What I’ve learned after 12 years on YouTube!

I started my YouTube channel in January of 2007, in my last year of secondary school. Back then I didn’t even have my own video camera but I was very excited about a few upcoming games and decided to make some quick fan videos in movie maker and uploading in 360p… Almost 13 years and over 400 videos later, I’m making regular weekly videos in 4K Sony A6400 camera and editing in Final Cut Pro! 

So how did I go from a clueless student in 2007 to where I am on YouTube today? And what have I learned along the way? Let’s start with a bit about my history on YouTube, before moving onto what I’ve learned and how you might be able to apply some of my tips to your own channel! 

Here’s a link to my channel if you want to take a look before reading on:


Part 1 – My history on YouTube –

I’ve always loved making videos, even back when I was a kid I used to always play around with the straight to VHS camcorder we used to have. Having a YouTube channel is something my younger self would have been very excited about! I’m quite jealous of kids who grow up these days with camera phones and iPads that take better quality video than I could have even dreamed about in the early 90’s!

As I said above, I first started making videos in 2007, but it wouldn’t be until the year after when I got my first laptop and video camera that I’d be able to make something that resembles the kind of video I’d make today. 

Of course, looking back on those old videos now I see so much room for improvement. But back then youtube was different, I felt like I didn’t have to worry about what other people thought, I didn’t care about subscribers, there was no way to make money off videos, there were no YouTube celebrities yet. I don’t think it had even been bought by Google at that point. It was a different time but even so, I was very excited about the idea of getting my content out into the world, even if I didn’t know why!

I was really enjoying making videos during my days off at College, I remember reaching 100 subscribers and being over the moon, I never thought that 100 people would want to watch any of my silly videos!

Fast forward a few years and I was off to University and Youtube took a back seat in my life, during this time my uploads slowed to just one or two videos a year! I never forgot about it though but a lot changed on Youtube during those four years, and a lot of my old subscribers disappeared, along with some old channels that I used to love watching.

It wasn’t really until after Uni and when I got my first full time job that I became more focussed on YouTube and video creation in general. I remember being obsessed about the Sony RX100 line of cameras after spending most of my downtime at work reading up about which cameras to get to start a youtube channel, I ended up getting the RX100 II and was very excited to try it out! I decided to try and make one video a week and see how far I could go and how much I could grow the channel. If you want to see what this original weekly series was and how it ended, check out the playlist below:

The problem was, at the time I didn’t have any kind of structure in mind for the channel, the videos were all a bit random, not planned out, and I was also very uncomfortable in front of the camera, I would often spend about half an hour just trying to mentally prepare myself to start talking to it! It seems silly now but it was very hard at the time, but my desire to make videos was so strong that I pushed through.

Talking in front of the camera is still a bit daunting now but I do feel much more comfortable, and that just comes with time. So if you’re struggling with speaking to the camera, just try to get as much practise in as possible and I promise it will become easier! Plus if you keep all your older videos it’s always amazing to see how far you’ve come!

I find youtube to be a big help with my confidence, I feel like through doing these regular videos that I’ve become a lot more comfortable talking and presenting. It’s even been paying off at work as I feel like I’m much more comfortable speaking up in front of people and presenting ideas than I used to be! – I’ve even put my filming and editing skills to use at work a few times!

Around the same time (2015 – 2016) as I was working on my original weekly series I was also making a game for IOS and Android. I decided to put more effort into making the game instead of doing videos and so that weekly series came to an end and I once again abandoned youtube for a while. Looking back though I think taking a break from videos was a good idea, because when I did come back to it after the game was released I had a lot of new ideas and couldn’t wait to get back into it! I’ll talk about my experience making and releasing a game in a later blog post.

Around that time I also got my own house and could much more easily make videos whenever I wanted, which really helped!

So that brings us up to the modern days of my channel. I gave the channel a complete overhaul, with a new name (RetroBreak, instead of Nicktendowii and Let’s Play Retro Games) and a new plan of action! I did a lot of research and watched loads of videos on tips for making a youtube channel, the best cameras and equipment, and took notes of why I enjoyed some of my favourite you tubers and tried to incorporate all of that back into my own channel.

I also decided to focus on certain styles of videos, ones that could easily be made week after week without running out of content or ideas. Those video ideas for me boiled down to:

  • Event Vlogs
  • Game Pickups
  • Retro Recommendations
  • Collection Videos

By focussing on just those core video styles I’ve managed to keep a good rhythm going over the past few years and always have the next few videos planned in advance.

I feel like it’s very important that the viewer knows what to expect, consistency means a lot on youtube, sure it’s good to experiment but you don’t want to alienate the viewers that have subscribed because they enjoy your content!

These days my YouTube channel is growing every day, each morning I log on to find a few new subscribers have commented and watched my latest videos, but it’s taken a long time to get to this stage! It’s very exciting to know what so many people are enjoying what I make now, even if it took almost 13 years to get to this point!

Part 2 – What I’ve Learned / Tips

1 – Practise makes perfect

Although this might sound really cliche, it’s absolutely true. I still feel like I have a LONG way to go before I’ll be completely happy with my videos, there’s always room for improvement and growth.

After recording and editing a video every week, I’m always thinking about what went well, what didn’t go well, what I can change next time etc. These ideas and improvements really adds up over time and you end up setting a new baseline for what good is, then using that to improve even further, until that becomes the norm and you can look at even more improvements. It feels great to be able to be learning and applying new techniques and skills into something each week and seeing the progress happen in real time in the analytics of the channel! It’s very fulfilling!

2 – Consistency pays off!

One of my goals for 2019 was to try and reach 5000 subscribers before the end of the year. I thought that was going to be an almost impossible mission, considering I started the year on around 3000, but it’s only the beginning of October and I’m almost on 6000 already!I feel like because I’m always adding to my list of videos, there’s always more chance of something being recommended on Youtube or someone finding a video through search and enjoying it, then going to watch more on my channel, then eventually tuning in each week to watch when a new one is uploaded, so it’s really important to keep the consistency and make sure the new subscribers always have something to look forward to, and plenty to look back on too!

It’s insane to think that in the past year alone I have made more progress than the entire 11 years I’ve been on the platform before that! It makes me very excited about how much I will have grown by this time next year!

In the past I’ve been too long without uploading, then by the time I’ve gone back to releasing regular content, a lot of the viewers from before have forgotten about the channel and moved on.

3 – Don’t be afraid to advertise your content (Where it makes sense to)

Don’t randomly spam your links as most people will just get annoyed at that, but it’s a good idea to join some youtuber groups on Facebook around your topic and share your videos there, as well as on places like Reddit (If the sub in question is OK with posting your own content, don’t want to get banned!)

Twitter is especially good for sharing videos and building an audience (Plus it’s the only social media I actually enjoy!)

Remember to use hashtags, and post your video whenever it goes live and pin it to the top of your profile, and have a link to your channel in your bio!

Follow me on Twitter https://twitter.com/RetroBreakGames

4 – Look at the analytics and plan accordingly

I have to admit, I got a bit addicted to checking my channel analytics! There’s two great mobile apps I use, Youtube Studio and Tube Buddy.

YT Studio shows you all kinds of graphs and statistics, from a list of best videos by watch time, to how many subscribers you’ve gained (or lost) over time. Tube buddy is better at editing your video descriptions / tags etc once it’s live or ready to go live. It also makes nice tweetable certificates whenever you hit a milestone which is always good to share and bring a bit more awareness about your channel!

Just make sure to actually look at these stats and act on them. Maybe you’ll notice a particular style of video is doing better than others, then maybe try and make more of that kind.

I’ve found that as I’ve made more and more videos it’s becoming a lot easier to see which ones will draw in more views, longer watch times, more comments and interactions etc. It’s a really useful tool to know what to make going forward, I’ve planned most of the videos for the rest of the year around these insights.

5 – HAVE FUN!!!

It’s easy to forget why you started making videos in the first place if you’re constantly working on new content. ,But at the end of the day you have to remember it’s about having fun, getting your voice and thoughts out there for others to see and interact with, but most importantly, for me at least, it’s about having a creative outlet and a hobby I can really enjoy and get into, so I try to always remind myself not to take it too seriously, and just enjoy the process of recording, editing and interacting with viewers once it’s out! I really do love it, and that’s why I’ve managed to keep it going for so long and still get so excited about planning and making videos, and hopefully I always will!

Just for fun before I wrap this blog up, here’s the first ever video where I showed my face, and the latest video for comparison! Enjoy

Thank you so much for reading this far! I think I got a bit carried away, I forgot how much I love writing!

Please send me a link to your youtube channels, I’d love to see what else people are working on!

Until… Tomorrow!

Happy Blogtober!

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