Our Youtube channel grew from around 30,000 subscribers to just over 200,000 subscribers in 2020. A silver lining in an otherwise shitty year.
But if you're new reading this, it might surprise you to know that Slidebean's Youtube channel is, for the most part, just a marketing channel for us.
I didn't start as a Youtuber, nor did I intend to become one. I'm the CEO of this venture-backed startup called Slidebean, and our core business is helping startups succeed, not just making cool videos.
So that's why sharing our Youtube stats is a no-brainer for us. It's only a small fraction of our company's revenue: it's not a big secret.
Hopefully, it can help you figure out the inner workings of a Youtube channel like ours. Also, a chance to show you how good a presentation can look if you do it in Slidebean ;) .
So we're going to cover each one of the screens on the Youtube Studio, including revenue. Also, we'll cover the expenses we made to produce the content, and finally, we'll host all these stats as a downloadable presentation so that you can grab them for reference.
Let's get to it.
Let's start with the basics. We had a total of 11 million views in 2020, the majority of them after a spike in June. That accounts for 1 million hours of watch time, which sounds like an irrelevant metric, but it's one of Youtube's most important KPIs: the failure or success of a Youtube video is closely correlated to watch time.
Added 185,000 subscribers, the majority of them after that spike. Regularly, we add around 500 per day, which does NOT put us on a path to that 1M subscribers mark. We're working on it.
We made $44,637 in revenue directly from Youtube ads; this does not include income from the different sponsors we closed in 2020. Those deals add up to much more. It also doesn't include sales from our merch, which were $0 and made me seriously question my existence.
Going to the Reach Screen on Youtube, we had 140M+ impressions, with an average click-through-rate of 4%. Our best videos have a CTR of around 7%, and our worst are at about 3%. Our team has a salary goal for every thumbnail they can move from 3% to 5%, so ideas around that are very welcome!
As for Traffic Sources, the vast majority of views came from what Youtube calls 'Browse Features.' That's a combination of the home screen, the subscription feed, and others.
Next up is Suggested Videos at 17% and in fourth place Youtube Search, at 7.2%. In other words, 71.2% of our 11 million views this year came thanks to Youtube.
I get pitched all the time about alternative Youtube platforms, and my answer always is, is your platform going to bring me 7 million organic views per year? Probably not. That's why Youtube is king, and that's why, I believe, our content marketing recipe is killer.
We had around 11% of views coming from our own ads. Videos like these don't get promoted; we use that budget to promote videos that have a direct call to action to one of our products or services.
Some other highlights from the 'Reach' screen are the traffic we get from Google Search and Reddit, some of the largest external traffic sources.
Also, notice how Slidebean is the primary search term for Search Traffic, which wouldn't be exciting unless you look into the keyword pitch deck.
We didn't spend a lot of time in this 'Engagement' Tab, but Youtube recently added some new features to understand which videos have audience drop-offs or high-retention intros. We study this to figure out how to start our videos and retain as many people as possible.
As expected here, Company Forensics stands out as the most successful series. We've started color-coding it for clarity:
- Yellow thumbnails are company forensics episodes.
- Green thumbnails belong to our new 5-minute-tech series.
- Pink and Blue thumbnails represent our Startups 101 videos- our videos on our experience starting a business and raising capital.
This is the Audience Tab. The key takeaway here is the geographic location of our audience. While 28% of views came from the US, which makes it the largest country by a mile, there's a significant proportion of Southeast Asia traffic. That connects to the time at which we publish videos: our mornings seem to be compatible with most timezones, and that is why we schedule all our premieres then.
25% of our views come from subscribers, while 75% come from non-subscribers. I hear this is a nice distribution of people who continue to be engaged with our content while we continue to get discovered by new members. 91% Male, which is insane to me, but I'm sure my girlfriend appreciates. The vast majority of Millenials, but we have seen some growth in the 18-24 demographic over the past few months.
We used to subtitle our videos but stopped doing it after seeing it wasn't worth the time. No doubt that adding subtitles has its own advantages too!
Last but not least, for this screen, related channels. So excited to see that we share an audience with Wendover. I'm a big fan of that channel myself.
OK, let's move to revenue now. Some exciting takeaways here are related to the audience.
I've seen the stats of other Youtube channels, and for the most part, the Playback-based CPM numbers I've seen are much smaller.
My theory here is that our content caters to a very targeted, hard-to-catching, techy-entrepreneurial audience type. And it would seem that bids on this audience, that's you, are more expensive than the average Youtube content.
For example, notice how four of our five top-earning videos belong to our Startups 101 series for the year. These five videos are not the most watch videos, not by a mile, but they are most profitable. Also, 4 out of those five videos were published in 2019, so those views aren't the spike of views we get after releasing new content. It's just the constant stream of views we get, now that they've been established as references in their topic.
The last stat I'll show from Youtube is our typical performance metric. Notice how we usually expect 20,000 views for a video 24 hours after it's been published.
We try to outdo ourselves every time, but that doesn't always happen. Most of the time, we attribute it to a topic that wasn't that interesting for people.
As for our team's expenses, the total comes to $127,323, which is, indeed, less than what we made. This is probably our most significant advantage as Youtubers. We are essentially a Youtube channel with funding, and we get to overspend in production equipment, staff, and animation.
And this all makes sense because of the amount of revenue that Youtube generates for us: not for the Slidebean Media operation specifically, but for our products. Brand awareness is a new secret power we discovered over the last couple of years. I would expect at least 50% of our new customers have found us through content.
If you take the Youtube ads and sponsorship revenue out of the team expenses, we essentially have an almost-free channel to promote Slidebean.