Finding your audience on YouTube is difficult.
Every day, more video is uploaded to YouTube than a person could watch in two years.
As a platform, YouTube is among the noisiest, making gaining traction for your content increasingly difficult.
Let’s start with a quick reality check.
If your goal for using YouTube is to be the next big YouTube star, the odds are stacked against you.
Instead, think about YouTube as an opportunity for you to find an audience that appreciates what you create, and build gradually.
Boogie2988, a widely popular YouTube creator that focuses on gaming and comedy content, said in a recent video on his channel titled How to YouTube: “You need to figure out what you can do, and only you can do, and do the best at it that you can. YouTube stardom is not going to happen in a day, or a week, or a month, or even a year. A lot of YouTubers that made it worked for years to achieve it.”
This guide will help you to set yourself up for success.
Consistency Is Must
We’re going to start this guide out with perhaps the most important key to success on YouTube: Consistency.
Your audience will come to appreciate the quality and content of your videos. This appreciation quickly becomes unhinged if there are any rapid or unexpected changes.
For example, if you produce a video every Tuesday for a year then skip a few weeks and start publishing on Friday, your audience will notice. They will expect to see your content each Tuesday, and that change in consistency can be as jarring as having your favorite TV show change the day it airs.
Give them a heads up if you plan to change the frequency of your content.
They will appreciate it.
Make Your Content Easier to Find
One sure-fire way to cut through the crowd and gain attention for your videos is to make them easier to find.
Think about your YouTube channel as a website, and YouTube as a giant search engine.
You want your content to appear when people search for relevant keywords.
For example, if you are building a YouTube channel for a plumbing service, and you want to gain attention for that service through YouTube, you might produce some basic how-to videos related to plumbing.
How to clean a clogged drain.
Now, think about how people would search for this.
Would they type in “John Doe’s Plumbing Drain Clean”? Probably not. Here are some areas where you can dramatically improve your video’s discovery rate:
- Title – Make your title search friendly. Title it the way people search, and you might be surprised how often it will be discovered. A drain cleaning video should be titled, “How to Unclog a Drain” or “Unclog a Drain Easily.”
- Description – YouTube gives you about 5,000 characters to work with in the description of your video. Use them. Your videos description has weight on where it sits in search results. Just because something isn’t in the title doesn’t mean YouTube won’t display it if the description includes it. Use keywords, and give your video a clear, accurate description.
- Tags – Every noun mentioned in your video should be tagged. If you talk about a specific brand of plunger, then add that brand as a tag in your video. This will help it to appear whenever someone is looking for Brand X plungers. The same goes for your name, the name of the business, and any items of objects discussed in the video. Free views!
- Thumbnail – The video’s thumbnail doesn’t help you with search ranking, but it will make someone more or less inclined to click your video in the results page. Make your thumbnail interesting and appealing. A lot of YouTube channels use sex to generate views through a Thumbnail, but the more practical approach would be a clear shot of the subject of your video along with big, bold white text replicating the video’s title.
- Annotations – Become familiar with how to apply annotations to your video, and cross-reference your other videos where applicable. If your video is about removing a clog from a drain, and you have another video that covers preventing clogs, create an annotation and link to it there. Again, more free views!
- Advertising – YouTube has a way for you to buy views for your videos, and it’s through advertising. This costs money, but it can help generate eyes to your content in order to kickstart your channel.
Subscribers are More Important than Views
Views on a particular video give you an idea of how well a video performed.
However, it won’t contribute to the traffic that goes to your other existing and upcoming videos.
Views are essentially passive traffic. They come, they go, and they only provide a short-term benefit to your channel.
Subscribers, however, are active viewers.
They thought enough of your work to hit the subscribe button so your content appears in their feed. These viewers typically stick around and watch multiple videos, are more likely to leave positive comments on your channel and share your work with others.
This makes your subscriber count a lot more important than your view count. Focus on obtaining and keeping subscribers first, and the views will follow.
Growing your subscriber base is an often gradual process.
PewDiePie, one of the most popular YouTubers on the site, went from 1 million to over 40 million subscribers in a few years. This makes his regular audience larger than most major television network shows.
This success didn’t happen overnight.
He had been making YouTube videos for a years before gaining enough attention to reach that point where the audience started finding him more easily. It took time, commitment, and consistency over the years to achieve this.
So how do you grow your subscriber base? Here are some quick tips:
- Interact With the Audience – You have the ability to have a one-on-one relationship with your audience through a number of different social platforms, even outside of YouTube. Invite them to tweet you on Twitter, or join your Facebook page. Reply to some of the top comments on your videos, and consider answering questions left in the comments of one video on the next.
- Be Personal and Relatable – Many of the most popular YouTubers out there talk to their camera as through it were one of their best friends. This makes them immediately more relatable to the audience. This audience will be more likely to subscribe for more if only to find out what happened next in your ongoing story.
- Offer Incentives – This particular tip is more useful to brands and businesses that want to grow their YouTube audience. Giveaways and other incentives for subscribers is a great way to push viewers to take that important step. Be careful though, you have a window of time between your giveaway and their eventual unsubscribe unless you give them enough value to stick around for more.
- Collaborate with Other Channels – Collaboration is one of the most popular forms of cross-promotion among YouTubers. In a typical collaboration effort, you appear on another YouTuber’s channel and they appear on yours for an interesting video. This exposes you to a brand new (loyal) audience, and they to yours. A minor form of the collaboration idea comes in the form of adding someone’s channel to your about page in exchange for them adding your own.
- Go to YouTube Meet-ups and Events – There is a reason popular YouTubers go to events like VidCon and Playlist Live. They get an extraordinary benefit from doing so. They can be seen by new potential audience members, meet other YouTubers and arrange collaboration or share tips, and meet their loyal audience face-to-face in order to build a relationship with them that lasts much longer than a simple tweet or Facebook message.
- Remind the Audience to Subscribe – This one might seem simple, but a lot of people miss it. By reminding your audience to hit the Subscribe button at the end of your video, you will increase the odds that someone will do so. It’s a simple, yet important step.
Good Video and Audio Quality
The quality of your video and audio should be as high as you can make it.
We’ve talked about this in previous posts.
Don’t set the bar so high that it becomes difficult to produce videos consistently, but the subject of your video should be well lit, easy to hear and understand, and in an environment that complements the content.
If you’re just getting started, and you have a small budget, we have published a guide to help you create a professional video studio at home for under $200.
Keep in mind that you don’t need a big budget to pull off clean, well-produced content.
Even something as simple as a webcam can produce exceptional full HD video under natural light. Depending on the content, rough edges can actually add to its authenticity and audience appeal.
Editing your video is another important factor.
If you shoot your video on a smartphone, you might be surprised to find that there are some great video editing apps out there. iMovie is available on iOS and it makes editing pretty easy on the iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad. For Android devices, KineMaster is good for those of you comfortable with working with video. WeVideo is best for quick edits and easy sharing.
With these tips in mind, you should find much easier to gain views on your YouTube videos over time.
Remember, it’s not a short-term commitment.
As long as your goals are realistic, and you focus on quality of your audience rather than quantity, you will find the issue of viewership resolves itself.
Let us know if you have any questions in the comments.