The number of Youtube followers is not just another vanity metric. Getting more subscribers is the best way to maximize your organic reach on the second-largest site in the multiverse.
And if your purpose is to actually make money on YouTube, hitting subscriber milestones is important to access many monetization functions. For example, you must have at least 1,000 subscribers to become a YouTube Partner and begin earning advert revenue. And the more subscribers you have, the better you rise on YouTube’s fancy “benefit level” ladder (think: awards, managers, production aid.).
However, for those of us who are not trying to go viral or become YouTube stars—we could hear you out there, you are saying “I’m just here to help my brand’s digital strategy with long-form video!”—subscribers are still essential. Why?
Because 70% of the one billion hours of video that people watch on YouTube daily is determined by the YouTube algorithm. This means that your capability to reach new eyes improves when you have subscribers who’re bumping up your play counts, watch time, and engagement.
Now let’s take a look at some actual real-world tactics that will not waste your time.
How to grow YouTube subscribers for free: 17 ideas
First, when you are just starting out, check our guide to creating a YouTube channel. It’s lots of work however it’s also a clean slate.
And now, in order from simplest to most complicated, our best practices for converting viewers into subscribers. Don’t tackle them all at once. Try out one of the tips for each new video you post or implement one a week. Here we go.
1. Ask your viewers to subscribe
I told you we are starting with the simplest tips to grow Youtube subscribers for free first.
Sometimes your audience might need to be reminded. The big red subscribe button is omnipresent, however, you may also need to point out the bell beside it that turns on notifications for your new videos. Easy.
Does this tip seem too salesy to you? That is your reminder that you have got valuable content, and you are just making it simpler for them to keep up with the work you do.
When you are already doing this, keep in mind to show why your channel is worth subscribing to. And ensure you do it right when they love you the most (e.g., right after you have provided new and helpful info, or you have made them laugh). Don’t do it too much, or you will risk turning people off.
2. End your videos by mentioning the one you’re working on next
Subscribing to a channel on Youtube is an anticipation act. Viewers who have just seen what your brand is about are primed to want more when you have completed your job right.
Hyping your next video, and making it clear why it isn’t to be missed, is the most organic method to encourage people to tap subscribe.
Of course, this requires having a handle on your content schedule, and understanding what’s coming next. (More on that soon.)
3. Interact with your audience and make friends
When you form relationships with your viewers, they are more likely to want to keep watching your work. Reply to comments. Follow their channels back.
Yes, it’s exciting if a famous YouTuber comments on your video, however, who knows who will be well-known next year. Build a community of peers and promote each other. (Sure, I’m talking about shine theory.)
Additionally, when you are plugged in, your audience will offer you plenty of free content ideas for your next video. Don’t worry, you don’t need to take all of them.
4. Update your channel art
Your YouTube banner welcomes everybody who clicks over to take a look at your channel. They just watched a video and are looking for more maybe. Perhaps they are a potential subscriber. Put your best foot forward.
Your banner needs to be clean, on-brand, compelling, and—that is the fussy part—optimized for all devices. You do not want the necessary details covered up by your social media buttons, for example.
5. Brand your thumbnails
Branding your thumbnails is one of the best tips to grow Youtube subscribers for free. A thumbnail is a 1280 x 720px still picture that acts as a cover for your video. And they’re also your first, greatest opportunity to persuade people to click on your video. (Aside from your video titles, that’s, however, more on that later.)
While some might advocate utilizing the most “eye-catching” design (which seems to mean screaming red capslock over a man’s shocked face and a picture of a… tomato?), one size does not fit all on YouTube.
However, we are not here to earn cold views.
To convert a viewer into a subscriber, check out your videos page. What does a new viewer see? Sleek, professional and consistent videos that imply an ongoing commitment to quality? Or a random mish-mash competing for attention?
You need to aim for consistent branding in all of your thumbnails. Use the same font, the same color palette, or even the same frame composition so people know (at least subconsciously) that they are taking a look at a video from your channel.
For example, John Plant has built his survivalist Primitive Technology channel up to 9.9 million subscribers with understated, minimalist thumbnails. They aren’t loud, however, they’re consistent. And most importantly, they are clickable.
6. Embed your videos on your site or blog
This one is win-win, because embedding video on your website might well help your site’s search rankings with the Google algorithm. And as far as YouTube subscribers go, you are presenting your video right where the people most likely to care about it are already looking.