What video upload frequency gives you max subscriber growth in the least amount of time?
How often you should be uploading videos to a YouTube channel is probably the most frequent question I get from new creators…a frequent question about frequency, how meta.
And while so many of the worries YouTubers dwell on really don’t matter much to your success, finding that perfect upload schedule is actually one of the most important questions you can answer.
In fact, I would say it’s one of the top three factors that have helped me grow my channel to 291,000 in three years on the platform (the other two are building a community and finding video topics that get views)!
Does YouTube Reward Creators that Upload More Frequently?
Before we get into a few ideas on the perfect upload frequency, I want to share some anecdotal evidence that can help answer the question.
Understand, this doesn’t come from any deep research or data analytics, only what I’ve seen after three years of religiously studying YouTube best practices and trends on the platform.
For the longest time, it seemed the secret to cracking the YouTube code was to upload as frequently as possible. You wanted to be in front of as many people, as often as possible.
It gave rise to channels posting daily or even more and gained them millions of subscribers.
Then something happened. The channels posting more than three times a week started to see their views drop like a rock. Check out what happened to YouTube legend Evan Carmichael’s channel of 2.7 million subscribers.
Now 99% of the creators out there would love to be getting 60,000 views a day but for Evan, to come down from averaging 180K daily views in August 2018 to 120,000 and then half that…that is a scary thing to happen to your business!
The reasoning behind the sharp drop, according to Matt Gielen of Little Monster Media, a change in the YouTube algorithm started limiting the reach on channels publishing more than three videos a week.
It made sense. Evan hadn’t changed anything about his videos and Matt had noticed the same trend on other daily upload channels.
For a while, moderation seemed to be the name of the game. This was about the time I was going to three videos a week and seeing massive growth for reasons we’ll discuss next.
Fast forward to 2020 though and it seems things have changed yet again. (BTW, maybe a fourth factor for YouTube success should be, ‘be mindful of the trends on YouTube and be ready to adjust your strategy’).
Over the last several months, I’ve noticed many channels exploding on a daily or even multiple upload per day schedule. Even new channels are getting hundreds of thousands of views a day and thousands of subs by ‘flooding the zone’ on content.
So let’s look at a few reasons why frequent uploads work best and some ideas to help you develop your own upload strategy.
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How Many Videos Does YouTube Want You to Upload Each Week?
Let’s look at it from YouTube’s perspective first to see how we might incorporate that into a strategy.
YouTube wants content! That’s an undeniable truth. It needs content that draws people, keeps them on the platform and keeps them coming back. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it needs you to upload every day or more.
The rationale behind the 2018 algorithm change that hurt daily upload channels was that YouTube was trying to get people watching smaller channels and new creators that didn’t have the resources to upload daily. If a viewer was coming to a specific channel every day to watch a new video, that’s a big time commitment that might be keeping them from exploring other channels and ultimately staying on the platform longer.
Another reason I’ve heard against daily uploads is the potential of cannibalizing views on each. YouTube promotes a video as ‘new’ for 72 hours. That’s why you often see new videos jump to the top of search or suggested but then fall off rankings after a few days. If you’re publishing a new video every day, then new videos could be pushing ‘less new’ videos out of search or suggested for your subscribers. (Besides the fact that how much of you do people really want to see? I know most people couldn’t stand me on a daily basis.)
Fast forward to 2020 though and the rules have changed. More so than ever, people are spending their time indoors and in front of the computer. YouTube wants to grab those eyes and people are hungry for new videos. It could be a reason daily and even more frequent uploads seem to be coming back.
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Rules for How Often to Upload to YouTube to Grow a Channel
Let’s put it all together for a few rules on how often to upload videos for YouTube success.
Rule #1 is consistency! Whether you publish once a week or seven times, you need to do it on the same day and at the same time each week.
Sometimes it helps to think of the similarities between YouTube and traditional TV. YouTube wants shows with the kind of consistency that people know when a new episode is out every week. Viewers wait patiently and make sure they’re free every week at 8pm on Sunday to watch the new episode of the Simpsons, and Fox knows it will be able to keep some of them around afterwards to watch other shows.
How peeved do you think viewers would have been if Jerry Seinfeld didn’t have a new show ready for Must See Thursday? (yeah, maybe I’m mixing up my TV history but you get the idea). The viewers wouldn’t like it, NBC wouldn’t have liked it and Jerry wouldn’t have made tens million an episode.
Commit to a consistent schedule, let people know when they can expect a new video and keep them coming back.
Rule #2 is you need to be uploading more than once a week and preferably more than twice.
Of course, the exception to this is if you’re making Hollywood-level productions that take weeks or months to produce. If your quality is that high, you can get away with a couple of new videos a month.
For everyone else, you need to keep from getting buried among other new videos and stay top-of-mind with your community. Two or more videos a week gives viewers frequent content to consume without overloading them.
I happen to like a schedule of three videos a week. It gives each at least 48 hours to run without getting stepped on by another video. It gives the community a constant flow of content and is something I can keep up every week.
Rule #3 – use stories and your community tab to fill the gap in between videos.
The verdict is still out on whether posting to your community tab might take valuable browsing real estate away from your videos but I asked my channel manager partner, a free service by YouTube to larger channels, about stories. The 15-second clips are featured in special sections in browse and do not take away from reach on your videos.
This means connecting with your community once or twice a week through a Stories clip can be a great way to stay relevant and get personal with your people.
Posting to the community tab is also a great way to get more content in front of people without having to create a new video. I try to post to the tab at least once a week.
Rule #4 is to feel free to break the rules every once in a while.
YouTube is constantly developing its discovery model and external factors can also influence what works best.
I would recommend against reducing the frequency of uploads, unless you’re posting 5+ videos a week and just can’t keep up. Taking a break for a bit is ok but you could accomplish the same thing by doing double the videos one week and just getting out ahead.
More likely, there will be times when you want to increase the frequency of uploads for a few weeks. These kind of upload challenges are popular and sometimes…oh maybe when everyone is locked-down in front of their computer, it makes sense to get as much content out there as possible.
The best strategy for finding what works best in terms of video frequency for your channel seems to be scaling up gradually. Start with one or two videos a week and see how that fits with your schedule. When you think you’re ready and if you have time, start doing three videos a week and see if that jumpstarts more growth.
This way, you’ll be able to find that perfect schedule without overloading yourself. I started with one video a week in 2017 but saw big, sustainable bumps in daily views with each increase in upload frequency.
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Growing a channel on YouTube means not just give people what they want to watch but doing it when and how often they want to watch. This means developing your own perfect uploading strategy for frequency and sticking to it. Put together a strategy of frequent uploads and you’ll not only grow your community but also your channel.