Earlier this year, YouTube introduced Creators On The Rise, a showcase for up and coming stars on the platform. For those of us with somewhat modest YouTube followings, these creators are VERY intriguing due to their rapid growth on generally low budgets. How frequently do creators post videos, and when? Which strategies do they implement to create appealing thumbnails and titles? And most importantly, how on earth do these channels fill hours and hours of content each month? It's a bit of a puzzle.
To analyze the traits of these new media success stories I turned to tuber, a handy R package that faciliates access to YouTube's API. The packagae contains several easy functions to grab data on paticular channels or videos. Just make sure to register via Google's developer console to get the necessary API ID and key.
With a little bit of wrangling I compiled a dataset of 92 channels previously featured as Creators On The Rise. Variables available included subscriber counts, likes, comments, plus metadata on 9,410 published channel videos. All data + code is available on my Github. ADD LINK
YouTube's selection criteria for a "Creator On The Rise" likely means this chart represents an overly optimistic view of the time it takes to become a YouTube superstar. Plus it's worth noting that some creators may have had an existing following prior to creating their channel - Sophina The Diva, for example, has garnered 64K subscribers in a little over a month, but had the advantage of already being rather famous. Nevertheless, building a YouTube empire does not have to be a decades-long affair.
2. But Do I Need A Viral Hit?
It doesn't hurt. Let's return to the previously mentioned 007craft. 007craft (I'm not sure anyone knows his real name) attracted attention earlier this year as the guy who was living in a storage locker. His video on the experience has collected over 3.5M views, representing an outsized portion of his channel's 11.8M total.
Of course, creating a viral video is tough. 55 videos in the data have broken 1 million views, representing about 0.6% of the total. Still, to have a shot you probably want to keep your clip under 15-20 minutes:
"FEEDING THE DEVIL | Spiders and Centipede" can be found here for those interested. I thought insect-averse readers would be glad to avoid checking out the thumbnail, so here is the second place video instead:
Subsetting the data to only the highest viewed video from each channel, we find the 92 videos have a median view count of 553K. This is certainly a lofty bar, but your channel doesn't have a Charlie bit my finger level of virality to add subs.
3. What Should I Make My Videos About?
All the channels use tags to help people find their content. Parsing individual tags and looking for positive correlations (i.e. a given pair of tags often appear in the same video), we can get a general idea of the kinds of topics creators are discussing:
Most of the content is fairly down to earth. There are fitness channels, family-oriented affairs, make-up tutorials and more. And very little politics! Perhaps YouTube is consciously refraining from naming political channels to the "On The Rise" section? Or maybe political takes aren't all that compelling after all...
4. How Much Content Does A Top Content Creator Create?
You might wonder if it's possible to build a large following without quitting your day job? Maybe! Most creators are posting steadily but certainly not daily. The data below shows publication frequency over the past 52 weeks for all the channels created prior to the start of the period:
CatPusic might be my favorite of all the channels in the data.
In terms of timing, Friday is the most popular day of the week for publishing new videos:
5. The Rich Life...What's That?
The attentive reader will have noticed an outlier in the second to last chart. The Rich Life follows a "homeschooling family of 7 that loves to share the good, the bad and maybe the occasional ugly." Of course, the idea of family as #brand is definitely nothing new, but 200K subs in a little over a year is impressive regardless.
Beyond its outstanding publication frequency, the channel's clip game is on point:
The titles alone entice you to click and find out what hilarous shenanigan have occurred, and the thumbnails are attention-grabbing and varied. Plus the sheer variety of hijinks is impressive! If you have recently been kicked in the head by a horse, suffered a break-in, evaded a tornado, and dealt with a police run-in...you may have what it takes to be a top YouTube creator.
6. Final Thoughts
Overall the data available from the YouTube API is impressive
Lots more to do on this topic:
Can model out the views
Analyze the video titles and descriptions
Look at the thumbnails
Dataset/code is here….