James: Look, I can’t ignore this YouTube achievement of 100,000 subscribers. If you had to strain it down to just a few sentences, because I’ve heard YouTube a lot in the last few weeks.
I was speaking to Pat Flynn this morning. He’s chasing YouTube this year. He’s got a couple of hundred thousand subscribers. He’s keen on it. Another one of my students, Scott, has a bass guitar channel, he’s just absolutely killing it. Another one I’ve coached has almost a million YouTube subscribers. And I’ve heard from my lead gen experts, the people who are fantastic on Facebook ads, the new frontier is YouTube. That’s the place where you get the cheapest best traffic right now compared to anywhere else, and they’re hot. So what can I do to improve my channel?
I think we’ve just cracked 4000 subscribers, so we’re four percent of the way there to my silver button. What sort of things would you advise my content team to pay attention to?
Tim: So two things you need to know about Ahrefs’s YouTube channel. First of all, we are operating in the niche of SEO. And I would say it’s quite narrow. For example, if you compare it to travel or even motivation, so like Gary Vee, his audience is much broader than our audience, which is SEO. So this is the first thing, which makes it tough for us to grow our channel.
So the first thing that would set your expectations is the audience, the size of the audience that you can potentially target on YouTube. And the second thing is kind of your resources. So I would explain it, that for us, our channel growth and our channel, the quality of our content was a very gradual process.
So I started our YouTube channel five years ago when I just joined Ahrefs, and I was practically shooting myself on the iPhone. I know it sounds like a story like any person who reached a certain level of success will say, “I was living on the couch and blah, blah, blah…” I was literally shooting myself on my iPhone, and I was just putting out some ugly screencast video. So if you go to Ahrefs’s YouTube channel and you sort that by oldest, you’ll see those ugly videos. They were terrible. And at the same time, I hired my friend in Ukraine who I knew had very basic skills of video animation. But I told him, “Hey, like, my videos are terrible…” My accent was like, five times more terrible than it is today. So I told him, “No worries. Your animation skills are terrible, my video skills are terrible. Let’s work together and see if we can improve.”
And this was a gradual process. So my video animation guy was getting more skills and was able to do better animations; I was progressing with, like, my camera gear. So I upgraded to GoPro; then I, like, bought a fancier camera; then I bought, like, a microphone; then I bought some lights. So it was very gradual. But even like, if you do that with our channel, if you go to our channel and look up our first published videos, some of them have like tens of thousands of views on them, even though the quality is terrible. And right now, I found a great guy from Canada who took over our channel. And like, while YouTube channel was one of my responsibilities because they had to, like, do all sorts of marketing for Ahrefs back when I was like, a single-person operation.
But right now is, we have like, team members and each of them is responsible for their own channel. So that guy, he’s creating content, he’s shooting himself on camera, he’s creating scripts, but then we also have a designer who is helping him to create great thumbnails. So again, I would pat ourselves on the back on the quality of our YouTube thumbnails. And this is very important because this is how you get clicks on YouTube, whenever your videos show up as relevant. Also, our video animation guy in those five years, he got to a pretty decent level. So the animations he’s doing sometimes, I’m just like, super impressed by what he’s doing. And finally, we also have, like, an editor, who also minimizes the time that our video guy spends on creating the video. He adds, like all sorts of different things, cuts, like, callouts and blah, blah, blah. So right now we’ve three people working on each of our episodes, and we do one per week.
So there’s actually a lot of work. So our secret to “success on YouTube”, if 100,000 subscribers could be called success, is gradual improvement. So we were gradually looking for things to improve and it paid off.
James: Fantastic. That’s very useful.
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