If you’re here, you’ve been doing YouTube for a while and you’re not getting the results you expected.
You might even feel like your videos are being ignored…
And even worse, you feel like you’ve tried EVERYTHING but just nothing seems to work.
Why do some YouTube channels never grow while others only need 1 video to go viral?
I started my YouTube channel in 2019 and, in the beginning, it didn’t get any attention.
However, after making some adjustments to my content and repurposing it, 1 month and 12 days later I had already 1000 subscribers.
And even better, a few months later and I was already really close to 10,000.
What kind of animal did I sacrifice to the gods, you ask?
None, I love animals, especially my two cats.
But I do have some ideas for you about why your channel is not growing.
1) You’re not retaining you viewers’ attention
I’ma go deep in this one — that’s what
she said — because it’s the number 1 reason most people don’t grow.
Watch time is the main metric that the YouTube algorithm sees when deciding if your video is worth recommending to other users.
Two get more watch time, you should focus on increasing two things:
- Your average view duration (AVD): 3-4 minutes at least per video — but that depends on the types of videos you make.
- Your CTR: Crafting better thumbnails and titles — more on this below.
With my youtube channel, I had an insanely high average view duration of 14 minutes per video:
But the reason isn’t that I’m the best entertainer.
I just published videos that were extremely long (around 40 minutes long) because my niche was competitive gaming.
The video game I played had competitive matches of 40+ minutes and — prepare for the nerdist flex you’ve heard in your life — I was one of the best players of the game at the time.
People would watch my games because they wanted to learn how to be better at it.
I knew that… so I added even more value to my videos by explaining every single decision I made in the game.
And guess what? People LOVED it.
That’s why my retention was so high.
So one of the easiest ways to increase AVD is by making longer videos with more value.
Have you noticed that most YouTube videos nowadays are longer than 10 minutes?
Well, that’s not a coincidence.
Now, making 40-minute videos only worked in my niche because it was natural to have very long videos.
My audience was young, so they had plenty of free time to spend watching videos.
But most YouTube channels don’t need to make such long videos.
In fact, unless you’re in a similar niche as me, if you constantly publish 40+ minutes vlog videos people are going to completely ignore you and feel like you don’t respect their time.
Instead, just make videos that are at least 5 minutes long, and go over 10 minutes long if it feels natural.
But what you need to take into account is that you need to retain your viewers the best that you can because that will make your videos get recommended to more people.
Just like Graham Stephan is doing to make his videos be recommended EVERYWHERE:
As you can see, YouTube LOVES him.
And that’s just because he can retain his viewers pretty well.
YouTube is a business, so they simply want people to stay on their platform for longer.
If you help them with that, they will promote your videos to more people because you’re making them more money.
Other common reasons why you’re not retaining your viewers:
- Your intro is way too long: if you’re playing an intro on every video that you publish, make it shorter than 5 seconds, 3 seconds works best. After that, make sure to introduce what your video is about right away and don’t take too much time explaining it. Give a quick reason why people should watch the video in 15-30 seconds and immediately start giving the juice (valuable content).
One sign that your intros are way too long or that you beat around the bush too much is if you see this extreme dip in your video’s retention graph at the start:
Go to the point faster and you’ll notice that the retention stays higher for longer.
- Your videos might be too short: Make a rule of making your videos at least 5 minutes long (unless you’re doing something artistic or that can go viral easily).
- You need to edit your videos more: make something happen every 20-30 seconds. It can be a zoom in or out, a camera angle change, show an image, a title, or a location change. Constantly doing this with your editing will help you retain your viewers’ short attention span. I recommend using a tool like InVideo to get well-edited clips that you can use to save some time.
- You’re difficult to understand or you’re not explaining yourself correctly: this is the least common one by far, so don’t think too much about this. Check that your audio is picking up clearly and it isn’t annoying others.
Notice that I DID NOT mention camera quality in the list above.
Why? BECAUSE IT DOESN’T MATTER.
If you can’t retain your viewers with an old smartphone camera that can barely record 720p, you won’t retain them with a 4k, top-of-the-line camera.
Just look at this video’s image quality and the number of views:
I retained my viewers using a webcam that costs under $100 for around 14 minutes on average.
People don’t care about your image quality, so focus on what matters: your content.
Was I clear? Ok, to the next point.
2) Your titles don’t tell people the outcome of your video
A study showed that Americans have on average 5 hours of free time per day.
People want to use that window of time to chill so they don’t go insane with everything that is going on in their lives.
So why should they spend that limited resource with you?
They need to think that your video will be worth it.
Because of that, your titles should be focused on outcomes.
For example, instead of:
- “Baby’s first trip to the mall VLOG”
- “5 Tips for a Safe Baby’s First Time Out”
Look at the two titles listed above and tell me:
Which one are they more likely to click?
Listen, I’m not a mom but I’m sure the first time they take out their babies, they’re feeling quite nervous.
But the second title tells them that everything’s okay.
Their anxiety will be cured with that video — if it’s good.
Look at this other example of a boring, unattractive title and one that sells you the video:
The second video offers something valuable to the viewers: learning a language.
It’s literally the difference between 83 views and 83k views.
Always focus on your viewers when you’re making your videos and writing your titles.
Everything is about what THEY get out of it.
It is NEVER about you as a creator.
3) Your thumbnails are not attractive
Remember last time you were bored scrolling down the infinite YouTube homepage when suddenly a video caught your attention and you couldn’t help but click it?
The first thing that you saw and made you stop was the thumbnail.
If you have boring thumbnails people won’t be interested in watching your video.
According to YouTube’s official creator academy, custom thumbnails are almost a MUST for a successful YouTube video:
If your thumbnail tells the entire story and doesn’t leave anything to the imagination, not many people will click.
Your thumbnail is like the bait you use when you go out fishing.
And just like some baits are colorful to attract the attention of your prey, you can also use colors to make it stand out:
Combine that with a stupid face like these YouTubers make in every single damn thumbnail and you got the winning formula:
But in all seriousness, showing your face in your thumbnail will get you more clicks.
It’s just amplified if you’re showing some type of emotion that is related to the video.
People respond a lot to faces that show emotion because it’s in our psychology.
Use all of these tips to create better thumbnails that people want to click.
4) Your channel is about too many different things
It’s New Year’s Eve, and like everybody, you’re tired of procrastinating on your goals.
You want to be healthier, so you’ve decided that you’ll start going to the gym consistently and you’ll eat only healthy food from now on.
You look for a YouTube channel about health and fitness for inspiration and you find a really nice video about a gym routine for newbies:
This is it! This year is YOUR year and you’ll look like the Buff Dudes above!
The video inspired you so much that you decide to subscribe and turn on the notifications so you know on your phone when a new inspiring video is published.
The day you’re ready to start going to the gym, you grab your bag full of gym clothes, put on your shoes and the phone rings.
And this shows up:
WHAT THE HELL?
Imagine that’s the same channel that you subscribed to a couple of weeks back and that inspired you to finally take control of your life.
Now you don’t feel like going to the gym anymore because it took a lot of willpower already to stop watching your favorite Netflix show.
You didn’t sign up for this, so now you don’t want to know anything about that channel.
This shows why your channel needs to be designed for the same person.
The objective of your videos has to be lined up.
Or else, people will only watch one of your videos and they won’t come back.
Be congruent with your videos if you want to grow.
5) Your videos don’t give real value to the audience
Remember reason number 2?
Just like tiles need to provide an outcome, your videos need to improve the life of your audience in some way.
This is what we call value.
And it can come in different forms:
- Getting inspired
- Solving a problem
- Learning a new skill
Most people try to go for the first option: entertainment.
Listen, I don’t want to make you feel bad, but being entertaining is the hardest one by far.
It does require real talent to be just entertaining.
Most YouTube channels are successful because they’re helping their audiences fix different problems while being a bit entertaining here and there.
Unless you’re a natural comedian or storyteller, stay away from making simple “entertaining” videos.
Helping people that have less experience than you in something is a much easier way of growing an audience.
Believe me, I’m not a natural entertainer and I don’t really care.
But I like teaching, so that’s why I do with my websites and YouTube channel.
Anybody can grow a channel if they help others.
That’s the easiest way of providing value.
6) You’re not consistent
You need to commit to your YouTube channel and publish 1 video per week.
If you can do more than that without hurting the quality of your videos, good…
But it’s not necessary.
The YouTube algorithm really takes into account the amount of watch time that your channel overall has gotten.
That’s why big YouTubers keep getting bigger and bigger.
You need to get that watch time ASAP.
If you stop publishing your videos often your entire channel will slow down.
Another important thing to know is that when you publish a new video, the first 24 hours are the most important for the life of the video:
This means that after those first 24 hours, your video starts to get fewer and fewer views and it’s replaced by other newer videos that are being published.
If you get tons of views in those first 24 hours, the algorithm will recommend that video for longer.
So you gotta keep your channel updated constantly to keep growing steadily.
If you don’t publish more videos, you don’t grow.
And even worse, you start losing subscribers if you take several months between videos — like this:
There’s no secret to being consistent other than enjoying the process.
Don’t worry about your final objective, you have to enjoy every video that you make or you’ll get impatient and you’ll end up quitting.
Remember, this is a long-term thing.
It’s a long grind so you need to enjoy it or you won’t be consistent.
It’s not easy… but it is doable.
One pro tip I can give you is to choose a day in the week and commit to publishing on that day at the same hour, ALWAYS.
This will also help your current subscribers know when to expect your videos.
This will help you get a lot more views in those first 24 hours, which is very helpful for the performance of the video.
7) Your channel is not optimized for search engines
Search engine optimization (SEO) is the first thing you should learn to grow your YouTube audience.
Knowing SEO will give you more views with less effort.
And honestly, it isn’t that complicated.
Good SEO involves optimizing each video that you make for a specific keyword.
People type all kinds of questions that they want to answer in search engines like YouTube and Google.
One question might be “muscle building tips for women”.
When you type that on Google, the first result is a video that has that exact keyword in the title:
Notice that the video shown first is the one that was optimized for that keyword.
The rest are just videos with similar — but not exact-match — keywords.
If you look at the video tags, you’ll see related keywords that make the algorithm know that the video is specific for women that want to build muscle:
In this case, we could have included more tags that are related and also the exact keyword: “muscle building tips for women”.
But still, the algorithm understands that this video is specifically for women looking to build muscle.
If you want to do the best possible optimization for that keyword, you’d include that exact keyword in the following places:
- Video script
And that way you make sure the algorithm understands what your video is about.
Finally, include related keywords (synonyms, and other specific topics you talk about) in the video tags.
But don’t include tags that aren’t related or you might confuse YouTube.
If YouTube doesn’t know what your video is about, it won’t know whom to recommend it to.
When you create a video, think about what keyword to optimize it for.
To do that, go to YouTube and start typing the keyword.
If you see that it shows in the autocomplete, like this:
Then you’ll know that there are people searching for that keyword on YouTube.
This means that you’ll get viewers naturally if you publish a video that is optimized for that keyword.
Those are the basics of YouTube SEO. I recommend installing a free tool to help you with this (and with tons of other things). The most popular ones are VidIQ and TubeBuddy.
These are browser extensions that will make your existence as a YouTuber much, much easier.
What to Do Now?
There’s always a good explanation why your channel is not growing.
It doesn’t feel good when people tell you that you’re doing something wrong.
But it’s also necessary to listen and be critical if you want to improve and get where you want to be.
If, on the other hand, you are growing slowly, then you have to be patient.
It doesn’t mean that you’re doing something wrong, but it might be that you just need to keep publishing while improving.
The more you record videos, the better you’ll get at it.
And in no time, you’ll start growing faster.
Now, tell me in the comments below: which of the reasons above do you think is the main one that is holding you back?
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.