The challenge of how to grow your YouTube channel in 2021 can certainly be a daunting one. Some days, it may even seem impossible. But we’re here to tell you it’s not.
Chances are that if you read the Artlist blog, you’re here because you want to learn more about filmmaking and, more specifically, how to grow your YouTube channel. Previously, we’ve covered everything you need to know about starting a YouTube channel, as well as a complete YouTube SEO guide. In these articles, you’ll find plenty of tips on how to grow your channel, covering everything from basics and best practices to more nuanced, strategic planning with SEO. If you haven’t yet read these, they’re a great place to start.
Despite the booming popularity of the platform (in many cases it has effectively replaced traditional broadcast TV, especially for younger generations), the flood of new, aspiring creators and that feeling that your content is getting lost in a very large ocean, it is very possible to grow on YouTube and build a successful channel.
Building on the advice given in our previous articles, we’ve got more knowledge and insight for you that will help accelerate the growth of your channel. Let’s jump into these further pointers.
1. Create a video series
We’ve touched on it before, but creating YouTube playlists is a very underrated tactic in how to grow your YouTube channel. Remember, ‘session time’ (the amount of time someone spends on YouTube after starting to watch your video) is a key factor in how the YouTube algorithm ranks your videos. Evidently, they really care about this. In the YouTube Creator Academy, they state that “Your channel also gets a boost when people watch anything anywhere in YouTube after watching your content…and when you make content that makes people watch more from your channel, then you’re helping us out.”
Sometimes, the easiest answers to how to grow on YouTube are staring us right in the face. Creating a YouTube playlist is a great way to increase session time. Once one video has finished playing, the next one begins automatically and consequently, the audience is more likely to stick around for longer. Session time increased. Bingo.
Linking into this, if you can create a series of videos that are compelling and follow on sequentially, you’ll be able to keep people watching for longer and ensure that they’re returning for the next installment.
For example, right now, I’m in the middle of creating a series of travel videos in Lombok, Indonesia. The content is long-form, but the idea is that when people watch, they’re educated and entertained enough that they want to come back for the next episode!
Another great example of this is the popular filmmaking channel Film Riot. They organize their videos according to seasons as well as themes.That way, you can find playlists of videos dedicated to VFX, DIY tips, horror and many others.
2. Start doing giveaways
Wondering how to grow a YouTube channel fast? Well, everyone loves free stuff, right? Doing a giveaway on your channel is a sure-fire way of gaining a lot of new subscribers in a short amount of time. You can set the criteria for what people need to do, but something along the lines of asking your viewers to follow these 3 steps should help you in how to grow on YouTube:
- Subscribe to the channel
- Like the video
- Leave a comment saying why you should win
Of course, you should give away a prize that is A) relevant to your channel and B) an affordable investment for you. Don’t break the bank if you can’t afford to. Sometimes, you may be able to link up with a brand and organize a sponsored giveaway, but this comes back to point A. Make sure it’s relevant. For example, if your channel is about travel and filmmaking, giving away a new backpack or a new camera is a good fit.
Matti Hapooja is a great example of someone who has continuously used giveaways to help grow his channel. The prizes are always relevant to his content and naturally fit the things that his audience want to win.
When looking at how to make a successful YouTube channel, collaborating with other YouTubers is a solid way to grow because it effectively doubles your audience. Whoever you choose to collaborate with, they’ll be bringing their audience members with them and exposing their viewers to your content.
Again, just like the idea of giveaways, make sure that the people you collaborate with are relevant to the type of content you create. You don’t want to force the issue or just pick someone because they have a larger audience and better metrics than you. For example, if your channel is about becoming a better cinematographer, collaborate with other cinematographers.
You can find out a lot more about this topic on the YouTube Creator Academy. They highlight these 3 questions you should ask when looking for potential collaboration partners:
- Could you imagine someone watching one of their videos then immediately watching one of yours? Would it make sense for them to be programmed together?
- Do you have compatible values? Do they need any of the skills/production resources/unique access/audience that you have and vice versa?
- Do you enjoy their videos? You likely won’t enjoy collaborating with a creator whose work you don’t admire.
4. Be bold
Linking into collaborating, you need to be brave when it comes to how to make a successful YouTube channel. Playing it safe isn’t going to get you far. When it comes to being brave with your content, look no further than Sam Newton for inspiration. After a few hilarious hits, Sam decided to go all-in by calling out one of the biggest YouTube creators out there.
“I’ve always looked up to Peter and his ability to make a living creating whatever he wants” he admits. “When I made the switch to full-time YouTuber, I knew it would be helpful to have some of the bigger creators know who I am, so I came up with that concept to grab some attention and pay a bit of respect to a guy that I’ve looked up to for a long time”
By calling out Peter with his witty sense of humour and catchy bars, Sam gained a lot of traction, especially when Peter reacted to the video!
Recently, Sam just passed the 100k subscribers mark. Being bold enough to create unique content that makes a splash on the platform is a very important
5. Call to action
Don’t forget to put in a call to action throughout your videos. Whether you want to get people to subscribe, comment or leave a like on the video, simply asking audience members to do so can be highly effective. You may have read or heard this advice a million times already, but it continues to be overlooked despite being so simple and useful in how to grow on YouTube.
Utilizing tools such as the end cards and info cards can help in facilitating these calls to action. Take the time to learn what they are and how to implement them. You’ll soon see movement on your YouTube channel analytics.
6. Engage with your community
We’ve mentioned this one before and will continue to hammer home the point - engage with your community! If people are taking the time to watch your video AND comment, the very least you should be doing is taking the time of day to reply. There are a few reasons why this is important:
- When you take the time to engage in authentic, meaningful and thoughtful conversation with your viewers, it builds a real relationship with them. They’ll appreciate you taking the time to respond. It shows that you’re a real person - someone who’s reachable and down to earth.
- The YouTube algorithm loves engagement, so if you can foster an environment on your channel where that’s happening, it will help you grow your YouTube channel.
- Furthermore, when you take the time to read and respond to your comments, you can learn a lot about what your audience enjoys and what they want to see more of. This is market research that can help shape your content strategy and ensure that you’re building a successful YouTube channel
7. How to grow your channel with a YouTube ad campaign
A growing number of aspiring creators are turning to YouTube ad campaigns to help promote their YouTube channel. You may have come across this yourself. When you’re watching a certain video on YouTube, the pre-roll or in-stream ads may be highly targeted videos encouraging you to go and watch a video or check out a channel that’s relevant and closely related to the content or channel you’re currently watching. This has been a particular trend on finance and cryptocurrency content in the past year but it’s happening across the whole platform.
If you’re looking at how to grow on YouTube, this tactic may prove very useful. There are 2 types of YouTube video ads that you can go for here:
- TrueView ads - these are the standard ads on YouTube that appear before or during a video you’re watching.
- Video discovery ads - these show up on the YouTube homepage, in search results pages and related videos on YouTube video watch pages.
TrueView ads probably work best when it comes to getting your video ad viewed by people, but remember, even then, you’ve usually only got about 5 seconds before viewers can skip the ad and get to the video. So you really need to make an impression right off the bat.
So, there are a few extra tips on how to grow your YouTube channel. If you take action on all of these and combine them with everything you’ve learned about SEO and best practices, we’re confident that you’ll start to see it pay off in your YouTube channel analytics.
The truth is that the platform is ever-evolving. What works today may not tomorrow. The answer to how to make a successful YouTube channel is that you need to keep experimenting, innovating and learning. Here at Artlist, we’ll be with you on that journey every step of the way. Try out these tips and let us know how you go!
Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films. Check out his YouTube channel here.