6 Tips: How to promote your YouTube channel (without paying for ads)
Think the only way to promote your YouTube channel is via paid ads and otherwise premium methods? This is one time you’re going to love being wrong.
The truth is, you can go a long way toward growing and promoting your YouTube channel, without paying a dime. Yes, it takes some work. Yes, it takes some time. And yes, there will be some research, some trial-and-error, and some good ol’ finger-crossing luck involved. But, it’s very possible and you are very capable. And, our six tips will get you started.
Tip #1: Optimize your YouTube SEO
The absolute, #1, very first thing to do to promote your YouTube channel? Optimize your account. That’s right – we’re talking 100% best practices, natural, organic YouTube SEO.
Beyond the super basics – for example, choosing the right YouTube category and beefing up your contact details to provide everything that’s asked – there are a few things you can do to boost the SEO of your YouTube channel:
- Establish brand identity: In everything you do, everywhere online (and in person), build your brand identity. That way, if someone googles you, they’ll be sure to hit upon your YouTube channel. And, once they’ve found you, you want to be sure that your brand identity remains consistent: the same logos, colors, fonts, images, and other elements, across your YouTube.
- Write a channel description: And make it awesome. This is your opportunity to not only tell YouTube who you are and what you do, but also to infuse personality into the very first thing some people will see, when they happen upon your channel. Be sure to wow ‘em!
- Upload a channel trailer: You’ve seen trailers before; they’re the auto-play videos that grab a first-time (or unsubscribed) viewer’s attention. Make one – and make sure to punch it up with lots of your brand personality and content – and then, let it reel in new subscribers.
- Optimize video titles + descriptions: Think Google doesn’t pay attention to video? Google loves video and, while its spiders can’t [yet] crawl every word of your video content, you’d better bet they’re reading your video titles and descriptions. So, be sure to optimize them for the keywords that count.
- Tag, tag, and tag some more: Because tags make your videos more accessible to the search engines.
- Engage: There’s no hard-and-fast policy but as a general rule, videos that have higher engagement rates (ex. lots of comments) also rank higher in search.
Hot tip: With everything you do, keep keywords and key phrases in mind. What will people search for, when they want to find a channel or content like yours? Think creatively. Mind-map. Then, sprinkle those keywords and phrases into all your content opportunities, above.
Tip #2: Wear your title well
As people troll YouTube, they usually pay the most attention to video thumbnails (see tip #3) and video titles.
This is your chance to grab their attention (and never let it go): Write irresistible, highly clickable titles that your viewers can’t help but open. To do so, be sure your titles include keywords, are concise and to-the-point, are compelling, and do not include clickbait (clickbait is very 2016). Check out this post for tips on using powerful words in your social media marketing campaigns.
Tip #3: Pick the best video thumbnail
Aside from your video title, the single most important factor in getting clicks? Your video thumbnails – they can make the difference between a click-through and a scroll-by.
Rule of thumb: If you want more clicks, create a custom video thumbnail. It takes just an extra 5-10 minutes of your time – check out Canva’s free YouTube thumbnail how-to’s – and can build anticipation and compel viewers to click.
Tip #4: Build playlists
Playlists aren’t something we normally consider as a way to promote a YouTube channel, but this best-kept secret can definitely net you more viewers.
Not only do playlists make your videos easier to find, but they give you more opportunities to use your keywords, pull together related videos, and build awesome playlists that auto-play. Talk about making it easy on your viewers. (They love that.)
Tip #5: Alert your email list + social media
You have an email list, right? Great! Because it’s time to use it.
YouTube is not a build-it-and-they-will-come kind of thing. You pour your heart and soul, not to mention countless hours, into brainstorming, filming, editing, and perfecting your videos. It makes sense that you should then also actively promote them.
Cross promote, cross promote, cross promote! When a new video goes live, share it on social media. And, yes, get a little extra and email your entire list. Give them a little preview of what your video promises but don’t give away too much; ultimately, you want them to click through and watch. Don’t forget to add YouTube follow buttons to your website (and in your email newsletters, too) to make it easy for your loyal fans to find you.
Tip #6: And then, promote some more
Here’s the thing about promoting your YouTube channel without having to shell out the big bucks: It takes work. But, sometimes, that work is almost passive: Do it once, reap the benefits forever.
So, what can you do? To start, you can add your YouTube channel link to your email signature. You can use videos as lead magnets. (Yes, really!) You can leverage calls-to-action to send people to your videos. You can be sure to link your YouTube everywhere.
The more paths that lead to your YouTube channel, the more free traffic you’ll get. And that’s the goal here, after all. Good luck and happy video’ing!