Jumpstart your channel
Welcome to YouTube and our home for creator education -- the Creator Academy! Our lessons and courses are built to help you excel on YouTube. We’ll guide you through the essentials you need to know when starting a channel.
So you wanna be a YouTube star
YouTube is more than just a video platform -- it’s a community of worldwide fans. More than 400 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute. People watch hundreds of millions of videos ranging from mainstream topics like “how-to,” news and sports, to the very specialized or niche. But they don’t just watch; YouTube is a social network where fans comment and creators interact with their communities. So why not broadcast whatever you’re most passionate about (as long as it fits within our community guidelines) on YouTube?
We’ve researched how top creators made it big on YouTube and distilled it down to a framework that can help when starting your channel:
- Create a channel: When setting up a channel on YouTube, you may want to get the initial housekeeping tasks out of the way (like naming, setting privacy permissions, etc.) so you can focus on taking your great channel idea and transforming it into a reality. We’ll show you the steps to kickstart your channel and get it ready for future uploads.
- Be found: Next, consider how your videos will get discovered on YouTube. Successful creators often grow their channel by finding the right audience and adding customizations. For example, adding thumbnails, metadata, and a clickable title can help viewers search for and find your videos more easily. While viral videos can bring in views, it’s more common to build an audience with a series of videos on a topic you’re passionate about.
- Keep ‘em watching: Once audiences uncover your videos and love them, you’ll want to encourage them to come back for more. Simple strategies like having a consistent upload schedule or creating playlists can help.
- Drive fandom: Once you’ve accomplished these three steps, it’s important to talk to your fans like they’re your friends, both on YouTube and through social channels. Conversation with your audience can be fun and an effective way to build a loyal fanbase.
See it in action
Fact or fiction? Viral videos = long-term success on YouTubeWhile some viral videos do launch their creators to stardom, like GrumpyCat, there’s no guarantee viewers will come back for more. It's more typical that creators find success by building a sustainable channel. (Video in English.)
Instead, try to find a repeatable concept and format that you’ll look forward to shooting.Michelle Phan has reached long-term success on YouTube by presenting a consistent (and cost-effective) style. (Video in English.)
Define your mission and audience
When you’re starting out on YouTube, it can be helpful to brainstorm your core channel concept. A mission statement -- a message, or a set of characteristics that define your channel -- can help streamline your thoughts. Figuring these things out early can make elements like branding, production design, and even what type of videos you’ll produce, all fall into place.
Remember, stay true and make what you love. Otherwise you run the risk of disliking the end result or being over it in a year. Successful creators on YouTube often emphasize the importance of being authentic. YouTube is a community where there are few limits to what you can share with the whole world, so make it count!
Ask yourself these questions to hone in on what your future on YouTube could look like:
- What do you want to be known for? What does success look like to you?
- What genre does your channel fall into? What are other creators doing in that category? Which ones do you like the most and why?
- Who is your audience?
- How do you want your channel to look in five years?
- Who are your favorite YouTube creators and what makes them memorable to you?
To win fans you have to know who they are… A major component of planning out a channel is identifying your audience. You want to be sure people can relate to your content and will want to watch it. Consider your ideal audience:
- Who do you think will be drawn to your videos?
- Will your channel resonate with a specific group of people?
- Is there a niche you’re tailoring your content towards, like yoga enthusiasts or action sports fans?
YouTube is a community where there are few limits to what you can share with the whole world, so make it count!Here are a few suggestions to consider before diving into the nitty gritty of producing videos for your channel:
- Map out an upload schedule to determine how often can you feasibly produce videos. Pull out your calendar and look to see how much free time you have in the next few months. With that in mind: when will you plan, shoot, and edit your videos?
- Sketch out some branding ideas: what might your channel icon or banner look like? Try putting some ideas down on paper or creating a few images you can test out on your channel.
- Look at YouTube Analytics and think about which metrics are most important to you and why. There are numerous ways to measure your success in YouTube Analytics: views, subscribers, minutes watched, number of countries watching, etc. Which will you focus on?
Thinking ahead can help you create a channel you’re delighted to dedicate time to and share with an audience who will love your stuff!
What’s in a name?
The first step in creating your YouTube channel is selecting a channel name. This name may live with your channel forever so make sure it’s something that you’ll like today, next week, and six years from now. Also think about how this name works as a brand -- does it clearly communicate your channel concept? Would you be OK being represented by this name to the world if a video goes viral?
To begin, go to YouTube and sign in with your Google account. Go into settings (the wheel icon found in the menu at the top right), and you’ll be walked through the steps which give you the option to create or rename your channel and see your channel ID. Once you’ve taken this important first step you’re ready to upload!
There are some account settings that you may want to update straightaway, like connecting your social media accounts, setting privacy levels for your videos, and deciding how you'd like to receive notifications. Also, in order to enable features like custom thumbnails, you’ll want to verify your channel with Google.
Then you can make it yours by uploading custom images as your channel icon or channel banner art. (Get more information about branding here.) In the 'About' tab, you can add a channel description and introduce your new channel to the world.
Your YouTube world premiere
You’ve got a name, you’ve tailored your channel page and nailed down your concept. Now it’s time to upload your first video. First impressions count, so make sure you present your video with maximum curb appeal. Don’t neglect the filling in the fields that could help your video attract viewers: title, description, and thumbnail. Here are some guiding principles to help your videos make a grand entrance on YouTube.
- Upload in the proper format: Ensure you export the video from your editor in a format that will easily upload to YouTube.
- Catchy titles attract viewers: Video titles are one of the first things viewers read so consider what keywords or phrases might compel your target audience to click. For more on what makes a great title, click here.
- Entice viewers with a description: Offer context for your video and channel in the video description. Viewers see your top two sentences before clicking to see more, so use that real estate to hook them in. Consider linking to your website or social media, giving credit to collaborators, or providing contact information. For more on video descriptions, click here.
- Tag up your videos: Select tags that accurately represent the content of your video and channel. Tags help your videos get discovered. Misleading tags, on the other hand, are a violation of YouTube community guidelines, so be sure to only include words that truly describe your content.
- Tailor your thumbnails for the best angle: Thumbnails are like a movie poster and can give viewers a visual preview of your video. Try creating a custom thumbnail that shows an exciting moment and looks great on desktop and mobile. You can add custom thumbnails if your channel is verified. For more on thumbnails, click here.
- Make those last minute edits: Once your video is uploaded, YouTube’s built-in editor lets you make some final cuts to your masterpiece.
- Add a card to keep the fun going: Cards can point your audience to where you want them to go next -- whether that’s watching another video, checking out your merchandise, or subscribing.
- Keep an eye on your Analytics: The first few days after you upload are critical to a video’s success. You can use YouTube Analytics like a temperature gauge to see how your video us doing. Be sure to review your comments (and begin to build a community by responding to some!)
Remember, channels grow at different paces but enhancements like these can improve the chances that your videos will be found.
See it in action
Life after your first video
Congratulations on getting your first video uploaded! But wait, there’s more! Once your audience finds you, you'll want to make sure they stick around. Try out these strategies to keep your channel fresh and headed towards the path to fandom.
- Put it on the calendar: Adopt an upload schedule so your fans know when to tune in for new content. Consider communicating it in your channel trailer, spelling it out on your channel art, or reminding viewers in your videos. An upload schedule brings dependability and consistency to your programming. Learn more.
- Give them a sneak peek with a channel trailer: Like a movie trailer, channel trailers give viewers a preview of what they can find on your channel. When unsubscribed viewers land on your channel, the first thing they’ll see is your trailer -- so give them a taste of the delicious content you have to offer. Become a channel trailer expert.
- Organize your channel with playlists and sections: Help your audience navigate your channel, and offer them a personalized viewing experience with playlists and sections. Playlists let viewers watch one video after another in an order you specify. Sections are a way to categorize and group videos or playlists together on your channel home page. Get the details here.
As you build your channel, these tools and techniques can transform viewers into long-term subscribers, increase watch time, and help you excel as a creator on YouTube.
See it in action
Who is watching your first video?Try it now
Check your Demographics report after you upload your first video. Are you surprised by who is tuning in to watch? Click on other reports that interest you in YouTube Analytics and come up with some goals.