Your first video hits YouTube and you get lucky, and you get quite the audience. This is fantastic. People are coming to realize what you thought all along: that you are talented and have a perspective that is unique and entertaining. You get tons of people to subscribe to your channel. They can't wait to see what you make next. The only problem is, you don't have a new video planned. Or if you do, it's going to take weeks before you get it uploaded. Or, you make a video on Thursday one week and then Tuesday the next week, and then Sunday, and no one knows when to visit your channel, or you aren't maximizing the potential views you could have had by releasing the video at the right time.
Welcome to YouTube's Creator Playbook, which stresses the importance of a regular schedule and frequent uploads:
Strategy: Release content frequently and on a recurring schedule, React to trending topics.
Why It Works: Frequency of uploads affects the algorithm. To build an audience, "a consistent audience requires consistent content."
How To Do It: Find the right release day for your audience. Maximize content gained from production investment.
When And Where Can I Watch It?
Uploading your videos to YouTube is no different from a television network finding a day and a time slot for one of their shows. You can look at some of the biggest critical successes in TV history that ended up going through the ringer when their networks kept moving the day and the time slot around and no one could find those shows anymore. Arrested Development was one of those shows, but it's not nearly the only one.
Also, many programs lost their audience by coming out with several episodes, but then going on a long hiatus. A recent example is Fast-Forward. This is why successful shows like 24 and Lost, which relied on viewers staying up-to-date through each episode, started their seasons in the Spring and ran rare breaks between new episodes.
For YouTube, you have to have a "one a week" mentality, and probably more. You have a pretty fickle crowd out there. If you go on an extended break, you're going to lose a lot of your audience. The most successful people on YouTube usually come out with two episodes a week, and usually have supplemental material along with those.
The Philip DeFranco Show: A Textbook in Regular Scheduling, Frequency, and Supplemental Material
There's a reason why YouTube highlighted Philip DeFranco early on in their Playbook. This guy is a tireless video uploader with four channels, all tailored to specific interests, with a schedule met every week, clearly posted and often reiterated by DeFranco himself in every episode.
First you have his regular show, which runs every Monday-Thursday:
Then he has a channel called Stuff Phil Likes, which is a playlist and commentary of YouTube videos that he also releases every Monday-Thursday, a semi-daily show called The Vloggity, where he offers bloopers and personal messages, and his movie show, Like Totally Awesome, which plays every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
Now, you don't have to be this busy, but DeFranco keeps content coming with such regularity, that if you like him at all and feel the need to subscribe, you get rewarded. Rewarding viewers for subscribing with the content they love keeps them coming back. Also, DeFranco's publishing of a special blooper reel is an economical way to release content. He didn't have to do anything special or spend any more money to get a new video out, but by taking existing footage from his regular shoots he was able to come up with brand new content.
Reviewing the Playbook: Regular Schedule And Frequency
Some of the same trends and viewer interests that drive television viewership are applicable to the web. Regular release schedules, programming, and timely publishing are all important in online video.
Regular Release Schedule and Timely Publishing
- Release videos on a set day of the week, if possible. Releasing videos on a recurring schedule helps build a structure to your show that an audience can rely on. It can be easier to retain audiences and keep them coming back to your channel when they know when new episodes will be coming out.
- "React" to trending topics when it makes sense to your audience. Don't get too locked in to your schedule. Adding supplemental content to your regular programming can build audience. Timing is important in online video and being part of what's going viral, rising search trends, or breaking news can be critical for certain content.
- Publishing content regularly will improve your ranking in the algorithm and help you build viewership.
- A good level to aim for is a minimum of one video per week, but the right amount of content depends on your audience, your goals, and your content. This frequency will provide your audience with new content regularly, and keep them coming back often.
- Make the most of your production investments. Be creative and resourceful about how you create content to find ways to be able to publish more regularly. Ways to get more videos from your production investment include creating supplements to your larger productions, and using resource-saving production techniques.
Take Advantage of Trends to Set Your Schedule, But Don't Miss Opportunities to Break Away From It Once In Awhile
Since DeFranco is a near-daily presence on YouTube, his news show hits the trending topics pretty well, and each episode he creates gets a good jump in viewers every time something big happens in the world. But maybe you aren't a news show. How do you know which schedule is right for you? Well, if you have a movie review show, it's probably best to do it on Friday, when the new releases come out. Or if you do video games or DVDs, Tuesday is the best time to release a video because that's when the new product hits the shelves.
For instance, the group of people who use Machinima's channel don't just use video games to make new movies, but they also take advantage of the audience they have and do video game reviews. Here's one for a recent big release, Dead Island:
This is taking an audience who is already passionate about video games and giving them everything related to the medium. The review came out a couple of days after the release and capitalized on the buzz surrounding it.
You shouldn't always adhere to the schedule, either. If something big happens in the world and people are discussing it on the internet, it might be good to come out with a special show so you can capitalize on the buzz surrounding that event. Like, if you're a snarky entertainment show that comes out Mondays and Thursdays, but a major celebrity gets caught in a scandal on a Tuesday, it might be a good time to come out with a special episode to catch the topic while it's hot.
Reviewing the Playbook: How-To Steps
Find The Right Schedule For Your Content
- The right schedule depends on your category and content. There may be existing trends that your schedule can be based on. For example, new music and video games get released on Tuesdays in the U.S., so if you review music or have a show about video games, this calendar may influence the right day of the week for you to release your videos.
Make Your Schedule Known
- If you set a schedule, make it clear to your the audience and new viewers when and how often new videos are released.
- Remind the audience in the videos, in the episode description, or the other branding on your channel.
Get the Most of Your Production Investment
- Find ways to cull more content from your shoots and production.
- Use production techniques (i.e., block shooting) to minimize production time and maximize the usable content.
- Create supplemental content for your big projects or videos that are less production intensive. Capture behind-the-scenes footage, keep a log of your bloopers, or create vlog-style update or comment videos.
Maximize Your Frequency
- More content will lead to more viewership and better ranking in algorithms. Release content consistently to build and retain a consistent audience.
Making Use Of Insight For Your Schedule
Insight is YouTube's test tube of information for your show. You can track just about everything related to your show with it. The schedule and frequency is no different. You can see when people are watching your show most, and which episodes connected with viewers. The use of this tool will help you decide what kind of schedule you should stick to for the most part, and you should be able to figure out the days it's best to release your supplemental material. From the Playbook:
Insight Tracking Tip
Find what days your channel peaks in views of if your audience follows your schedule by looking at viewership graphs in Insight. Learn about how many views you gain by adding more content to your channel, and find the right balance between production investment and views gained.
Every week we will be covering a new section of the Playbook. Links to previous articles: