Getting your channel off the ground on YouTube is a tough nut to crack. If you’re just starting out, you’ll very likely find that your videos get an absolutely abysmal number of views if all you do is upload them without trying to promote your channel as hard as possible, and it can be demoralizing to put a lot of effort into your content when no-one ever sees it. So how do you grow a YouTube channel from nothing? That’s the question I wanted to pose to popular YouTubers, and put out this request:
What are your tips for growing a YouTube channel? How was your experience getting your channel off the ground? Looking to hear from YouTubers who can share their personal stories, struggles and advice for getting subscribers.
We’d like to hear from as many popular YouTubers as possible on this one to create a comprehensive and very useful resource for anyone just starting out with YouTube. So far, we haven’t got too many submissions from popular channels (most submissions so far were from people with a pretty low number of subscribers which I’ve had to ignore), so if you happen to be a YouTube superstar with good advice to share, please submit it! 🙂
Below is what we’ve received so far from people with popular channels, in no particular order. Each of these people have built a very respectable YouTube channel with great content in their niche.
From BrettLarkinYoga on YouTube, currently with 329K subscribers:
*What are your tips for growing a YouTube channel? *
It's the advice no one ever wants to hear, but - CONSISTENCY! Create a consistent upload schedule. For example, every Monday at 10am. Or for vloggers, every weekday at noon. You are in a relationship with the algorithm. You want to establish trust, from Day 1, that you are a dedicated creator who will be providing high-quality content to the Youtube platform regularly.
My weekly content schedule hasn't wavered since 2012. Videos went up the week I was on my honeymoon and gave birth to my child (yes -- you can preschedule content)
*How was your experience getting your channel off the ground? *
It's a huge learning curve. You're figuring out the ins and outs of filming, editing, SEO, building an audience, and branding -- all at the same time. Youtube loves agile creators -- meaning creators who are regularly looking at their analytics and adjusting the content they're creating based on what's getting the most traction on Youtube. Contrary to popular belief, it's watchtime, not views, that's the most important metric to consider.
*Advice for getting subscribers...*
It's so simple it's stupid, but ASK! Ask your viewers, either at the beginning or end of the video, to subscribe. I felt so incredibly ashamed and embarrassed to do this at the beginning. Newsflash - it works!
--Brett Larking, brettlarkin.com
From Coach Lee on YouTube, currently with 103K subscribers:
My channel is about 1.5 years old. 10 million minutes per month. 1.5 million views.
I have a couple of tips that really helped me grow my channel quickly.
First, I use my website and my YouTube channel together. Every video, if possible, has an accompanying article about that topic on my website. That feeds both the channel and the website. Putting my video on my website transfers some of that authority from my website to the video. It's like linking to it in a way and it helps the video rank in stand-alone fashion on Google and YouTube.
Second, I'm noticing that videos that have custom captions (not YouTube's auto-captioning that is too inaccurate at the moment) rank much better in both YouTube and Google. That's partly because Google can read the captions of your video. YouTube's auto-captioning has so many typos and inaccuracies that Google doesn't put as much trust in it and it can even hurt you like typos on a website. Many people don't know how to add captions to YouTube videos and/or don't have time - especially if you have hundreds of videos backlogged. A really great service for this is Multi Transcription Services of America and they explain how it works at https://www.mtsoa.com/youtube-captioning
Third, YouTube pays attention to what people do after they watch your video. Do they watch more? Do they just leave? It factors in. Refer people to your other videos. For example, in your video you are likely to refer to another issue related to the topic. Rather than explain it all, tell viewers to see your video entitled, XYZ and tell them that a link is to it in the description below on YouTube. It will keep users interacting further with your channel and watching more of your videos which is a huge quality indicator for YouTube ranking.
--Lee Wilson, Ex Back Coach
From Meredith Marsh - VidProMom on YouTube, currently with 43.1K subscribers:
Tips for growing a YouTube channel:
1) Create helpful content - how-to videos and tutorials are among the most popular content in YouTube and this is the type of content that can appear as search results when you optimize with SEO.
2) SEO - to get your videos to appear in search results (on YouTube and Google), make sure the video title and description include the search phrases your audience is likely to use when searching for your topic.
3) Be consistent - take one step at a time and stay consistent with uploading videos. Once a week is ideal.
When I was getting my channel off the ground, I committed to publishing once a week for a year. By the end of that year, I had 2,000 subscribers, was earning passive income through ads and affiliate marketing, and had been invited to be part of the “influencer family” of a popular worldwide brand.
--Meredith Marsh, VidProMom.com
From MoreGems.com on YouTube, currently with 51.5K subscribers:
We have had our Youtube channel for 5 years now and have over 50,000 subscribers. One of the biggest ways we have been able to build our followers has been through creating unique content and submitting it to other social media platforms, such as Reddit. For example, one video we submitted to Reddit went viral, and we ended up with over 4,000,000 views and an extra 10,000 followers. You don't have to have some state of the art equipment or studio, just unique ideas and a phone with a camera.
--Jeff Moriarty, Moriarty's Gem Art
From Payette Forward on YouTube, currently with 275K subscribers:
The first tip I have for anyone looking to start and build a successful YouTube channel is to find a topic you're particularly passionate about. Building a YouTube channel from the ground up takes a lot of time, energy, and patience. If you aren't focused on a topic you're passionate about, you may burn out early on.
The second tip I have for growing a YouTube channel is to post on a consistent schedule. Nobody expects you to post a new video every day. However, having a clear schedule helps you prepare videos and sets an expectation for your subscribers as to when they can expect new content. You want subscribers to be invested in your channel, but it's more difficult for them to do that if they never know when you're going to post a new video.
*How was your experience getting your channel off the ground?*
It was a very slow grind at first. You can go days or weeks without getting a new subscriber, which can be a bit discouraging. But it's important to keep in mind that the hard work will pay off.
To give you some perspective, we were gaining about 1 subscriber per day throughout 2016. Such slow growth often inclines businesses to pursue other strategies, which we did for a little while.
Towards the end of 2017, we decided to invest more time on YouTube and get on a regular upload schedule. We saw our daily subscriber count jump to 15–20 per day throughout the first half of 2018. As our channel continued to grow, so did our daily subscriber count. We were gaining roughly 100 subscribers a day throughout 2019.
Then, on August 1, 2019, our video titled 7 iPhone Settings You Need To Turn Off Now went viral. At its peak, we gained more than 10,000 subscribers in one day. Since then, our channel has added has steadily added ~1000 subscribers per day.
Our formula for success was pretty simple. We started by creating evergreen videos — videos that people would always be searching for. For us, that was videos about common iPhone problems that people always have. This helped us build a solid foundation of new, consistent viewers and subscribers. This led to steady channel growth for quite awhile.
Once we had that solid foundation in place, we began to create videos we thought had the potential to go viral. Most of them didn't, but one did, and a few others got more than 400,000 views. It really only takes one viral video to completely change the nature of your channel. Our quick video about iPhone settings to turn off now has more than 10 million views, and it's getting thousands more every day.
To sum it up, here's the advice I'd give: Find a topic you're passionate about, upload consistently, find evergreen topics to build a solid foundation, then create videos with viral potential. With hard work and patience, you will be successful.
--David Lynch, Payette Forward
From Homestead Launch on YouTube, currently with 15K subscribers:
I started a YouTube channel several years ago, that now has over 15,000 subscribers. Many of the "normal" things that people say were important in getting the channel going--consistency, asking for subscriptions and participation, etc. However, the single biggest thing in growing my channels subscribers (as well as views) was COLLABORATIONS. What does this mean exactly? Finding channels that you can work together with to help you get in front of new audiences. Done correctly, collaborations can bring you hundreds or thousands of new subscribers overnight. So, how do you set up collaborations? It helps to be active on YouTube in your industry. If you have a YouTube channel about sports, than follow other channels about sports. Doing this helps you be more aware of potential collaborators, and gives you a sense of what kinds of things they do on their channels. Next, you can't be afraid to reach out to them. Be complimentary, respectful, and straightforward, and let them know you have an idea you wanted to run past them. If you can send them and idea of something fun and timely that fits with both of your audiences, many YouTubers will do it. For some quick suggestions--can you do a fun split-screen competition with a fellow YouTuber? Will you perhaps both be attending an event at the same time? Can you do a friendly imitation of one of your favorite YouTubers? Can you create a mashup video of all your favorite moments of theirs? Think creatively, and bring them an idea that they and their audience will love, and you have a great shot of getting in front of your audience. When this happens, your channel growth can be monumental.
--Dan Carpenter, SCP Survival
From Clean With Confidence on YouTube, currently with 34K subscribers:
1.) What are you tips for growing a Youtube channel?
First and foremost be yourself. You can't be someone you're not. The only person you can be is yourself. There might be 1,000 videos instructing how to cut hair, but only 1 video of you instructing how to cut hair. Hope that makes sense!! Secondly, keep uploading!! The only way to fail is to stop or give up.
2.) How was your experience getting your channel off the ground?
Honestly, it was pretty easy. I targeted some high volume search phrases and waaalaaa... I started getting daily views. Of course I started my channel 3 years ago, this may be a little harder nowadays due to the fact Youtube has become so competitive and saturated.
3.) My personal struggles and stories?
Staying motivated to upload is a struggle at times. I have gone stretches where I didn't upload at all. The longest stretch was 4 months. I don't recommend this because consistency is king on Youtube.
It hard for me to give advice on motivation. Each person is different and you just have to figure makes you want to upload and try to use it to fuel you.
--Thomas Hernandez, Clean With Confidence