How To Grow Your Youtube Channel The Smart Way: Lessons From The YouTube Doctor


For Ali Abdaal, starting and growing a YouTube channel completely and utterly changed his life. He went from zero to 1.2 million subscribers in three years flat.

And he did it while working a full-time job. Ali averaged somewhere between three and ten hours per week on his YouTube channel.

And he realized he had to figure out how to make the most of his limited time and energy while it was his side hustle. As a productivity guy, he developed systems and ways to leverage his efforts to achieve remarkable results in a hurry.

Ali has since gone full-time into YouTubery. And, as of March 2023, he was earning roughly $27,000…per week. Or $1.4 Million per year. 

The dude is seriously impressive, and we’re bringing you some of his top tips so you can learn how to grow your YouTube channel the smart way. 

Let’s go!

How To Grow Your YouTube Channel The Smart Way

So Ali believes success on YouTube and in business generally can be boiled down to three things. 

  1. You’ve got to do the right things, and this is sometimes known as strategy

  2. You have to do those things right, which is sometimes known as execution

  3. You have to do those things for a long time, and this is often known as consistency

Now, with this magical ingredient combination of strategy, execution, and consistency, you can make any business grow and flourish. Including a YouTube channel, any creative endeavor, any tech company, or really any business at all. 

And obviously, there is an element of luck involved as well. But you can also create a bit of your own luck.

Because if you have the right YouTube strategy combined with reasonable execution and reasonable consistency, these things increase your odds of getting lucky. 

The Three Levers Of Success

You can think of strategy, execution, and consistency as the three levers of success. If you pull these levers in the right way, you’re massively increasing the odds and the probability that you’re going to succeed in whatever endeavor you set your mind to.

But if we want to pull these levers, then we need to input a few different ingredients. 

And some of those ingredients are:

  • Skill
  • Time

  • Energy

  • And money (sometimes)

Money – The One Lever To Rule Them All

Let’s deal with money first. The truth is, if you have enough money, you can buy pretty much any degree of leverage you want. 

But you don’t always have to have it. I mean, certainly, some businesses take a lot of money to start. Like if you want to open a restaurant, you can’t do that without money, so you need to get a loan or bring investors in. 

Thankfully, YouTube isn’t like that. You can start a YouTube channel with a smartphone and an internet connection. If you can put some money into your channel, it can grow much faster. 

You can invest in your skill development with courses, buy useful software subscriptions, promote your youtube channel with ads, or you can upgrade your gear and hire people. But at the end of the day, all that fun stuff is purely optional.

Ok, so you can build your YouTube presence without any money…but can you also start without skill?

Skill – The Silent Gatekeeper

Some businesses have a built-in skill requirement to get going. And that skill requirement is like a gatekeeper of sorts. Kind of like an XP threshold.

For example, let’s say you decide to become a private neurosurgeon. Well, there’s not a lot you can do about that if you are just in your bedroom trying to learn for free online – because you need a qualification, and rightly so. 

And then you need years and years of training beyond medical school to be able to even qualify for the thing. And so there’s a very high skill barrier if you want to become a neurosurgeon.

But when we look at starting a YouTube channel, yes, you need a giant toolbox of skills to succeed.

You need to learn how to film YouTube content and how to talk to a camera and edit videos and all that stuff. There’s a skill and a learning curve with YouTube analytics. You have to know YouTube SEO and how to select relevant keywords. There’s skill in understanding how to increase your watch time and get viewers to watch other videos.

And maybe you even want to know how to turn each video into a blog post. And all that barely even scratches the surface.

But unlike becoming a neurosurgeon, you can learn everything you need to know on the internet for free. There aren’t any gatekeepers. You don’t have to apply to YouTube school before you start pumping out video content.

Literally, anyone in the world with access to a phone and the internet can learn the skills needed to be a YouTuber. It all starts with just one video.

And so that leaves us with the final two ingredients, and these are what hold most people back…

Time & Energy – The Great Equalizer

Because fundamentally, if you have time and energy, you can learn any skills you need. And if you have loads of time and energy, you could also come up with the money. Because what’s the most common way people make money? They trade their time and energy for it. 

So you gotta be honest with yourself. How badly do you want it? How badly do you want to succeed on YouTube?

If you want it, you must find a way to make the most of your limited time and energy. 

Because truthfully, if you had unlimited time and unlimited energy, it wouldn’t be that hard to grow a YouTube channel. 

I mean, look at Mr. Beast. He’s basically put unlimited amounts of time and energy into growing his channels from zero to absolutely insane levels. And that’s not to minimize what he’s done in any way.

He’s the #1 YouTuber in the world because he has outworked EVERYONE else. He made YouTube his obsession for every waking hour of his life for 10 years.

Guess how many uploaded videos he has between his five channels? Around 1500. So that’s 150 videos a year on average for 10 years. Or 3 videos a week for 10 years. Or a ridiculous amount of dedication and consistency. I’m pretty sure when he bleeds, his blood’s color is YouTube Red.

That’s not normal. Nor is it a blueprint many can follow. But his results aren’t normal either. If you want extraordinary results, do you really think you can get there by taking a typical or average path? And only putting in a moderate amount of time and energy?

So what do you do when you have a full-time job?

When you try to build your channel up on the side, it’s a lot harder to actually do because, obviously, your time is limited.

Sometimes it’s hard to get home and have enough energy to sit down and spiel to the camera or sit down and spend eight hours editing your next YouTube video. Sometimes it feels like you’d prefer to simply walk into Mordor.

And so when Ali was first starting his channel in his final year of med school, he knew he needed three things. Strategy, execution, and consistency. And he knew that he had very limited time and very limited energy to work with.

And so he devised two main ways to make the most of his time and energy. They were: 

  • Personal Productivity

  • And leverage

Ali’s YouTube channel is dedicated to helping people improve their productivity. So we’re going to focus on leverage today.

How To Make The Most Of Your Time And Energy By Applying Leverage

All right, so first off, what do we mean by leverage? 

In this context, leverage allows you to get a greater result from the same amount of effort or input.

So if you and a competitor both work the same amount of time each day – but you have more leverage – it means that your input of work gets more output than theirs does. 

It’s kinda like having a tractor. For example. A tractor is a form of leverage within agriculture. 

Before the tractor was invented, people had to hoe and sow and rake the land entirely by hand. And so, a single person could only do so much work in a given day. But then you plop that person on top of a tractor, and now that same person can do the work of 100 people in a single day. 

So the tractor is a form of leverage. The person is still doing one day’s worth of work, but they’re getting 100 days’ worth of output by using a tractor rather than getting their hoe and sow on. 

And when it comes to YouTube, there are two main things that you can do to increase your leverage. 

Lever One: Build Systems

We’ll explore the incredible power of systems with a look at McDonald’s. Because, well, everybody knows what McDonald’s is. And they’ve also perfected their systems. 

 Now, McDonald’s is sick because basically, any McDonald’s you go to in the world, from Alaska to Pakistan to Timbuktu, you get the same experience. You can get the same Big Mac. The same fries. And it’s always the same drink. 

And the reason McDonald’s is such a powerful franchise is because they’ve created systems. 

There is a system in McDonald’s for frying the sausage. There is a system for building the burgers. There is a system for making a fresh batch of fries. There’s a system for literally everything McDonald’s does.

New employees get a massive handbook covering all the systems, operations, and processes they need to know. 

And this is how businesses grow. Businesses grow by building systems and operations. 

 Even with medicine, there are systems for everything. And it’s a fact that processes and checklists save lives

One of the biggest ways systems provide leverage is that you don’t have to think about every step in the hierarchy. You just follow the system. You don’t have to plan and figure it all out from scratch every time you start a task. 

And it can sound boring, but when you apply them to your YouTube channel – it can change your life.

Build Your Own YouTube Systems

 And so the question Ali wants you to ask yourself is:

How can I build systems to increase my leverage for my YouTube channel? 

Over time, Ali built a system for idea generation. He made a system to script his YouTube videos. He uses a template (system) to create his video descriptions. And Ali has a method to develop catchy video titles and make custom thumbnails. And if you look at his channel, many of the thumbnails look fairly similar. 

That’s because there’s a system. There is a tool, and there is a template. He doesn’t need to try and reinvent the wheel every time he needs a video title or video description because that’s a waste of time. 

Ali claims that if he had 80+ hours a week to apply to his YouTube channel, then, yeah, maybe he’d have different thumbnails for every video. But he claims that, broadly speaking, no one really cares if the thumbnails are the same. 

Ali also developed a system for editing his videos and created templates to apply the same color grade every time. And you can take a page from his book and do the same for your channel.

And by learning these sorts of tricks and techniques, you can spend less time and energy doing the work because the system takes care of quite a lot of the process along the way. 

Lever Two: People Power

Now, people are an incredible form of leverage because if you again imagine the McDonald’s scenario, it’s not like Ronald McDonald is in all 5 million franchises flippin’ burgs. 

So what did Ronald do? He created systems and then hired a bunch of people to follow the steps. And just like that, Ronnie had massive leverage.

He invented the original hamburger, and now he’s got 5 million employees worldwide building the same hamburger by following his system. You know your systems are rock solid when your target employees are teenagers without work experience – and your business thrives. 

So how can you apply the people lever to grow your YouTube channel faster? The best way is to…

Outsource Your Video Editing

Ali claims that of everything that helped him grow his YouTube channel in his spare time, finding a way to leverage people was the single biggest needle-mover. 

And for him, the best way he leveraged other people was to outsource his video editing. 

Ali says he hasn’t edited a video on this YouTube channel since 2019. For the first two years, he did it all himself. But at one point, he realized it was taking up too much of his time. 

And it was one of his mentors who talked him into actually offloading his video editing. 

Here’s what Ali has to say about that fateful decision:

“And then I outsourced my editing, and then, oh my God, my life completely changed because now I had loads of more spare time to be able to do the things that I actually enjoyed about making video content. Like the writing and the reading and research and putting things together. 

And it also freed up my time to spend more time with family and friends and not burn out and take care of my health and all that fun stuff. 

And we get so many comments from people being like, I was reluctant to outsource my video editing because I thought, oh, I’m the only one who can edit like me. And then I tried it, and I was like, oh my God. It’s completely changed my life. 

So if you’re watching this and you have a business, or you have a YouTube channel or anything like that, and you have some amount of money. Then what you can do is outsource the bits of your YouTube channel that you don’t personally want to be doing to someone else who’s an expert at those sorts of things.”

And when you do, your goal is to generate more value with your newfound time compared to how much you pay your editor. And this is just how business works.

For example, spending an extra two hours researching a new video and then writing the script gives your YouTube channel a way higher return than if you spent those two hours editing a video. 

Because the fact is you can easily hire a video editor who is just as good as you, if not even better. And that frees up your time to focus not only on the things you enjoy but, more importantly, on the areas where you can add your unique value.

For most YouTubers, that starts with generating new ideas, getting the camera rolling, and ultimately uploading more videos.

Ali had this to say, looking back on when he first started his YouTube channel: 

“I knew in the back of my mind that I needed to outsource my editing at some point. But it took me two years to get there because I just didn’t take it seriously. And I really wish I’d seen a video. I really wish someone had told me. 

I wish someone was like Ali…then sat me down and was like, look, edit the first ten YouTube videos yourself. That’s fine. But then, from that point on, you need to outsource your editing because you’re completely wasting your own time if you’re doing your own editing. 

And it took me two years to learn that lesson. And this is a story I tell on our YouTuber academy all the time. I really want people to outsource their editing before the two-year mark – really as soon as they can afford it.”

Wrapping Up

The huge advantage you have over the original generation of YouTubers is that you don’t have to bumble and stumble about to create a successful channel. 

Thousands of creators have done it before you, and you can learn from their mistakes and teachings to create a straighter and shorter path to your finish line. 

If you put your time and energy into learning skills, building systems, and hiring people while you focus your efforts where you add the most value – then you too could have your OMG moment as your life and channel completely change forever.

If your channel is already making a bit of money and you’d like to learn more about how you can leverage our advice and video editing expertise, drop us a line

Or you can keep reading on to learn more about YouTube domination.

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