How to Grow a Successful YouTube Channel

By Victoria Bise

You’ve shot, edited, and uploaded to YouTube… but why hasn’t your channel gone viral? What characteristics distinguish a successful YouTube channel from an ordinary one? Putting the following habits into practice can be a gamechanger for many YouTube channels.

Rewind to five years ago and the world of YouTube was shockingly different. The site was filled with webcam videos filmed on a bedroom floors with piles of laundry in the back. Video quality, brand collaborations and video length were not crucial to a channel’s success. Now, YouTubers such as Jaclyn Hill, a beauty vlogger, and Shay Carl, a daily family vlogger, believe that audience retention depends on high-quality video footage, an enthusiastic and well-spoken speaker, and edited videos under 10 minutes in length. There are features built in to help creators such as using annotations and video cards, using relevant tags in the video description and creating attractive, eye-catching thumbnails. These will help viewers find you and will also boost your channel’s reach. 

Be a Social Butterfly

Along with producing high quality video content, having a fan base on other social media such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat expands a YouTuber’s brand and promotes their content across a variety of platforms. Being active in any social media community plays a large role in standing out and helps YouTubers engage with like-minded creators. In addition, collaborations with YouTube channels with a similar subscriber count can result in cross-promotion, leading to an increase in subscribers and views.

No SPAM I am

It’s great to know what works and what content creators should do to maximize their channel views and subscriptions, but it’s also useful to know what not to do. Do not spam other YouTube channels or social media platforms. Much like the rest of the Internet, the YouTube community is fast-paced and constantly changing. First impressions are everything. Spamming YouTubers’ comments section, inbox and Instagram posts is not as effective as it may seem. Many fresh, new YouTubers do exactly this by commenting, “Subscribe and I’ll subscribe back!” For your sake, and everyone else’s, stay away from this type of self-promotion. Instead of spamming video comment sections, post a thoughtful and honest comment showing that you appreciate the YouTuber’s hard work; in return, other viewers will start recognizing your profile picture in the comments and will be more likely to click on your channel.

Get Friendly with Analytics

In order to know what is and isn’t working for your channel, the YouTube Analytics page provides in-depth analyses of your videos, such as showing where in the world viewers are located, how many “thumbs up” a video gets, and how many minutes are watched. Although you have to create videos that you want to create, you also need to keep in mind what your audience likes best on your channel. If your “do it yourself” skills aren’t exactly Martha Stewart approved, perhaps try comedic skits.

Listen to the Pros

It’s useful to hear popular YouTubers’ thoughts on growing a YouTube channel. With over 25,000 subscribers, avid coffee consumer and beauty/lifestyle YouTuber Alex Good shares her advice on growing a successful YouTube channel.

“Being your most authentic self radiates and builds a community around those with similar ideas and interests,” she said. “You have to think like a viewer. What kind of quality do you prefer? Emit positivity and be confident in your work and good things will follow!”

Your Camera is Your Best Friend

Being comfortable in front of the camera can take some time, but being yourself and being confident will make you stand out among the rest. Practice makes perfect. Practice talking in front of your camera and be clear, yet conversational, with what you say. Video, audio and lighting quality are also important. You don’t need expensive equipment to begin with, just open the blinds and take in some Vitamin D that doubles as great, free lighting!

Get Creative

With the millions of YouTube channels available for your viewing pleasure, it can be frustrating to have a unique channel, but it is a key aspect to a successful one. Elisabeth, 15-year old comedy vlogger, has approximately 2,000 subscribers, and even though her community is relatively small, her viewers adore her creativity. “Standing out is one of the hardest parts of being a YouTuber,” she said. “Think of creative ideas and something not many have done before.” Think about it, would you want to watch the same video a hundred times but with a different person? Didn’t think so.

Patience is a Virtue

Thousands of YouTubers are making annual six-figure incomes, is that not enough motivation to get you to start making YouTube videos? Final tip for growing a successful YouTube channel: Give it time; gaining one million subscribers does not happen overnight. Don’t give up so quickly. Just because you’re not at 100,000 subscribers yet, does not mean you’re not talented.

Dedication plays a huge role in having a successful YouTube channel. Having my own lifestyle and beauty channel on YouTube has shown me what does and doesn’t work for growing a successful channel.  Recently, I decided to have a set schedule for when I upload my videos. I noticed a huge difference in views and viewer interaction through the comments and tweets I received. Be a YouTuber because you want to do it. Do it for you. A wise daily vlogger with half a million subscribers named Alli Speed, once said, “If you can turn on the camera and make a connection with one person, then you’re a YouTuber.” Take it from her and reach for the stars, or the YouTube channel subscriptions.

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