How to get views for your first YouTube video?

Getting views for your first YouTube video is hard work. And the hard work doesn't stop there. Week after week, you repeat the same workflow you create and publish each video.

At first, the views trickle in one at a time, then gradually they come in tens and thousands.

In this article, I explain the steps of acquiring views for your first and subsequent videos and how you can build up your process to attract your first 100 subscribers and grow the next 1000 subscribers.

Spoiler alert: if you are looking for shortcuts, then sorry, this is not the article for you.

Table of Contents

Why are people obsessed about getting YouTube view numbers?

Typically, many people are obsessed with getting YouTube view numbers because they believe that a high number of views would naturally lead to more subscribers and ultimately become a successful YouTube channel that can be monetized.

Clocking up YouTube view numbers is the first step to boosting a channel's growth. If higher view numbers lead to a similar linear or even exponential increase in watch time, that's when a YouTube channel becomes genuinely successful.

Today we will not worry about the watch time instead, I'll cover how to execute this first step correctly, so you get YouTube views trickling organically.

What counts as a view on YouTube and what's not counted as a view?

YouTube considers one view count of your video as when a viewer (person!) has watched the video for at least 30 seconds.

It has to be a real person and not from bots. YouTube has a sophisticated system and can quickly identify if the view comes from a machine.

The 30-second watch time can be a continuous view or made up by watching different sections of the same video, totaling up to 30 seconds.

Watching the video for less than 30 seconds is not considered in the view count.

How do new YouTubers get views?

New YouTubers can be divided into two categories. 

First, the YouTuber that nobody has ever heard of.

The majority of us might probably have one or more social media accounts and like or leave a comment on our friends' content.

But no one else (aside from your friends and relatives) would ever google for your name online.

The second category is the "well-known" YouTuber. 

Someone who could be a celebrity, politician, author, important person, or simply someone who has built a huge (enough) following on another social media channel.

When this "well-known" YouTuber announces launching a new YouTube channel, people worldwide will quickly head to YouTube and tap on the subscribe button.

Most of these people who launch a new YouTube channel get a lot of views even on their first YouTube video because they have an existing audience who like them and want to watch their content.

This second group of YouTubers gets views immediately and has no problems getting YouTube views.

If you happen to belong to the first category, it is an upward climb to clock up those initial views but once you've built up enough momentum and have a process to create and publish your videos, then getting those views will no longer be a problem.

How many views should your first YouTube video get?

It's normal to get no views on your first YouTube video if you are a new YouTuber - the YouTuber that nobody has ever heard of.

Most people who identify with this category often invite their friends, families, and colleagues, etc. to watch their first videos.

It's great if your close ones enjoy (and understand!) your videos and support your video content.

Most likely, they would share your videos with their friends, so you get more views for your content!

If they watch your videos simply because they want to support you, it will not help grow your channel in the long term.

Because your friends and family are not the viewers, you are looking for.

And YouTube's algorithm knows that.

YouTube wants viewers to stay as long as possible on the platform and keep watching videos one after another.

The algorithm puts viewers and channel videos into multiple categories.

Viewers are categorized into groups based on similar types of videos they like to watch.

Similarly, your videos are placed into various content buckets that people are interested in watching.

Let me give you an example.

Let's say you produce cooking videos about various ways to cook beef, and YouTube puts your video into the category BC1.

And let's call the types of people who are most likely to enjoy watching your instructional cooking videos to be Vw1.

If your family and friends watch videos about traveling and sports and never watch any cooking-related videos on YouTube, they don't belong to Vw1.

Instead, they belong to Vw23.

When they are the only people watching your videos, YouTube's algorithm then tries to show your videos to more people who belong to Vw23.

And those viewers who have never heard of you before obviously don't like cooking videos and ignore YouTube's recommendations.

This signals to YouTube to stop recommending your videos to anyone else.

Why is your YouTube video getting no views?

As a result, even if you are getting initial views from your network, views for your next videos as a new-ish YouTube channel will not increase.

If you stop promoting to family and friends, you get no views each time you publish a new video.

I hope it's clear why your new YouTube channel is not getting views.

Here are five main ways for a new YouTube channel to attract viewers/subscribers and get views.

1. If you have an existing decent follower size on other platforms, promote your videos links to get clickthroughs to your YouTube content.

2. Run YouTube advertising campaigns to spread the word about your new videos.

3. Look for online communities that could be interested in your videos and share your video content with them.

4. Partner up with other new YouTubers to grow your channel

5. Identify a video topic that people frequently search on YouTube, but there are not many existing videos that cover the topic. Create videos about this topic and make sure your videos are ranked on YouTube organic search results page one.

Running a paid YouTube ad campaign.

If you have a small budget, this is one of the best ways to get views quickly. After publishing a few videos, set up a YouTube ad campaign to promote your videos.

The best way to make this work is to target viewers who watch content from YouTube channels similar to yours.

If your goal is to attract viewers keen to learn about new methods to cook beef, target your campaign at other channels that create content around cooking, cooking meat specifically, or even more targeted at channels that focus on the preparation of beef.

If you run ads on those videos, the chances are high that you'll get click-throughs to your videos.

This gets you the views you need and, at the same time, clock up the watch time.

However, please don't ever buy YouTube views at a (ridiculously) low cost to hit the video views.

As the saying goes, if it's too good to be true, it most probably is. Those "cheap views" are just sending bots to your YouTube videos. Most of them are not real people.

The viewer numbers might go up, but because the watch time is not increasing simultaneously, instead of helping your channel to grow, the bots confuse the YouTube algorithm about the type of viewers they should promote your videos.

Post Links to Your YouTube Videos on Your Social Media Profiles

Suppose you own active social media profiles on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc., and you have a decent number of followers. In that case, this is your opportunity to promote your newly published videos.

Craft a couple of lines of copy and intrigue your followers to click on the links to watch your entire video.

You can also use your YouTube thumbnail as a preview image to invoke curiosity and clicks to your video content.

Also, if your channel is on a weekly publishing schedule, promoting your videos more than once a week on your social media profiles could reach a wider group of people.

Find Interest Communities to Share Your Videos with

There exist many niche interest group communities across multiple platforms. It could be a Facebook group, a Reddit thread, or a forum where people who like the same thing gather together.

If you want to promote your videos that demonstrate new creative beef recipes, you would search for cooking interest groups that revolve around beef or meat who enjoy innovative recipes.

When you promote your videos in those groups, you'll observe a sudden traffic spike from the community in your YouTube Analytics.

If you have no prior knowledge of existing interest communities, you've to scout around and do some googling to find these groups of people.

Partner up with fellow new YouTubers

Collaborating with other new YouTubers who just started their channels is another way to get YouTube views.

For example, you could look for ways to collaborate with another YouTube channel specializing in preparing starter dishes.

Partnering up to produce a full menu that enhances the sensory experience could help to grow each other's audiences.

It's not easy to locate a good partner, but both parties can benefit much from this YouTube collaboration if you do this well.

Get Views from YouTube's Organic Search Results

This last method to chalk up YouTube views, requires your videos to be ranked high, ideally on YouTube search results page one, so your videos get clicked on and watched.

First, you've to identify high-volume search queries that have a low number of video results.

This illustrates the gap in video content knowledge in this space.

By formulating these queries into video titles and producing your video content, these videos have a higher chance to rank high on search results for those queries.

When listing out videos in search results, the YouTube algorithm will always begin the selection from bigger channels that have a huge number of views (and watch time!) - assuming that those content has been vetted and are of high quality.

Suppose they can't find any videos that are good matches to answer the queries. In that case, the algorithm turns to smaller channels as alternative resources to pick out better-matched video content to list on search results.

Essentially, you boost your video's search ranking by doing your research beforehand.

Use Tools to Research YouTube Video Titles

A tool that I highly recommend using is TubeBuddy. This is the tool that I used to help my clients grow their YouTube channel to over 1000 subscribers from scratch, and I regularly use their Keyword Explorer feature to look for potential high-ranking video titles.

Most people mistake creating any videos that come to their mind and expecting viewers to flock to them.

If nobody has heard of you and your videos aren't found on Google or YouTube page one, then your videos can't get any views, except your family and friends.

"Looking back, what would you have done differently when growing your YouTube channel?"

When posed with this question, many successful YouTubers who have gone on to millions of subscribers have always replied, "I wish I've always had my video titles planned out before recording any videos."

Putting in the work to generate your own YouTube views

After you've successfully sent viewers from other platforms to the YouTube platform to watch your videos and getting clicks (and watch time) from search results, your view numbers go up naturally.

The YouTube algorithm recognizes that you've done your role in promoting your videos, and you've proven to YouTube that there is indeed a small, albeit growing, viewership.

At this point, YouTube would surface your videos on the Home page, Suggested or Recommended videos section.

Once you've hit a couple of hundred views for a video, this video might likely be displayed on Google search results page one for similar (YouTube) queries.

Increase Views With Your YouTube Content By Optimizing your Channel and Videos

Aside from identifying video content highly sought by YouTube search users, you can also amp up the chances of getting your videos to become a closer match to search queries by optimizing your channel and videos.

Use Descriptive and Keyword Rich Titles and Description

Including the keywords in the titles is an excellent first step. However, the phrasing of the title could be fine-tuned with more descriptive wording that aligns with the search intent of the YouTube user.

For example, let's examine the following three possible video titles for your beef cooking channel.

1. Braising beef: This is a very generic title and could be asked by someone who knows nothing about braising beef. This person could be interested in braising beef sometime in the future.

2. How to braise beef: This is a more specific topic, possibly from someone who has bought some beef and wants to learn how to braise it for the next meal.

3. What beef is best for braising: This is also a particular topic likely by someone who might want to braise beef and might not even have bought the beef. It could be someone who is asking for guidance on the best types of beef to buy to prepare a braised beef dish.

Customized thumbnails help to improve view counts.

Like a book cover is used as a distillation tool by a reader to decide if it's worthwhile to pick up a book, the thumbnail helps a viewer decide whether to click through and watch a video.

Make an effort to customize your thumbnails and get that viewer click.

The thumbnail could potentially trigger curiosity to know more - especially if a viewer is new to the channel. The thumbnail could be that pivotal point affecting the final decision.

Top tips for an attractive thumbnail that gets clicks:
👉Minimize the number of text and make the font size big enough
👉Create a contrast between your image and your font colors, so they pop.
👉 Ideally, use a photo of a face. They tend to pull in more clicks.

Spend some time on your thumbnail to make that first impression count.

More clicks = more views (hopefully) = more watch time = more subscribers = channel growth

Create playlists that enable your viewers to binge-watch your videos and multiply video views

Organize your videos into playlists. If your video is a sub-topic under a bigger umbrella topic, you can put them into the same playlist.

The idea is if one person likes sub-topic A1 and A2, chances are they would also be keen to watch videos covering sub-topic A3 and A4.

By organizing your video content into playlists, you can promote the playlist to your audiences so they can watch binge-watch the playlist.

This helps to boost the YouTube views and watch hours. 

Set up video info cards and end screens to direct traffic to your other videos

Info cards allow you to create clickable notifications within your video at any timestamp of your choosing.

This allows you to promote some of your other videos, playlist, or even link to a pre-approved article or landing page on your website.

I use this regularly to promote some closely related videos that people should watch next and get email subscribers for my lead magnet.

End screens are very similar to info cards and allow you to create clickable links at the end of your video. 

You can choose when you want to display your end screens. Any start time between the last 5 to 20 seconds of your video works fine.

I recommend creating a few extra seconds at the end of each video with a neutral background, so your end screens stand out more to viewers.

If you install the Tubebuddy browser extension, you can easily create end screen templates to promote different videos based on the topics of your video.

Enable embedding

Some content creators don't want other people to embed their videos on their website, but I beg to differ and highly recommend keeping this function enabled.

Here are three reasons why:

  1. When you embed your videos on your website, it allows your visitors to discover your videos and your channel. One or more of them could be your next subscribers!
  2. Also, any click on the play button contributes to your YouTube view numbers, proving to YouTube that your videos are recommend-worthy.
  3. If other site owners embed your videos on their site, it gives their visitors a chance to watch your videos. If the visitors click on play, and watch a video for at least 30 seconds, this adds to your view count.

Pin Your Best Video Content On Your YouTube Home Page

Did you know that you can pin a video of your choice to your YouTube channel homepage?

Cool, isn't it.

This is called a YouTube channel trailer video.

You can even pin two different trailers, one for people who are not yet subscribed to your channel and one for your subscribers.

I use my channel trailer to explain to new people who are not subscribed yet, what my channel is all about and what kind of content they can expect when they subscribe.

I recommend that you record a short one-minute video about your channel to motivate more people to become subscribers.

This can help you to boost your YouTube channel growth quickly.

What are you waiting for?

Promote your videos on the Community Tab

This feature will be enabled once you reach 500 subscribers.

It allows you to publish social media posts on YouTube.

I use this to promote newly uploaded videos to my subscribers.

This way, I double the odds that my video will show up in their newsfeed, either the video itself or the social media post promoting with a direct link to watch the video.

This is a godsend if you want to boost early views for your new videos.

Add timestamps (or YouTube chapters) to your video descriptions

Are you using YouTube chapters?

Video chapters allow you to segment your video into different sections, each with a unique title and timestamp.

Creating them is super easy. Open your video in YouTube Studio and scroll down to the video description.

Next, type in your timecode, followed by the chapter title. 

Important: Your first timestamp has the be 00:00 otherwise, it won't work.

Here is an example

00:00 Welcome

01:30 What is the best beef cut for braising?

05:15 How to prepare your beef before braising?

07:22 The braising process

You might have guessed it. The first number is the number of minutes followed by the number of seconds with a colon sign as divider in between.

You can learn more about using YouTube chapters in this article.

How many videos should you publish to get views quickly?

I recommend publishing at least 1 video every week for the next 24 months.

Each time you upload a new video, you train up the algorithm to learn more about what type of viewers are most interested in your content.

When YouTube has gathered enough information, and you've given them the confidence that your videos are getting the views, the next step would be to recommend your content to new viewers.

If you don't have the budget to hire professional video editors, uploading about 100 videos in two years will help you improve your on-camera performance and your editing skills.

You will also become better in optimizing new videos with creative titles and attractive thumbnails.

How long does it take to get views on your first YouTube video?

If your channel is small with less than 1000 subscribers getting views on your videos will be slow. The best results you will be able to get are if you optimize your videos for YouTube search.

As I've mentioned, I use TubeBuddy to find keywords that are high in demand, meaning people are searching for it, while at the same time there is little competition. In other words, not many people made videos about this particular topic.

When someone searches for a niche search term, YouTube has no choice but to recommend your video simply because there is nobody else.

Once YouTube has enough data points to understand what your channel is about and that viewers actually enjoy your content, YouTube will start recommending new videos organically to people who might be interested in the same topic.

It also helps if you promote your videos on social media, your website, and your email list if you have one.

Getting views for your first videos is hard work but it's not impossible

For each of your videos, put in the hard work to research and create videos in-demand videos. As a result, your videos appear on search results and naturally get the video views.

At the same time, promote your YouTube videos on other channels either for free or through advertising campaigns.

As you keep repeating the process, it becomes second nature to you. At that point, you'll realize getting more views on YouTube isn't as impossible as you might have imagined.

If you need more help to grow your YouTube channel, check out my article: 11 Vitals to Grow a YouTube Channel from 0 to 100.

For guided support to identify best video topics to rapidly grow your YouTube channel, my Get On YouTube Page One - Video Strategy could be the answer.

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