How to Grow a Youtube Gaming Channel
Hey team Stickman here and I've been doing YouTube for a little while now (est. June 2015). Today I am going to be sharing with you absolutely everything I know about growing a YouTube gaming channel. Settle in because it’s lengthy.
If you are new to YouTube or haven’t got much content on your channel please read this article first.
Firstly: I am not a big time Tuber. I'm a guy who understands the process and has had success I would like to share. I went into YouTube with a lot of knowledge already and it still took 4 months to see growth.
Secondly: There is no order to this, do it all and continue with it.
Thirdly: This is a compressed abridged version, I could write ten thousand words but I won't for everybody’s sake.
Countless times I see people go on like this "I want to reach x subscribers" and "I want to have x views" and they are all saying they want it and doing the same things that aren't productive over and over. If you want to reach a goal work out how you are going to get there, plan things out, do different things. All channels grow organically but that is not how to see real growth.
Too many people look too high. If you are small look at just above you. If you are growing look at the next level of growth. You are never going to be the next pewdiepie or your favourite Tuber but if you keep perspective you might be the next big you!
You are going to hear this a lot from me. Every view is a win. Keep that in mind when you see a video not live up to expectations or a series not be as popular as you hoped. The key is too look at your success and failings and learn from them. Randomly lost a subscriber? What does it matter? People unsubscribe for all kinds of reasons just as they subscribe. No point in being hung up on it. If you lost subscribers because of a video learn from it. In the end you don't need people subscribed to you who are so willing to leave.
Ever found yourself comparing your channel to someone else's or wondering how a popular channel got so successful? Don't worry this is natural but you have to be careful of doing it too much or caring about it. Again learn from the other channels, there is no point worrying about their success. Focus on yourself!
How To Get Random Viewers On Your Channel?
Random viewers are your mains source of growth. Views are way more important that subscribers. Subscribers will come as you gain views. In fact subscribers mean nothing until you have grown enough for them to boost you up in search and recommend videos. Remember every view is a win no matter how hard fought.
You need some (usually short) videos of your highest quality that are going to get eyes on your channel. You promote these above others. For example my first one was a guide style video that stays relevant in search. A guide, funny moments, or how to, is your best bet. You can try something unique or more out there but remember you are trying to get views over everything with these. The market for YouTube is oversaturated.You NEED something that makes someone who has access too all the big tubers pick your video.
Search Engine Optimisation(SEO) and timing
Before we start.
"Search engine optimisation (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's unpaid results—often referred to as "natural," "organic," or "earned" results"
Most relevant part of the definition for YouTube "the process of affecting ... visibility".
Search Engine Optimisation for YouTube is different to any and all other platforms. YouTube uses many different algorithms to promote videos. Our goal is to optimise our videos for YouTube search results and YouTube recommended videos only.
Warning! No tags in your description, no tags of other channels names unless they are given a mention (like a shoutout or similar), no out of context keywords in your description. YouTube can delete the video without warning and will not give it back (you will learn more in my video).
Main Words Ranking For Search
The title and first 25 words of your description are most important(you can debate this all you want but test it first) for example; you want to rank for "green apple print pants" (purely example). You want that to be in your title and repeat two or three times in the first couple sentences of your description.
Always a good idea to find another search related to it. The best way to find what people have been searching is to type it into the search bar. So if you type the title of the game you are covering then you will see what people have been searching.
Use those searches. The best way to use them is to use them exactly in order so if "green apple print pants wear" was a top search then those exact words in that exact order are needed. The rest of the top searches go into tags. Aside from one tag being your channel name, the rest should all be relevant searches. No random words, no random tags, no recommended tags. I say again only relevant searches go in tags.
One possible exception to this is by using Vidiq (Google it) you can search the game or topic and it will tell you the top three tags used up to you if you want them or not.
Tags link videos more about what people searched over similar tags i.e. if someone searched for a video on a game and watched it and you have a tag that is that search your video might be recommended next to it.
Watch this video I made with a real time examples.
Learn from it.
You want to get your videos recommended on other videos as much as you can.
SEO For The Rest Of The Description
Like with tags you want to be seen in suggested videos over all things. The description box is massive (5000 character limit) use that to your advantage. YouTube’s algorithms search every part of the description to find trends to recommend videos. One of the easiest ways to do this it to link a couple of your own videos in the description. Assuming you are optimising your titles for good SEO then all those keywords from your other titles are suddenly right there for you legitimately. Another easy one is to paste all the info you can find about the game in there. Experiment with this and you will find your videos getting more random viewers. A tip: if you have a video that is more popular than others link to that in your description. If someone is watching your popular video, your own videos a given more chance to be recommended to them.
Timing Your SEO Optimised Videos
This is the hardest bit. There will always be competition. My main tactic is to just throw up a video the second I see or feel a trend. Another good one it to wait for an update or event and be one of the first to a video on it. Example whenever Yandere Simulator updates I make sure I feature the keywords "Yandere Simulator x date update" because people are looking for the new update.
Like I say in my SEO video pick your battles team.
Places To Find Trends Abridged
r/gaming is the simplest place.
If they start talking about something that isn't already popular go make videos straight away.
It’s not going to hurt you if you want to try your hand at the games that are popular there either.
Steam Greenlight of course.
If something gets greenlit wait for the early access or release and off you go. There are plenty of opportunities in Steam Greenlight if you are willing to put in the time.
If you're lucky you will see medium Tubers playing something. Get on it. The big guys follow the medium guys a lot. The small guys are always looking too far towards the top.
Is a bit tricky but heaps of YouTube bait there so give it a look.
There are dozens of websites in this vein if you're feeling really dedicated (itch.io anyone?).
This is all personal. For me, I look at new things, if I like it and think I would enjoy it I jump on. The simplest way to read trends is like I said with finding the trends just look at what people are hyping
Jumping Onto Existing Trends
Another tricky but worthwhile one.
My Yandere Simulator example is the strongest for this. Even if a trend is massive and oversaturated there is still room for you but you have to really zone in on one part of the trend and focus your videos on that. The big guys have all of the walkthroughs and gameplays covered. You might be able to slide in with a different kind of gameplay (no commentary anyone?) or a specific guide that the big guys haven’t covered as well.
This will be hit and miss every time but good practice.
I recommend you reply to every comment you physically can no matter its context. Try to be genuine. People will subscribe after you interact with them. The interaction gives your content that extra touch.
Stickman tip to get more comments:
Do something wrong or silly or completely miss something obvious when recording (yes deliberately).
People will comment about it.
Drop them a thanks man.
Bam a sub.
Talk to your audience in your videos.
Just a little here and there.
If lots of people commented about something in a previous video bring it up.
They appreciate seeing their impact on a channel they like.
Ask questions about things (anything).
Ask them what they want to see.
The misinformation surrounding thumbnails on YouTube is depressing.
Let’s take the undisputed king of YouTube, Pewdiepie. His thumbnails have always been a hot mess and it never hurt him one bit. Remember that before you tell someone they are doing thumbnails wrong.
Don’t be too worried about your thumbnails. If you can make excellent thumbnails go for it and I do recommend expanding your skills to up your thumbnail game. BUT, the main thing about thumbnails is making people want to click it. It doesn't have to look good it doesn't have to be relevant. It just has to grab someone’s eye amongst the other 20 recommended videos.
- Never use the bottom right, ever! The video length hides it, you don't want someone trying to work out what is on the thumb you want them to click it
- It doesn't need to be completely related to the title or game just bright and clickable (this is not an endorsement of clickbait)
- Be sure to look at your thumb in a really small size to see if it works in its smaller version
Let’s get this out of the way first. Spamming a community in any form, telling/asking people to subscribe, making any sort of post/message about “hey look at me” will yield no result. So stop that.
Reddit prefers helpful videos and very short funny things so care of what content you promote. Unless you are extremely familiar with reddit please keep your videos out of non-gaming subreddits.
Okay Four Gaming Channel Safe Places
This is great community to get tips and make friends. Lurk in a few posts and share some of your experiences with like-minded people and before you know it you will have some dedicated friends on your channel.
Please don't self-promote mindlessly. Post your videos in update Monday and unsucky Sunday for views and sometimes nice feedback. Feedback Friday is a handy tool but remember it’s rude to not give some feedback. Promotion is give and take you greedy people (I'm looking at every one of you, who ever sees this).
A safe place for promotion. The key here is to put some interesting titles that will make people look at your post over others. This does not mean clickbait. A good idea is to make the title and your description relate directly to the video so anyone viewing knows what they are in for.
Please leave some feedback on other posts as well. I bit of feedback can go a long way.
A great way to learn how others see your channel and get a few views across your videos. Remember to make a post you must first give someone feedback. Also handy for gaining insight on what other content is out there. Giving genuine feedback is a fantastic way to make friends and possibly gain a sub or two.
Anyone with under 4500 subscribers can post here. This sub is nice to start and safe to selfishly promote once or twice. To clear your conscience why not drop in from time to time and check out a few of the new guys. You might end up with a friend and a subscriber from them. Personally I made an IRL (In Real Life) friend with a new Tuber from my area who I enjoyed.
Risky Places I Have Used
r/leagueoflegends / r/gaming
They are the only places you can drop shameless self-promotion and not be reported. It's better to ask a friend to maybe share a helpful or funny video you made instead (even better a gif or imgur album(link) with you as the source for a legit post).
A note about imgur. You can gain a tonne of traffic from imgur if you play it right. Unfortunately they hate self promotion. But it never hurts to click publish on your images especially if you are sharing them to reddit. You can then put the source of your image (your video link) in the description.
Any and all subreddits related to your content.
Always read the rules right before you post. Then read them again before you click submit. Never say anything like "look at me" or "I’m doing this". Reddit prefers something like "this funny thing happened" or "just sharing this video because I though x was entertaining/helpful".
If you ever post a video on reddit make sure you also comment on that post with more information.
Do not be afraid to ask friends or subs to “look” at your reddit posts, they will know you want some upvotes.
damnlag yttalk among the two best
Be active on at least one. Got more than one person on your team? One forum each, no being lazy. The trick here is to make friends, you're all there for the same thing. Don’t be afraid to ask people for feedback or to simply look at your videos. Use discretion though, as I said spamming or making posts about “hey look at me” will not work. Friends will support you, give you feedback, watch your content, tell others and as long as you are active random people will find you. Be sure to be helpful on forums. It’s good practice and a great way to be remembered.
Write reviews on games. If you made a video about a game you have on steam add that to your review. Realistically you should be doing a review with a video attached for every game you covered and have on Steam to maximise those random views. I am a little too slack for that but the reviews I have done have yielded large amounts of views and subscribers (example here). Informative reviews for informative videos, funny reviews for gameplay videos. Generally the smaller/newer the game the better.
Link your YouTube channel (go to your profile click videos on the top right you can link your YouTube channel) add your videos through Steam to your Steam profile. Make sure you associate them with the game the video is on (dropdown on the right). Thumbs up all of your own videos to get them above the majority of 0 thumbs upped videos. Again small games are good because when they go on sale people look them up steam.
Please make full use of Steam. It has brought me a very large amount of views and subscribers through reviews and linked videos.
Easy stuff but never forget, getting a friend or two to look at or share your stuff can bring in a lot of people. IRL friends and personal Facebooks are great tools to get your videos some views and some friendly subscribers. Always support your friends content!
Two Popular Angles:
Either promote a lot and post some funnies and replies sometimes. Or promote a little and mostly interact and post funnies. Both seem to create the same result when you are still growing. A few views and a friend/sub or two.
Facebook Groups and Google+ Communities
There are plenty of Facebook groups out there that allow for video promotion. Search the game you are covering and change the results to group. Join a bunch and begin your promotion. Make sure you read the rules and don’t expect to get far if all you do is spam. There are also plenty of video game and YouTube related groups that allow for promotion to try your hand at as well. Google+ can be a little trickier but again the views and subscribers are there for those active within the community. The communities on Google+ appear more broad and same rules as the Facebook groups apply.
If you are willing to be a part of the community Tumblr can be a great source of traffic to your channel. I have witnessed friends succeed at this. They post a lot of non-YouTube things that are still in the same theme as their channel so when someone follows them they are already receptive to the type of content they create.
Tumblr is not for everybody.
My Tumblr is an unashamed link dump but one thing I do do is log in and change the tags on my videos to popular relevant tags. This has brought some views and subscribers to my channel.
This can be tricky but very rewarding. Your goal is to find wikis where your videos are suitable. Most have a guides or videos section. Like it says put your guides and videos there. Any video you have that might give someone information has potential to be on a wiki. Always check the rules of a wiki before posting edits and don’t be scared to defend your videos from time to time from overzealous editors.
More Websites For Potential Promotion and Google Backlinks
There is a little website called IFTTT that allows you to make "recipes" that create auto posts when a video goes live on YouTube. This is fantastic to get your videos to auto post to say your Tumblr. I recommend giving it a go and exploring every site it has available for recipes. You can use a string of connected recipes to create high tier Google backlinks to your videos as well. Don't expect a massive result from this however as the competition on Google is intense.
Three Other Websites to Invest in
Once you have a Pinterest account you can manually pin share your YouTube videos to your pages. A good tactic to use is to make a few boards with themes and populate them with similar images and videos. Remember to cover as many themes as you reasonably when pinning.
Very much the same vein as Pinterest. Remember to make those lists and populate them.
People still use digg. Posting to digg is as simple as clicking the share filling the boxes and letting it on it's way.
These sites have brought me viewers and subscribers
Other Creators (notsub4sub)
This is hard work for minor reward (I still recommend this). Go watch smaller channels and write genuine comments (commenting on a big Tubers channel? Be sure to thumb up your own comment for exposure). Talk to them, they might sub, one of their subs might sub. Even if you get one view it's still a win and it's a great way to make like-minded friends.
sub4sub (sub me I sub u)
It’s cheap dirty and has a low pay-off aside from making your channel look bigger. They find smaller guys and ask them to sub4sub with all kinds of wording. I don't do it. I usually call out sub4subbers unless they seem nice. No real loss to it. Decide if it's for you. I strongly advise against this if you want real growth.
In no particular order these are the types of video titles that get the most views on gaming channels:
- how to
- top x videos
If you copy/are copying another channel you have to stay like that. I say it's stupid. Be yourself, always. Be careful of following too many trends be it editing styles or games or channels. A bit of "I do whatever I want" will go a long way.
My Extra Opinions
Don't split your audience.
Keep everything on one channel.
If you are covering a niche then yes keep that niche to its own place
Otherwise want to do a cover song? Same channel. Want to do an exercise video? Same channel. Want to do arts and crafts? Same channel.
People subscribe for you not the game you are playing (unless niche) let them see all of you.
SEO is your main tool for growth so use it and never stop learning about it.
Experimenting with keywords and tags are best tools to find what works for you. Don't expect trends to change, always optimise for what is happening, and yes I have seen plenty of foolish uninformed people optimise for things nobody is searching.
Have a look and my channel (its growth not the videos). Look through my channel, see my different uses of SEO and internal promotion. One of my first videos is still one of my biggest and every week I am working towards finding new ways to get views.
There you have it, everything I know about growing a YouTube gaming channel. I hope you leaned something that can help you on your journey.
Alright team how’d we find that one? Hope you enjoyed and as always don’t be scared to leave me some feedback.
Next Article: How To Optimise A YouTube Gaming Channel (link when it is written)
Stickman Feb 2016