Creating content for every major video platform can be tempting. Big-name streamers can make a lot of money on Twitch and creators of all kinds can get tons of views on TikTok or Instagram. YouTube, however, remains the dominant platform for anyone looking to create evergreen content that will remain relevant and useful for years or even decades.
Creating evergreen content can be a lucrative strategy, but it needs to be done carefully. Educational content is a great example of evergreen content. Math, for example, has remained the same since its discovery. So, a video that teaches math effectively in 2022 will be just as effective in 2042. In contrast, reporting on current events is not evergreen. While scholars may search for old coverage of an event, for the most part, viewers’ needs will move on from current reporting to historical analysis. News-based videos will stop getting views after a few weeks.
The upside of creating evergreen content is clear. Every creator would love for their videos to draw viewers and revenue for years or decades, and the best evergreen content does exactly that. The downside is that making content that is as good ten years later as it is ten days later means constraining each video’s scope to one that can stand the test of time.
So how does one make content that will last? Videomaker has been doing this for a long time and has learned many lessons that are easy to implement. Given the scale of time, these lessons are painful to learn the hard way. Conducting a five-year content test isn’t a great way to grow a business.
First, YouTube content is not evergreen if the information needs to be updated every few years. Since you can’t update videos on YouTube, they will quickly fall out of search results if they contain outdated or irrelevant information. This means, for example, avoiding references to technology that will likely be obsolete soon or recommending software by a company that may go out of business next year.
Also crucial is to avoid fleeting aesthetic trends. Viewers will make assumptions about the accuracy of content based on how out of date they perceive talent’s clothing, hairstyles, and vocabulary to be. This even extends to the video’s graphics and music.
Lastly, it’s essential to choose the right topics and keywords when planning a video. It doesn’t matter how good a video’s content is if no one is searching for that topic or if YouTube can’t properly identify it.
Making money with evergreen content involves throwing out some of the principles that creators typically live by. For example, watching for engagement shortly after posting a video can be a fool’s errand. Often, evergreen content underperforms in viewership in the short term. It compensates by over-performing in the long term. This is what’s known as the long tail. You can also think of this as delayed gratification, as evergreen content may take a while to pay for itself.
Knowing that most of an evergreen video’s views will come long in the future, direct sponsorship deals are less likely. Advertisers typically want to reach audiences today and won’t pay for views the video incurs years down the road. That means it’s best to advertise products and services that will continue to pay off for years. It’s one of the reasons so many creators choose to promote Audible. Creators get paid for every signup that comes through the links they promote, and because it’s an Amazon service, it’s likely to still be active for years to come.
If you plan to sell your products, you’ll want to promote products you plan on selling perpetually. That means physical goods you don’t plan to support forever are out. Digital products are a great alternative.
Finally, promoting your email list is always good if you have one. A constant supply of new email subscribers is much easier to monetize with fleeting offers than an evergreen YouTube channel.
YouTube is an incredible place to publish and monetize evergreen content. None of the other major video platforms even come close to being as effective at driving evergreen viewership. But because it takes so long for one’s effort to bear fruit, anyone who hopes to succeed with an evergreen content strategy needs to proceed with a deliberate and measured approach.