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YouTube Tips My Growth Over The Years

Stanley | Team TB

Amazingly Decent and Not-At-All Terrible Fishing
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I create content seasonally... that is to say that the videos I make are organized into annual playlists to make watching multiple videos easier for the viewer. But another valuable aspect of this is that it allows me to group the content I was making every year so that I can take a look back at the various things I was studying at the time to get a better overall view of what works, what doesn't, and what I need to do next. So here is a broad overview of my annual content breakdown... would love to know your thoughts, insights and/or your own findings through the research on your own channel.

Year One - 13 Videos 15,500 views
Biggest Video: 40,000 views to date

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I wasn't so much researching in my first year as I was just throwing stuff at the wall to see what worked. I had graphic artist experience and thought that would help me create stand-out thumbnails, particularly when viewed against the sub-par offerings that I often found from other fishing channels. I also had this bright idea that having these white borders would cause my thumbnails to stand out because they looked like a different shape. This only worked if a viewer found me in Search, in Light-mode, and it often left me with just that much less room to get a good point across to the viewer. I was leaning heavily into thumbnails that were highly text based, thinking that the text on the thumb made them stand out more. But it was often too much for the viewer to read and a simple re-hash of the title. I did manage a couple hit videos that year though I was still green and failed to understand what was working and how to capitalize on it. Of course we were growing well and it was a successful year, having more than quadrupled the views from our previous year.

Year Two - 23 Videos 79,000 views
Biggest Video: 32,000 Views to date
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I was accepted into the YouTube Partner Program after the first year so I was working really hard for the second year. Everyone was excited to get out to the beach and enjoy the water and we went fishing a lot. Unfortunately I didn't know as much about fishing as I thought I did and had to learn some lessons along the way. I wish I had focused more on that learning experience for this second season, rather than acting like I was an authority. It was passable though, and we did manage several more 'minor-viral' videos over the course of this season. At this time the focus was putting out a video per week, which often meant cutting a fishing experience into two or three videos so that I would have enough content for my publishing schedule. This crammed the season with a few videos that would have been better left on the cutting room floor. We started experimenting with more 'YouTube' style videos... taking our leftover bait to the restaurant so they'd cook it for us, having my wife film her own fishing vlog for a channel take-over video and eating a jelly-fish to celebrate getting monetized were all fun-sounding concepts that fell short due to poorly filmed hooks, inadequate thumbnails and/or non-compelling titles/delivery. We were learning how to be content creators here and trying to figure out the next level of the system. I still felt that text helped thumbnails to standout, though I leaned far more heavily into what I thought were more dramatic photographs for thumbnails.

Year Three - 30 Videos 175,000 views
Biggest Video: 6,100 views
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This was a learning experience. We continued to cut up filming experiences into multiple videos, which did actually work in that it helped me to maintain a cadence of weekly videos. The result though was that we did not film a single 'hit' video despite what were solid opportunities. Thumbnails are now all but absent of text, with the exceptions offering miserable CTR's despite rave reviews from big creators in my accountability group. But now I was trying to use 'really cool photographs' for thumbs and they performed better, but we just weren't where we needed to be most of the time. Of course things were disrupted due to COVID... but that also inflated our overall view count and now that we had doubled our previously quadruple growth the expectation was that year four was going to be the year we hit it big.

Year Four - 23 Videos 125,000 Views
Biggest Video: 4,200 Views to date
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We did not hit it big. Despite really starting to produce content that we were really proud of the videos were just not getting off the ground. Many fell short of what we were expecting. The main focus here was filming quality content... the editing was decent but the overall experience was often fairly ordinary. We spent a month with family in Wisconsin and fished constantly, but there are only so many videos that can be made catching little perch and bluegill. Especially for an audience that comes to me expecting saltwater fishing. The thumbnail photographs started getting better this year, though we still had several real opportunities for hit videos that failed due to poor thumbnails and/or a lack of a good hook at the beginning of the video. The viewers that stayed enjoyed the video, but we were not focused enough on really grabbing attention. One big improvement for this season was that the entire series started to tie together, with there being more emphasis on the value each video provided for the other and CTA's to see 'the next big thing' that was happening in the following video.
Now, we knew that we were not going to be able to reproduce COVID views this year, but it was a hard pill to swallow ending the year with 30% less views than before.

Year Five - 22 Videos 129,000* views
Biggest Video: 4,000 views to date
1683641988974.png

I am really proud of this season. Prior to this we had been a very 'Search' based channel. I was targeting Search terms for tourtist's and visitors to the area and built a great foundation of consistent, evergreen views based on that. But I want virality, I want to blow up and I am ready to take this channel to the next level. I learned some good lessons about that this year. First; I spent less time studying and learning YouTube and more time studying and learning fishing and it paid dividends. I caught more fish and my content got way better as a result. I fished on average about once per week, and probably had two fishing trips where I didn't catch anything. I didn't spend as much time cutting a single fishing trip into multiple videos and could actually film a full video every trip because I was so much better at what I was doing. And rather than focusing on gimmicky 'cook our bait' nonsense I focused a little more on sensationalizing the experience in general. This led multiple videos to be consistent, high-performing videos. The real payoff was an experiment mid-summer. I went on a trip with a couple YouTube creators and simply failed to film a decent into to the video... which ended up being a really good video. While editing I decided it deserved a much better intro, so I crammed together a crazy 30-second montage of clips set to a fast-paced rock track and recorded a quick, Mr. Beast inspired monologue-intro beneath a bedsheet in my closet. The video blew every previous video out of the water in every metric... and then it completely died. I blamed a lackluster 2.8% CTR, and began AB testing some real off-the-wall thumbnails... one of which clicked. No idea why, but all the fine-tuned, beautiful fish porn failed miserably when compared to a pitiful, blurry GoPro shot of my barely-visible wife fighting a non-existent fish. But it did, and I ran with it, and then this happened...
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I got a new channel-driver. I continued to experiment with this style, with an almost overwhelmingly positive response.

Year Six...
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So now I am kicking off our sixth season. After nearly 400 videos I have finally found the thumbnail designs that really work and I have added emphasis on crafting compelling titles. I have found the attention grabbing, engaging delivery style needed to keep their attention and I am finally a qualified enough angler that my content will have the value that I am satisfied presenting. So what's my plan?

I'm taking a step back.

I'm not going to cram out a billion videos for the sake of hammering out content. I want that playlist to be a refined, well-oiled machine where every video is more interesting than the last. I don't want those lame, 'filler' video mucking up the works. I am going to try to honor my weekly regiment of content... but I am also not going to force a round peg through a square hole. If I can't make a deadline I will sacrifice that for the sake of quality. I am going to focus more on Patreon providers and making that experience more valuable. I am going to make the entire experience more consumer friendly; I want to find a way to bridge my content so that it isn't just people into fishing who can enjoy it. I want a more general audience. I want someone reading one of the many posts/articles like this that I publish to see my content, get intrigued and want to subscribe to the channel. I don't know how to do that yet... I'm still experimenting. But I am building on the lessons learned from previous years, I am still learning and growing...

And I can not wait to see what this year holds.
 

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Damon

Trusted User
Trusted User
2,779
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www.blackwarriorlures.com
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This folks. This is very deep insight into the never-ended road to be a content creator. I've had very similar experience. For me it was, first YouTube-as-customer-service as I was already selling my homemade fishing tackle on Ebay. Existing customers needed to know how to use the products I was creating. These were the days of the old Contour ROAM action camera. Goodness those videos were bad.

From there I saw an Orvis commercial where the CEO too his son on an epic fly-fishing trip to Cuba. That began the documentary-film phase. I started buying lots of book on documentary film, bought a cinema camera, old-school lenses. About this time I was building and blowing up mud motors. That was the channel driver. Failing to get any sponsorship because of infighting amongst the imports left a bad taste in mu mouth regarding brand deal. I doubled down on refining my own products, and spent most of my time learning about filmmaking.

Limitations

The main thing I came away from that time was that I simply cannot film a true-documentary film and fish successfully. Thus I returned to an action camera for this fishing season because as beautiful an image that cinema cameras produce, they simply cannot capture action worth a flip. However, GoPro Hero 11 has incorporated many cinema camera-like features. Now for the first time I can get a same look on an action camera as my cinema camera. Now I can concentrate on the fishing.

For me experimenting in fishing, combining unrelated methods, and developing unusual fishing tactics have increase sales more than just fishing the same old way all the time. Fishermen are obsessed with bettering their game. Most people simply don't have the time to fish. Therefore my content has always leaned toward the tutorial side.

I took Roberto's brand deal class earlier this year, and I have tried to reach out, but still it's just not my thing I guess. So, I started doing my thing again, lot of experimentation. I just found out that one of my lure, what I call a Thump Rig, is super effective at trolling for white bass. I never would have stumbled onto that had I been fooling around with the cinema camera.

So the cinema camera stays at home to get interviews and product shots. Also for the first time since long before the pandemic I import for lures from China. I've also been experimenting with using slow-pitch jigs, rather micro jig in freshwater. Again experimenting: taking a foreign saltwater and adapting it for my domestic waters. It's already turning some heads. People on forums asking me what this lure is. They haven't seen it before, and they see me catching all these fish with it. Honestly, none of that translates into more views or going viral, but it definitely translates into more sales.
 
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OP
OP
Stanley | Team TB

Stanley | Team TB

Amazingly Decent and Not-At-All Terrible Fishing
Administrator
TubeBuddy Staff
2,640
25
Subscriber Goal
250000
This folks. This is very deep insight into the never-ended road to be a content creator. I've had very similar experience. For me it was, first YouTube-as-customer-service as I was already selling my homemade fishing tackle on Ebay. Existing customers needed to know how to use the products I was creating. These were the days of the old Contour ROAM action camera. Goodness those videos were bad.

From there I saw an Orvis commercial where the CEO too his son on an epic fly-fishing trip to Cuba. That began the documentary-film phase. I started buying lots of book on documentary film, bought a cinema camera, old-school lenses. About this time I was building and blowing up mud motors. That was the channel driver. Failing to get any sponsorship because of infighting amongst the imports left a bad taste in mu mouth regarding brand deal. I doubled down on refining my own products, and spent most of my time learning about filmmaking.

Limitations

The main thing I came away from that time was that I simply cannot film a true-documentary film and fish successfully. Thus I returned to an action camera for this fishing season because as beautiful an image that cinema cameras produce, they simply cannot capture action worth a flip. However, GoPro Hero 11 has incorporated many cinema camera-like features. Now for the first time I can get a same look on an action camera as my cinema camera. Now I can concentrate on the fishing.

For me experimenting in fishing, combining unrelated methods, and developing unusual fishing tactics have increase sales more than just fishing the same old way all the time. Fishermen are obsessed with bettering their game. Most people simply don't have the time to fish. Therefore my content has always leaned toward the tutorial side.

I took Roberto's brand deal class earlier this year, and I have tried to reach out, but still it's just not my thing I guess. So, I started doing my thing again, lot of experimentation. I just found out that one of my lure, what I call a Thump Rig, is super effective at trolling for white bass. I never would have stumbled onto that had I been fooling around with the cinema camera.

So the cinema camera stays at home to get interviews and product shots. Also for the first time since long before the pandemic I import for lures from China. I've also been experimenting with using slow-pitch jigs, rather micro jig in freshwater. Again experimenting: taking a foreign saltwater and adapting it for my domestic waters. It's already turning some heads. People on forums asking me what this lure is. They haven't seen it before, and they see me catching all these fish with it. Honestly, none of that translates into more views or going viral, but it definitely translates into more sales.

I love you Damon. You are a role-model and inspiration sir, thank you for your valuable insight!