The beauty of short-form video is that it allows anyone to become a creator. With a phone and the Internet, you can start growing a platform for yourself. The other side to this, however, is that the bar for quality has been reduced, and you’ll need to put in extra effort to see meaningful growth.
This is as true for YouTube Shorts as for any other platform. Shorts reduced the barrier to entry for becoming a YouTuber (a highly sought-after profession), and it offers a unique opportunity to engage audiences in a concise yet impactful manner. Shorts also come with their own unique recommendation algorithm that could make your one life-changing video a reality.
But the path to virality, meaningful growth, and monetization is paved with unclear instructions and ever-changing platforms. I did the research, so you don’t have to find the top recommendations with varying levels of ease to apply to growing on YouTube Shorts. Let’s get into it.
1. Optimize the text in your video and on your channel for SEO
Search engine optimization isn't just for blogs and websites; it's crucial for YouTube Shorts as well. The title, description, and tags you use for your Shorts can significantly impact their visibility. Here are some tactics to adopt to help optimize your YouTube Shorts for SEO:
- Conduct keyword research to identify relevant and frequently searched terms for your video or niche. Use SEO tools like TubeBuddy or VidIQ to optimize these elements to find high-ranking keywords related to your niche. Or simply type in search terms you think would be used to discover your videos and incorporate what you see in the search bar in your caption, title, and hashtags.
- Speaking of hashtags, remember to use at least three per video. It helps the YouTube search engine effectively to categorize your content and make it more discoverable.
- Craft a caption that includes your keyword and is intriguing enough to encourage clicks. Test different captions to see which perform best regarding views and engagement.
- Consider using captions and transcripts to make your content accessible and to provide additional text that can be indexed by search engines.
Regardless of the platform you’re using it for, SEO is meant to help boost the discoverability of your videos, so you should try each task at least once to see what works for you.
On YouTube Shorts, it’s relatively easy to apply – consider creating a checklist of repeat SEO tasks so you always remember to apply them to your videos.
2. Use storytelling techniques to engage viewers
In an interview with Jay Clouse, YouTuber Jenny Hoyos shared how she figured out how to consistently go viral, and her storytelling techniques play a huge role.
To increase the chances that people watch your videos all the way through, use storytelling elements to keep viewers hooked. Here’s how to incorporate storytelling techniques in your Shorts:
- Start with a hook that grabs attention. A surprising fact, a common problem, or an intriguing question could be effective hooks.
- Introduce a challenge or goal early in the narrative. Like the ‘The Hero’s Journey’ formula, this challenge propels the story forward from the start, through the middle, and towards a conclusion.
- Enhance the storytelling with visual and auditory elements. Trending sounds, compelling visuals, and subtitle captions can make the narrative more immersive.
- Build towards a climax that provides a resolution or a valuable insight. This part should not only resolve the narrative but also offer a takeaway or a call to action for the viewers.
- Consider tying the end of the story back to the beginning, employing a ‘Circular Narrative’ approach. Jenny uses this technique in many of her videos – it provides a satisfying closure and emphasizes the transformation or journey.
Incorporating these techniques can make for a more compelling “story” and make your Short more engaging and memorable, which keeps people watching and encourages repeat watches.
3. Engage with your audience for community building
We all know that engaging with your community on social media is one of the many keys to success. It's been known to help your posts have higher visibility and creates more loyal followers. Make it a point to interact with your audience.
Here’s how to engage with your audience:
- Respond to comments on your Shorts.
- Host live sessions and Q&As to interact in real time with your viewers.
- Use the Community tab to post updates, create polls, or share behind-the-scenes content.
Speaking of the Community tab – it isn't just for long-form YouTube creators. It's a valuable tool for anyone looking to engage with their audience.
Here’s how to use the Community Tab:
- Post updates, behind-the-scenes looks, or polls to keep your audience engaged between video uploads.
- Use it to tease upcoming content or collaborations.
- Listen to your community. Their feedback can offer direct insights into what content you should create next.
K-pop reactor RJ uses the Community tab to share a weekly schedule of videos his subscribers can expect or ask his audience for content they'd like to see from his channel.
4. Master the art of thumbnails
In the attention economy, anyone who’s trying to grow on YouTube knows that their audience judges the book by its cover.
Thumbnails are the first visual cue viewers get about your video – it helps them decide whether to spend time watching your video or swipe away from it. A well-designed thumbnail can significantly increase clicks and views.
Now, while thumbnails don’t appear on the Shorts tab, they do show up in:
- The Shorts section on your YouTube channel
- Videos on the subscriptions tab
- Recommended videos on YouTube’s homepage
- YouTube search results
So if you want the maximum number of views, don’t overlook the power of thumbnails. You’ll need them to get more clicks outside of the Shorts player.
Here’s how to master thumbnails for YouTube Shorts:
- You can’t set a separate custom image yet, so you’ll want to make sure you have some text in your video that explains what the video is about to act as your thumbnail.
- A/B test different types of thumbnails to see which ones yield the highest click-through rates.
YouTube is always adding new features, so watch out for the feature that allows you to add custom thumbnails to your videos.
5. Diversify your content types
In the same way long-form YouTube creators don’t only create one type of video, Shorts creators should lean into different types of content that can attract various segments of your audience, keeping your channel fresh and engaging. Lifestyle creator Lucie Fink shares a wide variety of short-form content, from videos with her family to commonly misused words and phrases.
Here’s how to diversify your content:
- Blend various formats:
- Quick tips: Share your expertise by creating videos sharing advice. Whether a how-to guide or a step-by-step walkthrough, these types of videos provide value and establish your authority in your niche.
- Behind-the-scenes looks: Humanize your brand by offering a glimpse behind the curtain. Show your creative process, the challenges you face, and how you overcome them.
- Vlogs: Share personal experiences, day-in-the-life videos, or thoughts on topical issues. Vlogs can create a personal connection with your audience.
- Interviews: Host industry experts or collaborate with other creators to bring fresh perspectives to your channel. Finance creator often interviews other creators on his podcast and posts clips as Shorts.
- Trend-surfing: Hop onto seasonal or trending topics to inject a dose of relevancy into your content. This can help capture the attention of new audiences and potentially boost your visibility.
- Audience requests: Encourage your audience to suggest topics or formats they want to see on your channel. This not only fosters a sense of community but also provides valuable insights into your audience’s preferences.
Don’t shy away from trying out new content types or formats. Continuous experimentation can unveil what resonates best with your audience and keep your content strategy dynamic. With a wider content net, you are more likely to engage a broader spectrum of viewers, enriching your community and keeping your YouTube channel vibrant and appealing.
6. Explore monetization strategies
As of 2023, YouTube Shorts allows monetization, making it a viable platform for creators looking to earn revenue. However, navigating the monetization labyrinth requires a mix of adherence to platform guidelines, strategic planning, and continuous performance analysis. Here’s how to explore monetization:
- Ensure you meet the eligibility benchmarks set by YouTube for Shorts monetization. This includes a minimum number of subscribers and accumulated watch hours. Staying updated on YouTube’s monetization policies is key to setting a solid foundation for your revenue journey.
- Familiarize yourself with the different monetization features available on YouTube Shorts. This could include ad revenue, channel memberships, or Super Chat.
- Explore collaborations with brands for sponsored content or product placements. Ensure that the partnerships align with your brand and provide value to your audience. Remember to transparently disclose any sponsored videos to maintain trust with your audience.
- Set up a Patreon or a similar crowdfunding platform to garner support from your community. Additionally, enabling features like Super Chat can allow your viewers to donate during live streams.
- Keep track of your earnings through YouTube analytics and adjust your monetization strategies accordingly.
7. Leverage YouTube Shorts analytics
YouTube Shorts analytics are like a compass, offering directional insights that can guide your content toward increased engagement and growth. Understanding your analytics can provide valuable insights into what's working and what needs improvement with your content.
Here’s how to leverage Shorts analytics to grow as a creator:
- Regularly check metrics like Average View Duration (AVD), watch time, and engagement rates. Understanding the significance of these metrics is the precursor to insightful analysis.
- Set aside time to routinely check your YouTube Shorts analytics. A consistent review can help identify trends, spikes, or drops in engagement, which could be crucial feedback on your content.
- Use this data to refine your content strategy, focusing on what resonates most with your audience. Experiment with different content styles, video lengths, and posting times to ascertain what yields the best engagement.
- Don't just look at the numbers; read the comments and feedback for qualitative insights. Conduct surveys within your community to gather direct feedback on your content. This can complement the data-driven insights from YouTube analytics.
- Stay updated with YouTube's analytic features and best practices. Engage in learning opportunities, like online courses or community discussions, to sharpen your analytic skills.
If you take nothing else from this section, take this: the YouTube Shorts algorithm prioritizes Average View Duration over likes or comments. The longer viewers stay, the more your video gets pushed by the algorithm.
So, pay special attention to your AVD and audience retention metrics. These are indicative of how captivating your content is, and improving these metrics can boost your video’s standing in the YouTube algorithm.
8. Develop a consistent posting schedule
Consistency in posting not only keeps your audience satisfied with fresh content but also cultivates a rhythmic engagement that can boost your channel's growth over time.
Establishing and adhering to a posting schedule is akin to making a pact with your audience, a show of respect for their time and anticipation.
Here’s how to maintain a consistent schedule:
- Decide on a posting frequency that is sustainable for you—whether it's daily, weekly, or bi-weekly. Stick to this schedule as much as possible, and tell your audience when to expect new content. Don’t over-reach – assess your capacity to create content without compromising on quality or your schedule.
- Make your posting schedule transparent to your audience. Inform them through your videos, the channel description, or community posts about when they can expect new content from you. Caitlin Benson, a K-pop reactor, uses the Community tab to its fullest, sharing consistent updates on new content or any delays she might be experiencing.
- Consider creating and editing multiple videos in one sitting. Content batching can be a time-saver and ensure you have videos queued up for posting.
- If you post to any other short-form video platforms, combine your posting schedule with theirs so you never miss a post.
- Maintain a small reservoir of evergreen content for emergencies. These can be a lifesaver during unforeseen circumstances that derail your content creation schedule.
- While maintaining a consistent schedule, accommodate seasonal or trending topics that align with your niche. This keeps your content relevant and engaging. It also means you always have ideas to look forward to working with.
- Use scheduling tools to plan and post your videos at times when your audience is most active.
9. Build a personal brand
Your personal brand is what sets you apart from other creators. It's your unique style, voice, and value proposition. Here are tips to consider as you build your personal brand:
- Be genuine in your interactions and content. Authenticity fosters a sense of trust and relatability, which can morph viewers into loyal subscribers.
- Maintain a consistent visual theme across your Shorts and other social media platforms. This includes using a uniform color palette, fonts, and graphics which aids in making your brand instantly recognizable. Ali Abdaal can usually be seen wearing a light-colored t-shirt in his Shorts.
- In the same vein, develop a distinct voice and tone for your content. Whether it’s humorous, inspirational, or educational, ensure it resonates with your brand persona and audience.
- Share your journey, not just your successes. People love rooting for creators who are relatable and human.
- Clearly articulate the value you provide. Whether it's entertainment, education, or inspiration, make sure your audience knows what they can gain from subscribing to your channel.
- Build a community by engaging with your audience through comments, live streams, and social media platforms. Engagement fosters a sense of community and shows that you value your audience’s input.
- Establish content pillars that align with your brand’s values and interests. This provides a framework for creating consistent content that resonates with your brand and audience.
10. Experiment with video length
While Shorts are limited to 60 seconds, the ideal length can vary based on your content and audience. Here’s how to experiment with video length and find what suits your channel best:
- Try different video lengths, from 15 seconds to the full 60, to see what your audience prefers. Then, use analytics to find the sweet spot for your video length. Analyze viewer retention and engagement rate to identify the sweet spot where people are most engaged and focus on that length for future content.
- Assess the nature of your content. Some content types may require more time to get the point across, while others might be more impactful when kept short(er).
- Consider what your key metrics are outside of views – longer videos might get more comments, while shorter videos might get more likes. Determine what’s more useful for you as a creator.
- Prioritize viewer retention over video length. A longer video that retains viewers is more likely to be promoted by the YouTube algorithm compared to a shorter video with low retention.
- Stay updated with any changes in the YouTube algorithm that might affect the optimal video length for Shorts. Algorithm tweaks could shift the ideal video length paradigm.
- Solicit feedback from your audience regarding video length. Their preferences and suggestions could provide invaluable insights that shape your video length strategy.
Some creators have found that Shorts that are longer than 50 seconds tend to get more views than those under 10 seconds. However, you’ll need to ensure the content is engaging enough to retain viewers for the entire duration.
11. Cross-promote on other platforms
Don't limit your content to just YouTube; use other platforms to draw a larger audience and maximize the reach of your content. Outside of just taking the same video and posting it to other short-form video platforms like TikTok or Instagram Reels, there are other ways to cross-promote your content. Here are some tactics to try:
- Share your Shorts on platforms that don’t (yet) prioritize video, like Threads, Twitter, or even LinkedIn.
- Use platform-specific features, like Instagram Stories or Twitter threads, to provide additional context or a behind-the-scenes look at the creative process behind a recent video.
- Ensure the links to your YouTube Shorts are easily accessible. Include the link in your bio, posts, or stories, reducing friction for potential viewers to transition to your YouTube channel.
Fashion creator Madeleine White mostly posts Shorts on her channel and she's gained over 3 million subscribers from repeating the same content from her TikTok.
Cross-promoting your content is like casting a wider net to hook your potential audience. By strategically tailoring your promotion to each platform, you enhance the likelihood of capturing the attention of diverse audience segments, fueling the growth and reach of your YouTube Shorts channel.
12. Collaborate with other creators
Collaborations can expose your channel to a wider audience and offer fresh content. Teaming up with other creators not only infuses fresh perspectives into your content but also unveils your channel to a wider audience.
Here’s how to collaborate effectively:
- Choose creators whose content aligns with yours but isn't identical. This ensures that both audiences find value and get something new.
- Conduct thorough research to identify potential collaborators. Once identified, craft a thoughtful outreach message proposing a collaboration that outlines the mutual benefits for both parties.
- Be transparent about the goals of the collaboration, the expectations from each party, and the envisioned outcome. Clear communication from the outset ensures a more harmonious relationship.
- Allow for creative freedom within the collaboration. Each creator should be able to infuse their unique style into the collaborative piece, making the content rich and engaging.
- Promote as far and wide as possible amplify the reach and impact of your collaboration.
Colin and Samir frequently interviews other notable creators on their YouTube channel who reciprocate with a repost on their social channels.
13. Use trending music and sounds
Popular music and sounds not only make your Shorts more engaging and easily recognizable but also make them more discoverable, thanks to the feature where you can see all the videos under one song or sound.
Here’s how to use trending music:
- Explore the YouTube audio library, TikTok's trending sounds, or other licensed music platforms to unearth trending tracks. Staying updated with the current musical trends can provide a fresh and relevant backdrop to your Shorts.
- Don’t just slap on a trending track; integrate it creatively into your content. Choreograph movements, synchronize edits, and craft storylines that harmonize with the rhythm and mood of the music.
- Choose music and sounds that align with the genre or theme of your content. A seamless fusion between audio and visual can enhance the overall impact of your Short.
- Music use can impact your monetization so make sure the music and sounds you use adhere to licensing agreements to avoid copyright infringements. Use royalty-free or licensed music platforms to source your audio.
Lifesstyle creator Adelaine Morin used a less popular song "Love's Theme" for a video that gained 23 million views – the most for any video currently under that sound.
Trending music and sounds are more than just auditory embellishments; they're a conduit to the contemporary digital vibe. By meticulously selecting and creatively integrating trending audio into your content, you not only enhance the sensory appeal of your YouTube Shorts but also boost their discoverability and resonance with the present-day digital audience.
14. Engage with trending challenges and topics
Trending challenges and topics reflect the collective consciousness of the online community and are a great way to give your Shorts a boost. Engaging with these trends can not only propel your YouTube Shorts into the limelight but also foster a sense of camaraderie with your audience.
Here’s how to (meaningfully) engage with trends:
- Regularly monitor platforms like Twitter, TikTok, and even YouTube itself to stay updated on trends in your niche. Use tools and platforms that aggregate trending topics to streamline your monitoring process.
- Don't just mimic a trend; add your unique spin to it. Whether it's a distinctive style, a novel perspective, or a fresh narrative, make the trend resonate with your brand and audience.
- Ensure the trending topics or challenges you engage with are relevant to your content and audience. Relevancy is key to maintaining your brand integrity and audience interest.
- Jump on trends while they're hot. Timely engagement with trending topics can significantly boost your content’s visibility and relevancy.
- Ensure that your engagement with trends adheres to legal and ethical guidelines. Avoid engaging with controversial or harmful trends that could tarnish your brand image.
15. Check out what other creators in your niche are doing
Before diving into content creation and even when you’ve gotten your tenth video with a million views it’s important to spend time researching what's currently trending. This will help you know how to navigate your niche and the larger industry of content creation.
How to peek in on other creators:
- Dedicate time to peruse through trending Shorts from top creators within your envisaged niche. Identify common themes, styles, and topics that are garnering high engagement and views. Understanding the elements that are working for others can provide a blueprint for your initial content strategy.
- Delve into the engagement metrics such as likes, comments, shares, and view counts to gauge the resonance of different themes within your chosen niche.
- While it's crucial to understand what's working, strive to find a unique angle or approach that sets your content apart from others in your niche.
- Conduct keyword and hashtag research to understand the trending topics and keywords within your niche. This research can guide your content creation towards topics that have a higher probability of gaining traction.
Adopt a learning mindset. The digital landscape is ever-evolving; staying open to learning and adapting your strategies based on observations and feedback is crucial for sustained growth.
16. Thoughtfully repurpose yours’ and others’ content
Repurposing content can be a solid addition to your content strategy – if you do it right. See, if you're using existing content, you'll need to ensure you're revising it thoughtfully to meet YouTube's monetization rules.
YouTube penalizes direct copying, but there are exceptions, for example, creators who react to others’ content are classified as putting a creative spin on other content, which is considered okay under the guidelines. This involves more than just cutting and pasting; it requires a creative touch.
The YouTube Creators channel shared a simple video explaining how to respond to other videos to incorporate them into your own content.
How to repurpose content:
- Choose content that align with your niche and has potential for re-engagement. Your selected content should resonate with your brand and audience.
- Edit it to make it punchier and more engaging, adding your own creative elements like background music. Trim, enhance, and rearrange sequences to create a fresh narrative or highlight different focal points.
- Adding your reactions or commentary can provide a new dimension to the existing content. It’s a way of engaging with the content while offering your insights, humor, or analysis.
- If you are repurposing others' content, ensure you have the necessary permissions and follow YouTube's guidelines to avoid any copyright infringements.
Cooking creator Future Canoe uses his signature dry tone to recreate recipes from other creators.
Thoughtful repurposing is an art that can extend the life cycle of content, offering it a fresh lease of engagement.
There you have it—a comprehensive master list of 22 detailed tips to grow on YouTube Shorts.
Each tip is designed to be actionable and tailored to help you succeed in the fast-paced world of short-form video content.
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