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How to Use YouTube Shorts to Grow Your Channel

Carla Marshall
April 7, 2022

Did you know that 12 million YouTube channels have collectively published over 213 million Shorts and that views have now surpassed 5 trillion? YouTube has been making Shorts a priority — and the strategy is paying off. 

This quick, snackable content has been a massive win for YouTube and the creators it supports.

Creating videos can be very time-consuming. The Shorts feature enables creators to upload on a whim, using just a smartphone.

But the real benefit of Shorts content is exposure.  It is pretty easy to quickly get in front of a large audience with the right video. This means YouTube creators get a golden opportunity to scale their channel growth and boost their engagement rate.

A quick look at the #Shorts landing page on YouTube will give you an idea of the kind of views this content is generating.

This post will cover the basics of how a solid Shorts strategy can quickly help drive channel growth.

YouTube Shorts: The Basics Creators Need to Know

Before we dive into using Shorts as a channel growth strategy, let’s confirm some basics of the feature. 

  • YouTube Shorts are vertical or square videos that are 60 seconds or less in length. 
  • Shorts can be a 60-second continuous video or several 15-second videos combined. 
  • However, if your Short uses music from YouTube’s Audio Library, it will be limited to 15-seconds only.
  • YouTube counts views for shorts like regular videos.
  • Views of YouTube Shorts count toward a channel’s total watch time, but they don’t count toward eligibility in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).
  • Any subscribers generated with Shorts count towards the 1000 needed to be eligible for the YPP.
  • Shorts do not disappear and remain on YouTube, unlike more ephemeral content such as YouTube Stories, Instagram Stories, and Snapchat. 
  • Viewers of your Shorts can share, comment, like, dislike, or subscribe to your channel while viewing the video. 
  • Using YouTube’s built-in creation tools, you can capture, edit, add music from major labels (including Sony, Universal, and Warner), add animated text, control the speed of your footage, and edit together multiple 15-second video clips to create your Shorts.
  • Shorts videos have to be vertically oriented or square, last between 15 to 59 seconds, and include the hashtag #Shorts in the title or description.
  • Viewers can access the Shorts shelf on the YouTube homepage, your channel page, notifications, or the app.

How to Use YouTube Shorts as a Growth Strategy

The most exciting benefit of Shorts is potential exposure.  Like TikTok, it can be very easy to quickly get in front of a large audience, which is ideal for reaching viewers with shorter attention spans. 

Even more exciting is that your content can be served to non-subscribers, opening up a new potential audience! YouTube has also made sure the subscriber box is always visible when you post a Short, making it easy to subscribe if people like what they see.

Of course, like regular videos, you’ll need to offer value to the viewer in whatever form your Shorts take. But there are some tricks you can take advantage of to give you a kickstart:

Keep it Very Snappy: If you’re used to publishing regular long-form videos on YouTube, you’re probably used to hooking people in a 20-60 sec long intro. You won’t have that luxury, so make sure the first few seconds of your video are exciting and grab the audience’s attention.

Always Add Value: Don’t just create for the sake of creating. Instead, give value to your audience through your Shorts and align the content with a goal, e.g., increase engagement by 5% or acquire 250 more subscribers.

Use Replays: Shorts are played on a loop, so carefully consider how your content will come across if it’s continually repeated.

Understand the Format: YouTube Shorts aren’t meant for shortened versions of longer videos. They should be easily digestible content for your audience.

Ideas for YouTube Shorts Content

The ways you can provide value to your audience and beyond via Shorts come in many forms. Whether it’s offering some quick tips, a mini-sized how-to, or something entertaining, there is no end of topics you can cover. 

Let’s take a look at five ways you can use as a bounce-off point for your very own ideas:

#1 Promote Your Regular Channel

Use YouTube Shorts to promote and grow your regular channel. Every time you post a Short, it’s an opportunity for your content to get a view, and that view could turn into a channel subscriber or someone who engages with your main channel content.

#2 Tease your Audience

Use the format to whet the appetite about what’s coming in a longer-form video. 

#3 Behind-the-scenes Footage 

BTS footage can be hugely entertaining and makes excellent Shorts content.

#4 Create Engagement on the Fly

YouTube Shorts allows your audience to engage with you on the fly rather than commit the time to watch a full-length video. Snappy, short-form content ensures that your audience watches until the end.

#5 Jump on Trends

Shorts allow creators to jump on a trend, e.g., a dance move or challenge doing the rounds on social media. 

Should You Make a Separate Channel for YouTube Shorts?

There are two schools of thought regarding creating a separate channel for Shorts content. Yes, absolutely, and no, definitely not. The thing is, there is no right or wrong answer. It depends on what you as a creator feel comfortable with.

Some creators choose to start separate channels for Shorts content, which is a great audience development strategy if the videos will be radically different from your usual content. 

Some YouTubers are creating new channels so their short-form and long-form content can remain separate. 

Take MrBeast, for example, whose Shorts channel has generated nearly 13 million subscribers and 1.4 billion views to date:

However, any new subscribers you generate for your channel from Shorts will, by default, resonate with your short-form content. However, while shorts get you new subs, these same subs will only look to see new shorts and not your longer videos.

However, if you enjoy making Shorts and the content is related to your long-form video, it might make the most sense to continue posting to your existing channel. 

You can always experiment and see how your audience reacts and then make changes accordingly.

How to Make Money with YouTube Shorts

If you’re a YouTube Shorts creator, check out our previous post that gives you all the details about how to make money with YouTube Shorts.

Because Shorts are shorter than standard YouTube videos, you can’t run an ad on them. That makes Shorts tricky to monetize but not impossible.

Shorts can be monetized via AdSense only if:

  • Views do not come from the Shorts shelf but rather from the home page.
  • Music from the Shorts library was not used. Any view will not be monetized with copyright music applied from the app or flagged by Content ID)

Alternatively, creators may benefit from a payout from YouTube Shorts Fund, even if they utilize assets from the Shorts library. The $100 million fund aims to reward creators with payouts of up to $10,000 a month. 

The surprising news is that over 40% of creators who received payment from the Fund last year weren’t in the YouTube Partner Program (YPP).

Users who will be getting payouts from the year-old Shorts Fund should have received notifications from YouTube about it. 

5 Takeaways to Use Shorts to Grow Your YouTube Channel

  1. Focus on developing the type of #Shorts content that truly resonates with your audience
  2. Think of YouTube Shorts as a means to an end. The goal may not be the success of the Shorts themselves but as a way to get attention to your channel.
  3. They can be a great way to establish yourself and create some early traction if you’re new to YouTube. 
  4. Always create value for the viewer with every Short you publish
  5. YouTube shorts are fantastic for getting exposure and growing subscribers. However, viewers interested in Shorts will primarily be looking for Shorts. If you want to grow your regular channel, your main goal should be to convert your Shorts viewer into your main content viewer.

If you aren’t creating Shorts, now might be the right time to experiment with this type of content. You just need a smartphone and a topic, and you’re good to go!

Carla Marshall Author

Carla Marshall

Carla Marshall is the Content Marketing Manager at TubeBuddy. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, & SEO

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