How to Create & Grow a YouTube Channel
Youtube is rapidly becoming the largest social media platform for video content. Plus, as we discussed in our analysis of social media influencer income, it is one of the most common ways to make a living as a social media influencer. Add in the fact that it is such a saturated market for advertisements and sponsorships, it’s tempting to wonder if you can get in on these huge opportunities and become a successful Youtuber.
Luckily for you, we’ve put together a step-by-step tutorial that covers everything from getting started, developing an audience, and what to do once you’ve made it big.
Creating the Youtube Channel
It won’t do you a lot of good to know how to manage the channel if you never learn how to make it in the first place. Luckily, creating a Youtube account is completely free and pretty simple.
If you already have set up a personal Google account, then most of the work has already been done for you. If you haven’t, then we advise setting one up. Both for your relevance, and also because it is easier still than trying to manually build an account from scratch.
To start this process, head to Youtube.com first. Your Goggle account will probably already be logged in if it is a device you are accessing youtube from a familiar device. If you aren’t already signed in, then now is the time to do so. Worth noting: the Google account and its related Gmail account you use for this next part will be attached to everything your new Youtube account will do.
Be sure to double-check you’re about to use the desired account. From Youtube’s homepage, select your profile image in the top right corner to pull out the settings drop-down menu. One of the first options on the list will be to create a new channel. Once you select the prompt to create a channel, the rest of the process is pretty much self-explanatory.
The one thing that we’ll talk about specifically is that there will be an option to use your Google account name or create a custom name. It is recommended for most people to create a custom name to avoid as much harassment as possible, plus a catchy channel name will work to your benefit way more than your boring normal Google account name.
Once you move through all the prompts, then congratulations! You’ve created a brand new Youtube channel. Though, it will be just about the bare minimum of existing. One of the best ways to make your channel growth move at a snappy pace will be to create a unique identity from the get-go. But how do you do that?
Great Ways to Customize Your Channel Page
In the strictest sense, none of what we are about to suggest is requested, but becoming a successful channel without at least some of these recommendations moves would be so hard I’m tempted to just call it impossible. Most of them can be found under the “Customize Channel” tab when you open up the options for your channel.
The first thing that you’ll want to figure out so your account will visually pop is to work out all your YouTube channel art. This includes everything from the profile picture, to the banner that displays at the top of your channel home page, and any recurring arts that will appear in all of your YouTube videos or on the thumbnails.
Getting this all arranged gives the image of a uniform brand and assures that it is just about impossible for someone to interact with your content and not see an element of your art and branding. The banner is especially important because it is the most eye-catching thing when someone looks at your account page, and most people on Youtube don’t go to account pages unless they are heavily interested in the content produced by that channel.
The sizing of the channel banner art is not typical, so if you aren’t savvy with digital art, you may have to commission some. YouTube recommends any art you use for the channel banner be 2560 x 1440 pixels. However, they support everything between 2048 x 1152 and 2560 x 423 pixels, and getting the file size below 6MB is highly recommended. There are some banner templates available online, some of which will show the recommended space for logos and text.
The profile picture -- referred to on YouTube as the channel icon -- needs to be in an 800 x 800-pixel png or jpeg file. You can also use a GIF file, but it won’t be animated. A good profile picture is hugely important because it is the literal sign of your content, plus it will often be something a person sees from your channel before they ever see your YouTube videos.
Another great way to boost your channel’s appeal is by flushing out a great channel description. It is an opportunity to lay out everything people can expect from your channel, instead of making them do a bunch of guesswork. To be honest, this might be the least important of the steps to take since most people would rather poke into a few videos than find and read a channel description. It’s still worth the effort of course; it looks pretty embarrassing for a channel with a bunch of video content to leave the description tab blank. Just don’t lose any sleep over what you put in there.
Lastly, a channel trailer can get a bunch of people in the door. If you only use youtube on a mobile device, you probably don’t know that there is a video that plays when you open up someone’s channel page in the desktop version of YouTube.
It might seem silly to put a bunch of work into something only desktop YouTube users will see, but it is the perfect chance to show people some highlights and that you know how to produce engaging content. Since channel trailers start playing automatically when someone opens a channel page, it is often the first video of yours that someone will see, so make sure it is high-quality and grabs people's
Growing Your Channel
Once you’ve gone through all these rudimentary stages of getting set up, there isn’t much to do besides upload videos. Unless something truly exceptional happens, you shouldn’t expect many views or subscribers until your YouTube channel has accumulated several hours of video content. Don’t be discouraged by this, because the only way you’ll for sure never grow as a YouTuber is if you don’t create content. The overall process is similar to becoming an influencer on other social networks.
You can upload videos to whatever channel you are logged into by selecting the button that looks like a camera with a plus sign in the upper right corner of the YouTube home page. Selecting this icon will open a pop-up menu where you can upload videos or start a live stream -- changing up content between VODs and live streams is a great way to push audience engagement, by the way. YouTube can process any of the standard video formats, but depending on things like server traffic, internet speeds, and file size, there is a bit of variance as to how long things will take to publish.
Ideally, you’ll already have a decent idea of what kind of videos you’ll be putting up on your YouTube channel. There are some strategies when it comes to the specifics of your content creation that can help you on your journey of growing your channel.
Firstly, it is good to establish a primary sort of content upfront. Think of it as the flagship product that marketers know will sell well. With a safe bet in place that doesn’t require too much effort to put together, it lets you devote more attention to more experimental projects. To strip away the metaphor as much as possible, establish a few types of videos that you know will do well, and fill in the gaps in your schedule with things you are eager to try but not as confident about how they’ll be received.
Keeping your content organized also improves the viewer experience significantly, and happy viewers are what you want. One of the best ways to do this is to create easily searchable playlists for all your related content. Anything from the same video series, batches of highlights, live stream archives, and so on should all be batched together so people can find them more easily. Also, going back to video uploading, there is an option to delay when the video will become available to a specific time. This is a smart move because it establishes a pattern and creates subtle excitement for scheduled releases among your audience.
One of the strongest moves to improving your channel’s visibility is one of the trickiest to become proficient in -- search engine optimization. SEO content normally involves using the best keywords, hashtags, titles, and so on to make a piece of online content more favorable than another in the eyes of the algorithms that sort search engine results. Naturally, making content that is more likely to appear in the first few results of a search engine will lead to your content getting more views than if people had to scroll through a bunch of results to get to your videos.
Trying to create search engine optimization on YouTube specifically presents a few extra challenges than with things like websites or blogs. For one, YouTube itself has an internal search engine with algorithms that are different than the algorithms on Google, Bing, Safari, and so on. So, there is a bit of awkward tension in trying to appeal to two different algorithm sets. If you find it hard to tend to both, lean toward the internal YouTube search engine -- people are more likely to go to YouTube first if they want to watch a YouTube video, rather than looking for a video on a blind Google search.
Certain qualities of videos beyond just titles and keywords make them more favored by the YouTube algorithms as well. Video length is a big deal, which is why you will see most YouTubers keep their videos around the 10-15 minute range, and even longer-form content doesn’t like to venture much beyond 30 minutes. Videos with a ton of comments and likes are sometimes favored more than just videos with lots of views, which goes back to our discussion of Reach vs. Impression and the importance of each. So, no, YouTubers aren’t just being annoying when they ask you to like and comment, it helps them out a lot when it comes to visibility.
Some Other Small Edges For Channel Growth
These aren’t quite as big a deal as some of the other steps you can take to getting extra views and subscribers, but they certainly help a bit. And in the game of influencers, any little advantage you can get can be the difference between making it and not.
Video Title and Descriptions: Like mentioned before, you can find some software that will help you make more favorable titles to algorithms. You should also take care that they are also appealing to humans -- clickbait or difficult to understand titles and descriptions will turn off a lot of people.
Categories and Tags: YouTube now has categories that you can file your video under when you upload it, such as Gaming, Cooking, and nearly every interest you could imagine. Some people will search based on these categories, or based on subject tags, so be sure to fill out as many that make sense for your content as you can to increase how easily new people can discover it.
Thumbnails: YouTube thumbnails are an art all their own. You can select any frame from the video you’ve uploaded to be the still image someone will see while scrolling through YouTube. If you are a sufficiently large content creator, YouTube offers the option to upload created images as the thumbnail. Taking the extra few minutes to make a great thumbnail pushes your content that extra step it can sometimes need.
YouTube Partner Program
Once your channel is decently popular -- 1000 concurrent subscribers and 4000 total hours of watch time within the last year, you’ll be able to apply to YouTube’s partner program. The turnaround time for the application is pretty long, usually about a month at least, but as long as you meet all the requirements and submit everything properly, then you’ll almost certainly be approved.
Becoming a YouTube partner allows a bunch of new creative tools, like the thumbnail creation mentioned above. You also get access to monetization options. Monetizing your content through YouTube takes the form of ads. Once partnered, you have options like how many ads appear in your video, how often, what kind of ads, and so on.
In general, more ad views mean more money in your pocket, so you might be tempted to crank those up. Don’t get carried away, though. Think of how annoying it would be to watch a 15 minute YouTube video and have to sit through 4 or 5 ads in the process. Treat your audience well, and they will treat you well in turn.
From Moderate to Prominent
Youtube popularity has two major hills to surmount when it comes to popularity. The first and hardest to cross will be going from being unknown to having a decent-sized audience. Progression from there is a little bit easier because now you have a platform and fans to support your growth.
The other major hump is going from being a relevant YouTube to being a name-brand YouTuber. In many ways, it can be the difference between doing YouTube content as a hobby or a part-time job to making a living as a YouTuber. Besides just getting lucky and picking up in popularity with the mass that is the internet, there isn’t a guaranteed way to break through this barrier. Though there are a few ways to get a leg up on the competition.
Collaborations are super popular among YouTubers because they have been shown to work. If you happen to know other popular content creators, reach out to them and see if you could do a project together sometime. Networking is just as important as an influencer as it is in other jobs. Who knows, you might find yourself in a permanent partnership.
Don’t be afraid to make use of trends. You can attract a ton of people by jumping in and making content for whatever game is the newest craze, doing whatever challenge is sweeping the internet, and creating your takes on popular content. There is some worry that you’ll get lost in the craze, but unless you have established yourself as a personality that is strongly against being trendy, it won’t hurt to dip your toes into the current hotness.
Finally, don’t be ashamed to market yourself. Unless you have a good reason not to, tell your friends, your family, people at parties, anyone you can to check out your YouTube content -- show them if you can! If you have a prominent audience from some other part of your life, plug your content to them.
If it helps, imagine you are trying to introduce them to something you like rather than hyping yourself up. The worst thing you can do is never tell anyone that you are making content.