How to Get 6.2M Views with 0 Subscribers

For a video to hit this level of reach, it has to appeal to as many people as possible. However…
How to Get 6.2M Views with 0 Subscribers
Table of Contents
In: Analysis, Strategy, Systems

It’s easier to blow up on YouTube now than it has ever been. Fight me.

Here’s the deal:

→ First EVER video uploaded on this channel
→ 6.2M views and 59K+ subs so far
→ Niche: Edutainment (Gaming/AI)

How does this happen? What can we learn from Peter’s success?

Gather around 🔥

How Does Virality Happen on YouTube?

These results are clearly not typical, but there is a pattern for early videos that can help a channel reach breakout velocity:

Universal Topic

For a video to hit this level of reach, it has to appeal to as many people as possible. Reading this makes it seem obvious, but this is something many creators miss in practice. However…

Appealing to every person on the internet is a losing battle. If you’ve spent any amount of time online, you already know this.

The key is not appealing to every person, but to address the largest potential audience in your given niche.

Level 1 of broad appeal on YouTube answering a question your audience has play to algorithm and SEO-based traffic sources e.g.) “How to Train AI with Reinforcement Learning”

Level 2 of broad appeal on YouTube answering a question your audience didn’t know they had play to human interest while including relevant terms for your audience e.g.) “Training AI on Pokémon with Reinforcement Learning”

Clear Packaging

Let me keep it very simple here: you do NOT have to have groundbreaking packaging to perform well on YouTube.

Just follow the basics and you’ll be ahead of 97% of other creators. Not sure where to start? ​I made a list of basic mistakes to avoid here.​

Clear > Clever every time. Don’t get cute. Get to the point and make it interesting.

Seed Viewership

I’m bullish on YouTube pushing quality content from fresh channels, but there is a bit of chicken/egg scenario. Without any viewer data to define what quality is, what are you supposed to do as a new channel?

There are two primary avenues:

Proven Audience

One way to build an audience from scratch is to see which niches/videos are performing above average and create similar content. One of the clearest examples of this is the “I Survived 100 Days ________ in Minecraft”.

The gold rush has slowed, but there was a period of time where a new 100 Days channel was popping up every week with millions of views from the start. (Bronzo, MaxCraft, Fozo, etc.)

One potential point for Peter could have been ​this video​. Clearly outperformed other content on the channel The video leans more to the technical side of things → What would happen if a similar video was made that had wider appeal?

Answer: you get articles written about you ;)

External Traffic

I’ll start this section with a word of caution.

All eyeballs ≠ Good eyeballs

If you’re looking to drive any external traffic to your videos, be sure that any potential clicks will be from viewers who will actually fit your desired audience.

So, where’s the best (external) place to find a related audience? I’d argue Reddit is near the top. But you can’t just post your video link all willy-nilly.

Find and contribute to subreddits that fit your audience interests. Also make sure to not anger any moderators with unsolicited URLs that may get you banned. Make sure you understand your particular subreddit’s guidelines.

All that said, Peter shared his video within a couple of AI-related communities and it was well-received. And just like that, he had his seed audience going.

But going from 13 views to 6.2M takes a lot more than Reddit…

What Were Peter Whidden's Keys for Virality?

Viral Engineering

The name of the YouTube game is satisfying an audience. How?

By making videos on topics interesting enough for viewers to click and engaging enough for them to watch all the way through.

Let’s take a look at Peter’s video through that lens:

  • List of humans that might click this video:
    • Behavior Analysts
    • Casual Gamers
    • Pokemon Fans
    • Speedrunners
    • AI Enthusiasts

Any one of these audience segments contains millions of potential eyeballs. That’s a great start, but how does Peter keep these eyeballs watching despite being a technical topic?

Incredible Storytelling

This video is stuffed with great story structures. There are a quite a few moving pieces:

Story Level 1: Beating the Game

This is the base level of interest.

Everyone understands watching someone trying to beat a game. That's why the gaming content niche exists.

Let's dig deeper.

Story Level 2: Evolution of AI

The next level adds a unique twist to the base story. We get to lean in and watch how the AI is learning, rewarded, and adapting to the challenges thrown its way.

Not only do we have the progression of the game, we also have the progression of the AI as a character.

Most top creators include a secondary storyline into their videos to keep your eyes glued (and also help cover more meaningful topics while still providing entertainment)

Story Level 3: How Humans Work

This is a level that is often missed in most YouTube videos. It's a deeper reach to what makes us human.

The best creators often include a meta-narrative (either overt or covert). One of the most popular examples of covert meta-narrative is the dying plant from Ryan Trahan's 100 Days in the Metaverse.

So now we have 1) the game progressing 2) the AI progressing and 3) humans progressing

There's something for every subset of potential viewers in every segment of his video.

But there are still more layers to this onion. Great story does NOT mean great retention. How did the structure and assembly of this video crack the viral code?

Sneaky Spinach

My kids are not big fans of vegetables (stay with me, here)

However, they do enjoy soup.

Blend up veggies into the soup broth, and my kids eat veggies no problem.

YouTube is parallel to this in a number of ways. You have to "hide the veggies" from an audience in order to achieve viral reach for informational content.

Could Peter have made a video explaining how AI learns? Absolutely. He could also have 437 views.

Taking Peter's goal of explaining AI learning processes, look at it like this:

→ Explaining AI (meh) → Explaining AI in human terms (better) → Explaining AI in human terms while beating a game as an example (best)

Every one of these has the "veggie" of AI, but there's a clear winner for the most interesting presentation.

Dessert First

Sorry for all the food analogies. It's lunchtime while I'm writing this.

The last viral building block I'll mention is the principle of "dessert first". What does that mean?

It means you should lead with the most broadly interesting aspects of your video. Ideally the whole video is interesting to every person who watches, but that's not the case with Peter's video.

At around the 20-min mark, there's a "first outro" followed by a "technical intro"

This happens ~60% of the way through the video. It's crucial because if Peter had led with this more technical segment, retention would have dropped tremendously and never recovered to reach the wide audience that it did.

If you can get people 60% of the way through a 30min video, you are sitting on a watchtime goldmine that YouTube can't ignore. The rest of the video is gravy.

It could be argued that the last 10mins could have been a separate video or even a newsletter/deeper reading for those interested. But, at the end of the day, 6.2M views on your first video on a fresh channel isn't too shabby ;)


Find this helpful? Reply to let me know!

Happy trails,


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3. Reply anytime with a question! 📢

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