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Do YouTube Subscribers Matter? The Truth Behind the Numbers

Estimated Read Time: 12 min.
featured image of many youtube logos with a text in the middle saying "Do YouTube Subscribers Matter"

Let’s take you back to 2010, the number of subscribers on a YouTube channel was the golden metric, when The Annoying Orange had the most subscribers. For creators and businesses alike, a growing subscriber count was synonymous with guaranteed views and a dedicated audience always hungry for new content. This was an era when subscribers directly translated into regular viewership.

However, that’s not the case nowadays. With the introduction of the notification bell — allowing viewers to choose which channels can send them push notifications — and the explosive popularity of short-form content, the role of subscribers has evolved. Today, having a large subscriber base does not necessarily ensure that your videos will be watched. Viewers have more choices than ever, and their attention is divided among numerous feeds, creators, and platforms.

This Does Not Mean That They Are Not Important

It might seem like subscribers are becoming less important with all the new changes on YouTube, but don’t be fooled—subscribers are still relevant. Let’s look at a few reasons why they continue to be incredibly important for anyone running a YouTube channel.

round table with youtube logo in the middle and 6 people putting their hand on it

Eligibility for Monetization

First things first: if you’re looking to make money directly from your videos, you need subscribers—500 of them, to be precise. This is one of YouTube’s requirements to start earning ad revenue from your videos. So, reaching that subscriber milestone is more than just a number; it’s your ticket to monetization.

Credibility and Viewer Trust

More subscribers can also make your channel look established. This might appear vain, but the truth is, it tells new viewers that your content is worth watching. And you want to make sure that viewers are more likely to stick around and watch your videos for longer, boosting your viewer retention rates.

The Snowball Effect

Right after you upload a new video, who’s going to watch it? Your subscribers! The ones that have enabled the notification bell get a heads-up whenever you post something new, which can really help rack up those first few views. This early burst of activity is quite important—it tells YouTube’s algorithm that people are interested in your video, helping it get recommended sooner.

How Can I Gain More Subscribers?

You might be thinking, “If only there was a ‘subscribe’ button for every person I meet!” While we can’t magically turn every handshake into a subscription, there are a few clever and entirely feasible ways to increase your subscriber base.

youtube logo symbolizing subscriber growth

Buying Subscribers

Yes, you read that right—you can actually buy YouTube subscribers. It’s a bit like getting seed money to start a business; it makes your channel look a bit more established from the get-go. A lot of new channels opt for this option, as it allows them to focus on creating content, instead of being demotivated by the metrics. However, this is not the solution to all of your YouTube “problems,” so consider this more of a stepping stone rather than a complete strategy.

Collaborating with Other Creators

Think of collaboration like the guest stars on your favorite TV show—always a pleasant surprise! Working with other creators, especially those with a larger or complementary audience, is a very effective way to increase your subscriber count. It introduces your channel to potential subscribers who already trust and enjoy similar content. It’s networking at its best. However, don’t be surprised to see some creators expect compensation to collaborate with you, so networking can start to feel like lobbying in the end.

Creating YouTube Shorts

If YouTube Shorts were a sport, they’d be the 100-meter dash. Quick, to the point, and over before you know it—but they pack a punch. These bite-sized videos are perfect for catching the eye of someone scrolling for their next quick entertainment fix. Regularly dropping shorts will lead new viewers right to your subscribe button. But even that can be tiring. We highly recommend using modern AI tools to maximize productivity. Foir more information about this you can read our article on “How to Use ChatGPT for YouTube Shorts

Why YouTube Subscribers Might Not Be As Important As You Think?

While it might feel great to see those subscriber numbers climb, let’s talk about why they might not be the end-all, be-all for your channel’s success.

Engagement Over Subscriptions

YouTube’s algorithm has gotten smarter over the years. Now, it’s less about how many subscribers you have and more about how viewers interact with your content. YouTube prioritizes showing videos to users based on their past viewing habits rather than their subscription list. This means that even if someone is subscribed, they might not see your new video unless they’ve actively engaged with your previous content or hit that notification bell. The truth is, a subscriber who doesn’t watch your videos regularly is almost like having no subscriber at all!

image saying "views or subscribers" with two alternate youtube logos

Views Drive YouTube Metrics

Views are the real MVP when it comes to YouTube metrics. Why? Because every view adds to your watch time, helps improve your average view duration, and ultimately influences your video’s ranking. These metrics are crucial for the algorithm to decide who sees your content. While having a lot of subscribers can give you a quick burst of views when you first upload, if those viewers aren’t sticking around, those initial numbers won’t help much in the long run. Similar to vice versa, if one of your videos gains 100k views while you have 100 subs, then you shouldn’t expect every video to peak. Both metrics complement each other a lot. For a bigger boost on your channel, you can buy YouTube views.

Viewing Habits Have Changed

Let’s face it, the way people consume content on YouTube is changing. With the rise of recommended videos and YouTube Shorts, users might not go through their subscription feed as often as before. They’re more likely to watch whatever pops up in their recommendations. This shift means that your success is less about how many subscribers you have and more about creating content that’s likely to be recommended by YouTube’s algorithms. Looks like machines are taking over after all…

Conclusion: The YouTube Conundrum

So, what have we learned today? While subscribers once sat on the YouTube throne, waving their scepters as views dutifully followed, the royal dynamics have shifted. Yes, reaching subscriber milestones can open the gates to monetization and lend some street cred to your channel. But let’s face it, in the world of YouTube, visibility is key, and that comes from people watching and interacting with your videos, not just clicking the subscribe button.