YouTube – Going Viral

Just a short post today, discussing my last year of running a YouTube channel. By and large, it’s been a lot of work, but I’ve also had a great time. My channel has been slowly growing. As of last Wednesday, I was at just shy of 150 subscribers, and I was quite pleased. I was slowly getting more and more views on my videos, and my average ad revenue per month was up over a dollar. In fact, I had just earned enough to get my first $10 payment from AdSense.

I say this as of last Wednesday, because on Friday things changed. It started with a video I uploaded on Tuesday, July 30th. I’m a reader of XKCD, and he had just finished a 4 month animation project known as XKCD #1190, or “Time”. I decided to take the individual comic frames and make an actual video of them, with a little music and ambient noise. The project took several hours of work over the weekend, and I finished the video Monday night.

As luck would have it, I was the first person (as far as I could see) to convert the entire 3099 frame sequence into a video. I didn’t think much of it, and watched the view count slowly climb over the next few days. By Friday morning, it was at about 175 views which is pretty good for a channel with less than 150 people.

Then something odd happened. My view count jumped to 301+. If you’ve been around YouTube long, you know what that number means. My video had just started to get a lot of views in a short period of time. What had happened? I had no idea. And I wouldn’t have analytics for at least a day. I waited for an agonizing 30-45 minutes before my view count finally updated again. Now it was over a thousand. I was thrilled. Then I noticed that the view count wasn’t updating, but I was starting to get a lot of likes, and a few comments. And some subscribers.

It took another three hours for the next update to my view count. When it updated, it was over 10,000 views. I was stunned. My video had been linked somewhere, but I had no idea where. I commented in a reply to a comment that I’d love to know where my traffic was coming from. Apparently, my viewers were reading the comments because I shortly had my answer. My video had been linked by The Verge and Wired in articles talking about XKCD #1190.

Over the course of the weekend, I also got linked on Slashdot and possibly on BoingBoing and Reddit. My views continued to climb, and even today are still coming in at around a thousand an hour. I expect this to continue to taper off, but as of this posting, I’ve received 116,000 views in less than a week, and had nearly a hundred new people subscribe to my channel.

How did I get so lucky? I don’t know for sure, but my best guess is that I happened to hit the window when writers for The Verge and Wired were working on articles about the comic. I was the only person with a video of the end result, and they wanted one for their articles. Pure serendipity. And pure gold for my channel. It’s time to work on the future. I have a lot of new viewers to keep happy, and I can’t wait to do it.

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