We’ve all seen YouTube channels with hundreds of thousands (or even millions) of subscribers and wondered how to make the same thing happen for our own channels. While there’s no step-by-step method that guarantees YouTube success, there are a lot of best practices you’ll see many big creators following. Let’s look at the dos and don’ts of growing your YouTube channel.
Don’t: Just turn on the camera and film whatever videos you feel like making.
Do: Research keywords for topics you’re interested in, check out the competition, and write a script or storyboard before filming.
Before you pick up your camera and start filming, you need to have a plan of action. While it can be tempting to film whatever video you think will be fun and interesting, the truth is, if no one is searching for that specific topic, no one is going to see your video. This is where YouTube SEO comes in.
While you don’t need to be an SEO expert, you should know a few basic strategies to give your videos the best chance at ranking. As mentioned in this article about writing YouTube descriptions, the more planning you do before filming, the easier it will be to create competitive content that stands out.
Don’t: Beg for follows, do “follow-for-follow,” or buy subscribers.
Do: Socialize, network, and focus on building a community.
We know it can be tempting to go on social media and ask people to follow you. However, seeking followers for the sake of followers will lead to “dead subscribers” (aka people who don’t watch or interact with your content). While you should definitely ask people to follow you in your actual YouTube video, such as, “Please like and subscribe if you enjoyed this video,” asking people online who have never seen your content gives the impression that you only care about numbers.
One of the best ways to grow your YouTube channel and gain mutuals along the way is to build a community. Start viewing your subscribers not as fans but as peers and even potential collaborators. Check out your followers on your different social media accounts and follow back those with content that interests you. Reply to your YouTube comments and leave genuine, thoughtful comments on accounts you’d like to interact with. Focus on slowly but steadily building an authentic community with like-minded individuals.
Don’t: Upload videos sporadically.
Do: Have a consistent schedule and stick to it.
We can almost guarantee that any channel booming on YouTube right now is putting out high-quality content on a regular basis. Sometimes random videos go viral and get millions of views but the channels have relatively low subscriber counts in comparison. This is most likely because these channels don’t have a library of regular content available for viewers to binge watch. What’s the point in subscribing if there’s no promise of great videos to come?
When a viewer clicks on your YouTube channel, they want to see consistency across the board— cohesive branding, content of relatively the same type or genre, and plenty of videos uploaded at regular intervals. Naturally, this takes time. Success on YouTube may feel like a short term sprint, but it’s more of a long distance marathon. Many of the top creators have been YouTubers for years and have hundreds of videos uploaded. Pace yourself: you’ll get there.
Don’t: Pour all of your energy into YouTube.
Do: Work on building up your other social media as a means of promoting your YouTube channel.
If you want to grow on YouTube, you need to focus on bringing in potential subscribers from other platforms too. That’s why we recommend cross promoting yourself on sites like Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and even forums and blogs. Feel free to make YouTube your main gig, but don’t neglect the wide variety of network and promotion opportunities available.
We understand that creating content for multiple social media sites is hard, even as a casual user. If you’re finding it hard to create original content all across the board, don’t be afraid to repurpose some of your YouTube content on other platforms. For example, some of your Instagram posts could show behind the scenes footage of your latest video. On Twitter, you could try making a thread devoted to all of the products in your last unboxing video with info on where to buy. Use Cross Clip to turn parts of your video into YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, or TikToks.
Don’t: Keep doing the same thing if you’re not growing.
Do: Check your YouTube analytics regularly to see how you can improve.
Too often, we look to the future to discover new ways to improve when sometimes, the answers lie in the past. Get into the habit of checking your YouTube analytics regularly to see if there are any aspects of your channel that aren’t working. For example, checking “Average View Duration” will show you how long people are watching your videos before they click away. Perhaps your intro is too long-winded?
Analytics will also tell you more about your viewers: where they live, how old they are, their gender, etc. Remember to keep your audience in mind when filming and marketing (writing descriptions, making thumbnails, promoting, etc.) your videos. If the people watching your videos aren’t your target audience, it might be time to rethink your branding strategy.
There are a lot of tools available to assist you with growing and managing your channel which you can check out in our Resources section. For helping with keyword research and analytics, we’re big fans of TubeBuddy. If you’re having trouble keeping up with posting on all of your social media sites, check out this article on our favorite social media management tools. Growing a YouTube channel is no easy task, but if you keep at it, we’re confident you’ll see results.
Our next section is on YouTuber SEO, an incredibly valuable tool that can help you grow even further.