When I was active in my YouTube channel, I was getting an average watch time of over 15 minutes.
This made it really easy to get past the required 4,000 hours of watch time for monetization. But for most channels, it’s really hard to get overcome it, and most of them don’t make it.
This is because they don’t understand how YouTube works.
What most people do is try to push their limits and publish more videos to increase watch time faster. This often simply leads to burnout.
But there are other ways of increasing your watch time. You can achieve this with proper optimization.
Every optimization that you can make to your channel will go a long way.
These optimizations don’t take a long time to implement, and they will yield great results for your channel.
Also, remember that it’s not only that you want to reach 4,000 hours of watch time fast, it’s also important because increasing your watch time will lead to YouTube promoting your videos more frequently .
So try to take these optimizations into account every time you publish a new video if you want to grow your channel faster.
Table of Contents
Use YouTube Playlists
There’s a reason I’m placing this in the first place.
It is the single most effective way of increasing watch time.
Like, it’s not even funny how much it helps.
Yet, it’s the most overlooked one.
Why do you think most of the big youtube channels use playlists?
It’s not because they’re obsessed with organizing stuff—like Monica.
It’s because playlists will make your videos play in a loop that will potentially keep your viewers watching your channel.
Each video that is part of the playlist will play after the other and that can massively increase your Average Views per Viewer, and consequently, Watch Time.
The algorithm LOVES this.
If you can get people to watch several of your videos during the same session, the Youtube algorithm will recommend your entire channel to more people.
To add a video to a playlist, go to your Creator Studio, and in the menu select videos.
Select all the related videos that you want in the same playlist, then click add to playlist.
Does this mean that you should put all of your videos under the same playlist and call it a day?
No, the idea here is to put in the same playlist videos that are related or that complement each other.
For example, if you have a variety gaming channel, put all the videos for the same videogame in the same playlist.
Or if you have a channel about gardening, you can make a single playlist for “Plant Caregiving”, and another for “Rare plants I own”.
The best channel I’ve seen when it comes to using playlists to their maximum potential is called Real Men Real Style (2.3 million subs):
This is what I love about their optimization:
- They use subcategories for the playlists
- The videos inside each playlist are extremely related to each other
- Playlists have few videos (under 10), and that’s great because people are more likely to watch 7 extremely related videos rather than 40 that are slightly related between each other.
This is world-class playlist usage, people. Learn from them.
These playlists are great because they allow people that came to your channel for different reasons to find the right videos for them.
If you make it hard for them by throwing together a bunch of videos that aren’t related to each other, they won’t be able to find them and they’ll leave faster—SAD!
You could also create a “Best of-” playlist with your best performing videos.
These are usually low-hanging fruits that your viewers will be attracted to like Eva.
Another great idea is creating a video series and put it in the same playlist.
If you’re teaching something that has many aspects to it, you can use a video series and create one video for each of these aspects.
Let’s just say that ignoring playlists is really bad for you.
Finally, remember setting the videos in the best order possible inside the playlist. This way your viewers can go through the right steps in your video series.
Optimize Your End Screen
From now on we will talk about optimizations that you should be applying to each of your videos.
The first is adding an End Screen.
These are post-video screens that you can personalize the way you want it.
You need to add it manually to each video that you upload. Go to one of your videos and enter the editor.
You’ll see an option for adding an End Screen below.
There you can select the elements you want to include in your end screen.
You can add links to another video, an external link and a subscription button to your channel.
- Add a link to your latest video
- Add a link to a recommended video that Youtube can pick for you
- Add the subscription button to your channel
The thing is that you need to prepare your videos for its End Screen when you’re recording or editing.
You need to create space at the end of the video to show your end screen for 18 seconds—this is the maximum amount of time that your End Screen can show up before the video finishes.
There are different ways you can prepare your videos for it:
- You can tell people to subscribe and visit one of the videos during the last 18 seconds.
- You can say goodbye and get a nicely designed End Screen template and an outro song. You’d include the template and music in your video during the last 18 seconds.
Here’s some free end screen that you could use if you’re just starting, but you should end up designing one specifically for your channel.
You can find designers for it for cheap on Fiverr.
Remember to leave an extra 18 to 20 seconds of space for your end screen at the end of your video when you’re editing.
Cards are a bit similar to End Screens, but they can be inserted at any point of your videos.
You can put a link to another video in the middle of the actual video people are watching.
I usually recommend that you mention one of your related videos while you’re recording—as part of your script.
It’s more likely that people will visit another of your videos if you directly mention it, and you add a card that links to it.
And cards work great because they can appear just whenever you want them to do so. You can make them appear as soon as you mention your related video.
This makes it even more likely that they will respond to your call to action and click on the link.
If you’re constantly linking to other videos, and these videos also have links to more videos, you will create an interlinking flow that can make people end up watching 5 or more of your videos instead of just one.
So yeah, this is pretty important to do. You NEED to link to more of your videos.
To add a card to your video:
After cards, there are also two other ways of interlinking.
Pinned Comment and Video Description Linking
Pinned comments are powerful because they make everyone that scrolls down to the comment section—which most people do—see your comment first.
This is the perfect opportunity for you to add your related videos inside that pinned comment.
You can like your own pinned comment and give it a heart so it attracts the look even more.
Additionally, you can add links to other related videos inside your video description.
No much more to say about this besides just don’t spam links to all of your videos.
Keep it simple and give fewer options. Link up to 3 related videos and you’re good to go.
Make Longer Videos
A lot of the times, the only thing limiting how long our videos are is poor time management and workflow, especially in the most difficult stages of creating—like editing.
So organize yourself the best possible way, and don’t make things harder for you.
- Use folders by month and day to organize the files for each of your videos.
- Save the elements that you constantly add to all of your videos into the same folder—and add them to favorites inside your editor—so you don’t waste time looking for them each time you need them.
- Adapt your format so it allows you to produce more video content at the same time.
For Youtube, it’s highly discouraged to make videos that are too hard to do.
And it’s not that I discourage it, it’s the algorithm that does.
They don’t want you to publish one video per month, but they don’t want your videos to be 2 minutes long.
This is why finding the right balance between quality and quantity is vital for Youtube success.
I despise that it’s this way, but Youtube will often reward lazier videos. It’s just the way it is.
So if you’re spending too much time getting the perfect editing each time you record new content, you’re probably doing more harm than good to your channel.
It often pays off to show yourself and create talking-head videos instead of videos that are completely made with edited, or animated footage.
You can record 20 minutes of talking-head video in one 20 minute sit, while you’d need several hours for 5 minutes of animated video.
This puts animators in a huge disadvantage.
Still, if you’re an animator there’s hope for you.
You can try to recycle some of the animations for a few of your videos.
Use very simple animations, and use footage that is much easier to edit for the rest of your video.
One animation channel that does this great is Alex Meyers:
In the video above you can see his animations are pretty simple and most of his videos show footage from famous series and movies that he reviews.
That’s a lot easier to do than making a hand-crafted 10-minute animation.
Be smart about the way you handle your format and delivery.
Always give priority to making longer videos without jeopardizing your quality too much.
One example of long content that anyone can implement is a Podcast.
Some Youtubers have used this format to finally push their channel towards the 4k hours of watch time.
You can make a podcast just about anything out there, and they can easily last for an hour or more.
Of course, it’s not for everyone, but it gives you an example of smart thinking to increment the amount of watch time you get.
Another option is livestreams.
Any kind of channel out there can do a livestream that lasts for at least 1 hour.
This can help you build a better relationship with your subscribers this way.
You can use livestreams as a way of recording live videos with a chat, or as fun Q&A sessions for your viewers.
If you apply these optimizations to your videos, you will be able to reach your goals faster:
- Put all of your videos in closely related playlists.
- Interlink to other videos using cards, pinned comments and your video description.
- Adapt your videos’ format and the way you manage your time so you can spend less time per video.
- Add longer-form content like a weekly podcast or livestream to connect better with your viewers and make things more interesting.
Do all this and you will be able to increase your watch time without having to use more of your time to publish more content.
Will has been a full-time content creator since 2014. He’s an audio, video, and tech hobbyist dedicated to reviewing products and giving you the best tips he knows to grow your audience.