YouTube is a great platform that allows you to watch millions of videos for free. Not everything on the platform is free though, and you may be wondering if subscribing to YouTube channels cost anything.
That is what we’re going to be covering in this article (and more). But, let’s get the big question out of the way first.
So, is subscribing on YouTube free?
Yes, subscribing to a YouTube channel is completely free and there is no limit to the number of channels you can subscribe to. There are no hidden costs or recurring fees when you subscribe to a YouTube channel and you can also unsubscribe whenever you like for free as well.
While subscribing to a YouTube channel has no cost attached to it, joining a channel and becoming a member has a fixed monthly fee and is arranged in tiers with the channel owner setting the membership fee.
Usually, these membership fees start quite low at $2-5/month, and then depending on what the channel offers in its higher tiers, it increases accordingly.
With channel memberships, only members get access to these exclusive perks, but generally speaking, most of the good stuff happens for free on the public side of the creator’s YouTube channel (so they can grow the channel, get more ads, affiliate commissions, etc.).
What happens when you subscribe to a YouTube channel?
When you subscribe to a YouTube channel, you are adding a YouTube channel to your subscription feed.
This makes it easy to follow YouTubers that you are interested in, without being distracted by different recommendations and older videos that may no longer be relevant to you.
The subscription feed is chronological, meaning the videos that appear right at the top are the newest ones, and they are then sorted by upload date.
The subscription feed will also show the latest community posts that channels you are subscribed to post.
Subscribing to a YouTube channel makes it easier for you to find videos from channels that interest you, and these videos would also have a higher likelihood of appearing on your YouTube home page if you engage with them (although videos of channels you aren’t subscribed to but engage with regularly will also appear here).
From the channel owners’ perspective, they will see their subscriber’s number increase, which can help them access more YouTube features, or even make more money to create more videos.
What is the benefit of subscribing to a YouTube channel?
The benefit of subscribing to a YouTube channel is that you can easily find the latest video of a channel you are interested in without having to visit their YouTube channel directly.
You also won’t have to manually remember all of the channels you’re interested in and you will be able to see when they upload a new video or post a community message, without having to manually visit their channel constantly.
This can also help you manage your time on YouTube as the home page will keep recommending you videos that YouTube’s algorithm thinks will be of interest to you. If you keep watching videos, time can really fly by and you may have other things you need to do.
The subscription feed on the other hand is chronological, and only the latest videos/live streams/community posts from channels you are subscribed to will appear here.
The benefit for YouTubers is that they can access more YouTube features with more subscribers, like channel monetization or YouTube Stories. It can also help them earn more from their channel by being able to access higher-paying brand deals and sponsorships.
Why do YouTubers want you to subscribe?
YouTubers want you to subscribe to their channel so that you can more easily access their videos and so that you don’t miss out on their latest videos.
It’s not just for you though, they also want you to subscribe during videos because it sends an engagement signal to the YouTube algorithm and helps the video and their channel get seen by more people.
And as mentioned already, they also want you to subscribe so they can access more features and sponsorship opportunities that may only be available with a certain number of channel subscribers.
Why do YouTubers want you to hit the notification bell?
YouTubers want you to turn notifications on when you subscribe (a.k.a. hitting the bell) so that you are sent a YouTube notification when they upload a new video.
This is very important for a video’s initial engagement and can help a video get recommended and suggested by YouTube.
YouTubers also want you to turn on notifications as it will be more likely that you engage with their video or live stream, which could get buried in your subscription feed if you are subscribed to a lot of other channels.
When you “hit the notification bell” you will receive all of the channels notifications.
By default though, you will receive personalized notifications and these should then be for channels you engage with more often.
You can also turn notifications off entirely for a specific channel if you would rather just look in your subscription feed.
If I subscribe to someone on YouTube will they know?
Yes, and no. If your subscriptions are set to “public” then they will be able to see that you have subscribed to their channel. If your subscriptions are set to private, however, then they cannot see that you have subscribed to their channel.
Setting your subscriptions to “Public” can be a good way to subtly reach out to other similarly sized YouTubers to possibly collaborate with as they may notice your subscription in their feed and then when you send them a message it may be more likely that they respond.
How do YouTubers get paid?
YouTubers by default actually do not earn anything on YouTube. In order for YouTubers to make money, they need to monetize their channel through some of the following methods:
- YouTube Ads
- Sponsorships/brand deals
- Affiliate marketing
- Selling a product or service
- Selling merchandise
- Directing viewers to their website/business (that is monetized in some shape or form)
- Channel memberships
Some of these monetization methods are only accessible once you reach a certain number of subscribers and/watch-time, like monetizing through YouTube ads.
And then the amount of money YouTubers are paid is largely dependant on the type of niche, how aligned the audience is to the product on offer, the number of views they receive, etc.
How to support your favorite YouTubers for free
If you want to support your favorite YouTuber but you don’t have the excess cash to support them directly through a donation or possibly purchasing a product, there are a number of things you can do that can make a massive difference and really help your favorite YouTubers out (especially when they are still small channels).
If you’re interested in the full breakdown of each of these methods, check out this article I wrote, but here’s the summary:
- Subscribe to their channel
- Watch videos completely
- Turn off AdBlock and don’t skip ads
- Like the video and leave a comment
- Share the video, even if it’s only privately
- Use their affiliate links
- Provide constructive feedback
- Let them know what you the viewer wants to see
- Join their email list
- Follow them on social media if they have other accounts
Final thoughts on subscribing to YouTube channels
Subscribing to a YouTube channel is free and can be a great way to support your favorite creators while having a nice sorted feed that you can go through where only the channels you have selected are shown, with the latest videos appearing first.
YouTube channels can only see that you subscribed to their channel if you set your privacy settings to make your subscriptions public, otherwise, YouTubers cannot see who has subscribed to their channel.
I hope this article has answered your question of “is subscribing on YouTube free?” and how you can help support your favorite creators in other ways.
If you’re a YouTuber and you’re not sure what is better, Views vs Subscribers, read this article to find out when one or the other is better and how you can get more of both.