First of all, this is only one way of doing it. There will be many others, but this is something which i know works.
You may well ask why someone with a six-year old channel which has only 30 000 views and 92 subscribers (at the time of writing) thinks he has any business giving advice on views and subs. Well, the answer is that this is not my only channel. I have another channel which is quite a bit more successful in spite of very little input. It has almost half a million views and 132 subscribers. No, i'm not going to tell you what's on it, but it's entirely legitimate content for YouTube.
There are a number of key points:
* Elicit a strong emotional response. Make someone laugh, do something funny, something sad and affecting, something disgusting, something which makes the viewer angry, frightened or curious. Comedy, horror, fascination - these are the kind of things you need to aim for. Then the viewer will want to share the video, blog about it, respond to it, comment on it, discuss it and so forth, and it'll get views. Example (not for the weak of stomach - you have been warned): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iEeMJgV75nQ - 26 million views.
* Make videos with rewatch value. Make the viewer wonder what they've just seen so they want to watch it again, put Easter eggs in or make a video which needs to be watched repeatedly by its very nature, for instance for hypnotherapy purposes or because it's part of an interactive series. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7HA7RzIM5rU - ontological paradox game. This only has 26 000 views but that's not too bad for a video about philosophy.
* Do something unique and startling. Make a video of something nobody has ever seen before which is visually stunning. Lots of these are made by people who are in the right place at the right time. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sl_RknL9G-Q - 2.4 million views in less than a week.
* Be yourself: Don't try to be something you're not unless you're an actor, musician or some other kind of performer. Example (probably the most obvious one ever!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_56nx3eHK4c - 1.48 million views so far.
* Post links to videos in the communities you really care about. Don't just post a link to a load of random places and run. Example: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vxq9yj2pVWk - nearly 2 million views after two years.
* Be consistent without being ridiculously diverse - this is a failing of this channel. Example of someone who doesn't fail in this respect: http://www.youtube.com/user/SamSailsShips/videos?view=0 - please subscribe to her, i don't know her at all apart from on here but she is good.
There is also an element of luck. An important factor, unfortunately, is that older YouTube videos used to get counted in a way which inflated the views inaccurately, meaning that when people look at older channels they appear to be more popular than they really are. Viewers are therefore likely to perceive them as better initially, watch and subscribe, and the gap will therefore probably increase. The other channel had more videos on it when the method of counting changed in 2011, so it's more popular now as well.
Finally, put a link to your channel on your sig on whatever fora you happen to be on, e.g. IMDB, Outpost Gallifrey or all the literally millions of other message boards and forums.
If you do all of these things and are fairly lucky, you will succeed. Hope it works well for you.
This couldn't be more blatant, could it? However, it's also an attempt to attract more content creators to subscribe, because people who are actually making stuff for YT probably see it in a different way.
Two things happened in the past day which underlined something i've long suspected about YouTube, along with a third thing which was slightly annoying and not entirely related. The first two were looking at YouTube on the Wii, where it turns out you can't see channels or comment - it's just a huge smoosh of vids with no association with users or anything, and the basic Android YouTube app, which won't let you comment or upload. I've temporarily (i hope) uninstalled the fancier app because it had stopped working. This is the wrong way round. YouTube ought to be about individuals' content creation, not passively watching what's on there without being able to comment, upload videos or even know the usernames of the people uploading. It's completely ridiculous to have it like that instead. It makes me think that the majority of people don't perceive YT as consisting of channels or a place you can comment and upload videos, but more like a television set. As far as i'm concerned, TV sets are extinct - they serve no purpose at all if you have internet access and a device on which you can watch videos - and in fact that style of video use itself is currently a little suspect to me, although that's the fervour of the convert, probably, because i do of course watch TV programmes.
The other thing is a minor gripe with YouTube. My views more than halved overnight and are now very low on one channel and unchanged on the other. What appears to have happened is that views of currently unlisted and private videos are no longer included in the total, because it dropped by just over 38 000 views, the same number of views as Liz's wee-wee video got.