In this article, I want to highlight my experience in creating a YouTube channel from absolutely zero as a software developer about software development in 2019.
If you were always wondering how it is like to start your own channel or if you want to know what people are doing and feeling behind the scenes, or if you need a kick in the butt to stop procrastinating and set up your own channel – this is for you.
Please understand this article as an overview of the various things going on and to get a glimpse of the big picture. This article does not dive deep into how exactly things are done on a process level.
I might write something deeper about topics you want me to write more. Please leave a comment below this article.
The Channel Launch
Let’s begin with the obvious things first. I started my YouTube channel in December 2018, and I committed to uploading a video every 14 days on Fridays. Since I started on December 14th, I have released seven videos according to the schedule. I never missed a deadline.
I started with absolutely zero subscribers, zero watch minutes and every other YouTube related metric was a mere zero. I started with absolutely nothing.
At the time of publication of this article, it’s been a few days more than three months since the journey began and my first video was uploaded. Let’s take a look at the current stats from March 17th, 2019.
I currently have 72 subscribers on my channel and my seven videos generated about 1670 views which resulted in around 5500 minutes of watch time. I have also had my video thumbnails shown 6560 times with a click-through rate average of 7.5%.
My Interpretation of These Numbers
To people less familiar with YouTube it means that my videos got watched more than 90 hours if all of the views were in a row on a single computer. It is a pretty impressive number if you have never created something like that and if you have just started your channel.
On the other hand, 72 subscribers do not look like much. Especially, compared to massively successful channels with thousands, or even millions of subscribers.
But first of all, I don’t have an entertainment channel which would attract a broader audience and second, I don’t have that many videos out there yet. More content attracts more viewers which will result in more subscribers.
Why do I create videos? What motivates me and what is the goal? To be completely honest here: I like the idea of sharing knowledge on the Internet. When I was starting with software development, the free content on the Internet was much less, and the quality was not as good as it is today.
I like taking part in sharing knowledge which can other people help in their career, to find a job or to entertain them, if they like to watch me whatever I do in my videos.
In the long run, I want to build something on the side. I am working as a Software Engineer, and I like my job. I want to do this for a few more years for sure.
On the other hand, I always wanted to become more independent of a single source of income. My income also does not scale any further. I am in a lucky position where I have reached numbers which will not significantly increase further.
Creating something on my own allows me to go through the process of building up momentum and do what I like when I like, and how I want it to be done. I’m completely independent of any other opinion, and I have the opportunity to care about what’s important to me.
It also means that I can do as many failures as I want and I can change directions as much as I want them to change. The overall goal is to feel happy. I want to enjoy whatever my work is.
How to Gain Viewers?
As I outlined above, I start at 0. I do not have any mailing list or some other audience that is waiting for my content. I need to build everything from the ground up.
I have a blog where I write articles like this. I committed to writing an article every week in November 2018, and I still did not miss a deadline. If I upload a video, I try to write a related article on my blog so that I can link from my blog to my video.
Google likes videos that are linked to, and my content will not only be listed in the video search, but they also appear in the web search. Because my blog already has some credibility (after ten years of blogging). I sometimes rank for articles on Google within the first few pages.
I also have a Twitter account where I have about 500 followers. Not all of them are active, I doubt that all of them are real humans anyway – but it is the platform where I share my content. I try to use the appropriate hashtags, and sometimes I get lucky and get a few retweets on my shared content.
A bigger Twitter following would not hurt for sure – I’m working on it. If you want to stay up to date with my content, but also with content from the (.NET) developer community you should follow me.
The good news is: YouTube has a big audience. They’re not waiting for me, but at least there is an audience I can attract with my videos.
But What about the Money?
Sure, if it is possible to earn some money on the side to compensate for the hours I put into the project every week, I would not say no. But the reality is that it is hard to earn money with a YouTube channel. Let me explain a few things here.
First of all, YouTube does only monetize channels which go through a screening process. The goal is to monetize channels with high-quality videos, and YouTube wants to make sure that a channel fits their strategy in regards to their advertisement partners.
Long story short, you have to reach at least 1000 subscribers and at least 4000 hours watch time (240’000 minutes) during the last 12 months.
1000 subscribers is a big number, but you get there over time. The 4000 hours watch time within the last 365 days is a lot harder to reach. It means that your content has been watched close to 11 hours a day on average – every single day for more than a year.
Comparing my stats with the monetization guidelines, it means that I have 6.8% of the subscriptions required and about 2.25% of the necessary watch time. It took me three months to get those numbers which means that I’ll reach about 10% of the monetization requirements if my growth is linear until the end of 2019.