Anyone can quickly create a YouTube channel and easily upload a video. But moving too fast means you won’t be fully optimized from day 1.
To start a YouTube channel that gets results long term, you need to be much more thorough in your initial setup.
If you’re looking to move from YouTube Zero (Viewer) to YouTube Hero (Creator), you’ve come to the right place.
We’ve got everything you need to learn how to start a YouTube channel the right way.
An optimal YouTube channel setup will help you to achieve:
- More views
- Better SEO
- More Subscribers
- Better (& more) leads for your business
- Greater authority in your chosen field
I’ve set up an example YouTube channel and recorded every single click along the way. You can follow along at your own pace and never miss a single step.
I’ve also created a clickable table of contents so that you can skip parts you may have already taken care of:
Without an account you won’t be able to even comment on a video let alone upload a video or start making money.
Luckily it’s free and easy and by following my video you can learn how to start a YouTube channel & set up your very first account in under 3 minutes!
The way you present your channel will say a lot to the audience in terms of what they can expect from your videos.
From imagery, to copy, to other channels you associate with, they all let the browser know what they’re in for and on what level you’re operating.
Make sure you get this right because first impressions count.
A YouTube Banner (or Channel Art) has changed over the years but has always been a key piece of YouTube Branding.
Create the artwork following the official specifications:
- Single 2560 x 1440 px image
- JPEG, GIF, BMP or PNG (no animated GIFs)
YouTube have actually provided a free template that you can use to create it - click here to download it.
To Upload the Banner simply follow my video:
In terms or artwork your Avatar is probably more important than your Banner because it follows you wherever you go across the platform so make sure it’s instantly recognizable even at small sizes.
You can get the full specifications from YouTube here, but here's the details you need:
- Size - 800 x 800 px image
- File Type - JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG (no animated GIFs)
- Content - No celebs, nudity, artwork or copyrighted images
Then follow the steps in my video in order to upload the Avatar on to YouTube:
The About section of your channel won’t be visited too regularly, I’ll admit that.
However your About section needs to be informative and enticing to hook browsers that do find it and even if no one ever sees it, the keywords you use in it can help you rank in search for the key terms you’re targeting.
With the above in mind you want to make sure that your description hits the following 5 points:
- Make it Keyword rich
- Sell yourself
- Outline your schedule
- Include Custom links (more on that in the next section)
- Add a Business email
For more detail on each point check out my article on how to craft the optimum channel description.
And once you have it word-perfect, follow my video and add it to your channel.
That’s the look and feel of the channel set up, but before we look at the back-end settings, there are a few more technical things to take care of on the front-end.
As I mentioned in the previous part of this section it’s important to have custom web and social links in your channel description and once entered they also appear in a number of important places including an overlay on your Channel Banner.
By adding these links you give your channel a look of professionalism and authority and it also tells people you’re human (or legit if you’re a business).
They also allow you to get that browser to a property you own and can capture their data or simply help turn them into a fan or follower.
Click here for my top 5 tips for optimizing your custom links (plus 3 bonus tips) and then watch the video below to see how to implement them.
This is one of the last steps to get the front-end of your channel set up.
It is also one of the most under-rated and under-used facets of a YouTube Channel, which surprises me as it’s one of the most simple to implement.
The basic idea is that you feature your competition.
Yes your competition.
By featuring similar channels in your space, especially popular ones, the viewer will make a psychological link between the two. This gives them not only a frame of reference for what your channel offers but also the other channels’ authority and quality will rub off on you.
Follow my video below to see how to implement this:
And to get the most out of these Featured Channels I have a great list of tips here.
By enabling this feature a widget will appear on your channel underneath your Featured Channels widget.
It looks identical to the widget above it although this time it’s populated by recommendations from YouTube.
As you start out this will seem to be quite a random selection of popular YouTube channels but as your channel matures the recommendations will become more accurate and closely linked to your channel.
This offers the same reputational benefit of the Recommended Channels you’ve selected.
Another thing to keep in mind is that if you don’t have this widget enabled you won’t be included as a suggestion in other peoples Recommended widget. This almost certainly won’t affect your statistics in the early days but as you grow this can become a juicy source of traffic and subscribers.
For me any benefit outweighs the negative of people abandoning your channel for a recommended channel, so I’d go ahead and implement this.
You enable this on your channel page by scrolling under the Featured Channel widget and hitting Enable on the Popular/Related Channels widget as shown in the picture below:
Ok so our stage is set, but what about all the cogs and levers behind the scenes?
When figuring out how to start a YouTube channel, back end settings are key.
Getting these rights can have a massive impact on your channel so make sure to follow along closely.
Verifying your YouTube channel is quick and easy and unlocks a host of features that were previously reserved for Partners that monetized their videos.
These features include:
- Custom Thumbnails
- External Annotations
- Longer Videos
- Content ID Appeals
- Live event streaming
- Fan Funding
All that’s required to get verified is 5 minutes and a phone number, follow the video below and you’ll be verified in no time.
As it gets harder to cut through (even to your own subscribers) on YouTube it’s important to promote your videos in as many places as possible with Social Networks being one of the easiest and most effective.
Follow the video below to connect your account to Twitter and check out my guide here for some extra tips on getting the most out of these connected accounts:
Channel Defaults are one of my favourite features and despite how effective they are, are massively underused.
Implementing defaults will save you time by automating a lot of your channel’s metadata. It will also massively improve your channel’s SEO by making your metadata consistent.
Now before you set these defaults I suggest you read my in depth guide to getting them exactly right. You can check out below:
You're now ready to set your defaults in your channel so just follow my video here:
There are a bunch of other settings here that don’t affect the performance of your videos or channel but are related to the way in which you use YouTube as a viewer across devices.
Here’s a quick video that takes you through these final settings.
I like the term Advanced Settings here because the use of a number of these settings means that you’re thinking about and running your YouTube channel in a thoughtful and strategic way.
I know from experience that many people don’t use these settings correctly, if at all. So by implementing the following steps you’re probably a few steps ahead of your competition.
This is one of the few places where you get to affect the SEO of your entire channel and all the videos that appear in it.
These should be similar to your default video tags and should include the higher-level terms that you wish your channel and videos to rank for.
Follow the video below to see how to add these keywords to your channel:
This feature is not as well known as it should be but it is one of the most powerful features on the entire platform.
YouTube only allows you to link out from video annotations to websites that they deem appropriate and that’s very limiting if you want to diversify your monetization.
However you can overcome this by associating your website to your YouTube channel. This effectively whitelists your website so that it can be linked to via video annotations.
This is a little bit more complicated than most of the points here. Don’t worry though as I have a comprehensive step by step guide to associating your channel here.
Many of the remaining settings here are purely a matter of preference and are unlikely to have any direct affect on the success of your channel. For that reason I won’t go into each one individually but I would recommend making your subscriber count public – even if it’s low – because otherwise people think you have something to hide.
For many of you it’s earning money (and withdrawing it) that’s the reason for starting a YouTube Channel in the first place and I’ll deal with both of those points in this section.
To be able to make revenue from Ads played before, during and around your video you first need to be accepted on to the YouTube Partner Program.
This used to be an invite only program but it has been opened right up now and takes just minutes to join.
Being part of the Program also has a host of other benefits which I wrote about here, but if you just want to get straight to the money simply follow the steps in my video below.
Your account will likely need to go through a manual review so that YouTube/Google can see you’re uploading content that you have the rights to and that fit their community guidelines.
Once you have your first video that you wish to monetize, follow the final section of the video above to take you through that process.
It’s all well and good creating revenue on the platform but if you want to get your hands on some cold hard cash you’ll need an AdSense account to make a withdrawal.
The process to sign up for an account is quick and easy (see video below) but in order to be approved you need to meet a number of criteria. These include things such as being over 18 and having a valid postal address.
You can check my article out to get a full list of AdSense account criteria or just jump into the video below to get set up:
We’ve come a long way together haven’t we? You’ve learned how to create a YouTube channel and we’re now ready to finally upload our first video.
The actual upload is super-simple. Just a couple of clicks in fact but after that there are a number of settings you need to make sure you’re set-up correctly.
Follow along with my video and then check out my 12 tips below that to help you make sure you have the most optimized upload possible:
My 12 tips for perfect video publishing:
1. Fill In Metadata on upload
2. Upload Thumbnail as early as possible
3. Auto-post to social
4. Add to a playlist
5. Enable all ad formats
6. Allow comments
7. Select ‘Standard YouTube License’
8. Syndicate ‘Everywhere’
9. Ignore ‘Caption Certification’
10. Allow embedding
11. Select relevant category
12. Make video statistics public
To see why I recommend these settings click here for my full article.
You have your channel, you have your first video(s) – congrats you’re now a YouTube Channel Manager.
Welcome to the Club!
Your first job is to make your channel look like a fully-fledged YouTube channel.
For some reason the default for a new channel to YouTube is an ugly stream of your uploads.
To fix this and to make it look like a ‘normal’ channel you're going to need to press a few buttons.
Watch the video below which will enable you to do this. It will also show you how to set up your Feed for your subscribers:
You want people to subscribe to your lovely new channel right? But how do you convert browsers into subscribers?
Ok, then I suggest we add a trailer that gets shown to any visitor who isn’t yet subscribed.
If the first video you uploaded isn’t a channel trailer or if you haven’t yet made one you need to get one up asap.
For help creating a YouTube Channel Trailer check out my quick guide here.
Once you have it ready follow this video to add it to your channel:
Even though you have your trailer in place now, your channel is looking a little empty. A lot empty in fact.
We’re going to fill it up with those beautiful rows of videos known as Sections. For best results we’ll do so using Playlists.
Watch below to see how to put together such a playlist:
Almost finished! You’ve come so far and done so much. Well Done!
Now we have lots of Playlists we can fill up our channel so that it’s bursting at the seams with beautiful Sections and videos.
Here’s how to add a new custom section:
Even though the channel is now full it’s not quite optimized. There are a few more tweaks we can make so it’s more inviting for the viewer.
A well thought out and laid out channel will not only get more views but will convert more browsers into subscribers.
Now you’ve learned how to create a YouTube channel we want to take these great foundations to the next level. Jump over to my guide below and make sure viewers can’t help but become subcribers: