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365 Days of Building a Software Developer Channel on YouTube

claudiobernasconi profile image Claudio Bernasconi Originally published at claudiobernasconi.ch ・9 min read

It is almost a year since I uploaded the first video to my YouTube channel in December 2018. Considering the 40+ hours I put in for my first video, it is safe to say that I started working on my YouTube channel more than a year ago.

In this article, I am going to share the insights I gained from growing my channel from zero, how my channel growth in the last 12 months was, and what the future of the channel will be.

My YouTube channel

If you want to think about starting your own YouTube channel, or if you are interested in taking a look behind the curtains, this is for you.

How it all got started

The first video took me a lot of time to create. I worked on and off for about three weeks for my first video. Eventually, I uploaded my first video titled Introduction to Dependency Injection in C# on December 14th, 2018.

About a year later, I think it is time to share my thoughts about the success or failure of the channel and what I learned about creating a YouTube channel from nothing during the last year.

I wrote about the first few weeks up to three months of my YouTube channel earlier this year on my blog. You might want to read that article first to get a detailed overview of how and why I started my YouTube channel.

After being half a year on YouTube and having uploaded my 10th video by the end of June 2019, I wrote another article highlighting the experience and the statistics of my channel after being active for six months.

It was also the time that I switch from Adobe Premiere Pro CS 6 to DaVinci Resolve 15 for editing my videos. Later this year, I updated DaVinci Resolve to the most recent version 16 release.

I am delighted with the choice I made. You can read a lot about why and how I changed the video editing tool in another article I wrote in June.

A planned and an unplanned break

I always had in mind that I want to slow down during the Summer months. Summer is pretty short where I live, and I want to get the most out of it when it is there.

I like outdoor activities a lot and most sports I do require me to go outside. It is unnecessary to say that activities like cycling, running, inline skating or walking, all are much more fun when the weather is warm and sunny.

I also planned a 5-week trip to the west coast of the United States starting at the end of September until the end of October. What I forget is that a 5-week journey needs to be planned and structured in advance.

Because I decided to organize everything myself, I had to put in the work to plan the route, book hotels and a rental car, make sure everything with the flight and the immigration will work smoothly, etc. It was a lot more work than I expected.

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, UT

Delicate Arch, Arches National Park, UT

To be fair to myself, this is/was my first longer trip to a foreign country in my life, and I learned a lot not only during the vacation but also while preparing for it.

Right before leaving for the United States, I decided to build an electric standing desk for my workplace. I will share this exciting journey soon. If you don’t want to miss out on this beautiful new setup, follow me on Twitter, where I will share all about it soon.

In the end, what was planned to be a 6-week summer break and a five-week vacation in Autumn became glued together to a 4-month break, including vacation preparation from July till the end of October.

Hint: Don’t beat yourself up, if real life happens, and you need to take a break from YouTube. Nonetheless, come back strong after that break and continue to produce as much content as you can.

Getting back on track

After coming back from the United States, I got back into video production mode. I created and uploaded my 11th video about How to Create HTTP Requests in .NET Core in early November 2019.

I plan to produce and upload two or three more videos before the end of the year. Most likely, this will require me to put in more work than I wanted before Christmas – but if you would like to reach your goals, you have to put in the work they say.

The channel growth

The last detailed report about my channel was at the 6-month mark. I had accumulated around 450 hours of watch time, and I had 200 subscribers on my channel.

At the time of writing this article, I just passed the 500 subscriber mark, and the accumulated watch time in the last 365 days is about 1400 hours.

Watch time per day (in hours) over the last 365 days

YouTube: Watch time per day (in hours) over the last 365 days

Comparing the statistics of the 6-month mark with the 12-month mark, I see a 2.5x increase of the subscriber count and a 3x increase of the overall watch time.

Although I set the bar high to reach the monetization requirements by the end of the year (which require me to have at least 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours watch time during the last 365 days), I am satisfied with the results.

When I take a look at the last 60 days, the 510 watch hours break down to 8.5 hours a day, which is already pretty close to the 11 hours a day required by the monetization requirements.

Especially when I think about the extended break I took from producing content for YouTube, the channel growth is satisfying.

YouTube promotes great content

I have read many comments from small YouTubers complaining that they do not get enough views from YouTube and that YouTube favors more prominent channels over (their) smaller channels.

I believe it is true that once the ball is rolling, everything becomes simpler. But saying that YouTube does not support smaller creators is entirely wrong. I have a few videos that are optimized for YouTube Search and that are receiving great feedback.

Those videos are being watched enough by the audience that YouTube starts suggesting those videos to a broader selection of people.

It is what makes YouTube a magic platform. People that are interested in my content will eventually find it. I do not have to care about finding the viewers, I need to focus on creating great videos, and YouTube will be my partner in crime to find the audience. There is no short path to success, but the quality and consistency will win in the end.

Hint: Creating a (series) playlist allows you to tell YouTube that some of your videos belong together. If your viewers watch your video, they might also be interested in your next video in the playlist.

Playlists are a great tool to communicate to YouTube that people might be interested in another video of yours. Use them to your advantage.

Retrospective on the first year of my YouTube channel

I managed to produce 11 videos within my first year on YouTube. Initially, I set a goal to upload every other week, which would presumably result in having around 25 videos after a year. It turns out the goal was not realistic, or I did not reach it – if you want to judge me.

Nonetheless, I am committed to continuing building my YouTube channel in my second year. I saw that it could work. People watch valuable videos, and I can create content that people want to watch.

I have a few videos that generated a crazy amount of views. I could not have imagined a year ago that one of my videos about the new Visual Studio 2019 features would reach 8500+ views.

When I created this particular video, I was aware that the timing would be right because Visual Studio 2019 is about to be released. Still, I did not expect that so many people will end up watching my video when there are many other videos about the topic.

The future of my YouTube channel

Although I set a goal to reach the monetization requirements by the end of 2019 in my article from June, this is still my next big goal. I like challenging goals, but they should also be achievable. Otherwise, I lose motivation.

Therefore, I set the goal to reach the monetization requirements by the end of Q1 2020. I also set the goal to upload every other week. It will require me to put in more work, but it will also help the channel grow as desired.

More content means that more potential viewers will find my videos, and every new video contributes to the overall goal to reach monetization.

I also learned a lot about video editing, voice-over recording, screen recording, and video planning. All those learnings contribute to a more streamlined process and should reduce the amount of work required to put out new content.

How is this ever going to be sustainable?

The honest answer is – I am not sure if it will ever be. It is a lot of fun creating those videos. Creating videos is a creative process that requires different skills compared to software development. I learned a lot that I would not have learned if it was not for my YouTube channel.

I also believe that the documentation of this process, this blog, helps other people getting a picture of how starting a YouTube channel from scratch really is and maybe helps them avoid common pitfalls or setting realistic goals.

If you are a developer and consider starting your own YouTube channel, or you already have your channel, check out this Facebook group where you can become part of a group of highly motivated people.

One thing that I care about is how much value I provide with my contributions. I believe that my videos help people learning about software development that could not afford an expensive online course or a subscription to a membership program to learn how to program.

After all, my videos are watchable for free, and I believe that this opens up the chance for a big audience to learn something from me. There was no YouTube when I first learned how to program, and I comprehend that it can be a great source of quality information nowadays.

If it works out and people continue to watch my videos, the channel might grow to a size that allows me to earn a side-income from the ad revenue, or maybe get a sponsorship deal. Both would support me to allocate more time to the channel, which, in return, will result in more free videos for the community.

What makes a good video tutorial?

I created 11 video tutorials so far, and in my opinion, there are three essential parts of a high-quality video tutorial:

  • Audio quality. Most people believe that video quality is the most important aspect of a tutorial. In reality, people will bounce from your video if the audio quality is terrible, while they can live with a lower visual quality of the video.

  • Scripting takes a lot of time but ensures that a tutorial is on point and does not waste the watcher’s time. I believe that many people are happy with my tutorials because they get much value out of only a few minutes of video.

  • If you have source code in your tutorial, make it available for people. I would prefer if people write the code themselves, but the reality is that people are lazy. If you provide the source code with your video, people are more likely to play with your code and therefore learn something from you. If they learn something, they are more likely to follow your journey, subscribe to your channel, and will become a regular viewer in the future.

What do you think is the most important aspect of a high-quality tutorial video? Let me know in the comments below, or tweet it @CHBernasconiC.

Closing thoughts

Maybe I will look back to those articles in a few years with a smile in my face how different I thought at the beginning of the journey. I am excited to ride along on the YouTube journey during the next few months, and I will work hard to achieve my goals.

If you want to know more about me and my journey and follow along, consider subscribing to my YouTube channel, and follow me on Twitter.

If you have any questions about this article, about creating a YouTube channel, or anything else – please hit me up on Twitter or leave a comment below this article.

This article was originally published on claudiobernasconi.ch on December 4th, 2019.

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