YouTube from the Cheap Seats
YouTube from the perspective of someone who isn't an influencer and has been doing it for less than a year. It's a fun sideshow, though nothing near being able to support me financially.
I created a YouTube account on October 23rd, 2021, and began posting videos on March 1st, 2022. In this post, I'll look back at December 2022 and explain my process.
And if you'd like to subscribe to my channel, feel free. ❤️
Note that the channel isn’t monetized yet, so I can’t comment on what this would translate to money wise. I have a single $3 patron (not me, my mom, or a friend), so that’s something.
And, of course, you can watch this post as a video if you’d like:
My channel has ~4 kinds of videos. On most days, I post 4 videos:
- 1 lyric music video
- 1 music short
- 2 shorts
Lyric Music Video
I take lyrics from songs and feed them into Midjourney, an AI image generator that creates images based on some text. Sometimes, I do this one line at a time. Other times, I do a quartet of lines. Sometimes, it's the lyrics on their own. Other times, I add extra parameters that adhere to a particular style. For example, Battle of Evermore by Led Zeppelin or Lords of the Ring by Styx have more of a fantasy-like feel, while Sole Survivor by Blue Öyster Cult and Duvet by Bôa are cyberpunk-ish – so I append "fantasy" or "cyberpunk" at the end of a lyric.
Why Midjourney? It requires the least amount of fiddling to get a decent looking result. Downside: a lot of images end up looking the same.
I use Adobe Premiere to put everything together and only add basic transitions. I download the music with
yt-dlp. I post one of these per day. Example: Kashmir by Led Zeppelin.
The bulk of the time spent on lyric videos is generating the images in Midjourney. Depending on how many lines there are, it could take anywhere from 10-20 minutes to more than 60 minutes just to generate and download the images. This is very AFK, so timestamps aren't useful. I usually generate the images while in the middle of something else. If I had to break it down:
- 10-80 minutes to generate and download the images.
- 30 minutes to arrange images in tune with lyrics in Adobe Premiere.
- 5-10 minutes to add lyric captions.
- 3-10 minutes to listen through it and admire my handiwork, export it, and schedule it.
One lyric video takes 1-2 hours to make. In other words, 60-120 minutes for a 2-11 minute video. P.S. – The 11 minute video in question is Black No. 1 by Type O Negative.
I make each image free to download as an imageset here. If people want, they can also subscribe on Patreon. You get the same thing.
I also put all the lyric videos into a playlist.
Each lyric video has an accompanying short video. The short has the instrumental playing in the background, while it cycles through each image generated by the lyrics. It doesn't feature the lyrics and, because of the 60-second limit on YouTube shorts, it goes by much more quickly. I post one of these per day. Example: Achilles Last Stand by Led Zeppelin.
Each music short takes around 5 minutes to make.
- Add all the images (already downloaded for the lyric video) into the Premiere timeline.
- Set a background image that scales in size over a minute and fills the background.
- Adjust the duration of each image to be in the 45-55 second range. This step takes the longest, as it requires some fiddling.
- Cut off the instrumental track so it accords with the end of the last image.
- Export and schedule.
Each short is less than a minute long. Most are in the 30-40 second range. I post two per day. The topics are eclectic and governed by what interests me at any given moment. That said, most are about entertainment, culture, and history. Example: 9 States Have More Cows Than People. I crosspost these to TikTok as well, where I have around ~6,100 followers. I don't crosspost the lyric shorts or lyric videos after finding they didn't do well.
I work in batches of 20 – or 10 days' worth of shorts – at a time. I've yet to fully time-track it all, but it looks something like this:
- 180-240 minutes to research & write the scripts for shorts.
- 60-120 minutes to record & edit audio for the shorts.
- 60-120 minutes to edit the video for the shorts.
- 30 minutes to schedule the shorts.
It takes around 8 hours to do 10 days' worth of shorts or 20 short videos – so around 24 hours for a month's worth of shorts. The shorts then get posted to TikTok & YouTube.
Literally just one. Example: Netflix’s Uncertain Future.
No comment at this time beyond the fact that research, writing, and editing took more than a dozen hours for a 15-minute video. It was also the most rewarding to work on.
I've done no optimization or SEO on any video, whether in the description, title, or thumbnails. I add some tags that I feel are relevant, but that's about it.
- Midjourney to generate AI images.
- Adobe Premiere to edit the video.
- Adobe Audition to record and edit audio.
- Adobe Express/Canva to create thumbnails. I use Express now. I used Canva while I had the free trial. I like Canva more, but Express is included in the subscription.
yt-dlpto download video & audio from YouTube.
- Drafts to write short scripts.
- Obsidian to write longer scripts, as well as posts such as this.
I posted 129 videos in December 2022. The breakdown is:
- 1 Video Essay
- 30 Lyric Music Videos
- 98 Shorts
101,881 views for December, or ~3,287 per day.
- 19.6k from non-shorts.
- 82.3k from shorts.
243 subscribers added in December, or ~8 per day.
- 0 subscribers added on December 1st and 25th – the lowest.
- 14 subscribers added on December 5th, 6th, 9th, and 17th – the highest.
- Started December with 1,077 subscribers
- Ended December with 1,320 subscribers.
0 to 1,000 subscribers took from March 1st, 2022 (0 subscribers) until November 22nd, 2022 (amusingly, 1,011 subscribers on 11/22/22). Or, 8 months and 3 weeks.
- My first 300 subscribers took from March 1st until June 1st (0 to 301) – 3 months.
- My last 300 took from November 24th, 2022 (1,032) until January 2nd, 2023 (1331) – 1 month, 1 week, and 2 days, or nearly a third of the time.
My top five sources of traffic are the Shorts feed, YouTube search, the Browse features, Suggested videos, and External/Playlists tied for fifth:
Depending on the kinds of videos you do, they could take minutes or a dozen hours. More time doesn't necessarily mean more views. My most viewed video is a short about how the Friends cast makes $20 million a year from syndication, with ~41k views as I write this. Never expected that. The Netflix video took a dozen hours. Less than 300 views. Go figure.
My videos are mostly governed by my interests. I don't have a rhyme or reason behind the why of any particular video. If it's an interesting fact, a bit of trivia, or a personal take, I'll make a video of it. There've been plenty of shorts that I didn't make because I wasn't that interested. If I like a song, I'll do it.
I haven't done any research on how to optimize the channel, though this might change. I don't know if it'll be worth it to try and optimize shorts. While they're basically vertical videos, for some reason, they feel more ephemeral than longer videos. I've posted the lyric videos to some Subreddits & forums – perhaps ~10 or so out of 100. Besides that, I've done no marketing.
My Netflix video essay took the longest. It's just shy of 300 views right now, but it's the one I remember working on the most and the one that was most enjoyable to do. I'll probably do more video essays going forward, though it'll require cutting back on the lyric videos. There's a lot to be said for working on what you enjoy and what interests you as opposed to what the capital-A Algorithm wants you to do. Perhaps naively, I've decided to take the whole "do what interests you" bit to heart. That might change, and I might try to optimize longer videos in the future, but I'm fine with letting it ride for the moment.
Feel free to send me any questions at email@example.com. Or leave a comment referencing this post and I'll answer it on YouTube.
YouTube Channel: Syntopikon