The Subscriber Dilemma

When it comes to YouTube, everyone seems to have opinions. How to get the most subscribers. How to get more views. How to bring in quality subscribers. How to rank higher.

If you’re tired of so many voices claiming they can show you how to master YouTube, sit back, relax and keep reading because we’re going to break this topic down for you. It’s not as complicated as you might think.

We’ll show you how many subscribers you actually need to rank higher on YouTube. And we’ll show you the kinds of things you should be focused on to grow your YouTube channel, make extra money and hit your business goals.

Whether you’re a content creator or a small business owner, YouTube is an excellent way to expand your reach, grow your audience and generate customers.

But the journey to YouTube success can sometimes feel like navigating a treacherous sea of likes, comments and subscribers. While it can be a wild ride that can test even the strongest person’s will, patience and creativity—with the right tools and education—you can make Youtube work for you.

It’s time to get excited about the power of YouTube!

Understanding SEO—“Search Engine Optimization”

Don’t let the world of YouTube intimidate you too much. It’s really just a big search engine, like Google (plus it’s even owned by Google). But instead of showing you search results from around the web, it shows you video results.

And behind the scenes of these results is something called SEO, which stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” SEO is the art and science of optimizing a website or YouTube channel to increase its visibility and rank higher on search engine results pages (called SERPs). It’s about making sure people find you. And in the crowded landscape of the Internet, this is easier said than done.

For example, let’s say you and your brother own a growing landscaping company. When someone searches for “landscaping companies near me,” you want to be as close as possible to the top result in their area. This way there is a much higher likelihood that they will click on your services and buy from you. It’s kind of like that childhood game “King of the Hill.” Whoever is on top usually gets the most clicks.

But how does all this really work? How do the search engines know which results to provide users?

Before diving into the wild world of YouTube ranking, let’s do a quick overview of how YouTube’s algorithm works.

YouTube’s Secret Sauce

YouTube’s Secret Sauce

This is where the high-tech software really kicks in. Search engines use complicated software algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of websites.

But the tech companies’ software algorithms are trade secrets. Just like your Great-Grandma’s recipes, no one knows for sure what’s in them. But experts are able to reverse engineer the algorithms to make educated guesses about what YouTube focuses on when it comes to ranking.

Here are just some of the things it looks for when it comes to its algorithm:

  • Watch time—The longer users watch videos, the higher YouTube will score them in their search results ranking.
  • Overall relevance—YouTube puts a lot of weight on the overall relevance of a video. So if you’re searching for cute kitten videos, it’s not going to show you dog videos.
  • Keywords—Using detailed, keyword-rich and relevant video descriptions and tags helps YouTube’s algorithm understand what your video is about and improve its discoverability. This way if people are searching for “chocolate chip cookie recipes,” and your video is tagged correctly, you will show up as opposed to recipes for chocolate cake. 
  • User behavior—The number of likes, subscribes, comments and other engagement metrics your video gets will go a long way in helping it rank higher.

Also keep in mind that YouTube’s algorithm is constantly evolving. Trying to stay ahead of the algorithm is a little like trying to predict the weather a month from now. SEO is a highly competitive space and industry experts make their entire living teaching people SEO.

Now…let’s take a look at how many subscribers you really need on YouTube to rank. We’ll also look at how many subscribers YouTube requires you to have before you can start monetizing your channel (if that’s one of your goals).

How Many Subscribers Do I Need for YouTube to Rank?

The burning question on every aspiring YouTuber’s mind is, “How many subscribers do I actually need to rank on this crazy platform?”

Well, it depends. But the good news is that you don’t need hundreds of thousands of subscribers to rank or earn money on YouTube.

Some YouTube channels might start ranking with a modest number of subscribers. Others might need to hit the big leagues before YouTube takes notice.

While there isn’t a magic subscriber number that guarantees top rankings, there are a few key factors that come into play.

First, quality trumps quantity every time. It’s not just about racking up as many subscribers as possible. It’s also about engaging with your audience, creating awesome and useful content, and making people come back for more.

That said, subscriber count does hold some sway in YouTube’s ranking. Because the more subscribers you have, the more YouTube takes notice and says, “Hey, this person might just know what they’re doing! People are liking what they’re putting out and subscribing to the channel.”

In summary, there’s no magic number of subscribers you need to have before your YouTube videos rank. Focusing on the big picture of optimizing your YouTube channel will give you much better results than simply chasing subscriber numbers.

But once you do have a certain amount of subscribers, it unlocks some cool money-making features on YouTube.

Monetizing Your YouTube Channel

When it comes to making money on your YouTube channel, here’s what you’ll need in place before you qualify to join YouTube’s Partner Program.

  • At least 500 subscribers
  • Three public uploads within the last 90 days
  • Either 3,000 watch hours within the last year OR 3 million YouTube “Shorts” views in the last 90 days

Joining this partner program allows creators like you to access YouTube’s monetization features. These features include things like channel memberships, Super Chat, Super Stickers, Super Thanks and the opportunity to promote your own products through YouTube Shopping. As you can see, there are tons of ways to leverage YouTube once you hit the 500 subscribers threshold.

Splitting Advertising Revenue

Another way to make money on your YouTube channel is to run ads. This is actually the most popular way people make money from YouTube. Even if it’s just a few hundred dollars a month, every little bit counts!

To join AdSense, YouTube content creators need to have at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours in the past year. But the benefit once you hit this goal is that you get a cut of the ad revenue that is generated by your videos. And in February of 2023, YouTube started splitting ad revenue with creators from Shorts ads.

But what if you have 1,000 subscribers but don’t have 4,000 watch hours? Some people choose to create longer videos to hit this milestone. Or you could create more videos to generate more watch hours.

How to Grow YouTube Subscribers

How to Grow YouTube Subscribers

Now that you have a better idea of how many YouTube subscribers to shoot for, how do you grow that subscriber list?

Here are a few tips.

  • Create engaging content—Focus on creating content that is unique, valuable and engaging for your target audience. Identify your niche and provide content that stands out from the competition. Make it interesting or funny. Find ways to bring a fresh angle to what might be a topic that most might not find interesting.
  • Optimize titles and descriptions—We touched on this earlier, but optimize your video titles, descriptions and tags. Use relevant keywords in your video titles, descriptions, and tags to make your content more discoverable by search engines and users.
  • Make it visually appealing—Create a channel that looks professional. Pay close attention to your channel’s art, logo, and overall visual brand. Having a visually appealing channel layout will make it more memorable and will help you attract more subscribers. This includes your channel’s homepage. It should showcase your best content and most popular videos. Create playlists to keep videos organized and write a clear description of what your channel is about.
  • Post consistently—Regularly uploading new content is key to keep your subscribers engaged and also attract new viewers. Create a consistent publishing schedule that works for you and then stick to it. Your viewers will appreciate knowing when to expect a new video from you.
  • Use eye-catching thumbnails—Attention-grabbing thumbnails are a big part of YouTube success. Thumbnails are usually the first thing viewers see. They should accurately represent the content of your videos and be compelling to increase click-through rates.
  • Share your videos on other platforms—Don’t be afraid to promote your videos on other social media platforms like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, TikTok or Threads. Share teasers, behind-the-scenes footage or highlights to encourage your followers to subscribe.
  • Engage with your audience—Engagement is a big deal on YouTube. Always reply to comments on your videos, engage in discussions and encourage viewers to interact with you. The goal is to build a community and encourage meaningful connections with your audience. This will lead to increased subscribers and loyalty.
  • Leverage YouTube features—Take advantage of YouTube features like end screens, cards and annotations to promote your content and encourage viewers to subscribe. Use these tools to direct viewers to other relevant videos or your subscription button.

Growing YouTube subscribers takes time and effort. Set realistic goals, stay consistent, engage with your audience and continuously improve the quality of your content.

Don’t Give Up!

To sum it all up, there’s no magic number that guarantees YouTube greatness. It’s a combination of subscriber count, engagement and creating content that makes people go, “Holy cow, this is amazing!”

At this point, YouTube is a finely tuned machine, always searching for the next big thing. Learning how to harness this power and tap into YouTube’s algorithm has huge benefits to content creators, entrepreneurs and business owners.

Running a YouTube channel is a journey filled with ups and downs, like riding a rollercoaster. But if you stay dedicated, work hard, and keep those viewers coming back for more, you’ll eventually start to rank higher on YouTube.

Even if you don’t hit your subscriber goals right away, don’t give up. Slow and steady wins the YouTube race. And just like Rome wasn’t built in a day, neither is YouTube success. Keep pushing forward, embrace your unique style, and who knows, you might just become the next YouTube sensation.

Schedule a Free Call

Maybe you’re feeling burned out on how to get the most out of YouTube. Maybe you’re getting overwhelmed just trying to create the simplest thumbnail. If you feel like you’re not getting the results you expected from YouTube, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Raffiti Media. We help businesses just like you take their YouTube channel to the next level and grow their sales.

We can do the hard work for you of growing your YouTube views, subscribers and revenue. We partner with business owners to become your dedicated YouTube team, giving you a custom YouTube strategy and a full-stack editing and management service.

Schedule a free call today and see how we can take your YouTube channel off your plate so you can focus on doing the things only you know how to do.

The Subscriber Dilemma: How Many Do You Really Need to Rank on YouTube?