10 fundamentals of a creative strategy
We’ve worked with many creators over the years, and along the way, they’ve shared with us common creative strategies that helped them develop great videos and build a loyal community. We call these the “10 Fundamentals”—which we’ve grouped in three buckets: Get viewers; Keep viewers happy; and Keep yourself happy. See how you can put these strategies into practice for your channel.
Attracting those initial viewers is the foundation of success on YouTube. It takes ongoing effort, but there are several characteristics you can apply to forming your new audience: Targeting, Discoverability, Accessibility, Collaboration, and Shareability.
It’s often helpful to target a niche audience that is currently underserved by content on YouTube. Viewers in these communities love seeing videos they can relate to, so try tailoring your content to a specific community. Here are some ways to do this:
- Target audience at the channel level. For example, a gaming channel might be devoted entirely to players of a specific game.
- Target audience at the video level. You may decide to create videos for a certain demographic, such as parents or teenagers.
- Target an underserved audience. Some audiences get less representation in other media; they may come to YouTube to find community.
YouTube is one of the most-used search engines in the world. Think about how your channel can appeal to people based on their search queries. Some suggestions:
- Build trending topics into your videos. Design your content in a way that it ties into trending topics in news or pop culture. You can use resources such as Google Trends or Twitter Trends.
- Make constant content. Create videos that answer everyday questions or solve common “how to” issues, such as home improvement or beauty tips.
- Be an optimization wizard. See our lesson on search and discovery to learn what can give your videos more exposure across YouTube.
When making new videos, consider that not everyone will have seen your previous videos. Your latest work might be the first thing they’ve ever seen from you. You can improve the accessibility of your content in several ways:
- Don’t tie each video to the last one. Try designing videos so they make sense on their own without knowing the backstory.
- Show a brief recap of the situation. If appropriate, create an intro sequence to provide the audience context on what they’re watching.
- Make a strong call to action pointing to other videos. Let viewers know in cards or end screens how to find related content on your channel.
Collaborating is one of the fastest ways to build an audience on YouTube, and to build relationships inside the vibrant and active community of creators. Here are some tips for doing collaborations:
- Build a “guest slot” into your format. You can design your format in a way that makes it easy and logical to have guest creators drop in. Interview shows are the most common example.
- Reach out to creators who fit. Try to find creators in your genre or niche who serve a similar audience or have similar interests as you. That way, these viewers are more likely to stay with you.
- Take good care of your guests. It helps to feature guests prominently and in a positive light. If they’re proud of the video, they’re more likely to cross-promote it.
Sharing videos can be powerful because people are discovering you from the people they trust the most—their friends and family. Some tips to be shareable:
- Be topical. When a news story is breaking or something is trending, you can join the conversation by crafting a video about it with your perspective.
- Be relatable. Try striking a chord with viewers on a subject they can relate to, whether it’s something funny or serious.
- Be valuable. See how you can provide practical value to viewers. For example, can you make a tutorial video that would be truly helpful?
- You may have multiple shows that cater to different audiences.
- Do research to spot trending topics in news and social media.
- Consider whether new viewers need context to understand your videos.
- Try to be clear and specific when pitching a collab to another creator.
- Don’t be shy about sharing your unique talent or skills with the world.
See it in action
TargetingChannels can grow more quickly when they connect with passionate communities by targeting content.
DiscoverabilityDiscoverable content can take many forms. People may look for trending topics or always popular content.
AccessibilityConsider making videos that are open to new viewers as well as providing context for new viewers.
CollaborationCollabs provide great opportunities to expose your content to new viewers who likely enjoy what you do.
ShareabilityWhen you’re thinking about video ideas, ask yourself whether each concept feels compelling enough to share.
Keep viewers happy
The people watching your videos really matter. When you keep your viewers satisfied, you can gain more watch time and subscribers. Here are some strategies you can use: Conversation, Interactivity, and Consistency.
YouTube is an incredibly social platform. Conversation is an effective way to bond with your fans so they return. Here are some strategies to be conversational:
- Talk to the audience in your main videos. You may have a dialogue with your viewers throughout your videos, or only in portions of them.
- Talk to the audience in separate uploads. If you don’t want to vlog all the time, consider making supplemental videos to check in with viewers, say thanks, or respond to comments.
- Be authentic. It should feel like a conversation because it is. For full effect, try communicating in a real, honest, and genuine tone.
One of the unique advantages of making content on YouTube is that you can give the audience the chance to participate in what you make. Here are a few examples:
- Ask the audience questions directly. You can respond to their answers in comments or in a subsequent video.
- Ask the audience to submit ideas for future videos. If you use someone’s idea, consider giving them a shout-out.
- Incorporate viewer submissions. You may include fan video clips (with their permission) in a special video.
Top creators often speak about the importance of consistency—whether it’s consistent formats, branding elements, personalities, or upload schedules. Consider these options:
- Package your show format clearly. Try coming up with a well-branded idea that can sustain interest over multiple episodes.
- Upload on a regular schedule. Consider publishing videos on a certain day, and communicate this to your audience.
- Feature a consistent personality. It’s often helpful to have a likeable and charismatic person who is the face of your channel.
- Even scripted narrative content can be conversational.
- You can also interact with fans via polls and community posts.
- Think about how new show ideas fit with your channel’s voice and tone.
See it in action
ConversationBeing conversational is an effective way to strengthen your relationship with your fans.
InteractivityInteractive content gives your audience a chance to participate in what you create.
ConsistencyConsistency is effective because it instills a sense of familiarity and expectation among fans.
Keep yourself happy
Happiness plays a key role in nurturing creativity for new videos and longevity on the platform. To keep yourself happy as a creator over the long term, try paying attention to your Inspiration and Sustainability.
You’ll want your videos to be seen as authentic—and this comes naturally if you’re truly inspired and devoted to something. Here are some ways to find inspiration:
- Make note of what you love to watch. Think about what you enjoy from TV, movies, or YouTube and consider making videos on topics you love.
- Iterate based on what you most enjoy. Try different formats and observe what audiences like best. See how you can align viewers’ interests with your passions.
- Avoid producing videos just because you think they’ll be popular. In the long run, creating videos you don’t want to make will most likely lead to frustration.
When you’ve found something you enjoy that resonates with your audience, your goal is to maintain that interest over time. Here are some ways to be sustainable:
- Think light and nimble. Try producing in a way that takes less time and labor. Typically, lightweight productions are easier to sustain.
- Be realistic. Understand what resources you need to produce your videos. Consider how often you intend to add new content to your channel.
- Know what’s next. Have a plan for what you’ll deliver to your audience after you stop with the current format or series.
- Brainstorm ideas that are true to your brand (or your company’s brand).
- Try recording several videos in one day to maximize resources.
- Take care of yourself! Focusing on your well-being is key to being sustainable on YouTube.
See it in action
How conversational are your videos?Try it now
Does your content promote interactivity?Try it now
Gauge your viewers’ reaction to your videos: use the Comments and Likes and Dislikes reports to track how much your viewers are interacting with your videos. You can also download these reports and compare the number of comments and likes/dislikes to the daily views to understand interactivity on a per-view basis.
Can you sustain your series?Try it now
Look at your upload frequency. Do you feel you can keep up with the current release schedule? Experiment with different upload schedules and monitor subscriber engagement through the Traffic sources report in YouTube Analytics.
Can you continue interacting with your most-engaged subscribers?Try it now
Moderate comments in one place -- it’s easier than ever to respond to commenters across all your videos.
How many subscribers are you adding per view?Try it now
Use the Subscribers report in YouTube Analytics to see how many new subscribers you’re adding to your channel every day, and compare that to the daily views you’re getting on your channel. Look for increases in new subscribers per view and find out what led to those changes.
How do you measure the impact from a collaboration?Try it now
Download the Subscribers report in YouTube Analytics. Calculate the average new daily subscribers for a period of time before your collaboration video was published; then compare that number to the actual daily subscribers you received every day after the collaboration. The difference between the two numbers is a rough estimate of the number of new subscribers your collaboration generated.
How do I know which blogs and social media sites are sharing my videos?Try it now
Use the Traffic sources and Playback locations reports to understand which blogs and social media sites are driving traffic to your videos. In the Traffic sources report, look at the traffic that is coming from “External websites.” In Playback locations, look at the sites that are driving traffic from “Embedded player.” In both cases, you should consider reaching out to the sites listed in these reports to feature your future videos.