YouTube offers massive opportunities for content creators. It’s the second-biggest search engine in the world, right after Google, and makes up about 25% of global mobile web traffic.
With 2.6 billion monthly users worldwide, it’s not surprising that YouTubers are among the most successful – and richest – content creators out there. YouTube stars like PewDiePie and Mr Beast have a net worth of $40 M and $25 M respectively – and they’re not alone.
But how to be a YouTuber in 2023? How do you launch a new channel, or grow an existing one? How to generate a full-time income from YouTube?
Here’s the full run-down on how to become a YouTuber in 2023. Keep reading for a comprehensive guide and several key resources to help you succeed.
Set Your Goals: Video Volume, Subs, and Monetization
To start with, you need to set your goals. And you need to be clear about how much time, effort, and money you need to invest to achieve them.
For instance, saying that you want to surpass Mr Beast’s subscriber count of about 120 million and become a YouTube millionaire by the end of the year is unrealistic.
For one thing, Mr Beast himself started posting videos in 2013, and it took him four years to go viral.
For another, the stunts and giveaways that many of the biggest YouTubers organize – from filling the world’s biggest bowl of cereal to a $100,000 game of tag – are way out of the budget of most beginners.
Mr Beast took years to get this kind of budget for his videos – and few people have had this much success. But with good planning and persistence, you can get pretty far.
Investing Time and Money
Start by assessing how much time and resources you have to dedicate to your YouTube channel. And we’re not just talking about the gear you need for shooting and, if you’re doing that yourself, video editing.
To achieve consistent channel growth, most successful creators post at least once per week.
That means investing several hours a day into channel management, brainstorming new ideas, uncovering rising trends, filming content, editing clips, analyzing content performance, and replying to comments.
Going at this speed, for instance, it’s realistic to grow your channel to 100,000 subscribers and beyond within a year.
Having a video go viral helps, obviously. For instance, a channel on motivational speaking by YouTuber Jit Puru ballooned from 500 to 100,000 subscribers within just three months after one of his clips got boosted by YouTube’s algorithm:
But you can’t count on that. Instead, map your goals around steady and regular content production.
Once you’ve set your goals in terms of how many videos you want to produce per month or per week, and how many subscribers you can cultivate, you can dive into monetization.
Once you hit 1,000 subs and 4,000 public watch hours (or 10M recent Shorts views), the YouTube Partner Program lets you earn a cut of ad revenues. Beyond that, you can set up tipping platforms like Patreon and leverage brand partnerships. YouTube’s fan funding features become available sooner, at 500 subs and 3K watch hours or 3M Shorts views.
(By the way: We’ve got a whole article on how to develop a YouTube monetization strategy – check it out!)
Going in, you need to have realistic expectations about how much you can earn off YouTube. A channel with 100 K subscribers, for instance, can earn you anywhere between $2,000 and $4,000 per month, depending on the niche and on how engaged your audience is.
Define Your Niche
Another crucial aspect to decide early on is your niche.
A niche is a topic you structure your content around. This can be anything: Yoga or furniture restoration, parody skits or gaming.
Most successful YouTube channels focus exclusively on one, very specific niche. That’s because it’s easier to grow an audience if your viewers know what to expect.
Say you launch a lifestyle channel, and you post videos about healthy cooking, exercise, and meditation. Someone who found your channel because they hit on one of your vegan recipes might not care at all about your latest Pilates video.
Rainbow Plant Life is a viral vegan cooking channel. And a space where viewers know exactly what to expect!
The more you niche down, the more you can laser-focus on the content that really resonates with your audience, driving up your views and subs. But how do you decide on your niche?
Picking Your Niche for YouTube
There are a few different aspects you need to consider.
First, there are your own interests. Ask yourself what topic you’re passionate enough about to spend hours researching it and talking about it every day in the foreseeable future. What skills do you have that you could harness and share with others?
Second, there are your resources. Even if you might be in the mood for launching a tech review channel, you might not have the necessary capital to buy the gadgets you’d have to test.
Finally, there’s the monetization potential of your niche. Some niches are much more lucrative than others. That’s because advertisers will pay significantly higher sums to feature in videos in niches such as personal finance.
Style Your Brand
As a next step, make sure your channel is instantly recognizable.
That means setting a custom channel banner and icon, and finding a consistent design template for your video thumbnails.
Why is this so important?
Crucially, it helps viewers pinpoint your channel among dozens of others. Having brand colors and fonts, signature thumbnail styles, and custom intros and outros for your videos all help make your content memorable.
The numbers prove this. 90% of the most successful YouTube videos have personalized thumbnails.
So, how do you style your channel properly?
You can either give designing it yourself a shot, using tools such as Canva. Or you hire a professional graphic designer to do it for you. (Check out our article on the best thumbnail design services here!)
Generate Viral-Worthy Video Ideas
Once you’ve decided on your goals and your niche and have come up with a coherent identity for your channel, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of creating videos. Starting by coming up with ideas for viral content.
Finding YouTube video ideas can be a challenge. At first, you might be exploding with amazing ideas, unable to decide which ones to go with. But at some point, you’ll probably hit a wall creatively. And struggle to come up with even one decent concept.
In either case, there are some time-tested strategies to fall back on.
First, see what’s trending on YouTube itself. Check out the trending tag and investigate the channels of popular creators in your target niche. Have they covered the topic you’re thinking of before? Or done something similar?
Then, harness tools such as Google Trends to see how many people actually search for a specific topic. You can also leverage autocomplete in the search bars on YouTube and in Google. Just start typing, and you’ll see suggestions for frequent searches.
That way, you can gauge if people are actually looking for the content you’re thinking about making.
Another way to generate high-potential content ideas is YouTube SEO, which brings us to our next topic.
Master YouTube SEO
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is a set of practices and strategies to help your content rank on Google – and on YouTube, which is the second-biggest search engine in the world.
The first step in SEO is to identify keywords. These are specific words and phrases that people use to look for content. Each keyword has a different keyword volume (KV) and keyword difficulty (KD). KV tells you how many people search for this keyword every month. KD gives you insights about how competitive a keyword is – whether a lot of other channels have already produced videos that will show up in searches.
You can use tools such as Keywordtool.io and SEMrush to check out these metrics for various keywords in your niche. Especially if you’re just launching your channel, it’s best to focus on keywords with average KV, but achievable KD.
For example, “Yoga” has a KV of 1.6 million, but a KD of 100. That means millions of people use this search term every month, but it’s incredibly difficult to rank for. “Yoga for back pain” is a little more accessible, at a KD of 72%. “Yoga for upper back pain”, with a KD of 50 and a KV of 5.5 K hits the sweet spot in terms of how many people use the search term and how fierce the competition is.
Once you’ve pinpointed a keyword you want to target, you need to integrate it into your video title and description. This helps YouTube’s algorithm identify what your content is about and show it in relevant searches.
You should also harness other features such as hashtags, chapters, and manually adjusted subtitles for YouTube SEO.
Hit Your Content Production Stride, Analyze, and Outsource
At first, creating YouTube videos will take much longer than you expect. From needing multiple takes to get the framing and the lighting of your clips right, to figuring out the entire upload process.
Once you’ve got a few videos under your belt, though, you’ll start to hit your content production stride. Making videos will become part of your routine, and you’ll be able to scale up your content quality and quantity.
As you hit your stride, it’s essential to circle back around and re-evaluate your strategy and your goals. Check your video analytics and see which type of content is doing well in terms of metrics like retention rates and video watch time.
What resonates with your audience and what doesn’t? Let these insights fuel your future content ideas and the way you structure and edit your videos.
Speaking of editing: As your channel grows, you’ll need to level up your content output. YouTube’s algorithm rewards creators that post high-quality content multiple times per week. To achieve this, you’ll have to outsource.
There are many workflows in video creation – from doing background research to video editing, and thumbnail creation to channel management – that you can delegate to specialized freelancers or companies.
Investing part of your YouTube income to outsourcing will help you thrive in the long run.
Trying to do everything by yourself may seem economic at first. But sooner rather than later, overworking yourself will end in creator burnout, and you’ll lose the passion you have for your channel.
That’s why bringing on board video editors, channel managers, or people to handle script writing for you is an investment not just in your channel, but in your mental health as well. And, after all, you’re the most valuable asset your channel has. In fact, about 70% of the job can be outsourced instead.
Grow Your Community
As your subscriber count grows, it’s important to create a community around your content. According to YouTube’s 2022 Trends and Culture report, online communities are what drives a majority of views.
As a YouTuber, you can foster a sense of belonging among your viewers. Interact with them through comments and live streams. Encourage them to join mailing lists or access additional community-exclusive content on subscription platforms like Patreon.
If you want, you might even want to attend big YouTuber events to meet with fellow creators and fans in person.
Harness merchandise features and give your viewers the possibility to show their allegiance via tote bags, sweatshirts, or stickers.
Not only will this help you generate additional income streams. It also drives up engagement among your viewers, which, in turn, increases ad revenue.
Once your channel takes off, you could even consider taking your loyal community and moving it to your own platform. Yoga YouTuber Adriene, for instance, created an app that offers all the videos on her channel and exclusive additional content. Not to mention merchandise sales. The beauty of the blossoming creator economy is, of course, that there are plenty of services and companies out there to do the actual heavy lifting for you.
Diversify Your Monetization Strategy
Finally, part of becoming a successful YouTuber is also reviewing your monetization strategy. To begin with, your biggest goal will be to hit the threshold to join the ad revenue share part of the YouTube Partner Program – 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours (or 10 M Shorts views).
But once you’re generating a steady income from ads, it’s time to look beyond it. You can consider tipping platforms like Ko-Fi, Buy Me a Coffee, and Patreon. Sell branded merchandise via sites like Spreadshirts or Threadless. Or work directly with brands.
Brand collabs can take many different forms. And your audience doesn’t even have to be very large to benefit from them.
Affiliate marketing programs, for instance, are available to influencers with a few thousand followers already. Here, you earn a commission if you recommend a product in one of your videos and place an affiliate link in your video description.
Many brands are also happy to sponsor up-and-coming micro-influencers or pay them to be brand ambassadors.
Want to learn more? Check out our YouTuber’s Cheat Sheet to Working With Brands!
The Bottom Line: How to Be a YouTuber in 2023
Being a YouTuber in 2023 can be a lucrative and fantastically fun job, but it is not an easy one to get started in.
YouTube is a competitive platform, and if you throw yourself into the fray as a newbie without a plan, it’s easy to fail.
By planning ahead and following the steps above, you can stay ahead of the curve. From picking your niche and styling your channel, to building your community and diversifying your income streams.
Ready for your YouTube adventure? Then channel your inspiration and your energy and let’s go! 🚀
The first step to becoming a YouTuber is to set your goals and pick your niche. Research who you want to target as your audience and come up with a professional channel design. Then, go mining for viral YouTube video ideas, leverage SEO, and hit your content creation stride.
To join YouTube’s Partner Program and start making money off YouTube, you need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 public watch hours (or 10 M Shorts views) over 12 months. How many views you need to make a full-time income off YouTube varies. A channel with 100,000 K subscribers, for instance, usually makes between $2,000 and 4,000 in ad revenue per month.
Before you launch your channel, you need to carefully consider which niche you want to specialize in. Do research on your audience and what sort of monetization options you have. Then, dig into keyword research to generate viral content ideas and start to grow your audience.