You Can Grow Your YouTube Channel
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I opened my first YouTube channel in 2006. I’ve uploaded over 750 videos through the years, spent a year uploading to YouTube daily, then I started another channel for photographers, not to mention consultation and support to run client channels. Yes, I have a little experience with YouTube. If you want to grow your channel, there are a few things you should know.
Update Reference: How To Grow A YouTube Channel 2017
Update Reference TheTubeblog: How To Grow A YouTube Channel 2019
Unlike other social media platforms, much of the power of YouTube is in its search engine. When you start a new YouTube channel, search is your friend. Search is not the only way to grow your channel, however, until your channel has little authority, its one of the quickest ways to get your videos in front of the right people within the YouTube ecosystem.
The fact is, people use YouTube to find information, be entertained, solve problems and discover how to do things. People use YouTube search so much, it’s the 2nd largest search engine, behind its owner, Google. It’s estimated that YouTube will eventually be the number one search engine within a few years.
Other social media depends on regular interaction or engagement to get your posts noticed. You may be aware, status updates fade quickly in most social media. In the case of Facebook, you must pay to play. Yet, YouTube offers the opportunity, like a blog, to share evergreen content and earn new subscribers years after you hit the publish button.
So, how do you grow your YouTube channel? Well, let me get the basics out-of-the-way. If you do research on YouTube growth, you’ll hear many of the same themes from YouTube guru’s. Ideas I’ve shared on this blog. Concepts, such as, create great content, more is better, be consistent and engage with your audience. The more is better part is always met with the caveat that more is not better when quality suffers.
Professional YouTube Advice
Despite the fact I have a lot of experience with YouTube, SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. There are some people who focus much or all of their teaching on YouTube as a platform. I believe they have excellent advice for you to consider, especially if you are serious about growth on this platform. I’ve learned from these pros and certainly share their influence in my YouTube teachings. Over time, some of the YouTubers below are now friends, mentors and my professional consultants.
Below are some professional YouTubers I recommend you follow, I’ve linked their name to their channels. Make sure you check them out.
- Video Creators: Tim Schmoyer is a veteran YouTuber with about 350,000 subscribers. He shares great insight on how to grow your YouTube channel. He also has a helpful Video Creators Podcast full of good information. Tim regularly offers valuable live question and answer sessions, so keep an eye out.
- Brian G Johnson: Learn how to AMPLIFY your voice with Brian’s helpful insights on how to increase your views, grow your channel and community. As Brian likes to say, stake your claim and discover innovative video marketing strategies. I stake my claim as his first Patreon member, because I value his advice.
- Roberto Blake: Roberto is a creative, like many of the people who subscribe to my blog. This fact alone gives him my attention. He is blunt and straight forward when it comes to his YouTube recommendations. He continues to grow and evolve to help creatives with business, life and building a YouTube channel.
- Creator Insider: Get it direct from YouTube. YouTube employee Tom shares updates, insight and interviews with other YouTube employees. It’s about as close as you can get to YouTube inside information.
- Creator Academy: This is a series of lessons and courses from YouTube to help you become a better YouTuber.
- Derral Eves: He is a powerhouse in the YouTube growth field. Derral has multiple high value channels in which he pulls excellent data from to share with his community. He is one of the best when it comes to analytics and insight as to how YouTube works. Derral is also the host of the powerful Vidsummit conference.
- Nick Nimmin: Nick hails from Thailand and shares great insight on various topics related to growing your YouTube channel. He regularly collaborates with other YouTubers such as Brian G. Johnson and Owen Hemsath. Nick also has helpful YouTube tools available under his Tubber Tools brand.
- Owen Video: Owen Hemsath focuses on Live video for both YouTube and Facebook. I enjoy his question and answer sessions. I also appreciate the tools he shares to help you grow your audience. Some of his tips are the most powerful ideas I’ve used in the growth of my channels. Like many on this list, Owen offers his services as a consultant.
- TubeBuddy: TubeBuddy is a helpful tool to optimize your YouTube channel and find niches for your content. They also have a helpful YouTube channel with pro YouTubers, including some on this list to give you more insight on how to grow your channel.
- Video Influencers: Benji Travis and Sean Cannell share insights on how they have grown their YouTube channels. They also upload helpful interview posts with other successful YouTubers. These insights can really be powerful for your YouTube channel growth.
- Morning Fame: This is another tool to consider to help grow your channel. Like TubeBuddy, I use this tool for my channel growth. Nico and Brian G. Johnson team up to give you insight and information about how to use this tool and grow your channel.
- Amy Schmittauer: She shares ideas and strategies to help vloggers grow their channel and business. Her channel savvy sexy social is full of great tips and advice. She also has a book, so you can vlog like her — like a boss.
- VidPow: Jeremy Vest has deep experience working with brands to grow their YouTube channels. He shares his thoughts and gives guest YouTubers the opportunity to add to the conversation. He is also the organizer of the video marketing world conference.
Rosh Sillars: I’m not offering myself as a Youtube guru. However, my job is to help businesses grow and that is what my channel is about. I do talk about YouTube and share my experience. You can check out my series on YouTube below. (link: https://www.youtube.com/yiDgXoNDqJo)
There are certainly more YouTube and video professionals online. I recommend you look for more information from YouTubers who you feel a connection and have done it. I have discovered some of the YouTube gamers and vloggers have a few videos with good YouTube growth insights and advice. Be careful, there is a lot of poor information about YouTube on YouTube.
The Technical Side Of YouTube
If you keep in mind Google owns YouTube, you should be able to apply some good SEO knowledge in to the mix. I’ve actually taken what I learn from YouTube SEO and applied the lessons to my tradition SEO, with excellent results. YouTube is a video search engine, you should adhere to standard YouTube search guidelines. This is true, no mater the size of your channel.
When it comes to YouTube SEO, you should follow the best SEO practices. Consider the title tag as the most important real estate on your YouTube page. Everything should be related to the title. Your video should fulfill the promise of the title. Make your title interesting while still containing your keywords. Trust me, it takes practice.
You should use the description section to expand the idea of your video. It doesn’t seem to carry much SEO weight, yet it can be helpful to encourage people to watch your video. You can also use the description area to list your social networks, channel information and affiliate links.
Tags are like keywords. They carry more weight in YouTube than keywords on traditional websites. Make sure you fill them out well. Although, there are hints tags are devalued over time. Most likely for the same reason website keywords were devalued. In your early YouTube days, when your channel has less authority, I recommend using longer tail keywords to help you rank. Ranking helps your videos get found in search results.
There are some helpful tools which make setting up your videos easier and more effective. Tube Buddy and VidIQ both have valuable features to help you make the right moves. It’s also important to note once you publish your video it’s not over. You can always go back and rework the information on old videos as you learn which keywords and techniques work best for your channel. However, if your video is doing well, especially viral videos, I wouldn’t change any information. Actually, I suggest you wait 3-6 months before you make any changes. It can take this long for a video to catch.
One powerful tip, which I don’t do enough, is transcribe videos. You can upload your transcription to YouTube. This gives YouTube a little more data to help place your videos in front of the right viewer. You don’t have to do it yourself, I recommend you outsource transcriptions. There are a number available online sources, you can even look on fiverr.com
If you want to get people’s attention, you need to focus on your thumbnails. Creative and interesting thumbnails get viewers attention and helps to brand your channel. Make sure your thumbnails relate to your title tag, although, your thumbnail shouldn’t say the exact same thing as your headline. Your thumbnail, often needs minimal text to get the job done. Bright colors, and action which earns the curiosity of the viewer is what you want in a thumbnail. I’ve found a large human face works really well. Your thumbnail is usually your first opportunity to make an impression. Consider the branding of your entire channel and make sure it’s consistent and on message.
Below are some additional ways you can increase traffic to your YouTube channel
- Consider search within the Google search engine. Google shows YouTube videos in their search results. Over time this can be a good source of traffic to you videos and channel. Try a few longtail keywords in which Google might show results (hint: check the bottom of Google search results page).
- Networking: Network with other YouTubers of similar size to help each other grow. This can be a powerful, especially if you grow together. The YouTube algorithm can actually support your efforts if you are similar channels. It’s helpful to share each others work in social media, comment and champion each other.
- Collaboration: If your networking partners channel is similar, you can collaborate and create videos as guests or ask each other questions. In other words, introduce each other to your audiences. Again, once YouTube realizes you are good channel companions, the algorithm can support your effort.
- Social Media: If you have a good social community on other social media channels, make sure you share your videos. Urge your followers to subscribe and become active in your YouTube community.
- Blog: My blog is an excellent source of visitors to my videos and channel. I write blogs around my videos and add videos to relevant blog post. People find your blog through social media and SEO, a blog fan base can lead to new YouTube subscribers.
What Makes A Channel Grow?
If you really want your channel to grow, it’s all about watch time. Like Facebook and other social media platforms. YouTube wants visitors time on site to be as long as possible. The more you keep people watching videos on YouTube, the more YouTube rewards you with opportunities to earn more views and subscribers.
If you make YouTube happy, the platform will help promote your video through its network of suggested videos. For many YouTubers, this is their main source of traffic. If YouTube believes your video will earn more watch time, it will show your video to as many people as possible. This is one way small channels earn viral hits.
Subscribers are milestones in the YouTube community. As you gain more subscribers you can earn helpful YouTube features, such as a custom URL. For many, they covet the YouTube play buttons awards, such as the gold button for 1 Million subscribers. This is one I have my eye on. Earning subscribers is helpful, because many of them will watch your video soon after its uploaded. As a result, you receive more early watch time. YouTube cares little about how many subscribers you have, however, it does care about how much time people spend on your videos and YouTube as a whole.
When you don’t have subscribers, it’s more important to focus on YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) to help people find you. However, once you have 1000 or more subscribers, you can depend a little more on catchy headlines to earn early views and improve your view velocity. A rate of views metric YouTube considers when promoting videos.
Think of it this way. When a video is first uploaded, YouTube considers basic SEO factors, the channels authority, history and recent video results. Once time passes, YouTube depends less on the technical information and more on user results. So, if you have an awesome headline and a great thumbnail with a video that offers what is advertised, people will click, watch the video and share your video. This encourages YouTube to promote your video because people seem to like it.
Retention is an important factor. If you have a four-minute video and your average viewer watches three minutes, that is 75% retention. Anything over 50% is good, in my opinion. Your channel as a whole should be over 25%, I would aim for at least 30%. Of course, higher the better. As a reference, My channel currently sits at a 45% average retention for the last 28 days.
Longer videos tend to have lower retention. However, YouTube would rather promote a 20 minute video with 33% retention than a 10 minute video with 50% retention. Why? because it fits with YouTube’s goal of more watch time and keeping people on YouTube longer.
Not only should you consider the average watch time, but how many visitors do you have watching at the end of your video. If 40-50% of your audience is still watching at the end of your video can offer a powerful result. Especially, because there is a greater chance they will watch more of your videos, click on cards, end screens or suggested videos. These are all actions YouTube rewards you for when visitors to stay on YouTube. Especially, if they started with your video.
I stress that it’s important to get as many people to your video immediately after you hit publish. View velocity is an important factor for YouTube to promote your video on other channels. This is why big YouTubers seem to win by default, yet, if you understand the concept, you can win too. Promote your video hard within the first hour and continue over the next twenty-four, with additional promotion over the following week.
Make sure you learn and understand your YouTube analytics. YouTube analytics gives a peek in to what works on your channel and the videos your audience appreciates most.
If you are wondering what type of video to make next, take a look at what people are viewing on your channel over the last 60 minutes or 48 hours. If there is a video which dominates watch time, consider making a follow-up video.
The data suggests that there really isn’t a best time of the day to publish. However, the more consistent you are with your publishing the better.
My favorite analytics to regularly review are retention and traffic sources. Retention tells me how much my audience likes my videos. If people are leaving early, watching or not watching much of a video, these stats give me clues as to what my audience wishes to see.
Traffic sources are important to me because my goal is to have more traffic from suggested videos. If your a how to channel, search is still very important. However, when I earn a lot of traffic from suggested videos, this means YouTube is finding my videos valuable to met it goals.
Happy viewer + happy YouTube = success.
It’s usually impossible to really know what videos will be a hit. Honestly, shooting for a viral video is not the best long-term YouTube plan. As mentioned, your title and thumbnail are really important to get attention. However, you need a video which keeps people’s attention.
Videos which extract emotion from the viewer often win the day, when it comes to viral hits. However, that may not be the purpose of your channel. It’s important to get the point of the video quickly, usually within the first 10 seconds. A good recommendation for vloggers is if you have a high point in the video, share a clip of it in the beginning to pique interest.
Once you establish the topic your video needs to deliver on the promise made in the first ten seconds. Although, keeping people watching your video as long as possible is important, your video should be no longer than necessary. It is better to have a three-minute video in which viewers watch, on average, two minutes than a ten minute video, in which people watch two minutes. Retention is much better for the three minute video with the same watch time. YouTube will reward the three-minute video.
Look to your community. It’s good to ask your community what they are looking for from you as a creator. Review your comments and the comments in similar channels.
How To Get To a Million Subscribers
I created a video (below) which explains much of my philosophy. My stretch goal is to reach 1 million subscribers over the next few years. I started with a video a day, which was a great experiment. However, I’ve backed off to spend more time creating better videos which people watch longer. Am I guaranteed to reach 1 million subscribers in 4-5 years? Absolutely not. However, I’ve done the math and if I can grow an average of 20% compounded per month, I can get there. Currently, one channel is a little behind my goal and one is well ahead. Please note: it took many of the big YouTubers you appreciate 3-4 years to reach large audience status.
Sadly, many who try, will not achieve their YouTube goal. The reason is most people are not willing to do the work. When I tell young YouTubers it might take up to two years of weekly (3-7) video uploads to reach 10,000 subscribers — they do not want to go for the ride.
To grow a YouTube channel takes work. It is very rare for a YouTuber to make the big time in a few months. It is possible, yet, most have to work hard for the big goals. Chances are, those who are looking for quick money and internet fame will drop out of the race in a mater of months. Every year, YouTube breaks hearts and dreams.
YouTube is more than possible fame and money
The development of a YouTube channel is a journey. I know this well because I’ve embarked on similar journeys over the last ten plus years on social media. I found success with some channels, I’ve abandon others and I’ve outright failed a few times too.
It’s nice to earn rewards for your good work in social media. Google does reward you with income if you do a good job. The Google AdSense program can add some coin to your bank account. Revenue is available to you once your channel reaches 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours annual watch time (starting Feb 2018). However, there are many more ways to earn money on YouTube, such as merchandise sales, sponsorships and affiliates. Savvy YouTubers leverage their audience, often leaving AdSense as a small percentage of their total income.
My goal is to earn more authority as a digital marketing professional, speaker and author. From my experience, there is more money in speaking fees and consulting opportunities than AdSense. However, every channel is different. I’m a rather straight shooter and I don’t expect to win any comedy awards or rise on trending topics with a crazy viral video. I have to work for every subscriber and opportunity.
I do know this, those who win in social media are active, create value, commit to the channel and persist. Those who last the longest, often win. The same goes for YouTube creators.