Carla Marshall is the Head of Content Marketing at vidIQ. She has 10+ years of experience in video marketing, social media management, content marketing, DRM, and SEO. She was previously Editor in Chief at ReelSEO.com, and as a journalist and video marketer, she's covered news stories, creator journeys, and digital-first publishing initiatives across all the major online video platforms. She is YouTube Certified and a judge for the Shorty Awards, as well as the UK, US, Canadian, Global, and EU Search Awards.
How to Start a YouTube Channel: 10 Brilliant Tips
If you’ve put off creating your own YouTube channel because you’re overwhelmed with the choices you need to make or are panicking because you feel you lack the right skills to succeed, worry no more and welcome to the only resource you’ll need to fulfill your video creator dreams.
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How to Start Your YouTube Channel: 10 Top Tips
We promised 20 tips to kickstart your YouTube channel, so let's start delivering on that promise with 10 tips in this post and 10 tips in the follow-up post. All the tips are covered in this video too:
Tip #1 - START RIGHT NOW:
So amazingly, there are still some people out there who are thinking of starting a YouTube channel and have been for months, possibly even years. My advice to you is, ready or not, start now. And I'm not telling you this as a New Year's resolution. Every moment you hesitate or procrastinate, there are thousands of video creators starting their YouTube channel today, and gobbling up all your potential audience. You don't want that.
Feel the fear, do it anyway. Start, press record. Record whatever you want today. It doesn't matter if it doesn't end up on YouTube. You need to gain experience in getting in front of the camera, getting behind the camera, using your editing program. You need to start creating content to find out whether or not you enjoy making videos before you know whether or not you enjoy being a YouTuber.
Tip #2 Learn How YouTube Works, No Seriously:
The chances are, that the first video you make is going to absolutely suck. Fantastic, you've made a video. You've made the first step, and in six months’ time, you'll look back at that first video and think yeah, that really was terrible, but you've gotta start the journey somewhere. And with that, you've gotta start your YouTube channel somewhere as well, even if you're not ready. Create a YouTube account, upload a video to YouTube. You don't have to publish it, that's the important thing.
You need to gain experience going through the workflow of uploading videos. The last thing you want is having a brilliant video ready to upload, but you don't know how the YouTube system works. Again, experience is going to trump any advice any of us can give you, so record a video, upload it to YouTube. You don't have to publish it.
Tip #3 Develop a Strategy you Will Actually Follow:
While getting some practical experience behind you is obviously a good thing, you also want some form of strategy. So, answer these questions:
- What do you want your channel to achieve on YouTube, and when you're answering this, try and answer it from a viewer's perspective, not your perspective. So I don't want to hear about hitting 10,000 subscribers, a million views, or whatever. If your viewers know that you're in it for your own self-gain, they will see through it and immediately switch off. Viewers want to know what they can gain from the content, and you want to sell that as much as possible in your videos.
- Who is your target audience? Again, try and be as specific as possible. What age range? What gender, if you are going to a particular gender? What type of demographic? What are they interested in? You need to know who's going to watch your content.
- And, even more crucially, why should they watch your content? There are millions of gaming channels out there, hundreds of thousands of Fortnite channels out there. How are you going to distinguish your content from everybody else who's already on YouTube making content? You need to disrupt the status quo, not join it, because you'll never be seen.
- And finally, how are you going to deliver this content? Is it going to be every day, once a week, at a particular time of the day? Think about when your audience is most likely to watch YouTube, and how much YouTube they can watch per week, and then tailor your content to those watching habits, and think about whether you're going to do video on demand, live streams, what's going to be best for you and your audience?
Tip #4 Find Your Niche and Build the Hell Out of It:
If you're a regular to our YouTube channel and the live streams, you'll know this one off by heart. Niche down. Let me give you a quick example. What's your channel about? If you're giving an answer such as, "My channel's about beauty, and it's about travel, "and it's about vlogging," then it's about too many things.
Get rid of all of the "ands". It should be about one specific topic, when you start your channel, because you need to appeal to a very specific audience.
Once you've grown your channel, and you've got millions of subscribers who fall in love with you, you can take them on a journey wherever you want, but to begin with, the audience is only interested in the content. They have no investment in you. Try and remember that. It's a cruel lesson to understand, but it will help you when you first start out on YouTube.
Tip #5 Confirm Your Value Proposition:
Once you've thought about and answered all of these questions, I want you to wrap it all up in a nice little present, called your value proposition. This is your elevator pitch. Try and tell your audience who you are, and why they should watch you, in around about six words.
For example, our value proposition is 'Educating your YouTube journey'. It tells you the who, YouTubers, video creators, and why they should watch, because they will learn how to grow their channels. But we've managed to do that in four words. Now it's your turn.
Tip #6 Invest in the Right Audio Equipment:
If you've just started out on YouTube, and you're wondering what your first tech upgrade should be, it is 100% audio, and here's why. Bad audio is so much more distracting than bad video, and everybody hates onboard microphones. So if you can, get yourself a dedicated microphone for your camera, and if you're recording from a computer, you can't go far wrong with a Blue Yeti.
Tip #7 Create a Formula with Template Videos:
Videos need structure, so when you make your next video, try to think of how you will develop a show formula, that you can use as a template for your future videos. Remember at the beginning of this video, I literally gave you a hook. An introduction, a teaser to what's going to be going on for the rest of this video. Then we have the branded intro, followed by an introduction to who we are for new viewers, a call to action to subscribe to our channel, and then we jumped into the meat of the content where we are right now, and at the end of this video, you'll see how we round this all up.
Your show formula will take time to structure, and it will evolve over the course of your YouTube journey. Try and keep an eye out for this when you watch your favorite YouTubers. As rough and as random as they might appear, there is always structure and story behind each video, and that's why you watch them.
Tip #8 Learn to LOVE Analytics:
Some people love analytics, others hate them, but there are a couple that are crucial to keep an eye on, whether or not you want to look at that analytics. The first is click through rate.
This represents how enticing your titles are, and how clickable your thumbnails are. Check the click-through rate for your channel as a whole, and on individual videos as you test. I'm not going to give you all of the same target to reach. Check what your current click-through rate is, and whether it's two, four, six, or eight percent. I want you to try and improve that by two to three percent this year. It will bring in so many more views.
The other metric, as it always has been, is Watch Time. Generally speaking, the more watch time you get, the more YouTube is going to promote your content. But if you make shorter videos, that doesn't necessarily mean you must make longer videos, because your audience might not react very well to those longer videos.
What I will say is maximize the value of your watch time in the videos that you have. That's by looking at relative audience retention. How does your video stack up to similar videos, in terms of whether people are still watching or not, and try and improve the relative audience retention. Having said that, if your average view duration is 60, 70, 80%, you're doing really well, and it gives you a license to try testing longer videos.
Tip #9 Verify Your YouTube Channel NOW:
Verify your YouTube account. That will give you access to the most important tool on YouTube, which is custom thumbnails. We've got a video here on how to do it.
Tip #10 Create an Engaging, Interesting Channel Banner:
If I see another generic cityscape, or rolling hills in the channel banner when we do channel audits, I'm going to rip out my hair.
Loved these? Here are 10 more tips or creating and growing your YouTube channel.
Want To Get More Views on YouTube?
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