Growing a YouTube channel will create stronger connections with your community and can be one of the most powerful online assets imaginable
I felt like I was late to blogging in 2014 even though there are still successful blogs being created every day. I never got into podcasting even though everyone said blogging was dead.
Developing a YouTube channel is your chance to be ahead of the next evolution in internet publishing.
OK, obviously the second largest search engine is nothing new, but it still feels like YouTube is a ‘newer’ platform compared to other media and let’s face it, video is where the internet is going. Everyone’s carrying around a miniature video studio in their pocket and 5G will make it possible to seamlessly stream content from anywhere.
Starting your YouTube channel now not only means you’ll get the chance to develop it into a legit asset before ‘everyone has a channel’, it’s also a traffic source that can’t be neglected for bloggers.
In the four months since restarting my channel, YouTube has become the fifth-largest traffic source to the blogs…and it gets better. Not only do the videos send a constant stream of traffic but those visitors are SIMULTANEOUSLY the best quality traffic by bounce rate, pages per session and session duration of my top 10 sources!
Publishing videos connects with people the way a blog post or even a podcast never can. That face-to-face feeling creates a community you can leverage into courses, products and just about anything you can imagine.
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My False Start on YouTube
I didn’t start my YouTube channel this year…I just didn’t start it right until this year!
I’ve actually had a channel since 2015 but only used it to create video summaries of blog posts which I could then embed on the blogs. The idea was to give readers another medium to consume the content and maybe keep them on the site a little longer.
I created a schedule-busting nine videos in three years and grew the channel to an astonishing 21 subscribers.
Of course, I didn’t care about the channel. I didn’t even give it a name.
I didn’t want to create an online asset on a platform I didn’t control. What if I went through all that work and YouTube changed its policies like Facebook has so often for pages?
Then I got smart. I started hearing other bloggers talk about how fast their traffic was growing from YouTube and how they were leveraging the platform for marketing. I started looking at bloggers’ YouTube channels and seeing videos with thousands, tens of thousands and even millions of views. Videos seemed to live on well after they were published, even smaller channels getting hundreds of views per video and engagement that would make any blog post jealous.
Just before the new year, I decided to get serious about YouTube.
After spending about a month learning everything I could about YouTube and video production, I posted my first videos on December 25th…yeah, I work Christmas Day.
I posted two videos a week, Monday and Wednesday, for reasons we’ll get into soon. Progress was slow at first, averaging about four new subscribers a day for the first three months.
Just as in blogging, where a handful of posts account for your largest chunk of traffic, I finally got a hit. It was actually a video published late-January but that took a couple of months to score big in the YouTube algorithm.
And that’s all it takes, just one video can give you the momentum where new videos start immediately getting more views and your subscriber count explodes.
I gained 256 subscribers in those first three months, 542 subscribers in the next month and 468 subscribers in just the last two weeks!
And it’s not just from that one video that I’m now seeing explosive subscriber growth. The momentum in the channel is helping other videos to pop into search results and suggested videos. Three videos are now adding eight or more subscribers to the channel every day and more than two dozen videos are bringing at least one new sub each month.
The growth on the channel is already attracting sponsors and I’ve already signed a sponsorship for way more than I’ve ever gotten through the blogs.
Why Grow a YouTube Channel
Besides having a lot of time on your hands, what do you need to grow a successful YouTube channel? While there is no exact formula to guarantee success, there are several strategies that can be applied to increase the chances of growing a thriving YouTube Channel.
Growing a YouTube channel is difficult. It requires a lot of hard work, dedication and patience. You never know when the channel will start to get viewed by other people, so try not to put too much stress on yourself. Just focus on creating captivating content, those that you want to watch yourself.
The most important step is probably figuring out what kind of content you want to make. Do you want to be in front of the camera or behind it? Maybe you'll both be on screen and create stuff, maybe you'll just make mods. Maybe a combo, like JonTron does – his content is himself playing games together with commentary. The possibilities are endless!
How to Grow a YouTube Channel Fast
If you came to the post looking for how to grow a YouTube channel, you’re probably tired of listening to me talk about the WHY of Youtube instead of getting to the HOW.
Yeah, sorry about that. I get excited talking about this new online asset and I hope you’re as excited as I am about developing your channel.
But I’m not going to keep you waiting. These are the best tips to grow your YouTube channel fast, from setting up your channel to setting the stage for your videos to go viral.
There’s one broader message you need to understand though to be successful on YouTube. Understand that YouTube wants to be like a TV network. It wants people to regularly ‘tune in’ to the site to watch their favorite shows and find new shows.
Just like a TV network needs producers to pitch and produce shows that will be a hit with audiences, YouTube needs channels that will create the same thing.
Develop your channel with that in mind, that you are a TV producer putting together your next big hit. Keep that analogy and you’ll start to see all kinds of ways to grow your channel from a video schedule that will keep people coming back to promoting your videos.
How to Set Up Your YouTube Channel for Success
Getting started on YouTube and being successful means checking a few boxes so you look professional and not just like some yahoo with a smartphone.
First is getting a banner with the overall vision for your channel and asking people to subscribe.
- Let people know when they can expect new videos
- Use a message that speaks to the emotions and goals of your audience
- Make sure the banner shows well on mobile and desktop
There are three pages on your channel that you absolutely must do right; the homepage, Playlists and the About page.
- I recommend setting your Home page up with all the videos in ‘vertical’ format. It’s the best way to use your real estate here and having them all the same format is easier on the eyes. Your first group should be your newest videos then add other rows from your most popular playlists and most popular videos overall.
- Playlists are groupings of videos around a similar idea or process and your secret weapon in getting more YouTube views. This is how you make your channel binge-worthy so create at least a few playlists and design your video schedule around that.
- Why do so many YouTube channels have crap for an About page?!? This is not only your chance to tell people who you are but also a powerful SEO signal for YouTube and a way to get sponsors. Use every word YouTube allows to describe your channel and make a connection with viewers.
Plan Your YouTube Videos for Viral Views
Getting your videos to go viral on YouTube means understanding what YouTube is looking for when it ranks videos in search and suggested videos, where the majority of your views will come from.
A big part of how videos are ranked is by watch time, the amount of views a video has and the average minutes people watch during each view. Getting your videos to really be successful means getting more views and keeping people watching longer.
Create a series of videos around a specific topic or process. Each video should solve a specific problem but the goal is to help the viewer accomplish something broader when they watch the entire series. Refer to the series throughout each video and put each in a special playlist so people can binge-watch the group.
That’s not only going to have people watching multiple videos, adding up your watch time, but those videos are pure subscriber magic when they come out! What better way to get people to subscribe than showing them why they don’t want to miss next week’s video?
A big part of getting more watch time for your videos is called viewer retention. Most videos have less than half their viewers watch the whole video and I’ve seen lots of videos where 75% of viewers have clicked out within the first minute.
Keeping people on your video means fighting to keep their attention every minute.
- Have some kind of graphic or text overlay every 30 seconds to one minute of video to regain attention
- Be an actor! Use a little emotion and vary your tone or volume when it adds emphasis.
- Talk up the power of the content. Tell people how the material you’re covering will transform their life and lead into what you’ll be covering in the next minute
- Tease the material or any bonus offers you’ll be covering at the end of the video, i.e. “I’ve got a bonus step at the end of the video that will …”
Of course, even if someone watches your entire video, it won’t amount to much watch time if the video is only a few minutes long.
Your videos don’t have to be hour-long courses but aim for at least 7 – 8 minutes if you can keep viewers’ attention. My best-performing videos have been between 9 – 12 minutes long. Even if someone only watches half the video, that’s still more watch time than someone watching an entire four-minute video.
SEO Tips for YouTube
Just like in blogging, you need to spend a little time thinking about SEO for your YouTube channel. This means finding the keywords for which you can rank, especially the ones you can rank as a new channel.
The easiest way to do this is to download the Keywords Everywhere plugin and the TubeBuddy plugin for Chrome. Both are free though TubeBuddy has a subscription plan with extra features (but the free version is all I use).
The Keywords Everywhere plugin will show monthly searches for keyword suggestions as you type on YouTube. This is hugely helpful because it will help you find keywords in the sweet spot of competition and search volume.
As a new channel, you’re probably not going to be getting many views on a video so you need to target keywords that don’t need much watch time to rank. I’ve found the best keywords to target for new channels are those getting between 100 and 1,000 searches a month.
When you search for a keyword, you’ll also be able to see how many videos rank for that search and the TubeBuddy plugin will show you an overall difficulty score. The fewer videos ranking for a search and the higher the ‘overall’ score, the easier it will be to get your videos to show up.
- Use your keyword in the title of the video
- Use the keyword and close variations in the description. This is another space that YouTubers don’t use but is hugely important for SEO and channel growth.
- Use the keyword several times during the video, especially towards the beginning and at the end. YouTube uses automatic transcription software for captioning and to tell it what the video is about.
How to Promote Your YouTube Videos
Huge YouTube channels with tens of thousands of subscribers are going to get the views needed to rank a video even if only a fraction of their subs watch…smaller and new channels don’t get that benefit.
Growing your YouTube channel from scratch means promoting the videos on other platforms. That’s going to get you the views and watch time to get YouTube’s ranking system started and get search or suggested views for your video.
- For each video, have at least two or three quotes or messages you can use for social media posts. This is especially important on Twitter where you aren’t allowed to repeat the same tweet. Schedule a few shares on each social platform the day of the video and then at regular intervals afterwards.
- You don’t have to use every social media platform. Concentrate on building a following on two or three that will send traffic to your videos. I use FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit.
- Tease your new videos a day or two before posting to get your followers excited about watching. Post a couple of quotes from the video and what the video will help people do. This is especially powerful on Facebook where people that have ‘liked’ a post will be notified when you add the link to the video later.
Don’t be afraid to ask people in your network directly for a comment and like on your videos. Posting on social media will bring a few views but reach out directly with an instant message to promote the really important videos. This can give you the extra boost you need to push a video to viral views.
If you haven’t started a YouTube channel yet, don’t wait any longer to get started. Getting views and subscribers on YouTube means putting out a consistent stream of videos and building your brand. You’ll develop stronger connections with viewers and be able to leverage that into an online asset that will make you a star!
Read the Entire Grow On YouTube Series
- Building a Team to Grow Your YouTube Channel
- The Lies YouTubers Tell – and Secrets to Growing a Channel
- TubeBuddy Review: 10x the Growth of Your YouTube Channel
- How Often Should I Upload to YouTube to Grow a Channel Fast?
- YouTube Growth Hacks: 11 Proven Steps to Grow Your Channel Fast