Lydia Sweatt is a writer, bookworm, and bass guitar enthusiast. When she goes outside, a bicycle goes with her.
How to Get 500 YouTube Subscribers and Unlock Fan Funding
Did you hear the good news? When it comes to monetizing your channel, you no longer need 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to join the YouTube Partner Program. In fact, things have gotten a lot easier. You only need 500 subscribers plus 3,000 hours of watch time to profit from your content.
There's one caveat, though. Hitting this new milestone doesn't mean you can monetize your content with ad revenue — only fan-funding tools.
So, what happens when you get 500 subscribers on YouTube? With enough watch time, you can monetize your audience directly through things like Super Chats, Super Thanks, and Channel Memberships. But to do that, you need quality subs who are open to supporting you financially!
Here's how to get those natural, fan-level subs on your channel.
1. Focus on Community Engagement
It's nice to have 500 subscribers (and unlock fan-funding), but that doesn't mean viewers will automatically send you money on YouTube. They must feel moved to do it, which usually happens when they connect with your content.
That's why you should go after organic subscribers (that you didn't pay for). These viewers will show up to watch your videos and support your content with the occasional Super Chat or Super Thanks, to show their appreciation.
So, how do you build a real YouTube community? As soon as you have 30, 40, or 50 viewers on a steady basis, reply to their comments! Engage with them on the YouTube Community tab and ask them what they want to watch. Keep showing up, and they'll do the same!
2. Choose an Underserved Niche on YouTube
Pop quiz: What type of viewer will most likely send you a Super Thanks (aka, a monetary tip)? We already know that organic, engaged subscribers will do this. But can you think of anyone else?
Alright, we won't keep you in suspense. If you can find an underserved community on YouTube — like unicyclists who walk their dogs simultaneously — make videos for them. Chances are, they're waiting for someone, anyone, to show an interest in their hobbies. If you're that special creator, they'll appreciate you 10 times more and support you financially.
3. Jump on Trending Topics
Another way to lift your subscriber count is by paying attention to global trends. For example, which video games come out next month? Is there a new dance taking over TikTok? What's happening in sports, cinema, and music?
If a trending topic aligns with your channel, don't let the moment slip away. Make a video about it!
vidIQ can help you with that, especially when using global rising keywords, our newest feature. This nifty tool shows you which topics are growing in popularity on YouTube, along with a keyword score, competition score, and the monthly search volume of the term.
4. Target YouTube's Recommendation Algorithm
Did you know that 70% percent of viewers watch videos that YouTube recommends? As a new creator, you have a tremendous opportunity here to reach new viewers. When seeking more subscribers, there's no better place for your content to surface than in someone's suggested feed.
But which videos will YouTube recommend? Your best bet is filming something that attracts a lot of watch time and likes. It should also mirror what people enjoy right now.
First, look at your competitors — aka, channels that make similar content to yours. What are their most popular videos, and which videos are being recommended next to those videos?
Study each recommendation. Write them down so you can make similar videos with your unique spin, flair, or perspective. After all, you now have certified proof that YouTube recommends specific videos to your target audience. Use that info to grow your channel!
5. Make Search-Based Content at Least 30% of the Time
Standing out on YouTube is challenging, especially as a small creator. The good news is you have plenty of ways to get viewers' attention! You can make videos with a unique perspective or blend two niches to "wow" people. You can make the brightest, boldest thumbnails to get more clicks.
But no matter what, remember to make videos people are actually searching for. YouTube has many search pages; getting your content on just one could result in more views and even increase your subscriber count.
It all starts with optimizing your videos for YouTube search and doing something called SEO (search engine optimization):
- Perform keyword research for your topic.
- Add relevant keywords to your video title, description, hashtags, and video chapters.
- Add captions or subtitles that include your keywords.
- Create SEO-driven YouTube playlists (using keywords).
6. Borrow the 12 Most Popular Thumbnail Styles
Thumbnails are essential for getting your first 500 subscribers on YouTube. Most creators spend hours on those images, from developing an idea to ensuring the thumbnail matches the video title.
So, here's a neat shortcut to quicken the journey: Make thumbnails that are proven to work!
There are 12 types of compelling thumbnails on YouTube. These are images that…
- Ask one pressing question (in text)
- Show facts and stats
- Reveal before-and-after shots
- Compare two similar things
- Include quotes or sound bites
- Have personalized headshots
- Show dramatic scenes or live action
- Feature popular products
- Show satire/comedy
- Include beautiful landscapes
- Hint at an emotional moment
- Show a final result (like the finished meal after a cooking tutorial)
7. Promote Your Videos Outside of YouTube
As a small creator, you can kick start the YouTube algorithm so it pays attention to your channel. You do this by promoting your content outside of YouTube, at least initially.
According to Todd Beaupre, who leads the discovery product team at YouTube, sharing your videos in online communities is wise. You'll get your first video views much faster, enter viewers' watch history, and prompt the algorithm to share your content with similar audiences.
So, think of all the Facebook groups, Discord servers, or forums that align with your channel's topic. Could you share your videos there? As long as you're a genuine member of the community — one who engages and brings value — it's OK to share content that adds to the conversation.
8. Use Links and Buttons to Help Viewers Subscribe
Sometimes, viewers need a little convincing before subscribing to your channel. And even then, they may only click the button if it's right in front of them!
It's not that they don't want to subscribe to your channel; you just have to make it easy for them.
That's where buttons and links come in handy on YouTube. You can add a YouTube subscribe button to the bottom of your videos, on your end screens, and on your website. You can also paste a subscribe link that adds people to your community once they click it.
9. Get Discovered with Viral YouTube Shorts
Did you know that creators are getting more subscribers with YouTube Shorts? We're seeing this happen monthly with vidIQ customers who reach 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 subs in just a few weeks. Most of the time, they focus on short video content that ends up going viral.
But how do you make a YouTube Short go viral? First, hook your viewers with a powerful introduction that gets their attention. Then, start analyzing the most popular Shorts. What do they have in common that other videos don't?
Typically, the best Shorts include:
- Emotional storylines
- Plot twists
- Unique skills or talents
- Great storytelling
- Feel-good moments
- Relatable moments
10. Get a YouTube Coach
If you're starting from zero, hiring a YouTube coach is the best thing you can do for your creator journey. However, you don't want just any coach. You want someone (or something) that can help you 24/7, analyze your channel data, and present the best strategies to meet your goals.
And that's why here at vidIQ, we built the AI Coach for YouTube creators! It does everything we mentioned above, and the goal is to grow your channel with real insights and data. So, if you want 500 subscribers, ask AI Coach a specific question, like:
"Based on the content I've made so far, what type of videos will help me get 500 subscribers?"
Do you want YouTube advice that's tailored to your channel specifically?
Getting 500 YouTube Subscribers: It's Easier Than You Think
When you have zero subscribers, 500 seems like a massive number. But building a community of a few hundred people is more than possible! If you post videos consistently, be authentic, and approach YouTube with the mindset of "serving" an audience, you'll reach 500 subs. It's only a matter of time, especially if you engage with viewers along the way.
And remember, don't try to skip ahead by buying 500 YouTube subscribers. These viewers won't be real supporters that you can serve, engage, and monetize.
But if you are ready to monetize your channel (and do it with video ads), you'll need many more fans.