YouTube Videos as Small Experiments

The popularity of working on small experiments (or ‘bets’) as business ideas before investing a significant amount of time upon one of them is a model of work rapidly gaining traction with indie hackers.

It makes so much sense - when you’re small and in need of money to fund your work, you don’t waste time on ideas which are unproven. Instead you choose to work on a portfolio of many ideas over a short period of time to see which ones resonate with customers.

What I’ve come to realise through work on my own channel is that youtubers and the videos they create are a great examples of this form of experimentation in action. Here’s the content loop I think many of them will go through:

  1. The creator decides on the frequency at which they would like to iterate at - it could be weekly or monthly if you’re working on larger projects like someone like Mark Rober.
  2. The creator decides on a topic they hope will provide value and resonate with viewers. They may take a risk and choose a something slightly off-topic, or stick with what they know works for their channel. They use the allotted amount of time to capture content relating to it.
  3. After each iteration, the creator works on editing their footage into a collection of shots that they hope present their idea well. They may take a risk and experiment with their video format, or stick with what they have done previously for their channel.
  4. The creator publishes their content at a time which works well for their users. Colin Furze likes to publish on Thursday (or ‘Furze’ day).
  5. They check over their results in the form of views and analytics over time. YouTube will promote their video if it’s found to do well. If the creators channel is monetised, views ultimately result in money for the creator. The view count will continue to rise from the publication date and continue to earn money via ad revenue until it is removed or views no longer generate meaningful revenue.
  6. Using the analytics information gathered, the creator is able to make decisions about what might be their next project. If it does particularly well, they may do more videos of that type - if it doesn’t they can iterate on the video variables (frequency, format, publication time or subject). At this point they’ll go back to point 1.

This content loop isn’t unique for youtubers, it also applies to bloggers for example - but I think YouTube is a good example of a one stop solution that encapsulates a number of the above points well and includes an obvious financial incentive.

The creator, like an indie hacker gets to work hard and make lot of choices based on risk and rewards really quickly for each of their video projects before reviewing results and moving on to their next project. They both intend with subsequent iterations that their next project is more successful than the last, which will result in more freedom to experiment further.


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