I’m getting lots of questions about how I’ve managed to crawl up the “most subscribed” list on YouTube and get a lot of views on my video. I am pretty jazzed that I’ve passed ParisHilton (see graphic).
First, let me assure you that it took a lot of patience. I was on YouTube for almost a year before I even had 100 subscribers, and most of my videos were lucky if they got 10-20 views. Just last Thanksgiving I was thrilled to reach 200 subscribers (see video). Beyond being patient, however, there are a few things you can do.
Remember It’s a Social Network. The most-viewed creators often got popularized by interacting with other frequently-watched YouTubers. Zipster08 got his start mocking Renetto. Renetto got famous by addressing other YouTubers. So you’ve got to socialize on YouTube. It’s not just a video-sharing site, it’s a commune.
Keep it Short. This is an ADHD generation. This is so, so, so important. I’ve violated my own rule lately, but I can’t stress enough that people don’t want more than 3 minutes. And if you can do it in 30-60 seconds you’ll get twice the views. I often won’t even start a video that’s more than 5 minutes. It’s just not yet a long-form platform. Maybe AppleTV will allow us to consume longer videos, but short is good.
Avoid Tricks. You can fake views and do random video replies to popular videos, but that will typically make you look desperate (if not get busted). So stick with authentic promotion.
Collaborate with YouTubers. Find other YouTubers in your area and participate in a video together. You’ll pick up some of their subscribers and vice versa. Everyone wins.
Get “Honored.” I’m fortunate that many of my viewers are kind on the ratings and comments. So I frequently get pushed (temporarily) to the top comedy section. There I’ll pick up a second wave of viewers for a period. Since that’s hard to do initially, you may want to focus on smaller categories. It’s easier to create the most-watched animal video than music video.
Promote Your Video Off YouTube. Get it “digged.” Get it blogged. Remember that many YouTube views are not occuring on YouTube.com.
Video Reply. Video replies are a great way to get views- especially if you’re fast. Make a video response to a popular video and get it up immediately. You’ll get overflow views. Just be sure a) your response isn’t spam- it’s relevant. b) recognize that many people don’t know replies are waiting. So they cue silently and aren’t always approved quickly.
Imagine Yourself at a Party. Are you the guy jumping up and down for attention screaming “looook at me”? Or are you the one that’s hanging out by the keg telling interesting stories? Are you the one desperately hitting on every hot woman? Approach YouTube in the way you’d approach a party (or highschool) and you’ll better understand how you’re being perceived. This vibe will come across not just in your videos but in your interactions (comments & messages). By the way- I’m the guy at the party that drank too much, then went to sleep on the bed covered with coats.
Create Decent Stuff With Frequency. I think my frequency (almost daily) of videos helps. I know I could do better videos if I planned them, but I don’t like overcomplicating videos. It’s a lot more fun to be subcribed to somone who is posting with some frequency (as long as it’s entertaining) because you don’t forget about them. You look forward to watching them.
Get Ready for Hate. Don’t forget- there are as many people that will hate your videos as will love them. I get a lot of hate messages, and a number of people that subscribe and unsubscribe. Eventually you build a group of people that relate to your style. And that’s when it gets really fun.