Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
How to Get Your First 1000 YouTube Subscribers
In this post, we're going to guide you on the journey to 1,000 YouTube subscribers, but first, answer this question - why do you want 1,000 subscribers?
If your answer is because you want to monetize your YouTube channel, well, don't forget, you need 4,000 hours of Watch Time too. Don't forget that you also need to apply for the YouTube Partner Program and be accepted into it, because YouTube will be checking whether or not you're trying to buy subscribers or manipulate the metrics.
8 Ways to Get to 1000 YouTube Subscribers
If it's because you want to monetize your YouTube channel, then you're not thinking about your audience. Can you see where I'm going with this? Let's kick off the 8 ways you can build those first 1000 subscribers.
#1 Put Your Audience, Rather Than Revenue, First
Now, if it's because 1,000 people represent a huge community that has put their faith and trust in your content to inspire and educate them, then you're on the right YouTube path.
We've uploaded over 600 videos on the vidIQ YouTube channel now, and we've had over two million comments. I haven't read every single one of them, I must confess, but the overriding theme of a lot of these comments is a lack of understanding of the YouTube platform.
Most new creators naively, and understandably so, are thinking more about what they can get from the YouTube platform rather than what they can give to their audience. And I've said this already in videos that we've made in 2020. Stop thinking about the metrics and how you gain things from the content that you create, and think first about what's valuable to your YouTube audience.
I can almost guarantee that when you shift the mindset from you to your audience, your channel will grow so much faster and so much more easily that you'll hit 1,000 subscribers before you even know it.
That's because your content, your daily interaction with your community, becomes far more important than any milestone that you're trying to achieve.
Now, while I did say that milestones aren't necessarily that important, especially to your audience at this stage, they probably still do rattle around in the back of your head. So let's touch on this to help with your mental welfare. Getting to 100 subscribers is one of the hardest things you will do on the YouTube platform. We know, we were there to help guide you through it, and if you weren't there, then here’s a video that you should definitely watch:
Now, let's say theoretically that it took you three months to get 100 subscribers, and then, your next target is 1,000 subscribers. That might be a bit of a stretch, but at the same time, it's not going to take 30 months to get to 1,000 subscribers because, like with any YouTube channel, you will be gaining momentum.
So you want to have incremental increases in milestones. So going from 100 subscribers to maybe 250 subscribers, then maybe 500 subscribers, 750 subscribers, all the way up 1,000 subscribers.
As long as you're aware of a reachable goal somewhere in the distance and you keep track of your incremental steps towards that milestone, whether it be two or three subscribers a day or 10 or 20 subscribers a week, that will nourish you as you nourish your audience with the value from your content.
If you have over 100 subscribers and you're working towards 1,000 subscribers, for the typical channel you've probably done a few dozen videos and you have some experience and an understanding, generally, of what your audience likes on your channel. So it's now time to solidify your value proposition.
#2 Define Your Value Proposition on YouTube
What does that mean? Let me put it very simply. Describe your channel in five seconds or less in a catchy, memorable fashion. For example, our value proposition could be ‘YouTube growth channel’, but in order to make it catchy and memorable what do we say our channel is about? ‘Educating your YouTube journey.’
Now, let me give you a couple more made-up examples. Fortnite gaming channel. There are literally hundreds of thousands of these on YouTube already, so how do you describe your channel in a catchy, memorable way if you're a Fortnite gameplay channel? Well, it could be something along the lines of your channel is all about how to improve the gameplay performance of Fortnite or any other first-person shooter game. It gives your channel more focus, your audience knows exactly what your channel is about, and it's memorable.
What about a channel all about European travel?. Now, it's too generic, we've heard it all before. Let's try this though; Euro-penniless traveling nomad. All right, it's not my best effort, but I came up with it in five seconds. That defines your channel as content all about an individual going around countries of Europe, most likely on an extreme budget. And what type of content is that going to appeal to in terms of a target audience? Young students.
So you've sold your channel to your audience, not explicitly and functionally, but through a catchy, memorable value proposition. Now, this can change over time. There is nothing wrong with that, but if your channel has a core theme, you always know the value that you're trying to deliver to your audience, and your audience, whether they be new visitors or regular subscribers, will always know what to expect from your content.
#3 Double Down on YouTube Content that Works
When it comes to starting and building a YouTube channel I always say that nothing beats experience. Hopefully, by now you should have some videos out on the platform and you've got some views and some subscribers. So what you've gained from that is social proof.
You will have certain videos that have performed better than others. You'll have videos that have some engagement and some feedback asking you to make followup videos or asking you general questions, which you could potentially answer with future content.
So my advice to you now would be to start researching your channel, even if it is the simplest trick in the book, which is to go to your video tab on your channel page and sort by the most popular videos. If there are any patterns in the top five or 10 videos that are telling you a certain type of content works, then make more of that content, whether it's about a particular topic or a video style.
It may be that you've already chosen your video topic niche, whether it be sports, gaming, politics, wrestling, beauty, etc but from the content that you have you should by now be able to find a sub-niche in that particular topic. Now, it might be predictions or tutorials or reaction videos or when you're in front of the camera and you're giving your personal stories.
When you start your YouTube channel, there is nothing wrong with experimenting 80% of the time, but as your channel grows, you'll get to a stage where you are serving your audience the content they want to see 80% of the time while you can experiment with the other 20% of the content.
Know more about your own channel and discover what works for your audience, and it's pretty simple, do more of it. If you drill down into that concept a little further, if you want more subscribers, then look at the videos on your channel that bring in the most subscribers and make more content based on those videos.
You can use the vidIQ Channel Audit tool to do this, as we have a column which shows you which videos on your channel bring in the most subscribers. Funnily enough, it's our video tutorials that are all about how to get more subscribers, hence, why we're doing this followup video on how to 1,000 subscribers in 2020.
Do you know what we're also likely to do in the future? Based on the data we're getting from our Channel Audit tool, which is also telling us that we're making successful gaming content, we're going to make a video on how to get 1,000 subscribers as a gaming channel. It just makes sense.
#4 Create an Engaging YouTube Channel Trailer
Now, this next thing may be way down your priority list as you build out your YouTube channel, but maybe you want to start thinking about creating a channel trailer. We've already talked about your value proposition. A channel trailer should essentially encapsulate that value proposition in a video of no more than 30 to 45 seconds. By all means, look at how successful creators have already used channel trailers to introduce themselves to an audience.
This is an excellent example from the Apartment Therapy channel. It includes their value proposition (Own Your Home), plus a good call to action (Subscribe to…), and is bursting with clips to give the viewer a taste of what they can expect:
What you're generally going to discover with channel trailers is that you have 1,000 fantastic ideas, but you only need to put one of them in that video or else it's too long. With all that being said, there is an alternative to a dedicated channel trailer, and that is to use the video that converts most subscribers on your channel and use that as your channel trailer as it's already proven to work with your audience.
#5 Take YouTube SEO Seriously!
It's time to start taking search engine optimization, or SEO, seriously on the YouTube platform. After all, it is the second-largest search engine in the world, and most creators get their start on YouTube by having discoverable content through search. This means extensive keyword research into your topic to find out what people are searching for, including those keywords in the titles, but also, making those titles intriguing to click on.
This also includes expanding your keywords out to your video descriptions and video tags, if you want to. And try to include keywords in the vocabulary of your video content because YouTube is watching and listening to everything you put out on the platform.
Now, some of these things, admittedly, are marginal gains, but remember this. If you're a channel with 100 subscribers versus another channel with 100 subscribers, would you rather be the video content creator that is giving YouTube as much information about their video as possible, or the one who's just throwing stuff onto YouTube and expecting it to be discovered?
As you might expect, keyword research is a huge learning topic in itself, so we've done a deep-dive into it with this video.
#6 Identify Your Pain Points Right Now
This next point is true for every single video creator no matter where they are in their YouTube journey, and that is that they have pain points that are preventing their progress. Now, that could be thumbnails that just aren't clickable or keyword research that doesn't match up to what people are searching for, or you're just absolutely terrible in front of the camera, which means that you have to retake every single shot 10 times.
Now is a good time in the early stage of your YouTube journey to start identifying these pain points and facing them head-on. The longer you ignore that pain point, the more brittle that foundation on your YouTube channel will be to a point where it is jus, handicapping your channel completely.
Now, I don't suggest trying to tackle all of your pain points all at once. Identify which you personally feel is a thing that's holding your channel back the most. Usually, at this point in a creator's journey, it's thumbnails. Now, if it is thumbnails, again, we've got a really big playlist here on how to create better thumbnails.
Whatever it is, spend an extra half an hour or an hour per video trying to improve on that pain point by 1%. If you start to improve on something today, in two or three months you'll look back at where those videos were and you'll think, yeah, that was horrible, those thumbnails were terrible, but I'm so glad they look like this today because I'm getting a higher click-through rate and more views. Whatever it is, start tackling it today, whether it’s presenting in front of a camera, or improving your video editing.
#7 Stay Weird: Be an Innovative YouTube Creator
A lot of what I'm telling you in this video about how to get 1,000 subscribers is foundational strategies that are going to put your channel in good stead as you move forward as a video creator. Hopefully, you're taking a lot of this on board along with all of the other tips, tricks, and advice you're getting from other YouTube educators, but what I would also encourage is to stay weird.
Do things that you wouldn't expect to normally do. 80% of the time you want to deliver content to your audience and create thumbnails that are consistent, but there's nothing wrong with experimentation because if you don't test new things, you'll never know if you discover a brand new niche or a certain thumbnail that defies all logic, but really appeals to a certain demographic who want to click on it because it's different to anything else on YouTube.
PewDiePie versus T-Series was me experimenting with different content on the channel, and it turned out to be highly successful. What a lot of regular viewers didn't realize is that it didn't impede on our regular vidIQ content. I was still pumping out hundreds of educational pieces of video content, and the PewDiePie versus T-Series content took up about 10 to 15% of what we did in 2019, but at the same time, those videos brought in millions of views and tens of thousands of subscribers, many who have stuck around to now watch this type of content to grow their channels.
Had I stayed strictly within the educational content that we provide here at vidIQ we may not have reached 450,000 subscribers and 30 million views in the last year. Now that the PewDiePie versus T-Series story has come to an end, what have we come back to? Our core value proposition. Educating you on your YouTube journey. It's just that 20% of the time I like to entertain you on your YouTube journey.
#8 Always Be Engaging with Your YouTube Fan Base
Now, because of something called audience retention, not everybody who started watching the above video is still watching right now, but for those of you who are 15 minutes into this content, thank you very much for watching. I value your time, and because you're watching the entire video, I hope you're getting the whole value from this content that you're going to use on your channel to help you get to 1,000 subscribers.
You are the core members of this community, the brothers and sisters of the vidIQ family, and you will have those same people who are not just subscribers, but super-fans. Those who already care deeply, not only about your content, but about you as a video creator, and they want to see you succeed, which is why you should engage with your community as much as you can in your videos.