When I talk about getting the first 100 subscribers and starting a YouTube channel, most people visualize the project to be akin to climbing Mount Everest.
They think, it's impressive but it's too tough.
One can't simply start a YouTube channel, right?
Well, the thought of starting from ground zero sounds extremely daunting.
Just like a baby taking the first step;
your first date;
attending that first interview;
securing the first job;
the first drive on your own,
not knowing what to expect and what to do.
If that's how you feel about growing a successful YouTube channel,
fear not, you've arrived at the right place.
In this article, I will share the 11 vitals to make building your first YouTube channel and getting your first 100 subscribers (almost!) a walk in the park.
At the same time, if you are a business owner, you'll learn how to establish a successful business foundation by building a YouTube channel that will produce a steady flow of leads over time.
I'll explain exactly what it entails to expand your channel and the fundamentals of an engaging video that viewers would want to watch and keep coming back for more.
Table of Contents
- How fast long does it take to reach the 100-subs mark for my YouTube channel?
- Why people turn to YouTube
- How can your YouTube channel help this growing pool of viewers
- What YouTube wants from you - a channel owner
- Attract your first 100 subscribers: the 11 vitals
- The journey to a successful channel on YouTube begins with your first 100 subscribers
fast long does it take to reach the 100-subs mark for my YouTube channel?
To set the expectations right, I want to highlight that I'm an advocate of hard work. There is no magic potion to get from 0 to 100 subscribers overnight.
If you were hoping to hit the 100-subs mark yesterday, then this is not the article for you.
When clients come to me, the first question they ask is, "How fast does it take to grow my channel to 100 subscribers?"
I like to throw the question back, "How much time can you spend on creating videos for your channel?" 😉
What they don't realise is, the speed of growing a YouTube channel isn't dependent on me - unless of course, I'm in charge of the video production team.
If I'm not leading the execution process, then the timeframe to reach the significant 100 could vary anything from a couple of months to 6 months or more!
There are also a couple of dependencies on how quickly a YouTube channel takes to draw in new subscribers.
- Channel topics - if there are many big channels with topics similar to yours, then it might be harder to get that initial traction. (Note: harder, not impossible.)
- Initial size of your online audience - if you have an existing list of email subscribers or a large following on other social media platforms, hitting that first 100 is a piece of cake. But if your digital presence is tiny, then that could take a while.
- The publishing frequency - I propose pushing out comfortably a video per week - which is pretty doable. If you opt for twice a week, the speed of growth would naturally be boosted.
- YouTube SEO - Using a tool like TubeBuddy works wonders. Research on video topics that people search for and incorporate those keywords into your video title and description. It is also a useful tool for identifying niche topics that would be easier for your channel to rank for.
- Having a content strategy - once you have the insights from #4, planning out the content schedule ahead of time allows you to create time blocks for recording ONLY rather than spending half the time pondering over what to record.
- Promotion strategy - when your videos go live, where will the videos be promoted? Is there a plan in place? Without a marketing roadmap to promote your videos, they will simply sink to the bottom of the abyss once they go live.
- Your commitment - would you be willing to set aside time for growing your YouTube channel? Consistent video production is the secret behind building up momentum for exponential growth. How committed are you to make it work?
As you might have concluded by now, there is no one-size-fits-all answer to "How long does it take to reach the 100-subs mark for my YouTube channel?".
In an ideal scenario where you get all the seven factors right, it might just take you a few weeks to get there.
Else, it could take months!
Why 100 is the sought-after milestone
When you hit the magic 100, you can finally customise your channel URL.
For example, after 100 viewers subscribed to my channel, I gave my YouTube channel a customised link that looks like this: https://youtube.com/claricelin
You will also gain the ability to stream live to YouTube from the mobile app.
And FYI, when your channel gets at least 100 subscribers, it has already outperformed 20 million other YouTube channels that have less than 100 subs.
How many videos does it take to get 100 subscribers?
As an extremely conservative estimate, If each of your videos draws in at least one new subscriber, then 100 videos would be your goal.
If you only have time to put out one weekly video, it will take you 100 weeks. That's about 2 years.
If you have the bandwidth for two videos per week, then the duration would be halved.
The above calculation is based on a linear growth assumption.
In reality, a channel's growth is exponential.
When you produce over a threshold volume of high-quality videos, and more people show great interest to keep watching one after another, it helps Youtube to understand the demographics of the audience and enable them to recommend your videos to new audiences.
At the beginning, you might get one subscriber per video but after a couple of videos, the subscriber gain would pick up momentum and you'd realise you might likely only require 20-30 videos to hit that magical number.
Does growing a channel gets easier after 100 subscribers?
Yes and no.
If you've established a routine - from brainstorming video content to recording to editing (if any) to uploading to YouTube and promoting the video - as long as you keep nailing those tasks every single week, yes - it gets easier as there's less thinking and more doing.
However, your video content has to be elevated to the next level. If you've been creating 1-3 minute long videos, it's time to upgrade to between 5-10 minutes. A 20-minute video would be a huge step forward!
That implies you've to put in invest more time into the content outline planning, recording and editing work increases with the duration of a video.
From the 100-subscriber mark onwards, I would recommend investing in a tool like Tubebuddy to optimize your video in terms of title and tags selection and vid description.
It makes it easier to pin down the best way to title your content so people can discover your videos through Google and YouTube search.
Can I buy subscribers for my channel?
Yes, you can.
Google "how to buy YouTube subscribers" and you'll easily find a list of providers.
But no, you should never, ever even think about paying for a subscriber jack-up.
If you weren't already aware of it, Google became the owner of YouTube in 2006. As Google continuously enhances its search algorithm to identify businesses who try to game the algorithm through unapproved methods, this sophisticated knowledge would naturally be shared with YouTube.
YouTube has the advanced capability to sieve out anyone who artificially inflates their subscriber numbers.
There is no point in faking high numbers because eventually at the end of the day, aside from a vanity numeric increment, it's not helping your channel grow in any shape or form.
Fake subscribers will not increase real human views and watch time.
YouTube has to understand your viewers' interest and behaviour before being able to recommend your videos to new viewers who are similar to your existing viewers and subscribers.
Without any REAL recorded viewers' data, YouTube can't show your videos to any new audiences!
Your money would be better well-spent on hiring a YouTube content strategist who can give you guidance on what video content would be more likely to rank on YouTube, tips on video content planning, creation and compulsory marketing endeavours to expose your vid to a wider audience.
Why people turn to YouTube
From a YouTube study in 2017, the top three reasons why people turned to YouTube were the videos help them relax, teach them something new and enabled them to explore further into their interests
Videos that make viewers laugh, relate to what they are interested in, and inspire them were also video viewing motivators.
While YouTube has replaced traditional TV shows for younger viewers, high production quality and recognizable actors are less important to them as they watch videos.
How can your YouTube channel help this growing pool of viewers
With 2 billion users logging into YouTube each month for the common reasons mentioned above, the majority of YouTube viewers see the platform as a source of entertainment, educational hub, and also to dig deep into their hobbies.
Positioning your channel as a "subject matter expert" and essentially imparting knowledge through your videos in a fun and inspiring way appears to be the top underlying strategy for a successful YouTube channel.
Your videos would excite people and turn them from watchers to do-ers.
Shift the viewers' mindset from “can do” into “must buy”.
Open their minds and expose them to new brands and products that assist them in reaching their goals.
Teach viewers new skills that stimulate them and make them want to know more!
And of course, the delivery should be engaging and entertaining.
Back in school days, my history teacher would get us to open our text books and she reads from them in the most monotonous tone ever. Word by word.
And yes, I fell asleep most of the time. One of the subjects I detested the most.
I'm sure you can guess why😉
The emotion to convey in your video would be similar to how you sound when you are talking to your friend about your favourite topics.
Your energy and enthusiasm would naturally shine through and hook in the viewers.
Help people to discover your products and services by answering the most common questions they google about
For a newbie channel, begin with addressing commonly asked questions that your potential customers would google online.
Related follow-up questions on the same topic can also be included within a single video.
Extract the most important words (keywords) and make certain that they form part of your video titles.
Enable people to take action by breaking down complex concepts
To enable people to take action, you can either break down a complex concepts into multiple mini-steps or demonstrate an example of what's possible.
For example, I'm not a proficient cook. And most times when I read a recipe, I might be deterred by the process (by my own interpretation) as I visualise multiple possibilities that could go wrong with the dish.
However, when I watch a YouTube video where the chef would demonstrate the sequence clearly, how the entire preparation would come together and what to look out for in terms of colour or smell, the demonstrated specificity and details give me a confidence boost that I would be able to produce a similar end result.
That's what would trigger me into action.
In short, put forward tips or hacks to reduce any viewer's (internal) friction to get into action.
What YouTube wants from you - a channel owner
Have you thought about this?
YouTube provides you a platform full of audiences who could be interested to watch your video content. They also offer huge storage space for you to create a channel and host your videos for free.
Wow, isn't that cool? Hang on, wait a minute.
After all, YouTube is still running a business. They need money to host the servers which store your videos and enable millions of viewers to watch those videos at the same time!
For you as a channel owner to continue tapping into YouTube's free services, YouTube depend partially on your contribution as a content creator to create entertaining and useful videos that earn the money from advertisers or YouTube premium users who pay for a no-ads viewers' experience.
Naturally, advertisers would only pay for a YouTube ad listing provided there is an adequately-sized audience found on the video platform.
And this goes back to you playing a supporting role in creating valuable useful videos to pull in large group of those audiences to stick around and also to return for more.
Yes. As a channel owner, your responsibilities is to produce entertaining and educational content to assist YouTube to pull in a large viewership.
In summary, more compelling video content leads to more viewers and lures in the advertisers with the big bucks.
Attract your first 100 subscribers: the 11 vitals
Attracting your first 100 subscribers is not rocket science.
To make things more doable for you, I've broken down my approach into 11 key vitals that you can implement easily for growing your YouTube channel to that magic 100.
First 7 Vitals
From viewers' perspective, informative is defined as when they pick up a new piece of information, feel enlightened, or discovered a solution from watching your video.
"Ah-ha" is the key expression to be looking out for.
Acceptable Visual Quality
When people talk about videos, images of Hollywood productions instantly pops into their mind.
Do your YouTube videos have to be produced at that level of supremacy?
Of course NOT!!!
The usefulness of your video to a viewer supersedes everything else.
Still, the most compelling reason behind people watching videos over reading a text is their ability to see moving images and hear accompanying sounds.
Viewers are not looking for superior visuals. The bare minimum will do.
So, how does the quality of a "bare minimum" visual look like?
For example, changing face expressions should be visible (enough) to discern, abundant lighting so it doesn't look like a horror movie and no (non-directed) blurry effects with shaking hands.
The basic rule of thumb: if you've been sharing videos you recorded on your mobile with your friends and family and none have complained that they can't see anything in your video, then replicate that standard for all your YouTube videos.
Easy, right? Next.
Decent audio quality
I can't emphasize it sufficiently.
Viewers not only need to see you BUT they also want to hear your voice clearly. If they can't hear you audibly, be sure they will tune out.
We are not talking about creating a premium surround sound effect.
It's simply being able to hear each spoken word. Even if not every single word can be heard, one ought to hear sufficient phrases to comprehend the gist of your topic and the message of the video.
It is best to record your videos indoors if the external environment is always active with people and if strong winds are a constant factor.
Weather conditions like strong wind can create a nasty noisy rumble and dominate the sound. (Like how your friend can’t hear you clearly on a phone call.)
If you opt for outdoor recording, note that distant high frequency and low frequency sounds could be picked up by your microphone unknowingly and if your voice is soft, it could be covered up or muted.
A park or somewhere in the middle of nature would be a good starting point without people talking loudly in the background.
Electrical noises could also be an issue especially when your microphone cable is not plugged in properly or if the cable is slightly malfunctioning. A crackling sound could find its way into your recordings and cut the delivery, causing viewers to make out only every other word.
Watch out for those factors I've mentioned when you record your YouTube videos. Best way is to do a short test recording prior your actual take.
Although those noises can be omitted using sound editing tools, however, as a beginner in YouTube videos creation with minimal editing skills and budget, it's quicker to re-take a new clip.
Narrow targeted audience
Target 2-3 segments of your audience that would bring you the most amount of revenue. Your videos should revolve around their needs and their top questions.
Regularly publishing solution-based videos to the same group of viewers would lure them to return again and again for those content.
The irresistible draw
Make your audience fall head over heels with your content. And guess what, you don't have to be a TV personality to charm your viewers.
Let your personality shine through in your video messages.
If you are your own personal brand, talk as though you are speaking to your customers - professional, knowledgeable and approachable (if needed be).
In a nutshell, just be the same you that compells potential customers decide (by themselves) to work with you.
Decent video length
YouTube doesn't have any official stipulated video length for any videos. As a beginner, aim for 1-3 minutes long for each of the videos.
When you become more comfortable in front of the camera and have grown accustomed to the publishing schedule, you can plan for videos longer than 5 minutes.
If your longer videos retain viewers to hang around for a longer period, you are sending strong signals to YouTube that your videos are worth putting forward to other viewers on the platform.
Promoting each of your published video is integral to the success of your channel.
You need all the publicity possible for a "new-born" undiscovered channel.
Even the prominent James Bond movie "No Time to Die" has spent well over USD$66 million in marketing cost due to multiple delays in launching the film due to the pandemic!
Decide on the platforms, frequency and timing you choose to promote your videos on.
Factor in sufficient time to create the promotional materials and craft your captions wisely.
If you have an email list, notify your email list subscribers of your fresh-from-the-oven video.
In essence, simply let everyone in your network know every time a new video is published!
Other 3 boosting vitals
The performance of each individual video is determined by watch time, then click-throughs and retention rate, followed by likes, comments, shares, end screen clicks and info card clicks.
YouTube has never explicitly divulged the exact importance of those interaction signals.
Even so, if your viewers tap on the thumbs-up (or even thumbs-down), leave a comment or share your video, they indicate some form of engagement and that's a plus in their playbook.
Needless to say, clicking on the end screen to watch the next video or on one of your suggested videos from the info card, your videos are keeping viewers to hang out longer on the platform.
You are doing YouTube a favour, and that gets you another brownie point.
Set up a process (to create a growth momentum)
YouTube channels grow in a non-linear way. You might even put in a lot of effort at the beginning but not see any results.
If you want to see exponential growth for your channel, prepare a weekly checklist that lays out all the tasks you need to accomplish so you can publish a new video every week.
The tasks include keyword research, planning, recording and editing the videos, and of course preparing the promotional materials.
Of course, if your goal is to get out 2-3 videos every 7 days, then naturally you'd have to plan for a tighter schedule.
If you do everything right in a consistent manner, you'll probably see subscribers, views, and watch time steadily increasing.
Recommended tools to make your work easier
Canva for thumbnails creation and social media promotion
This is a very powerful tool for anyone who's unfamiliar with design.
Canva offers the capability to design your own thumbnails and also social media posts templates that you can tap into as part of your YouTube promotional strategy.
(On a side note, if Instagram is part of your social media strategy and you are new to the platform, you can also check out my other article: Using Instagram For Business in 2021: The Beginner’s Guide.)
Otto for generating subtitles
A handy transcription tool to generate your video subtitles would be greatly beneficial in growing your channel.
Since discovering Otto, I've saved so much time as the tool has around 80%-90% accuracy in transcribing the videos!
If you have a foreign accent (like myself) or targeting viewers whose first language is not English, subtitles would help them to follow along with your content or even enable them to watch your video on mute (when it's inconvenient for them).
TubeBuddy for keyword research.
Your indispensable keyword research tool to help your videos rank on the top of YouTube search results.
Pro tip: when your channel becomes a force to reckon, your videos would also rank high on Google search results, and lead to more potential customers knocking on your door from Google traffic.
The final vital
Remember: a YouTube channel does not grow in an exponential manner and success doesn't happen overnight.
Stay laser-focused on publishing one video every week.
Be very patient and trust the process you've set up.
I'll leave you with this quote.
“Patience is not the ability to wait but the ability to keep a good attitude while waiting.”
― Joyce Meyer, Battlefield of the Mind: Winning the Battle in Your Mind
The journey to a successful channel on YouTube begins with your first 100 subscribers
Don't get in your own way.
Understandably, you might not be seeing immediate returns in the time you invested to produce and publish each video.
Nonetheless, growing a successful YouTube channel to generate a steady stream of high-quality leads is the marketing future for (most) businesses.
Brian Tracy once said,
"Invest three percent of your income in yourself (self-development) in order to guarantee your future.".
I would say, "Invest half a day each week to create and publish a YouTube video to guarantee the future of your business".
Make YouTube a priority for your business.
Make 100 subscribers your first goal.
Your future self will thank you for it.
PS: And if you need support and guidance to get your YouTube channel to the 1,000 subscriber mark, my YouTube Channel Growth Mentorship might be just the answer for you.