We recently discovered a channel on YouTube that hasn't published a video in nearly two years and yet in that time, it's been able to generate nearly $20,000 in revenue. How did we find this channel? Well, it was pretty easy, it's my very own channel. Oh yeah.
That's right folks, for those of you who don't know, I had a life before vidIQ, running my own YouTube tech channel called The Video Gadgets Journal.
Now I've already chronicled that part of my YouTube journey in the creative stories that we did here at vidIQ. However, what I haven't looked at is what happened when I stopped making videos on that channel. I started working for vidIQ full time in October of 2017 and I had ambitions of continuing to run my other channel as a hobby on the weekends and when I had time.
But let’s be honest, a YouTube channel is all-consuming and I absolutely love what I do here in serving you the community. So I made the decision six months into my time with vidIQ to stop making videos on the Video Gadgets Journal. I simply didn't have time and I was worried that I was just going to burn out. And you know what? After 450,000 subscribers and over 30 million views, I think I made the right choice.
I am as passionate as ever about what I do here at vidIQ. But just because I stopped making videos for my channel, didn't mean I killed it dead. Because you see, for a lot of YouTube channels, they act like massive oil tankers in the sea. They are very slow to get moving and finding traction, so building up an audience, finding those first 100 subscribers, 1,000 subscribers, monetizing your content, it can take months, years.
For me, I was running my channel for about six to seven years. But when you stop making content, it doesn't mean that all of sudden those views stop. Those pieces of content are on YouTube forever and if people still want to watch them, they will do, even from the very first video that was published on YouTube. And you know what that means? Passive income.
Generate Passive Income on YouTube with Evergreen Content
Now to give you a little bit of background on what the Video Gadgets Journal did, it was a tech educational channel, where I showed people how to use mobile phones, and record iPhone screens in particular. It was essentially evergreen content. So what happens to a channel with content such as this when you go cold turkey? You might expect a channel to suffer a decline when there isn't a single piece of new content being published. But astonishingly, for almost a year, the channel maintained its traction. And whilst the decline has been steady throughout 2019, I'm astonished to discover that still, over 7,000 viewers a day find my years old content useful and relevant today.
First of all, just how cool is YouTube? The opportunity to upload content for free to the internet and then have people watch that content years into the future. Second of all, my old channel represents the power of search and suggested content when you are making evergreen videos. I made these videos to hopefully serve a user base for current technology. That technology is now two, three, four years old and yet people are still finding my videos at the top of the search rankings and watching this content.
It also speaks to how all of the work, effort, energy, and resources put into creating YouTube videos is front-loaded. You spend an intense number of days and hours to create the video and then once it's out there on YouTube, it can generate metrics, audience, community, and income for you for years to come.
So how does all of this translate into cash? Well, let's take a look. Without publishing a single video, for almost two years, and just relying on the content that's already on my channel, the Video Gadgets Journal has made over $19,000 in ad revenue alone.
Now the distribution of that income is fascinating in itself. In the second half of 2018, despite views staying stagnant, income doubled, supporting the eternal truth that advertisers spend most of their budgets during the holiday season.
And then, of course, you have the typical January slump, whether or not you're making content, you will always suffer from this. So my advice is if you do want to take a break at any time of the year on YouTube, January is your best bet. Ironically, we made a video all about this last year in January.
It is inevitable with the erosion of time that my channel will continue to bleed views and in the revenue. But I am utterly astonished that the channel has held up this well. I literally haven't touched anything on The Video Gadgets Journal in over 600 days and yet in that time, it has generated enough income to pay the rent.
The Power of Evergreen Content on YouTube
I've already explained some of the reasons why a YouTube channel can sustain itself in the broader sense, even if it's not pushing out any content. However, I think there are some subtle reasons why my Video Gadgets Journal channel is sustaining its life, even though it is currently moth-balled and this what I think they are.
I have already mentioned this concept dozens of times on the vidIQ channel, but it does bear repeating. Evergreen content, especially for search based educational channels, is the elixir of life. It is really difficult to establish yourself as evergreen content, but once you're there, it's incredibly difficult to shift you. Evergreen content is like when you're playing a video game and you're on an undefeated streak of some kind, and the game starts rewarding you with multiplying bonuses that just keep going and going and going.
And the reason I know evergreen content is so valuable to a channel is because I've repeated this success on the vidIQ channel.
We’ve created many videos on how to delete a YouTube video, how to add subtitles to your video, how to create a playlist, how to hide your subscriber account, etc but thanks to the new creative studio, the way you do them has completely changed. And throughout 2019, we have been systematically working our way through a big list of beginners guides for the new YouTube creative studio. And you can see the results, vidIQ's tutorials on these topics have positioned themselves at the very top of the search rankings.
Now as of time of recording, both the classic creative studio and new creative studio can be accessed by video creators. But when YouTube turn off access to the creative studio, all of those old tutorials on the classic studio will be obsolete, leaving our new studio tutorials ready to clean up. All of these new creative studio evergreen pieces of content follow a similar analytical journey.
It is not uncommon for evergreen content to tank very quickly after its launch. It's usually not a sexy topic, and only a small number of people may be searching for the keyword, but the power of evergreen content is that the same number of people will likely be searching for the term tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. And if your video delivers the value the expected audience wants, this is what can happen. Almost as many views per day as the day the video was launched.
This has been our side project throughout 2019, creating simple tutorials to do important things in the new YouTube creative studio. As you can see, some videos have been more successful than others, but each and every one of them is still getting views today and fingers crossed, those should be guaranteed views for years to come.
I followed this evergreen strategy more loosely with my old channel too, the idea being to create tutorials for mobile phones and screen recording tips for iOS devices. And today, those videos are still getting 10, maybe 20 views per hour. So the evidence is pretty clear and well-proven. Evergreen content will help sustain your channel in the long term, as demonstrated by videos like this:
Long-form Evergreen Video: The Key to Success
But we're already established that breaking into evergreen topics can be really difficult. So how do you make your content more desirable to your audience and to YouTube so that you find yourself at the top of the search rankings? Can you spot the common thread that ties all of these successful videos together? They're all long-form tutorial guides, often over 10 minutes, and they go above and beyond what most of the videos on the topic deliver.
When it comes to educational and tutorial content, generally, the viewer wants an answer to their question as quickly and efficiently as possible. So what I decided to do was give them every answer to every question they had, and essentially become the best in class for mobile phone tutorial content. Now of course, this didn't always work, there are many videos that I made that never got the evergreen traction. But those that did have stood the test of time.
As you will well know, if you are part of the YouTube partner program, the longer the video, the more advertising you can plaster around the video and inside the video, so that not only do these evergreen videos get loads of views, but they also get huge dollops of watch time and ad revenue.
Now if you're a regular visitor to vidIQ, you will have heard me talk about this concept many times in the past. I feel like it bears repeating here because now I've got $20,000 of ad revenue to back this up - make content that works for your channel. The metrics are there, YouTube is telling you what works for your audience, and if you ignore it, then shame on you.
Even though the channel is dormant, thanks to vidIQ's channel audit tool, the data is still as clear as day. Views per hour, subscribers gained, total watch time, average watch time, all the metrics point to a strategy that works. So repeat that strategy.
A lot of people hate this idea of being pigeon holed into one particular niche on YouTube. But the way I see it is that YouTube has decided that you are the ambassador, the educator, the thought leader, the authority on a particular topic on YouTube and it wants to take the audience that is interested in that topic and serve them to your content. And it's all done for free. How cool is that?
And as proven, I've been able to take this concept and apply it to YouTube education with vidIQ. Those video creators with the talent will embrace this idea and take it wherever they want to with the topics they want to share with an audience. As I said at the top of this video, this success didn't happen overnight. It took me years to formulate that video strategy. But it is right now the reason, you are watching a vidIQ video with me in it, whilst I'm earning money passively from a channel I haven't touched in almost two years.
But here's one huge caveat about everything I've told you. It's all very nice earning this passive income. But relatively speaking, it is a tiny amount of the potential money you could earn from your YouTube channel. Once you factor in other YouTube tools, such as memberships and super chats, and then the things that you can do outside of YouTube, such a brand deals, sponsorships, you can earn many multiples of that icing on the cake ad revenue.
In many respects, ad revenue is the least reliable source of income for YouTube channels because at any point, YouTube could flick a switch, or advertisers moods could change. And that will leave you out of pocket. Don't get me wrong, I am extremely grateful for the millions of views that channel has generated and indeed the ad revenue. But it wouldn't sustain me in a full-time position on YouTube. And that's where vidIQ came in. The opportunity to turn my hobby, my passion, into a career.
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