One year ago I decided to take our family’s vlogging channel more seriously and begin to grow it. Since then we’ve seen our vlogs views grow and subscribers increase from 18,000 to more than 60,000. This video explains what strategy we implemented to start growing our family vlogging YouTube channel, the tactics that worked as well, as what didn’t work for us. If you want to grow YouTube views and subscribers on your vlogging channel, this video will show you how to get started.
My wife and I have had a YouTube family vlogging channel since 2006. But it’s always been kind of like a side gig for us since we supported our family and made a living doing other things. But last September, 2015, my wife and I said, you know what? Family is what’s most important to us. This is what we ultimately believe in. And so we decided to take it off the side shelf and start really intentionally starting to grow it and doing something with that family vlogging channel. Since then, in one year’s time, we have grown over 365%. How did we do that? Today I want to take you and give you all the different things we tried and experimented with, and really dig into how we did this so that you guys can hopefully see similar results on your channel.
Hey guys. My name is Tim Schmoyer, and welcome to Video Creators. This channel is all about helping you guys grow your YouTube audience so you can spread a message that reaches people and impacts their lives. So I’m the guy who apparently trains people how they grow their YouTube audience. So when I took this personal project and said let’s make this channel grow, what did I do? We actually tried four things that I think I can tangibly see had a big effect, and I’ll tell you what those are. And then maybe a few other things, three other things that we also tried and switched, but it’s harder for me to measure the impact that had on the channel. And you’ll see what I mean when I get there.
What Audience Do We Want ?
So the first thing we did is decide who do we want that audience to be that we are going to intentionally attract to this channel. You guys have heard me talk about this many times on this channel. It’s called defining your target audience. So my wife and I decided that we are going to focus on telling stories and attracting an audience of young millennial moms. And the way we thought it that are moms between the ages of 21 and 34 years old who have at least one but maybe two children who are four years old and younger. We think of them primarily living here in the US, and probably being a stay at home mom who really wants to learn how to best parent and raise and grow this child that they really, really love. But also as a first time parent, are kind of dealing with a lot of the insecurities and the questions and the problems and the interests that change and everything that happens around shifting from becoming an individual, a single, married person, to having your first or maybe your second child.
Provide Content that Focuses on the Target Audience
And so in our family’s vlog, we started specifically telling stories that revolve around the interests, the problems, the questions, the struggles that that target audience has by telling the stories of how those questions, struggles, and issues flesh themselves out and play in our own family story. And thus by doing that, attracting that target audience to our videos by wrapping it all up under a value proposition that we defined as becoming a family team.
Learn How to Tell Better Stories
he second thing we did was learn how to tell better stories, how to become better storytellers in the first place. A lot of vlogs that I see are basically– if we’re just going to be honest– they’re just people basically doing video status updates about their day. And it’s like, OK, now I’m doing this. Now I’m doing that. Now I’m doing this. Now it’s time to go to bed. Thanks for hanging out with me.
And those can be valuable and good. But we wanted to be better storytellers that would pull people into the story that we’re telling, and make them feel like they want to engage, and then really grow that loyalty over time. If that’s something you feel like you want to start learning more about, I’ll put a link in the description below to a very short video. It’s about four minutes long. It’s called The Shape of Stories. And it’ll start to help you understand very simply what a story arc is and how you can use them to tell stories that people love.
But then I also started reading other storytelling books and training materials. I got one of the best ones is called a Hero with 1,000 Faces by Joseph Campbell. And this is the book actually that George Lucas read. And when he read it, he started writing these stories that we know now today as Star Wars. And followed Joseph Campbell’s outline for a story arc for Hero’s Journey, he followed that to a T when he started writing the Star Wars movies and those stories.
And so it’s obviously a story arc that people really love and like. And so I had to start thinking, how do I take this story arc, this narrative that people love, and how do I apply it to family? And this leads in then to the third thing that we started doing, is start trying to intentionally have story arcs around the stories that we’re telling. And we, my wife and I, came up with three main ones.
So there’s the top one, this big overarching story arc that encompasses every video that we’re doing now on our channel, which is, like I said, becoming a family team. And every story we tell has to go up to that big theme, overarching story, becoming a family team.
But then there’s a second layer beneath that. And that kind of gets into the season of life that we’re in right now. So for a long time, it was pregnant with twins, and then having twins. And then it shifted to OK our family is really tight in this small 900 square foot house. And so we started shopping for a new house. That was a season of life of buying a new house, moving in. And now that story is kind of dying down. And now the second story arc that we’re kind of ramping up now is moving into the home schooling stories that moms like and really want to connect with.
Make Every Story a Unique
And then there’s a third arc that my wife and I have, which is this lower arc. And this is the story that every single vlogger, every single video has to be a self-contained story. Because you guys got to remember that every video you do is potentially someone’s very first exposure to one of your videos. And so they need to be able to pull people in very easily right away from the very beginning.
Carefully Select Which Stories to Share, When
And the way we did that is actually the fourth thing that we started doing on our channel, and that is by being very intentional about knowing what story we’re going to tell that day in the vlog before we even start shooting it. And what that allows us to do is be able to determine what thumbnail we need to capture for that story, and what title we’re going to get give that thumbnail that’s going to make it as enticing as possible.
So if someone who’s never heard of us before, they say that sounds interesting, I want to know about that. They click on it. Then what’s the first 15 seconds they’re going to see when they first start that video? They have no idea who we are. They’ve never been introduced to us. All they know is they just want to see something about that title and thumbnail.
And doing that actually freed me and my wife up a lot, because rather than having to take the camera and record every single thing we’re doing that day, and then trying to figure out how to make a story at the end of the day when we edited it all together, instead we go into it already knowing the story we’re telling, and only needing to capture those moments.
But the best part really is at the end of the day, we have a better video, a better story to tell, that’s one cohesive story from beginning to end. For example, a recent video we did is titled Mom Tries Shopping Alone with six little kids. And the thumbnail is a bunch of kids in stopping cars looking like they’re going crazy. So that pitches a story. They click on it. So the story opens by my wife saying, I’m going shopping with these six little kids. It’s for the first time I’ve ever done this as a mom going out in public. We’re going to try this and see how it goes.
And if you’re a mom and you have kids, right now you’re thinking, oh my gosh, this story can not go well. And so you’re enticed to watch it and see what happens.
When we started doing that, we saw a lot more increased traffic from related and suggested videos on YouTube for moms who are just browsing, watching someone else’s video, but they saw the title and the thumbnail. It hooked them. They gave that video a substantial amount of watch time because of the story that we were telling cohesively, which then helped that video performed better, which gave us more views from suggested videos. And so then it just kind of started growing from there. And so that really worked out well for us.
Updated Brand Intro
There’s a few other things that we changed when we started taking the channel seriously as well. But it’s hard for me to know exactly what impact these made. And one of them, number one is that we updated our branded intro when someone first starts just watching our video. Now we open with kind of a little bit of a hook just like you normally would. Like hey, today we’re going to go shopping, blah blah blah. And then we cut to our branded intro. It’s only a few seconds long. And it’s designed to pitch our value proposition of becoming a family team.
And it also introduces you to one of the most common questions that new people have when they first watch our channel is, what is everyone’s names? And what birth order are you in? And what are you guys all about? And so it’s designed to answer those questions.
Live Streaming, Weekly
The second thing we started doing is live streaming every Tuesday evening with another YouTube family vlogging channel, which is awesome. It was great because it gave us some time to interact directly with our viewers and facilitate a better relationship that way. It gave us time to hang out with these other YouTube families that we like.
Collaborating with Other Vloggers
It potentially gave us an opportunity to tap into some of their audiences by showing up as a suggested video against their families vlogging videos as well. But if we’re totally honest, the real reason why we wanted to do it is just to schedule time for us to continue to connect and get to know other family creators in this space. Because you guys know having friends, relationships, connections with people that you want to support and feel supported by you is one of the best things you can do overall.
We actually upgraded our camera. We were shooting our vlogs on a little GoPro, which was fine. But we upgraded to the Canon G7X Mark II, and did a full review about it. Link in the description below, or card on here will pop up that you can click on to see our full review of that from a vlogging perspective. That camera really did up the quality of the audio and the visual quality of our vlogs. But again, it’s really hard to know what kind of impact that made specifically.
Overall, the big arching principle is tell better stories. That’s more important than the camera, the equipment that you have. It’s more important than any of the gear that you have access to, or the budget you have to spend or anything like that. We didn’t spend a dime on growing ours. It really, I think, comes down to the story. And how we pitch that story is the title and the thumbnail and the opening seconds of the video.
The main thing I really actually want to point out to you guys though through all of this is that I make a full time living teaching people how to grow their YouTube audiences. And so I am doing professionally on that channel what I do here and with many other creators. And still, it is a slow process.
You guys look at that graph, it is not a straight upward arrow over time. It is ups. It is downs. It is more ups. It is more downs. But over the course of a year, taking a step back and looking at the big picture, you can see that the trajectory is positive.
The other thing that I wanted to point out with this is that I had to learn a lot. I studied storytelling. I really analyzed our target audience and who we’re trying to reach. I try to figure out how can we better hook these people. How can we make our videos more accessible to first time viewers in and easily and more quickly convert them into subscribers who love our story and want to keep engaging? This is stuff I’ve done with tons of other creators, but every channel is unique and different. And so I still had to learn and read a lot of books and really start digging into this. And I hope that’s what you guys do too. You just don’t sit down, you make a few videos, and then wonder why it’s not growing.
Often it takes time. It takes perseverance. It takes continually learning from your mistakes, looking back on what you’ve done wrong, and improving. And if growing your YouTube channel is something that you want to take seriously, and you really want to start digging into some resources, I have a link in the description below that’ll go to my eBook. It’s called 30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel. And it’s just a quick 30-day step by step process for what to focus on every day for 30 days.30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel. And it’s just a quick 30-day step by step process for what to focus on every day for 30 days.
- Our family’s vlogging channel
- The Shape of Stories
- “Hero with a Thousand Faces,” by Joseph Campbell (affiliate)
- Mom Tries Shopping Alone with 6 Little Kids
- My review of the Canon G7X Mark II
- 30 Days to a Better YouTube Channel