Neil Patel

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How to Get Over 1 Million YouTube Subscribers (Like I Did)

A screenshot of Neil Patel's YouTube account.

Wondering how to get subscribers on YouTube? Increasing your YouTube subscribers can increase your views, drive brand awareness, and help you sell more. 

And you can do it without spending money on ads, just like I did. The good news is I’m not a celebrity, comedian, or a male model. 😉 This means you can reach a million subscribers if you use the right strategies. 

I created a formula that helped me gain one million subscribers. My formula, which I’ll share, works for any industry and account.

I know because my agency offers a YouTube growth service, and we’ve used this formula successfully for dozens of clients. 

Before I teach you how to get more subscribers, I’ll give you a quick overview. 

How to Increase Subscribers on YouTube

Wondering how to grow your subscriber count on Youtube? There’s a simple formula I use to get tons of free YouTube subscribers. We’ll cover each step in detail in the following sections. 

  1. Hook people with your intro.
  2. Ask viewers to subscribe.
  3. Create videos that are around 10 minutes long.
  4. Ask people to leave comments (this is how you go viral).
  5. Respond to every comment with an answer and a question.
  6. Leverage YouTube shorts.
  7. Run contests.
  8. Do keyword research and use keywords within your title.
  9. Optimize your thumbnails to get better click-through.
  10. Promote your video hard in the first 24 hours through email and push notifications.
  11. Upload a transcription of your video.

If you want to learn the in-depth formula, keep reading. Or, for the short version, watch the video below on how to get YouTube subscribers.

Give Your Channel a Theme to Increase YouTube Subscribers

If you look at the top YouTube channels, you’ll notice most of them stick to a theme.

Take a look at Derek Halpern‘s channel, for example.

An example of a YouTube channel with all the associated videos.

A lot of the YouTube videos he creates are on topics related to business and success.

Having a theme also makes creating consistent YouTube content easier because you already know what type of topics you’ll cover. 

Plus, you can make your channel the ‘go-to’ place for specific content. If your channel caters to a particular niche, then people who care deeply about that niche will want to subscribe. 

Imagine your videos are about Facebook marketing for business owners. 

If a business owner who wants to learn more about Facebook marketing subscribes to your YouTube channel, they’ll get an update whenever you post content.

This helps them stay ahead of the curve without having to do much work.

If you’re struggling to develop a theme for your channel, think about the problems your business solves and who your target audience is. 

Then, produce videos on the topics that will help the people your business serves.

Post Incredible Content to Gain Free YouTube Subscribers

Many marketers agree that video converts better than other forms of media.

To drive conversions, you need to learn how to create incredible content on YouTube. 

When people subscribe to your channel, they’re essentially signing up to get updates whenever a new piece of content is posted.

If your content is great, people won’t mind hearing from you again because their initial interaction with you and your content was positive.

Whether that’s a learning experience, an entertainment experience, or both — it’s worth watching your videos.

Remember, people will take the time to watch great content. So if you’re wondering how to get subscribers on YouTube, remember that you must make great content.

So how do you produce incredible content that makes viewers want to subscribe and share?

Start by producing content that is relevant to your target audience. Make it useful and solve a problem they have. 

If you’re sticking to a theme, it shouldn’t be too hard to come up with valuable topics your users care about. 

Then, use these tips.

Find Popular Keywords on YouTube

Let’s say you want to create a channel that covers the topic of ‘pencil drawing.’

One way to develop content ideas is by simply entering the broad keyword of ‘pencil drawing’ into the YouTube search engine.

YouTube is the second-largest search engine globally, so we know there’s some relevant data here.

If you type in your main keyword, you’ll see suggested topics. 

An example of finding popular keywords on YouTube.

Those topics are a little broad, so you may want to pick one of those keywords and go through the same process again to generate something more concise.

Let’s add the word ‘tutorial,’ for instance.

An example of finding popular keywords on YouTube.

Now we’re seeing more concise keywords.

The fact that these keywords appear in the suggestions lets us know people are searching for these videos.

You might argue there is a lot of competition for such keywords.

While that may be true, later in the post, we’ll figure out how we can get people to view our videos, even when there is a lot of competition — so don’t worry about that part just yet. 

The great thing about this approach is it gives you a starting point. 

If we want to produce content for a certain niche, this technique lets us know what kinds of content people will already have an interest in viewing.

My tool Ubersuggest is another great YouTube keyword research tool. Simply type in your main key term and click “Keyword ideas” in the right sidebar, and it will deliver more than 400 keywords for you to consider.

An example of finding popular keywords on Ubersuggest.

You can also use the Google Keyword Planner tool to develop content ideas. That’s because there will be some coherence between Google and YouTube search results.

Let’s stick with the topic of ‘pencil drawing.’

An example of finding popular keywords on Google Keyword Planner.

These keywords don’t have many searches-which might make you think they aren’t worth the effort. 

However, remember we’re not just going to post a handful of videos and then be done with it.

Cultivating a YouTube channel requires posting a lot of content. In fact, one of the biggest YouTube channels has over 4,400 videos.

If you want to publish massive amounts of content while keeping it relevant, you need to be able to niche down your content as much as possible, so each video provides value.

If you niche down, it’s only natural that the level of searches per month will go down.

Even if you focus on low-volume keywords, they’ll all come together to help you build momentum and establish yourself in a YouTube niche.

You’ll also notice there isn’t a ton of content for those lower volume search terms, which represents an opportunity.

Look at what happens when I type in the ‘Simple drawing techniques’ keyword.

An example of YouTube search results after searching a particular keyword.

There aren’t any fully optimized titles or even videos based solely on ‘simple drawing techniques.’

Improve the Production Quality of Your YouTube Videos

Feel like you’re doing everything right but still can’t get subscribers? Production quality is another way to get subscribers on YouTube.

As long as your videos are rich in value and provide the viewer with the information they need, you’re doing a good job.

When the videos start to bring you a return, then you can focus more on production quality.

Here are a few tips: 

Ensure what you’re saying can be easily heard. Speak clearly and enthusiastically. 

Otherwise, people might not be able to understand what you’re saying. They might even get bored.

If you’re recording your content using a phone or a laptop, the microphone might not be enough, so you may want to invest in an external mic. 

You also need to ensure that your video is easy to watch.

You don’t want to make it hard for viewers to see what is going on. This means you need to ensure the lighting is adequate.

If you’re recording a talking head style video, ensure your face can be seen clearly.

If someone is recording you, make sure the camera is steady. 

Here are a few more ways to improve your video quality: 

Use Video Editing to Improve the Quality of Your YouTube Videos

When talking about video edit editing, I’m referring to improving your videos’ style and not so much removing minor mistakes. More often than not, you’re going to make minor mistakes when recording your video. You don’t need to put tons of focus into removing these unless they impact watchability. In fact, they might even help as they show other people you’re a real person rather than a sly media marketing salesman.

Editing can come in handy, though, when you need to create cuts in your video or add a title screen.

If you’re not an accomplished video editor, you could seek someone from Upwork who specializes in YouTube growth services or perhaps even someone on Fiverr.

Alternatively, you could purchase a video editing suite and learn to do everything yourself.

That method might save you money, though you might spend a lot more time learning how to edit videos on your own. That might not be the best trade-off, depending on your circumstances.

As mentioned, you don’t want to over-edit your videos, though you want to give them a sense of style that separates you from the crowd.

The easiest way to do this is by having custom intro music and a custom title screen.

Another way that you can post incredible content is by creating videos based on your product being used.

Demonstration videos can go a long way in showcasing your product as something worth buying.

You can even turn some of your blog posts into vide os.

Increase Your YouTube Subscribers By Posting More Often  

This is probably the hardest part of growing a YouTube following — though it can also be one of the most important.

Posting content consistently is a great way for you to compete with other businesses that post a few times a month — or even just a few times a year.

Plus, if you’re constantly posting new content, then people have a reason to become a subscriber and share it on their social networks.

After all, people are less likely to subscribe if you’re not posting anymore — why should they?

If you use the tips mentioned earlier, then coming up with ideas for posting new content is pretty easy.

You just need to set a schedule and stick to it.

How Often Should You Post New YouTube Videos?

If you want to keep things simple, look at what your competition is doing, and then one-up them. If they post twice a week, aim for three times a week.  

Sometimes, however, the best plan is the one you can stick to.

Consistency is important, as it’ll keep existing subscribers coming back for more. This will result in more YouTube views — and also improve engagement.

Engagement on a video tends to come in the following forms:

  • Thumbs up or thumbs down (though downvotes are now hidden) 
  • Social sharing
  • Subscribing
  • Commenting
  • Favoriting

Ideally, you want to improve engagement levels in each category. 

Keep in mind, more than 700 videos are shared every minute on Twitter. So while YouTube is not a social media site, it is a valuable tool for any social media marketing platform.

Great engagement will help make the video more visible on the YouTube search engine, increasing your reach and encouraging even more people to subscribe. 

To view statistics on your videos’ performance, head to your YouTube analytics dashboard.

An image of the YouTube analytics dashboard.

You don’t have to be at a computer to post content consistently. That’s because you can use the scheduling feature provided by Google.

If you want to schedule a video, click on the ‘Upload’ button.

Then click on the dropdown menu and select the ‘Scheduled’ option.

An image of the YouTube video scheduling feature when posting a video.

Then drag and drop your video, or click the icon to upload it.

On the next screen, you can adjust the scheduling options.

An image of the YouTube video scheduling feature when posting a video.

Now enter the date and time you want the video to go live.

If people subscribe to your channel, they’ll get a message when your video goes live.

Make sure to schedule that date into your social media management platform, if you have one. This will ensure tweets, Meta updates, and LinkedIn posts are sent out simultaneously.

If you have an email list relevant to your video, you might even want to send a message out to those folks.

Consider staggering the messages, so you’re not bombarding people on multiple platforms all at once.

Consider Turning Long Videos into Multiple Short Videos

If you’re struggling to develop content ideas daily, consider splitting up longer videos into several shorter ones.

In long videos, you likely cover several points about one main topic.

You could edit out certain topics and then create mini videos using those topics. Shorter videos are also more convenient for social network sharing.

In fact, Hubspot found that 2 minutes is the optimal video length on YouTube for their audience.

The channel ‘Inside Quest’ posts incredibly long content. Here’s one of the videos on their channel. Note how it is nearly 49 minutes long:

An example of a YouTube video that is long in duration.

For someone new to the channel, that video length can be pretty intimidating.

So, they have broken down the video into some ‘highlight clips,’ covering interesting points and topics.

Examples of YouTube videos that are short in duration.

Note how short each of these videos is — just around a minute.

Short videos can be a great way to introduce people to your channel by giving them a taste of your content. 

Create Evergreen YouTube Videos

Another way to consistently generate subscribers is by creating evergreen content.

These are videos that will be relevant whether they are viewed today or five years in the future.

This will apply to some niches more than others.

For example, I spoke earlier about the pencil drawing business, which naturally lends itself to producing a lot of evergreen content. A video about Instagram marketing, however, might be out of date in five years.

Take a look at your niche and see if you can create ‘how-to’ videos that will stand the test of time.

Even if you’re not looking to create evergreen content, it’s worth creating ‘how-to’ videos to provide value.

Optimize Your Videos to Increase YouTube Subscribers

Before anyone can subscribe to your channel, they need to first click on your videos.

No matter how good your video is, it will have some competition in the form of other videos.

So how do you get people to pay attention to and click on your video?

You need to focus on three areas — the headline, the thumbnail, and the description.

These three elements have the biggest impact on influencing YouTube users to click on your videos. Be sure the meta tag is relevant and includes key points.

This is because they’ll help your rankings in the YouTube search engine and entice users to click on your videos and share them on social media. 

YouTube categories and cards can also drive clicks, so we’ll cover those, too.

How to Create a Good Headline for YouTube Videos

If your video focuses on a keyword, include it in your heading. This increases the chances of someone clicking on your video.

If the video’s title matches their search, they’ll assume the video covers everything they need to know about that topic.

Of course, that doesn’t mean you add it five times. 

Keyword stuffing’ can hurt you much more than it can help you.

One way you can get around this problem is by using a colon.

For instance, earlier, we identified the keyword — ‘simple drawing techniques.’

If we had a video on that topic, we could write the headline like this — ‘Simple drawing techniques: 5 tips that make drawing easier.’

Side note: An interesting experiment might be to split the ‘simple drawing techniques’ title into separate niches. This is a common social media marketing technique for blogs and helps videos too.

For example, ‘simple drawing techniques for cars’ or ‘simple drawing techniques for eyes.’

This is a great example of how you can take a big niche or keyword receiving a lot of traffic and identify opportunities within that niche.

You’ll have to experiment a little, but there’s no telling what kind of opportunities you might uncover.

An example of how the title of YouTube videos can affect view count.

As you can see in the example above, the video title uses a colon to separate the text.

You’ll also notice that there are videos where the ‘|’ symbol is being used.

An example of how the title of YouTube videos can affect view count.

Test which one works better, though it could just be that this symbol serves a similar purpose to what the colon would have done.

You need to have a mix of what people are searching for and what grabs their attention. You can do that by using the keyword your video targets in the headline and then including power words. 

As we’ve discussed, the style of your videos will influence the headline. If you have a ‘how-to’ video, then you’ll need to account for that in your headline.

Similar to blog post headlines, numbers also tend to work well in YouTube headlines.

Use Engaging YouTube Thumbnails

Thumbnails are the small images users often see of a video in the search results or the sidebar, and these can have a huge impact on view rates. 

To make the most of this space, show a clear image of whatever the video is about. For example, if you’re talking about a laptop, you’d want to include a picture of a laptop.

Like this:

An example of how the thumbnail of YouTube videos can affect view count.

Alternatively, you could just show a picture of a person interacting with whatever the video is about.

Like this example:

An example of how the thumbnail of YouTube videos can affect view count.

However, one of the increasingly powerful ways of creating video thumbnails is by adding text, like this:

An example of how the thumbnail of YouTube videos can affect view count.

Don’t just drop some text and call it good. You can also heavily edit the thumbnail image so that it clearly stands out.

An example of how the thumbnail of YouTube videos can affect view count.

If you want to create thumbnails like this, follow these rules.

An image of custom thumbnail best practices for YouTube.

How to Create a Custom Thumbnail for YouTube Videos

You can create a thumbnail using Canva.

If you want to learn more about using Canva, going through their initial setup process might be helpful.

They have a YouTube thumbnail template, so use that to get started.

How to create a custom thumbnail for YouTube videos.

If you have your own images, you can upload them and then overlay text onto them as well. 

To upload a custom thumbnail for a video, just go through the normal upload process.

On the page where you add video information, pick the ‘Custom thumbnail’ option.

How to create a custom thumbnail for YouTube videos.

Now you have a custom thumbnail that will display around the YouTube platform.

Create Better YouTube Descriptions

Creating a description for your YouTube videos could become an entire post. We’re going to cover the basics here.

Keep in mind, you have a lot of space here, and YouTube tends to use this to rank your content. Don’t ignore the meta tag and its importance.

The first few lines should be easy to read in the search results.

Here’s a great example.

An example of a thorough YouTube description for a video.

In this section, you may want to use some of the keywords you used in your title. That way, you can ensure that it has some coherence. This will also improve the ranking ability of your video.

When people click on your video, they have the option to click on the ‘Show More’ text.

The "Show More" feature on YouTube videos.

This expands the description. You can use this space to insert a ‘subscribe to channel’ link.

If you want to do that, use the following link format:

Make sure that you enter your channel name after the ‘=.’

So, for Kissmetrics, it would be:

When people click on this link, they’ll be taken to your channel page, where a subscribe box will pop up.

You can also enter other information, such as your other social media profiles, important links, and your content posting schedule, in the description.

An image of the extra links and information you can include in the "Show More" section underneath YouTube videos.

You can also describe the things that are being discussed in your video, like this —

An image of the extra links and information you can include in the "Show More" section underneath YouTube videos.

You could highlight topics discussed at certain time sections in your video like this: 21:48 – How to prevent your website from being penalized by Google.

These timestamps take users directly to the specified location in the video.

Add Tags to Increase YouTube Views

It’s also important to add tags to improve the chances of your video appearing in the YouTube search engine.

An image of the video details section on YouTube.

Don’t use any misleading tags. Instead, include a few really specific tags that describe your video, then add a few broad tags related to the genre.

There’s no harm in using the suggested tags, as long as they align with what your video is actually about.

Use YouTube Cards to Gain Free YouTube Subscribers

YouTube Annotations used to be the best way to engage users by directly adding links and other content to your video.

However, annotations were disruptive and were discontinued and then deleted in 2019.

Today, you have the option of using YouTube cards. You can add up to five cards to your video with a customized image, text, and call to action.

Here’s how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

Select the ‘Video’ option inside of the ‘Video Manager.’ Then click on the ‘Edit’ dropdown menu for the video you want to add a card to.

Then select the ‘Cards’ option.

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

You should then see this screen.

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

Click on the ‘Add card’ option and then choose the ‘Channel.’

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

Then, enter your channel name and add text.

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

The teaser text is the text that appears on the little graphic that appears in the video.

Here is how it will look:

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

If you want to adjust when the card displays the ‘teaser text,’ adjust the slider below.

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

You’ll notice, however, that the ‘i’ will always be visible in the video.

If people hover their mouse cursor over the ‘i,’ they’ll see the following.

An example of  how to create a ‘YouTube card’ for your video.

This card will also appear at the time you choose above.

Clicking on this will take users straight to your YouTube channel.  

Engage Your YouTube Audience

Another way to boost your YouTube subscribers is by engaging with your audience and creating a community.

There are several ways that you can do this.

Respond to YouTube Viewer Comments

Responding to comments is a simple — but effective — way to engage users. This will show YouTube viewers that you value their opinion. Plus, the fact that you’re going through the effort might encourage them to subscribe.

An example of Neil Patel responding to a comment on his YouTube channel.

If you get negative comments on your YouTube videos, address them promptly.

This can increase YouTube subscribers because people see this interaction and appreciate the fact that you engage.

Host a Q&A Session

You can do this using Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube Live. You might even just ask at the end of a video for viewers to post their questions in the comments section.

Then, in the next video, you could review the questions you received and answer them. 

Ask Viewers What They Want

Another way to engage your audience is by creating videos based on what they want. For example, you could use a survey to ask your audience what topics you should cover. 

You can then create a video based on a viewer’s suggestions and call them out in the video to say thank you.

Consider Collaborating With Other YouTube Video Creators

Collaborations can massively boost your video marketing efforts.

An example of a collaboration with other YouTube video creators.

The best way to go about this is to find channels with a similar audience.

Both of you could then arrange an event where you can both benefit from the interaction.

When you collaborate, you must encourage people to subscribe to your channel.

Also, make sure the videos you publish immediately after the collaboration are amazing, so they want to subscribe.

Host Interviews to Increase Free YouTube Subscribers

Alternatively, consider doing interviews on your channel. If you can find a way to interview the top people in your niche, you’ll attract their audience to your channel.

As your channel subscribers grow, you’ll be able to attract interviews with higher-profile people. 

Of course, you shouldn’t let low subscribers stop you from trying.

Email a few people who might be worth having on your channel and ask them if they’d be willing to be a guest.

If they say no, respectfully ask if they’d be willing when your channel has more subscribers. See if they can provide you with a ballpark figure that they’d be happy with.

You don’t want to be rude, but there’s nothing wrong with asking for a potential way to make it happen.

Consider YouTube Ads

I know I said you can increase free YouTube subscribers without paid ads—and you definitely can use the strategies above. However, it might be worth investing in YouTube Ads once you’ve grown a bit.

To get the most out of ads, target keywords your videos are created around.

This will help your videos appear at the top of the search results when people enter that keyword.

An example of YouTube ads appearing on the search results.

If you are just starting, you might want to get a feel for the platform first. But, if you’ve got a solid YouTube monetization plan, ads can be an effective way to drive subscribers and YouTube views.


How many followers do you need to monetize your YouTube videos?

You need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in a year to make money off YouTube videos.

How do I become a successful YouTuber?

You can become successful as a YouTuber by employing strategies such as producing great content, optimizing your YouTube videos for the algorithm, and sharing your videos across multiple social channels.

What are some ways to make money as a YouTuber?

You can make money from YouTube by publishing popular videos that run ads, becoming an affiliate, or offering paid memberships. It can also be used to build trust in your offerings. 

How do I Increase Subscribers on Youtube?

You can increase YouTube subscribers by optimizing your videos for the YouTube search algorithm, posting and promoting your videos across multiple channels, posting consistently, and simply asking viewers to subscribe.


One of the keys to consistent success on YouTube is increasing your subscriber count — but don’t fall victim to those ‘buy YouTube subscribers’ scams.

Instead, work to create exceptional content that keeps your audience coming back for more.

Then, make people want to click on your content using brilliant thumbnails and killer headlines that draw them in.

When people finally click on your video, then you can ask for a subscription.

Once you’ve got the fundamentals down, you’re free to experiment with things like collaborations and YouTube Ads.

If you put enough effort in, you’ll see those subscriber numbers start climbing — which can lead to website clicks and more.

All you need to do is get started!

What have you found to be useful when it comes to boosting subscriber numbers on YouTube?

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