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One of the hardest things to do as a content creator is to find an audience. When seeking out your viewership, you might be tempted to follow the latest trend or search out an unoccupied niche. These approaches aren’t inherently wrong, but they ignore the most important element to success: passion.

Passion should be what separates your YouTube channel from the millions of channel and content creators in the internet. A discerning audience wants more than just slick, well-produced video content — they want authenticity.

It’s easy to underestimate the perceptiveness of your audience. To many, they’re just numbers: How many views, likes, shares, subscribers can you collect? But it’s important to recognize that your audience can tell when you’re not having fun with your video. They know when your content lacks excitement and enthusiasm. One of the quickest ways to ruin any momentum you or your channel might have is to start creating content according to what you think other people want rather than what you want. Without that original passion, your audience will inevitably drift away.

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When seeking out your viewership, you might be tempted to follow the latest trend or search out an unoccupied niche. These approaches aren’t inherently wrong, but they ignore the most important element to success: passion. Passion should be what separates your YouTube channel from the millions of channel and content creators in the internet. A discerning audience wants more than just slick, well-produced video content — they want authenticity.

There are a lot of videos out there. They span nearly every conceivable topic. Audiences will instinctively gravitate towards the content creators who love the videos they produce. Worry less about whether you’re making something for a specific audience and create content for yourself. Trust in your audience to find you rather than the other way around. Having enthusiasm and excitement for the subject is infectious — and inciting passion in an audience is the best way to secure clicks, likes, subscribers and shares and to keep people coming back to your channel.

No one ever achieved success by ignoring criticism. But what is most important is letting that critique complement your content rather than define it.

None of this means you should ignore criticism or suggestions from your audience. Paying attention to your audience is one of the most critical considerations when building a channel. No one ever achieved success by ignoring criticism. But what is most important is letting that critique complement your content rather than define it.

It also doesn’t mean you should be ignoring your metrics. Figure out what works and what doesn’t — which of your videos draw in the most views? How far does your audience make it into your video? What percentage stays until the end? Carefully consider this information whenever you create and edit a new video. Let it influence future content, just don’t let it dictate.

Pursuing your own passion is not only advantageous when it comes to growing an audience; it also helps maintain a career. When you’re pursuing your own passion rather than someone else’s, you’ll find greater joy in what you do.

Enjoying your work leads to higher quality content, but it also makes for a more sustainable career. Burnout is a very real thing. It’s important to do what you can to avoid it. Don’t produce videos you don’t like and avoid videos on subjects that don’t interest you. Nothing will wear you out faster than disliking your own content.

Believe in your content. Talk about what fascinates you. Find ways to make your content unique. Listen to your audience. But, most importantly, follow your passion. Don’t let anyone else set your expectations. Do that and the rest will follow.

Robin works in development for One Mobile Projector per Trainer, a non-profit that supplies aid organizations with video production training and equipment to improve the quality and impact of their message