How I reached 1.5 Million views on YouTube in 18 months

How I reached 1.5 Million views on YouTube in 18 months

My story as a content creator in Covid times


12 min read

Starting from (almost) nothing

It's April 2020. The world slowed down and closed down within a few weeks only. Everyone was scared and unsure about the future. Me too. I just upgraded my internet connection to a Gigabit contract and was planning on using it again for creating content. I used to make videos, I used to stream daily on Twitch. I had amazing growth back then. But I fell ill and lost access to the internet connection I used to use and was stuck with a terrible 4G/LTE connection I had to pay per data volume. (When living in Germany, always check the internet availability before you move!)

But here I was now. I had fast internet and while the world was standing still, I felt the energy to conquer the world. I was starving to make content and I finally could and it felt like I had all the time in the world. My channel had been sitting inactive for three years and was about to lose the partnership privileges for not reaching the required numbers of 4.000 hours of watch time in the past year.

On top, I had switched my target group to an English audience and kind of abandoned my German community or rather invited them to carry over to the English community. A choice I do not regret, but also a choice that made the way that was before me rocky and difficult.

Planning - No reason to fail now

I didn't know how to start exactly, because I had a channel that had collected 1300 subscribers in the past but it was a mix of all the games I have had played since 2013. Nothing that would represent me anymore in 2020. On top - it was in German. My community wasn't mainly German anymore.

I made a completely new channel in English with the main focus on the game I played since 2015. I had collected a lot of knowledge and wanted to share it with players of the game and also educate new players about game mechanics.

I uploaded a few videos and the doubt started to become bigger. Why should I restart? Why not use a channel that already had 1300 subscribers and was still (even when barely) partnered. I published a few videos on English on the channel and failed completely. Of course, I did. My audience was German and if there is one thing true about Germans - they highly dislike another German making content that is not in German. The hate I got was real and I was almost demotivated to continue. Almost.

If you need to know something about me, then it is that I am very stubborn. Too stubborn to give up when I see obstacles. So putting my big girl pants on, I made a decision that would be the future strategy of my content creation. I would have two channels that publish the same content. One in my mother tongue German, one in English. Technically twice the work, yes. But I often just needed to redo the voiceover and that would give me two videos.

April-December 2020 - If you want to be successful, treat it like a job

From April to December I used every free minute to learn about YouTube. Since my last real attempt to do content was in 2016, I had to keep up with the changes on the platform. YouTube changes almost yearly and making content like 2016 wouldn't bring me far in 2020. I learned that the production quality on YouTube is insanely high. While roughly cut Let's Play Videos worked pretty well back then, YouTubers had to become semi-professional editors, animators, graphic designers, and entertainers or educators.

Another point where I could have given up because that was a lot I had to learn. I didn't. Instead, I did research. I spend a lot of time on YouTube itself. I followed educational channels about content creation. I also entered communities about education for content creators. I treated it like a class for school or training for a job.

In about Fall 2020 I finished my first self-made video animations, I did several graphic design courses. I finished a course in "Professional Voiceover" and "Public Speaking". I also later finished a course in "Story Telling" and refreshed my "Professional Writing" skills. I did not want to fail because I was not prepared.

Entering YouTube Partner Program

In December I could see the first big results. I had secured the YouTube partnership on my German channel and only in about six months actively filling my English channel, I already reached partnership requirements there as well and got approved in the first week of 2021. The English channel finished with a little over 1000 subscribers. The German channel had reached 2500. A number I would never have thought was possible for a channel that had been sitting at 1000-1300 subscribers since 2013.

YouTube Partner Program

Entering 2021 - I had no idea where to go from here

Entering 2021 felt weird. I had an extremely successful year behind me. I had reached more than I would have expected to reach. I didn't know what would wait for me. I enjoyed every minute I could work on videos or research for videos.

The world was still in a state of uncertainty and I decided to continue just the way I stopped in December. Treating it like a job, as a profession, and not as a cute hobby. One thing I did not take seriously enough in 2020 was self-organization. I made videos when I felt like it. Sometimes I would take breaks over several weeks, cause I had no ideas. Sometimes I would publish videos twice a day. I was lacking consistency and I was lacking a direction.

I started using Notion as my content creation calendar. I collected video ideas in there, sorted them by priority, and made a plan on how to publish videos, especially in which frequency.

Whatever people tell you, planning has been the key in 2021. Planning was the thing that kept me running.

ARK Shadowmane

Spring 2021 - I defeated myself

Spring felt weird. I always saw my German channel as the "big" channel and my English channel as the "small" channel but in spring my English channel got picked up by the YouTube algorithm for the first time. I gained 1200 subscribers in only eight weeks. Something that took me 8 months before.

I suddenly felt like I defeated myself. I felt like my German channel wasn't doing well enough because it got ignored by the algorithm despite having the same content. How could that be? Looking back that was the wrong thinking but I just didn't understand what was happening.

That could have been another point of being demotivated and giving up. But yet again - I didn't. I tried to learn more about the algorithm. How it works, how it treats content and channels. Why do sudden boosts happen? Turned out. My English channel was lucky.

Summer 2021 - I defeated myself yet again but got out as a winner this time

In Summer the thing happened that I wouldn't have thought would be possible. My German channel also got boosted by the algorithm. While the English one did get a little boost a few weeks earlier - the German channel got the full-blown community attention. During the summer, the German channel grew from 3300 to 8900 subscribers.

This time I knew what was happening and I was finally able to celebrate it. At the end of 2020, I had set some shy goals for the next year. I wanted my German channel to grow to at least 5000 subscribers and my English one to 2000. That would have been linear to the growth I had before. Back then I felt anxious even making these goals. What if I wouldn't reach them? In Fall I knew I didn't have to worry at all.

ARK Abberation

Winter 2021 - Where do we go from here?

And here we are. Winter 2021. To be precise it's the end of December. The year is almost over and I can look back on another full year of content creation. I am yet again at the point where I don't really know where I will be next year at this time. I set myself some new shy goals but not as shy that I would reach them in the middle of the year.

I will not go as unprepared into the next year as I did last year. I have a new project waiting that will take a little time away from my channels but that I am really looking forward to and if I am completely honest - I still learn the whole self-organization thing, better time planning, and making better use of my time altogether. So it might not even take time away but just fill the void, I used to fill with useless procrastination.

I am sitting here now with 1.5 Million views I gathered on both channels combined since coming back to create content and it's a number I can't even grasp. But it feels good knowing "I did that".

Some general words of advice if you want to enter content creation

If you want to be successful in something, treat it like a job and not like an accidental lucky hit

I can't repeat this often enough. Yes, there will always be lucky creators that suddenly show up and take over the world. What you don't see is, that most of them worked hard to make it look lucky. Most of them were not lucky but had a good plan in their head how to reach what they reached.

Don't wait for some outside influence to take over your fate. You will wait forever. Take things into your own hands and build your own future. On my way, I have seen a lot of content creators that did not do anything that would have helped them and that would blame other people for their failure.

"I don't get viewers because there are girls on the platform too and everyone just watches them and not me. It's easy when you are a girl"

Leave stuff like that in the past year. No one needs to hear this 2022. If you want to be successful work for it and don't blame others because you didn't do anything yourself.

Numbers are your friend and not your enemy

Numbers and statistics are SO important on your way. I always get anxious when content creators tell new people entering the field to ignore numbers. It is SO crucial to know and understand your performance when you want to grow.

What you should keep in mind is - numbers do not represent your value as a human. Never see numbers like that. Not when they are low and also not when they are high. They just represent the demand and position of your content. Good content can have low numbers because it hasn't been discovered yet. Bad content can have high numbers because it was very clickbaity.

See every dip in numbers as a learning experience. Try to find out why it happened, how you can improve it for the next time. Treat spikes the same. Why did they happen and how can you reproduce them. Numbers are the best and most neutral feedback you can get. Understand them!

Have a plan and stick to it. If it doesn't work, adjust it

Have a concept planned. Don't make videos that are all over the place. Have an idea of what you want to create and what to represent. But if that doesn't work and the feedback to your content is much different and more negative than what you would have expected, don't be afraid to make adjustments.

Make a content plan, make a calendar. Preplan as much as you can but be able to react to changes. If one video goes through the roof, try to be able to react to it and replan content.

You can't make everyone happy and you will lose people on the way

No matter how good you prepare your content and how well thought through it is - you can't make everyone happy because some people actively decide against happiness as soon as they start their computer. Since I am in the education field in gaming, I will connect with a lot of people who will go with the wrong expectations in my tutorials and will be unhappy realizing how complicated some things are. Sometimes they also spend the whole day in other tutorials and just try to find the one that tells them, everything is easy and they don't have to put any effort into it.

One thing that I also had to realize is that people who used to connect to you will stop doing that once you gather a little success. You can't avoid that people will start seeing you differently and maybe don't want to hang out anymore. On the other hand, some people just realize you exist because you gather a little bit of attention. Prepare for both. Look out for those who just show up, when things are going really well for you.

Progress is more important than the number goals

While I do set myself number goals, they are not important. It is important to go forward and as long as it goes forward, you're doing the right thing. Sure you can min-max from here, but don't make my mistake being unhappy with slow growth when slow growth is growth. Don't make yourself feel miserable about success. While you have control over a lot - YouTube is still a factor you cannot predict. Neither in a positive nor a negative way.

Try it if you want it - Get out of the "soon" trap

If you want to start content creation - do it. Do it now. There is no point in waiting until "you are ready" or "the time is right". Waiting does not give you the experience needed. Waiting is wasting time you could use for learning. Make mistakes, learn from them, adjust. That's how everyone did it.

Some words at the end

While this blog article is talking about a Gaming channel, I kept it as neutral as possible, because no matter what content you do - my advice can be applied to other content as well. It doesn't matter what your niche is. There will be an audience for you - sometimes bigger sometimes smaller but there will be an audience for sure.

You can tell that I had a lot of points in my journey where I could have given up but didn't. Going on and being too stubborn to fail will get you further than those who get demotivated easily. Take this as your strength.

I wish you the best for your content creator journey in 2022. I believe in you!