There are many good reasons to start a YouTube channel.
As the internet’s most widely used video sharing platform and the world’s second-most visited site after Google, YouTube offers a huge opportunity for brands that are trying to build awareness and grow their customer base, as well as individual creators looking to share their interests with a global audience. The mega-platform boasts more than 2 billion active monthly users, including between 67% and 77% of all U.S. teens and adults when broken down by age group.
It’s clear that if you want to reach a huge number of people with your video content, then YouTube is the place to do it. And all you need to do to get going is to start a YouTube channel, which is (fortunately) a pretty easy thing to do.
Well then, how do you create a successful YouTube channel? We’re laying out how to start a YouTube channel step by step, with plenty of helpful tips along the way for helping you break ground on the platform. So get your camera ready and your ring light powered up, because you’ll be ready to shoot in no time.
What Is a YouTube Channel?
A YouTube channel is a personalized page where you can house all of your uploaded video content in one place. It’s also where you can create playlists of the videos you upload, as well as share with others the videos that you’re engaging with.
You do not need a YouTube channel in order to watch videos on the platform, but you do need one if you want to share them. In addition to content curation, you’ll be able to use your YouTube channel to tell people a bit about yourself, and you can customize the page to align with your personal style or brand.
Personal Channels vs. Brand Channels
Like with most social media platforms, different account pages exist for individual creators versus businesses.
Brand YouTube channels operate much the same as personal YouTube channels, but they can be managed by multi-person teams instead of just one person. A brand channel also offers a few extra business-related perks, such as demographic targeting and more customized page design options, among other things.
Which type of YouTube channel you create depends, of course, on what your intent is with the platform. There are no special qualifications required to start a brand channel, but if you’re just interested in starting a YouTube channel for personal use, then you should find all of the functionality that you need with a standard page.
How Much Does it Cost for a YouTube Channel?
A YouTube channel is totally free to create. Where you may need to invest is in video production equipment, editing software, and, depending on your purpose, advertising, though lots of YouTube creators have made it far with just a smartphone and some creative content ideas.
How to Create a YouTube Channel
There are just a handful of simple steps involved in creating a YouTube channel. If you’re ready to start sharing your videos with the world, follow these steps to get going.
Step 1: Sign Up for a YouTube Account
You’ll need an active YouTube account in order to set up a channel.
To get one, head to the YouTube homepage on a mobile or desktop device. YouTube is owned by Google, so if you already have a Google account that you’re logged into, you should see your account ready to go in the top right-hand corner. If not, click the “Sign In” button and create a new YouTube account from scratch or sign in to your existing Google account.
Step 2: Create a Channel
Once you’re logged in with a YouTube/Google account, click your profile button in the top right-hand corner and click on “Create a channel.” From there, you’ll be prompted to upload an image that will serve as your profile picture, as well as to choose the name that will be associated with your channel.
When you’re happy with the information, click “Create Channel.”
Step 3: Customize Your Channel
Now it’s time to make your YouTube channel reflect who you are. Customizing your channel gives viewers a quick idea of what you’re all about before they start to engage with your content. It can also help you establish a more fully-formed personal brand, if that’s your goal.
On your channel homepage, click “Customize Channel.” This will take you to YouTube Studio, where you’ll be able to do things like write a personal channel description, choose colors and art for your page, and modify your channel layout. YouTube Studio is also where you’ll go for channel analytics and industry insights. You can navigate back to this page at any time in your account pull-down menu.
There are three main sections within YouTube Studio:
Customize the layout of the various sections of your channel homepage (there are 12 in all, including video uploads, live streams, and playlists). You can also create a trailer video that gives new subscribers a preview of what they’ll be able to find on your page, as well as a featured video trailer for returning subscribers—though if you’re starting fresh, wait to modify these features until you’ve got content to support them.
Even if you’re just starting a YouTube channel for fun, it’s still a good idea to brand your page. All this includes is a profile picture, a banner image, and, if desired, a watermark to place on your videos. (Note: the recommended size for a YouTube banner image is 2560px x 1440ox.)
Here’s where you’ll write your channel description, which is a brief paragraph about who you are and what kind of content you’ll be sharing. Consider including a link in your description if you want to connect your YouTube channel to your website or another social media page. This section is also where you can change your profile name, modify your channel URL, and input contact info if you want to make it easy for people to get in touch.
Step 4: Upload Your First Video
Click “Upload Video” or the camera icon with a plus sign in it up near your account settings to start adding content to your channel. Pressing the video upload button will allow you to grab a file from your computer, while the camera icon will allow you to upload a video or start a live stream. Live stream videos are saved automatically to your channel, so if you do shoot live, you won’t have to take any extra steps to add your stream to the page.
To make it as easy as possible for people to discover your content, be sure to label each video that you upload with a title, a tag, and a description. At this point, you will also choose a thumbnail image for your video and decide whether you want the video to be public, private, or unlisted.
As soon as you have a decent amount of videos on your channel, go back to YouTube Studio to create your content trailer for new subscribers.
Step 5: Create Playlists
Playlists aren’t necessary for your channel, but they are a smart way to organize your YouTube content and direct visitors to videos they might like.
When you have enough content that creating a YouTube playlist makes sense, click on “Manage Videos” and then the “Playlists” tab on the left-hand side of your channel account page. This is where you can create new playlists and see how they’re performing once they’re up.
How you group your content into playlists is up to you, but it usually makes sense to organize videos by topic. Here’s how YouTuber Safiya Nygaard does it:
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How to Create a Business Channel on YouTube
The process for creating a business YouTube channel is almost exactly the same as creating a personal channel, but there are some slight differences:
- Sign in to your YouTube account and then click your profile icon on the top right-hand corner and head to “Settings.”
- Click “Create a new channel” and enter your business’s name.
- Go back to the Settings page and, next to Channel Managers, select “Add or remove manager(s).” This is where you’ll manage permissions for your brand account.
And that’s it. With your business account now set up, you can get to work on all of the other steps involved in making it a success, such as customizing the page and uploading and organizing videos.
5 Quick Tips for Optimizing and Promoting Your Channel
With page personalization, videos, and playlists, your YouTube channel is now up and running and ready for you to keep adding to. Beyond the basics though, there are a number of things that you can do to help your channel succeed.
1. Create an Intro
A YouTube intro is a short snippet of content that appears at the beginning of your videos. It’s a way to help you brand your content, which ties it to your channel and makes it more recognizable to viewers. Use a YouTube intro maker to put one together and make your videos look more personal and professional.
2. Include CTAs
“Subscribe for more” isn’t just throwaway YouTube speak—it’s a call to action (CTA) that can turn a casual viewer into someone who regularly follows and engages with your channel. Include both spoken CTAs and CTA buttons to encourage as many viewers as possible to further their engagement and stay invested in what you’re doing.
3. Incorporate Keywords
Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t just for blog posts. You can—and should—use keyword-focused SEO practices to increase views on your videos and channel, which you can do by visiting your YouTube Studio dashboard and then navigating to “Settings” on the left-hand toolbar. In Settings, click “Channel” and then fill out the keywords box with terms that match up with your content. For help with keyword research and strategy, check out free YouTube keyword tools online.
4. Add Subtitles to Your Videos
Subtitles make your videos accessible to a wider audience, including people with hearing impairments and people who simply choose to watch videos without any volume on. Add them by going to YouTube Studio and then selecting “Subtitles” on the left-hand toolbar.
5. Monitor Your Analytics
Click on “Manage Videos”, then head to the left-hand toolbar and select “Analytics.” You’ll find a good overview here of how your channel is performing, including subscriber counts, how many views you’re getting, and how much time viewers are spending watching your content. You can also see how these various metrics have changed over time. Click “See More” to access additional metrics, such as viewer location and demographics, and how people are landing on your page, and then use all of this data to see what’s working and inform next steps that can help with channel growth.
An authentic, well-managed YouTube channel can be an excellent stepping stone for building a strong social presence. For an even deeper dive, check out our YouTube masterclass, which covers even more tips, tricks, and insights that you can use to not only start a YouTube channel, but to start a channel that’s geared toward success.
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