Successful YouTubers tend to place their overall strategies into two categories: make videos for searchers or make videos for repeat viewers. Both have their strengths and weaknesses. If the goal is low-effort, high reward work, is one any better than the other? Is there ever a point where a YouTuber can ride a wave where they make the videos they want to make, are financially stable and stress-free? Both strategies can be lucrative if done well, but the sense that Easy Street is at the end of any YouTube strategy is an illusion.

The YouTube search strategy is based on targeting search keywords that have lots of search volume and making content best suited to fill the needs of those searching that keyword. The beauty of the search strategy is that YouTubers can use keyword research tools to identify highly-searched keywords and know with relative confidence how well a video on that specific topic will perform. These videos will generally perform well for a long period of time.

This isn’t always true of course. A keyword like “pancake recipe” will probably have a pretty stable search volume for years to come, while “Avengers: Endgame review” will decline in search volume as the movie ages. Still, clever YouTubers will identify niches with lots of evergreen keywords and rack up views pretty reliably.

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YouTubers that create videos for the recommendation algorithm, on the other hand, aim for repeat viewers. This strategy is harder to get going, as it’s harder for viewers to discover a channel without a search. However, once it’s a well-oiled machine, these YouTubers only need to focus on pleasing their audience. This strategy prioritizes building loyalty among viewers so that viewers watch every video, regardless of the specific topics the video contains.

That doesn’t mean YouTubers using this strategy can avoid doing topic research. A YouTuber running a gaming channel should expect to lose lots of loyal viewers if they abruptly switch from being focused on first-person shooters to tabletop games. They will always be on a treadmill of content creation, playing the games that viewers are most interested in, talking about current events or telling new jokes.

Likewise, search-focused YouTubers will be constantly challenged. Not only do will they have to keep finding new keywords to target, but because they don’t have the viewer loyalty that repeat-viewership YouTubers enjoy, they will constantly be fending off competition for search ranking.

There’s no point where YouTubers can consider themselves on Easy Street. Being successful on YouTube is a job, and it will always be hard work to even sustain an audience, let alone grow it. As you’re deciding on your own strategy, try to think about the pros and cons of each. Would you rather have a loyal audience that devours your work, but feel pressure from that audience to make specific content? Or would you prefer to make videos targeting the keywords of your choice, but lack a dedicated audience who watches more than one or two of your videos before moving on? What you decide today will determine your day to day work for the foreseeable future.