How to Grow on YouTube – 16 Tips

Andrew Moore-Crispin
July 11, 2023
16 Tips for Growing Your YouTube Channel

Before we get into how to grow on YouTube, let’s talk a little about why you’ll want to.

YouTube is the second largest search engine, just behind Google. It goes without saying that getting traction on the platform can give you a huge audience reach and have a positive impact on your business.

But how do you build a presence on YouTube? Let’s dive into 16 tips you should follow to give yourself the best chance of quickly growing your YouTube channel.

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1. Have a Clear Channel Focus

A clear direction for your channel is step one in how to grow on YouTube. This applies to the topic(s) you will focus on with your channel and the kinds of videos that will make up the bulk of your content too.

YouTube users are much more likely to subscribe to a channel that has a clear and consistent offering than they are to one that seems to jump from topic to topic without an obvious direction.

2. Brand Your Channel

If you want to make a lasting impression on visitors to your channel, you need to make it look good. Here are the simple steps to do just that:

  • Set up a brand account on YouTube – this will give you access to YouTube analytics, which is important (more on that later)
  • Add contact information and your other social profiles so visitors can engage with you in their preferred way
  • Fill in the about section of your profile (using keywords where relevant) to help visitors learn about your brand
  • Add a channel trailer – this is a great way of setting viewer expectations of your channel and introducing them to you
  •  Add a channel icon or logo – if you don’t have one there are quite a few logo makers you could use.
  • Add a great looking YouTube banner – this can help you quickly tell a story about your brand (and your channel).

3. Create With Your Audience in Mind

If you’re just having a bit of fun with your videos, then by all means create content for yourself. If how to grow on YouTube is the question though, you need to create content that your target audience are interested in, and in formats they enjoy consuming too.

Of course, this takes some research, and it might require a bit of trial and error to work this out too, but once you find a winning formula for you and your audience double down on it.

4.  Discover What People Are Searching For

The best way to find winning topics is to see what people are already searching for on YouTube.  TubeBuddy’s keyword explorer tool can give you some great insights on the search volume of keywords, related keywords, and the competition levels too. All essential elements for picking the right topics.

Check out our playlist on how to get the most of keyword explorer.

Another option for scaling your topic research is to use a tool called Simply put in a broad keyword (e.g. “how to _ youtube” as in the image below)…

And the tool spits out hundreds of keyword ideas that contain your original keywords.  Many of which will be more specific topics (often called long tail keywords) which could be great topics to cover on your channel.

Choose a topic you like the look of and use TubeBuddy SEO Studio to check how competitive it is. Do this for every video you produce and this will give you a better chance of success.

5. Optimize your Videos for SEO

The importance of great SEO really can’t be understated. Optimizing your videos, descriptions, and titles gives you the best chance of getting discovered, getting viewers to click through, and racking up that all-important watch time.

Here are the basic steps for optimizing your videos:

  • Use you target keyword in your video title
  • Use video titles that will attract the most clicks (check out the competition to see common themes in their titles)
  • Write keyword-rich (SEO friendly) and detailed video descriptions
  • Make sure you’ve covered all the main tags for your video. Use TubeBuddy to view and copy video tags from any video on YouTube (competitors be warned)

For a full walkthrough on how to optimize your videos, check out this video.

6. Be Consistent

Consistent uploading is key to how to grow on YouTube. You need to keep viewers coming back to your channel for more.

Commit to your audience by uploading videos weekly, monthly, etc. depending on what works best for you and keep it going. There is no right cadence. It is important to develop a sustainable workflow and avoid dry spells that lose subscribers and kill your momentum.

7. Make Click-Worthy Thumbnails

According to YouTube 90% of the best performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails. So, if you want to have a successful channel and videos you need to create thumbnails that YouTube users are going to click on. TubeBuddy Thumbnail Analyzer can help. A lot.

The main reason to create compelling thumbnails is suggested videos. Suggested videos are the biggest source of organic traffic on YouTube, and great thumbnails stand out.

Here are some basics for successful thumbnails:

  • Go for big and bold but clean and simple
  • Choose contrasting colors
  • For text, choose a nice at a size that will be readable when shrunk down
  • Faces work (it’s biology), funny faces work even better (it’s YouTube)
  • Create a consistent look and feel
  • Design for small screens — 70% of YouTube traffic come from mobile devices
  • Make your viewers wonder what’s next
  • Think of your thumbnail as a promise and ensure your content delivers

Check out our full guide on thumbnail best practices.

8. Use YouTube End Screens

YouTube allows you to add end screens to the last 20 seconds of your video. There a few ways you should be using end screens:

  • Give viewers a reason to stay by talking over the end screen
  • Keep viewers around by linking to more of your videos in your end screen (great for improving watch time and session length)
  • Make it easy for viewers to subscribe by using a subscribe button in your end screen (viewers have watched your whole video so they’re likely primed to subscribe!)

If you’re looking for an easy way to create quality end cards, you could consider trying out one of these end card makers.

9. Improve your Watch Time

If you want to know how to grow on YouTube, it pays to think about what YouTube wants. YouTube’s main objective is to keep viewers on their platform. So, if you can help them do this, they’re going to reward you by sending more viewers your way.

Watch time is the total time viewers have spent watching your video(s) since they went live.
There’s a lot that goes into boosting watch time, but here are the major points:

  • Match your video title and thumbnail with your content
  • Keep your titles and opening credits short
  • The first 15 seconds are vital; you need a hook to keep viewers watching
  • Longer videos can mean more watch time, but you need to ensure viewers stay engaged throughout
  • Check your video retention stats in YouTube analytics, and use TubeBuddy Retention Analyzer to take a deeper dive
  • Create video playlists – this keeps viewers on YouTube and watching your videos, which will increase watch time (and session time)

10. Use Insights from YouTube Analytics

Regularly check your video analytics to see the health of your channel, what’s performing (and what’s not), opportunities for growth, and much more. Pay attention to these areas:

  • Realtime views: Especially important to see how new videos are performing
  • Audience retention: See the average view duration of your videos, where people are dropping off, etc.
  • Demographics: This shows the age range and locations of your viewers. 
  • Traffic sources: This shows where your video views are coming from
  • Click through rate (CTR): Look at the performance by video and optimize

The Channel Health Report in TubeBuddy gives you an AI-driven dashboard that puts all these actioanble insights in one place.

11. Do More of What Works

The reason we dig into all these analytics is to get a snapshot of what’s working and what’s not. Take the lessons and apply them.

If channel growth is your main objective, look at what videos get the most subscriber conversions per view (subscribe rate). If watch time is your goal, adjust for that. Things to take note of in those high performing videos:

  • The subject matter
  • The editing style of the video
  • How long it was
  • Calls to action used
  • How the content was delivered

Once you have that information, you will start to understand what kinds of videos you should be producing more of.

12. Test, Test, and Test Some More

Run structured tests, and only test one variable at a time. See how the test impacted performance and apply the winning formula. A/B testing videos is a lot of work but A/B testing thumbnails, video different video descriptions, or different titles isn’t.

TubeBuddy A/B testing tools make it easy, but it is possible to A/B test manually as well.

For example, you could test the following:

  • Video titles
  • Video thumbnails
  • Video descriptions
  • Video tags

This will give you incredible insights on what attracts your audience, gets the most clicks, views, subscribers, better rankings etc. and will allow you to do more of what works (and keep improving).

13 Jump Into the Comments

Engaging directly with your viewers and community pays dividends. When you engage people by replying to their comments, you validate them and might even earn a subscriber in the process.

How engaged YouTubers are is also a factor in how YouTube recommends videos.

Comments can also be a goldmine when brainstorming new topics; just look at what your viewers are asking for.

This logic applies to creators leaving comments on other creator’s videos.

Leaving insightful comment on videos that relate to your channel’s topic is a great way to get some extra exposure with a relevant audience, potentially driving new viewers to your channel. In addition, your comments help to establish your authority and build relationships with other YouTubers.

14. Share Your YouTube Videos on Other Channels

Give your new YouTube videos an initial boost after launch by sharing them via your other channels. Sharing your videos to your email list, or via other social channels, can only help.

TubeBuddy makes it easy to share your videos on social with just a few clicks.

15. Create a Video Series

Turning one-time viewers into subscribers can be a challenge at times but one tactic that can help improve this is to create a video series.
Video series do a few main things:

  • Increase watch and session time with viewers watching multiple videos
  • Increase the likelihood that viewers will subscribe to see the next installment in the series
  • Position you as an authority on the topic you cover in your series

Mine your content for topics that have performed well for you, and that you can spin out into a deeper series.

16. Work with Other YouTubers

One of MrBeast’s key suggestions for early YouTubers is to find your people. Collaborating with other YouTubers is key.

When you find other content creators to collaborate with, you can get some much-needed support on your creator journey. You can reach new viewers, and you get some “social proof” with your fellow YouTuber’s endorsement.

Collaborations works best when:

  • The other YouTuber has a similar audience but different content focus than you
  • You both have similar sized audiences
  • You can find a topic that is interesting to both sets of audiences

Nick Nimmin, an authority when it comes to how to grow on YouTube, has a great video that talks about how to collaborate with other YouTubers. Definitely worth a watch.

meet the your team

Free feature: TubeBuddy AI Agents generate new video ideas, completely customized to you, then help you bring your ideas to life.

get started