How to build a loyal following with your YouTube videos
[This article was written by Dave Kusek, founder of the New Artist Model, an online music business school for independent musicians, performers, recording artists, producers, managers, and songwriters. He is also the founder of Berklee Online, co-author of The Future of Music book, and a member of the team who brought midi to the market.]
In the last article, we went step by step through the entire process of making a really great YouTube video from video concept, to filming and editing. It all starts with great content, but now we’re going to talk about what happens after you press that upload button as you try to get more visibility on the platform. If you want to get more tips to promote your music on YouTube and on other social media channels, you can download this guide for free.
1. Understand That It Takes Time
The first thing to remember about YouTube is that it takes time. Just like building a fanbase, it’s going to take time to build up a subscriber base that watches your videos consistently. Yes, there is a small chance that you could hit it out of the park with a viral video, but don’t count on it. Your best bet is to take the time to build up your channel one step at a time.
While we’re on the topic, it’s best to focus your efforts on building up your subscriber base instead of just racking in the views. Just go to your analytics and you’ll see that subscribers have a significantly higher watch time than people who just stumbled upon your video in search.
Think about it like this: you could have a huge number of people finding you via organic search because you made a particularly eye-catching thumbnail and title, but if those people click off in the first 30 seconds, they’re not worth too much to you. Instead, focus on converting those new viewers to subscribers.
2. Add to Your Description Boxes
If you want viewers to engage beyond your video, you want to make sure you’re using the description box to it’s full potential. Link to your social media channels, your website, your online store, your album on iTunes, and anything else that’s relevant. Again, the key is to establish some kind of connection with your viewers – whether it’s a subscribe, or a follow on Twitter – so you can tell them about any news down the line.
Keep in mind that only the first few lines of your description box will be visible above the fold, so make sure your most important content is at the top. If it’s a music video, include a link to buy your album at the top, and if it’s a tour vlog include a link to purchase tickets. If you want to take it to the next level, take a few seconds to get on screen at the end of your video and tell your viewers to open the description box and check out all your cool links.
3. Annotations and Cards
A lot of people will get annoyed if you even mention annotations, but they don’t have to be distracting if you use them tastefully (ie. not filling the entire screen with multi-colored messages.) One of the most useful is the subscribe annotation, which will allow viewers to subscribe to your channel right on the screen.
Cards are the new and improved version of annotations. You can add cards that will link to your website, to other videos or playlists on your channel, or even directly to your crowdfunding campaign. Cards are an incredible way to keep viewers engaged with your videos and to get them involved in your career outside YouTube.
4. Utilize Playlists
Playlists are your best friend when it comes to keeping people on your channel and watching your videos. We all know that there are a lot of interesting videos on YouTube that can draw our attention away from what we’re watching (ahem… cat videos), so it’s your job to do everything you can to keep people on your channel.
Create playlists for your cover songs, original songs, each album you release, and any other group you can think of and organize them from the most recent video to the oldest. If you do vlogs, tutorial videos and play-throughs, or tour diaries, group them in a separate playlist. That way, when people are watching your videos, all the other videos in that playlists will show up in the sidebar.
5. Take Advantage of Resources
Achieving success on YouTube is a learning process. There will always be something else you can do to attract more subscribers or new features that YouTube pushes out. With that in mind, don’t let your YouTube education stop after you finish this article!
YouTube’s Creator Academy is one of the best resources out there. There are literally hundreds of videos that cover every topic you can imagine, from filming and video concept, to analytics and thumbnails. You can also dig through the recently launched YouTube for Artists.
You can also check out the Musician Power Tools online course. This program will help you develop your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, website, and email as well as YouTube and the strategies are specifically designed and presented for musicians. You can also get access to 4 free lessons from the course by signing up here.