The stats for YouTube are mind-blowing. 5 billion videos are watched every day and 300 hours of content are uploaded every second. With millennials increasingly making YouTube their video entertainment medium of choice – it is near impossible to ignore for video advertisers and content producers.

YouTube’s success does not solely belong to its’ (at the time) revolutionary platform; the incredible content creators that call YouTube home are what drive the lion’s share of traffic. These partners have met with great success and to understand YouTube’s success, we must first understand the success of its partners in video.

Going Viral

While you may think the way to get the most views is to create a “viral” video. This is certainly not the case on YouTube over the long-term. Most viral videos (also called “one-hit-wonders”) don’t lead to a continuous stream of heightened views on succeeding content (hence the term “one-hit-wonder”). Most viral videos are a stroke of internet luck that catapults a seemingly average clip from an amateur content creator to stardom. This is great when the stars align, but is not really a component of most top YouTuber’s success.

The Top Content Model

To be at the top, a strong content model is necessary. Looking at some of YouTube’s top celebrity’s we can see that they all employ a similar process for their content. That is:

  • Find a repeatable content niche
  • Create high-quality video
  • Consistently schedule and deliver content

You may be thinking that this is an incredibly vague and high level list, and you would be right. Here are those components explained in depth:

Finding a Repeatable Content Niche

A content niche is a space in the video content scene that is not quite occupied. This means that your idea for video is different enough from everybody else’s that you are able to enter a new space without any direct competition. Top YouTuber’s had either entered the scene when little competition existed or had done their market research and realized that there was demand for a certain type of content that was going unfulfilled.

Being in a content niche is typically not enough, however, because content cycles move so quickly nowadays that just occasionally delivering good content is not good enough. The content niche that most top YouTuber’s occupy features a theme that allows for rapid content generation. For instance, gaming, which is the largest subsection of YouTube’s content, typically involves gameplay overlaid with commentary. This is a quick, low-budget content cycle that will continue to provide new ideas as long as video games are made. Which, for the foreseeable future, will continue indefinitely.

Creating High-Quality Video

Sloppy editing and a haphazard script aren’t going to cut it anymore. As the content bubble continues to grow: so does the technical quality of the material. With media editing tools and suite’s specifically aimed at catering to the lone content producer – windows movie maker just isn’t enough. A few years ago, it was quite rare for YouTubers to be editing and producing 4k or 1080p 60fps content. Fast forward to 2017 and it has largely become the norm. Why? Because people pay attention. Once quality trended upwards, it was no longer acceptable to have sketchy 480p media – the content could be good – but that type of quality just isn’t up to technical snuff.

Consistently Scheduling an Delivering Content

YouTube is starting to encroach on and replace [cable] T.V. for a global audience. This means that the same industry standards that are present in your T.V. programming are also expected for YouTube. When people consume standard T.V. they are aware of the time and the frequency of their shows. To accommodate an audience (almost everyone) that is used to consuming content in a short standard cycle via T.V.: it is imperative to maintain the same standard for YouTube content. It is for this reason that a great many channels provide a standardized publish schedule that keeps audiences coming back the same time each day.

It takes more than a viral video to be at the top of YouTube. The major pieces of a strong content model must be in place to have a consistently engaged audience coming back for more.