After reviewing 100’s of YouTube channels in my time as a YouTube Growth Coach, I’d like to share my best tips that can help you gain views and subscribers in 2021!

Did you know that YouTube’s algorithm has two primary focuses on YouTube? These focuses included getting viewers to the platform, and keeping viewers on the platform?  So, if you want to really grow on YouTube, the best tip I can give you is to align yourself with what YouTube wants as your main strategy. This means you have to do everything in your power so that when a viewer stumbles upon your channel, they not only watch the first video they found, but they continue to watch more videos on your channel, extending their watch session, which makes YouTube happy.  Here are 3 ways to do this:

Tip #1 Optimize Your Channel’s Appearance

For your banner, if you have no artistic abilities (like myself) you can still use an app like Canva, which has a free version available, allowing you to do the entire design yourself, or you can also use a paid service like Fiverr – which has many decently priced artists starting at just $5. 

Now after you have designed your banner and uploaded it to YouTube, which can be done in the customization section of your YouTube studio, you will want to add links to your banner to give your new or returning viewers a reminder to subscribe.

One of the biggest mistakes I see made on YouTube is that most YouTube channels I have reviewed will have links in their banners that push viewers to their other platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc. But, if growing your YouTube channel is your main objective or main social media platform, I suggest removing those links and simply adding an auto-subscribe link. I know you are probably wondering, “How do I do that?” All you have to do is: 

Copy your channel URL, and at the end include ?sub_confirmation=1

For example, mine would be: https://youtube.com/brendansparks?sub_confirmation=1

This way, when a viewer clicks on your link in the banner,  a pop-up screen will appear prompting them to subscribe. It’s one more way to gain a subscriber and/or keep them on YouTube. 

In addition to your banner, you want to give viewers the option to see your best work right on your homepage which can be organized using playlists. You can add a playlist to your page by completing the following steps:

  • Click your profile icon on the top right corner of your screen
  • select your channel from the drop-down menu
  • choose the “customize channel” button 

From there, you can add your playlist under the “featured sections” tab by selecting the plus icon labeled “add section.”

Once you have added the playlist to your featured sections, make sure to save your work by selecting “publish” in the right corner of the menu.

The biggest tip I can provide to you about playlists is that they are also searchable. This means you will want to provide SEO best practices with a playlist just like you do with videos. 

To do this, you can use a keyword research tool, such as TubeBuddy, to apply keywords to not only your titles but also your playlist descriptions. For example, if you are a gamer and you have your playlist organized by Gameplays and walkthroughs, you wouldn’t want to title your playlist “playlist 1” or “gameplay 1” as no one is searching for these titles on YouTube. But you can do something such as “Batman Arkham Knight full walkthrough” as a viewer is more likely to search for this on YouTube. 

Tip #2 Improve Your Thumbnails

Let’s say you make the best video in the world. Your search engine optimization (SEO) is 100 and untouchable! Your video is finally ranking in search… YOU MADE IT! — But, there’s one problem, your thumbnail isn’t good. This means no matter how well your video is made, or how high your ranking, you will not see any views because no one is choosing your video because your Thumbnail is not grasping their attention. 

But don’t worry, there are tools for that, for instance, TubeBuddy’s A/B testing tool. You can A/B test your thumbnails by creating two different designs for one video. Upload your options into TubeBuddy’s A/B testing tool, and let TubeBuddy change your thumbnail every 24 hours while keeping track of which thumbnail is chosen more by the viewer. Once the test is complete, TubeBuddy will provide you with a full report and allow you to choose the best thumbnail to ensure when you rank in search, people will actually choose your Thumbnail and your amazing video will be viewed by the world, or at least your Target audience. 

Another option is to manually review your click-through rate (CTR) within the YouTube Studio analytics for each video. The average CTR on YouTube is 3-10%, but you always want to aim for each video to have a higher CTR than your last video. Okay, I know, get to the point already…

Honestly, this is mistake number two I see when reviewing channels;  Creators get so concerned about their thumbnails matching or having a branded look. But, from experience, your thumbnails shouldn’t look the same as when you first started, and they don’t need to be branded.

Something I personally do is research my competition and look for similarities such as products in the thumbnail or keywords and see how I can bring those elements to my own thumbnail while still keeping it my own because no one likes a copycat. And remember, It’s not the theme that gets the views, it’s the click. Side note: try to stick with 3-5 words per thumbnail. Any more than that it can become cluttered or hard to read.

Tip #3 Don’t Forget the About Section!

Often missed and mistreated is the About section. Start it off with something strong like your value proposition (your “why”). For instance: Welcome to “insert channel name” where you will learn “x, y, and z”. Notice I used the pronoun you. This helps with inclusion and making the individual feel like you are speaking directly to them. I’m not saying it’s wrong to share information about yourself, but we want to make sure there’s plenty of value for the viewer. If you’re just getting started on YouTube, finding your “why” and niching down can take time, so don’t be afraid to experiment with your videos. However, the sooner you figure out your “why”, the sooner the audience can identify themselves with your content and YouTube will then know who to push your videos out to.

Final Thoughts

YouTube is all about doing what you love but while still providing value to your target audience. The more you focus on improving, the better experience it will be for your viewers. Following these few tips will help you do just that. I hope you found value reading this and I wish you nothing but success in 2021 and beyond.

About the Author


Brendan Sparks has been a creator for 2+ years while remaining active duty in the military. After finding fast growth on his first channel, he decided to follow his passion to help others do the same. Visit his channel for more YouTube tips and weekly channel reviews at https://youtube.com/brendansparks

Get TubeBuddy for free: https://tubebuddy.com/brendansparks