I get asked about this a lot so I figured it was time I write some of it down in one place 🙂
I had these same questions about a year ago. I watched videos and read article after article. The best info I got was actually from the youtube network/partner I signed on with last spring. Soooo, here is a short list of some things you can do to improve your youtube channel and start building your audience.

1) Content: Be consistent. If you make painting videos, keep the videos on your channel related to painting. If you make comedy videos, stick to that. Your subscribers are not going to be happy if they are expecting to laugh when they watch your new videos but instead get a lesson on making a heart shaped pancakes out of rice flour. If you want to share totally different content, make another channel. Now there are exceptions to this, vloggers can get away with making vlogs about anything under the sun, because in that case you’re the subject of the video, not your paintings, comedy, cooking etc.

2) Fancy up your channel page: Make a brand. Branding is everything. When someone comes to your channel, it needs to be obvious what the channel is about. Make your avatar easily recognizable. Make your cover art clearly indicate what your page is about, including your upload schedule. Make playlists and group videos according to type. Make it easy for your viewers to find the content they are looking for. For example, on my channel, I made playlists for surreal paintings, another for animal paintings, another for tutorials etc.

3) Titles, tags, descriptions & thumbnails: These are SOOOO important. They are what people will see when searching and will control what comes up on a search engine. Make sure your title has keywords that people are searching for. For the painting below, I don’t want to just say “Jupiter and river” because no one is likely to be searching for those. Instead I want to list the words that are more commonly searched, “Speed painting” “time lapse painting” Oil painting, how to paint, painting demonstration and so on. Now I need to turn it into a complete title. I used “Speed painting surreal landscape w/ Jupiter – oil over acrylic time lapse demo by Lachri”. Now, that is on the long side and I could probably improve it, but you get my point.

Oil painting

Oil painting

As for tags, use as many as you can. Make sure they are relevant to your content, irrelevant/misleading tags are likely to get you more dislikes which drops you on the search engines. This goes for your title as well. For your video description, remember that the first couple of lines will show in the search results, make sure you describe your video well in those first couple of lines.

Make sure your thumbnail is also good. This is the first thing people will notice on searches. Remember they are tiny, so keep that in mind when designing yours.

4) Schedule: Get your videos onto a schedule. Pick a day (or better several if you can) and time and have a video ready and uploaded for that time. You an use the “schedule” feature to pick an exact time and date”. If you’re only uploading one video every several months you’re not doing yourself any favors. People lose interest quickly, if they’ve not seen anything from you in months…or even weeks, they aren’t likely to stick around.

5) Compare: Compare your channel with other more successful channels in the same genera. What are they doing that is different than what you’re doing?

If you’ve not already done so, check out the YouTube creator playbook for more in depth info 😀 YouTube Playbook