexels as it is free but I wouldn’t mind signing up for StoryBlocks once I have a bit of revenue coming in.
I have also been adding more text overlays, especially at the start of the video to make it a bit more interesting.
This is something the big YouTubers tend to do. If you hover over a video in your feed it starts playing instead of the thumbnail. By adding text, viewers can see what your video is about without the sound.
My first few videos were edited in iMovie but I now use Adobe Premiere Pro for all my editing. I have picked up a few tips like J-Cuts that I have started doing in my videos as well to make the transitions more seamless.
Editing is the most time-consuming part of the process but I am getting quicker by learning all of the keyboard shortcuts.
If you are interested in my video editing process let me know in the comments and I will do another post about it.
I am going to continue posting 2 videos every week and try and improve with each video.
I would like to get to 1,000 subscribers by the end of the year. That is a very ambitious target though and not one that is in my control. I would likely need to have one of my videos go semi-viral for that to happen though.
I will do another post like this at the beginning of next year to see how my channel has grown in 3 months.
If you found this article helpful please let me know by commenting below.
If you are a software developer it would be great if you could support my channel by subscribing and watching my videos.