YouTube has over 2.6 billion monthly active viewers—that’s over one-quarter of the world’s population.
As the owner of a YouTube channel, capturing some of those viewers is how you grow your audience for the long term.
But getting views on YouTube isn’t enough. You want to learn how to get YouTube channel subscribers who will watch, share, and engage with your videos as you continue to create more over time.
How to get more YouTube subscribers
- Delete old, poor-quality videos from your channel
- Create videos people actually want to watch
- Consider your channel branding
- Create a “channel trailer”
- Come up with a pitch
- Design eye-popping thumbnails
- Capture the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds
- Create YouTube shorts
- Collaborate with other YouTubers with similar audiences
- Cover the hype, but don’t try to create it every time
- Share your videos in niche online communities
- Encourage binge watching
- Use YouTube cards to suggest other videos
- Maintain consistency
- Invest in YouTube SEO
1. Delete old, poor-quality videos from your channel
Over time, creators’ brands evolve and grow. You may create different types of content, talk about different topics, and target new audiences. It’s fine to delete old content if it doesn't relate to the content you’re currently creating.
Check your YouTube channel for underperforming videos. Keep an eye out for the following:
- The video has become outdated.
- Production quality is poor.
- Only a few people have viewed it.
These not-so-fabulous YouTube videos might turn off a viewer and prevent them from subscribing. Get rid of it and move on!
2. Create videos people actually want to watch
This second tip for getting YouTube subscribers may seem obvious, but there are a lot of videos missing the mark on YouTube. Research shows that the majority of YouTube videos (88.4%) generate under 1,000 views.
YouTube is also a busy platform. Estimates show that there are 500 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute. That’s a lot of video content for people to choose from, so why should they watch yours?
Adam Enfroy, a seven-figure blogger and YouTuber, recommends giving subscribers what they want to see. “In just under two years, my YouTube channel has managed to amass more than fifty-five thousand subscribers, and I’ve managed to build, and continue to grow, my audience by following a simple, straightforward rule. Know your audience, and create your content based on what they actually want to see, rather than what you think they want to see,” he says.
“How do you do that? By studying the viewing figures for every show, analyzing what works and doesn’t based solely on numbers, and developing your content based on the shows that drew the biggest audience. Let the metrics guide your content and give your audience what they want.”
Know your audience, and create your content based on what they actually want to see, rather than what you think they want to see.
3. Consider your channel branding
Branding your channel is often overlooked in YouTube marketing. But, it’s one way to cut through the noise and bring exposure to your brand. YouTube is a great platform for building credibility as a brand, whether it’s through your channel art or what you wear on screen.
“Most YouTubers think little of what they are wearing or their background when it comes to filming. It’s a huge missed opportunity!” explains Joseph Hogue, CFA investment expert at Let’s Talk Money on YouTube. Hogue’s channel has amassed over 565,000 subscribers in less than five years. He credits his channel’s growth to two things: intentional content and branding.
“Anytime you can use what you say, how you say it, what you wear, or what is visible in your background to show your core beliefs and value proposition, you are going to be connecting with people on a more intimate level,” he says.
“People will pick up on these branding cues and identify with you. That means they’ll come back to watch your YouTube videos even if they aren’t always interested in what you’re talking about, but just for you as a person.”
What should you wear in your next YouTube video? Hogue recommends asking yourself the following questions:
- What are your core beliefs and values (i.e., loyalty, spirituality, humility, compassion, honesty, integrity, community, humor)?
- What kind of environment do you want to create (i.e., relaxed versus professional, easy-going, or focused)?
- What does the branding say about your credibility, level of experience, and ability in the topic?
Be original when choosing your personal brand. People follow people, so decide on elements that are related to your audience. For example, if you’re building a channel around the latest Yeezy drops, lean into the latest fashion trends like oversize t-shirts. If your channel is about investing, a fun bow tie and button-up may delight your audience and make you more credible.
The goal is to build connections with like-minded people. Your brand is the main way to attract them on YouTube.
Anytime you can use what you say, how you say it, what you wear, or what is visible in your background to show your core beliefs and value proposition, you are going to be connecting with people on a more intimate level.
4. Create a “channel trailer”
After you figure out how to start a YouTube channel, you want to create a teaser video or trailer to promote it. Many YouTube channels show this channel trailer at the top of their page, and it automatically plays when visitors check them out.
Create a trailer video of your own that you can show to unsubscribed visitors to quickly tell them what to expect from you.
The benefit of creating a unique trailer for this spot is you can stitch together footage from past YouTube videos or deliver your “pitch” directly to your audience and ask them to subscribe. You’ll want to make sure the trailer video is pristine. You can use a free video editing software to create these videos, make them look sharp, and attract more subscribers.
Here’s a great example from Shopify Learn that conveys the channel’s focus (helping sellers grow online), tone (relatable yet authoritative), and personality (passionate about entrepreneurship).
5. Come up with a pitch
An elevator pitch is an often underestimated tool that’s relevant to all self-starters, whether you’re an entrepreneur, a freelancer, or a creator.
YouTubers are no exception.
If you want to know how to become a YouTuber, use this pitch in your About section, your intro, your closing, or wherever you need to quickly communicate what your channel is all about.
Most YouTubers already end their videos with something along the lines of, “If you liked this video, please hit the thumbs up, leave a comment, and subscribe.” But this call-to-action is stronger with an outro that teases the content to come rather than what viewers just watched.
Your pitch to potential subscribers can be as simple as: “I post [videos you post] every [when you post],” followed by a teaser for what’s next. These few seconds capture your channel’s essence in a way that gives new viewers a reason to hit the Subscribe button.
6. Design eye-popping thumbnails
Thumbnails, in some ways, are more powerful than YouTube ads when it comes to gaining YouTube subscribers. It’s worth investing time to make sure there’s consistency, because it makes your channel look coherent.
YouTube lets you choose which frame to use as the thumbnail for each video, but you should look into designing your own.
Use Canva (a free piece of software) to create custom YouTube thumbnails for each video to grab attention and create a sense of cohesion across all your videos at a glance.
You can see the difference it makes below. Not only is each individual video clickable, but they communicate what the brand is about, which every potential subscriber wants to know.
7. Capture the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds
We have an attention war due to new technology. Research has shown that technology can interfere with our ability to concentrate. Moreover, the average person sees around 10,000 ads per day.
Needless to say, there are many distractions on the internet your YouTube video will compete with. Capturing your viewers’ attention right away is critical to getting more subscribers.
“No matter the length of your YouTube videos, grab the viewer’s attention within the first 10 seconds,” says Monte Deere, CEO of Kizik, a niche shoe retailer. “In our best performing video by a margin of millions of views, the video begins with a guy getting comedically slapped.
“Viewers naturally want to watch on to find out why, so we play off that to keep the viewer interested. This video had remarkable success to keep viewers interested throughout its entire two and a half minutes, leading to a jump in over 1,000 new subscribers.”
8. Create YouTube Shorts
YouTube Shorts are short-form, vertical videos created using a smartphone. You can upload a YouTube Short directly to YouTube from the YouTube app. Initially launched in the US in 2021, YouTube Shorts quickly surpassed 6.5 billion daily views globally.
Using built-in video creation tools, you can record, edit, and add elements like music, text, speed, and compilations to create Shorts. People can like, share, and comment on Shorts, and can subscribe to your channel while viewing the video.
Luke Tew, head of Digital Media at Maverrik, has been growing his agency’s following through bi-weekly webinars and podcasts. Tew uses Shorts to repurpose these other platforms and gain more traction on YouTube. He uses the Shorts platform to “extract and highlight key moments in those videos. When people are interested in what they see in the Shorts, they watch the long-form video and subscribe.
“Shorts are currently offering the most organic growth on the platform and using them to boost your longer-form videos will promote your content a little further. On YouTube, the content is obviously the defining factor for a subscriber. So, doing everything you can to drive people to your feature content will make the difference.”
When people are interested in what they see in the Shorts, they watch the long-form video and subscribe.
9. Collaborate with other YouTubers with similar audiences
Collaborations aren’t uncommon on YouTube and are a great way to get exposure to a new audience.
Reach out to a YouTuber you know or would like to partner with and suggest an idea for cross-promotion. A common approach is to have your proposed partner appear in one of your YouTube videos and vice versa, with each of you getting an endorsement in front of the other’s audience.
Here’s an example of when Sean Evans of Hot Ones interviewed Harley Morenstein of Epic Meal Time over hot wings. Sean then appeared on Epic Meal Time to cook up the spiciest ribs ever. Both channels are about taking food to the next level and both entertain you in similar ways—it’s a match made in heaven.
10. Cover the hype, but don’t try to create it every time
As part of your video marketing strategy, consider making YouTube videos that go after existing hype because you know there’s already an invested interest there.
Creating a video based on a current trend or celebrity can be a great way to bring some of that attention back to your channel and win new subscribers—if you can find an appropriate overlap with your content.
Some examples include:
- Covering existing songs instead of always posting your own original music
- Parodying whatever is going viral at the time (like Pokémon Go or fidget spinners)
- Responding to another YouTuber
- Reacting to a viral video
- Newsjacking a story that the media is talking about
Timing these posts right can help you be relevant in the eyes of people who might not consider your YouTube videos otherwise and introduce them to your channel.
11. Share your videos in niche online communities
You probably already share your videos on Facebook or Twitter. But have you explored other online communities, especially the ones where you know your audience spends their time?
Niche communities—on Reddit, Facebook, forums, and elsewhere—that relate to your video's audience might appreciate what you created and opt-in to get more once you’ve optimized your channel to increase your subscriber base.
Try to aim for relevancy instead of just the size of the community when you post in subreddits or in Facebook groups.
Remember that these are communities and, as a YouTuber, you should be transparent about who you are and what you do (use your pitch from above). Users are protective when it comes to maintaining the integrity of discussion in these communities, so be sure you’re adding value first and foremost.
12. Encourage binge watching
It stands to reason that the more of your videos a person watches, the more likely they are to become a subscriber. Not only are they presented with more opportunities to follow you, they have a better sense of why.
Playlists are a great way to not only organize YouTube content for users but also encourage them to watch more. This is good for YouTube SEO and showing up in search results, depending on what the playlists are called. Use a keyword tool like Ahrefs to see recommended keywords and trends.
If you have enough content, consider organizing it into playlists. Not only does this help segment your videos under themes, but it gives you control over the next video that plays instead of letting YouTube show someone else’s content.
Or, you can release a multi-part content series to encourage people to subscribe. It’s a tactic Rachel Reid, CEO of Subtl Beauty, uses to grow her beauty brand on YouTube. “When you're trying to get viewers to convert to subscribers, one smart way to do it is to create a compelling multi-part series that’s posted over time,” she says.
“By breaking up material that your viewers are showing up for into installments, you increase the chances that they return to your channel. Motivated viewers will be more likely to subscribe to ensure they catch the next video.”
Whenever you can, share a link to your video from within a playlist. This way, viewers are met with video after video from your own channel that relates to whatever video brought them there.
By breaking up material that your viewers are showing up for into installments, you increase the chances that they return to your channel. Motivated viewers will be more likely to subscribe to ensure they catch the next video.
13. Use YouTube cards to suggest other videos
YouTube cards are your best bet for recommending other content within a video. These are clickable interactive elements that appear like thumbnail overlays within the YouTube video. Use them to suggest playlists, specific videos, channels, links, or even products.
Related: How to Sell on YouTube: 5 Easy Ways
14. Maintain consistency
The key to any successful YouTube channel—the key to building an audience anywhere, really—is consistency.
Not only do you need a recurring theme across your channel’s content (like the format, the subject matter, or the niche you’re speaking to), you also need to communicate what that is to viewers. You need to build a brand for your YouTube channel.
Viewers don’t have time to figure you out and what you’re about. And when you think about it, people don’t subscribe because of the video they just watched but because of the expectation of more content like it in the future.
Even massive YouTubers that don’t seem to have a specific “thing,” like PewDiePie and Casey Neistat, needed to have a consistent brand of video content before they could branch out and thrive on their personality alone.
So, especially when you’re starting out, decide what the premise of your channel is—what your promise is—and communicate it at a glance. This is especially important if you want the YouTube algorithm to recommend your content.
It’s also important to pay attention to your YouTube analytics over time. As much as best practices provide guidance and direction when starting out with your own channel, once you gain traction, you’ll want to use your own metrics and benchmarks as well.
15. Invest in YouTube SEO
Whether you’re a veteran or a new YouTube channel, getting found in YouTube search results is key to gaining subscribers. There are a few key elements to focus on:
1. Improve your video titles
Using the right keywords in your titles can go a long way when it comes to YouTube search engine optimization. Having the extracted keyword in your video title can influence potential rankings.
There are plenty of SEO tools online to help you do keyword research. Check out Ahrefs to get keyword ideas for your campaign.
2. Optimize video descriptions
Similar to video titles, descriptions play an important role in getting your videos found on YouTube. Empty descriptions won’t help you get more search views.
Write a short summary for each video that describes what it’s about, making sure to include the keyword you use in your title. Once you start creating keyword-targeted videos, you should see higher click-through rates, more top rankings, and an increase in subscribers across your channel.
3. Tag your video with popular, related keywords.
YouTube tags are phrases and words you can add to your video’s metadata. Both YouTube’s search engine algorithm and viewers love them because they tell them what your video is about. An industry study found a small, yet impactful relationship between YouTube tags and rankings.
Should you buy YouTube subscribers?
It should go without saying that “grow-quick schemes” like buying subscribers won’t help you in the long run. You don’t need a million subscribers to have a valuable audience. All you need is a small group of super-engaged fans who love what you put out into the world.
So while technically you can buy YouTube subscriptions, it’s not necessarily a good idea.
Purchased YouTube subscribers run the likelihood of being less engaged with your channel and content. So while your subscriber numbers might go up, your engagement metrics may suffer as a result.
Plus, buying followers and subscribers is largely frowned upon in digital marketing.
YouTube does crackdown on the use of bots, automation, and misleading messaging. From its terms of service: “You agree not to use or launch any automated system … that sends more request messages to the YouTube servers in a given period of time than a human can reasonably produce in the same period by using a conventional online web browser.”
If anything, YouTube has proven that there’s an audience for almost anything on the internet.
Whatever it is you create, you can go out and find yours.
Build yourself a loyal subscriber base to grow your YouTube channel
Like most content initiatives, gaining YouTube subscribers takes time and consistency. There are no overnight results. But when you focus on creating engaging content and encouraging deeper interactions, viewers will hit Subscribe and you’ll be well on your way to growing a loyal fan base.
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Getting more YouTube subscribers FAQ
What does 1,000 subscribers on YouTube get you?
Is it OK to buy subscribers on YouTube?
How do you get more YouTube subscribers?
- Delete old, poor-quality videos from your channel.
- Create videos people actually want to watch.
- Consider your branding.
- Create a “channel trailer.”
- Come up with a pitch.
- Design eye-popping thumbnails.
- Capture the viewer’s attention in the first 10 seconds.
- Create YouTube shorts.
- Collaborate with other YouTubers with similar audiences.
- Cover the hype, but don’t try to create it every time.
- Share your videos in niche online communities.
- Encourage binge watching.
- Use YouTube cards to suggest other videos.
- Maintain consistency.
- Invest in YouTube SEO.
How do you get 1,000 free YouTube subscribers?
- Add a normal YouTube subscribe button to your videos.
- Create channel trailers and optimize your channel description.
- Verify your Google account.
- Create effective channel branding.
- Publish videos consistently.
- Promote your channel on other social media sites.
- Create video playlists.