On Thursday, March 14th, Uscreen hosted its very first ‘Creators Helping Creators’ training and meet-up session in Washington DC. And man, was it a blast!
Dozens of YouTubers and content creators showed up with fire in their eyes to connect with likeminded creators and discuss the thing that makes them gitty and anxious all at once: YouTube.
Over some seriously delicious pizza, everyone gathered around to listen and engage in an informational session with me, PJ, Founder of Uscreen, and Youtubers Darrel Eves and James Stone of LegalEagle.
Boy, we learned so much! And wanted to be sure to spread the knowledge and joy with you too. Here are 5 very important tips we learned from our first Creators Helping Creators meetup:
1. Your YouTube click-through rate means everything
As we already know, YouTube cares most about one thing: making viewers spend as much time on the platform as possible.
And for that reason, YouTube puts so much weight on a video’s click-through rate, more than most YouTubers realize.
On YouTube, your click-through rate measures how often viewers click to watch your video after seeing an impression, which is counted every time your video thumbnail is shown to a viewer on YouTube.
The platform uses your click-through rate to determine whether or not it’s good enough to be pushed to more people in suggestions, recommendations and search results. By having a high and healthy click-through rate, you’re letting YouTube know that your video deserves to be one of the first few videos in search results and suggested videos.
Great click-through rates boost your video’s discovery!
So what does this mean to you? It means you should be putting a lot of time, energy and research into your thumbnails and titles. You need to make viewers want to click your video when they see your thumbnail, otherwise, YouTube will think your video isn’t good.
When working on your video’s click-through optimization, Darrel suggested to spend 3x the amount of time you usually would on it and to ask yourself:
- Is my thumbnail good? Would my target audience click on it?
- Is my title good? Would my target audience click on it?
- Is my thumbnail and my title good together? Do they complement one another?
He also suggested to test test test. What could be considered a great thumbnail for one video might be a total fail for another video. Why? The answer is topic niche.
Think about it. A thumbnail that would work for a make-up video tutorial wouldn’t work as well for a talk show video. You have to research how other successful videos in their niche do their thumbnail, and then test it out to see what works.
There is one caveat to this click-through rate tip: this only works if your video is actually good.
There is nothing worse than clicking on a video thumbnail just to realize it’s misleading or weak, so YouTube penalizes that. If you have a killer thumbnail and title that don’t match your video content, you will see a little boost in impressions for the first little while, followed by a sharp drop that will probably take your video beyond recovery. Avoid click-bait titles and thumbnails and be sure to match your thumbnails with your videos.
2. The 50% watch-time rule
The next thing YouTube cares about is your average watch times, which is just as important as click-through rates, if not more.
“Youtube wants viewers to watch more, click less”
In your YouTube Studio, this is called your Audience Retention, which measures how well your videos keep people watching.
Remember, at the end of the day, YouTube’s top priority is to keep viewers consuming YouTube content for as long as possible. If you help the platform do that, it will love you and reward you with more and more exposure.
Your Audience Retention data will help you understand how you can improve your videos to keep viewers engaged by analyzing the point (exact second) by where most of your viewers drop off.
Derral discussed what he likes to call the 50% rule, which is the exact second in the video where half of the viewers actually leave. Your goal should be to push that 50% mark as far along a video as possible, so you hopefully have most people watching your videos to the very end or close to that.
Here are some tips from Derral on how to improve your watch-time rates to keep people watching your videos for longer:
1. Put your hook first few seconds:
By doing so, you’re letting your viewer know that they made the right choice by clicking on your thumbnail. So before even introducing yourself, introduce what it is you will be talking about in the first few seconds of the video, and then quickly cut to the issue at hand.
2. Avoid long endings:
Just end the video when you’re done with it. Don’t drag the outro too long, because natural viewer behavior is to leave once they’ve got what they came from. If your outro is anything more than a few seconds long, it could really hurt your watch-time metrics.
3. Deliver on your thumbnail:
You must deliver on the promise of your thumbnail. YouTube does not reward clickbait.
4. Suggest a new video to watch:
Instead of asking people to like and subscribe at the end of your video, suggest a new video you know this viewer will likely be interested in. Getting more viewers to watch more of your videos is more valuable than like and subscriptions. Remember, subscriber numbers are a result of success, not a metric YouTube prioritizes.
5. Don’t obsess over length:
It’s a myth that longer videos perform better on YouTube. A good length for a video is as good as the content needs it to be. So focusing on creating videos that people want to watch from start to finish, rather than creating very long videos that make people drop off within the first half of it.
3. You never know who’s sitting next to you
Everyone’s growing, and you have no idea who could be sitting right next to you.
Creating connections within the content creator community is one of the main objectives behind Creators Helping Creators meetup. Everyone’s growing in their own way, and you never know who might be sitting next to you, or what their future holds.
Connect and collaborate. Find the people in your YouTuber community, local or remote, who share a similar niche of content and work together to help each other’s exposure and growth.
Network network network!
4. Niche is the YouTube future
During the session, we predicted YouTube will soon be filled with a lot of very niche and focused channels and audiences.
Gone are the days when someone could gain traction on YouTube and gain thousands of subscribers over generic and inconsistent content. With YouTube’s new algorithms that focus on watch-time and click-through rates, the only channels expected to succeed on YouTube are those that are focused, well-planned-out, and very consistent.
With the amount of content saturation on youtube at the moment, your key to success is, and will continue to be, harnessing a loyal subscriber base that comes to your channel for a specific theme of content that they can depend on you for.
5. Own your audience
Owning your audience is an important aspect that a lot of YouTubers take for granted. It’s easy to forget that your 10k+ subscribers don’t actually belong to you. They belong to YouTube.
Think about it.
In 2017, PewDiePie’s YouTube channel was shut down for a video that was, in all honesty, in very poor taste. But this move by YouTube sent one very strong message to content creators everywhere: that YouTube fully owns your subscriber-base and the revenue potential of your videos.
If your channel gets demonetized or, worse, shut down by YouTube, you instantly lose your thousands upon thousands of subscribers that you worked so hard to get. In an instant, you have no contacts, no leads, no list… nothing.
Beyond YouTube’s ability to suspend or shut down a channel (even if it has over 70 million subscribers), policies and their changes are affecting more than just the successful 4%. We’ve seen how updates and changes in algorithms like minimum watch-times and click-through-rates have affected YouTubers’ traffic and revenue overnight.
To be immune to all of this, and to be able to really scale your video content creation business, start collecting emails pronto. Direct people to a lead magnet on your website, and get them to sign up using their names and emails.
This will not only allow you a safety blanket for when there’s something going wrong with your channel, but it also allows you to directly contact your audience with intelligent email marketing campaigns so you can monetize them further.
You can take your audience ownership a step further and create your own VOD, entirely owned by you, where you can sell additional and more exclusive video content for a monthly subscription. Not only is that a great way to generate leads, but also make more money doing it. If you want to learn more about creating a strong video website that converts, click here.
While you may not be able to get 100% of your subscribers to give you their email addresses, you’ll still end up with a good strong list of highly-invested subscribers who are listening to you and your updates.
And then we wrapped up!
As you can tell, hosting our first ever Creators Helping Creators meetup taught us a bunch of really cool and important stuff about doing your best on YouTube. We plan on hosting more of these in the future, so if you want to stay posted, be sure to subscribe to our blog for updates.