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Road to 1 million subscribers with Rick Smith Jr.

Magician Rick Smith Jr. shares his best tricks and tips for strategizing his YouTube content.

On the YouTube channel of creator and magician Rick Smith Jr., you’ll find an eclectic mix of card throwing, sleight of hand, and funny IQ tests. It’s a big change from when he first joined YouTube and mainly shared clips from his live shows. Since then, Rick has collaborated with some of the biggest creators in the industry and amassed over 1.5 million subscribers.

These days, Rick considers himself primarily a short-form creator, with some of his Shorts receiving tens of millions of views. We sat down with Rick and asked him for the top ways creators can use Shorts to reach a million subscribers.

If you're talking too much at the beginning, get rid of that. Don’t waste time saying, ‘Hey guys, my name's Rick. I'm going to show you this today.’ You just lost 70% of the people watching.”

Rick Smith Jr.

Edit after you upload

Rick believes it’s never too late to improve a video or make a Short even shorter. “You can cut already posted videos in the desktop editor. Look at the analytics for your video and watch the line. If it goes completely downward in the last two seconds, cut those seconds out. It could help that video get into that 90% watch time or more.

“Also, if you're talking too much at the beginning, get rid of that. Don’t waste time saying, ‘Hey guys, my name's Rick. I'm going to show you this today.’ You just lost 70% of the people watching.’”

Edits like this can not only improve Shorts’ performance, but also attract more subscribers. Rick recently advised a creator friend to start posting Shorts consistently and to tweak certain videos after they were posted. The friend soon grew from around 5,000 followers to 100,000.

Keep Shorts titles short

Rick shares one of his favorite tips that he learned while collaborating with top YouTube creators: “Try and keep your titles under 26 characters. That way your video will get into the YouTube algorithm where you can reach a lot more people. Also, you want your titles to be catchy — something engaging that gets people wanting to click that video.”

For example, Rick has a popular series he calls “Are You Smarter Than a Kindergartner?”, which he shortens to “How SMART Are YOU?” in video titles. He’s also learned that people care less about who is in the video and more about what is in it. So, instead of a long title like “Rick Smith Jr. Does a Mind Blowing Magic Trick,” he uses “Mind Blowing Magic” instead.

Post before the peak

When should creators post their Shorts to get the most views? While this depends on your audience, Rick’s answer may surprise you. His analytics show that his audience is most active around 12 PM, so he uploads his videos at 9 AM.

That’s because Rick believes in letting his Shorts grow into that peak time. “If I post a video at noon, by the time that video gets through the system, it’s 3 or 4 o’clock. Then my active viewers don’t get to see it anymore. So I've had the best result posting about three to four hours prior to my highest watch time on my channel.”

Feel free to repeat yourself

Rick’s Shorts span different verticals and genres, and as a magician he’s always looking for the next best magic trick. Even so, he doesn’t feel the need to constantly post unique content. He knows that a majority of the people watching his videos are not subscribed to his channel, which he thinks is common for most creators. “So the magic tricks or card tricks or riddles I’m posting can be very similar because the audience changes so much.”

This allows Rick to efficiently reach new viewers who might become subscribers without burning himself out creatively. At the same time, he’s still appealing to his current subscribers by giving them more of the content they love.

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Never delete

When asked if creators should take down an underperforming Short, Rick says, “I don’t delete anything. I don’t archive anything. I’ve had videos do like 300 views in the first hour at first. Then five days later they get 100,000 views.”

If he really wants to help a Short get more views, he says, “I may just post it again, because the duplicate videos sometimes do even better than the first time. Remember, your audience can be different, so just leave the videos there. Don’t take them down.”

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