Before Colleen Ballinger was Miranda Sings on Netflix or Justin Bieber was breaking hearts on tour, they were on YouTube.
As the largest video streaming platform, YouTube has become a hub for creativity in video – and also for entrepreneurs to gain success through subscribers, advertise, or “get discovered” by a larger network or label.
Even without making the leap, dedicated YouTubers can earn a hefty living by creating a channel that garners enough support to attract the eye of the company itself. Top YouTuber PewDiePie is estimated to earn over $37 million and according to YouTube, the number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube is up 50%.
Out of the over a billion YouTube users out there, what separates those who achieve millionaire status from those who remain creating videos as a side hustle? Here are some of qualities top YouTube channels have in common:
A homepage presence
The structure of a top YouTube channel homepage is an important gateway to the layers of content that top contributors offer to subscribers. There are several components of the homepage to consider when designing a YouTube channel: the header, the logo, the feature video, the about page. To create a more branded strategy, some YouTubers use the header capability to set a specific tone for their content, whether one of intricate care or one of laid-back apathy. For example, elrubiusOMG has a highly decorative banner, while HolaSoyGerman sticks to a simple pattern. Logos tend to be a photo or a character that personifies the videographer.
The feature video is perhaps the next thing that a visitor would see next on the channel and all top channels have one that automatically begins to stream to grab a viewer’s attention. Some channels use this video to provide an introduction, while others, like PewDiePie, simply post a recent video, or one that shows the style and humor of the channel. Finally, the About pages of different channels also differ in length, however they all maintain a commonality of expressing the channel’s personality and clear sense of humor.
According to TrackMaven, top YouTube channels are likely posting 500 videos per month at a consistent rate to optimize their channels for viewership. With such a large number of videos, top YouTubers organize their content into Playlists that both guide their content strategy and allow viewers to better find the topics that match their interests. In addition, once a viewer clicks on a playlist, they will watch a continuous stream of videos, without having to click back to the channel, ensuring more views. Therefore it is a win-win for viewers to watch videos of interest more seamlessly and for users to keep them engaged and boost their own metrics.
Beyond these reasons, playlists focused around keywords are optimized for search, in addition to the individual videos that comprise them. Just like how there are plenty of rules for Google SEO, YouTube also has its own world of SEO to cater toward. Staying organized is not just a better way to keep subscribers happy, it’s a way to play by YouTube’s rules and boost rankings.
Targeted audience engagement
Just like with any content strategy, YouTubers reach the top by finding their niche and optimizing for their core audience base. Gaming is a whole realm of YouTube in itself, with videos about everything from game hacks to tutorials to videos where you can simply watch others play a specific game. Vegetta777 is one of the top 5 gaming channels and features various series of the videographer playing games from Minecraft to Horizon Zero Dawn.
Targeting an entirely different audience, makeup tutorials are also on the rise for young fashionistas. With over 8 million subscribers, Michelle Phan publishes with the goal of “teaching and inspiring everyone to become their own best makeup artist.”
To encourage engagement and collaboration, top YouTubers also take advantage of the informality of the platform by monitoring comments and discussions, linking with social media, and providing email addresses on their about pages. Compared to Hollywood celebrities, YouTubers play to their audience by taking their personalities off-camera and into the different channels of internet communication.
Plus, creating collaborations with other top YouTube channels is a great way to reach a new audience and get inspired by some of your vlogger heroes.
The heart of what makes any YouTuber a top user is of course their content and creativity. However, beyond whatever topic that is their domain, the quality and consistency of the design is of utmost importance to satisfying and sustaining subscribers. With smartphones even stepping it up with HD recording, digital zoom, video stabilization, and noise reduction, there’s no excuse for low quality videography in the elite strata of the YouTube-sphere.
Video templates can be highly effective for creating consistency in videos across a channel with the same look and feel. Ultimately, subscribers will line up if they know that they’ll be getting top-notch entertainment in their feeds.
The most popular YouTubers reach the millionaire status by attracting viewers with their unique personalities and styles that create a loyal subscriber community. Overall, the qualities of honesty, bluntness, and speed define the culture of YouTube. Even in 2015, news outlets like Variety predicted the decline of cable television as “younger viewers [that] connect more strongly with YouTube and other digital-native content because it feels more real than what’s produced for TV.”
Catering to this younger audience that has grown up with shorter-segmented content, top YouTubers don’t waste time and often use video-editing heavily to cut and add effects to constantly entertain. Most of all, their content gives the raw effect that makes it so relatable, particularly in the growing millennial market.
YouTube isn’t going anywhere, so take some lessons from the top YouTubers to start working your way to celebrity status! Don’t start from scratch – check out our Adobe After Effects templates to launch your YouTube success.
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