For a question like “how often should I upload to YouTube?”, there are two answers. There is the idealistic, best-case-scenario answer, and there is the practical, real-world answer that applies to you specifically.
For maximum growth potential, uploading to YouTube daily is the best option. However, there is more to success than merely putting videos online. If, for you, getting videos up on a daily basis means a severe compromise in the quality of those videos, or it is not feasible to make the kind of content you make that regularly, then of course, daily is not the right answer.
If there are no obstacles to getting your content up on a daily basis and that content is not rushed or subpar because of that schedule, then you will give yourself the best chance of succeeding by uploading more often and regularly.
But, as always, there is nuance to this topic so let’s get our hands a little dirtier.
Quality is Key
The closest thing you can get to a guarantee of success on YouTube comes with making quality content.
It is not a guarantee, of course, but if you could only nail one aspect of YouTubing, having quality content would be your best bet. Similarly, if you nailed every other aspect of YouTube except for producing quality content, your channel could—and probably would—still fail.
What this means in practical terms is that if your videos are poor quality, lack focus, or do not provide anything useful to the viewer—be it information or entertainment—it won’t matter that you are consistently managing to get a new video up every day because people won’t be interested in watching it. Furthermore, some types of content cannot realistically fit into a daily schedule, especially for individuals running a YouTube channel. DIY project channels are a great example of this.
The projects depicted on these channels can sometimes take days or weeks to complete themselves, so how, then, can you put daily videos out when each video represents multiple days of work?
So, while daily uploads would give you the best chance of success, you should adjust the “ideal” upload amount to suit your personal circumstances and your channel type. If you can’t realistically make videos more regularly than once a week without compromising the quality, don’t even consider anything more frequent than that.
This is not to say that the ideal upload schedule for you should be as often as you can possibly manage.
There is more to running a YouTube channel than the mechanical aspect of making a video.
YouTube Burn Out is a Real Problem
The fact that you can make quality videos daily, or weekly, or whatever interval you choose, does not mean that you should. Many YouTube channels fade out—or never get going in the first place—because the effort of running the channel becomes too much for the YouTuber.
Couple this with the fact that the vast majority of YouTubers never reach a level of success where they can earn enough money from their channel to pay the bills, and you have a recipe for disillusioned content creators wondering if it’s really worth the effort.
Of course, we would always recommend going into a YouTube channel with the mindset of it being a labour of love, rather than a money-making venture. That way, you are not only more likely to succeed because you enjoy it, but it will also be a nice bonus if the money does start rolling in.
But if you are running yourself into the ground trying to get content out on a gruelling schedule, and you are one of the overwhelming majority of YouTubers who don’t make enough money from their channel to quit the day job, you will almost certainly reach a point where it doesn’t feel worth it anymore.
Exceeding Demand has no Benefit
Another aspect to consider here is the viewer’s desire to watch that much of your content.
Something like a current events channel with regular short videos suits a daily upload schedule, but if you are making hour-long in-depth analysis videos, even if you could get one out a day, would your viewers have that kind of appetite for what is essentially a lot of intensive content?
People lead increasingly busy lives, and there are far more options competing for their downtime than at any point in human history. Forget the Netflixes, Amazon Primes, Xboxes, and any number of other sources of entertainment. On YouTube alone, there is more competition for your viewer’s attention than you can fathom, no matter how small your niche is.
If you are putting out videos that are over an hour-long daily, you will almost certainly dilute your viewer’s attention. You may find they only come for one or two videos a week, for example, when you are uploading six or seven.
Will this hurt your channel?
Not in any significant direct way, but it would mean you are putting a lot of extra effort in for very little return. It would be a far more efficient use of your time to put that effort into fewer videos, hopefully improving your content and giving your viewers more breathing room between each video.
There are also arguments to be made on the optics of having highly viewed videos. While it is generally a good idea not to obsess over viewing figures, it is an unavoidable reality that highly viewed videos tend to get a prestige boost in the minds of new viewers.
That is; they see a lot of people have watched a video and they are more likely to deem it worth watching. If you spread your views across multiple videos, rather than focussing your energies on a smaller number, you risk your content coming across as less-viewed, which will have an indirect impact on your growth.
Consistency Trumps Frequency
Now, we’re going to level with you, regardless of what we say the best plan for success is regarding upload schedules, there will always be exceptions. The truth is you can succeed on any schedule if the content is good.
For example, YouTuber, Code Bullet, has a very popular coding channel.
His upload schedule is hilariously inconsistent, often stretching to months between videos. This state of affairs has become a running joke in both the comments section and the videos themselves, and yet his channel has over two million subscribers, and his videos (when they eventually come) consistently pass two million views.
It can certainly be done, but if you’re going to go off-book, posts like this won’t be a great deal of help to you.
If you want to play it a little more conventional, having a consistent upload schedule is often more effective than having a frequent schedule.
Consistency works for you both with the viewers and with YouTube itself. For YouTube’s part, they want people to stick around, and a big chunk of that is finding YouTubers that are going to draw viewers back on a regular basis.
Having a consistent upload schedule tells YouTube that you are reliable and that any subscribers you gain have a reason to keep coming back because you will always put out new content.
And, for the viewers, a consistent upload schedule tells them they’re not investing time in something that might just disappear one day without warning.
In much the same way people are more reluctant to watch a TV show that they know was eventually cancelled abruptly without the opportunity to tie up any loose ends in the plot, viewers will be less likely to subscribe to your channel if it looks like you might have stopped uploading because your last video was four months ago.
You should always try to make content based around what you are interested in because that gives you the best chance of being able to stick with it in the long term. It also makes the process easier because it’s much easier to work on something you enjoy.
So, when we talk about evergreen content, it may be useless information to you if your interests don’t mesh with this kind of content, but if you can make evergreen content, you will be in a much better position to succeed in the long term.
But what is evergreen content?
Evergreen content is content that has a long shelf-life. Content that will still be relevant and useful to viewers many months—or even years—down the line.
To give a couple of examples that illustrate what we mean, a video on celebrity gossip will only be relevant for a news cycle—something that is getting increasingly short in recent years. A tutorial on how to perform some clever trick in a popular piece of software, on the other hand, will be relevant for as long as that software is in use and the trick works.
It is not uncommon for YouTubers making evergreen content to give up on their channel, feeling that they are not getting anywhere, only to come back to it years later and find that their subscribers have continued to grow in their absence. This doesn’t happen for channels like the celebrity gossip channel we mentioned above.
Again, your content should largely be determined by what you enjoy making, but if you can make evergreen content, the success of your channel will be somewhat insulated against the possibility of failure due to inconsistencies in your upload schedule.
It also makes it easier to take a break from your channel—as you may sometimes feel the need to do—without it damaging your growth.
Make Sure Your Viewers Know What’s Coming
If you have a regular upload schedule, you wouldn’t have to do much more than making sure people know what that schedule is. But a lot of videos—especially videos that are not evergreen—tend to get the bulk of their views in the first few days after upload. The more views your video is getting in a short space of time; the more YouTube is likely to recommend it during that time because it will see it as something that is trending.
What this means in practical terms is that you should do everything in your power—without being obnoxious or spamming people—to make everyone aware that you have new content coming out, and what your upload schedule is.
Take to social media, update any mailing lists or Discord servers you run, etc. Treat it like a campaign, rather than a single blast of updates, such as waiting for a day after uploading and then posting about it in your community tab.
Spend at least twenty-four hours letting people know, so you have the best chance of catching the most viewers in the shortest amount of time.
It may be less important for evergreen videos, which will often get far more views over its lifetime than it does in the first few days, but it still helps to get that initial boost which could lead to YouTube promoting the video more.
As we mentioned above, there is a psychological component to seeing that a video has lots of views, and may increase the likelihood that someone clicks on your content.
Summing Up: How Often Should I Upload to YouTube?
So what have we learned? The more frequently you can upload videos to YouTube, the better the chance of success you have. But this only applies if you can get videos out at that rate without compromising on quality.
The minimum interval you should have between videos is however long it takes you to make the best content you can make because, ultimately, the quality of the content is more important than the frequency with which you upload it.
Evergreen content, if it fits your channel, can act as a kind of buffer against infrequent upload schedules, attracting viewers to your channel long after they were uploaded.
And, finally, promote your content. You don’t want to be in a situation where people who want to watch your content don’t because they didn’t realise there was a video out. Tweet, post on Facebook, Instagram, and wherever else, you have social media accounts.
Encourage viewers to click the notification icon on your video, whatever it takes. But don’t spam or act in other annoying ways because that will just put people off.
And, just to reiterate; the quality of the video should always come first.