How To Grow Your Own Thriving YouTube Channel
Updated: May 6
Youtube is a very vast and complex search engine.
When we think "YouTube", we just think about a place to go watch videos, but it is much more than that.
YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet, and it is responsible for over 1,000,000,000 of video minutes watched every single day.
Bloggers have been doing this for decades, and now the future of blogging is here through the production of videos.
This is the story of my journey on Youtube, and how you can use YouTube to DOMINATE your own niche, and market yourself or business to astronomical numbers
Why I Started a YouTube Channel
I always like the idea of filming myself and watching it over and over again. It was fascinating to me that I could record something and have it forever (well, until my hard drive crashed).
BUT I never really put into perspective that it could turn into a full-time thing. I never imagined that I could make a living posting videos online for others to watch.
Over the course of my time in the Navy, I decided to create a few videos to show my family what I was doing. I made videos at the zoo and videos of us at the race track.
Finally, when it came time to deploy, I took my camera with me. I filmed port visits, ship life, friends, gym time, pretty much everything! Throughout the course of those seven months I had filmed nearly everything and whipped it up into a 7 minute video.
After the video was completed, I showed my friends and family, but that was about it. I had no motivation to post it because I thought that people didn't care.
At the time, social media was something brand new to me. I had no clue even how to hardly use Snapchat or Instagram effectively.
One of my friends recommended that I post my video on YouTube. Even though I considered YouTube to be "for the big dogs" I started a channel and posted it anyways.
I thought nothing of it, and never even checked it twice.
I'll skip the hot, juicy parts about how I met Sara for now....
BUT, when I first met her I showed her that deployment video (lol i know) and she was so fascinated with it.
She even pointed out that it was almost at 30,000 views which for me at the time was A LOT.
I was even in shock when I saw that I was almost at 1000 subscribers.
Sara asked me "why aren't you posting more?" and to that I replied "I don't know".
The Slap in the Face
Throughout the next few months of experiencing Sara (yes she was a new type of experience for me) I really pondered the idea of posting more to YouTube. Even though it was never a priority, it crossed my mind a few times.
I don't really remember what flipped the switch in Sara's head to yell and tell me to get to work on my channel, but she really wanted me to post more to YouTube, and I really didn't have a reason not to.
I finally sat down and forced myself to think of a video topic. Anything would do at the time, I just needed to get another product out on the Youtube shelf. Then it all started....
Of course, the only thing I could think of to create at the time, was an educational video helping viewers decide if they should join the military or not.
It was a big topic to me 4 years prior, so I figured that it would help out a lot of people.
I posted the video and the almost 1000 subscribers responded well. I can remember being so nervous to read the feedback in the comment section, but overall it resounded well with them.
On to the Next One
The next video I would make was another military related video. I believe it was about my time going through boot camp and what I had experienced.
That video also resounded well, and I was off to the drawing board to think of new ideas and topics.
There was a time there where I became obsessed with YouTube, and it really hasn't stopped since.
Posting videos, gathering feedback, and posting again became a regular part of my schedule.
I really had no idea where I was going with it, but I was seeing a little bit of growth, so I didn't stop.
My First YouTube Paycheck
When YouTube reached out to me and asked if I wanted to get paid from my videos, it still didn't click that I would receive real money (crazy I know).
A month later a check came in the mail. It was around $30 and I thought it was pretty cool.
Still running back to the drawing board after each video, I was desperately trying to think of videos that my audience would like. Only MY audience, not a new audience.
I was never in the mindset of reaching new demographics, and I still didn't know anything about the algorithm.
The Realization of Potential
They say all Youtubers have that "breaking point". The breaking point for most Youtubers is thinking "'l'll never make it" and gradually they stop posting, and if you're reading this YOU SHOULD NEVER think like this.
For me that never happened, of course I would have sleepless nights wondering about my next video topic and wondering if the videos I was posting were worth even posting. Still, I pressed on.
I had the cool idea to reach out to a friend of mine, Ashley Kaltwasser. I filmed a free video for her channel a few months before I started posting on my own channel.
I forgot to mention, Ashley is a world famous bikini competitor, and had taken 1st place multiple years in the Bikini Olympia competition. Before I knew her, I pitched myself as a videographer trying to build my portfolio. That is how we met.
I asked her to film a video with me this time, and I would be in front of the camera, instead of behind it. Ashley is a really nice, humble person, so she agreed and was excited about my idea.
"Ms. Bikini Olympia Attempts the US Navy Physical Test" was the title that I had thought of before we even shot the video. We met up, filmed the video, and I had it edited and produced the same day. When I tell you I didn't sleep, I was literally sleeping 4-5 hours at night trying to balance my work load from the Navy, and this "part-time" Youtube grind.
The video was posted the following day on a Sunday. After the video was published, it was back to the drawing board for another video topic.
My First Viral Video
About 4-5 weeks later I came home from work and hit the hay. I woke up for morning shift with the Navy and I happened to check my YouTube channel before I left for work
Something was weird, because I had noticed "99+" showing on my YouTube comments.
For me, 99 comments overnight was unreal. I thought it had to be a glitch until I checked my subscribers....
My subscribers had shot up overnight. Around 10,000 - 20,000 I believe.
I realized that the video with Ashley had gone Youtube viral overnight, and collected a clean 1,000,000 views.
News organizations including Right This Minute news, DailyMail, UNILad, Chive, and Men's Health had sent me emails requesting to use my content to write blogs and create videos about.
I was in disbelief at the time. This small town Youtuber with less than 30,000 subscribers was being bombarded with emails from the biggest social media organizations in the world.
The Turning Point
I didn't know what it was that made that video go big. I knew that it was a great topic, but for Youtube it is very hard to garner that many views even for big YouTubers.
Throughout the next few days I studied what I had done in that video, and imagined duplicating the process with different topics.
So, I did. The next video I produced was having two crossfitters come on the channel and attempt the Navy physical test.
It was like magic. The video responded so well that it too had gained an incredible amount of attention from the YouTube community.
I believe it had done 2,000,000 views in a matter of days after posting it.
So, I did what any logical person would do...I duplicated that strategy again.
The mix between video editing, structure, and framework had proven to be another hit and I was off to the drawing board.
Keep in mind, this so called "lavish lifestyle" that other YouTubers were living still didn't seem accurate to me.
Even though my views were in the millions, I wasn't receiving that much kickback or earnings from these videos.
Sealing the Deal
At the time, Youtube still wasn't a viable source of income. I believe after those two videos, I was receiving about $2000 per month on a steady basis.
Don't get me wrong, it was still a much larger return than that first $30. I just didn't understand how other Youtubers were making $50,000 and $60,000 from just one of their videos.
I was grateful for the extra income, but I was still a little confused on how they were doing so well and how I was still a YouTube peasant.
Until....I was reading through my comments, and a viewer told me straight up. " Yo Austen you need to enable all of the ads on these videos, or else you won't make any money".
At that point, I realized these videos were only monetized through one type of ad. Youtube has five different types of ads!
So, I went back into my analytics and enabled every ad that I could that night.
The next few weeks, I saw my earnings go from $40 - $60 per day, to $100 - $150 per day.
That's when I knew that this thing was really possible.
Wash and Repeat
At the time, I had a steady viewership and a channel that was growing every single day. I still was aiming towards "bangers" which is what I like to call a video that was structured the same way as that Ms. Bikini Olympia video.
My thumbnails were great, my videos were structured towards growth, and my ideas were flowing like Niagara Falls.
With all of this knowledge, and enabling all of the ads on my channel, I had found out that there was another type of ad that could really be a game changer. "Mid roll ads" was what I was missing.
Mid roll ads play through the middle of a video, and are enabled on videos longer than 10 minutes. I had figured this out through a simple search on...you guessed it...Youtube.
So, with all of this new knowledge about the types of ads and content that does really well on Youtube, I decided to give it another go with a fresh new video titled "US Marine Attempts the US Navy Seal Test".
Rolls Royce Money
Totally joking about that heading...well, kinda.
The plan was to meet up with a friend of mine and film this video topic.
We executed the plan and the video was uploaded. Enabling all ads and putting 2-3 mid roll ads throughout the video, I monitored the video closely.
This is when I learned that watching a videos performance can really hinder production, and I teach that in my YouTube Domination course.
So it began, the video took about a week to gain virility, but when it did I mean it really gained traction.
1 million, 2 million, 3 million views... I watched the video over the next few days hit over 4,000,000 views!
The part that really got me though, was the ad revenue. I literally watched this video earn over $4700 in a single day.
I'm not telling you this to flaunt it. I simply want you to know that this is a very real thing, and those successful Youtubers online really see this on a daily basis.
By the time the video went into "chill mode" (when a video stops gaining large amounts of views) it had earned over $20,000.
So again, I did what did any logical person would do and I repeated my process. The process that took over a year to perfect, was finally ready to scale.
From Broke to Full Time Flexer
I also say this as a joke. You hear all the time about those internet marketers that earn millions and buy lambos and flex online and I always make a joke out of them. This is not the proper way to run a business.
I had found my niche. A niche that would provide a pretty substantial return and at the same time would prove to only be a hobby of mine.
The thing is, all of the restless nights and sleep deprivation of constantly studying the algorithms, video topics, homework, and production was paying off monetarily.
Now, a typical paycheck from Youtube is around $10,000 - $12,000.
Again, I say this to let you know that this is a real thing that can be taken full time if you are willing to keep at it and put the work in.
So, with all of this knowledge in my head I can confidently tell you what I learned and how you can implement this towards your own channel.
Get the Audience to Click
Getting the audience to click your video is the first step to managing a thriving Youtube channel. This is done through clean, intriguing thumbnails.
Getting the Audience to STAY
Viewer retention is how long the viewer actually stays on your video. Youtube knows how long each viewer stays on your video, and this is how Youtube distinguishes great video from shitty ones. I use the tactic of anticipation, which is what I teach in my YouTube Domination course.
Getting the Audience to Engage
I use the tactic of controversy or opinions expressed in the video, to make a viewer comment, like, or subscribe to my channel. You can do the same.
Devouring the Souls of Your Enemy
No, I'm not joking about this one. You will have viewers who absolutely HATE your content..and that's okay. Keep in mind, a viewer who hits dislike is STILL a viewer (mwahaha). Let the naysayers and haters provide fuel to your Youtube strategy, and push forward to new topics and ideas.
Rinse and Repeat
When you find a video that does well, stick with it. Constantly revolve different topics around the same strategy that you used for that specific video. Your time will come for that 1 million views, and when it does, a fire will burn inside of you to create new and better content.
Thanks for tuning in to my TED Talk. Now, go build your dream channel.
Austen Alexander is an Active Duty Sailor, who posts weekly to YouTube. He is most popular for his challenge videos including Ms. Bikini Olympia and challenging U.S Marines to obstacle courses and races. Austen is the host of the Hot Mic Show with Austen Alexander podcast and continues to post fitness and lifestyle-related content to Instagram as well.