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How to Start a YouTube Channel

Updated on July 3, 2017

Whether you’re creating a channel for vlogging, gaming, or for business, this guide will help you get started in the lucrative world of YouTube.

Disclaimer: As always, this list is not exhaustive so you don’t have to follow it completely!

Welcome to YouTube!
Welcome to YouTube!

Finding your audience

Before you create your channel, ask yourself- what’s your channel about? To keep an audience coming back to your channel, it’s important to stick with the same types of content or topics. For example, if your channel is mainly instructional videos, it would be odd for you to upload a Minecraft let's play.

There are many different niche audiences to appeal to. Remember, keep in mind who your typical viewer would be. They could range from children all the way to senior citizens. Think about what your viewers would want to see, and make your channel appeal to them. What would they want to watch? Surprise them. Keeping your content consistent will bring in more subscribers, who are the backbone of your view count. Keeping your subscribers is just as important as gaining them. To do this, having a predictable schedule for releasing videos is key. This can be as simple as stating it in your videos.

(Tip: Avoid services that claim to “sell” you subscribers. These people do not interact with your content and will eventually unsubscribe. I learned this the hard way.)

Personal vs. Brand Channels

(Note: You can skip this section if you already know how to create a new channel.)

What’s the difference between a personal channel and a brand channel? A personal channel is managed by you and you alone. Personal channels are more about you, which is more suited for vloggers. A brand channel can be managed by multiple people, and is usually for businesses or if you’re thinking about making a long lasting career on YouTube.

Creating a personal channel will also make a Google Account, which can be used for other services such as Google Docs and Google Drive. In order to create a brand channel you must have a Google account. Please note: when choosing a name, it’s important to choose a name that people will remember. You can find more on how to create a channel on this YouTube support page.

Icon/ Channel Art

After you’ve made your new channel, it’s recommended that you first upload an icon and channel art. Your icon can be whatever you’d like it to be, but should be on topic about what your channel is about. Channel art is a banner that can be used for branding purposes.

Personally, I use Canva to make channel art, which is an excellent tool for simple but professional graphic designs. Canva also includes a preset YouTube Channel Art and YouTube Thumbnail option, which sets the dimensions for you automatically.

Customizing Your Channel Layout

Before you get started customizing the layout of your channel, it’s important to verify your channel. To do this, click on “video manager” on the top left of your channel. Next, click on the “channel” tab. Under your name should be the verify button. Click on it and it should take you through the verifying process (note: you need a mobile phone number to do this). Verifying your channel unlocks important features, such as uploading custom thumbnails and being able to upload videos longer than 15 minutes.

Verifying your channel allows many useful features.
Verifying your channel allows many useful features.

Let's move onto your channel layout. On the right side of your channel’s main page next to the red subscribe button is a gear. Click it, and a menu should pop up. Next, click “customize the layout of your channel” then “add a section”. You can add anything you’d like here.

Enabling channel customization will help your channel appear more professional.
Enabling channel customization will help your channel appear more professional.

Channel Trailer

Now that your channel is set, it’s time to upload your first video. A good topic for your first video would be to make a channel trailer. A channel trailer tells newcomers what your channel is about and why they should subscribe to your channel. Here are some quick tips:

  1. Unless if you have 100 million subscribers, assume the viewer has never heard of you.

  2. Keep it short- roughly 30 seconds long.

  3. Hook your viewers in the first few seconds. This can be a quote, a loud noise, etc.

  4. Show, don’t tell on what your channel is about. For example, if your channel is about gaming, showcase some gameplay footage.

General Tips

Production value is key to create professional videos. If you’re filming a video with people in it, try to invest in a good camera. Sites like Amazon have affordable equipment for sale. If you’re not feeling like spending too much money, most phone cameras today have excellent cameras. Typically, webcams are bad and grainy- avoid these like the plague. Sound is also important when it comes to video production. Camera microphones pick up sound from all directions, which makes the sound poor. Invest in a lavalier microphone, which can be used without your hands. Some lavalier microphones can be connected to your smart phone. Cardioid microphones are also useful to record commentary, but are less mobile.

Having an intro and outro on each video helps your channel with branding and helps you appear more professional. An intro usually consists of a label or hook, which could range from your channel’s name with graphics integrated or a highlight from later in the video to engage the viewer to keep watching. An outro usually consists of a call to action. This means including social media links at the end or having a template to overlay videos so the viewer can watch your previous or next video in a series. You don’t have to use a template, however. It can simply be you talking.

Generally, it’s not professional to spam other people’s videos promoting your videos. If your videos are well produced/ funny enough, people will find you and they will subscribe to you.

Free Resources

If you’re a gamer, OBS is an excellent software to use to record gameplay and webcam reactions at the same time. You can also record either individually.


  • There is no limit to how long your recordings can be.

  • File sizes are usually small (depending on how long your recording is).

  • It doesn’t take up too much memory.

  • No watermarks on your recordings!

  • Can be used to live stream.


  • Can be tricky to learn for beginners.

  • Runs slower/ drops frames on lower end computers.

Proper video editing software is also important. YouTube’s online video editor is a free useful tool that lets you edit uploaded videos. Most professionals use Adobe Premiere, Sony Vegas, or Final Cut Pro- just to name a few. You don’t need to buy or know how to use these straight off the bat; the most important thing is gaining an audience through your content. YouTuber GradeAUnderA has amassed over 3 million subscribers using only Microsoft Paint and Windows Movie Maker.

As stated earlier, Canva is an excellent tool to make channel art, thumbnails, and more.

YouTube Audio Library has free music to use in your video production. Most of these are free to use and won’t get your channel a copyright strike.

Thank you for reading this guide! If I missed anything or if you have questions/ comments, feel free to leave a comment below!

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    • Sugar Cloud profile image

      Sugar Hernandez 2 months ago from San Diego, CA

      Thank you Tahir!

    • profile image

      tahir 2 months ago

      good article