Lydia Sweatt is a writer who loves balancing her article/blog time indoors with a healthy dose of nature. She bikes, hikes, and identifies edible plants along the way.
How to Grow Your YouTube Channel in 2023: The Ultimate Guide
Starting a YouTube channel is tough, but growing it to thousands of subscribers — or even millions — is much harder to pull off. Some may wonder if it's even possible anymore.
But if you want to restore your faith, take a look around YouTube. There's Ryan Trahan (12 million subscribers) and the infamous MrBeast (136 million subscribers). You might even run into SSSniperwolf, who has 33.1 million supporters. It becomes astonishingly clear that growing a large audience is not impossible.
So, how did they do it? What are the steps to grow a successful YouTube channel?
If you want to go from zero to content hero, keep scrolling until you reach the end. We're going to tell you the best ways to grow on YouTube!
1. Create High-Quality Videos
Standing out on YouTube is tough, but anything's possible if you focus on making unique, high-quality videos. By high quality, we don't mean having the best camera, lighting, or video backdrop. The best videos come from creators who study their audience and the art of YouTube storytelling.
This skill doesn't come overnight, but you'll know it's there when you can make viewers feel something at the end of a video — inspired, motivated, curious, slightly tickled. Shifting their mood from one state to another means you're wielding true influence (the kind that makes people hit subscribe and turn on post notifications).
So how do you pull this off? You can start by learning what makes a video engaging, such as:
- "Hooking" viewers with a brief, punchy intro.
- Holding viewers' attention with pattern interrupters, like text, music, images, and multiple camera angles.
- Developing an interesting storyline (you can borrow common plot devices from movies and TV shows).
2. Optimize Your Content for Search Engines
Did you know that YouTube is the second-largest search engine behind Google? Creators upload over 500 hours of video daily, and YouTube tries to deliver it all to the right viewers.
Want YouTube to recommend your videos to more people? Help them out by optimizing your content for maximum reach!
Here's the only checklist you'll ever need when it comes to optimizing videos on YouTube:
- Choose a target keyword for each video you want to make.
- Add the target keyword (plus related keywords) to your video title and description.
- Create a custom thumbnail that reinforces the title.
- Use relevant hashtags to reach more viewers.
- Add captions and subtitles so your video is accessible to all.
- Organize your videos into YouTube playlists.
- Promote your videos using cards and end screens.
When you use the right keywords, you can also show up on Google search pages. That's a lot of free promotion for your channel!
3. Design Attention-Grabbing Thumbnails
If you want to grow on YouTube, don't underestimate the power of custom thumbnails. Each one is like a colorful billboard advertising your video's "juicier" parts. The more intriguing those images look, the more inclined viewers are to click on your content!
There are plenty of ways to create good thumbnails, such as:
- Using the right thumbnail dimensions (16:9 aspect ratio, 1280x720 pixels)
- Taking clear, high-resolution photos for the background or other elements
- Creating a simple, uncluttered design
- Using bright, inviting colors
- Adding text when necessary
- Sticking to one theme or idea
- Creating harmony between the title and thumbnail
Need design ideas? Here are 12 thumbnails people love to click on YouTube.
4. Write Engaging YouTube Titles and Descriptions
With YouTube titles, you want to get in the habit of writing for emotion and not just describing the video. This is important because viewers are interested in more than "the topic" at hand. Plenty of videos on YouTube cover the same theme; the real question is, why should people care about one particular video?
The answer, once again, is emotion. A great title taps into the viewer's deepest fears and desires. It promises to change your life in 30 days with a new workout routine, or it scares you into pulling all your money out of the stock market. Either way, an enticing title makes you want to click it.
But if you need inspiration (and a nice break), this AI tool can write titles for you!
And once you have a good title, focus on the video description. There are no tricks here because, at minimum, all you have to do is describe the video accurately.
5. Use Hashtags to Boost Your Reach
Adding hashtags to your YouTube video helps more people discover it, so tagging your content is always a good idea. Like most social media sites, the hashtags on YouTube are 100% clickable. That means a viewer can tap any hashtag and find themselves on a page showing thousands of videos related to a topic.
As you can imagine, getting featured on a hashtag page leads to more exposure for your channel! If you spend some time researching the best hashtag pages — ones that are popular but not flooded with millions of videos — you can grow your YouTube channel by attracting more clicks.
When you're ready, go to your video title or description. Type the # symbol followed by the descriptor of your choice!
6. Boost Your Engagement with a Call to Action
Wouldn't it be nice if most viewers…
- Subscribed to your channel?
- Hit the like button?
- Watched multiple videos in a row?
- Wrote positive comments?
All of this engagement leads to more channel growth, but most viewers don't think about completing those actions. After all, they're too busy watching videos and exploring new content! To keep building your fanbase, ask viewers to like, comment, and subscribe at the end of every video.
7. Build a Strong Relationship with Your Audience
It's hard to grow a channel if you aren't connecting with your viewers, so always find time to be social on YouTube. You can start by responding to video comments or take it up a notch by hosting live stream Q&A's. Creating polls on the YouTube Community tab will also help you learn viewers' likes, dislikes, and behaviors.
Engaging with your audience isn't too different from hanging out with a friend. All you have to do is get to know who they are!
8. Invest in YouTube Collaborations
YouTube collaborations are a brilliant way to grow your channel by introducing new viewers to your content. But of course, not all collabs are successful. You have to find the right partners, make sure your audiences overlap, and do other things to make the project work.
Here are a few ways to execute the best YouTube collab:
- Collaborate with creators in your niche.
- Brainstorm video ideas before you reach out to collaborators.
- Pick a video collab style (in-person, remote, video takeover, etc.).
- Promote the collaboration to boost its reach.
9. Capitalize on YouTube Trends and Challenges
To speed up your channel's growth, why not participate in YouTube challenges or a couple of social media trends? This approach works for small YouTube creators — especially those looking to grow sooner rather than later.
However, exercise caution when choosing different trends to hop on. Some will be a poor match for your channel's focus, making it difficult to turn casual viewers into devoted followers. Additionally, some challenges may risk your safety, like the viral yet highly dangerous milk crate challenge.
But everyone has to start somewhere, right? Use this guide to find trending topics for your videos, then ask yourself one question before settling on an idea: Does this help or hurt my channel long-term?
10. Build a 'Bridge' Between Short and Long-Form Content
Last year, YouTube announced it would build a bridge between YouTube Shorts and traditional, long-form videos. Notably, the platform vowed to change how it recommends content, making sure that longer videos are suggested alongside Shorts.
In other words, YouTube is analyzing Shorts viewership on all channels. Suppose a particular Short is getting massive views or engagement. In that case, the platform may recommend long-form content from the same creator!
So what does that mean for your channel's growth? Overall, it proves that YouTube Shorts are now a bridge connecting some viewers to your long-form videos. So by posting Shorts, you have a real shot at promoting the rest of your content!
Of course, this all depends on how your Shorts peform. So here's a helpful guide for increasing the Shorts views on your channel.
11. Cross-Promote Your Videos
Promoting videos on YouTube is not difficult at all, so you should definitely do it to grow your YouTube channel quickly. There are plenty of ways to promote your videos, such as:
- Using YouTube cards within a video to recommend other ccontent on your channel
- Using YouTube end screens to suggest more content to watch at the end of a video
- Pasting a link to a related video in the description section of your content
If you aren't familiar with cards and end screens, the main distinction is that one appears during a YouTube video, and one shows up at the end. You can place cards throughout a video to suggest additional content, but end screens are only active in the last 5-20 seconds. If you're using an end screen, try to suggest one video only (not two or three) so viewers don't spend too much time making a decision (and give up from being overwhelmed).
12. Create YouTube Playlists
When it comes to growing a YouTube channel fast, many content creators overlook the power of playlists. Many see them as a "holding place" for multiple videos, but it's much deeper than that.
YouTube playlists bring a sense of order to your channel. They organize your content so it's easier for viewers to browse your videos and find something interesting. On top of that, they encourage people to binge your content and bring more watch time to your channel.
And if you didn't know already, videos with high watch time have a better chance of being promoted by YouTube's algorithm (among other factors).
13. Host YouTube Live Streams
Earlier, we mentioned live streaming when we talked about building a relationship with viewers. So you already know that live streaming helps you connect with them through Q&A's, interactive games, and more.
But did you know that YouTube promotes live streams significantly? There's a section on the platform just for live videos, and getting featured there may not be as challenging as you think. We've seen streams with a modest number of viewers (5,000 or less) featured in the gaming section.
It's also worth noting that your live streams don't have to be flawless. You can cultivate a strong viewership by being friendly, interactive, and captivating.
14. Check Your YouTube Analytics Often
Seeing how your content performs and developing ways to improve it is the best way to grow a YouTube channel. It keeps you focused on the present and the future in equal portions, which is a good thing! You will ask yourself, "How can I make the best possible video today?" When it doesn't go so well, you'll change the question to "How can I reimagine this failed idea?"
It all begins with checking your YouTube analytics. For example, plenty of metrics will tell you if you had a lackluster intro or a subpar ending to your video. You'll even learn the rate at which people click on your content.
Here are some best stats to track for overall growth:
- YouTube click-through rate
- YouTube audience retention
- Traffic from recommended videos
- Subscribers gained from each video
- YouTube engagement (comments, likes, video shares
- The percentage of new versus returning viewers
15. Post Videos Consistently
We know, we know: Everyone talks about being consistent on YouTube. But that's because it really can dictate your views, subscribers, and engagement. After all, it's hard to grow your channel if you're not showing up consistently.
To stay on track, make sure you have a solid YouTube upload schedule. Then stick to it!
How to Grow a Small YouTube Channel: A Quick FAQ
If you're a small creator, this section is for you. We know how hard it is to grow a loyal audience, so we're answering common questions about the YouTube journey — especially for those just starting out.
Is it too late to grow a YouTube channel?
No, it's never too late to grow a YouTube channel. You just have to approach it from a different angle in 2023.
What worked in the past — making straightforward videos that anyone with a camera could produce — won't help you stand out today. You have to win people over by being authentic, vulnerable, and unique in your storytelling approach.
Which type of YouTube channel grows fast?
There isn't one type of channel that grows the fastest on YouTube, but there is a specific type of content people love to watch. Those videos combine entertainment, education, and some form of inspiration to keep people coming back for more.
For example, take a look at Ryan Trahan (12 million subscribers) and The Financial Diet (1 million subscribers). Both channels aim to educate and share powerful lessons, but they do so with superb storytelling and the best anecdotes you'll ever hear. Most of the videos leave you feeling inspired because there's an emotional undercurrent buzzing throughout.
If you can take viewers on a transformative journey, your channel will grow!
How do you get 1,000 subscribers on YouTube?
There are plenty of ways to get 1,000 subscribers, but these are the absolute best tips:
- Break your 1,000-subscriber goal into small chunks: 100, 250, 500, etc.
- Add a YouTube subscribe button to all of your videos.
- Study your analytics to see which videos attract the most subscribers.
- Place a YouTube subscribe link in all of your video descriptions.
- Do a YouTube collab to reach new viewers.
- Take YouTube keywords, thumbnails, and video titles seriously.
- Promote your YouTube channel across social media.
- Create videos that deliver on their promise.
- Post videos consistently.