Just to give a brief introduction and background on who I am, my name is Mitchell Wright. I am currently finishing a master’s degree in information systems management. I became involved in Internet marketing a couple years ago and have enjoyed every minute of it.
Over the last few months, I’ve been working with a few of my good friends from high school and helping them grow Warialasky, their YouTube channel. At the beginning of January, the channel had 500 subscribers and 25,000 total video views. Today they have close to 16,000 subscribers and over 3.25 million video views. Believe it or not, this was not dumb luck but actually a fairly well planned out attack on gaining views and subscribers.
Read on to the end and discover that one simple trick that will lead you to gaining millions of views!
Planning Out The Channel
As we began the channel, we sat down and wanted to come up with a general direction for the channel. After much discussion on the likes and interests of my friends, they decided that they would pattern it after Freddie Wong’s channel and focus the videos on action and video games.
Another important action that was taken to get off the ground was to make sure we had a regular posting schedule. If you plan on building a solid following for your YouTube channel, you have to be consistently producing content. If you have a video go viral and people come to your channel and see that is the only video on your account, then they will not subscribe and you miss out on the opportunity to get those viewers to return and watch new videos that you put out. We decided that once a week we were going to be putting out a new video.
The First Success
After making a few videos, the channel slowly started gaining some subscribers. Some of the videos managed to pull in a thousands views here and there and we felt pretty good about that.
One of the ways we were able to attract these first viewers and the initial fan base was finding Twitter accounts of popular YouTube channels that made videos similar to ours. We would then follow their followers, look for users that would follow us back and then engage with them. These people have been some of our most ardent and loyal supporters. As we have become more popular it is true that we haven’t been able to interact with as many of the new followers that we have gained, so we do have a little bit more of a connection with these older followers.
We finally had a video that we produced that went ‘viral’ in our minds.
One of our early Twitter followers decided to post our video on Funny Junk and it managed to have some success. We pulled in around 20,000 views on that video and a few hundred new subscribers.
Seeing where all the views were coming from for this video taught us a good lesson that we should be seeding our content. We had already tried to submit the videos to Reddit in the videos subreddit, but that place is harsh and we never have been able to gain any traction in that subreddit.
And Then We Went Viral
After that small hit, we produced a few more videos then had a great idea for a new video about a lazy jedi who uses his powers to do mundane, everyday tasks. We also had wanted to somehow get involved with some of the bigger YouTube stars and try and pull some of their subscribers over to our channel as well. We decided to reach out to a local one and see if he would star in this video for us.
We sent a message on YouTube to the guy that plays the Orabrush tongue and he was more than happy to work with us.
We filmed the video and my friends went to work on the editing. A lot of time was spent on this one, but it ended up looking pretty awesome.
We had a very targeted plan of attack on this video and submitted it to the Star Wars subreddit and had a lot of friends vote it up right as we posted it. We also had made accounts on a few different Star Wars forums and Star Wars gaming forums and made a few posts so we didn’t look like we were just trying to self-promote this video. This video ended up being the number one spot on the Star Wars subreddit for a while. Because of that it got picked up by IGN and posted on their Facebook page, which then led to it getting picked up by a lot of video game blogs, Star Wars blogs, and even some of the sites on the Gawker media network.
This video was the first truly viral hit and the subscribers and viewers started to roll in. We thought that we had it made!
One Video Does Not Make A Successful Channel
After that video, the next few did not have more than 5,000-10,000 views each. This was a little disheartening because we had expected to just launch into YouTube fame and stardom from that point on. Unfortunately, we learned that one video is not enough to make you famous on YouTube. You have to continually produce funny, engaging content.
Another Viral Video
Our next viral video came within a month of that first one. We did a real life version of the video game Goldeneye 64. We wanted to hit some of the nostalgia from a game that hadn’t really been popular for a while.
Once again, we tried to get this one to gain traction through Reddit, but saw limited success. However, it was enough to get it picked up by a few of the smaller video game blogs, which the big ones look to for new content. For this video, I set up a Google alert for the name of the video and kept close track of all the sites that posted the video. We have a spreadsheet listing each of these blogs along with contact information for these blogs. We used this for our next video to do some outreach.
Doing Something Different
For the next video, we decided to try riding the wave of what’s popular. Skyrim was a fairly big video game and there had been quite a few videos made about it, but none of them were all that great. We decided to do one that was truly going to be epic.
We spoke with the choir director at the local university and convinced her that she should let us use the choir to record a new version of the main theme from that song. Then we would combine that with an electric guitar and film some epic looking shots of the scenery. This video was the result:
This video had a couple things going for it. First, we were involved with a large choir, and they were all going to share this with their family and friends anyway. That was a good start to virality.
We also offered a free download of the recording for anyone that wanted it. We also had done something no one else had done, which was not only do a rock version of the Skyrim theme, but to do it with our own men’s choir.
We were also able to get the University to post this on their Facebook page because it involved the university men’s choir.
Besides all of the promotion from the people involved, we reached out to a lot of the video game blogs that had posted our previous video about Goldeneye and told them what we were releasing. A few responded back that they were very interested and wanted the link once it went live.
Results and Opportunities
As a result of the success of these videos, my friends have had numerous opportunities to monetize their success including the following:
- Offer to direct a 3-D movie in Poland
- Product placement opportunities
- YouTube partnership (paid a CPM)
- Offers to create corporate videos
- Second YouTube channel to do behind-the-scenes videos (is also monetized on a CPM basis
We haven’t attempted any other monetization strategies because my friends don’t want to turn off new subscribers by being overly monetized. We do have some ideas though such as video game pre-orders, and video game related affiliate offers that we might test on a limited basis in the near future. For now though, we’re just creating awesome videos.
The One Trick… And A Few Others
I imagine you are now wondering, “What is that one simple trick?!?” Well, it turns out that the one simple trick is really to create engaging, creative content and getting it out there. A lot of our success came from seeding the content, but if never would have gotten big if it hadn’t been quality in the first place.
Here are a few random tips and suggestions that we discovered while going through this whole process. Hopefully some of them will be able to help you as you move forward on your quest to dominate YouTube:
- Blogs are generally looking for content earlier in the week, so if you release videos early and reach out you have a better chance at getting picked up.
- It takes approximately 800,000 views to get onto the front page of YouTube on the ‘Popular’ section and you are much more likely to have this happen on a weekend. If you have a video you think will be big, release on a Thursday night or Friday morning.
- If you apply for YouTube partnership and get rejected, you have to wait two months until you can apply again.
- Comments are good. Even the controversial ones. If people are arguing in the comments, let it be. It means more views because people will come back to the video to respond to the comments, and other people will sometimes get involved. More engagement will help your video rank better in the YouTube SERPs.
- Working with people that have established YouTube followings can give you a big initial boost in views and helps you pick up more followers than you might otherwise.
If you have any other questions let me know and I will try and answer them in the comments below. There are some parts that we are legally not allowed to talk about regarding our partnership. Anything that doesn’t fall under that I will be more than happy to answer though!