Do you want to become a YouTube star or influencer? Or maybe you just want to share your passion with the world, whether that’s in food videography, streaming video games on Twitch, creating music, or anything at all. One of the best platforms to do that is YouTube and the first thing you will need to get people to view your videos is your own channel. This guide will show you how to start a YouTube channel in just a few simple steps.
Don’t worry if it all looks too overwhelming at first glance. This article will guide you through everything you need to do from setting it up to making it a success!
What Is a YouTube Channel?
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A YouTube channel is a virtual space dedicated to your video content. As the name suggests, people can find your channel from YouTube’s listings or by searching for it, and they can tune in to watch your YouTube videos. It’s a place where you can share a series of videos, create a playlist for your viewers, and even broadcast a live stream. People have the option to subscribe to your channel and get updates on new content by turning on their notifications.
Your subscribers don’t have to pay to see your channel but you can later create content that’s exclusive only to paying members, discussed in the latter part of this guide. So, how do you get started?
How to Start a YouTube Channel for Beginners
YouTube is an online video-sharing platform so needless to say, you would need a decent internet connection. It works similarly to social media sites so you would also need to create an account. Since the company was bought by Google in 2006, you would be using a Google account to log in and create a channel. You can jump to the section about setting up your channel at any time.
However, it would be beneficial for you to take note of these tips before you begin.
Learn How YouTube Works
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YouTube, for viewers, is pretty straightforward; you browse or search for a video to watch, play it, and give it a thumbs up or down. As for creators, however, you would need to learn just a few tricks.
First, understand that YouTube follows algorithms, much like Facebook and other social media sites. So, it’s important to optimize your channel in a way that will allow your target audience to find you. This means learning search engine optimization (SEO) for your descriptions and titles and being consistent with your content. These will all be discussed below.
It will also be helpful to learn how the publishing process works before you create your YouTube channel. When you upload a video, understand that it will not just magically get lots of views. You have to strategically customize its privacy settings, adult content rating, tags, and more. These are all crucial factors to get more views for your videos. For example, if you have unintentionally restricted your video to an audience of 18 years and above, younger people will not be able to view it even if it’s safe for them to do so. If you used random tags that are not relevant to your videos, Google will “index” your content as “low authority”—this just means that your video will not be shown in search results.
Know Your Target Audience
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Before you start creating a YouTube channel, it’s important to determine your target audience. This will help you plan your content accordingly. Are you creating videos for kids? Is your content for professionals, hobbyists, women, men, Asians, Americans, the queer community, or all of them? This is incredibly important for YouTube marketing. You also need to strike a balance between being too specific and being too general.
Once you know your target audience, it will be easier and faster to plan how to shoot your videos. If you intend to write a script—highly recommended, knowing your target audience will help you compose your verbiage. This is also where you will center your entire filming technique. If your videos are for kids, then you would know that it’s best to use colorful backgrounds; make the videos as animated as possible. Content geared toward gamers needs to have the highest quality resolution possible.
Find and Build Your Niche
In relation to your target audience, you also need to find and build your niche. The two sound similar but they have a few important distinctions. Your niche has more to do with your area of expertise. Narrow your topic down so that your channel becomes a trusted source of content. If your channel is about cooking tips, then people will go to you for that specific content. You can make it even more specific by setting your niche to something like “steak grilling tips” instead of general cooking tips. This will help you build authority for your YouTube channel.
In some cases, a wider scope can be successful. For example, you may want to create a YouTube channel specifically for “cute animal videos.” Then people would know that they will find any and all types of cute animal videos in your channel. However, this strategy takes more time.
The most important thing is to be consistent with your niche. It will confuse your audience if your channel is about gardening and you suddenly publish skin whitening tips. This happens sometimes, especially if it is sponsored content. It’s a sure way to lose subscribers and get thumbs down on your videos.
Create Quality Content
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Quality content does not only pertain to the production quality of your videos. You must ensure that you are providing value to your viewers—whether that’s information or entertainment, or both. This means doing the necessary research, preparing your script or the sequence of your shots (if there are no dialogues), and investing in quality equipment.
Of course, your viewers will not have a pleasant viewing experience if your videos are filmed in low resolution. So, try to shoot in the highest possible video quality that you can. If you cannot film in 4K or 1080p, at least make your videos available in 720p.
Invest in Skills and Equipment
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Speaking of video quality, the only way you can shoot your videos in high resolution is to use a camera that supports high-definition captures. You don’t necessarily have to buy an expensive DSLR camera but at least invest in a decent vlogging camera or a point-and-shoot camera. You might also want to invest in some lighting equipment to ensure that your videos are clear and pleasant to the eyes. Consider getting a tripod, especially if you’re filming on your own.
Take some time to learn some filming tricks. You don’t have to enroll in classes if you don’t want to spend on them. There are plenty of videos that can give you shooting tips and tricks online for free! Learn how to do some basic video editing and make use of video editing apps like iMovie and VEED.
Setting Up Your Channel
Once you have the above set up, you can start creating your YouTube channel. The steps are simple but remember that small details can make a huge difference so pay close attention:
Choosing Your Channel Name and Username
It’s time to name your channel and pick a username for yourself. Your channel’s name must be unique but at the same time, informative. It must give people an idea of what your channel is about. It can be the name of your brand if your channel is for your business, it can be a category or a purely descriptive name.
Some examples of the most successful YouTube channel names are “The King of DIY,” “5-Minute Crafts,” “College Humor,” and “Dimension 20.” As you can see, these names are indicative of what you can expect from the channel. “The King of DIY” is obviously about do-it-yourself projects. “Dimension 20” may not be as obvious to the general public but fans of the game Dungeons and Dragons will immediately know that it will be about the classic tabletop RPG. Why is that? Dimension 20 is named after the famous 20-sided (icosahedron) die used in the game. This is a great strategy that you can use when you really know your niche.
As for your username, you can choose to use your own name, a stage name, or something as descriptive as your channel name.
Creating an Account
Screenshot from YouTube
When you’ve decided on your username and channel name, you can set up your account. As mentioned in the beginning, YouTube was bought by Google in 2006 so you would be using a Google account to create a YouTube channel. It is up to you if you want to use an existing Google account or create a new one specifically for your channel. Log in to Google with your preferred account and follow these steps:
- Go to YouTube
- Click on your profile photo and select Settings from the dropdown
- Select Create a New Channel
- Enter your channel name
Create a channel now
Your Banner and Profile Photos
The next things you need to set up when you’re ready to start a YouTube channel are your banner photo and profile photo. These photos will help attract potential subscribers to your channel and will let them know what your videos generally look like.
Your banner photo must be a minimum of 2560 x1440 pixels. This is also called channel art. The view will be adjusted based on your viewers’ devices. There will be a desktop view, a mobile view, and a tablet view, so make sure that you follow the recommended banner size. You can upload a photo with a maximum of 6MB in size.
Your profile photo can be a headshot, your business logo, or anything at all that will help distinguish your channel from the rest. There are no restrictions on the photo size since you can adjust the thumbnail on the site.
To set up your profile and banner photos:
- Go to your YouTube channel on your desktop
- Click on the camera icon on the top right of the default or empty banner
- Select “Change” and choose a banner image from your folders
- Go back and click on the camera icon on the profile photo
- Click “Change” and select a profile photo from your library
Creating Your Channel Trailer
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A channel trailer will help you capture the interest of new viewers and potential subscribers. When you start a YouTube channel, it’s important to put some time into creating a trailer that is compelling and relevant to your channel. This video will be displayed on top of your page and it auto-plays for visitors who are not subscribed to your channel.
What makes a good YouTube channel trailer? It should give your viewers an introduction to what your channel or business is about and who it’s for. Include some highlight reels or “B-rolls” and make sure to mention a call-to-action (CTA) to encourage them to subscribe or become paying members of your channel. Make it short but gripping enough to get people curious to see more of your content.
Screenshot from YouTube
Descriptions play a critical role in your YouTube channel’s success. They’re not just there to fill an empty space on the page. Being strategic with your descriptions would help your channel become visible to more people and it will help people who are interested in your content find you.
These include the main description of your channel, the featured links you provide, and the descriptions of individual videos on your channel. If you are an artist, for example, make sure that you include your stage name in the description. If your channel is for your business, make sure to specify what your business is about and the name and location of your business if applicable.
To set your YouTube channel’s description, simply click on Customize Channel on your channel’s home view. You will be taken to YouTube Studio. Click on Basic Info and start typing! Make sure to type your website’s link on the URL field to drive traffic to your site.
Incorporating Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Applying some SEO strategies when writing your descriptions and adding tags to your videos will help your YouTube channel rank on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). It’s about using relevant keywords to help your YouTube page become more visible. If your channel is about gardening tips, wouldn’t it be nice if people who search for those keywords ended up watching your content?
SEO may seem cumbersome but the idea behind it is really simple. This has been mentioned several times in this article and it’s worth repeating: it is to help people find you. Your audience is out there. You just need to lead them to your content.
In the example above—gardening tips, use keywords such as plants, potting soil, gardening tools, and the likes in your descriptions. Google will then notice that you are providing relevant information on the topic and will index your YouTube channel higher and higher on the SERP.
You may notice that some YouTube channels include a gray checkmark on their page and profile photo. This is somehow similar to the blue checkmark that you see on verified Facebook accounts. It means that their page is the official page of the person or business they are representing.
However, if you are just starting your YouTube channel, this may not be the easiest thing to accomplish but it will be good to know how the process works so you can later aim for it.
There are certain requirements for your YouTube channel to get verified. You would need:
- 100,000 subscribers
- Authentic and complete channel name, profile photo, banner, and description
- Your channel must be public and active
Once you meet these requirements, you can try requesting your verification badge. Here are the steps:
- Go to the YouTube verification page.
- You will be asked to verify your identity by providing your mobile phone number and being asked to enter a verification code sent by Google to that number.
- Go back to your channel and select “Help” from the left menu.
- Type “Verification Badges on Channels” on the search bar and click on it.
- If you qualify, you will see a link or a button that will lead you to fill out the application form.
- Wait for Google’s decision which may take several weeks.
How to Promote Your YouTube Channel
Now that you know how to start a YouTube channel, it’s time to learn some tips on how you can promote it. This will help you get more views and eventually reach the required amount of subscribers for you to get verified.
The first thing you need to do is to optimize your channel for SEO purposes, which we’ve already covered above. It’s really important that you use relevant keywords in your descriptions. Here are some other helpful tips.
Use Social Media
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One of the most effective ways to promote your YouTube channel is to use social media, specifically Facebook and Twitter. If your channel is for your business, you can also use LinkedIn.
Make sure to share some of your videos, especially live streams either on your Facebook page or personal account. Share trailers of your playlists or series. This will get people curious enough to at least view your channel. As always, mention a CTA to get them to subscribe, like, and comment on your videos.
Embed Your Videos on Your Blog or Website
If you have a blog or a website, it’s a good strategy to embed some of your videos on your blog posts or landing pages. Several blogging platforms allow you to embed YouTube videos on posts and pages. This is an effective YouTube marketing strategy.
Learn Content Strategy
Your content strategy will greatly depend on your niche but here are some tips that a lot of successful brands are using.
One is to balance trending and evergreen content. You may want to post videos that are related to trending topics time and again but make sure that you have enough evergreen content on your channel so people will keep coming back to it. Evergreen is an SEO term used for content that stays relevant or “fresh” for long periods of time. It is derived from the Evergreen tree which is popular for not shedding its leaves even in the changing seasons. Some examples of evergreen content are how-to videos, walkthroughs, and other types of guides. These can stay on top of the SERP for years!
Another content strategy is to run contests on your channel. The goal is to get people to participate by being active in the comments section. You can require participants to subscribe to your channel in order to win the contest, which will get you more audience.
These are just some strategies you can apply to promote your YouTube channel.
Can You Make Money on Your YouTube Channel?
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Perhaps, one of the reasons you want to start a YouTube channel is to eventually monetize it — and that’s absolutely possible! However, there is work involved and some strategies.
There are many ways to make money on your YouTube channel. One of them is to create and sell digital products, like online courses. You don’t have to teach the entire course on YouTube. It can be hosted on your website, on Coursera, or other learning platforms. What you can do is provide snippets of the course on YouTube and then include a CTA for your viewers to buy the full course. You can leave links to the course in your description.
Another way is to get fans to become paying members of your channel. YouTube’s channel membership program allows your audience to join your channel through a monthly subscription. The advantage of being a member is they can get exclusive content, badges, and emojis. However, to turn paid memberships on, you must meet some requirements. Your channel needs to have at least 1,000 subscribers and you must be enrolled in the YouTube Partner Program. This is the program that allows you to run ads on your videos.
There are plenty of other ways that you can make money on your channel but the above are what works for most.
Learning how to start a YouTube channel may seem like a daunting task at first and it’s not always guaranteed that your channel will become popular. But if you follow the few simple steps and tips above, you will be well on your way to having a successful YouTube channel and maybe even be able to monetize it. So, get filming and create your channel today!