Chart of growing YouTube Subscribers

YouTube Growth Journey: What to Expect and How Long It Takes

One of the most common questions we get from clients and potential clients is, “How long will it take to grow a YouTube channel?” This question is understandable because creating video content is time-consuming and can be expensive. It’s a good question; however, the answer, as you might expect, is not simple or straightforward. It depends on many factors, such as your goals, the number of subscribers you are aiming for, your industry, how niche your product or service is, the level of competition, and how often you can upload content – daily, weekly, or monthly.

Let’s tackle each of these questions before we move on to helping you grow your channel.

What is your goal? 

Small businesses and startups leverage YouTube to achieve various goals. For example, your primary goal may be to:

  • Increase brand awareness
  • Generate leads and drive traffic to the website
  • Build customer engagement and foster a sense of community
  • Promote new products or services
  • Educate and demonstrate expertise
  • Strengthen brand loyalty
  • Improve SEO
  • Promote events

Setting a YouTube goal is important because it provides clear direction and focus for your content strategy, ensuring that your efforts align with your business objectives. Goals help measure success, optimize resources, and create content that resonates with your target audience.

Subscribers 

In the world of million-subscriber channels, it’s easy to think you need a huge number of subscribers. However, that’s not the case. For example, if your goal is to attract potential customers, we have seen that happen with client accounts with 1,000-5,000 subscribers and a consistent flow of customers with channels with 10,000-50,000 subscribers. Therefore, you don’t need millions of subscribers to make your YouTube ROI.

However, if you don’t have a product or service to sell and rely on YouTube monetization, you will need a much larger audience. Again, how much YouTube will pay you depends on the industry you are in. For example, YouTube advertisers are willing to pay a lot for financial products and services, so you will get paid more per view compared to other industries. Therefore, you will need a lot more views and subscribers in the second example than in the first to make the same amount of ad revenue from YouTube.

Industry & Niche 

We touched on this point above, but since it’s important, we will expand on it. The specific industry and niche you are in will play a significant part in how quickly you will grow your business. Let’s look at a few examples to demonstrate this point. If you are releasing YouTube videos that may interest a larger audience (e.g., a Realtor covering real estate topics), you don’t need to be an active buyer or seller to find those videos interesting. Therefore, your videos will have much broader appeal than if you are in the business of selling pianos. Your videos will likely appeal to a much smaller audience. Appealing to a smaller audience has its disadvantages, but there are benefits as well.

Competition 

If you are serious about starting or growing your YouTube channel, you have to understand your competition. Who is already creating similar content? How many views and subscribers do they have? How many videos are they uploading every month? These are all important questions that you need to answer. If we take our two previous examples, real estate is a much more competitive space on YouTube, and perfecting your content against established channels will be difficult. Especially if you are not specializing in a specific niche of real estate to differentiate yourself from other channels. On the other hand, there are not as many channels and videos covering pianos, so the level of competition is much lower.

Understanding who you are competing against before you start your YouTube growth journey is extremely important. This is why we often spend at least two weeks researching competitors for every new client that comes to us with the goal of growing or starting a YouTube channel.

Content Schedule 

If you spend any time around YouTube creators like we have, you will hear the phrase “you have to feed the beast.” In essence, YouTube’s algorithm rewards consistency and frequency. If your goal is to get to 10,000 subscribers, it will typically take you longer to release 2 videos per month than someone releasing 4 videos a month or someone releasing 8 videos per month. Of course, content quality is important, but how frequently you release your videos will play a big part in how long it will take you to hit your subscriber goal.

Now that we covered some basic factors that will impact your growth, let’s look at some important milestones.

  • 1,000 Subscribers: This milestone can take 6-24 months, depending on the factors mentioned above.
  • 10,000 Subscribers: Channels often reach this milestone within 1-3 years if they maintain quality and consistency.
  • 100,000 Subscribers: This milestone usually requires a substantial increase in content frequency and quality.

Related: The First 10 Seconds: How To Instantly Hook Your Viewers

Your First 1,000 Subscribers

Reaching 1,000 subscribers on YouTube is an important milestone for several reasons beyond the ability to monetize your channel. Here are some key benefits:

  1. Community Tab Access: Once you hit 1,000 subscribers, you gain access to the Community tab. This feature allows you to engage more directly with your audience through posts, polls, and updates, fostering a stronger sense of community.
  2. Credibility and Trust: Having 1,000 subscribers adds credibility to your channel. It signals to new viewers that your content is valuable and worth subscribing to, potentially attracting even more subscribers.
  3. Algorithm Favorability: Channels with higher subscriber counts often get favored by YouTube’s algorithm. This can lead to better visibility in search results and recommendations, increasing your chances of reaching a broader audience.
  4. Improved Analytics: More subscribers provide better data for YouTube Analytics. With a larger audience, you get more meaningful insights into viewer behavior, preferences, and engagement, allowing you to optimize your content strategy.
  5. Collaboration Opportunities: Reaching 1,000 subscribers can open up more opportunities for collaborations with other creators. Many YouTubers look for channels with a solid subscriber base to collaborate with, which can help grow your audience further.
  6. Influence and Sponsorships: Brands and sponsors often consider subscriber count when looking for influencers to partner with. Hitting 1,000 subscribers can make your channel more attractive for sponsorship deals and partnerships.
  7. Custom URL: You can create a custom URL for your YouTube channel once you reach 100 subscribers and meet other criteria, but having 1,000 subscribers adds to the overall branding strength of your channel.
  8. Live Streaming Perks: With 1,000 subscribers, you can access more features for live streaming, such as Super Chat and Super Stickers, which allow viewers to pay to have their messages highlighted during live streams.
  9. Higher Engagement: A larger subscriber base generally leads to higher engagement rates on your videos. More subscribers mean more potential likes, comments, and shares, which can further boost your channel’s growth.

Reaching 1,000 subscribers is a significant step in establishing your presence on YouTube and leveraging the platform’s features and opportunities to enhance your channel’s growth and engagement. If you are starting a YouTube channel or have finally decided to take YouTube seriously, this should be your first target and milestone.

We often find that getting to the first 1,000 subscribers takes longer than getting from 1,000 to 10,000 subscribers, so don’t feel discouraged if it takes you 1-2 years to get to 1,000.

1,000 to 10,000 Subscribers

As we mentioned above, the subscriber growth curve is never linear. We typically see a hockey stick growth, so what got you your first 1,000 subscribers will likely get you 10,000 subscribers. However, there are some important areas you should start paying attention to. Since you will now have access to better analytics, make sure you stay on top of keywords and use research data that YouTube provides you. For example, you will clearly be able to see how your audience is discovering your channel, which specific keywords they are using, and which other YouTube channels your audience is watching. This is invaluable data that you will need to go from 1,000 to 10,000.

Once you cross 1,000 subscribers, YouTube’s algorithm is more likely to start recommending your content more often. Therefore, paying very close attention to relevant keywords, titles, descriptions, and tags can help your videos get recommended more often and start ranking higher in search results.

As mentioned earlier, it may take you a few years to get to 10,000, but the good news is, if you are a small business, 10,000 subscribers might be all you need to justify the time and resources you put into YouTube. It’s not unusual for us to see YouTube being the main lead-generating channel for small businesses with 10,000 subscribers.

100,000+ Subscribers

If you are trying to grow to 100,000 and beyond, it’s time to increase your content frequency (if possible). At this point, YouTube’s algorithm is recommending a lot of your content, so more content will naturally mean more views and subscribers. For example, if you were releasing 4 videos per month, can you increase that to 6-8 videos per month?

At this point, how long it takes to get to 100,000 subscribers will likely depend on how much content you can produce. For example, you should be able to see how much your channel is growing every month to estimate when you will hit 100,000. If your current subscriber growth is 7% per month, then just do the math on how many months it will take to get there.

The good news is, a lot of your older content should be bringing you views and subscribers, so you already have a great platform to build upon. Also, don’t be afraid of recreating old videos and tackling those topics again. Look at your older content, and if it’s not performing well, recreate the videos. Your subscribers will typically not dig up your older videos, but if you cover the same topic today, they are far more likely to see it. Additionally, YouTube is far more likely to recommend your new content at this point than when you had 1,000 subscribers or less.

Tips (Summary)

  1. Content Quality: High-quality content that provides value, whether it’s entertainment, education, or information, tends to attract more viewers and subscribers.
  2. Consistency: Regularly uploading videos helps keep your audience engaged and can improve your channel’s visibility in YouTube’s algorithm.
  3. Niche: Channels that target a specific niche with a dedicated audience can grow faster than more general channels.
  4. Engagement: Engaging with your audience through comments, social media, and community posts can help build a loyal following.
  5. SEO and Keywords: Optimizing your videos with relevant keywords, titles, descriptions, and tags can help your videos rank higher in search results.
  6. Promotion: Actively promoting your channel through social media, collaborations with other creators, and other marketing efforts can significantly impact growth.

Related: How To Build A Successful YouTube Channel (8 Steps)

Final Thoughts

The time it takes for a YouTube channel to grow can vary widely based on several factors, including content quality, consistency, niche, and audience engagement. The general estimates we provided are based on our client data, but it doesn’t mean you will match those estimates. Your individual results can vary significantly. Hopefully, you do it quicker, but it may take longer as well. Also, some of our client channels grew much faster due to viral content and strong niche appeal, so you can definitely reach those subscriber milestones quicker, but we wouldn’t suggest that’s the norm.

YouTube is and will continue to be the de facto video platform, so it’s not too late to start your YouTube channel. If the timeline or what is required scares you, remember there is no such thing as overnight success on YouTube. Everyone reaping rewards from YouTube has put in years of work to grow their channel. Hopefully, you will do so as well. Good luck!

Ready to start or grow your YouTube channel? Contact us today, and we’ll guide you through every step of the process!

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