What it takes to become a YouTube star: time

Tim Peterson on
  • Categories: Channel: Video, Google: YouTube, Video
  • Becoming a YouTube star isn’t as easy as firing up a webcam and acting endearingly awkward. Actually, it’s not easy at all.

    According to a survey of 1,861 YouTube creators conducted by Grapevine, a company that pairs creators with brands for ad campaigns, only two percent have more than 100,000 subscribers, and nine percent have between 5,000 and 100,000 subscribers. The remaining 89 percent of creators had fewer than 5,000 subscribers.

    Courtesy Grapevine

    “YouTube creators are certainly not born overnight, and it takes a lot of work each and every week and each and every hour to build your channel to celebrity status,” said Grapevine co-founder and community director Kimberley Bond, referring to the tier of YouTube creators with at least 100,000 subscribers.

    Actually, it takes years, and even then, it’s hard to crack more than tens of thousands of subscribers.

    Courtesy Grapevine

    There’s also the time it takes to make the videos that attract the subscribers. According to Grapevine, 70 percent of creators with at least 100,000 subscribers spend at least six hours working on each video they upload to YouTube, and one-third of those YouTube stars spend at least eight hours on each video.

    “As [creators’ subscriber bases] get larger and more people are watching, there’s pressure to be of a certain quality level,” Bond said.

    There’s also the pressure to keep the content well fresh so audiences will keep coming back. More than half of the creators surveyed who have at least 5,000 subscribers upload at least two videos a week, while more than 75 percent of those with fewer than 5,000 subscribers upload at most one video a week, including 22 percent who upload a video once a month or less frequently.

    About The Author

    Tim Peterson
    Tim Peterson, Third Door Media's Social Media Reporter, has been covering the digital marketing industry since 2011. He has reported for Advertising Age, Adweek and Direct Marketing News. A born-and-raised Angeleno who graduated from New York University, he currently lives in Los Angeles. He has broken stories on Snapchat's ad plans, Hulu founding CEO Jason Kilar's attempt to take on YouTube and the assemblage of Amazon's ad-tech stack; analyzed YouTube's programming strategy, Facebook's ad-tech ambitions and ad blocking's rise; and documented digital video's biggest annual event VidCon, BuzzFeed's branded video production process and Snapchat Discover's ad load six months after launch. He has also developed tools to monitor brands' early adoption of live-streaming apps, compare Yahoo's and Google's search designs and examine the NFL's YouTube and Facebook video strategies.