Lydia Sweatt is a writer who loves balancing her article/blog time indoors with a healthy dose of nature. She bikes, hikes, and identifies edible plants along the way.
How to Start a YouTube Channel: 10 Brilliant Tips
Starting a YouTube channel has many benefits, some of which are too enticing to ignore. The first perk? You get to create content from the heart and share it with like-minded viewers around the world. And eventually, you'll build a community where thousands of people (or even millions) look forward to watching your videos.
If all of that goes well, you'll reach a point where you can monetize your videos, earn a full-time income, or even build a business.
But, remember: You aren't the only person trying to become a content creator on YouTube. There are millions of channels, and the people behind them want the same thing as you: creative expression, financial freedom, and a community.
That's why you should learn how to start a successful YouTube channel. With so much competition, you'll need tips and strategies to begin your journey the right way.
1. Create a YouTube Channel in 4 Steps
The first step is to actually create your YouTube channel. It doesn't take long at all:
1. Sign in to YouTube.
2. Click your profile picture in the top right corner and select Create a Channel from the menu.
3. Upload a profile picture and type in your channel's name.
Profile pictures should be:
- Square or round
- 800 X 800 px
- JPG, GIF, BMP, or PNG
And if you need it, here's a guide for creating the best YouTube channel name.
4. Click Create Channel in the bottom right corner.
Verify Your Phone Number with YouTube
Now that you've created your channel, the next step is verifying your phone number. This step allows you to create videos longer than 15 minutes, upload custom thumbnails, live stream, and appeal Content ID claims.
1. To verify your phone number, click your profile picture again and select YouTube Studio from the menu.
2. Click Settings in the left navigation bar.
3. Click the Channel tab, then select Feature Eligibility.
4. Under intermediate features, click Verify Phone Number and follow the on-screen prompts.
Add a Banner and Video Watermark to Your Channel
At this point, you can also add a banner and video watermark to your channel.
A channel banner is a long, horizontal image that appears at the top of your YouTube channel's homepage. If you design it well, it will quickly communicate what your videos are about. Here's an example from the Poké Daxi YouTube channel.
A video watermark is a small image in the bottom-right corner of all your videos. When viewers click or hover over the image, YouTube will prompt them to subscribe to your channel. You can make this image your channel logo or whatever you think is best for branding your content.
How to Add a Banner and Video Watermark to Your Channel
Once you've created your banner and watermark, follow these steps to add them to your channel.
1. Go to the YouTube Studio and click Customization in the left navigation bar.
2. Click the Branding tab.
3. Find the banner and watermark sections. Click Upload to add each asset to your channel.
Tips for uploading YouTube banners:
- Minimum image size: 2048 x 1152 px with a 16:9 aspect ratio.
- Maximum allowable file size: 6 MB
Tips for uploading video watermarks:
- YouTube recommends dimensions of 150 x 150 px.
- Acceptable file types: PNG, GIF (no animations), BMP, and JPEG.
- Maximum allowable file size: 1MB.
2. Find Your YouTube Niche (Channel Topic)
Your niche is the main topic you'll explore on your YouTube channel. It's also the reason most people will watch your content, as some viewers are attracted to specific topics.
And there are plenty to choose from:
- Makeup and beauty
- Pets and animals
- And so many others
But if you really want to stand out, find a niche within a niche. For example, you might create a channel about how to cook Caribbean food instead of focusing on all cooking styles, like American, Italian, Spanish, etc. Your broad niche would be "cooking," and your sub-niche would be "Caribbean recipes."
Need help finding your YouTube niche? Or ideas for starting a YouTube channel? Here are seven tips to discover your channel's main topic.
3. Identify Your Target Audience
Once you've found your niche, imagining who will watch your videos is much easier. And that's something you want to do sooner rather than later.
- Understanding what your viewers need (information, entertainment, guidance, instructions) helps you develop better video ideas.
- You can post videos at the right time of day when you know your audience's viewing habits.
- Knowing viewers' likes and dislikes allows you to make enjoyable content.
Some of this knowledge comes as you build an audience. But even now, you can guess a few things about your potential audience.
Let's say you want to create a channel about working remotely around the globe – becoming a digital nomad. Your audience might be younger adults in their 20s or early 30s who can afford to travel non-stop. They might not have established any roots or started a family yet, which allows them to move from country to country.
Do they need tips on international travel? Do they dislike staying in one place for too long? Does it matter what time you post on YouTube if your viewers are global citizens?
These questions help you plan content around viewers' lives.
4. Create a Value Proposition for Your Viewers
So far, you've discovered your channel's topic and who your viewers are. Now it's time to make a promise to everyone who comes across your content.
We'll call this promise a value proposition. It's a brief statement that explains what your channel is about and what viewers gain by watching your videos.
Here's an example: "Creator-obsessed YouTube education." That's our value proposition for the vidIQ channel, and it makes two things clear:
- We're obsessed with helping creators reach their goals.
- We specialize in YouTube education and coaching.
Having a slogan like this does more than help viewers understand you; it also helps you make the right content. You can avoid making videos that don't align with your mission or viewers' interests.
5. Find Your Competitors on YouTube
As a YouTube content creator, it's important to know who your competitors are. It's not that you need to battle with them all the time. Or try to upstage their videos so your channel gets more views than theirs.
More than anything, having competition inspires you to make better videos. It gives you another creator to watch, learn from, and measure your content against. And when you're ready, sometimes it makes sense to collaborate with competitors because you sharing overlapping audiences.
You can do some light YouTube research to see which channels are similar to the one you're planning. All you have to do is type common topics or queries into YouTube's search bar (related to your niche) and see which channels pop up.
But when you've created 15-20 videos, you can use this guide to create a more accurate list of your biggest competitors.
6. Create a List of Video Ideas
It's helpful to have a few video ideas before you start posting on YouTube. That way, you'll spend less time thinking and more time creating. Pretty soon, you'll build momentum instead of wondering, What should I film next? after each upload.
YouTube video ideas come from many places. You can research:
- What competitor channels are posting
- News within your niche
- Trending topics within your niche
You can even recreate YouTube videos that already exist, taking the time to add something new and insightful to the conversation.
But if you need more guidance, here are seven incredible ways to develop video ideas.
7. Test Your Video Ideas with Keyword Research
Now that you have a list of video ideas, it's time to test their popularity on YouTube.
One way you can do this is with keyword research. This is the process of discovering which words viewers use to search for videos on YouTube.
For example, someone might type "spinach gardening" to see videos that show them how to plant and grow spinach. Another viewer might type "become a realtor" to find other real estate agents who can explain that career path.
If you know which search terms your potential viewers are using, you can get more views on YouTube. All you have to do is add those relevant terms – in other words, YouTube keywords – to your video titles and descriptions. That small but impactful task tells the search engine which viewers to serve your content to.
Want to know which search terms align with your video ideas? Or how many times a month viewers use specific keywords?
Read this guide to learn the basics of YouTube keyword research.
8. Get the Right Equipment for Your YouTube Needs
How much does it cost to start a YouTube channel? That's what many new creators want to know.
The short answer is it doesn't cost a thing. You don't have to spend any money when you go to YouTube and set up your channel today.
The long-term cost comes after you create your channel. But the exact number depends on the type of videos you want to make.
Realistically, you might need any of these items:
- DSLR video camera or smartphone for recording
- External microphone
- Lighting equipment
- Video editing app or desktop software
- External hard drive for storing video files
- Memory cards
In the beginning, you could probably get away with using your smartphone to record videos. But some content requires more than that.
If you're recording tutorials indoors and the lighting isn't great, you might need external lights. But lighting won't be your problem if you're vlogging in the sun all day. Then it might be producing quality audio or needing a tripod to balance your camera. It truly depends on the content.
9. Learn How YouTube Works
Sometimes, YouTube gets confusing when you approach it as a creator and not just a viewer. There are many things to research, such as how to make better videos, identify competitors, and measure your progress along the way.
But you can start by learning the YouTube basics:
- Finding your competitors on YouTube
- Following trends that can become video ideas
- Creating attractive thumbnails
- Writing engaging video titles
- Writing powerful video descriptions
- Optimizing your videos for YouTube search
- Assessing your YouTube analytics
- Knowing how the YouTube algorithm works
- Avoiding copyright claims and strikes
- Learning the YouTube monetization process
- Understanding YouTube's rules, such as the community guidelines and monetization policies
The links above will give you an overview of YouTube so you can start growing your channel.
10. Post Your First Video
This is what you've been waiting for all along: to post your first YouTube video. And now that you've found a niche, identified your audience, developed video ideas, and more, you're ready to take that leap.
Here's how to upload a YouTube video:
1. Go to YouTube.com and click the camera icon near your profile picture.
2. Select Upload Video from the menu.
3. Drag and drop videos into the upload space or click Select Files to browse for videos on your device.
Follow the on-screen prompts to complete your upload!
Now that you've created your YouTube channel, learn how to grow your views fast.