Dan got his start on YouTube in August of 2011, recording gameplay videos as a fun hobby while attending school for video production. Joining the vidIQ team in 2020 allowed Dan to combine his hobby and professional talents to now help others grow their own YouTube channels.
YouTube Gamers: How to Get Your First 1000 Subscribers
Are you a new YouTube gaming channel that’s excited to generate your first 1000 subscribers? If you’ve read our post on how to get your first 100 subscribers as a YouTube gaming channel, you’ll know it’s going to take strategy and focus.
In particular, it's the the focus on the games you’re covering, and the way you’re covering them. In this post, I’ll share 5 ways to stay focused as you reach for that 1,000 subscriber goal on your gaming channel.
#1 Understand Channel Success on YouTube: Watch Time & Subscribers
What’s the average length of the gaming content you are uploading to YouTube right now? It’s important to know that because of YouTube Watch Time. The reason 1,000 subscribers is such a coveted goal is because it is one of the requirements you need before YouTube will allow you to monetize your channel. The other is that your channel must have generated 4,000 hours of Watch Time.
If you want to earn money from Adsense on YouTube then you must reach both of these goals. If you want more advice on how to do that, here’s a very handy video we created that takes a deep dive into both metrics:
If you’re uploading hours and hours of gameplay to YouTube you may think that building Watch Time couldn’t be easier. However, this isn’t always the case.
YouTube is measuring your channel based on the amount of time a viewer sticks around and watches your content. The reason I love this metric so much is because it is YouTube's way of sating "Okay, people sat through the majority of your video. This must mean your video is entertaining and because of that, we are going to push it more."
Simply making your gameplay video 10 minutes longer than it probably needs to be doesn't mean you're going to get 10 extra minutes of Watch Time from each person who watches it. And that's the very reason you'll hear me stress quality over quantity every single time.
If you upload daily but you’re only getting two minutes of audience retention on your 20-minute gameplay videos that send a less positive to YouTube. Longer videos don’t always equate longer Watch Time. You have got to put in the work.
#2 Create Quality Long-Form Gaming Content
Not every video is going to be able to be 20 minutes long and have people click on it and watch the entire thing. However, there are plenty of other videos that would make good long-form content.
You could do a listicle of perhaps the top 10 ‘Cities: Skylines’ mods. During that listicle, you could cover each one in detail and that itself could be a pretty long video, but still jam-packed full of valuable information.
In "Cities: Skylines" you could also cover the best strategies for setting up your road network so you don't cause a bunch of traffic jams. Videos like this that go into detail, or offer up multiple strategies offer the viewer enough that they might just watch the whole thing:
Always consider your audience when you're making the content that you make. Consider what you would like to watch and what amount of time you'd be willing to sit through a video.
#3 Create the Highest Quality Content You Can
If the actual quality of your videos has been a problem for a while, it's going to be a bit tougher to increase that Watch Time and reach 1,000 subscribers without first investing in your equipment.
And the first upgrade that any YouTuber should be looking at is, of course, a microphone. Invest in a good sound setup because people like to hear nice crisp audio. I use an AT2020 Condenser mic, which I really love. I also recommend the Blue mics such as Blue Snowball, and Blue Yeti. Microphones are not as expensive as you would think so it’s worth splashing out on them.
Other than microphones, if you're still recording using software that comes with a watermark, it's probably time to upgrade that too. Luckily for you, programs like OBS and Streamlabs OBS are free screen-capturing tools that record at a very high quality and just about anyone can learn how to use them.
Another software recommendation I have when it comes to recording would be Nvidia Shadowplay. If you have an Nvidia graphics card, check and see if it's compatible with Nvidia Shadowplay. It'll record your screen for you off the video card. The recordings are high-quality and the software is very customizable.
#4 Start Building Your Community as Soon as Possible
On your way to 1,000 subscribers, you should be looking to build your community as soon as you can. You've probably already started doing this by answering comments that you're getting on your videos, and if you're not doing that, I would really recommend you start today.
Comments are a fantastic way to engage with your audience and get feedback on how your videos are doing, and how your viewers enjoying them - or not.
Before you reach 1,000 subscribers, you should really be focusing on growth within your YouTube channel itself. You could worry about Discord or social media later on, but at the start don't get too wrapped up in managing a lot of different community platforms. This is going to take time away from making high-quality content and engaging with the audience already engaging with you in the comment section of your YouTube videos.
This engagement is important because people are subscribing to your channel because of you. You are the star of your channel. They may have clicked on one of your videos for the first time ever because you addressed a need that they had in a game they were playing, but they subscribe because they had a connection with you.
And after they hit subscribe, I would recommend keeping them coming back by setting up a content schedule. You don't necessarily even have to make a public announcement that you've set up a schedule. Just upload consistently. If people know where to find your videos, they're going to come back on a regular basis and watch.
I would also recommend looking at what types of videos you post. Perhaps you just do ‘let's plays’ on a Monday. And then tutorials or reviews on a Wednesday.
These may be strategies you're already experimenting with at this time and you're probably going to keep experimenting even after you reach 1,000 subscribers. I would at least hope so. As you get closer and closer to 1,000 though, I would look to tip the scale a little bit.
When you start YouTube you're probably going to be experimenting 80% of the time, and uploading regular content that people are used to seeing all the time the other 20% of the time.
But as you start to learn more and more the types of videos people enjoy coming back to on your channel and you're doubling down on that content, you want that scale to tip closer to 80% of the time doing those regular videos and 20% of the time experimenting. As YouTubers, no matter who you are, you should always be experimenting and trying to do different things to stay versatile and grow your channel.
#5 Create Gaming Content That You're Passionate About
However, as your audience grows, it's not necessary to experiment so heavily. We are VidIQ, so we do talk a lot about growth, and strategy, and numbers, and that's all very exciting. And I'm not discouraging that at all. But don't forget why people start YouTube channels in the first place.
It's very likely that they have a passion for something and YouTube just happens to be the platform where they feel most comfortable sharing that passion. In my case, that passion happened to be playing video games. Hypothetically speaking, if I start a channel all about city building games like "Cities: Skylines," it's more than likely because I feel I'm pretty good at "Cities: Skylines" and I have a lot to share, and I want to show people new ways to play the game.
The point is the goal of creating the channel wasn't to get rich and famous, it was to share my passion with an audience. So keep track of those numbers and celebrate the milestones every step of the way.
But never forget that your YouTube channel is about you and the subject matter that you're covering. The reason it's so important to stress that is because as you make a content schedule, you may get into territory where you start to burn yourself out a little bit. And as a gamer, I've done this too. I was on a good trajectory and things were awesome, and I didn't want to stop uploading, even though I was starting to feel a little burnt out as a creator.
I was editing a lot and recording a lot, and I was getting tired, but my schedule was Monday, Wednesday, Friday so I had to upload on those days. This isn't a healthy habit to get into because you're worried about the numbers too much at this stage. Just remember quality over quantity every time. Your audience will understand if you need to take a break along the way.
Getting 1,000 subscribers is super exciting, but it doesn't all happen at once, unless you have some kind of a viral success. So to recap, quality over quantity. This can happen by upgrading your setup. Build your community, make that content schedule. Most importantly practice good, healthy habits. Do not burn out making a gaming channel because I can tell you from experience, it's easy to do.
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