2022 on YouTube: A Reflection

Introduction

I’ve come close to writing a blog post like this for the past few years.  The end of December rolls around and I realise it would be the perfect moment to step back from creating YouTube videos and reflect.  And yet, for whatever reason, I haven’t done it until now.

That changes today.

In this blog post I’ll attempt to do a ‘Spotify Wrapped’ style look at my channel, sharing lots of numbers and stats (I love a good graph!), things that worked well, things that didn’t go quite as I’d hoped and plans for the future.

When I first started out making videos for YouTube in August 2019 I used to love reading posts like this to learn everything I could and to motivate myself to keep going even though my latest video only had half a dozen views.  Having read so many posts like that myself it feels only right that I should contribute one back into the world.

And who knows, perhaps this will start an annual tradition and encourage me to take another look back in December 2023…

2022 Headlines

139

videos published in 2022

1,549,054

video views in 2022

35,697

hours watched in 2022

8044

subscribers gained in 2022

Creating Videos

In the last year I have published a total of 139 videos.  This includes 44 videos released alongside iOS 16 and 27 videos released at the same time as the Freeform app.

One big discovery for me this year was the realisation that there are two types of videos on my YouTube channel.  There are ‘evergreen‘ ones that will still get many thousands of views years after posting and there are ‘trending topics‘ where videos will get an initial surge of views and then they’ll slowly taper off.  These two types both unfold very differently, but both with equal success.  A trending topic video can enjoy a large amount of views for the first few days or weeks before slowing right down (i.e. straight after iOS 16 is released and people want to learn how to do X or Y immediately). 

These videos require planning and research to make sure they are released at the perfect time. Too early and it’ll get lost in YouTube as nobody is searching for it, too late and the trend will have peaked and viewers will already be moving onto something new.  Whilst this is tricky, the reward is high as there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing a video you’ve just released suddenly getting thousands of views an hour.  I’ve found Google Trends to be a big help for researching these trending topics, along with my own knowledge, experiences and time spent on places like Twitter and Reddit learning about what’s getting people excited with their technology at the moment.

An example of a Trending Topic video came in October when a popular iOS developer I follow on Twitter, Christian Selig, took a fun feature out of his Apollo for Reddit app and turned it into a new app called Pixel Pals.  Not only was this a fun app but it played with the key new feature of the iPhone 14 Pro – the Dynamic Island.  I realised straight away that this app would likely become very popular with people looking to customise their iPhones so I set to work creating a tutorial on how to set up your own Digital Pet in the Dynamic Island straight away.  At the time of writing this video has picked up over 66,000 views since October 2022 and is still going strong gaining around 800 views a day.

Add an Animated Digital Pet to the Dynamic Island

Pixel Pals

2:40

1 year ago

Evergreen content is an entirely different proposition.  To create a video that has a life beyond just a week or two I have realised that I need to step back and consider what somebody might be typing into the YouTube search box at any given time.  “How do I change my Lock Screen wallpaper?” or “How can I print from my iPad?” are both questions that could be asked at any time – not just during a trending moment.

I see these as prime candidates for videos as I can create a high-quality and straight-to-the-point video that will answer these queries.  I won’t spend ten minutes beforehand talking about what a wallpaper is or explaining the very concept of printers – instead I’ll jump straight to the point and create an easy to follow guide to achieving the task the viewer is trying to do.

These videos are the very opposite of ‘click-bait’.  “OMG! FIVE THINGS YOU’LL NEVER BELIEVE AN IPAD CAN PRINT?!” is not what that previously mentioned viewer is searching for.  They want an answer to their question, not to be entertained or shocked.  At least, I hope they do! 

Simple thumbnails, informative titles and straight forward, honest content.  I believe that’s the key to an evergreen video.

In June Apple unveiled their latest updates to their iOS operating system at WWDC.  For me, this meant endless possibilities for new QuickTips.  For each new feature, there’s the potential for a new QuickTip or two to help people who don’t watch WWDC to make the most of their devices come autumn.

My videos aren’t targeted at people who watch events like WWDC live.  They’re not really aimed at people who stay up-to-date with the latest iPhone every year either.  I’m trying to help the average user who has an iPhone, iPad or Mac and wants to get the most out of the device they’ve paid for.

So when a big update like iOS 16 comes around it’s the perfect change to create some bite-sized and easy-to-follow videos to help people learn about the new features their devices have now got.

I created a spreadsheet (of course I did!) to plan my videos and diligently worked through the summer to put together 40 QuickTips based around the new update.  I released these three-a-day in the weeks following the iOS 16 launch.

There is a part of me which wonders if I would have been better off releasing the videos all at once to potentially capitalise on the trending topic nature of iOS 16, but that part is counterbalanced by the thought that releasing 40 videos at once could potentially destroy my recommended views from people who get suggested my videos by YouTube.  It’s hard to know which was to approach that really – perhaps this is something I might reconsider for next year.

Another exciting moment for video inspiration came later in the year.  In December Apple released a brand new app, on three platforms, for the first time in ages.

Freeform is a great tool and one that there was almost no content on YouTube for (apart from some 50 minute long walkthroughs).  I spotted an opportunity here to create some evergreen content that people can access in the future to help them use Freeform, but also the possibility of some trending videos that might take off as Freeform was launched.

I set to work planning a series of videos to demonstrate all the key features of Freeform, as well as answering potential questions that I could imagine future users running into.  As an Apple Developer I was able to have early access to iOS 16.2 (containing Freeform) which allowed me to explore and create content ready for its general release.

I used the app itself to help me plan my videos and ended up creating a full tutorial (split over 9 parts) which I then recorded and edited for each platform.

A fun easter egg that I don’t think anyone has picked up on yet is that each series featured the same tips, but set around a different fictional city-break.  iPad users will see me plan a trip to San Francisco, iPhone users will see me researching Cologne and Mac users will see me considering Tokyo.

Whilst these videos enjoyed a nice initial uptick in views, I wouldn’t consider them as having hit upon a trending topic.  However, they are all steadily going along now and are appearing in YouTube search results, which hopefully will ensure they bring evergreen viewers to my channel in the future.

Exploring the Data

To understand a YouTube channel I believe it is best to examine three key metrics: Views, Watch Hours and Subscribers. 

These three numbers are linked and show the health and viability of a YouTube channel.  They’re also an excellent way to reflect on growth in a concrete way across multiple years.

This year I’m proud (and mildly shocked!) to say that my videos achieved a total number of 1,549,054 views, which resulted in a total watch time of 35,697 hours.  I genuinely find it bananas that there are so many people who have seen (and hopefully learnt something from) one of my videos this year.  In all, my channel grew by 8044 subscribers in the last twelve months.

Anybody who knows me will know that I do love a nice graph.  In fact, I’ve been keeping track of my YouTube channel since I started in 2019 with a spreadsheet that shows these three metrics over time.  Below you will see three line graphs, showing how my channel has grown since it first began.

Views

For me the most exciting part about this graph isn’t the spikes (usually around a big event like iOS 16 being released), but rather how the views level out after that spike. 

They consistently level out at a higher place than before each spike, showing that after the trending videos have died down the new evergreen videos are doing their job and raising the total views across the board.

One thing I’m very proud of is surpassing a quarter of a million views in one month!

Watch Hours

This graph mirrors the previous in terms of the spikes and raises afterwards. 

However, it’s interesting to see how the watch time in 2021 (the green line) was dramatically higher than in 2022 at one point. 

I think this is largely down to my videos being shorter this year as I’ve been trying to return to my roots of creating short and to-the-point content.  Last year I tried to pad them out a tiny bit but that didn’t feel right, so this year I’ve gone back to basics.

Subscribers

Wow, look at that green spike!  Oh wait, that was last year.

Subscriber growth has been steady, but not as dramatic this year.  Last year I had a few key videos that did incredibly well and, by a quirk of fate, they were also ones where I put a direct call to subscribe in the video. 

I’ve neglected this a little bit in 2022 and looking at this graph it’s clearly something I need to work on for next year if I want my channel to continue to develop.

Year On Year

Overall I think these charts paint a relatively healthy picture of growth and I think they fairly represent the amount of time, energy and effort I’ve put into creating videos this year.  There are some big spikes around the time of big iOS updates (which is generally when I have a lot of new and relevant content to share) as well as year-on-year growth across the board.  I would like to work on my subscriber growth in 2023, although that comes second to creating good quality videos and I don’t want to spend 20 seconds of a 60 second video asking people to subscribe!

I think in general I would describe these charts as being steady.  There’s no explosive moment where everything changes.  I haven’t had a super-viral success where I’ve been getting millions of views a day.  No breakout hit that’s suddenly upended my life.  Perhaps one day that will happen, perhaps not.  To be honest it feels like it’s almost entirely down to luck and the YouTube algorithm.

But let me be honest – knowing that I’ve created content which has hopefully helped 2.9 million people is an incredible reward in itself.

Most Viewed Videos

In the last twelve months these videos have had the highest number of views on my channel.  Three out of the top five were published this year (in fact in the last 4 months), which gives me confidence that my channel is growing and that the content I’m creating is both relevant and useful to people.

This also proves my theory of evergreen and trending topic videos, with a combination of both making up my top 5 this year.  I’m hoping that by continuing to target a mixture of both going forward I will be able to maintain a steady level of views and a steady pace of growth for my channel.

Other Videos

Celebrating the most viewed videos is fun, but it doesn’t accurately reflect the channel as a whole.  Let’s take a look at the distribution of views across all the videos I released this year.

I don’t want anybody to look at this blog and think to themselves that every video I release is getting tens of thousands of views.  Quite the opposite in fact.  The majority of the videos I’ve made this year haven’t reached anywhere near this level

Here’s a breakdown of how all of the videos have performed to show just how many ‘duds’ there are to each of the ‘wows’.

You can see that only a third of the videos I’ve released this year have reached over 5,000 views – with an even smaller percentage of them reaching above 25,000 views.

The hardest part of creating content is making something you’re really proud of and for it to disappear under the radar, never to be seen again.  But that’s the reality of YouTube sometimes.  By taking a gamble on evergreen videos there is no initial spike of views – instead they build up slowly over time.  I have no doubt that if I remade this pie chart (using my 2022 videos) at the end of next year you’d see a lot more in the ‘green-zone’ as their views slowly climb over the next 12 months.  But it’s interesting to reflect on this and consider what I can do to try and improve the views across all my videos. 

That feels like a prime area for me to develop this coming year.

Viewer Data

A big question I wonder about is how people find my videos in the first place.  Sharing them on Twitter or Facebook is great, but only results in a handful of views.

This chart shows that in 2022 a whopping 85.3% of my views came from search – either directly on YouTube or as featured results on Google Search.

Evergreen videos are the force behind this, with many of my videos now the top ranking result on Google and YouTube for many common (and slightly less common) iPhone and iPad queries.  However, having so much traffic from search does bring with it a pretty major downside, as we’re about to find out…

One really interesting statistic I’ve uncovered this year is that the percentage of views from subscribers as compared to non-subscribers is incredibly low.  Not just a little bit low, ridiculously low.

This is not a happy chart!

What this tells me is that only 3% of people who watch my videos are subscribed.

To put this into context, a vlogger type channel would probably see the majority of their views coming from subscribers, with only a small percentage coming from non-subscribers.  In effect, the opposite of my chart.

Naturally the question here is: Why don’t more people subscribe to my channel?  The ratio of likes to dislikes, combined with the number of views and positive comments suggests it isn’t that people don’t like my videos.  Instead I have a hypothesis…

Because so much of my viewership is gained through YouTube Search and Google Search, those people are coming to find an answer, getting an answer and then moving on with their day. 

Imagine for a moment if your washing machine broke down.  You might look on YouTube to find a fix.  A really helpful video pops up and you solve the issue you’ve been having.  Maybe drop a cheeky like or a comment to say thanks.  But do you then really want to subscribe to a channel all about fixing different types of washing machines?  I’d imagine not. 

I think this is where my videos fall…  Being a channel based on answering questions rather than a personality driven channel seems to mean I fall under the radar of getting new subscribers, but above the average in getting my videos showing up at the top of search results.

Another factor here could be that my channel currently shares videos related to the iPhone, iPad and Mac.  Just because you enjoy a video about using Keynote on the iPad doesn’t necessarily mean you’d also want to learn how to change your Login Screen on a Mac.  Those two devices are very different and as such have different audiences.  I feel like I almost have to change my approach slightly and focus down more on one particular platform at a time.

Next Steps

Reflecting back on the last twelve months has given me lots to celebrate and be proud of, but also lots of food for thought in terms of how to continue growing the channel in 2023.  I think there are three main areas I’d like to work on over the next year, which are:

Increase Focus on Trending Apps

The biggest spikes in my yearly graphs come when I release a video at just the right time and it starts to take off as people are searching for it in real time. These videos are usually linked to a trending topic (like iOS 16 being released) but they are also just as often linked to a popular app or viral trend that comes out of the blue. At the moment I'm good at preparing for big OS updates, but not so reactive when a new trend or hot new app comes along. To increase growth I need to follow the same principle I used for my Pixel Pals video and experiment with new content that might just catch onto a trending app.

Improve Metadata

I will spend this coming year trying to improve my Titles, Descriptions and Thumbnails to improve the view counts on each video I post. Quite often the majority of my time is spent editing a video to make it look perfect, but then the other elements - the metadata - is rushed so I can get it published. I need to spend more time fine tuning this element to increase the rate at which people click on and view my videos. I hope this will mean that my pie chart next year will have more green and less grey in terms of the views of each video I publish.

Encourage Subscriber Growth

3% of viewers are subscribed to my channel. If I could get that to around 12% I would already by holding my Silver Play Button (and let's be honest, that would be VERY cool!). To try and increase this number I will be doing two things in 2023.

Firstly, I will be more direct with my call to action in each video. It can be very short, but I want to encourage people to visit my channel to see if there are other tips they may enjoy as well.  I don’t want this to be annoying, or to make people click off a video, but I feel there is a balance to be struck that I haven’t quite found yet.

Secondly (and this is a bold move!) I am going to split my channel into four.  In fact, I’ve already started that process.  Let me explain…

Prior to now all my videos have been in one place.  A ten minute iPad QuickLesson about Pop Art sits on the same channel as a 50 second guide to controlling music on your iPhone Lock Screen.  It’s no wonder a potential subscriber might be put off when they see such variety of videos on one channel.

So I’ve rebranded my channel into ‘iPhone QuickTips‘.  The majority of the views there were for iPhone-centric videos anyway and that’s what most of my subscribers were watching.  Whilst I haven’t deleted or unlisted any other videos, they no longer appear on my channel homepage.  Instead I’ve created new channels for ‘iPad QuickTips, ‘Mac QuickTips and ‘iPad QuickLessons.  Any future videos will be uploaded to the relevant channel, rather than all in one place.

I hope this will make my offering clearer to potential subscribers, whilst also having the benefit of not cluttering up peoples recommended videos with ones from me that they aren’t interested in.  If you’ve read this far into my (now very lengthy) blog then perhaps I could encourage you to subscribe to any of the channels that interest you by using the links below.

#QuickTips
with Jacob

iPhone
QuickTips

iPad
QuickTips

Mac
QuickTips

iPad
QuickLessons

Thank You

And that’s it, my 2022 YouTube Rewind and a look ahead to 2023.  I hope this blog has been at least somewhat interesting/useful.  Feel free to let me know in the comments down below if you found anything in particular useful, if you disagree with any of my ideas of if you’ve got some advice that might help me during the year ahead.

I hope you all have a very happy and healthy 2023, and thank you for all the support you’ve given me in 2022.

Live Demo: Making a QuickTips Video (from Start to Finish)

Right, let’s do this.

Every week since the 2019 Institute I’ve made a 60 second(ish) Quick Tips video – designed to teach my colleagues a new skill or tip for their iPads.  They’ve grown since then and are now shared widely within our community and beyond.  I’m thrilled that these little videos have taken on such a life of their own and at the time of writing they’ve been viewed over 65,000 times on Youtube.

So I thought (given I’m making one anyway), why not live-stream the process from start to finish?  We’re taking from the initial recording of the Memoji and the iPad screen itself to bringing both into Final Cut Pro X and going through the process of editing, tweaking, altering, polishing and exporting.  If people are still hanging around I can go through the thumbnail creation process in Adobe Photoshop CC too and even the uploading and keywords tagging on YouTube.  Literally from start to finish.  All my secrets shared (most of them anyway!).

I reckon this will take around an hour and a half.  It might be boring and nobody might come. Or there might be a few of there for a nice chat as I work.

I might have had a lot of coffee and be buzzing and talking nonsense.  Nobody knows.  But that makes it a little more exciting, right?

So yeah, if you’ve nothing else to do this Sunday or if you just fancy learning a bit about how I use Final Cut Pro to create these videos then add this to your calendar.  I can’t promise a slick and smooth presentation but you will see the entire process.  Maybe you can even help me choose the subject of the video (let me know in the comments if you’ve any ideas!).

Event will take place on Sunday 12th July 2020, starting at 1.45pm BST. Please send me a DM on Twitter for the Zoom link and password.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am not a Final Cut Pro wizard. I will probably be doing things in a very awkward way and and sort of expert would probably laugh their head off watching me.