We reached out to 20+ successful YouTubers—all people who’ve grown their channel from zero to at least 1,000 subscribers—to find out how they grew their audience.
Our question to each of them was simple…
How did you grow your subscriber base from nothing to 1,000+?
We collected their answers, then pulled out the topics we heard the most. If you’re looking to grow your YouTube audience, here are 9 promotion ideas from 20+ successful YouTubers that have been field tested and proven effective for YouTubers just like you.
The first step to building your subscriber base on YouTube is to create videos that people actually want to see.
But, how do you come up with video ideas you know people will enjoy?
You can guess. Or you can research what videos already work in your niche.
For Rob Swift, research was how he gained his first 1,000 subscribers from popular video ideas. Rob has a YouTube channel called Swift Lessons that now has a subscriber count of 220,000 people.
But when Rob first started out, one technique he used was to research what videos were popular in his niche (guitar lessons). Rob would analyze the titles and descriptions of these videos.
From there, he was able to generate ideas based on what was already working. Then, it was just a matter of posting consistently.
To do this in your niche, do a YouTube search on popular topics in your niche to see what types of videos come up. You can also take a look at other YouTubers in your field and see which of their videos have the most views.
To do this, go to the YouTuber’s channel, click “Videos” and then sort by “Most Popular.”
When researching videos, consider what types of videos receive the most views. Are they geared more towards beginners? Are they tutorials? How long are the videos? How long are the video descriptions?
Josh Flowers is a big proponent of being consistent. It’s how he gained his first 1,000 subscribers for his YouTube channel, MrAviation101, which now has over 97,000 subscribers.
In addition to being consistent, Josh also had the following advice for beginner YouTubers:
“Branding is very important, as well as staying unique and true to your style,” he told us. “Don’t try to be someone else. Do it for the right reasons. Do it because you love nothing more than telling a story with a camera. Hold on to this principle, and you’ll be loved by thousands.”
Josh’s channel isn’t the only one to have success from being consistent. If you look at almost any popular YouTube channel, you’ll see it publishing videos regularly, giving people a reason to subscribe—since they can expect new content to be published often.
To stay consistent, many channels publish videos on the same days every week. For instance, DSLR Video Shooter (a channel with 225,000+ subscribers) publishes videos every Tuesday and Thursday.
Peter Mckinnon (whose channel has over 1.5 million subscribers) publishes a tutorial every Tuesday in a segment called “Two-Minute Tuesdays.” Likewise, Ryan Bruce does FAQ Mondays. And Glenn Fricker answers viewer comments every week (both channels have over 200,000 subscribers).
The point is all these channels find a way to stay consistent. Doing a “Two-Minute Tuesday” tutorial segment or answering viewer questions every Monday gives these channels a way to publish content every week.
The routine forces them to stay consistent.
Another common theme we saw was the idea that you have to stay true to yourself and show personality in your videos.
As Rob Swift put it, “I’m a firm believer that viewers will not care about you or your content unless they feel that they know you.”
Simply put, people enjoy seeing the personable side and lives of the channels to which they subscribe. That’s one of the ways Peter Mckinnon has been so successful.
Peter brings a huge amount of energy to his videos, and he shares details about his life, documents his journeys in vlogs, and tries to create a personal connection with viewers.
Briana White of Strange Rebel Gaming (a channel with 70,000 subscribers) takes every opportunity to read all of her channel’s comments (and responds when she can).
“I can’t reiterate how important it is to read every comment you receive and ask your viewers what they want,” she said. “Try to find a good balance between what you want and what they want, My channel had a huge bump when I started taking viewer requests into consideration when choosing content.”
However you do it, don’t be afraid to connect with people. Doing so will give you the chance to create a real connection and—in turn—encourage people to support your channel financially.
Many of the YouTubers you watch probably say something like: “If you enjoyed this video, be sure to like, comment, and subscribe” in their videos
This helps to get people to think about subscribing. However, you can take this a step further by giving viewers a reason to subscribe. Tell them the benefits to subscribing and what to expect from your channel.
For example, at the end of many of his videos, Caleb of DSLR Video Shooter lets viewers know that he uploads fresh videos every Tuesday and Thursday. Viewers know that by subscribing they can expect new videos every week.
See how he makes it work?
To get to his first 1,000 subscribers, Chris of 10k on the Bay commented on other popular channels in his niche. Chris used the opportunity to answer questions that people were asking and provide helpful information to viewers. This, in turn, would lead these viewers to his channel.
“I commented on all of the other people in my niche’s channels and provided value by answering their audience’s questions until I was able to get on their shows,” said Chris.
This also got Chris on the radar of a few of the channels, which resulted in several guest appearances. Because of this, Chris has been able to grow his channel to over 15,000 subscribers.
Chris was also a supporter of publishing consistently, stating “Consistently post good content at the same time each week (I have to work on this myself!)”
It doesn’t hurt to have a friend with a large, successful YouTube channel to promote your channel.
That’s how Briana White got her first 1,000 subscribers. Briana was able to promote her channel by being a guest on a friend’s channel in the online gaming niche. From there, Briana has focused on staying consistent and maintaining quality in her videos. She now has over 70,000 subscribers on her channel, Strange Rebel Gaming.
“A friend of mine had a large YouTube channel and was able to have me on their show to promote my show,” said Briana.
While we don’t all have the luxury of having a close friend who has a successful YouTube channel, you can still try to make guest appearances on channels in your niche.
You can use Chris’ technique to comment on other YouTube channels and potentially get on their radar. Or even try reaching out to channels in your niche and pitch them a few ideas for guest videos. Let them know how it will benefit them.
Maybe you can do a review of a product that they don’t own—but they know their viewers will enjoy. Or maybe you can provide unique insight on a topic in their niche or do a tutorial for viewers.
As long as it will benefit them in some way, most will be open to having you do a guest video or make a guest appearance on their channel.
Having a successful blog can be another easy way to attract subscribers to your channel. That’s exactly what happened with Jessica Johnson and her husband’s channel, MJ Sailing.
Before the couple started their YouTube channel, to document their journeys sailing across different parts of the world, they had already been blogging for five years. When their loyal readers saw that they made the transition from writing to doing YouTube videos, they subscribed almost immediately.
“To be honest, our first 1,000 subscribers came with the snap of a finger,” Jessica said. “We’d been blogging for close to five years already, and had a large fan base on social media with nearly 10k followers on Facebook. As soon as most people saw that we transitioned from writing to videos, we had a mass following of subscribers right away.”
From there, it only took the couple two and half months to get up to 10,000 subscribers.
The couple makes sure to post consistently (posting on the 4th, 14th, and 24th day of each month) and has increased their YouTube subscriber count to 34,000 people as a result of their work.
Even if you don’t have a successful blog before starting your YouTube channel, blogging can still be an effective way to increase awareness about your content.
Blogging gives you another medium to share videos and attract people using written content. It can be a great way to supplement the content in your videos and target search traffic.
One way that Stephen Thorne increased his subscriber base was by participating in niche communities in the general aviation world. His channel, FlightChops, now has over 140,000 subscribers.
Cindy Guentert-Baldo also used the same technique to grow her channel to 28,000 subscribers. Cindy is active in the planner community and uses communities such as Facebook groups and forums to connect with people in her niche.
The important thing to note here, however, is that Cindy doesn’t just visit these groups whenever she has a new video to share and spam the group with her latest upload.
Cindy takes the time to connect with people, answer questions, and offer suggestions. This has allowed her to create a real connection with people. Thus, people actually want to support her and view her content instead of simply writing it off as another spam link.
In fact, some of Cindy’s first uploads on YouTube were in response to members in these communities eager to learn how Cindy created her handwritten letters. Those initial members followed and became her first YouTube subscribers.
If you can find something to give away that you know people in your niche will enjoy, then running a contest can be a great way to gain a large number of subscribers in a short amount of time.
For instance, Vyper (a tool for running contests) was able to gain 550 subscribers to their YouTube channel by running a viral contest (in addition to capturing 7,000 email addresses).
The idea when running a contest like this is to give away something that your target audience will enjoy.
For example, if you run a YouTube channel that teaches people photography, you might give away a DSLR camera or a camera lens. If you teach people how to play guitar on your channel, you can give away 10 one-on-one lessons for free.
You don’t always have to spend money and give away a physical gift. But, try to think of something that is related to your channel’s topic and the type of people you want to attract.
Don’t give away something generic like an iPad or Kindle. If you do, you’re more likely to attract people that are only interested in the prize rather than the actual content on your channel. Thus, they’ll be more likely to unsubscribe after the contest is over.
You can run a contest like this using Vyper or other popular contest tools like Gleam or Rafflecopter. These tools will allow you to provide extra entries for referring friends to the contest to increase the reach of your contest.
Want to earn a monthly income form your YouTube channel beyond just ads? Patreon is helping many YouTubers do just that. Learn more here