It’s early 2023, 18 years after YouTube was first launched. Back in the day, videos that cracked 10,000 views and just as many subscribers were considered viral, and milestones did not yet hit hundreds of thousands, let alone millions. Nowadays, massive YouTubers rake in hundreds of millions of views and just as many subscribers. The platform is so massive that 3.7 million videos get uploaded onto it daily.
Unfortunately, those numbers seem like a pipedream to many small YouTubers, especially those looking to expand their brand. So, as a YouTuber with a modest subscriber number, how can you progress to the big leagues? How exactly can you get new subscribers on a platform that’s this huge? Well, we’re here to help out with a modest list of 19 surefire tactics to get your channel some much-needed growth.
Back in the day, YouTube’s algorithm relied mostly on clicks and views. In other words, if you as much as clicked on a video, it would see engagement. Sadly, this gave rise to the phenomenon known as “the reply girls.” These scantily-clad ladies would merely post half-hearted responses to popular videos, and the clicks from viewers who saw their racy thumbnails resulted in revenue. Luckily, YouTube changed its algorithm to focus on retention time rather than clicks. Since then, videos would get traction only when viewers actually watched them throughout.
Why this long intro to such a short paragraph? Well, it’s to stress a fundamental truth. If you want new subscribers, you will need to make the most of your video’s runtime. In short, your content must be original, engaging, and entertaining. Posting a clickbait thumbnail or using a raunchy title will not get you the user base you need. High-quality content, on the other hand, definitely will.
YouTube Analytics ought to be your very best friend when it comes to growing your channel. By checking your data regularly, you’ll pick up on a couple of trends:
- What videos perform the best?
- Which videos do your viewers watch the most and which the least?
- What time of day are the viewers most active?
- What kind of demographics does your channel speak to the most?
- How do you perform on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly basis?
Raw data will not answer all of your questions, but it will definitely steer you in the right direction. Once you know what the statistics are, you can invest in popular videos and content trends while weeding out any potential issues.
Lots of popular YouTubers use end-screen cards to promote one of the many videos in their back catalog. They can also contain a link to a webpage, a playlist, or even an entirely separate channel. You’ve surely seen these cards yourself. They will appear anywhere between 5 and 30 seconds before the video you’re watching is about to end.
These cards are a useful tool precisely because they function as a call to action, but you’re not the one calling your viewers to act. Viewers can click on them in order to explore more of your content.
With the modern internet, nothing is as important for business as search engine optimization. To put it simply, your written content must appear on the first page of any Google search in order to gain as many new eyeballs on it as possible. And in order to do that, you will have to target specific keywords.
Now, before you point out the obvious, we are fully aware that YouTube is a video-hosting website. But even YouTube stands to benefit from SEO and keywords. Let’s not forget that the title, the hashtags, and the video descriptions all contain text, as well as the comments underneath each video. With that in mind, you will want to research some popular keywords for the topics you cover and then use those words within all written content on your YouTube page. Once you do, people will be able to find your video by using a search engine like Google.
When you watch something you like, you will clearly want more. Let’s use Odd Tinkering as an example; this channel focuses on restoration, and its owner often takes old, broken items like video game consoles and repairs them. If you take a look at his January video, where he repairs a broken Nintendo Wii, you can see how he manages to get his viewers excited for more. Namely, in the last 15 or so seconds of the video, he tells his subscribers that he will repair this Wii’s remotes in the next video (which he eventually does).
When you tease your next project by the end of the video, you keep your audience invested well beyond the point when they finish watching the main part of your video. It’s a bit of an unwritten agreement between you and them; they will stay your subscriber as long as you deliver on the new video. With such a consistent uploading practice, you can expect your core audience to spread the word about you.
If you own a blog, it’s a good idea to embed your videos in certain related posts. For instance, if you’re writing about cryptocurrency, you will want to share some videos where financial experts discuss the economy surrounding the blockchain.
Granted, there are people who only read articles and don’t go to YouTube for their information. But to others, adding some video content about the same topic which your article covers is always welcome. They can use the video to go in-depth on the topic, and it can help expand what the article is already saying.
As we stated earlier, end cards are a great way to get your viewers to explore more of your content and become a subscriber. But they can also serve another method. Namely, instead of using those spots to share videos, you can place a Subscribe Here button.
When your viewers see the clickable subscription option, they will be inclined to interact with it. As is the case with end card videos, the subscription button serves as a silent call to action.
Thumbnails are the first visuals that your users see when they visit your channel. Therefore, if you want to leave a lasting impression, you should brand them.
Typically, prominent YouTubers pick a still image from the video or an edited picture relevant to the topic. Next, they add their personal logo there for consistency. One such example is Nerdrotic, a channel that covers pop-culture-related news and content. As you can see, the channel owner has his trademark “Yellow circle with glasses” logo in nearly every thumbnail. Such imagery gives your viewers a sense of consistency and unity. In other words, it tells them that your channel has a clear, defined voice and aesthetic that they can expect with every click.
Brief and to the point, channel trailers are a solid method for introducing your future audiences to your content. They are usually between 1 and 2 minutes long and quite succinct compared to the rest of the content on the channel.
The ultimate aim of a custom trailer is to pique the interest of newcomers to your channel. In this brief video, they get to learn who you are, what your goals are, what kind of content you produce, and why they should subscribe to your channel and not to your competition.
It’s fairly straightforward — your viewers talk to you, and you respond to them at once. Reply to those DMs, like, and boost those comments (in fact, add a few yourself). Host live chats and talk to your viewers directly. Give them shoutouts and address their points in your future videos. Whatever you can do to make the community feel like they’re participating, do it.
When you build enough of a fanbase, you can unlock the community tab section. Using this tab, you can share announcements for your future projects with your fans. Moreover, each of these announcements appears directly on the pages of your subscribers, so there’s no way they’ll miss the message once you post it.
“Please like and comment on this video, and subscribe to my channel.” How many times have you heard a variation of this sentence?
While it may look jarring to some, this direct asking for subs is actually a common occurrence on YouTube. Even the biggest names, with hundreds of millions of subscribers and views, continue to use this method. After all, there’s nothing wrong with it; your viewers may like your content, so it’s only natural to ask for their direct support. A call to action, when done right, can increase your flow of newcomers immensely.
What do DarksydePhil, PewDiePie, and Philip DeFranco have in common, other than spectacular views and a long history on the platform? Well, aside from some minor exceptions, they all post content on a daily basis. And they are far from the only channels that do so.
Viewers may like a one-shot viral video you’ve posted, but it’s not going to keep you in the public eye for long. On the other hand, if you have a consistent schedule and upload videos on a regular basis, the algorithm will promote your content. Furthermore, viewers will run into your videos more often, and you can gain additional subscribers.
Keep in mind, the schedule doesn’t have to be daily. You can upload a video per week, two weeks, a month, etc. The key is not to procrastinate and to stick to whatever schedule you pick. Once you get a big enough following, you can deviate from the schedule, but make sure you let your subscribers know in advance.
Organizing a giveaway or a contest will definitely attract more people to your channel. After all, both parties win. Potential subscribers have a chance of winning an item or a service, or maybe even an opportunity to collab with you in some way. On the other hand, you gain a new subscriber, and your current user base will continue to watch your content for potential future giveaways.
We’ve covered SEO in Tactic #4, so let’s expand on it here a little bit. Namely, keywords are vital for any YouTube title or description. But you can’t build an entire text based on keywords alone. Instead, you will need to draft up a text that’s easy to read, contains simple and effective language, and doesn’t tire the viewer out. For instance, which description of the two do you think has a better chance of attracting a viewer?
- In this video, we take a look at how the Roman Senate operated during the Late Republic;
- In this video, we discuss the commonalities among Rome’s upper echelon regarding their affairs in provincial areas of the Republic 150 years before Augustus Caesar took control and effectively re-established the monarchy.
Granted, you don’t have to dumb down your text and leave it bare-bones. But do try to make it as conversational and easy to understand as possible.
Modern viewers tend to binge-watch, or rather binge-consume, their entertainment of choice. Whether it’s TV shows, movies, anime, or podcasts, as long as they can put it in a playlist and let it run, they’ll do it.
So, as a creator, you should not only approve of playlists made using your content but strive to create some lists yourself. Group relevant videos into categories based on different criteria (topic, length, type of video, etc.). That way, your viewers can enjoy your stuff without having to constantly get up and click on the next video.
How can people who are not avid viewers find out that a new video of yours is up? After all, not everyone has that notification bell clicked.
Well, that’s where other forms of social media come in. First and foremost, you can post links to your videos on Facebook or Twitter, along with a brief message that contains a call to action. Next, you can take an extract from the video and paste it onto a different video service, like TikTok. Finally, if your brand happens to have a website and if you’re running a newsletter, don’t be afraid to use it as a marketing tool.
Even alternative social media can be a great source to advertise your YouTube channel. Some users, for example, avoid Facebook and Twitter. Instead, they opt for Minds, Getter, Gab, Telegram, BitChute, Parler, and others. By signing up on these platforms, you can get niche audiences to follow you and share your content.
This tactic is a no-brainer for any and all YouTubers out there. If you want to expand your audience, why not try to gain a pre-existing one? After all, even before PewDiePie was the #1 subscribed channel by a single creator, he was collaborating with some heavy hitters of the day like Smosh. Huge YouTubers almost always have overlapping subscribers, and part of the reason is the constant collaborations.
On the other side of the spectrum, small channels also collaborate often to increase each other’s viewership. They tend to make collab videos or participate in live streams together. That way, audiences from both ends can see what their favorite creator puts out but also have a chance to subscribe to someone new whose content is related to their interests.
Cross-promoting on alternative media is one surefire way of reaching people who might otherwise not find out about your channel. But you can go one step beyond. As a creator, you can specifically target small, niche communities, even on mainstream platforms like Reddit.
For example, maybe you’re an instrument manufacturer. So, in order to gain a few subscribers, you can visit a subreddit specifically for violinists or a different one for death metal enthusiasts. These communities are often limited in number, but they have avid and loyal fanbases. In other words, if you gain their subscription, you will have a subscriber that will stay with you for the long run.
As the channel grows, some of your old content may be out of date or simply clash with your current aesthetic and brand message. Therefore, you’ll want to remove old videos that don’t get any engagement. Of course, this could get sentimental since these are your humble beginnings. But you can always reupload them on a different channel or archive them for posterity. That way, your brand stays intact, but you don’t lose your piece of internet history.
Nearly every successful YouTuber will tell you that fame doesn’t come overnight. Channels like Think Before You Sleep, Mr. Beast, and even Smosh, spent hours and hours investing in their content, constantly upgrading, with lots of ups and downs along the way. However, a lot of new creators tend to be impatient, so they increase their presence on the platform by buying subscribers.
Of course, buying subscribers is not exactly illegal or illegitimate. If you require a bit of a boost, you can buy a couple of subscribers whose comments on your videos will get the algorithm to push you forward. However, you have to be careful. There are lots of services that don’t provide actual subscribers, but bots and AI “users”. The algorithm on YouTube can recognize bot accounts, and it only takes a few strikes before your channel is banned for good. But more importantly, regular viewers can spot bot accounts from a mile away. Seeing their favorite Youtuber use bots to inflate his or her numbers will leave a bad taste in their mouth. Therefore, if you can, double-check who you’re buying subscribers from and focus on organic channel growth. Soon enough, you will see more engagement and a steady increase in views and likes on your channel.