Every day, YouTube adds more than 6,300 new channels. Most fail. This might happen for a number of reasons: they gave up, they had poor content, they followed the wrong strategy or they had no strategy. Maybe it’s all of the above.

Often in interviews, creators have a vague explanation for their success or their advice is overly generic. How many times have you heard “be yourself” or “follow your passion” as advice for being a successful online creator? The simple fact is some people don’t know the true cause of their own success. 

Most business owners give themselves more credit than they deserve. Furthermore, most people who start new businesses think they’ll succeed where other shave failed because they have some trait that sets them apart. However, most entrepreneurs who succeed do so because they were in the right place at the right time and they worked hard. They caught a wave and rode it well.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t outliers. There will always be Elon Musks in the world. But as someone seeking success as an independent online creator, you should assume you’re not the outlier. The odds that you are the next MrBeast are not zero but are awfully slim. But that doesn’t mean you can’t be successful, nor does it mean you have to follow MrBeast’s path to success.

By definition, most of us will never make enough money to be in the top 1% of earners, whose income exceeds $538,000 per year in the United States. We can, however, be very successful far below that income level. The same is true on YouTube. As of 2020, there were 37 million YouTube channels, yet only 22,000 had more than one million subscribers. That means a YouTuber with more than one million subscribers is in the top 0.06% of all YouTubers.

I don’t say this with the intention to scare you off of being an online creator. I only hope to encourage you to set realistic goals. There are countless channels that have achieved financial health and security with far fewer than a million subscribers. Countless more find personal satisfaction and enjoyment expressing themselves to viewers, regardless of YouTube’s financial impact on their lives.

To have the best chance possible of YouTube success, don’t look to the top .06% as a model. If you can be content with a fraction of that audience, your chance of success will improve dramatically.