Four days ago, I received an email from YouTube advising me that my main YouTube channel had reached the 10,000 subscriber milestone.
This is a significant point in a YouTube channel's growth, so to mark this milestone, I published a short video thanking my subscribers.
In the video, I talk about how fortunate I am to have a loyal group of people who regularly watch my videos, publish comments and participate in live streams.
This may come across like I am sucking up to subscribers, but it is 100% true. Their positive feedback has been a driving force behind me producing videos and I know that I am lucky to be in this position.
Success is something that many people let others quantify.
On paper, my YouTube journey has not been successful. There are people who have grown to 10,000 subscribers in a few months and others who have did it a little slower and reached the milestone in one or two years.
It has taken me over seven years ago and over 1,150 videos to reach that same position.
If you sit down and look at my stats and think about the time I have put into producing videos for YouTube, by all accounts, my YouTube journey has not been successful.
Yet I do not see it that way.
I view my whole journey up until now as a learning experience.
Learning By Making Mistakes
I was late to the YouTube game.
By the time I uploaded my first YouTube video, YouTube had been around for eight years and I had been working online 13 years and blogging for around seven years.
My first ever YouTube video was recorded at Iguazu Falls, Argentina. I had been in South America for around a year and a half at that point and was in the middle of a long backpacking trip around the contintent that lasted around ten months.
“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”Henry Ford
To say my first video was bad would be a terrible understatement.
I was obviously limited with the equipment that was available at that time and Argentina was incredibly expensive for tech products too, but I cannot hide the fact that I did not know what I was doing.
I had no prior experience being in front of the camera and no experience recording and editing videos. I was starting from scratch.
This is why I am not disheartened by my slow growth on YouTube.
The last seven years have been an education. I have made thousands of mistakes along the way, but there is no denying that the quality of my videos has improved significantly. You just need to look back at my older videos to see that.
Whilst I do understand so much more about audio and video than I did years ago, there is still so much for me to learn.
The Exponential Growth of a YouTube Channel
Growth on YouTube is exponential and 10,000 subscribers is widely recognised as a point where traffic starts to increase significantly. YouTube also unlocks a new merchandising option at this level and new opportunities arise from third-party sponsors.
Put simply, 10,000 subscribers is the point where most YouTube channels start to grow quicker and become more profitable.
YouTube's merchandising feature is handled by TeeSpring. It's straightforward to create new products for your shop, but you aren't exactly giving your subscribers a bargain.
The costs are pretty ridiculous across the board. Only the t-shirts are close to being reasonably priced.
Anyone who runs a YouTube channel will know firsthand that subscribers is one of the most important metrics that YouTube uses to rank videos.
On the one hand, this system does make sense. On the other hand, it can be frustrating working around this when you're at the bottom and trying to work your way up.
When YouTube is ranking videos for keywords and key phrases, it makes sense to rank videos from popular YouTube channels first. After all, most YouTube viewers would expect a video published by a channel with 1 million subscribers to be listed before a channel with 500 subscribers.
This system isn't perfect though. As someone who watches YouTube videos most days, I do see many poor videos ranking above higher-quality videos simply because they were published on a popular YouTube channel.
No one knows exactly what goes on behind the scenes, but it is clear that as your YouTube channel grows, YouTube starts throwing more love your way.
I noticed more traffic coming in when I reached 1,000 subscribers, 5,000 subscribers and, more recently, 10,000 subscribers.
Obviously, with everyone staying indoors over the last month because of the coronavirus, these figures are a little higher than normal. Traffic was growing before that happened though, despite only publishing a few videos at the start of 2020.
YouTube channels are all growing at different rates, but it is clear that if you continue to grow your audience and improve the quality of your videos, it will eventually pay off.
YouTube has taken a back seat the last few months, however it remains the most enjoyable part of my online career.
I am looking forward to where my journey takes me over the next year or two.
In the long-term, I am keen to attend more tech conferences and network with other YouTubers, however on a month to month basis, my main focus is to continue improving my knowledge of video recording and to keep putting out good content.
Thanks for reading.