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Tips For Creators
March 29, 2023
min read
Elad Schulman

How to start a YouTube channel

The process of starting a YouTube channel takes just a few minutes - pick out a username you’ll probably cringe at in a few years and upload a profile photo. But, what we mean when we say ‘how to start a YouTube channel’ is how to create a platform that has the potential to grow into something more than just a pastime. What should your videos be about? How often should you be posting? When do you start making an income from your YouTube videos? Here’s our top tips on how to start your YouTube channel. Here are ourtop tips when starting a YouTube channel.

1. Set up your account

You most likely already have a YouTube profile if you have a Google account, but if you don’t, the first step in starting a YouTube channel is setting up your account. You’ll have to pick your channel name, which we recommend putting a lot of thought into. Your channel name is how your future audience will find you, and how they’ll recommend you to other people. If your channel name isn’t easy to remember and doesn’t make you stand out enough, you’ll become that creator “that vlogs their day”. Definitely not something that makes it easy for you to be found by the search engine, especially with the thousands of videos that are uploaded onto YouTube every minute. When it comes to picking a channel name, here are our top tips: 

  • Keep it short: A short channel name will be easier to remember, and won’t be too difficult to search for. You want your channel name to be something that anyone can search for, without thinking too hard.
  • Make it unique: You want your channel name to help you to stand out in the crowd of thousands of creators on YouTube. A unique channel name will intrigue viewers into tuning into your content.
  • Connect it to your niche: If your channel name hints at the kind of content you make, viewers will know what to expect.

Another part of setting up your account is uploading a profile photo and a banner for your channel. Your profile impacts the viewers’ first impression, and your banner is what will catch their attention and interest when they find their way to your channel. Your profile photo and banner are also another opportunity to make your niche known to your audience to ensure that they know what your channel is about. Our biggest tip is to check out Canva, an incredible free online design tool. You have thousands of templates to get inspiration from, or you can start with a blank canvas and see where it leads you.

Here’s a great tutorial to walk you through the process of starting a YouTube channel:

2. Find your niche

Knowing what your niche is incredibly important, especially at the beginning of your content creation journey. Are you making videos about books, DIY’s, traveling, cooking? Having a specific topic for your videos will help you to build up your audience and promote engagement with viewers that connect with your content. Make sure to pick a niche that you truly love and are excited about, because that excitement will naturally translate on screen, and your viewers will feel more connected to you. 

Picking out a niche comes down to one simple question - ‘what are you passionate about?’. Move with Nicole loves yoga and pilates, so it makes sense that she started a YouTube channel sharing those types of workouts. As your channel grows, you can start to think about branching out into new niches. When your audience feels like they know you, they’ll watch pretty much any content you put out since it’s you putting out the content. For example, Steph Bohrer mainly created bookish content when she first started her channel, but now her audience loves any of the content she puts out - including content about studying abroad and traveling.

Another thing to keep in mind is that brands are searching for those content creators that are ‘authority figures’ of that specific niche, and it’s definitely easier to be considered an authority figure on a subject you already know and love. When a brand like HelloFresh, a food subscription service, is looking for content creators to work with, they will first look to channels in the food and cooking niche, since that’s the audience they’re trying to connect with. Though brand sponsorships are further down the line and it’s important to let your channel grow and develop organically, it’s definitely something to consider when deciding what path you’ll pick.

3. Develop your strategy

Starting your YouTube channel without a strategy is like jumping into the deep end without first figuring out if you know how to swim. Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it? Having a strategy will not only help your audience but also help you in knowing exactly what you’re setting out to do. The main things you need to think about when developing your strategy are: 

  • Your target audience: Are your videos intended for a younger or older audience? Are you making videos to educate, or to entertain? Questions like these will help you determine what kind of language you’ll use in your videos, and what content you’ll include. 
  • Video structure: Are your videos going to be sit-down style videos, or are you going to go for more of a vlog style? If you’re going to be vlogging, you’re going to want to make sure that whatever camera you’re using is comfortable to carry around, and that you have your camera with you for most of the day. If you want to be filming sit-down videos, you’ll need to think about when you’ll have time to film, and what you want your setup to be.
  • Posting schedule: How often you want to post is going to determine how often you’re going to be filming, so you’re going to want to set up a tentative filming, editing, and uploading schedule for you to have a rough idea of how your content creation schedule is going to look. As you gain more experience, you might realize that certain videos take you longer to film and edit, and you’ll be able to change your schedule accordingly. Not only that, but like anything else, the more you work on creating content the better you’ll get at it, and certain things that may have taken you hours in the beginning will end up only taking you no more than 30 minutes. Especially when you’re just starting out, don’t put too much on your plate - maybe start with one video a week and see how that feels. You can always build up from there!

4. Research trending topics

The YouTube algorithm is built in a way that it promotes trending videos, so creators of all sizes are going to want to create content in line with current trending topics in order to gain more attention. But, it’s hard to stay on top of what’s trending - there’s no guarantee that YouTube trends that were ‘popular’ a year ago, or even a week ago, are still relevant today. That’s why being a content creator also means conducting a lot of research about what’s currently trending, 

Lucky for you, we’ve already examined the current top trends on YouTube - more on that here

It’s also important to try and make predictions about what might begin trending in a week, or in a month. If you can be one of the first people making content about a new trend, other content creators are going to look at you as inspiration for their own videos. A good way to brainstorm trending topics before they are trending is to look at what you think is missing in the current content creator world. Before becoming a content creator doesn’t mean you’ve stopped consuming YouTube content, so think about it from that perspective - what kind of content do you enjoy watching? What content would you prefer to see less of? Even more than that, what do you feel is missing

5. Invest in equipment

Don’t think you need to spend thousands on equipment in order for you to be a ‘successful YouTuber’. Some of the biggest names on YouTube rely solely on their smartphones for their content creation. In the beginning, all you really need is a camera and a place to edit the footage that you film. Here’s a great video that demonstrates how it’s possible to create high-quality video content with just an iPhone:

Then, as you begin to progress in your YouTube journey, you can start thinking about what equipment you should add to your online shopping cart. Here’s our list of equipment that we consider essential to creating video content: 

  • Camera(s): There are so many camera options out there, differing in size, quality, weight, and features, so be sure to do your research before investing in one! Additionally, consider if you want multiple cameras, to give your viewers multiple perspectives on a video (this is great for cooking or DIY videos, for example). 
  • Tripod: A tripod will let you film hands-free, and will ensure that the frame and angle that you’re filming at stay constant throughout the video. 
  • Microphone: Having a microphone will enhance the sound quality, and will allow you to possibly set up your camera at a farther distance. Also, if you’re going to be vlogging, a microphone is a good idea in order to make sure that your viewers can actually hear you, as it’s harder to control the sound when you’re outside.
  • Lighting: The weather and lighting can be unpredictable, so having your own lighting setup will allow you to film any time during the day, rain or shine. 
  • Editing software: There is editing software out there that’s completely free, but those programs usually have limited features. You may decide that you want to invest in software that comes with more features and editing options in order to enhance your content. An editing tool that we recommend checking out is VEED - an online feature that makes video creation and editing incredibly simple. Users can create videos according to the channel that they will be posted on with their personal Brand Kit feature, and they make collaborating on certain projects easier than ever. VEED also offers an all-in-one streaming service, perfect for creators looking to invest more effort into live streams.

6. Optimize your channel

More than 500 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, so you’re going to want to do everything you can to try and stand out in the eyes of the YouTube algorithm. This process is known as YouTube SEO - it sounds complicated (and it definitely takes time!), but it’s pretty much the practice of making a video appear at the top of the search results. There are a few aspects of your channel and videos that you need to work on if optimization is your goal.

  • Keyword research: Keywords are the foundation of SEO, and it’s how you know what people are searching for on YouTube. A stronger keyword means that more people are using that word in their YouTube searches, and there’s a higher probability that your video will be clicked on. Keyword research isn’t a tool that YouTube provides to its creators, but there are a number of incredible free resources that will provide you with endless data on keyword research
  • Video title: Viewers will be drawn to your video if your video title is targeted and appealing. Make sure to include your keywords in the video title, while also using your video title as an opportunity to explain exactly what your video is about.
  • Thumbnail: Thumbnails can make or break a video’s chances of catching viewers' attention and ultimately succeeding - a thumbnail that isn’t bold enough or a clear connection to what the video is about will cause viewers to scroll right over your video. You want a thumbnail that’s clear, catchy, and not too crowded!
  • Description box: What you write in your description box gives you another chance to tell YouTube (and the YouTube algorithm) what exactly your video is about. In your description box, you can add the keywords that are most explicitly linked to the subject of your video, and this will help you to reach the top of those search results. 
  • Tags: Tags tell YouTube exactly what keyword you’re targeting, so pick 5 or so tags that surround the topic of your keyword.

How should you start with SEO and keyword research? Here are a few tools to help get you started: 

  • TubeBuddy: A browser extension designed to help you manage your YouTube channel and make sure you're enhancing your reach and engagement. The features on TubeBuddy include keyword research, tags, analytics, and video SEO.
  • Ahrefs: One of the most recommended SEO tools on the market, with it being the second-fastest web crawler (the first being Google), and having the best user interface that is easy to use and comprehend. SEO experts depend on Ahrefs for backlink audits, competitive analysis, keyword search, and SEO analyzer that ensures your site is running optimally. 
  • VidIQ: A YouTube-certified tool that offers access to keyword and tag rankings based on search trends, a competitive comparison against other channels, as well as help with managing comments on your videos. VidIQ also has a browser extension that allows you to see top tags and keywords that other channels used on their videos. 

We have had the opportunity to work one-on-one with creators to help them improve their ranking on YouTube’s algorithm, so we know the ins and outs of the process. Read more about how we helped to double PilotPhotog’s views in just one month.

7. Monetization

Let’s be honest, aside from enjoying sharing the things you love with a growing audience, money is on your mind. As we’ve seen from content creators like MrBeast and Ryan Trahan, it’s entirely possible to make a couple million dollars a year from YouTube alone. And as you watch videos from these creators, you can only ask yourself, “when does it become possible to start making money on YouTube?”. This income comes from two main sources - AdSense and brand sponsorships. 

  • AdSense: Creators that join the YouTube Partner Program and set up an AdSense account will be able to receive a portion of the ad revenue that’s made off of the ads that play before, during, and after their video. 
  • Brand sponsorships: Brand sponsorships are pretty much a win-win scenario for the content creator and the brand - the content creator gets paid for promoting the brand, and the brand gains more exposure and visibility. Based on the size of your following, the ROI and engagement you’re usually garnering, as well as other factors, the price of each sponsorship will differ. This YouTube Sponsorship Calculator is a great way to know how much your channel is worth, in the eyes of brands. 

Content creators looking for a helping hand in the realm of YouTube monetization should look into ThoughtLeaders. ThoughtLeaders has accumulated its vast experience in the creator economy, and has not only created a pretty helpful platform but has a number of experts that are here to help you nail your influencer marketing strategy. From helping you land brand partnerships, making sure you get paid for the work you do, helping you understand sponsorship rates, and even amplifying your YouTube content for better results, ThoughtLeaders is there for you, every step of the way. 

The world of content creation is changing day by day, but what’s for sure is that there are plenty of tools and other creators to help you throughout your YouTube journey. Check out this list of the top YouTube channels for other creators, and this list of the best tools for creators that will make getting started on YouTube 10x easier. If you have any questions about content creation, get in touch today to find out how can we help you out!

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