How To Grow A YouTube Channel In 2021

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2021)

Your YouTube Dream

Video: How To Grow On YouTube 2021 [A Secret Question]

You see people grow on YouTube and you think to yourself, I can do that too! Good news! Yes, you can! However, it does take work, education, and creativity. Sometimes, a little luck.

A most important quality to consider while building a YouTube channel is patience. YouTube for 99.99% of the people who upload videos to the platform don’t find instant fame and fortune. According to TubeBuddy statistics it take the average YouTube channel 5 years to reach 1000 subscribers. Depending on your niche, skill, and personality, it can take years to earn your place as a successful or full-time YouTuber. 

With that said, there is still much opportunity for you. However, there is also information to learn and people to know who can help.

Fortunately, this blog post has many of the best tips from YouTube educators and experts. Be sure to check out the YouTube creator podcast Tube Labs for weekly YouTube information and interviews with successful YouTubers and educators.

My YouTube Experience

I opened my first YouTube channel account in Aug 2006. Since, I’ve uploaded over 1000 public videos on my main channel, most starting 2017. I’ve added more videos through the years on various other channels. My first year trying to grow a YouTube channel, November 2016-November 2017, I uploaded every day to my Creative Entrepreneur channel.

Once my first year ended, I slowed production of my channel and then started another business channel for photographers, not to mention consultation and support to help run client channels. I’ve since started a third tutorial channel for my agency.

So, you might say I have a little experience with YouTube. I have learned a lot from both my YouTube success and failures. I’ve also absorbed the knowledge of other successful YouTubers, some, who have become friends. 

If you want to grow your channel, this article is a good starting point for the beginner and an excellent stepping stone for those who want to take their channel to new levels.

The Power of YouTube

Unlike other social media platforms, much of the power of YouTube is in its search engine. However, that is not all. Even more exciting is if you do a good job, YouTube promotes your videos for you to a larger audience.

More influence. Because video is a powerful visual medium it strengthens human relationships. This can be beneficial for business, as an expert, educator or influencer. Often video performs better than text, still images or audio.

When you begin your new YouTube channel, it’s important to understand search is your friend. Search is not the only way to grow your channel, however, until your channel earns a little authority and traction, its one of the quickest ways to get your videos in front of the right people within the YouTube ecosystem.

The fact is, people use YouTube to find information, be entertained, solve problems and discover how to do things. People use YouTube search so much, it’s the 2nd largest search engine, behind its owner, Google. Some estimate that YouTube will eventually be the number one search engine within a few years.

Other social media platforms depend on regular interaction or engagement to get your posts noticed. This is also true for exponential growth on YouTube. However, as you may be aware, traditional status updates fade quickly for most social media. This is not the case with YouTube.

For example, If you want Facebook to work for your business, you may need to pay to play to get traffic to your business page. Yet, YouTube offers a special opportunity, like a blog, to share evergreen content and earn new subscribers years after you hit the publish button.

How To Grow A YouTube Channel

So, seriously, how do you grow your YouTube channel? Well, let me get the basics out-of-the-way. If you have already started your research about YouTube growth, you have heard many of the same themes from the YouTube guru’s. There are many foundation concepts to consider, and most I do share on this blog. Concepts, such as, create great content, be consistent and engage with your audience. These points are important to understand at a high level, however, sometimes you need to dig a little deeper.

It’s also important to understand that not every channel grows at the same pace. Your growth depends, on your niche, the competition level, target audience, video quality, and your skills as a presenter.

For example, my creative entrepreneur channel audience is an older group with less time. Early on I offered a lot of topics related to business and marketing in general. This hurt my growth. Today I focus more on creative entrepreneur interests and my channel grows faster. I like to believe I’m better on camera these days too, but that is always up for debate.

On the other side, a channel focused on a younger more engaged audience or videos about a hot niche topic can explode a channel to millions of views and subscribers in a short period of time. 

Every channel is different. I share some thoughts on what you should expect and how you can gauge if your channel is a success later in this article. But, first, I want to share the advice of other professional YouTubers. 

Professional YouTube Advice

Despite the fact I have a lot of experience with YouTube, SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. There are many excellent YouTubers and channels which share complementary and insightful YouTube information and interesting angles on how to grow a channel.

I believe the following channels contain excellent advice for you to consider, especially if you are serious about growth on this platform. I’ve learned from many of these educators and I certainly share their influence in my YouTube teachings. Over time, some of the YouTubers below are now mentors, professional consultants, and friends.

Below are some professional YouTubers I recommend you follow, I’ve linked their name to their YouTube channels. Make sure you check them out.

You can find a more complete list of YouTube Educators Here.

  • Video Creators: Tim Schmoyer is a veteran YouTuber with over 500,000 subscribers. He shares great insight on how to grow your YouTube channel. His series on how they got to a million subs is a valuable insight into how the successful YouTubers do it. He also has a helpful Video Creators Podcast full of solid information. Tim regularly offers valuable live question and answer sessions, so keep an eye out.
  • Brian G Johnson: Learn how to AMPLIFY your voice with Brian’s helpful YoTube tips on how to increase your views, grow your channel and community.  As Brian likes to say, stake your claim and discover innovative video marketing strategies. 
  • Roberto Blake: Roberto is a creative, like many of the people who subscribe to my blogs. This fact alone gives Roberto my attention. He is blunt and straightforward when it comes to his YouTube recommendations. He continues to grow and evolve to help creatives and small business owners with business, life and building a YouTube channel.
  • Creator Insider: Get it direct from YouTube. YouTube employee Tom and other YouTube team members share updates, insight, behind the scenes and interviews with other YouTube employees working on YouTube and YouTube studio product features. It’s about as close as you can get to YouTube insights without having friends at YouTube.
  • Derral Eves: He is a powerhouse in the YouTube growth field. Derral has multiple high-value channels and more gold and silver play buttons that I can count. He has the experience, knowledge, and resources to share excellent helpful data with his YouTube community. He is one of the best when it comes to analytics and insight as to how YouTube works on a technical level. Derral is also the host of the powerful Vidsummit conference.
  • Nick Nimmin: Nick hails from Thailand and shares helpful insight on various topics related to growing your YouTube channel. He collaborates with other YouTubers such as his brother Dee, Brian G. Johnson and Owen Hemsath. Nick also has helpful YouTube tools available under his Tubber Tools brand.
  • Owen Video: Owen Hemsath focuses on Live video, video for business as it relates to YouTube and Facebook.  I enjoy his question and answer sessions. Owen shares helpful tips and tools to help you grow your business audience. Some of his tips are the most powerful ideas I’ve used in the growth of my channels. Like many on this list, Owen offers his services as a consultant.
  • Video Influencers:  Benji Travis and Sean Cannell share insights on how they have grown their YouTube channels. They also upload helpful interview posts with other successful YouTubers. These insights can really be powerful for your YouTube channel growth.

Want more? check out the full list – Here.

There are certainly more YouTube and video professionals online all the time. I recommend you look for more information from YouTubers who you feel a connection and have success behind their back. I have discovered some of the YouTube gamers and vloggers share a few videos with good YouTube growth insights and advice. However, be careful, there is a lot of poor and outdated information about YouTube on YouTube.

What Makes A Channel Grow?

If you really want your channel to grow, it’s all about watch time. Like Facebook and other social media platforms, YouTube wants visitors time on site to be as long as possible. The more you keep people watching videos on YouTube, the more YouTube rewards you with opportunities to earn more views and subscribers.

It’s true YouTube is a big search engine. However, most channels don’t grow big by depending on search alone. Especially entertainment channels. Growth on YouTube depends on YouTube placing your videos in front of the right people, at the right time.

You want to make YouTube happy. The only way to make YouTube happy is to make your audience happy. This is accomplished by uploading videos people want to watch. Just as important, your audience continues to watch additional videos on YouTube — either more of yours (best) or other related videos. 

If you do this well, the YouTube algorithms will help promote your video through its network of suggested videos. For many YouTubers, this is their main source of traffic. If YouTube believes your video will earn more watch time, it will show your video to as many people as possible. This is one way small channels earn viral hits.

The YouTube Steps To Success

Youtube follows the audience. If your audience likes your videos, YouTube will may take a risk and share your videos with more people either through, search, suggested or browse (home page) positions.

If you are looking for an outline to YouTube success here are the steps

  • Define your audience niche.
  • Figure out what your audience really wants to watch
  • Understand how to best serve your audience
  • Get your audience to the next video
  • Make another video that people who enjoyed your last video will enjoy next.
Watch kills YouTube channels? Watch:

The YouTube Magic Sauce

The Golden Five T’s of YouTube Topic, Title, Thumbnail, Timing and Trends. Outside of creating a watchable video, which I’ll address in a moment. The topic of your video is the most important element. The main question you must ask is your video idea a topic your audience actually wants to watch?

Niche is very important on YouTube. You want people to find one of your videos in search or through YouTubes suggestion engine. Once a new audience member watches your video, you want them to have a hunger to find and watch more of your videos. 

However, if your next video is on a completely different topic, or style or doesn’t extend the experience the person had in your last video, they will most likely not click or watch the full video. 

Yet, if the viewer continues to have a great experience watching your videos, and watches to the point of binge-watching. This can only happen if your niche topics, theme or style are consistent.

If you are successful, YouTube will continue to promote your videos to your audience members and eventually to more people who fit a similar profile. If your audience clicks every time they see your new upload and you bring people back to your channel. YouTube is going to reward you even more.

The title is the second most important item of the golden three T’s. People look at the title to see if the video is a topic that interests them.  However, you need to think of the title in two parts, especially for your first videos. 

First is the keyword-rich portion, at the beginning of the headline. It states what is the video about or what can the viewer expect from the video. The second part is an attention-grabbing statement to encourage people to click on your video.

For example: How To Build A Dog  House – You will not believe how we did it. Think of it like this, the first part of the title is for search engines and the second part is for humans. Grabbing attention through human emotion.

Over time you can experiment and reverse this order and try to gain traction with the emotional part first and then keywords. Such as — You will not believe it – This is how we built a dog house.

So why do some big YouTubers not focus on keywords? It’s because they have an audience. Once you have a certain level of audience, you can title a video more focused on human interest and emaotion. For example, if a YouTubers has an active audience and they title a video – guess what? A solid portion of their audience will come as soon as the video is published. This is because they care about the YouTuber, why want to know what!

Large YouTuber Unfair Advantage

This is referred to as view velocity. This is the unfair advantage larger YouTube channels have over smaller channels. More activity and data early after the publication of a video which YouTube can use to judge how and where to share and place the video.

If you post a video and gets ten views, and a big YouTuber posts the same type of video and immediately earns 10,000 views in the first hour. It will get the attention of the YouTube algorithms faster, earn more weight and offer more data to help YouTube place the video successfully.

YouTube will more easily recognize the audience which likes the video, and send that video to a similar audience to earn even more videos. 

The important lesson here is that it’s about the audience. Titles help define and attract the audience who like your videos. 

Number three is the thumbnail. Thumbnails, like your title, grab attention. The thumbnail supports the topic and title in a big way. Make your thumbnail tell a story in an eye-catching way. A video with a great thumbnail will beat out another even when if the other video is better on the same topic.

The thing is, if no one is clicking on your video, despite the quality, YouTube will promote other videos that earn clicks and gain watch time. 

This is why Titles and thumbnails are so important and why you should pay attention to your click-through rate. A topics I’ll address more under the YouTube analytics section.

Timing is also important. Time in terms of being early at the beginning of a trend or news can offer great rewards. Timing is also important when your audience is online. YouTube analytics provides tools to show you when your audience is active, which may help increase view velocity.

YouTube Subscribers

Subscribers are milestones in the YouTube community. As you gain more subscribers you can earn helpful YouTube features, such as a custom URL at 100 subs. For many, they covet the YouTube play buttons awards, such as the silver button for 100,000 subscribers. This is one I have my eye on.

Earning subscribers is helpful because many of them will watch your video soon after its uploaded. As a result, you receive more early watch time. Which is a signal to YouTube that it’s a video worth sharing.

Personally, I look at each subscriber as validation. Someone said YES to me and my channel. It’s also a third party confirmation to some who are considering subscribing.

Beyond the vanity milestone, YouTube cares little about how many subscribers you have, however, YouTube does care about how much time people spend watching your videos. Subscribers are likely to watch. However, people who have recently watched your videos subscribed or not are even more likely.

Early on, when you don’t have subscribers, it’s more important to focus on YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) to help people find you. However, once you have 1000+ or more subscribers, you can depend a little more on catchy headlines to earn early views and improve your view velocity. A metric that measures the rate of views over a period of time. It seems YouTube considers variations of this metric when promoting videos.

After You Launch Your Video

Think of it this way. When a video is first uploaded, YouTube considers basic SEO factors to test a good search ranking location. This is where a good SEO keyword-rich headline comes into play, The first couple hundred words of the description is good for keywords and at much lighter weight tags.

Once time passes, YouTube depends less on the technical information. YouTube focuses more on metrics such as viewer reaction, viewing results, and the profile of viewers who enjoy your video. How many people and what type of person watches your video. YouTube considers how much of your video do people watch compared to similar videos. These considerations happen during different periods of time during the first hour, twenty-four hours, week, and month from the launch of your video. 

When you have supporting social communities or a strong email list it can help boost your channel and give your videos traction early.  However, if these communities or list don’t care, watch, return or like YouTube, they may not do much good.

This one reason why you can’t compare your channel metric to others. You never know what they have behind the promotion of their channel.

Why Do Some Videos Pop Later?

Sometimes you launch a video to little fanfare, no one really watched your video. However, maybe a year later your video gets some surprise traction. Why? 

How and when YouTube shows your videos to certain people is always changing. Currently, when you launch your video, the platform shows it to some of your subscribers (not all) and people who recently watched your videos.  Mostly to people who recently seem to care about your work.

If the metrics look good, YouTube will show your video to more of your subscribers. If your audience doesn’t seem to care the video will most likely go nowhere.

The thing is, YouTube will continue to test your video with different audiences over time. Eventually, the discovery system may find a receptive audience down the road and off to the races you go.

In some cases, your video may complement a popular video from another YouTuber.  For example, once someone is done watching the big popular video, some of the audience might click to watch your video.

However, if another video comes along and earns more attention, your traffic can eventually drop off or stop from the popular video traffic source.  

It’s possible your video gradually earns it way up the YouTube search engine or the topic of your video becomes more popular in search down the road.

Videos can be discovered by an influencer who shares them on social media. YouTube videos are embeddable, so, it’s possible to get picked up by a popular blogger or media outlet. There are many scenarios as to how your work can earn a new life. This is a big YouTube advantage.

The Technical Side Of YouTube-

If you keep in mind Google owns YouTube, you should be able to apply some good SEO knowledge into the mix. It’s not exactly the same, however, I’ve actually taken what I learn from YouTube SEO and applied the lessons to my traditional SEO, with excellent results. YouTube is a video search engine, you should adhere to standard YouTube search guidelines. This is true, no matter the size of your channel.

When it comes to YouTube SEO, you should follow the best SEO practices. Consider the title tag as the most important real estate on your YouTube page. Everything should be related to the title. Your video should fulfill the promise of the title. Make your title interesting while still containing your keywords. Trust me, it takes practice.

You should use the description section to expand the idea of your video. It doesn’t carry as much SEO weight as the title, however, I’ve noticed it does help. It’s a good key metadata location and can be helpful to encourage people to watch your video. You can also use the description area to list your social networks, channel information, and affiliate links. However, do this with caution.

Remember YouTube likes to keep people on its platform. If your video is sending too many people off of YouTube, then why would YouTube want to promote it?

Tags are like keywords. They really don’t carry much weight in YouTube anymore. However, they do have some weight, especially as a guide for YouTube immediately after you launch your video (first few hours). So, make sure you fill them out well with video-specific keywords, phrases, and common misspellings. Yes, YouTube says they use tags for spell check.

Although, tags are of less devalue today than in the past. Most likely, for the same reason website keywords were devalued. Still, it’s a good best practice to fill in your tags with relevant information — Just don’t spend too much time.

There are some helpful tools that make keyword research and setting up your videos easier and more effective. Tube Buddy , VidIQ and Morning fame all have valuable features to support your efforts. It’s also important to note once you publish your video, it’s not over.

You can always go back and rework the information on old videos as you learn which keywords and techniques work best for your channel. However, if your video is doing well, especially viral videos, I wouldn’t change any information.

If you don’t like the performance of a video, you can always adjust the title, as long as it’s relevant to the video.

One powerful tip, which I don’t do enough, is transcribe my videos. YouTube does do this automatically, however, sometimes there are incorrect spellings and bad words that you can fix right on YouTube.

You can also upload your own transcription to YouTube. This gives YouTube more accurate data to help place your videos in front of the right viewer. You don’t have to do it yourself. I recommend you outsource transcriptions. There are a number available online sources, such as rev or you can even look for a freelancer on

YouTube Analytics

Make sure you learn and understand your YouTube analytics. YouTube analytics is found in the Youtube Studio, which YouTube has recently overhauled with amazing features. Unfortunately, for those who liked the old YouTube Studio, it is no longer available.

YouTube Studio gives you a peek into what works on your channel and the videos your audience appreciates most.

If you are wondering what type of video to make next, take a look at what people are viewing on your channel over the last 60 minutes or 48 hours. If there is a video that dominates watch time, consider making a follow-up video.

Some data suggests that there really isn’t a best time of the day to publish. However, some YouTubers swear there is, I must concede, I’ve certainly found better times to publish for my audience. Still, the more consistent you are with your publishing the better it is for your audience.

YouTube is considering launching a feature that shows you when your audience is online. This could be helpful.

My favorite analytics to regularly review are click-through -rate (CTR), retention and traffic sources. Click through rate tells me how well my titles and thumbnails are gettng people to click, retention tells me how much my audience likes my videos. If people are leaving early, watching or not watching much of a video, these stats give me clues as to what my audience wishes to see.

Traffic sources are important to me because my goal is to have more traffic from suggested videos. If you have a how to channel, search is still very important. However,  when I earn a lot of traffic from suggested videos, this means YouTube is finding my videos valuable to met its goals.

Happy viewer + happy YouTube = success.


Retention is an important factor. If you have a four-minute video and your average viewer watches three minutes, that is 75% retention. Anything over 50% is good, in my opinion. Your channel as a whole should be over 25%, I would aim for at least 30%. Of course, the higher the better. As a reference, My channel currently sits at a 45% average retention for the last 28 days.

There is a rule called the 70/50 rule which can serve as a guide to help you improve your retention. I wrote about it on the Tube Buddy blog. I do plan to offer an update later here on The Tube Blog.

Longer videos tend to have lower retention. However, YouTube would rather promote a 20 minute video with 33% retention than a 10 minute video with 50% retention. Why? because it fits with YouTube’s goal of more watch time and keeping people on YouTube longer.

Not only should you consider the average watch time, but how many visitors do you have watching at the end of your video. If 40-50% of your audience is still watching at the end of your video can offer a powerful result. Especially, because there is a greater chance they will watch more of your videos, click on cards, end screens or suggested videos. These are all actions YouTube rewards you for when visitors to stay on YouTube. Especially, if they started with your video.

I stress that it’s important to get as many people to your video immediately after you hit publish. View velocity is an important factor for YouTube to promote your video on other channels. This is why big YouTubers seem to win by default, yet, if you understand the concept, you can win too.  Promote your video hard within the first hour and continue over the next twenty-four, with additional promotion over the following week.

I go deeper into to Analytics in my YouTube Analytics article. 

Your Videos

It’s usually impossible to really know what videos will be a hit. Honestly, shooting for a viral video is not the best long-term YouTube plan.  As mentioned, your topic, title and thumbnail are really important to get attention. However, you need a video which keeps people’s attention.

Videos which extract emotion from the viewer often win the day, when it comes to viral hits. However, that may not be the purpose of your channel. It’s important to get the point of the video quickly, usually within the first 10 seconds. A good recommendation for vloggers is if you have a high point in the video, share a clip of it in the beginning to pique interest.

Once you establish the topic your video needs to deliver on the promise made in the first ten seconds. Although, keeping people watching your video as long as possible is important, your video should be no longer than necessary. It is better to have a three-minute video in which viewers watch, on average, two minutes than a ten-minute video, in which people watch two minutes. Retention is much better for the three-minute video with the same watch time. YouTube will reward the three-minute video.

Look to your community. It’s good to ask your community what they are looking for from you as a creator. Review your comments and the comments in similar channels.

How To Get To a Million Subscribers

I created a video (below) which explains much of my philosophy. My stretch goal is to reach 1 million subscribers over the years. I started with a video a day, which was a great experiment. However, I’ve backed off to spend more time creating better videos which people watch longer. Am I guaranteed to reach 1 million subscribers in 4-5 years? Absolutely not. However, I’ve done the math and if I can grow an average of 20% compounded per month, I can get there.  Currently, one channel is a little behind my goal and one is well ahead. Please note: it took many of the big YouTubers you appreciate 3-4 years to reach large audience status.

Sadly, many who try, will not achieve their YouTube goal. The reason is most people are not willing to do the work.  When I tell young YouTubers it might take up to two+ years of weekly (3-7) video uploads to reach a 1,000 or 10,000 subscribers — they do not want to go for the ride.

To grow a YouTube channel takes work. It is very rare for a YouTuber to make the big time in a few months. It is possible, yet, most of us have to work hard for the big goals. Chances are, those who are looking for quick money and internet fame will drop out of the race in a matter of months. Every year, YouTube breaks hearts and dreams.

Below are some additional ways you can increase traffic to your YouTube channel

  • Consider search within the Google search engine. Google shows YouTube videos in their search results. Over time this can be a good source of traffic to you videos and channel. Try a few longtail keywords in which Google might show results (hint: check the bottom of Google search results page).
  • Networking: Network with other YouTubers of similar size to help each other grow. This can be powerful, especially if you grow together. The YouTube algorithm can actually support your efforts if you are similar channels. It’s helpful to share each others work in social media, comment and champion each other.
  • Collaboration: If your networking partners channel is similar, you can collaborate and create videos as guests or ask each other questions. In other words, introduce each other to your audiences. Again, once YouTube realizes you are good channel companions, the algorithm can support your effort.
  • Social Media: If you have a good social community on other social media channels, make sure you share your videos. Urge your followers to subscribe and become active in your YouTube community.
  • Blog: My blog is an excellent source of visitors to my videos and channel. I write blogs around my videos and add videos to relevant blog post. People find your blog through social media and SEO, a blog fan base can lead to new YouTube subscribers.

YouTube is more than possible fame and money

The development of a YouTube channel is a journey. I know this well because I’ve embarked on similar journeys over the last ten plus years on social media. I found success with some channels,  I’ve abandon others and I’ve outright failed a few times too.

It’s nice to earn rewards for your good work in social media. Google does reward you with income if you do a good job. The Google  AdSense program can add some coin to your bank account. Revenue is available to you once your channel reaches 1000 subscribers and 4000 hours annual watch time (starting Feb 2018)However, there are many more ways to earn money on YouTube, such as merchandise sales, sponsorships and affiliates. Savvy YouTubers leverage their audience, often leaving AdSense as a small percentage of their total income.

My goal is to earn more authority as a digital marketing professional, speaker and author. From my experience, there is more money in speaking fees and consulting opportunities than AdSense. However, every channel is different. I’m a rather straight shooter and I don’t expect to win any comedy awards or rise on trending topics with a crazy viral video. I have to work for every subscriber and opportunity.

I do know this, those who win in social media are active, create value, commit to the channel and persist. Those who last the longest, often win. The same goes for YouTube creators.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recent Content

link to How To Be A Success On YouTube

How To Be A Success On YouTube

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2021) Season 3 Last Episode ASK a Question: How can you be a success on YouTube? This is my last show, so I share the ideas that I think are important for you to succeed. Podcast For YouTubers Affiliate link: Powerful YouTube Growth Tool – Tubebuddy! How To Grow […]
link to How I've Failed At YouTube

How I've Failed At YouTube

(Last Updated On: February 6, 2021) Season 3 Episode 8 ASK a Question: YouTube is hard and I’ve failed a lot of ways on YouTube. This show, I breakdown some of the things that I’ve done on YouTube which have lead to failure. It’s never fun to admit failure, but I’ve certainly learned a […]