What does it take for a YouTuber to get to 1 million subscribers?

Never judge a YouTuber by just their latest video.

The often unseen story of a popular YouTuber includes years of work, hundreds of videos, and the persistence to keep making videos even when no one is watching or viewers are trolling.

OKOA looked at the most subscribed beauty YouTubers* to see how many years and how many videos it took to build a fanbase to that lofty 1 million number.


Years and number of videos beauty Youtubers created before hitting 1 million subscribers.
  • The average number of years to reach 1M subs: 3.6 years.
  • Average number of videos to reach 1M subs: 241 videos.
  • The fewest videos created before reaching 1M: 47 videos — Niomi Smart. How’d she do it? First, her channel was started in 2014. The more recent the channel, the faster it is to gain subscribers (see chart below). Second, Niomi is friends with some of London’s most prominent Youtubers including Marcus Butler, Zoella, and Tanya Burr. She appeared in their videos before even starting her channel. Not to discredit Niomi though. Her editing even in her earliest videos is on point. Reaching 1M subscribers just isn’t possible without quality, interesting content.
  • The most videos created before reaching 1M: 675 videos — Shaaanxo. The most shocking part — she still consistently produces 3 videos/week. Mind blowing. Proof that tenacity can get you places.

Years it took Beauty Youtubers to reach 1 million subscribers by date of first YouTube video.
  • Average number of years to get to 1M subscribers before 2013: 3.8 years.
  • Average number of years to get to 1M subscribers after 2013: 1.8 years.
The good news: beauty Youtubers who started their channel after 2013 are getting to 1 million subscribers almost 2 years faster than creators who started their channel before 2013.

The meh news: Only a handful of users have reached 1 million subscriptions post 2013. This shouldn’t discourage anyone from creating a channel though. It may be that there will be a greater range now for how long it takes for someone to reach 1 million subs.


The main take away: building a YouTube channel or any content channel is not an overnight process. It takes years and most often, hundreds of videos.

Making friends and collaborating with other YouTubers is a great way to jumpstart a channel, but most importantly focus on creating content you enjoy. Interact with the people who love your stuff, and the subscribers and views will come.

Or better said by the brilliant beauty YouTuber Claire Marshall (heyclaire):

*Note: Data collected as of 11/1/15. Only English speaking languages were included. It is possible that the number of videos that the user has in their channel could be less than reported if they deleted videos from their channel over the years. Certain Youtubers were omitted because of lack of information either on when they had reached 100K or how many videos they had produced since the inception of their channel. Specifically: cloecuture, beyondbeautystar, dulcecandy87, jlovesmac1, pixiwoo, allthatglitters21, itsjudytime, makeupgeektv, beautybysiena. Separate vlog channels were also omitted.


Written by Naomi of OKOA. OKOA is a free tool for content creators and bloggers to manage their earnings all in one place.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.