10 Tips to Grow Subscribers on YouTube (The Organic Way)

An illustrated image of a video play icon that appears as a red cube with a white triangle in the center. If you are marketing on YouTube, you want your subscribers to be clicking on this video icon player on the platform.
An illustrated image of a video play icon that appears as a red cube with a white triangle in the center. If you are marketing on YouTube, you want your subscribers to be clicking on this video icon player on the platform.

You’ve started your YouTube channel, maybe set up some ads, and created a robust YouTube marketing strategy, but now there’s one problem. Your subscriber count isn’t growing. Your mom, cousins, coworkers, and friends subscribed, but they’re not really engaging with your videos and you need to 10x the views you're getting to prove the value of YouTube to the C-suite. 

Turning views into subscribers on YouTube isn’t easy. We’ll just start there. Essentially you need a loyal following of viewers, and you need to continue producing high-quality, relevant content, engaging content for them before they decide they want to subscribe.

You’ll probably get a small amount of YouTube subscribers from people already so familiar with your brand that they subscribe without question (think National Geographic or CNN). But you can’t depend on this when trying to grow by that 10x amount. 

Not to worry friend! We're here to help with 10 easy tips to grow YouTube subscribers and increase engagement:

Table of Contents

Why Do YouTube Subscribers Matter?

With more subscribers on YouTube you reach more people on a regular basis, especially if they have notifications turned on. Subscribers are loyal fans as opposed to fair-weather viewers; they’ve likely seen a few videos and your content matched their interests and values closely enough that they chose to reward you by clicking "Subscribe". 

Keeping close tabs on which videos garner the most subscribers over time will give you powerful insights into the type of content you should produce more of, and which is less likely to grow your subscriber count. 

Arrow pointing to subscription button on YouTube homepage, from which you can access a view of all the channels you've subscribed to

People who have subscribed to a YouTube channel also have a feed from which they can easily access all their subscriptions. This view shows all your recently uploaded videos, so, as we’ll explain below, pay attention to your thumbnails and video titles to stand out. 

Read on for our 10 tips to grow your subscriber count on YouTube:

1. Stick to a Content Schedule

Open monthly planner showing month view of dates. Planning and sticking to a content schedule is essential for growing your YouTube subscriber count

Commit to a posting schedule so your subscribers and viewers know when to expect new content. This also helps keep your team on a filming and editing schedule!

It helps to post often in the beginning. A suggested target is twice a week. You can cheat this a bit if you prepare a lot of content prior to launching your channel — be ready with a month or two's worth of videos to frontload, while you work on creating content for the next few months. Having a lot of content ready is great for incorporating sharing videos as a part of your general social calendar as well.

The other thing to keep in mind when you’re posting so often is that while subscribers value consistency, you also don’t want them to get bored. So consider shooting different series that focus on a particular topic. For example, a fashion brand could do an entire series featuring festive dresses from around the world and another series about how to mix and match patterns.  

2. Create a Channel Trailer 

Image showing YouTube channel trailer with good description highlighting what to expect from videos

A channel trailer is designed to give visitors a summary of what your channel is all about. For brands, your trailer should reflect your values, and represent your product in some way. Whether your product is software, t-shirts, or painting supplies.

Trailers are accompanied by a description (the content for the description is populated from the trailer video description.) Use that space to describe not only the video but also your channel and what viewers can expect. 

The trailer starts playing automatically when people come to your channel so think carefully about those first 3-10 seconds: music, sound, dialogue, editing will all play a role in how quickly people bounce or how quickly they decide they want to look around more at your videos.

As the cadence or themes of your channel change and evolve, don’t be afraid to update your channel trailer to match.

3. Produce High-Quality YouTube Videos

Upscale video camera pointed at calm and composed presenter in a bookstore

Your videos don’t need to be Oscar winners. Full stop. But they do need to be professional. Pay particular attention to the lighting and sound. These two elements are largely what separates amateur YouTube creators and professional ones. 

The other side of course is the camera quality. These days there’s no need to drop an exorbitant amount of money on a video camera, but you should definitely be a step or two above shooting with your smartphone or webcam.

Additionally, don’t put someone in front of a camera or recording dialogue who is clearly uncomfortable. Unless it’s endearing, no one wants to watch a squirmy, nervous, wavering-voiced person. Make sure whoever is mainly featured in your videos is confident and relaxed.   

4. Promote Your YouTube Channel 

One of the quickest ways to attract new subscribers is through other marketing channels where you already have an audience! Consider sharing links to videos in your emails, embedding them in blog posts, and posting videos on your other social channels.

You could also use a consumer insights tool to find micro-communities that are related to your industry, and share videos where relevant. Facebook groups, Reddit threads, and forums are great places to start. 

Another idea is to use your social media channels to tease upcoming videos. Do an Instagram Live where you show behind the scenes and answer questions, tease a page of the script on your Facebook page, or run a Twitter poll for followers to guess the topic of your next video. 

5. Work With Influencers

Elizabeth Olsen's 5-Minute Easy Radiant Skin Routine

Working with influencers is a great way to get in front of potential subscribers to your channel. Doing smart audience research before deciding who to work with will help you match with partners where you have a higher chance of gaining interested and engaged followers.

When working with influencers on YouTube, it’s important to remember that their first priority is to their existing audience. The best brand and influencer partnerships — those that have longevity and are mutually beneficial to both parties are the ones where brands trust in the creative process, allowing them to produce a sponsored video in their own style.

Most brands require to see a final cut of the video they plan to upload, so you will have some say, but avoid trying to take over the video content from start to finish.

This would mean the content creator ends up putting something out that doesn't match their style and cadence, meaning their subscribers are unhappy — and may even unsubscribe. This hurts you as a brand, because fewer subscribers mean fewer purchases. No one goes home happy in this scenario. Plus, you'll be less likely to cross-promote with that influencer in the future, missing out on the opportunity to tap into a new audience. 

6. Plan Subscriber-Only Gifts and Incentives

Brown boxes with ribbons on white background. Subscriber only gifts on YouTube is a great idea for keeping people engaged

Reward your subscribers with subscriber-only giveaways and perks. These could be anything from an extra percentage off a sponsored item to a personalized swag gift from your company to a free demo of your software. 

One interesting idea could be to hide Easter eggs in your videos and reward the first 5 subscribers who guess what it is. Easter eggs could be a word or phrase or an object of some kind.

7. Pay Attention to SEO

It may not be immediately obvious but SEO is key for success on YouTube. Optimize your videos for YouTube search like you would an article. Pay attention to metadata like your title and description. Do keyword research in the same way you would for an article, and be sure to check out what your competitors are doing.

“How to” videos also perform extremely well from Google’s side. Google has started showing video results with suggested timestamps to answer your specific question.

Take this example for “How to Iron a Shirt”. Google indicates that we are probably interested in the content starting at 2:58. 

Google search result for the keyword "how to iron a shirt" showing a suggested timestamp to answer that specific question

The video is posted by a channel called “Gentleman's Gazette” and interestingly they don’t show up as one of the first 3 results on YouTube.

YouTube organic search results for the keyword "how to iron a shirt"

However, since Youtube is the second most visited website after Google it’s arguable that they’re better optimized for more traffic.

8. Update Your Thumbnails

WatchMojo YouTube channel, video tab showing all uploads with great examples of Thumbnail images

Thumbnail optimization is absolutely key for click through on your videos. Consider how your thumbnail relates to your video title and use that strategically. 

For example, say the title of your video is “the most shocking Oscar wins from the 1990s”. Then the image on your thumbnail could show a shot from a film that people maybe wouldn't normally associate with the Oscars, enticing a click to see what that’s all about!

May brands and content creators on YouTube also use text or graphics to liven up their thumbnails. If you use text, make sure it’s big enough and in a legible font. 

9. Incorporate Regular Features

Grid of blank sticky notes with woman's hand adding final sticky note to the bottom row.

Keep viewers interested with regular features they can look forward to at the end of each video. Some good ideas include bloopers or reading your favorite comments from the previous video. 

Have a cute pet that interrupts your takes? That’s catnip (pun intended) for many people who have become somewhat jaded with the overly polished presentation style on YouTube and other social media. Include the ruined takes at the end of the video — you could even make a playlist for people to enjoy! 

These habits create a sense of community, expectation, and anticipation for people who regularly view your videos. They also increase the coveted “watch time” metric that YouTube loves and favors heavily in their suggested videos algorithm.

10. Clean Up Your Channel

Row of traditional looking brooms

All of the above tips won’t help much if your channel itself is disorganized and disjointed. YouTube provides a lot of ways to make your channel robust and engaging. Take advantage of playlists to help sort and categorize your videos, for easy scannability. This makes it easier for visitors to quickly identify what they want to watch and if your channel makes the kinds of videos they’ll be interested in long enough to warrant a subscribe. See a great example from the Graham Norton Show channel:

Playlists tab for the Graham Norton Show YouTube channel showing consistency and easy scannibility

It’s likely your videos will improve in quality over time. While you should definitely keep some older videos public and viewable from a continuity standpoint, don’t be afraid to remove or mark certain videos as private if they no longer meet the standards of your more recent content. 

So are you feeling ready to promote your channel and grow subscribers on YouTube? Be sure to fill out the form below to learn more about social solutions to help improve your YouTube marketing strategy.

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