Yes! I've reached 7,000 subscribers on my Youtube channel. The last time I posted about my subscriber count is on 19 Nov 2015 and there were 4,000 subscribers back then. The journey has been long and there's still a long road ahead.
I've been checking out many other art channels to analyse what makes them successful and compiled the tips in this article. The tips listed below are actually what many Youtube creators agree on. The template to success is surprisingly similar. Have a focus and work hard. The rest are just details.
I've been using the tips myself and slowly growing my channel. By the way, I get around 50 new subscribers a day on Youtube (exciting) vs 5 new Likes on Facebook (pathetic). Going by the numbers, I can get at least 1,000 new subscribers a month. That's pretty significant, at least for a new Youtuber like me.
1. You need to pick a niche and stick with it
So you've decided to start an art channel, but are you passionate enough? Actually, even if you don't know the answer, you'll be able to find out real soon. See if you can stick to a regular posting schedule on Youtube and whether you find that to be a chore or challenge.
If you're passionate about your channel, it will really make things easier because you're doing something you like.
When I first started my channel, I didn't know if I would enjoy making videos. Now, I wake up excited every morning thinking about what videos I would like to make. If I don't make a video, I would brainstorm for ideas on what to make.
But don't start a channel for the wrong reason, like looking for fame or money.
If you're looking for money, let me tell you straight up that you're looking at USD $1-2 per 1,000 impressions (views) from Youtube advertising. It's unlikely the channel will churn out that much money so quickly, especially for an art channel.
Reaching success on Youtube is a slow process. You just have to stick with it until the end, even if you can't see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many people have done it, even people who can't draw well can have successful Youtube channels. Not kidding.
2. Don't post unrelated videos
This is similar to the first tip.
After you've picked a niche, don't post unrelated or random videos. People subscribe to you for a reason, they expect a certain type of content from your channel. If you have an art channel and you post an unboxing video of some chocolate, then people will wonder if they have subscribe to the wrong channel.
If you want to upload random videos, have other channels. Being focused is the key. You want people to associate your channel with certain keywords or your brand, your name.
Start with one channel. It takes time and effort to maintain a channel, such as making the video, answering comments, brainstorming for ideas. Don't spread yourself too thin.
3. Pick a good name for your channel
What's good? Something that's unique, easy for people to remember.
You can go with your real name or nickname and that will help build your brand. E.g. Mike Crilley.
Or you can have a name that's related to the content you're producing. E.g. Mind of Watercolor.
You can append art to your name to make it more descriptive. E.g. Lachri Fine Art.
Avoid numbers, e.g. like princess1987. It's difficult for people to remember.
4. Develop your skills
How much success you will have is somewhat related to the level of skill or talent you have. If you're very skilled, your art is good, then there's a good chance your art will be able to market itself by people sharing them.
But don't let your lack of skill prevent you from starting a channel. That's because you will grow with your channel. With more practice, you'll get better.
5. Make sure the video quality is good
Good video quality, or high production value, will attract and retain the audience.
Use good lighting. Make sure you shoot at a good angle to show off your art.
Get a good camera. You can even use a camera phone provided you have good lighting. If you don't have good lighting, consider investing in some lamps. Most cameras record best in better lighting. Make sure people can see what you want to show them. Don't film vertically!
If you want to invest in a camera, get one that allows you to turn the autofocus off, and can shoot in manual focus mode. Autofocus will ruin the video when it fails to focus on correct subject, especially when the intelligence of the software is unpredictable.
Make sure the audio quality is good, it's important. You can get those clip on lavalier microphones for real cheap.
6. Create useful content
Video content can be split into several categories such as educational, entertaining, inspiring and many others.
If you want to attract subscribers, especially for an art channel, it's best to create educational videos. There are lots of people looking to learn to create art on Youtube. If you have educational videos, that's what they will look for. Tutorials are also ever green so people will continue to look for them into the future as compared to art products which have a time span.
Don't just stick to creating certain type of videos. Have some variety also. Like you can create an instructional video on some days, other days you could have product reviews, critics, challenges, show your workspace, tools, interview other artists and more. If you keep producing timelapse video, people will get bored too.
It is best to know your target audience well. Know who you're targeting. For example if you're targeting digital painters, then a traditional art tutorial might not work that well.
7. Make use of current events and ride on their marketing mojo
You can create videos that are linked to current events. Movies are big! Huge! You can create a tutorial on fan art, or a timelapse video showing you drawing one. When the movie Frozen was out, artists all around in and outside of Youtube were drawing fan art for Anna and Elsa.
This will help you get new views and subscribers. When people are excited about movies, they will search for the characters they like. If you have that character drawing video, they are likely to find you through Youtube search.
Another thing you could do is to target public holidays, like Christmas, New Year, Halloween or other festivals.
When you're targeting such events, it's best to release the video before or close to the actual date. When Christmas happens, people are not going to be at home watching videos when they could be out celebrating with friends and family.
Look at movie schedules. Plan ahead. Ride the wave of their marketing
8. Have voice-overs instead of subtitles
Subtitles don't work for the simple reason that people should only focus on one thing at a time. If they are looking at your technique, it is difficult to concentrate on reading the subtitles or they may miss out something.
By having proper narration, you're also adding value to your video by making it more informative. Don't just play music or people will just skip to the end to see what's there. Having narration means that if they want to learn from you, they won't fast forward the video.
You'll want people to watch as much of the video as they can because Youtube values watch time. More on that later.
9. Speak like you're talking to a friend. Be conversational.
Let your personality show through. If you talk like your boring teacher in school, you're not going to get a lot response or affinity.
Definitely don't read from a script. You don't talk to your friend from a script. You can make notes to help you remember key points that you should not miss. That's helpful.
You can also ask people to ask questions or ask them what they think about your video. You'll be surprised at the response rate.
Showing your face can be advantageous too. People like to know how the artist look like.
10. Make sure the video is not too fast or slow
If it's an instructional video, people want to learn and it helps if you can talk slower for them to absorb. You can have some pause after talking about certain techniques and transit into demonstrating the technique.
Video should not be too long or people may lose interest, or they just may not have the time to go through the video, especially when they don't know what the video is about from the video description (if they haven't read it or the description is vague).
Youtube ranks video based watch time. If your watch time is higher in percentage, they will rank better. Meaning if you produce a 2 minute video and people watch 100% of it, that video is going to rank quite high in the search results against other similar videos.
11. Use clear thumbnails
Your thumbnail should be descriptive in the sense that people should get what your video is about at one glance. If you're using a screenshot, make sure it's taken at a good angle.
Some people like to put bold text titles in the video and that helps too. Don't overload it with text. It's still an art video. If you want to use text, make sure the title is clear, short, descriptive.
You want the thumbnail to be attention grabbing. You can also design some sort of frame, use certain fonts, or even draw yourself as a character to be used in the thumbnail. That way people can tell from a glance that that's your video if they have seen your other videos (and thumbnails).
Don't post spoilers in the thumbnail.
12. Use tags!
You should tag your videos appropriately. That's how people find your stuff on Youtube as well. Add relevant tags.
I've read from somewhere that you're not suppose to put tags in the video descriptions. I guess that's why Youtube have dedicated text boxes for tags.
13. Don't do giveaways and ask for comments
Youtube also measures the video's popularity by the number of comments it has. So if you ask people to post comments to win prizes, you're gaming the system and that can have serious consequences, like getting your account, gasp, BANNED! Noooooo!!!
14. Share your videos on other social media sites
If you have other social media sites, you can also share the video at those sites so that your video reaches more people.
You can also use the same brand name, profile picture on other social media sites to create a consistent identity.
And add links or embed your video to your social media sites so that people can check out your other sites.
You can also share your videos in related sites or forums. I share my videos in related art pages on Google+, Facebook and Reddit. They will get you genuine views because those are the exact audience who would be interested in your content.
Share in related sites or forums also. They will get credible views.
15. Collaborate with other artists
This will get you new views and subscribers.
Don't think of other artists as competitors. There are hundreds of millions of people on Youtube, it does not mean that if a person follows your competitor, they will not follow you.
You can collaborate with other artists and use cross-promotion to grown both channels! Look for related channels to collaborate with though. It doesn't make sense for an art channel to collaborate with a cake baking channel.
It's good to look for some Youtube creator with roughly similar subscriber count as yours. You can help out each other. If you want to collaborate with a superstar creator, they may not have the time to collaborate with your, or maybe because their time better spent collaborating with other superstar creators.
Collaborate like once a month and you have access to groups of new subscribers.
15. Do not spam other people's channel
Do ask people to subscribe to your channel in the comments section of someone's video page. It's rude! Don't do the sub-for-sub thing. It's waste of time. What you want are genuine subscribers.
Do not ask for a shoutout. It's rude too! For me, I will do shoutout for channels that I think will benefit my audience. I've drive my audience to their channels and hopefully they can see where these new people are coming from and return a shoutout too. That's a by-the-way thing. My main purpose is still to recommend good art channels to my audience. If I'm not the expert, I'll refer them to the experts.
Oh, guess what happens when people report your comments as spam too many? You'll GET BANNED from Youtube!
16. Upload regularly
This is IMPORTANT!
Upload regularly, like once a week or twice a month.
If you only upload once every few months, people will forget your channel even exist. They don't know when your next video is coming and won't be bothered to check back. They will think that you have abandoned your channel. They will wonder if your channel is worth subscribing when your last uploaded video was two months ago. That's what people will think.
When you upload regularly, you're also building a wealth of video. Every video adds up. Every video is an opportunity for people to find through Youtube search. The more videos you have, the more likely people are going to see them. Think of it like having a fishing net. You want to make the fishing net as big as possible.
When you have lots of videos behind you, it also adds credibility. If you have been creating coloured pencil videos for a long time, then you're likely to be seen as a coloured pencil expert.
When you upload regularly, you also build expectation in people so that they will find the urge to check back often to your channel.
17. Upload with a schedule
Yes, uploading regularly is so important I have another entry for it.
One good way to upload regularly is to create a schedule and stick to it. For example, you can upload on a specific day and ask people to check back that day. People when expose your your umpteen remind that your videos come out on Fridays will remember that.
When you have a schedule, it will also create discipline in you.
Best day to upload videos is probably on a Friday because people have time on weekends to watch. But it's best to check out the Youtube analytics to see which day gets you the most viewers.
You can have some organization, like having dedicated theme videos for specific days. Timelapse for Monday, art product review for Wednesday, instructional video on Friday.
18. Interact with your community
Youtube is one of the more social platform around. More so than Facebook I would say.
With each video, people can interact with you directly.
People are following your channel because of you. Answer questions, connect to people. People like that.
Interact on other channels too.
19. Work hard
Put in the work for your channel to be successful. It's simple to say but can be difficult to follow through. Remember, being consistent is very imporant.
Make your content good.
Don't give up.
If you know your work is good and the videos are worth watching, people will discover them slowly.
20. Don't use copyrighted music
Do not use copyrighted music or the copyright holder can file a DMCA against you and TAKE DOWN YOUR WHOLE CHANNEL. I'm not kidding you. They have some sort of strikes system. Get two or more strikes and you are out.
When you use copyrighted music, you also can't monetize your content.
There's a Creator section by the sidebar when you log in to your Creator Studio. Use the royalty-free music there. Some will insist that you attribute to the creator, but you can still monetize. That music library is a fantastic and free resource. Make use of it.
21. Have useful video descriptions
Make your video descriptions as descriptive and helpful as possible.
When Youtube shows search results, they show the thumbnail, title and video description. Since video descriptions can be too long, you should make the first sentence count! Describe what the audience can expect to see in the video. The audience who reads the description and still clicks through is one who's really interested in what you have to show.
If you have a lousy or no description, the audience may still click to go to your video page. However, the second they find your video to be not what they were expecting, they will close the video and move on. When they only watch a tiny portion of your video, it will affect your video ranking. Youtube values watch time. If you have too many click-aways, it tells Youtube your video is not relevant to the person and the search keywords the person used, and your video will be ranked lower.
22. Don't join networks
When you start getting subscribers, there will be networks will start to contact you to join them.
These networks are basically marketing companies. They say they will help market your videos, they also provide tools, like free music, for you. But think about this, if they have so many people on their channel, how are they going to promote you well?
Oh, and they also take a cut of your earnings.
Look, attaining success on Youtube is going to take a long time, joining networks is not going to make it significantly faster.
23. Practice good SEO techniques for writing your title and video description
Most people are going to find your video through search.
Think about what people will type in the search box to be able to see a list of search results with your video on it.
Make your titles and video descriptions descriptive. Tell the audience what the video is about, what they can expect. Make sure the thumbnail is related and makes sense.
Even if no people reads the description, Google will read the description. Oh, your video will be ranked in Youtube and Google search.
24. Make use of playlists
Group your videos into logical playlists.
Youtube will promote playlists as well as single videos on the sidebar.
People who want to watch similar videos can do so easily be looking at your playlist.
25. Make lots of useful videos
You need a lot of content to give people reason to subscribe and come back.
When people first discover your channel, they won't be able to watch all your videos in a single seating. If you have lots of videos, they will want to subscribe and come back to watch the previous videos that you put out. I've personally have several people telling me that they went back to watch the old videos.
Make videos you'll want to watch.
Even if there are similar videos out there, people might still watch your video because it's about your personality too.
You can either make your videos better or different to stand out.
Another important thing is to make sure your video is shareable or searchable, e.g. tutorials.
When you have lots of video and your channel has authority, whenever you put out videos, they will rank higher than other people with lower authority.
All the tips above are ones that I personally practice. Every tip and every video adds up. The cumulative value of your body of work will be irresistible over a period of time.
Oh, one last time, learn from other art channels who have made it.