So you’ve decided to start a YouTube channel. Whether you’re just embarking on your content creation journey, or you’re a seasoned creator branching out into the video platform, you’d want your channel to succeed. Your first milestone is to gain 1,000 subscribers.
Why? Getting your first 1,000 subscribers is crucial to becoming eligible for the YouTube Partner Program and being able to monetize your videos with ads. Hitting that subscriber count and a minimum amount of watch time — 4,000 watch hours of long-form videos in the last 12 months, or 10 million Shorts views in the last 90 days — will allow you to take your YouTube channel from an experiment to a legitimate side hustle, or even a full-fledged content creation career. But how do you begin growing your channel?
Read on for nine effective ways to get your first 1,000 YouTube subscribers, no matter where your skill set is at.
1. Create videos about your expertise or passion
If you’re already creating content, you’ve probably picked out a niche you’re passionate about. Well, guess what? Having a passion means you have at least some knowledge about a given topic, and that expertise is something that audiences are eager to get access to. This applies to all creator platforms, and YouTube is no exception.
According to Jay Clouse, the creator behind the Creator Science newsletter and the Creative Elements podcast, creating content on something you’re knowledgeable about is a great place to start: “In an ideal world, you have some type of earned insight that you can leverage. Something that you have uniquely discovered and identified through experience.”
However, it’s okay if you’re not an expert on a topic yet as you start your YouTube channel. Clouse says that you can position yourself as a beginner who’s excited to learn about something and share that passion with your viewers: “Say I’m really interested in this problem, and I’m going to be investigating it. Along the way, I’m going to share what I’m learning [in my content].”
2. Publish new videos regularly
Beginner creators tend to get excited about a platform, publish a bunch of content early on, and get discouraged when it doesn’t seem to go anywhere. But remember this: Few YouTubers are overnight successes. The best way to ensure that your subscriber count grows is to consistently upload new videos.
So how often should you be posting new content on your YouTube channel? The answer may vary depending on who you ask, but a good rule of thumb is to post at least once a week — or two to three times if possible — if you want to see some quick results. Publishing frequently can help grow your YouTube channel into a robust one in just a couple of months. It’ll also give you the opportunity to experiment with your content.
3. Experiment with different types of videos
When your channel is still under 1,000 subscribers, you haven’t really found your audience yet. Just because you started out making a certain type of video doesn’t mean that’s the kind of video that’ll bring you success. As you’re building your YouTube channel, you’ll need to test out different content to see what sticks.
These early stages are the best time to experiment, because the risk is so low. You have the luxury of trying whatever you want, so branch out! While video formats such as tutorials, reaction videos, and listicle-style videos are known to be popular on YouTube, you can also explore other types of content. Go beyond your comfort zone, and you might land on the kind of video that skyrockets your channel’s growth.
4. Add YouTube Shorts to your content strategy
While YouTube Shorts are relatively new, the short-form video format is taking the platform by storm. Even if you want to specialize in long-form video, there are a few good reasons why you should make Shorts part of your content strategy.
It’s a different algorithm: This comes straight from the source — YouTube employees have confirmed that the Shorts algorithm isn’t the same as that of long-form videos. That means any Shorts you create have every chance to reach potential subscribers, and they won’t hurt your channel’s long-form content.
They encourage experimentation: Because they’re so quick and easy to create, Shorts are a great way to experiment with new kinds of content and new topics. You just need your phone and a couple of minutes to film and edit.
Discoverability is their greatest strength: The Shorts feed is designed in a way that allows viewers to discover random content, encouraging them to keep scrolling and watching the next video. If you want to put your content in front of more eyes and increase your chance of reaching new subscribers, posting Shorts will certainly help.
5. Introduce opportunities to subscribe to your channel wherever you can
Seems pretty obvious, right? But you’d be surprised how many YouTubers don’t make the most of their videos’ descriptions or the content itself.
If you want to drive up your subscriber count, you need to insert multiple opportunities in your content for a viewer to become a subscriber. While you don’t want to throw it up in their face every few seconds, you should include a link to subscribe in your video’s description, say it out loud (“Don’t forget to like and subscribe!”), and add a subscribe button to your video.
The subscribe button comes in the form of a video watermark. When viewers are using YouTube on a computer, they can click the watermark to directly subscribe to your channel. Here’s how to add one to your videos:
- Sign in to YouTube Studio.
- Select Customization from the left menu, then tap Branding.
- Select the display time of your video watermark — choose between the entire video, the end of the video, or a custom start time.
- Click Change and upload an image for your video watermark, then click Done and Publish.
6. Optimize your videos for search
SEO, which stands for search engine optimization, refers to specific practices that marketers use to get their content to rank higher in search engines. Usually, that means tweaking blog posts and web pages so they perform well for Google Search. But did you know you can do the same for your YouTube videos?
Since YouTube has a search engine, you can use a few simple tricks to get more attention for your videos and reach potential new subscribers. Here’s what you can do:
- Find keywords that reflect the content you create. You can do so by researching what words creators in your niche typically use.
- Include those keywords in your video titles and descriptions.
- Add tags that describe what your videos are about.
- Write full descriptions that reflect your videos’ content.
7. Use YouTube Analytics to see what works
Did you know that you get a free suite of analytics right in your YouTube channel? With YouTube Analytics, you can see which videos perform best, get an idea of what your current subscribers want, and adjust your strategy as needed.
So after posting a string of videos, don’t forget to check in on your analytics. Over time, you’ll start noticing trends that you can capitalize on to bring in more subscribers.
8. Ask for suggestions in the comments
The audience you have right now — even if it’s just a few people — can be a huge help when you’re trying to gain more subscribers. After all, if you’ve already brought in a few people who enjoy your content, who better to tell you what content you should be creating next?
Asking for suggestions in the comments section is especially helpful when your audience is still small, because it’s possible to read every single comment and find great ideas. If you create content that’s directly requested by your current audience, you’re bound to attract more viewers like them.
9. Upload a trailer to your YouTube channel
What’s one of the first things people do when they see a YouTube video they like? They’d usually check out the channel to see what it’s all about. A channel trailer gives viewers a quick glimpse of the kind of content you create, without them having to scroll through every single one of your videos.
These videos play automatically when potential subscribers land on your channel, which means it’s an easy way to bring them in and get them to click that subscribe button.
Time to grow!
Hitting 1,000 subscribers is one of the first big milestones for a new YouTube channel. It not only shows that your content has legs, but it’s also the first step for monetizing on YouTube. Make sure you keep publishing videos consistently, listen to your audience, and give viewers every chance to subscribe to your channel. Stick with it, and you’ll get 1,000 subscribers in no time!