Is the time when you upload your videos on YouTube important? Can it help your content’s viewership?

Well, publishing your videos on the right day and time of the week could result in more views and subscribers — paving the way to a higher income from your YouTube channel. Here are the 5 ways to find the best time to upload to YouTube:

Key Takeaways: Best Times to Post on YouTube

  1. Utilize YouTube’s Audience Report: Aim for times just before or after the peak online periods identified by the darkest purple bars on the graph in YouTube Studio’s Analytics under the “Audience” tab.
  2. Leverage TubeBuddy: Use this tool for specific recommendations on the best upload times tailored to your channel’s audience activity.
  3. Consider Broad Industry Trends: Generally, weekday afternoons, especially Thursday and Friday, are prime for uploads, allowing your content to gain traction over the weekend. Saturday and Sunday mornings can also be effective, but aim for before 11 AM.
  4. Poll Your Audience: Directly ask your subscribers when they prefer to watch your videos through polls in the community tab for more personalized insights.
  5. Quality Over Timing for New Channels: Focus on creating engaging and high-quality content first; the timing of uploads plays a more crucial role as your channel grows.

Leverage the “When your viewers are on YouTube” Report

In April 2020, YouTube on its Creator Insider channel talked about going beyond providing the basic demographics in its audience reports. They introduced a new tool to help you find when your audience is online (based on the last 28 days’ data).

Specifically, you can even find the hours within the week when your audience is online on YouTube. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re watching your channel’s videos or even content from other YouTubers.

You can access the metrics from the YouTube Studio by going to Analytics and clicking the “Audience” tab. You’ll find a graph like the one below that Ahrefs shared:

The day with the darkest purple bars is when the maximum amount of your viewers are on YouTube. A lighter shade of purple would mean fewer users online. Now, the best hour of the best day would be the time with the darkest purple bar.

So how can you leverage this report?

It might not make sense to publish at peak traffic times because it would mean competing with various other channels. So, you can experiment with posting your videos a few hours before or after the peak day and time. But even that should be treated as a starting point.

In the words of Luke, a part of the YouTube analytics engineering team working on this tool: “We’re not confident that you should be tailoring your upload schedule to this, or your publish schedule to this, using it in other ways can help you build that rhythm with your audience.”

Since your community is online at times with darkest purple bars, it’s a chance to start conversations with them. The company recommends engaging with your community during these times by responding to comments, conducting live streams, scheduling a premiere, and the like.

Channels with fewer than about 1000 views a day might not have access to this report as sufficient data isn’t available to find such trends. YouTube will return a “Not enough viewer data to show this report” message to you:

Install TubeBuddy

A YouTube growth extension, TubeBuddy, directly interprets the data from the above report and gives you a tool under its extension telling you the “best time to publish.” It shares recommendations for both the upload time and live stream for your channel for optimal performance.

TubeBuddy takes the first twelve hours after publishing into account for arriving at the upload time. But live stream timing is simply based on when most of your audience is on YouTube. Here’s a video showing how to access the tool:

Again, YouTube needs to collect sufficient data to share these insights with you, so smaller channels might not see recommendations. But don’t get disheartened. You’ll see a few more strategies below to try to find the best time to upload for your channel.

Let me quickly show you what the industry data around YouTube publishing has found. This information might:

  • not represent your niche audience,
  • is really old,
  • is based on correlations.

So take it with a pinch of salt. But a 2015 study by New York-based multi-channel network Frederator Networks found that:

  • Viewership is at its peak during weekday afternoons, probably when people are on their lunch break. So posting on weekday afternoons makes sense to give YouTube enough time to index and deliver your videos.
  • Thursday and Friday are the best days to upload your videos because people then get time to watch them on weekends.

  • On Saturday and Sunday, 9 AM to 11 AM might be optimal, though viewership starts to taper off on Sunday afternoon.

The findings are in sync with what I heard from Manalsu Juneja, who runs a YouTube channel, Gabblin, with 67k subscribers. “We have always been all over the place as far as our upload timings are concerned. As much as we plan, we end up missing our timelines,” he quips.

“However, generally, Thursday seems to be a good day to upload your content as you have the whole of the weekend for your video to nicely take off. I’d suggest a time of around 4 PM as that gives your video some time before the peak viewership traffic: 9:30 PM to 11:30 PM.

“Apart from Thursday — Friday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are okay as well. Sundays (traffic reduces towards the night) and Mondays (Monday blues) should be avoided.”

Take your channel’s specific target audience into consideration while looking at this data. If you educate through your videos and want to reach a B2B audience, then weekends are not a good uploading time. It might make more sense to post in the afternoon during a weekday — so they can munch on your videos alongside or after their lunch break.

Note: All times in the above study are in the EST time zone.

Poll your Subscribers

Remember, the YouTube algorithm “follows the audience.” Instead of playing the guessing game, it might make sense for you to survey your viewers when they want to watch your videos. If you’ve got access to the community tab, polling your audience and getting their feedback could be invaluable.

Don’t Fret About the Upload Time

At the beginning of your YouTube journey, the publishing time is mostly immaterial to your videos’ performances. You might rely more on your personal network and external sources to get traffic to your videos. Instead of worrying about the time of publishing, focus on creating quality content and establishing the topical expertise of your channel in a niche.

You could even consider unlisting your video and getting some social proof on it before setting it for public viewing. Jorden from The Writing Revolt regularly publishes content on her website and YouTube around freelance writing. She smartly shares the links to her new videos with her email list first:

Once it accumulates views, likes, and comments, she changes the video visibility to “public.”

The video company mentions it only pays attention to how YouTube viewers react to your video after you set it “public.” But early momentum in the way Jorden plans her videos’ publishing helps the long-term performance of a video. Such early video access gives YouTube viewers a reason to subscribe to her email newsletter as well.

You could also try running YouTube ads and sharing the video on other social networks to get those early views.

Final Thoughts

Don’t forget that besides uploading at the right time, it’s important to ensure your content is top-quality and interests your audience. “Personal relevance” is key get the attention of YouTube users. Also, designing a top-quality thumbnail (use any of these software for help) is essential to get people browsing YouTube to click through and watch your videos.

A version of the article originally appeared at Social Marketing Writing.