Now a very reasonable question to ask me is, "Rob, why have you set 100 subscribers "as the first big YouTube milestone?" Well, let's be honest, getting to 10 subscribers is pretty easy because you could just ask all of your friends and family to help you get there. As for 1,000 subscribers, well, right now that's probably a little bit too ambitious, and that's a trap you don't want to fall into.
Throughout your YouTube journey, which hopefully is going to be a very long and successful one, you want to set yourself manageable targets. The obvious temptation is to target 1,000 subscribers, along with 4,000 hours of Watch Time, because it means you're halfway to monetizing your channel. The problem is, this is going to hurt your short-term, day-to-day mindset. Because you won't feel as if you’re making enough progress.
For some channels, reaching 1,000 subscribers can take many months, if not years. If you start with that mindset, and you're into day 17 or day 34, and you haven't yet reached 100 subscribers, how is that going to make you feel? And when you get frustrated, you might start resorting to bad habits and awful tactics early on.
Those include sub-for-sub, which is against terms of service, and as we all know, and never proves to be successful in the long term for successful channels. Spamming other YouTube channels with comments is also a no-no as those actions just center around the ‘me, me, me’ mentality of a YouTube video creator, and that get’s you nowhere.
Key to 100 YouTube Subscribers: Audience Trust
As we will always preach here at vidIQ, it is the value that you give to your audience that will get them to trust you and subscribe to your content. If you get completely desperate, you may resort to buying subscribers, which is the worst thing you can do on your channel.
First of all, it is against terms of service, once again, and it may resort in your channel being terminated. Those subscribers will offer absolutely zero value to your YouTube channel in terms of growing it through views, watch time, and creating a community.
So I personally believe that your first subscriber milestone should be 100 subscribers. When you first start your channel, you'll be getting a new subscriber every few days. Then you'll be getting maybe one or two a day, and then you'll be getting ten or so a week, and that should help you reach that goal as quickly, as hopefully, as possible. Let's give you a best-case-scenario.
#1 Kick Off Your YouTube Channel with Enough Content
You launch your channel, the first video goes up, and to your surprise, lots of people watch it. And then you've got nothing else to show them. It's always a good strategy to give your viewers a collection of videos to watch on your channel. So if possible, don't launch with just one video on your channel, or at the very beginning, you want to try and pump out as many videos as possible, which may be against the schedule that you end up doing.
For example, you might be wanting to post one video a week, maybe in that first week, you want to post three videos so that people who are finding your content have something to feed off of very quickly. It is often the case that viewers won't subscribe to the first video that they watch on a channel. It may take two or three videos to persuade them to push that red button. And if you have more than one video, you can start to communicate to your audience in all of the content that you produce, that it is on a topic that your audience is interested in.
If you can get your audience to enjoy your first piece of content, fall in love with your second piece of content, and then subscribe as a result of the third piece of your content, then you potentially have a viewer there for months, years, a lifetime possibly.
Now, I wouldn't recommend necessarily launching three or four videos at exactly the same time when you start your channel. You want to give each video a moment to breathe on the platform. If you have a batch of videos you want to upload to YouTube all at once, that is absolutely fine, just make sure that they remain private until you're ready to publish them. Then when you do publish them, stagger them by at least one day, and then if you don't intend to post on a daily basis on YouTube, probably give each video at least 48 hours.
Now as I say, three in the first week is probably perfect. You'll quickly learn that when your videos get released, you get lots of bonuses from YouTube, and you find that you have rapid view velocity in the first 24 hours. But if you launch them all at the same time, it's not giving YouTube a chance to distribute that content to the potential audience it's looking for. It might not be possible to sustain the volume of content you push out in the first week or month of your YouTube channel. But give your viewers as much as you are able to provide them when you first launch your channel.
The first subscribers to your channel, who you don't know in real life, are wondrous things. Just consider what's happening here for a second. Somebody somewhere in the world has found your content valuable enough that they want to be notified again when you release more content. And then it gets to ten subscribers, and that's a line of people waiting for a bus. And they've got to say something to them.
Then you get up to 25 subscribers, that is a room full of people, and then you start to get towards 100 subscribers, which is a hall full of people. Can you imagine standing on stage, and speaking to those people directly in real life? It's a terrifying prospect, but every single one of you is doing that every single day as you try to reach this first big milestone. Now these real-life people are very precious to you, and you want to treat them with that respect.
#2 Be Consistent and Focused from the Start
When you have such small sample sizes, if people are subscribing to particular videos on your channel, you want to make more of that content. Yes, we are drifting down the common topic of niching down, one of YouTube's most important strategies. But I'm going to try and keep it fairly light for this video.
Let's say you're watching television, and you come across a new sitcom, and you enjoy the first episode that you watch. You enjoy the characters, the comedy is on point with your type of humor, and you like the way the story is going. What happens if next week, you tune in and they remove half of the characters, there are new comedy scriptwriters writing all of the material, and the story has suddenly jumped the shark in some way? You're probably going to be turned off from that content.
Now that is a bit of an extreme case of course but on YouTube channels, this happens pretty much with all channels. To begin with, and I don't understand this, many creators are a little self-indulgent, because they want to create what they're going to enjoy making, and not realizing there's an audience out there who's already watched some of your previous content, enjoyed it, subscribed to it, and want to see more or less the same thing.
If you continue to deliver content that your subscribers have subscribed for, you will start to build momentum, I guarantee it. And remember, I've already said that the first video a viewer watches on your channel may not convince them to subscribe. However, due to the way YouTube's recommendations work, even if a viewer doesn't subscribe to your channel, they may see more of your content appear in their browse feeds or suggested videos. And if they watch a second video from you which is similar to the first, and they enjoy it more, then that will convince them to subscribe. But it has to stay on topic for the audience's watching habits.
#3 It’s OK to Ask Your Viewers to Subscribe
There's something I want to get you into the mindset of as early as possible in your YouTube journey. It's okay to ask people to subscribe to your channel. Some people have a real mental block about this. Maybe it's because they find it too embarrassing, or because they feel as if they're begging too much to their audience.
This is not the same as sub-for-sub. Remember, the viewer is already watching your video, and you are providing value to them. There's nothing wrong with reminding the audience, "Hey, if you want to see more of this content, "then it might be a good idea "to subscribe to the channel."
There are many ways to ask people politely to subscribe to your channel. For example, in this video, at the very beginning, what did we do? “Hello, I'm Rob, and welcome to vidIQ, the YouTube tool and channel that educates you on your YouTube journey. For more content just like this, make sure to subscribe to the channel, and do this so that you're the first to be notified when there are new videos released.” In 18 seconds, I told new viewers of vidIQ who we are, our value proposition, and why you should subscribe to your channel in a slightly inventive way.
As you continue on through a video, if you get to a point where you deliver something of real value, or a spectacular moment in a video, and that is your payoff to a certain extent, don't be afraid to put in a call to action there as well. And what I mean by a call to action is asking the viewer to subscribe, or something onscreen that you don't even address, it's just there, it just reminds the viewer, "Hey, if you're liking this, "remember to press that red button."
You can also add a subscribe watermark to your videos and this can be really effective for bringing in a few extra subscribers to every single video. We've got a dedicated video on this here:
And, don't be afraid to also put a subscribe link in your channel description, in the end screens, and maybe in a pinned comment. Give your viewers as many opportunities as possible to remind them that it's free to subscribe, and they'll get value from it because you're going to give your audience exactly what they're asking for.
#4 The First Few Months will be Frustrating but Keep Going
Something that's going to be really important throughout your YouTube journey is perspective. You may not like what I'm about to tell you, but it is the truth. When you start your YouTube channel, you have no authority, you have no influence, you have no social proof. From the audience perspective, they are asking the question, "Why should I subscribe to you?" "What makes you different as a video creator?"
From YouTube's perspective, the platform wants more data from your content. It wants to know which audience is watching your content, and for how long, and how successful it is, and whether or not to push that content to more people after they've watched it and indeed subscribed.
I am not going to lie to you, the first few weeks and months on YouTube can be a real uphill struggle. For many creators, hitting that first hundred subscribers was the most challenging thing they did on their channel. But then, hitting the next hundred subscribers wasn't so hard, and then the next hundred, and before you know it, you're up to five hundred, and then your coming into the thousand subscriber mark.
What needs to happen is a connection between the viewer and the content creator. When you build trust, you build a relationship, and you get onto a personal level, you somehow impact that viewer in an emotional way. That creates a bond where the subscription hopefully will happen, and then who knows what beyond that.
Now what I hope I've done throughout this video is establish some of those bonds so you can subscribe. You see what I did there? As this portion of the video suggests, accept and embrace the challenge. Think of it in a completely different mindset. Enjoy the journey.
You need to determine whether or not you enjoy making videos, that's what you're going to be doing the majority of the time. And it could take you 50 videos, 100 videos, six months, to understand whether you like that process. And if you're concentrating more on how you're going to deliver the content to your audience, and observing their feedback, rather than looking at that single metric of subscribers, or that single metric of views and Watch Time, I guarantee you will enjoy the process so much more. And before you know it, you may not even realize it, you'll surpass 100 subscribers.
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