How to Build A Killer YouTube Content Strategy for Your Channel

planning a youtube content strategy

If you’re planning to monetize your channel – or step up your creative game in general – you need to develop a YouTube content strategy

A content strategy gives you a solid framework for producing videos.

More than that, it’s a tool for transforming your overall goals for your channel into an actionable plan

Put simply, if you’re a newbie video creator just starting out on the platform, a content strategy can help you reach your goals.

Whether that’s becoming a full-time beauty vlogger, or monetizing your cooking channel into a side hustle.

In this article, we’ll be looking at why YouTube content strategies are so useful, and how you can develop your own.

Why Develop A YouTube Content Strategy?

To start with, having a content strategy helps you keep your audience happy

Ultimately, your goal is to build a community around your channel. The cornerstone of that is consistently giving people the kind of content they want or expect from you.

a YouTube content strategy helps you build community
Your content strategy helps you play to your audience.

To do that, you have to know your audience pretty well. That takes both planning and research, which your content strategy will reflect. 

Other elements to include in your content strategy are SEO – to increase the visibility of your videos – and, in the long run, monetization. 

To join the YouTube Partner Program, for example, you have to reach 3,000 valid public watch hours over 12 months (or 3 million Shorts views in 3 months).

If you want to reach that goal quickly, you can make that the focus of your content production efforts.

A strategy makes it easier to increase the quantity of your output, put a different spin on topics, and vary elements like thumbnails and end screens. 

Just as importantly, it also lets you check whether those changes are actually working.

1 - Start By Defining SMART Goals for Your Channel

First off, take a deep breath. A content strategy is long-term planning – it’s a marathon, not a sprint. 

It’s the opposite of going viral and then dropping back into obscurity. That might work for a corporation’s product launch.

But it won’t make you a living.

To start with, define general goals for your channel. What is it you want to do with this channel? Making a full-time living as a vlogger? Promoting an existing business? Raising awareness for an issue that you care about? 

Then, think ahead and clearly define medium- and long-term goals for your channel. 

One of the best ways of defining these goals is to make sure that they’re SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based

SMART goals for content planning
Graphic by Dungdm93, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Finding Goals

Goals are important for planning, and they’re also great sources of motivation.

It’s great if you can post three times a week, as Ali Abdaal explains in the up-front video below, but goals give direction to that effort.

Of course, setting clear goals isn’t easy – you’ll have to think about them carefully. A good way of doing that is to ask yourself questions about what exactly you want to achieve.

Here are just some questions to get you started:

Useful Goal-Finding Questions:

  • How much content do you want to produce in the next 12 months?

  • Where do you want your subscriber numbers to be in six months? A year? Or even five?

  • What avenues of monetization are you aiming for – ads, affiliate links, brands, a channel membership program, merchandise? All of them?

define your youtube content niche

2 - Clearly Define Your Target Audience, Niche, and Content Types

Next, clearly spell out your YouTube niche and the characteristics of your target audience. 

Your niche is the specific topic in which you specialize. Going wildly off-topic is sure to irritate the audience you’re trying to establish. 

At the same time, you should be very aware of who your audience is. What’s important to keep in mind here is that your audience isn’t random – it’s shaped by you and your content. A True Crime channel will attract a very different kind of viewer compared to a tech review channel.

So, think about the kind of people you want to be talking to. The clearer you can make your target, the higher the chances that your content appeals to them.

Out in the business world, you might hear this called an avatar – a profile of your ideal viewer or customer.

make sure to have a clear idea of your audience
Who do you see when you think about your audience?

Similarly, because consistency is important, also think about the content types and specific video formats you want to produce. Are you doing vlogs? DIY videos? Product reviews? Science experiments? YouTube podcasts?

YouTube’s Creator Academy has an entire section dedicated to this step of the process. There’s a lot of advice there, and plenty of it is specific to certain niches. Check it out!

growth idea bulb icon

3 - Generate a Series of Content Ideas

As a next step, it’s time to generate content ideas. Lots of them.

There’s a wide range of tools and strategies to help you come up with amazing ideas – from diving into SEO to doing some focus group research. 

Generally, group your content into coherent units where you can. Plan ahead video series, future playlists, challenges, compilations, live streams, and revisits of older videos.

For example, as a yoga channel, you could do a 30-day beginner class starting January 1st. The same will probably work well for most topics around health, food, or skills you could teach. This kind of thing is great for audience building!

For much the same reason, doing daily vlogmas videos has become something of an annual YouTube tradition among vloggers.

If you’re doing tech reviews, you could do long-term reviews of gadgets you already shot an unboxing video for. That way, you can plan that video months in advance – and that’s always great for keeping stress and costs low.

A special note if you base your content on others’ ideas: You should keep track – and later mention in the video – of your sources and inspirations. So, as a philosophy video essayist, cite the papers. If you cook on camera, tell your viewers where your recipe came from. This is critical to avoiding plagiarism and copyright infringement, which could tank your reputation with your audience and any brands. 

4 - Create a Content Calendar

For many niches, there’s a rule of thumb saying you should upload original content at least once per week to keep your audience engaged. 

A content calendar helps you stay on top of your game. Factor in how much time video production takes, and what elements you can outsource.

Then, you can schedule when you need to research, film, edit, and promote each new piece of content before it goes live.

Ultimately, having a content calendar like this makes your life as a YouTuber less stressful. It gives you structure and a schedule to stick to. Among other things, that makes it easier to plan in personal time, events, and vacations.

Finally, content calendars are very useful when it comes to seasonal content. Vlogmas, for instance, has become a well-loved annual YouTube tradition. Posting a video a day during it, as many do, is much easier if everything is scheduled well in advance. 

5 - Implement Your Strategy and Check Back Regularly

Finally, it’s time to implement the strategy you’ve laid out. 

At first, you’ll probably have to make adjustments as you go. For example, you might have to shuffle around your content calendar, depending on how smoothly production works. 

Or you might find that you’d rather outsource some aspects of the process.

The most important thing, though, is to regularly check your achievements against your medium- and long-term goals. 

For this purpose, YouTube Studio’s analytics are your best friend. Here, you can deep-dive into the performance of your content. What is popular? What failed to meet the targets you set? And why? 

Based on this data, you’ll be able to go back and tweak your strategy to achieve your long-term goals.

The Bottom Line

A great YouTube content strategy is an invaluable asset for your career on the platform.

It’ll help you put an end to your days of having to come up with video ideas on the fly and scrambling to reach your monetization goals. 

Instead, it’ll give you a clear framework in which to work towards your goals, and help you cut back on the stress of the life of a content creator.

Ultimately, it’s well worth taking the time and investing the effort to make your content strategy the best it can be.

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  • Alex Lefkowitz

    Alex Lefkowitz is the founder and CEO of Tasty Edits. He holds a BA in Entrepreneurship and is an experienced video editor, having edited hundreds of videos for dozens of creators before starting his own video editing company. Since launching Tasty Edits, he has directly managed thousands of video and thumbnail orders. Now, he draws on his experience working with professional creators to write about video editing, the creator economy, and video marketing. You can also read his work on Hackernoon and Medium. Plus, he's contributed several expert opinions in interviews and articles as a guest on platforms like Jotform.

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