YouTube Case Study: One Million Subscribers in 6 Months

In 6 months, Matthew Beam went from YouTube unknown to gaining over a million subscribers, thanks to changes he made to his channel.

Even though Matthew created YouTube videos for two years, his channel was stagnant and never got many views or subscribers.

Then one day he tweeted that he was going to, ‘change YouTube forever.’ That’s a pretty bold claim for someone who previously couldn’t score more than a few hundred views per video, but Matthew had a new strategy that he was about to employ.

Matthew has discovered how to make his videos go viral nearly every single time he uploads. Here’s what he does:

Trend Jacking

What do many of the most popular YouTube videos have in common? They use trends or other popular YouTubers as topics for their videos. In theory, this might be the perfect strategy to grow a channel if you don’t already have a following. You make a video of something or someone with an audience, effectively borrowing that audience and bringing them onto your channel.

There is a problem with this, though. It doesn’t work as well as it once did because there’s a lot of competition, plus the YouTube algorithm has changed over the years. Placing someone’s name in your title might not be enough to make your video blow up.

But Matthew Beam has managed to invent trend jacking 2.0. First, he knows his viewer and targets his videos exclusively for that viewer. In this case, it’s a young male audience. Then he makes his trend jacking video a collaboration between himself and the person whose audience he wants to hijack.

Collaboration is an exchange of value. If you don’t have a large audience to share, then you’ve got to find something else that gives free promotion to the other person’s business.

For example, in one video Matthew has a giant chocolate bar made for another YouTuber, Mr. Beast, who had just released his own line of normal sized chocolate bars. Mr. Beast appears in the video to receive the chocolate bar, and Matthew quickly got 8 million views.

Timing is Crucial

The chocolate bar video was released 3 days after Mr. Beast’s chocolate bar was announced. Another example: 5 days before the Spider-Man movie was released, Matthew made a video where he hired 50 Spidermen and he got 15 million views.

To effectively ride a trend, you can either jump on just before the trend takes off or at its peak. This means paying attention to what’s going to happen and taking quick action before it’s too late to capitalize on it.

But in most cases trend jacking isn’t enough. To get YouTube’s algorithm recommending your video, you’ve got to hold the viewer’s attention. On average, YouTubers lose about 40% of viewers in the first 30 seconds. Every second of your video needs to hold the viewer’s attention to keep them from clicking away.

How do you achieve this? The first step is a great intro. 20 seconds of boring theme music won’t cut it, nor will a rambling message that goes nowhere slowly.

Here’s the 3-point intro formula Matthew uses in almost all of his videos:

1: Start with one line that explains the video concept. Think of this as your attention-grabbing headline.

2: Give a personal story, such as: “I’ve always dreamed of doing this crazy thing since I was a child.” Or, “After years of struggling, here’s how I finally broke through and made it happen.”

3: Create an adversary. It could be something as simple as a hard deadline, someone telling you that you can’t achieve your goal, a jerk who is trying to stop you, or whatever. There has to be a bad guy of some sort that your hero is up against. This creates tension and purpose from the very beginning.

You can multiply the tension by adding more comments from people who say it can’t be done, it’s too expensive, are you sure you want to do this, etc. These are quick one-liners and can be as simple as your friends or family chiming in to suggest this thing you’re about to do can’t or shouldn’t be done. “This is gonna take weeks and your deadline is 7 days away. Are you sure you wanna do this?”

These can be the same thoughts the viewer has, reminding the audience of how big the stakes are. It keeps the audience engaged by using other people’s reactions to build out the story.

Show the Setbacks

Next, you might add in someone mishaps, mistakes, and things that go wrong throughout the video. You’re trying to make this thing happen, but it’s not smooth sailing. There are problems. You may not succeed.

Matthew shows something going wrong every minute or two in his videos. This creates even more tension because the viewer doesn’t know if he’ll be successful.

Ramp Up the Pace

Matthew shows how frantically he and his team are working to get his latest challenge done. “We’ve been painting for three hours, and so far, we’ve only done 10 boxes, and we still haven’t put the stencil on.”

Even if in real life you can do something at a leisurely pace, you don’t want it to look that way in your video. Your back is against the wall, the deadline is looming, people say you can’t do it, things are going wrong… feel the tension? Your viewer is riveted to their screen.

Use fast-paced editing. Matthew does a cut every second or two, switching between cameras, aerial shots, action and voiceovers. The video is never allowed to get boring.

There’s non-stop action and the viewer can’t take their eyes off of it.

Thumbnails Are Everything

In copywriting they tell you that your sales page is only as good as your headline. If your reader isn’t grabbed by your headline, you’ve lost them. Thumbnails are the same. If your viewer doesn’t get sucked in by your thumbnail, they will never click on it and watch your video.

Your thumbnail is competing with every other thumbnail on the page. It has got to stand out, stand apart and be intriguing enough for people to want to immediately click on it.

When creating his thumbnail style, Matthew looked at the thumbnails of super successful videos with millions of views in his niche. He didn’t copy them, but he did borrow the concepts. The key is to take what works and adapt it into your own style.

If you’re just starting out on YouTube and no one knows you yet, then the dominant subject in the thumbnail shouldn’t be your face. Keep the focus on the subject or the celebrity the video is about.

In his thumbnails, Matthew gives some sort of action, such as appearing to run away from a stationary object. It creates interest. Keep in mind that a great thumbnail portrays the story of the video.

Use vibrant colors in your thumbnail to stop people from scrolling by. Keep the thumbnails simple and uncluttered, too. If possible, show something extreme.

You might use Canva to create your thumbnails. Always be noticing the thumbnails of super successful videos and taking notes on why they work. And when you hit upon a style that works, continue to use that same style for continuity.

Going viral is as much a science as it is luck. Follow these steps for your next videos and I can almost guarantee you’ll get far more views and subscribers than ever before.


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