Can you be successful on YouTube?

Can you be successful on YouTube?

There has been thousands of YouTube channels that have achieved success on the platform but can anyone do it? If you are wondering whether you can be successful on YouTube then I’ve got some good and some bad news. The good news is that anyone, including you can be successful as long as you do the right things. The bad news is that to do well on YouTube there is a huge learning curve and it could take you years. This does of course depend on many factors including your definition of success. 

What does success look like to you? In reality, you are currently at point A and want to get to point B, but your thoughts on what success means dictates how far the distance is between them. 

For example, if your goal is to get 100 subscribers and you achieve that goal then you are successful but on the other end of that spectrum if success means that you have to have one million subscribers then you have either failed or are a work-in-progress. 

If you are not put off the idea of doing well on YouTube and still want to turn it into a part time, full time career or another stream of income then you will love the checklist below that dives deep into the things you will need to get right. 

Stage 1: The first two ingredients 

The first two ingredients required to do well on YouTube are passion and business. If your passion is business then you are excluded from this discussion but if you have a passion but don’t know how to market it, you are in trouble. 

The concept of YouTube is not much different from selling any product. Take a box of cereal for example, the person who came up with the idea for the flavour was likely passionate about creating tasty food but without the business side of it, the packaging never would have been made, without advertisement for the product there would be no sales. 

I believe strongly that any one with a passion can do well on Youtube but you will need to be willing to learn so that you can adapt your ways of thinking. If you have not yet found your passion but want to create content about multiple interests, you should watch this video on niche or generalise before continuing. 

Stage 2: Setting up your channel

  • Upload a profile picture that allows people to connect with you.
  • Create a cover photo that showcases who you are, what you stand for, when you upload and what to expect.
  • Write your about section, this is a great opportunity to share your story. You are sitting on a mountain of value, share that value and you can start to build a community around your channel.
  • Come up with a content strategy based on your niche. By researching lots of video ideas in advance you will be prepared. If the topic you choose is your true passion, it will be easy to come up with new video ideas and you should also consider how one video may lead the audience to watch the next.

Stage 3: YouTube algorithms

With YouTube there are multiple algorithms that work in different ways. The main ones are search and suggested and to get views on your videos you will need to know how to use both of these algorithms to your advantage. You may even want to choose to focus on just one of the algorithms depending on your strategy. 


To do well on the search algorithm you will need to understand a term called SEO which stands for search engine optimisation. In simple terms it means; optimising your video by using the right title, description, tags and thumbnail.

An advanced way to think about SEO is like this; link building, keyword research, closed captions, social media shares, traffic monitoring analysing and competitive analysis. If any of that sounds confusing it’s because it is and each segment will be a new thing that you will need to learn unless you hire an SEO expert which is far from ideal considering that YouTube is typically more of a long term success instead of an overnight win. 

If you use the right words for the title of your video and your audience use those same words and the competition is low, it is likely that your video will do well but optimising for search is almost impossible if you do not have a good thumbnail. 


Most views come from the suggested algorithm. Its when YouTube recommend your video after another video or when your video shows up on the sidebar.

Stage 4: Filming & Photography

This can be a straight forward process where you film yourself on your phone and be done with it. Most modern phones are pretty good at capturing high quality footage with great sound and a low aperture to capture good lighting even in poor lighting conditions. 

Recording on a mobile is a great place to start but eventually you should switch to a dedicated video camera or DSLR with 2-3 lights, a professional microphone, a tripod, and a few more pieces of kit that you are likely going to need. At first, you should get wrapped up in all of the equipment because the content is the most important but people who have done well on YouTube have typically had good equipment for filming and editing. Doing well on YouTube is a huge learning curve. Before or after filming make sure you take a photo that will be for your thumbnail. 

Stage 5: Editing 

I took a media course to learn the art of editing but there are plenty of videos on YouTube that will show you how to do it like an expert. 

A basic edit

Place video footage into software, cut out the parts you don’t want, add some sound effects and adjust volume, export and upload to YouTube. For the thumbnail take a screenshot from your video. 

A professional edit 

  • Edit audio in digital audio workstation (apply EQ to remove harsh sounds and boost to enhance, add compressor to lower the loud volume peaks, use a denoiser if needed to remove background noises picked up in recording, use automation to ensure volume is consistent, export audio and put into video editing software)
  • Synchronise the edited audio and video 
  • Export in high resolution and put into Recut software to automatically remove the silences. Add back into video editing software, create J cuts with audio and fade each audio clip to the first and last transient. 
  • Colour grade footage (Add colour wheels to fix the white balance, add another colour wheels to create a high dynamic range image, add another with a colour mask to adjust the skin tones using the vector-scope graph and boost saturation to add colour to image, add a film LUT, adjust saturation vs saturation to make the most saturated parts less saturated and the least saturated parts more saturated, add final colour wheels if needed to make final adjustments.) 
  • Create transitions between clips and add Zoom frame effects and jump cuts
  • Add b roll, animated text, sound effects, backing music, and ambience if needed. Adjust levels of all audio, watch the video back and ensure everything is smooth 
  • For the thumbnail, take a photo on set edit it and the background on adobe Lightroom to colour correct and grade then import into photoshop to enhance further and add glows, text and swap out the background if needed.

As you can see a lot is involved and what you put in to learning these things is what you will get back because you will notice your videos performing better. For editing on Mac the best video editing software is Final Cut Pro X, on windows you should go with either DaVinci resolve or adobe premier, and on the mobile it is difficult but can be done on apps found on the App Store but they do have limited functionality. To name a few; iMovie, Adobe Rush, Capcut, and Inshot.

Stage 6: Video engagement

YouTube measure video engagement metrics and calculate how long people watch your videos for. If the video is engaging and keeps the audience watching for longer than other videos they will recommend your video to an audience, if that audience watches a lot of the video, they will recommend again and again and this is typically what can make a video go viral. 

Checklist to make your video engaging 

  • Use props in your video
  • Use a hook at the beginning which clearly tells your audience how your video is going to help them do something.
  • Use storytelling (emotional is more gripping)
  • Don’t use long intros as people may skip past it. 
  • People have short attention spans so edit the video to cut every few seconds, you can cut to another angle, a different location, or you can use B roll which is footage that shows people what you are talking about. 
  • Be authentic
  • When editing you should cut out parts that are not engaging 
  • Record high quality audio, use sound effects, and backing music at the right volume.

Stage 7: Analyse the data 

Analysing the data can help you become successful because people often tell you in the comments section videos that they want you to make next, these recommendations likely do not exist on Youtube which is why they want you to make the video. 

Some other reasons why analysing the data can be useful is because once you have made several videos you can then look at how they performed, when people stopped watching, what parts people skipped, which videos are growing your audience and which videos are not doing well. With this data you can use it to create more videos that were successful and the ones that didn’t do well you can stop creating because your audience do not like it. 

You can use the data to create videos that generate more money, get more views and attract more subscribers. Another example of analysing the data is that if your video didn’t get many views but got lots of impressions, this likely means that there is a lot of competition for that type of video which would mean the best course of action is to find a more unique topic. 

Stage 8: Promoting on Social media

Within your video editing software you can edit the video to make it shorter and can change the aspect ratio of your long video to make it the right size for social media so that you can upload it as a Facebook reel, instagram reel and TikTok video. Doing this and sharing photo posts to your social media feed and stories will be a great way to create more brand awareness around your YouTube channel and promote your videos to a larger audience. 

Even if you are not active on those other platforms you may want to consider using them to cross promote so that you can get more eyeballs on your videos. 

Can you be successful on YouTube (Video)

Up next: How often should you post to Youtube

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