I originally launched my channel in 2006 with a limited knowledge of video production and some good ideas. Through some sort of alchemy, I managed to build consistent viewership (hitting 1 million in 2007). By 2011, my production skills vastly improved and I was producing about two videos per month. But this pace was difficult to keep, and I began to burn out. In 2012, I threw in the towel and moved across the country.
During my break from production, I spent a lot of time professionally working in content operation and digital strategy. I soon realized this strategic aspect had been missing from my own channel. I decided to write and produce again for myself, only this time with a more-studied approach. I crafted a channel strategy based on the Hero, Hub, & Hygiene framework and began posting new content on January 1st, 2015.
Set Goals, But Stay Flexible.
Initially, I set out to upload 24 videos with a targeted viewership of 50,000 for the year. I adjusted the viewership after posting my third video,“#@ATTHEGYM”, which hit 450,000 views within the first 3 days.
Despite crushing my original viewership KPI within the first month of the year, I learned how much harder it is to run a YouTube channel as an adult. With a full time job and additional obligations, 2 videos a month was overly challenging. I reworked my release strategy to accommodate. I reduced my expected output to 16 videos, which would mean long breaks without fresh content.
Highlight Legacy Content
To make up for the loss of frequency in the newly adjusted release schedule, I began highlighting legacy content to gain new viewers and fill that void through various methods. One area I found success was with GIFs, which act as a preview for the video and is a smaller commitment to passive viewers. Another method involved creating several curated playlists, including a “throwback” playlist to highlight my oldest videos.
“Cutting the Cheese” (a 20-second video from 2009) became my 5th most viewed video (13,650) in 2015. Six years is a long time, and with over 300 hours of video uploaded every minute, it’s easy for old content to be buried. When highlighted through social media using GIFs, alongside new videos (annotations/end cards), and within communities across the web, your old video becomes new content to first time visitors. In this case, the video organically ended up on a niche subreddit which resulted in the bump in traffic.
Repurpose Old Footage
I stumbled across an old hard drive during my move and began sifting through old and unused footage. I’ve since used the footage to create new content, saving time and bringing back some great memories in the process. I recut and remastered one of my early videos, which had its audio muted by YouTube in 2009. I also capitalized on the Jurassic World buzz with footage shot in 2010, which became my third most viewed video this year (60,000).
Legacy Content Strengthens Your Channel
With the success of my hero videos (which received coverage on Huffington Post, MTV News and Yahoo Movies), it’s not surprising they accounted for 88% of my viewership this year. However, it was both surprising and rewarding to know the hours I poured into videos from 2006-2011 weren’t forgotten in the overcrowded space. With some metadata maintenance and strategy, legacy content ended up strengthening my channel despite a reduction in output, and it can strengthen yours too. An easy place to start is updating titles, tags, and thumbnails on all of your videos. Additionally, spend some time curating playlists and creating GIFs for social as a new way to attract viewers. 2015 was a great year for YouTube creators, and I look forward to what 2016 has in store.
2015 year end stats:
- 16 Videos
- 822,042 views
- 1,000 new subscribers
- 3,267 Likes
- 500 Comments
- 2,000 shares