How to improve your YouTube channel

Let me start off by saying I am not an expert when it comes to YouTube!

I don’t claim to be, nor do I think I am an expert by any stretch.

But in 3 months I have managed to take my YouTube channel from 27 subscribers to as of writing this, 718 and it’s rising daily.

I definitely haven’t figured out YouTube yet, but I feel very passionately about my channel and I am finally loving how it is looking and the content I am putting out there.

So without further waffling, here are my top tips for how to grow your channel based on what has worked for me!

1. YouTube banner/artwork – I see so many channels falling at the first hurdle. Your channel banner is what people see first, along with your profile picture, so don’t make this another snap from your album. YouTube is not Instagram or Facebook, so don’t treat it the same. I am sure the photo you have on your channel is lovely but it won’t show anything of what your channel or brand is about. If you aren’t a designer, or know how to create something then do the next best thing. If you insist on wanting photos on your channel then make them into a collage and place your channel/brand name/logo over the top of them. It’s simple yet effective and easily identifies you, your channel and your brand.

For those of you who know how to use Photoshop, I have included a template I put together which is sized correctly for uploading to YouTube. It is pretty self explanatory, and in the zip file is the original PSD file and a JPG fyi.

2. Thumbnails – This is something that a lot of people overlook but are equally important for your channel to succeed. Most people probably won’t notice but there are still a lot that will. Chances are if you’re reading this then you use YouTube to showcase your videos for days out/trips out/products you have reviewed. Or you will be using your channel to showcase to brands/other people just what you can do and offer. This means you will be working with brands in one form or another or hope. So have it in your head that brands will be looking at your channel as a reference point for the work you have done in the past with other brands. So don’t instantly shoot yourselves in the foot for appearing inconsistent and amateur. You should put in as much effort into your thumbnails as you do when editing your video. My advice is if you can, don’t take a shot from a clip in your video, take a dedicated photo that matches the video and use that. Don’t choose from the suggested thumbnails that YouTube will generate when uploading your video. Another reason to do this is when someone is watching another video from another channel, if your video comes up as a suggested video, you want yours to stand out and be instantly recognisable. If you are inconsistent with your thumbnails then this won’t happen.

3. Channel Opener – Try to make your opener more interesting. Play around with your titles if you have them. Just have fun and mess around with them. Perhaps add in your own logo instead of/as well as. Make your videos instantly recognisable, unique to you and put your own stamp on them to make yourself stand out. You want everything on your channel from your banner to thumbnails to your opener to match, don’t forget that.

4. Good SEO – This is a topic that is hotly debated, some people say don’t focus too much on tags whereas others swear by their tags. I am in the latter camp and try to maximize my tags as best I can. I look at the tags my competitors use and use the same or similar. I see what they are doing and do similar. This is where you can use a bit of the Instagram tactics. If you install Tube Buddy (which is free and a plugin for your browser) it gives you the ability to see what tags every video uses and whole bunch of other cool stuff. When it comes to my keywords from the video description, I put in the first sentence of my description and then again add these as the first tags. I cant swear by this for working, but it’s what I do and I am gaining daily subscribers and I average an upload every 2 weeks or so. But whatever you do please don’t use your description for listing out in list form a whole bunch of keywords, this is a sure fire way for your video to perform badly and YouTube doesn’t like this approach.

5. Music – I think this is the most popular point with people asking about how to improve their videos. There are tons of places to use, so instead of going into this point, I will leave links for where I get my music from:

SoundCloud (this is my number 1 resource for my videos)

NoCopyrightsounds – Youtube

Majestic Casual – Youtube

Bass Rebels – Youtube

6. Don’t make your videos unnecessarily long – I don’t tend to watch a video that is longer than around 7 minutes unless it’s something that really grips me. Seeing you and your kids on a day out in a video that is 15 minutes or longer won’t appeal to anyone outside of your family. Also, if the title of your video is ‘Legoland Day Out’ for example, don’t make it a 25 minute video containing 3 minutes of Legoland and 22 minutes of you walking around, getting stuff out of your car, getting the kids ready etc . No one wants to see that!

7. Audio – This is a tricky one as most cameras in built microphones truly suck. Unless you are an audio guru, if you rely on your in camera microphone, chances are it won’t sound that good. One tip I can share that is the most inexpensive way of getting better audio, is to utilise things you already own. If you download a dedicated recording app to your iPhone/Android, plug in the headphones that came in the box with your phone you will find that they have a built in microphone on the headphones. Then you will have better audio instantly. It’s not a professional solution but it’s a really good way of getting better audio on a budget. Here are a couple of different apps that I use myself:


Voice Record Pro –

Voice Recorder (FREE) –


Smart Voice Recorder –

Audio Recorder –

8. Engage, engage, engage – I get a lot of people subscribe to my channel when they have seen me comment on video that is a similar channel to mine. If you spend the time going through your competitors videos, commenting on their videos then the chances are someone will see your comment and wonder who and what your channel is about. Try to be personable, if you know the person, make the comment read like you do. If you don’t, come at it from another angle where your comment seems sincere and genuine. I have got news for those of you who do this, commenting ‘great vid, ‘love this, ‘hey, check out my video – these comments well and truly suck and serve no purpose to helping out your channel.

Additional points

Sub4sub – Anyone tempted to do this, please don’t do this, it’s almost a guaranteed way to get your account shut down by YouTube!

Good b-roll footage – If you are doing more of a chatty blog then try to break it up with some nice b-roll footage. B-roll footage is the extra footage you capture that isn’t the main story but it helps to tell the story of your vlog. I did a video a few weeks ago which wasn’t for my channel but for a company I was working with. It was more of an interview style video so I couldn’t really jazz that up, but I managed to get some b-roll that I made into it’s own video which is here:

Kit name in title – One thing that has helped me get subscribers is to include what camera I used to make the video in the title. Here are 2 examples of my titles:

Bluebells Norfolk | Cinematic Edit | Sony A6500 Sigma 30mm 1.4

BeWILDerwood Adventure Park, Norfolk | GoPro Hero 5

Eye contact – Avoid looking at your flippy out screen, look into the lens. There is nothing worse than watching a video where someone is constantly looking into their screen checking what they look like, checking their hair, checking to see if their fringe still looks ok! STOP IT! Do what Casey Neistat does, and wear sunglasses so the viewer can’t tell where you are looking 😉

Video transitions – When I first started out editing video, all I did was find a song, throw in all my clips and save. It was a breeze to edit the videos and meant I could churn out videos with ease. The problem with doing this is that no one wants to watch that! Make your clips shorter, don’t include the entire clips and edit to the beats of the music. Here is a short tutorial I put together showing you how to add really effective, simple cuts in time to music for your videos…Jump cuts…If you are using iMovie, Premiere Pro or After Effects, then check it out – you might be surprised!

Finally, if you haven’t already then check out my channel and subscribe if you are new.

To those who are already subscribed, thank you, your support truly means a lot…To those who aren’t, what is wrong with you? 😉

As always, if you have any questions then leave them below in the comments or hunt me down on social media, I am always somewhere online!

4 replies on “How to improve your YouTube channel

  • Mel

    Wow Alex, that was an amazing post! You’ve really made me want to up my YouTube game. To be perfectly honest, I know that my videos are a bit rubbish at the moment, but I want to get better at that vlogging lark, and I’m really starting to enjoy it! I spent the past couple of hours following your advice and sorting out my YouTube banner. Thanks for the template; it really made my life easier.

    • Alex

      Thank you Mel, so glad it has inspired you to up your game 🙂 I’m so pleased you used the template… Looking forward to checking out your channel changes 🙂


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