How I Start a New YouTube Channel (Part 1)

We are officially headed into the holiday season. This is always a busy time for pretty much any business. But if you’re in the health or fitness industry: January is prime time.

When a new year rolls around, people are ready to get back into shape. This is why our 30 Days of Yoga series has been such a huge success. This will be our tenth and final year for that series (more on that soon) and for the first time, we’re way ahead of schedule. This year I’m primarily involved in everything that goes around the actual videos – marketing campaigns, opt-in funnels, physical merch, and the digital product. There are a lot of moving pieces but this final year will be the most awesome yet.

Update on the New Channel

We are still in what I consider the soft-launch phase of the Musou Movement YouTube channel. That means we’re getting into a regular schedule, building an audience, and figuring out what works. Other than this newsletter and the Musou social channels, we have done zero promotion.

Things were building slowly and steadily until I sent out this newsletter last week.

Suddenly, our views and subscribers went up.

Way up.

This seemed cool at first but the increase was too high to have been generated by this newsletter.

I took a look into the analytics and noticed a lot of low-quality traffic. My guess is that someone used a service and bought views for the channel. This might have been someone with good intentions. But my Spidey sense is telling me that it is an attempt to mess up the channel – or at least mess up our analytics.

I’m not losing sleep over it, but it does make this ongoing case study a little less valuable.

Here’s where we are now.

Intuitively I feel like we should be at around 100 subscribers and about 12,000 views.

We did have a Short pick up some speed organically and it does seem to be sending traffic into the full-length video it’s associated with. It’s too early and the dataset is too small to truly tell what the impact is. But I am happy with how the Short turned out.

Will this early surge of inorganic traffic have a long-term negative impact on the channel? It’s still too early to say, but I’ve got a long-term vision for this channel and the business. This is just a little bump in the road and we will recover.

Now, onto the first part of my YouTube channel strategy tutorial. Since this is all public, I’ve decided not to share the actual keywords I’m using to build the foundation for this channel. In the past, I’ve revealed a lot of the YWA keywords and when people try to outrank us, it just adds fuel to my fire. I love friendly competition. I’ll probably circle back in the future and reveal some of these details, once we are actually ranking.

How I Start a YouTube Channel

Part 1 – Building a Keyword Foundation

Optimizing for YouTube search has fallen out of fashion, but this is still always my starting point. I don’t think this is the optimal play for entertainment content, but for “How To/Instructional” niches, it is still incredibly powerful.

A keyword is basically anything that someone types into the YouTube (or Google) search field. It is usually a string of words. For example, “Yoga for weight loss.”

When someone searches for something, they are usually looking for the answer to a question or to solve a problem. Keyword research gives us an idea of what these questions and problems are and helps us know the actual words people are using. Through keyword research, we can also get an idea of how many people are actually looking for information on these topics.

My first step is to do some research and gather a ton of relevant keywords. I then use these keywords to craft our YouTube strategy.

Initially, I do a quick scan of other channels in the niche. This is more intuitive than it is scientific. I’m just scanning, browsing, and going down the rabbit hole. I look at what their top-performing videos are and make a note of all the titles. I do this directly on YouTube by going to the videos page of a channel and clicking on Popular.

The entire time, I’m copying and pasting video titles and potential keywords into a Google Sheet.

Once I’ve accumulated a few dozen titles/keywords, I fire up an external tool.

There are a lot of options for this. I’ve been in the SEO game for longer than I’ve been making YouTube videos. None of these tools are perfect, but any of them will give you a foundation of keywords that you can build on. I’ve used almost all of them but for YouTube specifically, my go-to is vidIQ. It’s currently the most effective way to get the keyword data I need to really nail this system.

VidIQ is like a crystal ball for YouTube searches. It will show you the buzz around any keyword. And it’s not just about the numbers; it tells you how hot a keyword is and how tough the competition might be.

In this example, I’m using the keyword “yoga for weight loss.” I’ve talked about this one before, and it’s not one we optimize for or use anymore. Ranking #1 for this was a huge source of traffic and growth for our channel.

Here’s what it looks like when I run it through vidIQ.

We see the Search Volume is High but the Competition is Very High. So, the overall score for this term is 38 (Low). This would be hard to rank for in the early days of a channel.

I’m looking for at least a handful of keywords that are yellow or green. Those will be easier to rank for in the early days. It’s all about finding that sweet spot, the keyword that’s got a good search volume but not too much competition.

Eventually, I will want to go after some more difficult (and lucrative) keywords. So I would keep this in my master list.

If you scan around the page, you’ll see that VidIQ also generates suggestions for related keywords, matching terms, and questions. You can find some great things to add to your master list.

Some of these keywords may not be things you actively pursue in the early days, but they can be incredibly powerful for interlinking between videos and building backlinks that originate outside of YouTube.

During phase one, I am focused on getting as many relevant keywords as I can into my master spreadsheet. In the next phase, I will sift through all of this and keep only the best. That cleaned-up list will be the foundation for how I plan my content, design my categories, and optimize the channel.

More on that in Part 2.

Thanks for reading!


PS – I had a few people ask me last week about the YouTube Thumbnail Split Tester (Test and Compare) that I mentioned in the newsletter. Here’s a quick video that shows what it is and how it works.

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