New YouTube Thoughts:
The info in this post comes mainly from my personal experience with testing things pretty heavily, as well as direct info I have been told in conversations with YouTube employees for how the system works.
It's been a while since I did a post about the state of YouTube, but I've finally settled on some things and I wanted to write out my thoughts, so hey may as well post it. The platform changes a ton and things are always being constantly updated, so here are my thoughts and ideas for how things are with YouTube as of 12/8/2018, just some general info and strategies you can use to get ahead:
How YouTube Promotes Videos:
Probably the Most Important Thing- Is The (somewhat)New System That YouTube Uses to Judge If Your Videos Get Promoted Or Not. A lot of people think it is luck or random but I can guarantee you luck has very little to do with it, it's very systematic and repeatable, and it's definitely something you can design your overall content strategy for:
The system kind of checks to a "test-audience" per-say about how well your video performs with them in terms of watch-time and the new stat of "Impressions Click-Through Rate" (Essentially the percentage of people that click on your video after it is shown somewhere in their feeds), and based on those two main stats it will either showcase it to more people, or to less and eventually zero.
Now this actually happens regardless of how many subscribers you have, so channels with no subscribers may get tons of views if they pass all the tests and check all the boxes, while channels with even millions of subscribers might have their videos flop. For bigger subscriber channels the videos are generally tested with your subscriber base via the home page, and based on how it initially performs, it will get shown to either more or less of your subscriber base, as well as others.
So essentially nowadays it's all about getting your videos to perform above-average with that initial test-group, which for most of us is our main subscriber base. Generally that is done by improving your video concepts/ideas and video marketing, as those are the main things I think people struggle on, and your sub base is generally the type to where IF they click on a video, they will probably at least watch it for a good chunk of time, and designing your videos to increase watch time isn't exactly an actionable strategy, while designing your videos to be more clickable has like 1000 things almost everyone can improve on.
This next thought is a little bit more speculation, rather than something I have hard evidence for, but based on my personal experience, I think that having videos perform below-average consistently, will limit the size of this initial 'test-group' phase, and will make it harder to have a video promoted heavily, while having many videos perform above-average consistently will increase the initial test-group phase, making it easier to perform better. So with that said, the focus is less on making as many videos as possible, but moreso on making as many videos that can be consistently successful over and over again.
I really think daily videos are dead as a "mandatory requirement" to be successful. You absolutely do not need to make daily videos anymore to get promoted, I've had channels do great posting like once a week, which I'll link in my examples below. Now that said - I think most creators can still make daily videos that are good enough to work every time, and there is little downside to making daily videos as long as you aren't sacrificing significantly in quality. Daily videos are definitely still a good idea if you can make them at a standard that is as good or almost as good as if you were making a video every few days, but gone are the days of daily videos being the "100% mandatory simple barrier to entry to even have a chance of success" on YouTube.
Rather instead, the focus is more on being able to post videos that are consistently successful. So bringing up that consistency and eliminating dead videos / under performing ones is a good strategy to aim for I think. If you have a lot of underperforming videos, it will hurt your future video's chances of getting a good shot for the initial test groups, while if you have a lot of overperfoming videos, you will have an amazing chance for future videos to do well. A few good or bad videos here and there won't hurt that much, so don't feel like you have to have every video be amazing, it's just that a lot of underperforming videos in a row for an extended period will likely lead to a slow decline
What a NEW Channel Needs To Be Successful:
As for my personal endeavors - I've finally had a handful of new channels take off and do consistently well, when I was stuck in an experimental phase for about two years almost in trying new channels, but through these past experiences and over a dozen failed channels, and finally having some new success now I think more than ever all you need to be successful in a channel is:
1. Good videos / content - You need to be able to hold a strong enough watch time to get promoted further after people click on your video initially, and the best way to do that is with entertaining & engaging videos
2. Good marketing - Basically attractive thumbnails and titles, things that people would want to click on - this is the main thing you can do to influence your click-through rate
3. A Hungry Market - Essentially you need to be making videos about a topic that has a larger proportion of viewers that want more, than it does creators / videos. This can be a little tricky to figure out, but I would say start by AVOIDING over-saturated markets. For example Fortnite videos is incredibly competitive and extremely hard to break into at the moment. Although yes there are a lot of viewers, it's moreso the ratio of Viewers:Creators that the market has, and Fortnite actually has such an astronomical amount of creators as TONS of 'General Gaming' channel switched to Fortnite-Only when it came out
It essentially just boils down to: Watch Time, Click-Through Rate, and How much you are competing with other creators for that spot to potentially be shown to a new viewer
If you can have those three things in a channel you will almost certainly be successful. I think Number 1 & 2 is something that most creators struggle with and have HUGE room for improvement on, especially people just starting out. I believe it's a skill, and like any skill it can be taught, learned, developed over time, etc.
#3 is a bit more tricky as it's something that you don't fully have control over. In the world of making videos as a passion, you don't get into making videos in a certain market because it's a good niche, but rather because you truly enjoy the game or that aspect of it, and whether or not there is room in the YouTube algorithm for you as a creator is uncertian until you test the waters.
My thing that I would recommend to do is to at the very least, target like a niche within a niche, within a niche, where the first niche is absolutely gigantic, and the second is still pretty broad, and the third is your key selling point of focus that you will heavily target and the majority of your content will be marketed for. This is easily explained via examples:
Something along the lines of like:
Gaming -> One Specific Game -> One Specific Genre of Content Within That Game [That Happens to Not be Overcrowded]
At that level, your appeal will be broad enough to be easily successful if there is a lack of competition, but big enough to have a really successful and big community. This is why I personally LOVE making channels about individual games, it's so easy to find a niche that is a great fit for your content that will put you at a huge advantage, just by making more focused videos about a certain game that isn't fully diluted with creators already, and you're on a huge path for success.
Take a look at this channel: - One of My New Channels 'OSRS Curios'
So for example this channel is something like: Gaming -> Old School Runescape -> Informational Videos
I started it about a month ago and even the first video I ever posted took off almost instantly, and the channel has just been consistently performing ever since, despite literally 97% of the views coming from people not subscribed to the channel:
So far out of 5 videos I've had about 400k views on a completely NEW channel from scratch, and I didn't even really promote this channel AT ALL from any of my others. More than anything It's just proof that it's never too late to start and with a little bit of skill & expertise, anyone can be successful on YouTube.
I think if anything finding a market that has a larger ratio of viewers:creators will really go a long way and will make things like 10000x easier for you. There are so many games that are so popular, and they might have a lot of viewers, but they also have a ton of creators, and moreso just finding a community that has a demand for MORE creators is something that will make it really easy to be successful in gaming content on YouTube. Lots of hugely popular games can probably fit this notion, but a ton of smaller games do as well. I think Old School Runescape could easily support 50+ New Creators in the community, and there is a huge demand for the viewers who want more videos there. The main thing is that the outrageously successful games like Fortnite, probably don't fit this idea.
HOWEVER - It's not impossible by any means to be successful in markets that have a higher ratio of Creators:Viewers, but it will just be a bit harder and you'll have to be a LOT better at items #1&2 to even stand a chance. This is just something I have personally noticed in my experience of making videos for a multitude of games, and for someone who likes to constantly look for new games to get started in.
Anyway dunno if this information helped, you might even disagree with me, but it's what I've discovered in my personal experience of posting about 100 videos a month on a dozen of different channels and a multitude of strategies, for a long time. This is by no means a YouTube bible or strict guidelines, just general information and my personal thinking and strategies.