Looking to learn how to grow your YouTube channel and gain subscribers quickly? You’ve come to the right place.
Below, we’ll walk you through the exact tactics we used to grow our YouTube following to nearly 200K subscribers. From creating click-generating YouTube thumbnails to writing irresistible video titles, we’ll show you all the hidden ways you can accelerate your growth on the platform.
To grow your YouTube channel, you’ll need views—and to get views, you’ll need traffic and subscribers. Everything we show you below focuses on getting more people to watch your videos, visit your profile, and interact with your content.
16 Strategies to Grow Your YouTube Channel in 2023
Below, we’ll cover 16 YouTube growth strategies in this guide but don’t feel like you need to execute every tactic to grow your YouTube channel—just trying a handful has the potential to skyrocket your subscriber count.
1. Target the Right Keywords
YouTube (like Google) is a search engine, and it’s one of the most popular ones in the world. Creators upload 500 hours of video every minute to YouTube—that’s a lot of competition. Unless you already have a loyal Twitter following or email list, nobody will find your content unless you optimize it for search.
Ideally, you want to target keywords in your profile, video titles, and descriptions that get tons of monthly searches but have little competition. That’s easier said than done.
First, use a keyword research tool like Keyword Tool (very descriptive) to find keywords with promising search volume. Next, use a tool like TubeBuddy to evaluate its estimated competition. Again, you’re looking for keywords with the delicate balance of high search volume combined with low competition.
2. Optimize Your Profile
Once you know which keywords you want to target, it’s time to optimize your profile. This will involve completing your data fields and including keywords in the right places.
For example, you might want to add an important keyword to your YouTube Channel name. If you were to build a YouTube channel around SEO (search engine optimization) tips, having a channel named “SEO Guru” rather than “Kyle’s Channel” would give you a significant bump in the search results.
Complete your “About Us” section. Add any relevant keywords you can, especially in the first 48 characters (since this will be displayed in YouTube search results). Above its search value, your profile page is a good place to tell brand-new visitors what you’re all about. Don’t expect them to browse through all your videos to know what you have to offer—tell them exactly what they can find on your channel.
3. Create Top-Notch YouTube Thumbnails
Your video thumbnail is likely the most-click-influencing element of your entire YouTube channel. It’s the first thing visitors will see when your videos pop up on their homepage or search results. Yes, your channel and title are important, too—but every user will see your thumbnail first.
If it’s the most important element, you should probably spend a fair amount of time optimizing it. Don’t just grab a pre-populated screenshot from your video—that’s a recipe for mediocrity and obscurity. Instead, spend time using Canva or Photoshop to create unique custom thumbnails for each video.
Notice how the videos in the screenshot above use bold text overlays, illustrations, and contrasting colors to hook viewers? Replicate this strategy for your own YouTube thumbnails to guarantee your audience never glances over your video. If someone is interested in a thumbnail, then they’ll look at the title—which is what you’ll want to optimize next.
4. Title Videos Like a Pro
Once you’ve hooked a viewer with your thumbnail, it’s time to earn their click and view with your title. Just like a top-performing blog title, this needs to be compelling and provide search value. The more people that click your video, the more YouTube will recommend it on homepages, search results, and relevant videos.
Avoid click-bait and focus on providing value. Answer the question for your potential viewer: “What’s in it for me?”
Will they be entertained, learn a valuable new skill, or catch up on the latest news? Your title should tell them why they should watch your video instead of the dozens (or hundreds) of other options right in front of them.
Is your video the most comprehensive? Can it teach viewers the fastest? Is it the most up-to-date? These are the questions that’ll flash through your viewers’ minds in the milliseconds between them seeing the video thumbnails and titles and ultimately clicking on one.
Beyond value, include relevant keywords in your title so that YouTube knows what your video is about and where to include it in search results. Find the delicate combination between being clever, adding keywords, and providing value. That’s easier said than done, but there’s no exact formula for success—you’ll have to experiment and see what works best for your channel and audience.
5. Post Videos at the Best Time
There’s no single best time to post on YouTube for all videos and audiences. YouTube is a global platform, and what’s best for your tech content might be completely opposite for the gaming world. We recommend experimenting with different times and checking your YouTube analytics to measure engagement.
However, if you need a starting point for finding the best time to post on YouTube, Frederator Networks’ data suggest Thursday and Friday are the best days, with 3 pm leading to the most engagement. Unlike most social media platforms, YouTube’s recommended videos aren’t on a traditional feed—so you don’t need to publish seconds or minutes before your audience visits the site.
What’s more important than timing is consistency—see tip #13.
Read more: YouTube Analytics: 21 Metrics That’ll Transform Your Channel
6. Build (and Promote) Video Playlists
Most YouTube channels neglect the power of playlists. Even some of the best channels haven’t taken the time to organize their videos and optimize the experience for their visitors.
However, playlists are an excellent way for getting your subscribers to stick around, find similar videos, and continue watching. Creates series or find similar-themed videos to bundle into playlists.
The longer users engage with your content, the higher YouTube will rank your channel. YouTube wants users to stay on the platform, and if you’re going to help make that happen, they want to show your content to more viewers.
7. Cross-Promote Your YouTube Channel
Use all your promotional levers to boost your YouTube channel’s audience. Here are a few cross-promotion ideas:
- Email: Share your newest videos with your email list.
- Social Platforms: Post your new YouTube videos on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. You could even drive traffic from your Instagram account or Pinterest pins.
- Blog: Embed your YouTube videos into your blog posts. When appropriate, dedicate an entire blog post to transcribing, breaking down, or highlighting takeaways from a YouTube video.
- Quora: Answers users’ questions with a bit of text and a link out to your more comprehensive YouTube video.
8. Convert Viewers Into Subscribers
Viewers watch your content and leave—subscribers keep coming back for more. Do everything you can to make sure a one-time viewer subscribes to your channel before leaving the page and potentially never revisiting your channel. Sometimes, you won’t get a viewer to subscribe the first time they interact with your content—often, they’ll need to engage with a few different videos before they feel confident in adding you to their coveted list of subscribed channels.
Don’t expect your viewers to subscribe—ask and remind them to. Add calls to action (CTAs) at the beginning, middle, and end of your videos asking viewers to subscribe. Include a CTA in your description, too. When you take time to answer questions, remind the community in the comments to subscribe to get notified whenever you publish new content.
9. Engage with Your Audience
Speaking of comments—thats’ where you need to be. Turn on your comments and engage with your community. In the early days before your YouTube channel takes off, enjoy being able to respond individually to each and every comment. Once your channel gets popular (not if), you won’t have that luxury anymore.
Depending on the nature of your content, viewers will sometimes proactively jump into the comments to interact with you or ask questions. Other times (and especially in the beginning), you might need to prompt your viewers with questions in the video or description to get them to start engaging.
Ideally, you want your comments to turn into a community. Users will begin interacting with each other, and you become less of a glue that holds it all together and more of an addition to the conversation. Once you’ve built an engaged audience, start communicating with them in the Community tab with regular channel updates and posts.
10. Produce Video Series
Whenever possible, create video content related to prior and future videos. You want to be able to direct users to your own YouTube channel for additional content rather than referring them elsewhere. This is best done in a video series format (which you can drop into a playlist).
For example, if you start a YouTube channel about running, you might begin with a “Getting Started” series of videos that outlines everything from buying the right shoes to building an entry-level running schedule. Next, you might include an intermediate-runner targeted series that focuses on helping runners break their current 10k or marathon record time—this might include a range of videos on pacing strategies, nutrition tips, and advanced training tactics.
Video series will keep your viewers consuming more of your content, and that increases your YouTube ranking and the chance they’ll convert into subscribers.
11. Collaborate with Other Channels
Find other channels to collaborate with. It not only helps you create better content, but it lets you both expose your channel to new audiences—it’s a win-win for creators and viewers.
Take Matthew Beem, for example. Thanks to his viral collaborations with YouTube’s biggest stars, he’s built a massive following in little-to-no time. He creates mind-blowing content for the likes of MrBeast, Logan Paul, KSI, and more, and they, in turn, share his creations with their audiences of millions of subscribers.
12. Win Google Search Results
YouTube videos often rank at the top of Google search results—and with the right optimization, your videos can show up there, too. To jump to the top of the results, we recommend targeting keywords that already contain video results on the search engine results page (SERP).
For example, when you type “skateboarding tricks” into Google search, you’ll see a list of videos ranking towards the top. However, these aren’t necessarily the same videos you see when you type the same phrase into YouTube’s search engine.
If you want to get your videos to rank on YouTube and Google search results, we recommend creating content with a high click-through rate (CTR). The better your content performs on YouTube, the better chance it has of showing up in Google’s SERPs.
13. Experiment with YouTube Shorts and Live Video
YouTube Shorts is the platform’s answer to TikTok and Instagram Reels’ popularity. Test out making short-form videos for your channel as another organic promotional arm.
You can do this by pulling out segments of your most popular videos or adapting the content you make for TikTok for Shorts. If a Shorts video engages with an audience, they will feed into your channel and the rest of your long-form videos.
YouTube Shorts is still in its infancy, and the platform is working hard to present it on the homepage and app, but don’t stop everything else you’re doing on the platform.
You can also experiment with going live on YouTube. It’s another way to build excitement for a new product launch, announcement, or time-sensitive content. Plus, with live streaming, you can engage with your audience in real time, which you can monetize with donations in the comment section.
14. Publish Consistently (Not Necessarily “Often”)
Notice how we didn’t say you need to post every day, once per week, or even every month. There’s no tried-and-true cadence that’ll skyrocket your viewership or subscribers—you just need to find a consistency that works for you and your audience.
For example, successful channels like GaryVee publishes new content every day, while our previous example Matthew Beem posts just once a week. Neither is better than the other—but they’re both consistent.
Find a cadence that works for you. Think long-term. You might have the bandwidth now to publish new content twice a week, but will you have that same capacity next month? What about next year?
Stick to a schedule that lets you create content comfortably. You don’t want to be scrambling every day or weekend to edit your video and get it published to stick to your plan. Create a content calendar that lets you get ahead so that you’re not sweating deadlines. Just like people used to watch sitcoms every Friday in the 90s, YouTube viewers will subconsciously know when you consistently post videos.
15. Always (Always) Include a Call to Action
Every (and we mean every) video needs a CTA. Tell your audience exactly what to do with your content when watching your videos. CTAs could include:
- Like and subscribe (classic)
- Follow our partner’s channel
- Check out this other video
- Start watching this playlist
- Join our email list
- Follow us on Instagram
- Buy the new t-shirt
- Visit our website
- Download the app
- Share with a friend
- Embed this on your website
- Comment below
- Ask a question
- Answer a poll
Getting your audience to take action gets them engaged, keeps the YouTube algorithm working in your favor, and could even lead to direct sales. Don’t pass the opportunity up—not on a single video.
16. Monitor Your Metrics
YouTube Analytics is a gold mine of channel insights. Here are just a few of the metrics you should be checking regularly:
- Views: Find which of your videos get the most views—this will tell you the kinds of content your audience prefers.
- Video Subscribers: Discover which videos are converting viewers into subscribers. Some videos might just be one-hit wonders, while others might be gaining you lifetime followers.
- Average View Duration: See which videos kept viewers engaged and which had people bouncing in the first 30 seconds. This could tell you a lot about your introductions, thumbnails, and video titles.
- Real-Time Analytics: Watch how your content performs in the first 24 to 48 hours to discover what worked and what didn’t. If you experimented with something new in a video and it flops, learn quickly before replicating the mistake in your next piece of content.
- New Viewers vs. Returning Viewers: Find out if you’re getting your subscribers to come back and watch content or if it’s a brand-new audience. If you’re mainly getting new faces, you might need to make an introduction that’s friendly to long-time viewers and brand-new visitors.
- Traffic Source Types: Learn where your audience is finding your videos. Are they seeing your videos through the search bar, suggested videos, or on their home screen?
How to Grow Your YouTube Channel FAQs
What's the best way to grow a YouTube channel?
Here's the secret to growing a YouTube channel. Beyond anticipating your audience's questions, you need to make the content you want. You'll lose creative steam if you're not passionate about an idea. Growth for growth's sake will only get you so far.
What mistakes do beginners make on YouTube?
They bury the lede. When you're starting out, nobody will care who you are. They're looking to get a question answered. Tell the audience up front what value they’re getting in the video instead of spending precious seconds with fancy graphics and a personal intro.
Is it too late to grow a YouTube channel?
It's never too late to start and grow a successful YouTube channel.
Grow Your YouTube Channel (and Business) with YouTube Ads
All the YouTube growth tactics we talked about in this article are primarily organic strategies—they don’t cost a thing. While that’s fine and dandy, there’s an entire ecosystem of other opportunities on YouTube locked behind the mysterious world of advertising.
Fortunately, you don’t have to discover it on your own.
Join our course to learn everything you need to know to drive traffic, boost engagement, convert, and ultimately make more money using YouTube Ads. Tommie Powers will be leading the class, and he’s a go-to expert who’s generated over $500m+ on the platform. Trust us—you’re in good hands.