You have your YouTube channel, and maybe you've even seen some early success, but how are you supposed to build your subscriber base? If you ever want to see that silver, gold, or even platinum YouTube Play button on your wall, you need to zero in on the things that not only draw viewers in, but cause them to hit that subscribe button and stick around.
If you're ready to start getting more subscribers on YouTube, we've got some fantastic tips to help you achieve that goal.
Build Your YouTube Subscribers Base Naturally
Before you start, it's important to think about why you want, or need, subscribers on your YouTube channel. While it's nice to see a big number on your channel page, it doesn't actually matter if those subscribers aren't engaged with your channel. So while hit viral videos can drive big bursts of subscribers, you're much better off building slowly by cultivating an audience that loves your content and keeps coming back for more.
In that same vein, stay away from subscriber schemes and paid subscriber services. It may be tempting to artificially pump up your subscriber number, but what good is it to have 100,000 or even 1,000,000 subscribers if none of them are real, and none of them actually watch your videos?
Here are some tips you can use to get more subscribers for your YouTube channel:
Focus Your Content, and Clean House If Necessary
A screenshot of poor video performance on YouTube.
If you've had your channel for a while, and it's full of under-performing content that doesn't have a lot of direction or synergy, start by cleaning house. Remove or hide older, lower-performing content so potential subscribers aren't scared off by a sea of mediocrity.
Going forward, focus on producing high quality content that fits into your specific niche, whatever that is.
Research Before Creating Your Content
A screenshot of YouTube research.
If possible use good search engine optimization (SEO). Don't be afraid to do competitor research, too. Watch a ton of videos in your field or niche, and get a feel for what works and what doesn't. Learn from the mistakes of your peers, and use that information to create better videos.
When uploading videos, use keyword research tools to identify what people are searching for, and incorporate high-performing keywords into your titles, descriptions, and meta tags. Just make sure it actually fits. If people get what they're looking for out of your videos, they're more likely to hit that subscribe button.
Rethink Your Studio and Equipment
Anyone can start a YouTube channel with virtually no initial investment, but that doesn't always lead to the highest quality content. If you do vlog-style videos, for example, you should invest in a basic studio setup, including a tripod for your camera, some kind of professional background or backdrop, and studio lighting.
You may be able to get away with filming video with your phone, but consider investing in basic audio equipment like a condenser mic, pop filter, and strategically-placed acoustic foam.
However you choose to produce your videos, a few professional touches can go a long way toward earning repeat viewers.
Create a Killer Channel Trailer
A screenshot of the YouTube feature video setting.
YouTube allows you to promote a video on your channel landing page, which is a great opportunity to create a channel trailer that drives subscribers. Channel trailers should be short and to the point, no longer than a minute long, and provide new viewers with a solid understanding of your channel.
Alternately, you can take a top performing video and use that as your channel trailer. If you have one video that drives more subscriptions than any other, consider featuring that on your channel page.
Either way, you'll want to navigate to your channel, select Customize Channel > Feature content, then select your channel trailer or high performing video and select Save.
Stick to Shorter Videos That Provide a Lot of Value
You'll hear a lot of conflicting advice on video length, and the truth is that there is no one size fits all solution. Some channels and niches lend themselves more to bite-sized videos, while others do very well with much longer content.
As you're just getting started, and trying to earn subscribers, consider sticking to shorter videos and focusing on quality over quantity. Pack as much value into a five minute video as you can, and you're much more likely to have your viewers stick it out through the whole thing and maybe even watch the next one.
Consider Longer Videos Only If You Can Keep Watch Time High
If you find that you're able to keep your watch time high, then the fact is that longer videos are more likely to be promoted via YouTube's internal algorithm.
The key is to keep the quality up, and keep people watching, as long videos that people close after a few minutes won't bubble to the top of YouTube's algorithm and won't drive new subscribers.
As an added bonus, videos that top the 10 minute mark are eligible for more ad placements than shorter videos. Just don't chase that extra advertising at the expense of quality, or nobody will subscribe.
Send Viewers to Your Highest Performing Videos
A screenshot of YouTube analytics.
Use YouTube analytics to identify your highest performing videos. Navigate to YouTube Studio > Analytics > See More, then sort by Subscribers. Pick out the top videos that get you the most subscribers, and do everything you can do drive traffic to those videos.
Create Playlists That are Easy for Viewers to Consume and Binge
If you package your content into themed playlists, you make it easier for viewers to find your content. You also make it easier for them to seamlessly transition from one video to the next.
This not only drives up your views, and provides positive signals to the YouTube algorithm, it can also drive subscriptions as viewers decide that they want to know when you upload your next piece of content.
If you have some videos that drive more subscriptions than others, make sure to slot them into playlists.
Don't Be Afraid to Go Heavy on Your CTA's
A call to action (CTA) is when you ask someone to take a specific action, like subscribe to your channel or check out additional videos. The best way to insert a powerful CTA into your YouTube videos is via end cards that ask the viewer to subscribe and suggest other videos.
This is another place to feature your highest performing videos. Don't send viewers to your weakest content, send them to the videos that get you the most subscribers each month.
Reply to Comments and Engage Your Audience
A screenshot of YouTube comments with hearts.
YouTube has a bad reputation for having some of the worst comment sections on the internet, and a lot of creators simply ignore or even turn off their comments. As a small channel that's trying to grow, you can really help drive audience engagement and earn new subscribers by wading into the comments section.
Take the time to reply to useful comments, and select the heart icon for comments that you especially like or feel add some value to the comments section. According to YouTube's own data, using that heart button is even more likely to draw the user back to your video than simply replying.
Leverage the Branding Watermark for More Subscriptions
Screenshots of branding watermarks in YouTube videos.
Your branding watermark shows up in the lower right corner of all of your videos. Most creators use some variation of their channel logo for their branding watermark. That's better than ignoring the feature altogether, but it doesn't typically generate many clicks. Try replacing your logo with a simple YouTube subscribe button, and you're more likely to generate clicks and subscriptions.
Adding Meaningful Subscribers on YouTube
If you're looking for long term success, the bottom line is that it's a much better idea to stick with the basics: produce great content that appeals to a specific audience, and use as many tricks as you can to get it in front of that audience.
Great content translates into dedicated subscribers, and dedicated subscribers translate into views. Where you go from there is up to you.