Never Sub for Sub | Never Link Drop

Chase Retention! Chase Active Viewers!

Now, I know you don’t want to accept the idea of not chasing subscribers.    You want to fight me every step of the way, and in order for you to really believe this advice is going to help you, I  have to convince you that chasing subscribers is a stupid goal.  

Ok, let’s get down into the real mess of this.  Let’s jump into the blood and guts of what a subscriber is, a subscriber is someone who has said they like something about you.  Maybe they like one video, maybe they like one thing you said, maybe they are a really supportive person who is trying to help so they give you that subscribe click. 

Sure you feel great, you log into your YouTube channel after a rough day and you see that you have gotten 5 new subscribers and you feel good.  That shot of dopamine or serotonin from a happy event makes you feel great.  

Your channel is sitting at 50 subscribers and you are averaging about 75 views per video.  Every day for a week you get a 5 new subscribers so at the end of that week you now have 85 subscribers, and when you put out your next video you just know it’s going to break 100 views.


You upload the video, you post it, and after a week it has that same 75 views. 


So what happened?  How did you go up by 35 subscribers but not go up by any views?  You were too concerned with chasing subscribers, and you didn’t chase any viewers.


Time to engage your imagination for a bit.  I want you to imagine your YouTube Channel is a store, and what you sell at that store are videos.  It doesn’t matter if they are self-help videos, or instructional videos, or DIY videos, or just straight up art, music, entertainment videos.  The videos on every single channel are a product; however, we can't forget our 2 Es of Video Making.  You have to have the right expectation of return on our products.  


Think of subscribers as shoppers.  They are people who are at your store (channel) who may or may not purchase something (view a video/tune into a stream/view your pictures).  


Then you have buyers (viewers) these are people committed to engaging on the content you produce.


Focusing on getting a high subscriber count is like focusing on getting your store packed with shoppers.  Sure, as a store owner you are going to feel great if each and every day your store is packed.  Until the end of the night when you look at the register and you realize you’ve made almost no sales.  


Forget trying to bump up your subscriber count; it is a meaningless number.  What you really want is to fill your store with buyers. 


Focus on making your product better so people will actually watch it, and watch it more than 10 seconds, 30 seconds, and 60 seconds.  You don’t need click-through traffic, you need serious watchers who get to at least the 50% point of your videos, if not more.  We will get into that a little later.  


Ask yourself this question:

Do you want to have 100,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel and your videos get 2,000 views?


Do you want to have 2,000 subscribers on your YouTube channel and your videos get 100,000 views?

Personally, I want the 100,000 views, but that’s just me.  


It is great to have a bunch of supporters who click that subscribe button, but where you get the disconnect is when you have 200 subscribers on your YouTube Channel but your video only gets 22 views?  For Twitch this works as having 100 Twitch Followers but each time you stream you are literally talking to an empty room.   


Now I’m sure some of you are going to immediately fire back with something like “Well I have 500 subscribers and my videos are getting 1,000 views, so I have my base of 500 views per video”

You maybe right, but I’m going to bet you are wrong.   


Go dive into your Audience metrics in YouTube Studio.   I’ll share with you mine.


In the last 28 days I’ve been rather slow.  I’ve only had 25,600 views for my channel, but of that 76.5% of the views I’ve had have come from people who are not-subscribed to my channel.  If I was spending all my time trying to get subscribers, worried about subscribers, chasing subscribers, my channel would be doing much worse.  


Think about that for a moment.  76.5% of my views are coming from non-subscribers.  I’m willing to bet that 50% or more of your views are coming from non-subscribers as well.  Maybe it’s a little higher, maybe it’s a little lower.  


So with that in mind, why are you chasing subscribers again?


Time for Secret #2: 
Chase VIEWERS not subscribers.  

With that said, I’m surprised I’m going to have to even say this, but I want to throw it on as a caveat.  Never sub for sub.  Never.  Never ever ever!  Sub for sub is a bad idea all around.


First, it is a violation of the YouTube terms of service, especially if you do something silly like buy subscribers from a third party service.  Secondly, believe this or not, these subscribers are actually hurting your metrics and your image.


Why does this person have 100,000 subscribers but their videos only get 1,000 views.  Their videos must suck!


It is perception that is easy to arrive at.  Even if those people are being good “sub for sub” buddies and clicking on all your videos, they are giving you views that fall off after the 00:10 mark and this is actually hurting your channel tremendously.  Let’s talk about another important topic: meaningful views.


Meaningful views


So I told you that chasing subscribers is bad and you should be chasing viewsers.  Well, even though that advice is only a few minutes old, it's already bad advice.  I’m sure some of you have already thought about making click-baity titles and thumbnails in order to get people to click on your videos.  After all you want views right?

Wrong.  You want meaningful views.  Jump back into your analytics and look at your retention.  


To do this pick a video, go into analytics, and then right there on the overview page is a Audience Retention graph.  What I want you to do is get a good ole fashion pen and paper and write down 





And the 50% mark of your video


Now, sometimes these exact time stamps aren’t shown on the graph and you need to fudge a little bit to the left or right, but try to keep the first three 30 seconds apart.


What percentage of people have you retained at the 10 second mark?  The 30 second mark?  The 60 second mark?  What percentage of people make it halfway through your videos?  Right there on that chart it will tell you the average view duration.   This is the data you need to improve your videos.


Chasing views is nice, but don't do it by being clickbaity.  Have you lost everyone by the 10 second mark?  The 30 second mark?  How many people actually get to see the material after your one minute mark?  How many people are seeing half the video?

Now I know, this is going to be a bit depressing when you first start to process it.  You are busy making content and people are watching less than a minute of it.  Don’t worry about those people who clicked off.  Worry about the people who stayed.  


If you have retained a portion of your audience, then your stuff is clearly good enough to retain some people, now worry about working on that and making your content even better.


If you haven’t retained anyone, (less than 15%) passed the one minute mark, then you need to go back to the drawing board and work on the product.