How to get free YouTube subscribers

Do you want to make money on YouTube? Or maybe you want to market your brand? Are you trying to become a content creator or YouTube influencer? Wishing to shine on the platform is a no-brainer, but how do you get more YouTube subscribers and grow your social channels?

You should never buy YouTube subscribers, so how do you get more YouTube channel subscribers organically? Even the highest quality videos won’t get played without first instituting a strategy for attracting new viewers. Whether you have just created a new YouTube channel or are trying to figure out how to increase your follower count, this beginner step-by-step guide is a great place to start. Follow these 20 essential tips for getting free YouTube subscribers, and you will be hitting channel growth milestones in no time.



1. Offer consistent content

People want to watch videos that are easy to watch. Your videos don’t need to be perfect, but making a legitimate effort to create quality content will help create a following that rewards you with their loyalty.

However, to build a loyal YouTube following, it is essential to create a consistent brand for your YouTube channel and release content regularly. To gain a steady following on your YouTube channel, you must build a community, and the first step to creating that is consistency. Here are some tips for delivering consistent content:

2. Optimize your video titles

Creating engaging YouTube video titles is crucial for improving discoverability on the platform and attracting new viewers. When you are creating a new video title, use these tips to make sure your titles are optimized:

3. Create eye-catching thumbnails

People are more likely to click on a video with a creative and custom video thumbnail. Help your videos stand out by creating visually consistent thumbnails that are true to your brand. Consistency builds credibility and brand recognition, so create templates with a common theme regarding font, color, and design elements. Also, consider size. Be sure your custom thumbnails and banner art are mobile-responsive in that they look good on both phones and computers.

4. Create an attention-grabbing channel banner and channel icon

Effective YouTube channel branding aims to visually pull people in. People come to YouTube for so many reasons — entertainment, education, news, and shopping, among them — and there are literally billions of hours of videos they can watch

Make sure people want to come to your channel by designing a good-looking YouTube channel; use professional designs and unified color palettes to create stunning, high-quality channel art. The visual aspects of your channel can be just as important as your actual content when it comes to drawing in potential new followers.

People are immediately attracted to things that catch their eye. Want to increase your YouTube subscriber count? Make your channel shine with an eye-catching channel banner and channel icon.

Custom channel banner:

Welcome people to your channel’s homepage with a channel banner. A good banner lets people know who you are and what your channel is about and encourages further subscription. It makes your channel a cohesive landing page where a viewer knows who you are, what you’re about, and the value you offer.

Custom channel icon:

Create a channel icon that resonates with your brand. A channel icon is like a logo — a visual representation of your brand that appears on your channel and wherever you comment. The more professional your icon, the more legitimate you seem. Make sure your logo is recognizable, especially in small sizes.

5. Write engaging descriptions

When done effectively, YouTube video descriptions can contribute to the growth of your YouTube subscriber base by attracting and encouraging viewers to subscribe to more of your content. A well-written description gives viewers an understanding of your video content, letting them know what to expect. Additionally, video descriptions are an essential part of SEO optimization (more on this later). Follow these tips for writing engaging descriptions of your own:

6. Use relevant tags

Tags are descriptive keywords or phrases that you can add to your videos to help the YouTube algorithm categorize and identify the content of your videos. Using tags in your videos is crucial to optimizing your videos for search. Here are some tips for tagging effectively on YouTube:

When you are getting started with tagging, check out your competitor’s tags to see the type of tagging that successful videos engage in. Over time, experiment with various kinds of tags and use YouTube Analytics to analyze which ones seem to positively impact your videos’ performance.

Use YouTube’s clickable subscription buttons in your video. During your video’s intro, outro, and end screen, motivate viewers to subscribe by having a clickable “subscribe” button pop up. This visual queue prompts your viewers and is a simple way to subscribe.

To do this from YouTube Studio, go to the menu on the left and click “Customization” and then “Branding.” Next, choose your display time (end of video, custom start time, or entire video) and click “Change.” Finally, select an image (e.g., a subscribe button or a watermark) and click “Done,” and then “Publish.”

Add a separate subscription link at the end of your video description. Although it may seem overkill, you never know which link will prompt people to subscribe, so cover all your bases by putting a subscription link anywhere your viewers might look.

8. Ask viewers to subscribe

You must market your channel to get more YouTube subscribers. YouTube is not the place to be shy, so include a call to action in your content and invite your viewers to subscribe. People love an invite! They want a reason to connect. Your viewers are busy, so they might not even think to click subscribe unless you prompt them.

Directly ask for subscriptions in your video intros and outros. That ask can be as simple as: “If you like my content, please subscribe to my channel!” or “If you’re new here, hit the subscribe button so you make sure to never miss my weekly videos.” If you want to be more natural about it, consider teasing your next video during the outro to promote subscriptions: “Thanks for watching — be sure to subscribe so you get first access to my new video coming out next week about….”

9. Create binge-worthy playlists

When creating content, it is a great idea to think about playlists. YouTube playlists are a set of videos that autoplay in a set order. Viewers can sit back and enjoy your playlist without searching for another video. Many people love to binge-watch content, so creating thematic playlists gives your audience a list of videos to watch or look forward to and is an excellent reason for them to subscribe. Playlists increase your channel’s watch time and engagement. For more information on creating, editing, and deleting a playlist, check out this article on Google’s YouTube Help page.

Check out an example of a cohesive playlist with thematic thumbnails (remember tip #3!) below:

10. Promote your channel across social media

Asking viewers to subscribe is a significant first step, but that only encourages subscriptions from people who have already seen your videos. If people don’t know you’re there, then people won’t ever subscribe. Build on your existing marketing efforts to help your channel grow. To reach a wider audience and get your channel noticed, you must branch off from YouTube and promote your videos and channel on other online platforms.

Other social media platforms:

Bring over your audience from other social media channels by using all your platforms as a funnel to your YouTube channel. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, LinkedIn — wherever you have followers, let them know about the amazing videos you create on YouTube. Ask your followers on your other social channels to subscribe to your YouTube channel. People want to love you, so help them do so!


Use your business website or blog to showcase your YouTube videos. Let your audience know just what they’re missing out on. Embed your entire video — or just a teaser clip — on your blog or website, along with a link to your channel and an invitation to subscribe. Posting these backlinks will boost your video SEO. Additionally, consider promoting your content to other relevant communities; post a link to your channel on related forums or in the comments sections to get your name out there.

11. Interact directly with your audience

Building an engaged following is the key to building a community on YouTube. People want to feel appreciated and a part of something. To create an engaged following, you must build community — and to do that, you must make your followers feel valued and understood.

The first step to building a YouTube community is interacting with your audience and making friends. For example, meaningful engagement with commenters validates the original commenter and demonstrates to new visitors that there's a human behind the brand. Here are a few ways to get this going:

12. Leave your viewers wanting more

End your videos by teasing your next project; you don’t want to just post one-off videos and hope they randomly go viral. The goal is to build an engaged following that wants to keep watching every video you post.

To bring people in and gain new subscribers:

All this ties back to tip #1: offer consistent content. This step will become much easier once you have a consistent posting schedule.

13. Collaborate with other creators

Collaborate with other YouTube creators to gain exposure and take advantage of each other’s audiences. Do your research to find potential YouTuber collaborators who post content in a similar field as yours. Your followers could suggest a collaboration with a specific YouTuber — listen to them! Collaborating with YouTube creators is a great way to promote your channel by generating cross-channel appeal between your two audiences, which is an essential way to get noticed and gain more subscribers.

Check out when Adobe Express collaborated with Dysturb!

14. Host a contest

Want to attract some new followers and get a bump in engagement? Consider hosting your own contest on YouTube. Make a video explaining the parameters of your competition. As a caveat for participating in the contest, make it so that viewers must be subscribed and turn their notifications on. Make sure you choose a prize that your audience will legitimately want. Consider hosting a giveaway or a talent contest. Check out this example below:

15. Take advantage of YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts is one of the newest additions to YouTube. These videos are vertical short videos (like TikToks and Instagram Reels) created using your smartphone and uploaded directly to YouTube.

YouTube Shorts are 15-to 60-second-long videos that help creators drive engagement and convert viewers into subscribers. They are a place to express yourself and let your brand’s personality shine.

To make YouTube Shorts, you need to download the YouTube app. Click the (+) icon from the homepage and then click “Create a Short.” To record, hold down the red record button and get started! From that point on, you can do many things to customize your YouTube Shorts (think special effects, speeding up or slowing down, light filters, etc.).

For more help on how to customize your YouTube Shorts, check out this helpful article from Google’s YouTube Help Center.

16. Engage in SEO optimization

Creating videos that align with what people are searching for is essential. Optimizing your videos for YouTube SEO (search engine optimization) helps people find your videos organically. The best way to optimize your videos for search, get new viewers, and align with the YouTube algorithm is to do keyword research.

Say you have a YouTube channel about running your own small business, which is a very broad topic. You could take a guess about what content may be helpful for your audience, or you could do keyword research and find out that people are searching for topics specifically related to your channel — including how to create their own logos, how to advertise their businesses, and how to start a small business from home. Each topic could be its own individual YouTube video or video series. Creating content around topics people are searching for gives you the best chance of getting more views and followers.

It’s not enough to just create YouTube content around highly searched terms — you need to optimize your videos for them as well. Don’t underestimate the importance of using trending and relevant keywords in your video titles and descriptions. Including highly searched keywords and relevant hashtags will help your video appear on Google and YouTube search results. Use free tools like Google Ad’s Keyword Planner and Google Trends to research keywords. Use YouTube Analytics to keep track of your metrics and understand which content your audience resonates with the most.

Add transcriptions:

Adding transcripts and captions to your YouTube videos not only gives deaf or hard-of-hearing viewers a chance to enjoy your content but also optimizes your videos for YouTube and Google searches. Additionally, many people simply enjoy watching videos with captions. You can use YouTube’s automatically generated captions or upload your own transcript.

To use automatic captions, start in YouTube Studio, and in the left-hand menu, choose “Subtitles.” From there, select the video that needs captions, review YouTube’s automatic transcription, and make any necessary edits.

If you want to upload your own captions, start from your channel homepage and click “Manage Videos .” From there, click on the video that needs captions and select “Subtitles.” Choose which language you want and click “Add.” Click “Upload” and choose “With Timing” or “Without Timing,” then click “Continue.” Select the transcript file from your computer and click “Open .” Check out the example below:

17. Customize your channel URL

Your basic YouTube channel URL looks something like this:

People might not want to click on a random long-form URL. Instead, customize your URL to your channel. You need at least 100 YouTube subscribers to customize your URL, but the edit is easy after you’ve hit that point. In YouTube Studio, go to the left menu and choose “Customization.” Click “Basic Info,” then click “Channel URL.”

Change your URL to something short and recognizable like this:

18. Create a channel trailer

Each YouTube channel has a space at the top of the channel page to feature a video. The best thing about this feature is that you can feature two separate videos — one for your existing YouTube subscribers and one for non-subscribers.

For non-subscribers, consider creating a channel trailer, which is a short video that lets people know what your channel is about and the types of videos you post. Channel trailers are a great and simple way to introduce yourself to potential followers. From YouTube Studio, select “Customization” and then “Layout.” Under “Video spotlight,” click “ADD” and choose your channel trailer. When you are finished, click “Publish” and voilà!

19. Optimize your channel about page

Your channel description is featured on your YouTube channel’s “About” page. You have 1,000 characters to tell people about your channel and why they should subscribe.

Be deliberate with your channel description and choose keywords that represent and categorize your content. Use the recommended tools to find highly searched keywords and ways to fold them into your description. Keywords in your description help YouTube understand your channel and display your content to relevant audiences. Doing your keyword research is a crucial part of making sure your channel is discoverable.

20. Be patient

Building a YouTube subscriber base takes time, so be patient and consistently apply the strategies outlined above. Remember that success on YouTube is a journey – building a meaningful and loyal following takes effort. Stay patient and focus on creating high-quality content that will resonate with your audience.

Going viral on YouTube is not the norm, so don’t forget that getting tons of subs is not a fast process for most creators. Increasing your number of subscribers takes hard work. Standing true to yourself and your brand is crucial to creating long-term success for your channel.

And just like that, you have the basic tools to build your brand on YouTube and get more subscribers. So what are you waiting for?

This blog post was updated on January 19, 2024.

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