Grow On YouTube: Growing a Small Channel in 2023

If you want to grow on YouTube…

It is vitally important that you spend your time and effort doing the things that will grow your channel and move the needle for you to bring you the kind of views and subscribers that you want. And if you follow a lot of the big YouTube education channels, you probably already think that you know what those things are. 

And you’d be wrong. 

Worrying about whether or not you should ask someone to subscribe and which tags to use is not going to help you grow, and it’s just going to distract you from doing the things that will. So, if you’ve been trying to grow your channel and you’re frustrated because it’s just happening so slowly, then it’s time to put your time and effort into the things that will actually change your channel for the better.

When I first started on YouTube, I had no equipment. 

I had no lighting. I just used the window in my office. I was filming on my iPad. I didn’t even have a microphone.

As my channel started to grow, I was making money from ad revenue, and I was getting paying clients who found me from my channel. I thought the thing to do was to upgrade my equipment. 

So, I bought several different microphones. I bought a USB mic, I bought a shotgun mic, I bought a wired lavalier microphone, and then I bought a wireless lav mic. I bought lights, I bought soft boxes and LED lights, and a Canon DSLR camera that I had absolutely no idea how to use.

I found this video tutorial from Jared of Fro Photo, and I had to watch it every single time I busted out the camera because I didn’t know what any of the settings meant, and I couldn’t remember from time to time what those settings were supposed to be. 

So, I spent a lot of money buying all of this equipment, and guess what? They did not make my videos any better. And now, I have an equipment graveyard in the closet of green screens and microphones and cameras and lenses, gimbals, and things that I never used and haven’t used in months or years.

It didn’t make my videos any better because I wasn’t any better on camera. 

Instead, you want to work on being better on camera yourself. 

Do you know where the camera lens is? Don’t look at your face on your phone screen, look at the camera lens. Work on facial expressions. Figure out where to place the lighting so that it not only illuminates your face but it gives it a little bit more of an artistic value. 

If you wear glasses, figure out where to put the lights so we don’t see a big ring light reflected in your glasses. Figure out how far away from the microphone you need to be so that when you are talking on camera, you are comfortable and you’re not worried about all of the technology.

Now, what about ads? 

A lot of people think that ads are the way to go. Run an ad to get people to subscribe to your channel, or run an ad that directs traffic to a specific video that you are trying to promote. 

Now, the video gets 300,000 views, and so you think that your channel is doing so well, it’s performing really well, and you get all these warm fuzzies from seeing those vanity metrics, right? But your channel is not growing because if you don’t know how to make the video perform well organically, throwing money at it does not solve the problem.

So, save your money and do this instead: spend your time learning how to write a really good title and make great-looking thumbnails. 

Write 10 different opening hooks for every video that you make, and then go with the one that you think is the best. Watch other creators who are not in your industry. If you’re watching a video from them and you find yourself just leaning in and you can’t look away, why? 

What are they doing in that video that is grabbing your attention and making it so you couldn’t possibly stop watching?

There is so much that we can learn from modeling other channels. 

Now, when I went to VidSummit last year, I heard one of the speakers say, “Good creators copy, great creators steal.” I’m not an advocate of stealing other people’s content, but if their video is getting hundreds of thousands of views in the first week, they’re clearly doing something right. 

What can we learn from them? How can we model what they are doing that’s working so well for their channel and apply it to our own content?

Go to your YouTube homepage and see what is being suggested to you. All of these videos are getting thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of views. There’s a reason why they’re showing up on your homepage. 

See what seems to be working right now because it changes all of the time. What’s working right now for title style and thumbnail style?

It’s very easy to get caught up in the vanity metrics of how many subscribers do you have and how many views did you get on a specific video. When you put all of your time and effort, your creative energy into making a video, and it shows up on your dashboard as the dreaded 10 out of 10, it is dead last in performance out of the last 10 videos that you’ve uploaded, it can really do a number on your self-esteem. 

It can make you question whether any of this is worth it.

I hear a lot of fellow creators say things like, “I’ve been at it for 6 months, my channel is not growing, I’m going to give it X amount of time, and if I’m still not seeing results by then, then I’m just going to throw in the towel and try something else.” They’re letting someone else’s opinion of them determine how they feel about themselves. 

They’re essentially saying, “If you don’t validate me and tell me that you appreciate what I’m doing, and like my content, and watch my videos, and give them thumbs up, and subscribe to my channels, then that means I’m not really going to do this anymore because it’s just not worth it.” 

And that is totally backwards.

You have to be so convinced that what you’re doing has value that nothing and no one is going to stop you. 

You have to review your analytics so that you can make decisions based on what the feedback is telling you. Things that will help the channel grow, things that are not helping the channel grow and are actually preventing you from growing. 

But you have to review those analytics and not make it mean anything about you as a person.

So, you made a video that got 100 views when normally it gets 500 views. What are you making that mean? Are you making that mean that you are not worthy, that nobody likes you, that nobody wants to watch your channel, that your content is just terrible? 

If that’s what you make it mean every time you have a video that’s a flop, you’re never going to make it on YouTube. Because I would dare say that 80% of your videos don’t do very well, and it’s just the 20% that kill it. And 20% of the videos on your channel are what bring you the vast majority of success.

So, are you making it mean something about you, or are you just letting it tell you, “You know what? I’ve got some work to do about how good I am on camera. I’ve got some work to do on writing a better opening statement that makes people watch past the first 30 seconds. I’m going to try a different titling strategy to see if I can find something that really gets people to click.”

So, stop spending all of your time trying to figure out how YouTube works as a platform because you can’t hack growth and you can’t hack quality content. 

And if you’re still not convinced that it’s not about the camera equipment, watch this video next where I did a side-by-side video comparison between a DSLR and an iPhone, and I think you’re going to be really surprised at what you see.

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