YouTube has come a long way since the days of accidental-viral videos of cats and babies. As the ecosystem continues to develop, being a full-time content creator on YouTube has now become a viable profession. We’ve seen YouTube OGs like Smosh and Philip DeFranco go from YouTube hobbyists to managing their brands as full-blown media companies. People are aspiring to quit their day jobs and create awesome, engaging content for massive audiences – and get paid to do it.

But as more content creators come onboard, the space is becoming increasingly more competitive. While many huge YouTubers who have been around since the launch of the platform are still succeeding in engaging their growing fanbase, many are dropping off and losing their audience. What worked a few years ago may be different from what will work in the future. With infinite channels and entertainment options available on the platform, which content will stand out? What will the portrait of a successful YouTuber look like?

The Collaborative Creator

Strategic collaboration has always been key for entertainers to succeed in reaching new audiences.  While some creators argue that collaborating with creators with small audiences are not beneficial, we’ve seen smart collaborations boost big YouTube names to superstars. Like when Philip DeFranco gave (a much smaller at the time) ShayCarl a shout out.

YouTube channel Our2ndLife perfectly captures the spirit of collaboration – in fact, they’ve based their entire programming format on it. Each of the six teenaged guys that make up the group take turns putting up a themed vlog on the channel on their day of the week. With their fresh look and charming personalities combined, they’ve truly become the One Direction of YouTube. Except instead of singing, they’re vlogging. It’s brilliant. Not only has this collab channel seen rapid growth and engagement, but each of the vloggers have accumulated massive amounts of fans on their own channels and social media accounts. Take my word for it, keep an eye out for these guys.

The Connected Creator

Staying socially engaged with your audience is no longer just a fun marketing idea. It is absolutely essential to the health and growth of your entertainment career. Creators with wildly successful channels these days are constantly interacting with their audience in creative ways. It’s not uncommon today to find newer channels with 50k-100k subscribers consistently getting more YouTube views, likes, comments and shares on their videos than those of “older” channels with 200-400k subs.

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One of my favorite channels on YouTube is that of Ashley Mardell. Not only are her videos fun, creative and really well done but she also engages her viewers VERY well. For instance, in this video she’s giving away a T-shirt by getting her viewers to tweet a video.

It rewards them and brings ROI to her channel. Another popular way to engage viewers is by setting a Like threshold they must meet on a video to gain an extra video.  You can see an example of this on one of my recent videos HERE.

The Relevant Creator

We’re seeing some huge talent drop off the map because they’ve stopped adapting their content to fit the current trends on YouTube. Good content is good content, but it's important to keep your brand fresh so your audience never stops growing.

For instance, challenge videos or tag videos are HUGE on YouTube. Everyone is doing them which means everyone is searching for them. Creating a "50 Random Facts" or "Draw My Life" video can bring in a ton of new viewers who are searching for these every day on YouTube. Some YouTubers may think, “These themed trends don't fit with my programming style.” To this I would say, make it fit. The best challenge/tag videos are the ones that are the most unique. Take your style of video and adapt a challenge to fit it!

The key word is adaptability. Be flexible; the YouTube ecosystem is still evolving constantly. To be the Matt Damon or Bradley Cooper of this platform, you’ll need to be unique with your collaborations, be smart about current trends and gain an audience that is devoted and engaged. I’m excited to see which YouTubers will fill these shoes in the years to come.

  • Michael Vera

    Austin! I saw you at Vidcon. Sorry I didn't come say hi.

    This article was really good, one of my favorites that I've read on ReelSeo in a long time. I hope you write more articles on Youtube trends. I've also seen a lot of big youtubers lose popularity, it's always interesting to research.

  • Josh Rimer

    Great tips! I came to LA for a month to collaborate with YouTubers and I've definitely seen how important it is to be able to find ones who are around the same size in subscribers as you and do the same sort of thing. Otherwise it's extremely difficult to get them to collaborate. The tag and challenge videos are definitely an easy way to collab though when you do find someone around your size!

  • Theo

    Challenge and Tag videos are new to me. I'm curious how does one go about finding a list of the top trending challenge and tag videos currently on YouTube.