It’s not difficult to set up a YouTube account. It takes a little more effort to build a successful YouTube channel… But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered on that front as well.
Step 1: Create a Google account
If you use Gmail, Google Maps, or Google Play, you probably already have a Google account… so skip ahead to the next step.
If you’re starting from scratch, head here to sign up for a new Google account.
Step 2: Create a YouTube account
With your Google account, you’re automatically set up with a personal YouTube account. But to use YouTube for your business, you’ll want to set up a Brand Account.
Just go to your YouTube account page, click Create a Channel, and then enter a name for your Brand Account. You’re in!
When you create a YouTube Brand Account, you can give multiple people admin access and customize the name and appearance to match your brand.
Another cool thing about Brand Accounts: they allow you to access YouTube Analytics, which offers super helpful insight about who’s watching your videos and what content is popular. (Learn more in our post on how to use YouTube for marketing.)
Step 3: Customize your YouTube channel
Time to make this sweet new social media profile your own.
In your channel dashboard, click Customize channel. Go through the three tabs — Layout, Branding and Basic Info — to enter information that will help optimize your channel for audience discovery.
When filling out this information, use descriptive keywords that will help your account appear in searches.
Keywords can include your channel’s topics, your industry, questions your content can answer or products featured.
Under Branding, you’ll have the opportunity to upload your channel art and icons to give your channel a unique look. One that, ideally, aligns with your overall brand and visually connects this YouTube account with your other social media platforms and web presence.
We’ve got some templates for YouTube channel art right here to get you started.
Step 4: Upload your first YouTube video
Well, this is exciting. You’re on the cusp of becoming a YouTube content creator! I’m not crying, you’re crying.
To put your first video out into the world, hit the Create button in the top-right corner and follow the instructions.
Step 5: Make your YouTube channel discoverable
Like the old saying goes: If you have amazing content on YouTube but nobody sees it… what’s the point?
To get views and subscribers, you’ll want to optimize your channel and videos for discovery. We’ve got a complete guide to promoting your YouTube channel if you want to dive in deep. In the meantime, here’s the 30-second rundown:
Optimize video titles
Use concise, descriptive titles that include Google-friendly keywords. Titles are the first thing users see, but they also help the search engine understand what your videos are about. So make sure all your titles are punchy and intriguing, but also clear and include keywords.
Optimize your YouTube description
It’s important to be clear, concise and descriptive here, too. Make sure to front-load your keywords and add links to other playlists.
Another good trick to use in video descriptions? Create a “table of contents” with timestamps to help viewers find what they’re looking for.
For more specific tips, check out our complete guide to writing a winning YouTube description.
Add tags (in moderation)
While it can be tempting to load up this section with clickbaity tags, make sure to only include tags that are relevant to your content. Be honest, and choose quality over quantity. The goal is to reach viewers who are actually interested in content like yours.
Tags also help YouTube’s algorithm understand what your content is about. Make sure to add a category or two to help the search engine put your videos in front of the right audience.
Add a link to your YouTube channel on your other social profiles, website and email signature to let your existing fans know you’re starting a video empire.
Understand the algorithm
If you haven’t already, now is the time to familiarize yourself with the YouTube algorithm. This AI determines not just search results, but recommendations for the all-important “what’s up next” sidebar, too.
Here are 10 tips to create a successful YouTube Channel.
1. Use eye-catching channel art and thumbnails
Your channel art and thumbnails are your billboards, so make an impression!
An effective thumbnail is clear and accurate, and works in tandem with the video’s title. But it also needs to stand out.
Thumbnails are the way viewers decide what to watch when they’re skimming through search results. This means you don’t just need to communicate what your video is about. You need to stand out from the competition, too.
And a lot of the competition is… loud.
Evaluate what everyone else is doing, and try to swerve. For example, choose a distinct color palette, or go full-on minimalist to stand out in a sea of neon colors and Impact font.
2. Choose the perfect channel icon
A channel icon is like a logo for your YouTube presence. It should match your brand and complement your channel banner.
When picking an icon, follow YouTube’s recommended image dimensions to avoid any stretching. Preview your channel on multiple devices to check everything looks good.
3. Create playlists
Organizing and creating video playlists on YouTube is the best way to keep your viewer on your page.
Not only do YouTube playlists organize your related content in one neat-and-tidy list, they also auto-play. Once one video ends, the next begins… and so on. This minimizes the chances that a viewer will move on to another channel.
4. Create a channel trailer
When someone first comes across your channel, a channel trailer is a way for them to get a sneak peek at your content. Better make it count.
Assume the viewer is a perfect stranger, so introduce yourself and tell them exactly why they should subscribe. Keep it short, sweet and snappy: let ‘em know what your content is like and when they can expect new uploads.
5. Create great content, consistently
This is going to sound very obvious, but we’re going to say it anyway: Viewers want to watch good videos.
But what makes a good YouTube video is a little different than, say, what makes a video that would wind a foreign film festival.
6. Schedule your videos
Give your videos the best chance to make it big by posting them at the right time: when people are online and ready to watch them.
Your channel analytics will tell you if there’s a day of the week or specific time that tends to get high viewership or engagement.
Once you’ve got that intel, you can publish regularly within this time frame, with the help of scheduling tools like Hootsuite.
7. Understand your audience
It’s hard to make compelling content if you don’t know who you’re making it for, so make sure you’ve got a good sense of your audience persona before you dive in.
Who are they? What do they like? (Why won’t they call me?!)
Once you’ve got a few videos under your belt, see whether or not you’re hitting the mark by diving into your YouTube Analytics. Cold hard numbers will tell you if, how and when your work of art is making an impact.
8. Experiment with YouTube advertising
If you’re not getting the reach you want with good ol’ fashioned organic content, it might be time to toss a few bucks behind a promo campaign.
YouTube ads are available in these four categories:
- Skippable in-stream ads
- Non-skippable in-stream ads (including bumper ads)
- Video discovery ads (formerly known as in-display ads)
- Non-video ads (i.e., overlays and banners)
9. Ask viewers to subscribe
When someone subscribes to your channel (and hits that bell button), they get an alert when you put a new video out into the world — so growing your subscriber base is the best way to boost your organic reach.
There’s a reason why “Don’t forget to subscribe” is the sign-off of choice for YouTubers big and small.
Of course, growing your subscriber count is easier said than done. For that reason, we have a full guide on how to get more YouTube subscribers.
Once you hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the year, you’ll be able to register as a YouTube partner and monetize your channel. Learn more about YouTube’s Partner Programme here.