There are literally millions of dollars to be made on YouTube, but how do you know what kind of content to produce? Should you make something with broad appeal or videos that have a niche but dedicated audience? You may be surprised, but a channel with a strong focus almost always does better than a channel without one.
With over 1.3 billion people watching five billion videos everyday, YouTube is the world’s most popular platform for video content. The highest earning channels are each making millions of dollars per year, and the number of channels making six figures is up fifty percent year to year the past three years. If you’re like many people, you want a slice of that pie. How hard can it be? Just throw up some videos and wait for the cash to start flowing in right? It’s more work than you think.
Your channel is essentially a pact with your viewers; they tune in expecting something specific, and you deliver on that.
Running a successful YouTube channel is like running a business, it takes hard work and focus. Most importantly you need to find your audience. Many people make the mistake and think they can be just like Casey Neistat and do a daily vlog (RIP) about their life and be successful. While he is very successful, he’s an outlier. To be successful you need to find your niche — your corner of the internet.
A focused channel will get more subscribers more quickly than an unfocused one. Can you image a TV show that one week was about an emotional former sheriff trying to survive the zombie apocalypse with his son, then the next week it was an overly tan, sunglasses and bowling shirt wearing man traveling the country trying America’s various restaurants, then the next week it was tennis? No one would tune in. YouTube is the same.
You need to develop a brand that viewers can trust. Your channel is essentially a pact with your viewers; they tune in expecting something specific, and you deliver on that.
It’s not just that you need to be focused to get subscribers, you will also have an easier time creating content. It’s much easier to have a direction when you know the destination. Choosing your brand, the niche corner of the internet you want to speak to, is one of the more important decisions you will make. I know you’re probably thinking you should choose something with broad appeal, but having a specific focus is key.
One of my favorite channels along with 1.5 million other subscribers is Hydraulic Press Channel. It’s literally a close up of a hydraulic press crushing something, slowly. Another favorite of mine is Minutephysics with over three million subscribers. Each video is a description and example of something related to physics animated to hand drawn stick figures. Neither one of these channels post content one would assume is easily marketable, but both channels are very successful nonetheless.
What’s Your Passion?
But what about you? What should you focus on? That’s entirely up to you. A YouTube channel takes a lot of dedication, a lot of time and many, many over-nighters to get your videos done as scheduled. It has to be something you are passionate about. It has to be a subject that you are willing to spend the time every week to crank out a video, a subject you get excited about every time someone brings it up. Your passion and enthusiasm will come through to the viewers. If you are not excited about the content of the video, your viewers won’t be either.
Start by asking: what am I willing to spend hours on each and every week without getting paid for it?
Your channel also has to be something you are knowledgeable in, skilled at or willing to learn. For example, if you love cooking but know nothing about it, the channel can be your journey learning to cook each dish.
If you’re an accomplished chef, you can start a channel like Rick Bayless’s Taco Tuesday. Each week he shows the audience how to cook a different type of taco.
It sounds counter intuitive, but the exact subject of your channel is less important than you think, just as long as you stay focused. Chances are if you are interested in it, there are other people interested in it, too.
When thinking about what your niche should be, start by asking: What am I willing to spend hours on each and every week for the foreseeable future without getting paid for it? Do you have a hobby you’re already doing? If so, you’re halfway there. Maybe you enjoy playing with LEGOs. Well, there are a bunch of successful LEGO channels.
A friend of mine reviews toys. That’s it. He started by heading down to Toys R Us every week, buying a toy and then talking about it on camera — now companies send him stuff to review. The subject options are limitless.
What about cost though? Time isn’t the only consideration when deciding what you want to focus on. Perhaps you want to start a travel vlog — Hey Nadine seems to be doing really well, and you love traveling — but do you have the resources to spend that much dough or even the time availability? Starting your YouTube channel sounds romantic, but you need to think about it as a business. When considering what you want to focus on, you’ll also have to think about all the practical aspects of actually getting the content done.
Starting a YouTube channel can be very rewarding and even profitable if you have the ambition and time do it. If you want to crush it on YouTube, take a lesson from Minutephysics and Rick Bayless’s Taco Tuesday: Be focused. A niche channel with a simple focus will almost always do better than one that tries to cover everything. Pick your niche, grab your camera and get started.
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Good Evening Mister Miller,
I really like your article because it helps me find a solution to my problem. I started a youtube channel in 2012 and I started with piano, dance, and singing because I love music but I tried doing self-development tips, then hairstyles, makeup, and even travel videos. I made two other channels (one about Asia and another one about music only) because I didn’t want to mix too much content but I can feel that I could be more dedicated to my passion for music if I focused on one topic and one channel. I published a freestyle dance video on my first channel and someone close to me thought that it was a comedy so she made fun of it and I think that’s why I made a new channel only for music but now I can’t give my best in every channel because it’s a huge schedule now. Do you have any tips that you would give me? I think that focus on music on my first channel or my music channel only could help me progress and concentrate more on my passion.
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