How to Create a Successful YouTube Channel in 8 Easy Steps

How to Create a Successful YouTube Channel in 8 Easy Steps

There’s little question that people love YouTube. After all, the platform has developed from a small website famous for cat videos and juvenile pranks into one of the largest social networks in the world. And along with this evolution, YouTube has developed to incorporate educational videos as well as entertainment of almost every type.

With that said, some the YouTube channels are very small, with only one or two videos. On the other end of the spectrum are channels with millions of subscribers and many thousands of videos. While some of the big players simply re-post footage from major television networks (and are usually the network’s account), just as many feature original content that you can’t find anywhere else.

Especially for the independent content creators, success on the platform requires a lot of creativity. At the same time, creators need to know how to create a YouTube channel in the first place before they can upload great content.

Why Build a YouTube Channel?

Before I tell you how to create a YouTube channel, it’s worth discussing why you may want to invest the time, energy, and money. There are several reasons that you may enjoy and benefit from a YouTube channel.

First, there’s a potential for massive audience reach and viewership. Not only is YouTube a platform with lots of members, but the average individual watches several channels regularly. And, they love to share a great find with other people, whether the video is informational, entertaining, or both.

Related to the previous benefit, there are significant monetization opportunities on YouTube. In fact, many people with even medium-sized channels are able to quit their day job and support themselves with money earned on YouTube. In fact, YouTube has helped support many people who might not otherwise be able to make a living wage. And, having a channel for extra money is always an option.

YouTube is also an excellent platform for building an influential brand. For instance, there are a lot of top-notch gaming channels that help players decide which games they want to buy or spend money on. The beauty industry also thrives on YouTube because of the potential for lengthy tutorials and product reviews.

Finally, some people learn how to create a YouTube channel because it offers an opportunity for creative expression and connection with other people. In many ways, this is the very foundation of YouTube because people originally posted to be a star or to share knowledge and didn’t expect to make any money. Some content creators still follow this category, as do most end users.

1. Sign Up for a YouTube Account

Clearly, there are several reasons why people decide to create a channel. Starting one is relatively easy, but you need an account first. You can use an existing Google account or create a new one specifically for your YouTube channel. Many experts recommend that you use a separate YouTube account just for your channel. This lets you casually watch and interact with content that has nothing to do with your creative niche, and not have the data mixed in with your content channel.

Once you have a YouTube account, sign in. Navigate to your account settings, and enable channel creation. Then, before you go any further double check that you are signed in to the correct account.

2. Create Your YouTube Channel

After signing in to your channels YouTube account, click on its profile icon and select “Create Channel” from the dropdown menu. Then, choose a unique, memorable, and searchable name for your channel. Some creators use their real name, while others prefer some type of handle or alias. Just make sure that if you don’t use your name that the channel name will somehow be consistent with its future content.

Now, it’s time to start customizing your channel. First, add a profile picture and short bio that represents your brand. For instance, if your YouTube channel will represent an e-commerce brand, use the company logo as the channel’s profile picture. Then, you can describe the company and the bio.

Next, review channel settings and make any required edits. This will ensure you have the right type of channel, the proper descriptions, and any other needed specifications. Be sure to double check all details before clicking “Create Channel” to finalize. That’s because once you’ve created the channel it is much harder to make changes.

If you’re not sure what to call your channel, refer to YouTube Help for guidance on choosing the right channel name.

3. Connect Your Channel to a Brand Account

While this step is not part of how to create a YouTube channel for individual creators, it is useful for companies, organizations, and collaborators to share management and streamline operations. Connecting to a brand account provides the ability to add multiple managers and set permissions so that multiple members of your company’s marketing department can work together.

Of course, you don’t need to have a brand account prior to setting up the YouTube channel. Instead, you can either create a new Brand Account or use an existing one. This way, larger companies with multiple brands can manage more than one YouTube channel in the same place. Even when connecting your channel to a branded account, you’ll need to add a unique channel name, description, and profile picture.

After setup, you can invite other managers to your Brand Account via email. Once they’ve joined, you can set user permissions for uploading, editing, posting, and more to ensure everybody can do their job without creating undue risk for the channel. Refer to YouTube Help for setting up Brand Accounts.

4. Customize Your YouTube Channel

Setting up your YouTube channel would be incomplete without customization. After all, whether you’re a brand manager or an individual, it’s important to incorporate branding in the channel’s design. You can do this in several ways:

  • Upload a channel trailer video introducing your content. For instance, an individual creator can talk about themselves and why they started the channel, or do an infographic that demonstrates the purpose for their channel. Likewise, a brand can introduce the brand story.
  • Pin your most popular or engaging video on the homepage. Not only does this introduce your channel, but it also gives them a great sample of your best content.
  • Organize videos into different sections like playlists, so that it’s easier for people to find relevant content. This is especially important if you do a series.
  • Design a banner, profile picture, and watermark for branding. A business account likely has these mostly designed already, but an individual will need to start from scratch. If graphic design isn’t in your wheelhouse, consider hiring a graphic designer off of Fiverr or Upwork. The small fee is well worth it.
  • Ensure that branding assets meet YouTube’s specifications, such as dimensions and format types. You can find those guidelines on the YouTube Help site.

Further Reading: YouTube and Your Personal Brand: 5 Reasons Why Every Professional Should Have a YouTube Channel

5. Optimize Your New Channel for Discoverability

Knowing how to create a YouTube channel won’t do you much good if nobody can find the channel later. While it’ll always be hard to get those first few views, there are things you can do to boost your chances:

  • Write an informative channel description optimized with keywords. People will use those keywords to find your channel, and the description to decide if they’ll stay and watch.
  • Select the correct default language for your target audience. Otherwise, you may have a lot of people visiting who won’t want to watch your videos. This is especially important if your main keywords mean something in multiple languages.
  • Add links to your website and social media in channel metadata. By doing this, you’ll let people see your other online properties and get to know you better. For brands, this step is even more critical.
  • Use relevant channel tags to help with discoverability. For instance, pick tags that tell people the type of content you’ll publish, and the niche you occupy.
  • Complete channel keywords field for improved SEO, both on and off YouTube. Again, this will improve channel traffic.
  • Add closed captions to make videos more accessible. YouTube offers auto-generated closed captioning in the channel language. Additionally, the captions can help with SEO even more.

Further Reading: YouTube Video Optimization: Simple Tricks Beginners Can Implement To Rank Their Videos

6. Upload and Optimize Videos

At this point, having a YouTube channel can become fun, since the whole point is to create and share content. However, you want to make sure that what you upload is easy to upload, find, watch, and share. Ideally, you’ll encourage people to watch more of your videos, too.

  • Upload videos in MP4 format, 1080p HD resolution is recommended. People may decide to watch at a lower resolution, such as when technology isn’t as advanced or they need to conserve data. However, you want quality HD images available for those who want it.
  • Keep titles concise, clear and optimized with target keywords. This way, people will find the video easily, and not be discouraged by a long title. Keep it short and sweet.
  • Write detailed descriptions using relevant keywords, links, hashtags. Not everyone will read the whole description, but you can’t pass up the SEO opportunities.
  • Categorize videos appropriately so they appear in relevant searches. This step will also help people who are just browsing your channel.
  • Create custom thumbnails that stand out and reflect video content. If you use the default thumbnails from YouTube’s content studio, they might not put your content in the best light.
  • Include end screens and cards to link to your other videos. By doing this, you’ll boost overall watch time and revenue. Also, remember you need a minimum number of watch hours before you’re eligible for monetization. This technique will get you there sooner.
  • Experiment with different types of videos to identify your niche. No two content creators have the same strengths, and each audience is likewise unique. Growing as a creator involves mastery of a relatively limited number of techniques.
  • Check YouTube Creator Academy for optimization best practices. Many of them are common sense, but others require more advanced skills.

Further Reading: How to Make a YouTube Video in 6 Easy Steps (for Beginners)

7. Grow and Engage Your Audience

People come for the videos. Then, they stay for the videos AND the community. If you want to grow your audience and maximize monetization, you’ll need to engage. Luckily, this requires relatively little skill:

  • Encourage viewers to like, comment, and subscribe in your videos. As you get more engagement of this type, your content will be more visible in the YouTube algorithm.
  • Respond to comments regularly to build a community. People are more likely to comment if they think you’re listening. However, your response type may change as your channel gets very big.
  • Share videos on social media to expand reach. Chances are that your friends won’t randomly find your YouTube channel, unless your friends all share the same interests. So, share your videos on other channels to draw them in (along with people who are connected to your friends).
  • Collaborate with relevant creators/influencers in your niche. YouTubers love working together, often even if they have rival channels. Plus, you’ll introduce your followers to the other person, and vice versa. This mutually boosts channel growth.
  • Analyze audience retention, traffic sources, and demographics. With this information, you can pivot and better appeal to the different segments of your audience. You can also use the information later on to help you choose collaborations.
  • Continuously improve video quality, SEO, and viewer interaction. People are more understanding of less than ideal content quality from a new creator than one who’s been around a while. Likewise, SEO can get stale as competition changes, and viewer interaction helps boost views.
  • Run contests and giveaways to increase engagement. They’re also fun, and great options for brand collaboration.
  • Ask viewers questions to encourage comments. Healthy debates/discussions are great for your channel as a whole.

Further Reading: 15 Powerful YouTube Tools You Need to Grow Your YouTube Audience

8. Maintain Consistency

If you aren’t going to post consistently, there’s less value in knowing how to create a YouTube channel. After all, people won’t have something to look forward to by subscribing to your channel. But if you know how, it’s easy to be relatively consistent.

  • Set a consistent schedule for uploading videos. For instance, once a week on Monday, or twice on Tuesday and Thursday. This way, your audience knows what to expect.
  • Plan your content calendar to maintain regular posting. If you’re always guessing what to post, you probably won’t stay on track.
  • Analyze audience and performance metrics to identify gaps, such as a topic that’s hot but you haven’t covered it yet. You might also discover that some formats perform better than others.
  • Continuously improve the quality of your videos. Quality variations can be anything from your skill at filming, to image resolution, or even organization. The more you film, the better you’ll get at it.
  • Interact regularly with your audience through comments, polls, Q&As, and other options. Doing this keeps people interested in your channel, and creates a community around your brand. It also increases the chance that brands will ask you to collaborate with them.

Further Reading: The Top 11 Must-Know YouTube Tricks for Marketers

Conclusion

There are many reasons you may want to know how to create a YouTube channel. Sharing your expertise, creating an online community for your offline brand, and making money are all great reasons to do the hard work. However, like most other things online, you need to optimize your account and its content. Luckily, by following the tips in this article, you’ll be off to a good start.

Hero Photo by Rashidul Islam on Unsplash

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Neal Schaffer
Neal Schaffer

Neal Schaffer is a leading authority on helping businesses through their digital transformation of sales and marketing through consulting, training, and helping enterprises large and small develop and execute on social media marketing strategy, influencer marketing, and social selling initiatives. President of the social media agency PDCA Social, Neal also teaches digital media to executives at Rutgers University, the Irish Management Institute (Ireland), and the University of Jyvaskyla (Finland). Fluent in Japanese and Mandarin Chinese, Neal is a popular keynote speaker and has been invited to speak about digital media on four continents in a dozen countries. He is also the author of 3 books on social media, including Maximize Your Social (Wiley), and in late 2019 will publish his 4th book, The Business of Influence (HarperCollins), on educating the market on the why and how every business should leverage the potential of influencer marketing. Neal resides in Irvine, California but also frequently travels to Japan.

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