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5 Mistakes That Are Limiting Your YouTube Subscription Numbers

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5 Mistakes That Are Limiting Your YouTube Subscription Numbers


I’ve grown a couple of different YouTube channels to over 100,000 subscribers, and of course, the Think Media channel with 1.9 million subscribers. When I recall the journey I think about what I wish I knew back when I was starting that could have helped me grow faster.

Right now, there has never been a better time to create content on YouTube. Since the lockdown in 2020, we’ve seen that YouTube viewership is still skyrocketing. In fact, they’ve said that consumption is up over 80% according to Cisco

In 2019 there was about 15 billion minutes consumed. Now it’s about 32 billion in some industries and in some niches it’s about 75%. 

Right now is your time to be a creator. It’s time to punch fear in the face, punch perfectionism in the face, and press record.

Mistake #1: Judging Your Performance BEFORE You Post Enough Videos

Let’s get into tip number one. You need to post your first 35 videos.

Okay? You might be like, “35 Freaking videos like that, that’s kind of crazy, man.” 

But no, you have got to start before you’re ready and post a lot of videos. Let me tell you the mistake on this one… judging your results too early.

I see one of the biggest mistakes people make is they only post two videos (or even seven or more) videos, but they’re all over the place. They’re super scattered. 

You can’t judge your results too early. You need to post about 35 videos from your research to trigger the algorithm to get things going.

You have got to start posting videos before you’re ready, and just keep posting. You can’t be that judgmental when you’re just starting out. In fact, now that I’ve posted over 2,000 videos online, I’ve had a couple of failed YouTube channels that led to the successful one. 

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, and you have to fail forward and actually want to play.

Mistake #2: You’re Making Selfish Content

How to get more youtube subscribers

You need to answer the who and what question. Who is it that you’re serving and what problem do you solve for them?  Have you defined your target audience, your value proposition?  Who are you serving? And what problem do you solve for them? 

The mistake here is huge and this is probably one of the most major mistakes that’s gonna keep you from growing. It’s making selfish content versus service content. 

You have got to ask yourself, why do you want subscribers? I’ve seen a lot of people that want subscribers…because they want subscribers. So that they can be famous. This is where the Traders Mindset really became clear to me.

When we, the co-author of YouTube Secrets Benji Travis and I, got to go to New York to meet with Gary Vaynerchuk, multiple New York Times bestselling author and one of the leading social media experts in the world, we asked him: “What advice would you give to new YouTube creators?”

He actually had a clip about this very idea of selfish content. Here’s what he said:

I think it’s about, are you putting out entertainment? Are you putting out education, because 90% of people are putting out selfish content. Ninety percent of people are putting out press releases. They want you to think something about them. They’re making it selfish for themselves. They wanted to go to Maui and surf, so that’s the content you’re getting. But did that bring you any value? They want you to think they’re cool. 90% of the content right now are people acting like PR agents for themselves? I’m asking people to look like educators or entertainers. Do you think about the audience first? Or don’t you?

Think about that question. The reason a lot of people aren’t getting to 1,000 subscribers is because they’re really not thinking about the audience first. If you’re thinking, I kind of want to be like a travel vlogger. Well, cool, and I’m not saying you can’t do that, but I’m saying, do you think about the audience first or don’t you?

In fact, that’s what Gary’s saying (and I’m echoing). He also said to pick either entertainment or education. Both types of content are exploding.  There’s really never been a better time to be creating content.

Mistake #3: Ignoring What Everyone Else is Doing

First, you’re going to want to skill-up.  Skill up and study successful channels.  So once you’re posting messy videos…I’m saying don’t try to get perfect the first time and then start posting videos. I’m saying post your first video, today, right now.  Stop reading this blog and go shoot a video on your phone and go post your first video for real, because you’ve got to be posting videos.  But then you want to start to skill up in two ways.

One, identify what skills do you need to learn in terms of video editing, in terms of designing thumbnails, in terms of on camera presence, but also have you studied the successful channels in your niche. If you haven’t done this, identify five to 10 channels doing what you want to do that are successful. If you haven’t taken the time to, #1, make a list of channels, by the way, if you can’t find any channels doing what you want to do, your niche or your vision, you’re either about to tap into something super brilliant, (and I’m not saying this is impossible.) but competition is good.  

Competition is a good thing, especially if the competition is successful. Why? Because it’s proof that people care and they watch that kind of content. If you can’t find a channel doing what you want to do, it doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be able to do it. But you really want to find some, because you’re gonna do it differently. 

You’re going to do it with a different style, a different approach. It’s going to be proof that you have an audience, right? So when you identify five to 10 channels, one, have you gone and watched their videos and made a list, like got a journal, of what’s awesome.  

How do they open videos?  How do they close their videos?  Ooh, I like what they did today!  Ah, that makes sense.  Really study what they’re doing.  You aren’t going to copy them but success leaves clues.  Here’s another reason to study other channels.  You can kind of draft behind them like an Indy 500 race.  

It’s not that you’re going to do it exactly the same. It’s that you might end up taking an amalgamation of five different channels and say it’s going to be a little bit of this and that. It’s also going to serve people this way. You put some of those pieces together, you’re going to get so much dang clarity for getting your first 1000 subscribers.

And here’s the mistake.  I’m shortening your learning curve here. There’s two ways to get wisdom. One is your mistakes. That’s the slowest way to get wisdom.  You probably can relate.   What are some mistakes you made in your life? I think about growing up.  There were times when I was partying in high school. I drank too much. You know what I mean?  It was a mistake. 

You woke up the next day not feeling great.  I learned.  There were times when I disagreed with my wife.  Or I did something stupid, and I got in trouble. I said I was gonna be home at a certain time and I came home two hours later, and I didn’t text or call. I made a mistake. I got wisdom out of that. 

But listen, there’s two ways to get wisdom. One is your own mistakes.  The other way, other people’s mistakes.  It’s the fastest way to get wisdom. That’s the beauty of buying a book. Because you pay like $15 to get 10 or 20 or 35 years of experience. And it’s other people’s mistakes. That’s what my channel is all about. We’ve had some successes. And sure along the journey we’ve learned a lot of things.

I’ve also had some failed YouTube channels that I had to learn from the journey. And you’re here so I can help you go further faster. You shorten your learning curve by investing in wisdom. And by looking at somebody else and say, Oh, I just saved myself a whole year or three years.  You get to shorten your learning curve. 

Mistake #4: Not Focusing on Search Based Content

Not Focusing on Search Based Content will hurt your youtube subscriber numbers.

Focus on search based content and answer specific questions. People debate all the time, do tags matter? Is YouTube a search engine anymore? 

It’s actually a felonious debate. Because yes, YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world. In fact, 65% of people who use YouTube are using it to solve a problem.  Look, if people are going to YouTube to solve a problem, then the best way to get discovered is to answer their question.  

Solve their problem.  I’m not saying this is the only content you will ever make, but you should start with search based content. Once you have subscribers, you can talk about whatever you want, because they’re there. They know you. But how do you actually get someone to know and trust you, if they don’t even know you yet? How do you actually get discovered? 

The mistake here is making content that nobody wants to watch and that nobody is searching for.

A lot of people say, why am I not getting subscribers? Why am I not getting views? 

Are you crafting content that you’ve researched and that people are interested in? Are you crafting content that people are interested in watching? You can discover the kind of content that people like and what people are searching for, and then think about it. When you make that content, people watch it, and then they subscribe. 

This is why you have to answer the who and what and how it will benefit them.  You’ve got to get a clear vision and make content that people want to watch and that people are searching for. 

Mistake #5: Not Committing 

It’s pretty simple. Commit. What’s the mistake? Dabbling. 

What do I mean? Really, this probably should have been Mistake #1, because I actually think the main reason a lot of people don’t reach 1,000 subscribers is because they’ve never actually made a real commitment to get there.

Commitment is the foundation of all accomplishments. Commitment is the little choices we make every day that lead to the final results we’re looking for.

I think about my wife, Sonia and I have been married for 15 years. That’s a commitment. There were plenty of times when I could have broken that commitment and thought, you know what, it’s hard, so I give up. It’s not that it hasn’t been hard. In fact, the first two years of our marriage were hell. That’s why we committed when we gave our vows. But then we went to counseling and we worked through our issues, and we were at each other’s throats, but we learned how to communicate.

I had to say, I’m sorry and we had to ask for forgiveness. It wasn’t easy, but it was worth it. Now we got little Sean Bradley Jr.  We’ve got 15 years under our belt, ups and downs, but that’s commitment.

YouTube growth, it’s hard. I’m not saying it’s gonna be easy. If you’re following anyone that says it is, they’re lying to you. It’s not easy, but it is worth it.

You have got to commit. There’s something about commitment. Commitment is showing up and making the hard decisions consistently. You don’t get bulging biceps by doing push ups once. You don’t watch the fitness DVD one time and all of a sudden you realize that you’re chiseled like Brad Pitt in Fight Club.

You do it by daily repetitious discipline, and you keep showing up and you keep sweating, and you keep doing the work. Wishing is not committing. It’s about making this a priority. 

I believe that you commit, that you stop dabbling. The mistake is a mental attitude. There’s something about turning pro and here’s some of the reasons why I think we’re afraid to go all in.

  • If you’re just dabbling and you fail because you’re afraid of failure, no big deal. You were just dabbling.
  • You’re afraid of being small at the start and the judgment you’ll receive if you actually tell someone that you’re committed and fail you’ll look bad.

If you don’t quit, you win. The difference between successful creators and those that are not successful is their relationship with failure.

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn, and failure is a stepping stone to success. You have to fail. If you’re afraid of failure, good news! You don’t need to be because you’re going to fail a lot. The more you fail, the sooner you’ll get to 1,000 subscribers.

That’s why you’re posting 35 videos without much strategy because I’m trying to get you to just post videos. They’ll be bad but they’ll be educational for you. Should you could call a video a failure, or should you call that video a stepping stone to success? 

The real failure is quitting. That’s the only time failure is sealed. When you keep going, keep learning, keep adapting, keep pivoting, keep leveling up, you’ll be moving from a dabbling mindset and you’ll start succeeding.

Move into a dominating mindset.. go pro in this thing.

Sean Cannell

Sean Cannell is one of the most watched video content experts in the world and one of his channels was listed by Forbes as one of the “Top 20 Channels That Will Change Your Business.”
He is an international speaker, best-selling author of the book YouTube Secrets and his YouTube channel, Think Media, reaches over 21.5 million people a month. Sean has been hailed as one of the most successful online video experts – first building a multiple six-figure business through affiliate marketing and then going on to build a seven-figure media company focusing on online education that he still runs today.
Sean and his team are on a mission to help 10,000 people quit their day jobs to do what they love. He is passionate about giving tactical, practical advice to use video to spread your message. 
Sean is from Arlington, Washington and currently lives in Las Vegas, NV with his wife Sonja, son Sean Bradley, and their dog Sophie.



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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts

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Email Marketing Trends 2023: Predictions by the Industry Stalwarts


Every year, we see new trends entering the world of email marketing.

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

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5 Simple Things You Can Do To Improve the Content Experience for Readers

Who doesn’t like to have a good experience consuming content?

I know I do. And isn’t that what we – as both a consumer of content and a marketer of content – all want?

What if you create such a good experience that your audience doesn’t even realize it’s an “experience?” Here’s a helpful mish-mash of easy-to-do things to make that possible.

1. Write with an inclusive heart

There’s nothing worse than being in a conversation with someone who constantly talks about themselves. Check your text to see how often you write the words – I, me, we, and us. Now, count how often the word “you” is used. If the first-person uses are disproportionate to the second-person uses, edit to delete many first-person references and add more “you” to the text.

You want to let your audience know they are included in the conversation. I like this tip shared in Take Binary Bias Out of Your Content Conversations by Content Marketing World speaker Ruth Carter: Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns.

Go through your text and replace exclusionary terms such as he/him and she/her with they/them pronouns, says @rbcarter via @Brandlovellc @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

2. Make your content shine brighter with an AI assist

Content published online should look different than the research papers and essays you wrote in school. While you should adhere to grammar rules and follow a style guide as best as possible, you also should prioritize readability. That requires scannable and easily digestible text – headings, bulleted text, short sentences, brief paragraphs, etc.

Use a text-polishing aid such as Hemingway Editor (free and paid versions) to cut the dead weight from your writing. Here’s how its color-coded review system works and the improvements to make:

  • Yellow – lengthy, complex sentences, and common errors
    • Fix: Shorten or split sentences.
  • Red – dense and complicated text
    • Fix: Remove hurdles and keep your readers on a simpler path.
  • Pink – lengthy words that could be shortened
    • Fix: Scroll the mouse over the problematic word to identify potential substitutes.
  • Blue – adverbs and weakening phrases
    • Fix: Delete them or find a better way to convey the thought.
  • Green – passive voice
    • Fix: Rewrite for active voice.

Grammarly’s paid version works well, too. The premium version includes an AI-powered writing assistant, readability reports, a plagiarism checker, citation suggestions, and more than 400 additional grammar checks.

In the image below, Grammarly suggests a way to rephrase the sentence from:

“It is not good enough any longer to simply produce content “like a media company would”.

To:

“It is no longer good enough to produce content “as a media company would”.

Much cleaner, right?

3. Ask questions

See what I did with the intro (and here)? I posed questions to try to engage with you. When someone asks a question – even in writing – the person hearing (or reading) it is likely to pause for a split second to consider their answer. The reader’s role changes from a passive participant to an active one. Using this technique also can encourage your readers to interact with the author, maybe in the form of an answer in the comments.

4. Include links

Many content marketers include internal and external links in their text for their SEO value. But you also should add links to help your readers. Consider including links to help a reader who wants to learn more about the topic. You can do this in a couple of ways:

  • You can link the descriptive text in the article to content relevant to those words (as I did in this bullet point)
  • You can list the headlines of related articles as a standalone feature (see the gray box labeled Handpicked Related Content at the end of this article).

Add links to guide readers to more information on a topic – not just for SEO purposes says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. #WritingTips Click To Tweet

You also can include on-page links or bookmarks in the beginning (a table of contents, of sorts) in longer pieces to help the reader more quickly access the content they seek to help you learn more about a topic. This helps the reader and keeps visitors on your website longer.

5. Don’t forget the ‘invisible’ text

Alt text is often an afterthought – if you think about it all. Yet, it’s essential to have a great content experience for people who use text-to-speech readers. Though it doesn’t take too much time, I find that customizing the image description content instead of relying on the default technology works better for audience understanding.

First, ask if a listener would miss something if they didn’t have the image explained. If they wouldn’t, the image is decorative and probably doesn’t need alt text. You publish it for aesthetic reasons, such as to break up a text-heavy page. Or it may repeat information already appearing in the text (like I did in the Hemingway and Grammarly examples above).

If the listener would miss out if the image weren’t explained well, it is informative and requires alt text. General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text. That’s a short sentence or two to convey the image’s message. Don’t forget to include punctuation.

General guidelines indicate up to 125 characters (including spaces) work best for alt text, says @Brandlovellc via @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For both decorative and informative images, include the photo credits, permissions, and copyright information, in the caption section.

For example, if I were writing an article about Best Dogs for Families, I would include an image of a mini Bernedoodle as an example because they make great family pets. Let’s use this image of my adorable puppy, Henri, and I’ll show you both a good and bad example of alt text.

An almost useless alt-text version: “An image showing a dog.”

Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.

It wastes valuable characters with the phrase “an image showing.”

Use the available characters for a more descriptive alt text: “Author’s tri-colored (brown, white, black, grey wavy hair), merle mini Bernedoodle, Henri, lying on green grass.”

It’s more descriptive, and I only used 112 characters, including spaces.

Want to learn more? Alexa Heinrich, an award-winning social media strategist, has a helpful article on writing effective image descriptions called The Art of Alt Text. @A11yAwareness on Twitter is also a great resource for accessibility tips.

Improve your content and better the experience

Do any of these suggestions feel too hard to execute? I hope not. They don’t need a bigger budget to execute. They don’t need a lengthy approval process to implement. And they don’t demand much more time in production.

They just need you to remember to execute them the next time you write (and the time after that, and the time after that, and the … well, you get the idea.)

If you have an easy-to-implement tip to improve the content experience, please leave it in the comments. I may include it in a future update.

All tools mentioned in the article are identified by the author. If you have a tool to suggest, please feel free to add it in the comments.

If you have an idea for an original article you’d like to share with the CMI audience, you could get it published on the site. First, read our blogging guidelines and write or adjust your draft accordingly. Then submit the post for consideration following the process outlined in the guidelines.

In appreciation for guest contributors’ work, we’re offering free registration to one paid event or free enrollment in Content Marketing University to anyone who gets two new posts accepted and published on the CMI site in 2023.

HANDPICKED RELATED CONTENT:

Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

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The Ultimate Guide to Product Marketing in 2023

Product marketing is essential, even if you only sell one or two products at your organization.

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