You can’t build your YouTube channel without subscribers, but you can’t get subscribers without an established YouTube channel. Or, can you?
This is a true and clear case of “fake it ‘til you make it,” but in the best way possible. We’re not talking about faking something to seem cool, but rather faking the habits of success before you achieve that success. In other words, you can behave like a channel with 1M+ subscribers, even if you’re hanging out at just 100 followers.
In the process, your great habits (aka best practices), confidence, and follower-friendly routines will attract more followers. Ready? Here’s how to get more subscribers on YouTube:
Step 1: Consistently create highly interesting and engaging content.
One of the most important things you can do for potential subscribers, is demonstrate that you are reliable. Over the long-term – we’re talking months and years, not days and weeks – show YouTube users that you post content on a set schedule. No one wants to follow a hundred ghost accounts; they want to follow a handful of content-creators who they know will, “post videos every Wednesday and Sunday!”
You already know the drill because you hear it on almost every YouTube video. Videos are highly engaging across social media for a reason – so take advantage by creating entertaining and engaging videos to draw viewers in.
Step 2: Publish new videos frequently.
We touched on this in step 1, but posting frequently is just as important as posting consistently. Think they’re the same? They’re not. Consistency is posting on a schedule; frequency means that schedule recurs often. In other words, consistency is saying you post on Tuesday, while frequency is confirming you post every Tuesday.
Very few people will subscribe to a channel whose last video was a Tuesday in 2017.
Step 3: Ask viewers to subscribe.
The easiest and highly-converting way to gain more subscribers is simply to make the ask. In some/most/all videos, even twice per video (beginning and end), make a quick ask: “If you don’t already subscribe to my videos, please click the red subscribe button here.” (Cue silly pointing in the general direction of where the subscribe button is located on a viewer’s screen.) Or, you can opt to add it at the end, “If you enjoyed this video, please consider subscribing to my channel. Click below!”
Don’t be obnoxious about it. Don’t beg. Don’t insist. And don’t spend more than one sentence on your ask. But do ask.
Step 4: Upload a brilliant channel banner.
Okay, so your content was sufficiently awesome to pull a potential subscriber onto your channel’s landing page. Now, it’s up to your channel banner – you know, that header photo – to communicate something compelling about what you do. Take this example from GoPro:
Since most consumers (at least, most consumers who would be interested in GoPro’s YouTube channel) are already familiar with the brand, GoPro goes big with inspiration. If a still photo can be this impressive, it certainly makes you want to see what their video can do, right? Need more inspiration? Check out these YouTube channel banner tips & examples.
Step 5: Write an even more brilliant channel description.
Okay, so now a viewer has not only clicked through to your channel, but your channel banner image has propelled them to investigate further. Their eyes may jump straight to your videos but, they may also fall upon your channel description. Aka your place to shine.
Think of your channel description as a super-short space to strut your stuff. (And yes, do keep it short. Say, a standard Twitter 140 characters.) As you write, remember that most people care about what’s in it for them: you can skip the self-congratulatory, long-form biography and instead frame your description in terms of why it matters to your audience.
As an example, let’s look again at GoPro: “We make the World’s Most Versatile Camera.™ Join us for new videos every week!” It’s not perfect – for example, we’d recommend rewriting that first sentence to something like “Get inspired on how to use the World’s Most Versatile Camera.™” but it’s short, compelling, and to the point. And, what’s in it for me? A new video every week!
Step 6: Optimize your videos for discovery.
You can’t get new subscribers if new subscribers can’t find you. That’s why we recommend optimizing your videos for search and “discoverability,” aka the ability to be discovered through what people will actually search.
Okay, so how do you do that? Begin by creating searchable video titles – in other words, descriptive and with a keyword or two – while simultaneously employing a judicious use of tags, including keywords (hello, long-tail keywords!), overarching topics, and other aren’t-you-glad-you-found-your-way-here help. Need more detail? Check out this guide on how to optimize your YouTube videos.
Step 7: Remember that YouTube is about relationship-building.
Right, all social media is about building a relationship, but we’re talking about YouTube today. And, at the end of the day, your channel exists to build and further a relationship with your subscribers. So, do that.
Speak to real people, not to your camera or some faceless audience. Respond to comments. (Often.) Have real conversations. Call out your subscribers in your videos; ex. If someone comments a great question that inspires a video (or piece of a video), thank them in that video. The more you involve your followers, the more you make them feel like part of your world, the more loyalty and engagement you will inspire. Think about incorporating user-generated content, too, like customer testimonial videos.
If you’re doing everything right, you’ll soon start to see your subscriber count rise. And, while you’re waiting, learn how to promote your YouTube channel – no ads required!