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How to Get More Subscribers on YouTube

YouTube, arguably the world’s biggest video sharing platform, has more than 2 billion users today.

So if you’re happy with getting hundreds of subscribers, you’re selling yourself short. The truth is, everyone has a shot at making it big on this platform. You could grow your subscribers to thousands, if not millions.

But it’s not going to be easy.

There’s no need to worry, though. We have compiled a list of YouTube best practices and strategies that will get your subscriber count up.

It won’t matter what your channel genre is, how long you’ve been a YouTube creator, or who your audience is. These tips would work all the same.

With that said, let’s look at some of the ways you can increase your followers.

Before Anything Else: Audit Your YouTube Channel

Don’t make changes to your channel right away. It’s essential that you establish a baseline first.

An audit will accomplish three things:

It gives you an idea of what problems need to be addressed.

It provides you baseline figures before making the changes.

It helps you monitor your progress.

Audits take time and require some patience. But doing so will make every other step go smoother and make your overall changes much more effective.

So what do you need to do during an audit?

Check What People Are Watching

Go through your videos and see what kind of content generates reactions from your viewers. You can do this by looking at your analytics data. But one quick way to do so would be by going through your videos and filter them by popularity.

get subscribers youtube - audit - colbert most popular

Alternatively, you can look at the view count after the video is uploaded. If you get 20% of your subscribers to watch the video within 48 hours, you can assume that the video is a hit with your audience.

Look at the Likes, Dislikes, Comments, and Shares

YouTube is not all about the views, though. How people engage with your content is just as relevant. Look at the videos you uploaded and take note of which of those users interact with.

Just because a video has millions of views does not mean it gets the best engagement.

YouTube uses viewer engagement as a metric to determine which videos to feature. Why? Because they want to promote videos that will get a reaction from people.

Measure How Long People Watch Your Videos

Not only do people have to watch your videos, but they also need to watch it in its entirety — or at least a huge chunk of it.

As with likes, comments, and shares, YouTube can use watch time as an indicator of how well viewers are taking your content.

get subscribers youtube - audit - watch time

You can see you watch time stats on YouTube Creator Studio.

Aside from these metrics, you can look at how often YouTube suggests your videos and how many people search for them.

Create a Channel Tagline

You’ve probably spent a lot of time working on your channel’s name. There’s even a good chance that you’ve gone over it with your buddies and made sure you’ve got the catchiest one.

But what about the tagline?

A tagline is a brief description of your channel. It tells people what you do and what type of videos to expect. The problem is, there are thousands of YouTube channels out there. And most of them are in competitive categories.

A tagline like “I make news videos” just won’t cut it. Figure out what it is you intend to do with your channel.

Are you teaching people how to cook? Well, there are thousands of channels in that category.

What makes you different?

Do you prepare meals in under 15 minutes? Do you only cook vegan dishes?

As an example, let’s look at Sous Vide Everything. If you don’t know, sous vide is a cooking method where dishes come out perfectly cooked every time. And as the channel’s name suggests, their videos are about celebrating sous vide cooking.

That’s why their tagline, “On the quest to perfection,” makes absolute sense.

get subscribers youtube - tagline - sous vide everything

Tasty, another popular YouTube cooking channel, shows people how to prepare everyday dishes minus all the fuss. So their tagline, “Everyday Faves, The Easy Way,” makes users feel at ease. They know that whatever video they’re about to watch is suitable for beginners.

get subscribers youtube - tagline - tasty

Even better, rather than showing people what to expect from your videos, tell them what they can get out of it.

If you’re running a channel that’s all about affiliate marketing, don’t use a tagline like “Learn affiliate marketing in minutes.”

Instead, use a tagline like “Get more clicks and increased profits” and put that in your channel header image.

Tip: To reinforce your tagline, make it a part of your video intro.

Write a Compelling Channel Description

A channel description is a brief description of what the channel offers. It’s not only helpful for the viewers, but it’s also a massive help for search engines as well.

As you may or may not know, search engines can’t crawl video content. Therefore, they can’t tell what a video is about unless you tell it to them through text.

The channel description can also be used to post other relevant information like your upload schedule, social media accounts, links to other YouTube channels, and call-to-actions.

YouTube celebrities are not really into optimizing their About pages. Peter McKinnon uses his About page to share his email address for potential business partnerships.

get subscribers youtube - channel description - mckinnon

And Casey Neistat uses his to answer frequently asked questions.

get subscribers youtube - channel description - neistat

However, they are not your average YouTube creators. If you want to be competitive, you’d have to create better About pages.

So what kind of information should you include?

You should first tell people everything they must know about your channel. Next, you can list down some of the topics that you cover and mention who will enjoy watching your channel the most.

Toward the end, you can put in your call-to-actions. These are the steps you want people to take, like subscribe to your channel, follow you on social media, or buy your products (if you’re selling any).

The About section is also a great place to insert your target keywords (words you’d like to rank for on search engines).

Adam Savage’s Tested is a good example. In his About page, he’s able to summarize what his channel is about. He even goes so far as to describe some of his most famous channel accomplishments.

get subscribers youtube - channel description - tested

It’s able to state Adam’s credentials and includes a call-to-action (subscribe to Tested) toward the end.

And because he doesn’t work alone, he includes the names of the other creators he works with on the Tested.

Use an Awesome Channel Icon

There’s no way around this — you need a channel icon. And you need a good one.

Your channel icon will pop up everywhere. It’ll be on the YouTube homepage, on your channel, and below your videos.

For media organizations and businesses, the company logo should be enough. Vice News uses its logo as its channel icon.

get subscribers youtube - channel icon - vice news

However, YouTube stars and personalities use photos of themselves. If you’re an influencer, you should go out of your way to take amazing images. We’d even go so far as to suggest that you hire a professional photographer if you have the budget.

Remember:

YouTube is a visual platform. How you represent yourself matters.

Here are other tips on making your YouTube icons stand out.

Crop Correctly — When you upload images on YouTube, it will be cropped and made circular. You will cut away some elements. Make sure that your image has enough space so you can crop it without removing essential elements like parts of your face or fingers.

Keep It Simple — Your icon should be visible no matter the size. Adding text in small fonts won’t do you good. And having too many design elements will only distract users.

Make It Consistent — To boost your branding, make sure you use the same colours throughout your channel page. If you’ve used green on your headers, your icon should have the same colour palette.

Use a Good Background Color — This keeps your icon focused. Don’t mix different colours. It also makes texts more comfortable to read.

Show Some Personality — A little humour in your channel icon can’t hurt. Some YouTubers use humour to set themselves apart.

Rhett and Link are content creators with multiple channels. On their talk show, Good Mythical Morning, they use their show’s logo as their icon.

get subscribers youtube - channel icon - good mythical morning

But on their vlog channel, they use a funny icon featuring both of their faces as the focal point.

get subscribers youtube - channel icon - rhett and link

It’s an excellent way to set both shows apart from each other.

Make a Killer Channel Trailer

As with movies, a synopsis can only take you so far. What gets people excited is a great trailer.

It’s the same with YouTube. Your channel description might be fantastic, but your channel would need a trailer that summarizes

that you show in your videos.

A suitable trailer must be able to accomplish the following straight away:

Introduce the audience to your channel

Hook the viewers to your content

Make people click one of your videos

While some people opt to feature their latest video, YouTube does not recommend it. Their reasoning is quite sound: Your latest video may not be a good representation of your channel in general.

get subscribers youtube - channel trailer - youtube

Neil Patel, one of the foremost authority figures when it comes to online marketing, has a trailer that explains what he does.

get subscribers youtube - channel trailer - neil patel

His trailer, titled “Learn Digital Marketing in Just 5 Minutes”, is a good representation of what his channel can offer viewers.

In the video description, he promises to teach users one new marketing topic every day. It’s undoubtedly enticing and more than enough reason to subscribe to his channel.

Create Video Content That Your Audience Will Love

You should only upload content that people are going to enjoy. But it can be tough. Think about it: What constitutes great content?

How can you be sure that what you’re uploading is something people want to watch?

It’s all subjective, isn’t it? But with some preparation, you can at least make sure that you’re not uploading complete garbage.

Here are a few tips on making high-quality videos that your audience would love.

Do Your Research

If you don’t know where to start, we suggest that you look at your competitors. What are they posting? Why are they getting traction? Who is their audience, and what kind of videos do they like?

By getting insight from other YouTube channels, you’ll have an idea of what videos to produce.

But rather than copying what they’re doing, try to go at it from a different perspective. If your competitors are too serious and uptight, why not inject some humour into your content? Or if all they’re all using YouTube to deliver commercials, you can host a podcast instead.

Get the Best Video and Audio Recording Equipment

Are you still using smartphones to record YouTube videos? While there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s hardly a good idea. Given how many YouTubers there are, viewers will choose to watch someone with good audio and video than suffer through a low-quality video.

The most popular YouTubers now have production equipment that would rival the channels of big-name brands.

Grace Helbig, an influencer and podcaster with 2.79 million subscribers, uses professional mics and a camera that can playback 1080p HD.

get subscribers youtube - create video content - grace helbig

This setup makes watching her content much more enjoyable.

And because more people are using their smart TVs to watch YouTube videos, it’s only a matter of time before low-resolution videos on the video-sharing platform become a thing of the past.

If you’re not sure what camera or microphones to use, you can find YouTube videos from other creators that break down their equipment.

get subscribers youtube - create video content - camera equipment

These informative videos should give you a clue on what kind of camera to use.

Plan the Script

Some creators can turn on their camera, sit in front of it, and nail the videos in one go. And if you can, and you’re comfortable with that format, then you should do it.

But that’s not for everyone.

If you’re having trouble, there’s nothing wrong with going by a script. It’s a great way of collecting your thoughts and giving them structure.

This is even more important for categories where facts matter the most such as news channels. Without a script, you risk slipping up and saying incorrect statistics or misquoting someone.

Scripts can also help you identify all the shots you’ll need in case you’re producing a short film or using a multi-cam setup.

Determine the Best Length for Your Videos

As The Verge points out, YouTube videos are getting longer. The reason? Increased revenue.

YouTube creators are quickly finding out that the longer videos they have, the more money they make. And their audience doesn’t seem to mind the long videos.

And YouTube doesn’t seem to mind either. It likes content that continues to engage its users.

The same report mentions that the top 250 YouTube channels have an average length of 13 to 14 minutes.

get subscribers youtube - create video content - the verge

Do note that only verified YouTube accounts can upload videos past the 15-minute mark.

Make an Impression Within the First 10 Seconds

The first ten seconds of your video is the most crucial. What you say within that time will determine if users are going to click away or continue watching.

So, how do you make people stay? Here are a few pointers:

Deliver your “hook” as soon as the video starts. That is, explain what users can get out of the video by they’re done watching.

Use graphics. A talking head is good, but having visuals alongside it will help users absorb what you’re saying.

Be human. Connect with your audience. Put yourself in their shoes. If you’re talking about financial troubles, tell them how your video can help pull them out of debt.

Implement Pattern Interrupts

What is pattern interrupts? Simply put, it’s a technique wherein creators insert breaks in their speech through interruptions.

One creator who uses pattern interrupts is Philip DeFranco, a YouTuber who delivers daily news stories.

get subscribers youtube - create video content - defranco

Without pattern interrupts, his videos would all be shots of him directly talking to the audience. Given the gravity of the topics he discusses, it’ll be easy for the audience to get bored and tune out.

So he would often insert jokes, jump cuts, graphics, screenshots, and other elements that would keep users on the edge of their seats.

He even has a segment called Today In Awesome that is placed midway through every show. There he breaks his news coverage to discuss lighter, often funny news stories and anecdotes.

get subscribers youtube - create video content - today in awesome

Insert pattern interrupts if you want to keep your users’ attention.

Cap Off With a Powerful CTA

Always end your videos on a high note. Don’t just sign off. Tell your viewers what to do as soon as your video comes to a close.

Do you want more subscribers? Use your call-to-action (CTA) to invite users to hit the Subscribe button. If you have related videos to the one that the viewer just watched, you can ask your audience to check your other uploads.

Link to Other Videos in the End Screen

And speaking of related videos, the end screen of your videos can be used to promote your other works.

GQ, for example, has a series of videos that feature professionals reacting to movie scenes that are related to their field of expertise.

get subscribers youtube - end screen - gq

If the viewers enjoyed the first video they’ve watched, it’s highly likely that they’ll seek out more. Having related videos in the end screen just makes it easier for your audience to find them.

You can even introduce an entire playlist on the end screen if you want.

get subscribers youtube - end screen - the hollywood reporter

This is what The Hollywood Reporter does at the end of their videos.

Develop a Video Content Calendar Schedule

Posting new content consistently is not as easy as it sounds. Especially if you’re a one-man team.

However:

Having a consistent upload schedule will help you get more subscribers. People like a regular post schedule. If you promise your audience a new video every Tuesday, but you fail to deliver, they’ll lose trust in you.

There are exemptions, of course.

The Slo Mo Guys make unique videos that require time to pull off. So they can only upload a couple of videos every few weeks. But if you’d look at their upload schedule, they are consistent with uploading at least one video a month.

get subscribers youtube - schedule - slo mo guys

Use Custom Thumbnails

YouTube does create automatic thumbnails when you upload a video. However, you’d want to spend time creating your own.

If you use a random clip from your video, your audience might not click on it. A custom thumbnail can make your videos look more appealing.

get subscribers youtube - thumbnails - trevor noah

The Daily Show with Trevor Noah uses custom thumbnails to explain the content of their videos better. Not only do they include text, but they also add images of the people or the event they’ll talk about in the video.

Turn Branding Watermark Into a Subscribe Button

Instead of using your brand as the video watermark, consider converting it into a subscribe button instead.

It’s so easy to take the watermark feature for granted. But when viewers hover over it, it’ll serve as a gentle nudge for them to subscribe to your channel.

get subscribers youtube - watermark - ahrefs

Ahrefs is just one of the channels that are utilizing this technique.

Organize Videos Into Playlists

If you have a series of videos that go together, put them all under one playlist. This is one way of getting your viewers to watch multiple videos in one sitting. And the longer they sit through your videos, the better the chances of them converting into subscribers.

Gaming channels are the most obvious examples. It only makes sense for videos from the same game to be lumped together.

get subscribers youtube - playlists - centerstrain01

Centerstrain01 is a video game stealth walkthrough channel. To make it easier for his audience to find the game titles they’re looking for, he organized his videos into playlists.

Engage With Subscribers

Again, it’s one of those things that seem apparent, yet channel owners often forget to do.

You (or one of your moderators) should make it a point to reply to most—if not all—of the comments. You can also “heart” the best ones that you come across.

The most prominent YouTubers would not have enough time to answer every comment they come across. But those who are just starting out could. And that could set you apart from other creators in your category.

When you engage, you make every commenter feel like they’re a part of the community. And that will earn you subscribers for sure.

Maximize High-Converting Videos

This is when doing your channel audit comes in handy. If you have a list of your most viewed videos, you can use them to attract more people.

How?

You can add each one inside a playlist and make it the first one to play when opened. Or you can make them the recommended video at every end screen.

The most popular one might even make an appropriate channel trailer.

Embed YouTube Videos In Your Blog Posts

Do you have a blog site? Why not create a blog post about the video you just created. You can then embed the YouTube video into the blog post.

Fans of your blog might be enticed to join your YouTube channel.

Chef John from Food Wishes does an excellent job of merging his blog and YouTube channel. In his videos, he prepares dishes as you do on any other food show. But on every video, he makes it clear that the exact measurements he uses are available on his blog.

get subscribers youtube - embed blog - food wishes

And fans of his blog who’d like to see how the food is prepared and cooked would have to watch the embedded video.

Promote Your Channel in Other Platforms

You can go beyond YouTube to promote your channel. We’ve already mentioned blogs. What other platforms are there?

There are actually a lot more when you think about it.

Website — The most obvious place to start would be on your own site. Make sure you mention your YouTube channel in your posts. You can also have a dedicated button on the sidebar or in the main menu.

Email Signature — If you send a lot of emails, it only makes sense to have a link to your channel in your email signature.

Social Media — Not only can you make social media accounts for your YouTube channel, but you can also promote a channel through your personal account. You can insert a link in your bio or have your videos pinned or promoted.

E-books — Some creators upload videos to promote their e-books. But the opposite is just as true. You can publish e-books and insert a link to your channel toward the end.

Webinars and Presentations — Creating webinars and presentations area good promotional tactic, especially for educational channels. Those who watch your webinars might be interested in learning more about you. Pushing those people toward your channel could make them subscribe.

Lead Magnets — Lead magnets are incentives that marketers offer in exchange for email addresses. Not only can you utilize your YouTube videos to increase your leads, but you can also use them to turn users into subscribers.

Contests — Holding a contest is an excellent way of getting new eyes on your channel. By including subscribing to your contest mechanics, you can increase your subscriber count.

Optimize Your Channel for Organic Search

We’ve briefly touched on optimizing your channel for organic searches under Write a Compelling Channel Description.

What are some other ways you can optimize your YouTube channel, so they appear on different search engines?

Make Better Titles — You should do some research to determine what keywords would pair best with the video you’re uploading. Include one or two keywords in your video title.

Transcribe Your Videos — Remember when we said that search engines couldn’t crawl through a video to determine its context? Here’s a workaround. Add video transcripts. That way, even Google can read and see what the video is about.

Write Video Descriptions — We’ve talked about the importance of channel descriptions. The same concept applies to video descriptions.

Add Meta Tags — Meta tags are also great places to insert keywords that you weren’t able to add in the title or the description field.

Analyze Your Performance

Once you’ve made changes to your site, give yourself a week to let all your updates do its thing. Afterward, go to your analytics and check your progress.

YouTube Studio has built-in analytics to help you keep track of your performance on the platform.

There you can see the top metrics you should observe. These are:

Watch Time — How long users watched your videos.

Subscribers — How many people subscribed to your channel.

Views — How many times people watched your videos.

You can compare these figures with the results from your channel audit. This should give you a better sense if you’ve made any progress.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see immediate results. It’s not the same for everyone. Others might need more time before seeing an increase in their subscriber count.

Note: You can also use YouTube Studio to see your top videos, audience retention rate, and likes vs. dislikes.

If you need more information on how to use YouTube Studio, the YouTube Creators channel has a dedicated playlist for those who are new to the platform.

get subscribers youtube - analyze performance - youtube studio

The playlist includes tutorials on using YouTube Analytics.

Conclusion

Follow all these tips, and you should increase your chances of gaining new subscribers on YouTube.

There’s no real reason not to do them.

Not only are they easy to pull off, but you also won’t need additional resources. These are all things you can do by yourself. And best of all, most of these changes won’t require you to spend money.

If you have a team working with you, then all these changes can even be done faster.

So go ahead and optimize your YouTube channel. It shouldn’t take long before your subscriber count grows into the thousands.

 

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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