With more than 2.5 billion users per month, YouTube holds more potential than ever for creators. Sure, the platform’s immense popularity can make becoming a YouTube creator seem daunting. But there’s good news: TubeBuddy has your back.
In this guide, we’ll break down vital strategies for creating a YouTube channel in the new year, from choosing the right art to creating engaging hooks and mastering SEO.
1. Know your concept
It’s true: You could start out on YouTube by posting pretty much anything. Sometimes that spontaneity can result in stellar content. Look no further than the very first YouTube video, “Me at the zoo”.
But success is more likely when a budding creator has a clear idea for content. In the past couple of years, the top five fastest-growing YouTube categories included movies and TV, entertainment, pets, people and blogs, and video games. Look for a topic that makes you excited to produce plenty of content. Need some more inspiration? Check out TubeBuddy’s Keyword Explorer tool to see what viewers are searching for.
If you’re having trouble, start by thinking about your audience. Why should viewers come to your channel? Will your content be informative, provocative, emotional, or funny? Don’t be afraid to dig deep and get a little weird. Sometimes, a combination of unexpected topics can lead you to uncover a dedicated niche audience: Think cooking videos that end in utter chaos, or funny reaction videos to internet forums.
2. Create your channel
Your name and profile picture are the first bits of information that most people will see when YouTube recommends your videos, so choose wisely. Effective channel art is simple and clean, with a few colors for some pizzazz. Consider using photo editing tools to make it unique, and make sure you have the rights to the image you use.
When naming your channel, convey your content focus and your personality to potential viewers. For instance, “Minimalist Design Center” and “House of Sparkles” may be potential names for interior design channels, but they hint at very different kinds of content. If you’re struggling to decide, pick something simple and punchy. (Don’t sweat it too much: You can change channel names later.)
3. Fill in your profile and channel
Your channel description, trailer and banner image are featured prominently on your page. Again, take advantage of the opportunity to capture potential viewers’ attention. Take a look at successful channels related to your topic: What about their channel branding draws you to their channel and videos?
This can mean adding eye-catching images, an intriguing trailer intro or a lively and entertaining description. On longtime comedy YouTuber Lilly Singh’s channel, her banner image and trailer are clean, colorful and tease her recent successes and upcoming projects. Maybe your descriptions pose compelling questions, or your trailer starts out with one of your best stories or jokes.
4. Build a content calendar
The most successful content creators are typically consistent posters, uploading quality content on a regular and predictable basis. This makes sense: Viewers want to know when to come back to your channel for more. Any creator would be thrilled to have a loyal audience that eagerly anticipates their newest content.
Creating a content calendar will help you think realistically about how much content you can feasibly produce and post—and how much time you’re willing to put into your channel. This will lead to more consistent (and therefore engaging) content right from the start, and lower odds of burning out from overly ambitious content plans.
Try posting content once a week, and raise or lower the frequency as needed. If you have trouble filling out your calendar, think about ways to mix it up. Consider a seasonal feature, a guest star or even a miniseries.
5. Start creating!
Now, the moment you’ve been waiting for: It’s time to upload your first video. The most appealing YouTube videos have an interesting hook, a strong narrative and a genuine tone and feel.
Open your video in an engaging way, and try to tell a story that will keep your audience attentive. Generally, viewers are drawn to authenticity, whether that means sharing your hottest takes, weirdest quirks or corniest jokes. If you’re having fun, your audience will, too.
Your first video won’t be your most polished, and that’s okay. Uploaded 15 years ago, the first vlogbrothers video is two minutes long and has minimal production value, but it established the channel’s concept and sense of humor—and laid the foundation for a successful channel that’s still growing.
6. Spread the word
YouTube will direct more viewers to more successful videos, so views fuel views: The more viewers watch your videos, the more likely they are to be recommended. To get your first few views, leverage your network by sharing your channel with friends and family. It’s free and easy, and views from friends and family count just as much as views from searches and recommendations.
To extend your reach even further, start creating a community. Cross-posting to other platforms brings in fans who wouldn’t see you on YouTube, and replying to comments engages your existing viewers. Begin relationships with your peer creators by commenting on their videos and giving them shout-outs in yours. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will see your videos—and other creators will want to return your support.
7. Dig into the nitty-gritty
So you’ve got a video and you’re racking up some views. Congratulations! Now what?
Researching how to continually improve your videos’ performance is a great investment of your time. Your first video might be performing well, but to achieve consistent performance in the long run, you’ll need to pay attention to the details like SEO and analytics that can boost your strategy.
SEO refers to the factors that impact your videos’ rankings in search results and recommendations, many of which you can control. Appealing thumbnails, titles and descriptions can improve your performance, and title and thumbnail generator tools can help.
Analytics tools don’t directly affect your video rankings, but give you detailed information about video and channel performance across several different metrics. Try out YouTube’s analytics dashboard and TubeBuddy’s Channelytics tool.
8. Keep refining your strategy
Once you know your way around SEO and analytics, use that information to test different tactics.
Do your videos perform better when you follow a certain title format or keep them under a maximum length? What does your viewer retention look like? Where do your videos rank in search results for certain tags?
The best way to gain insight into your success is to experiment, so try new things and see what happens. Remember: You can change virtually anything you want about your channel, as many times as you’d like.
Don’t let early ups and downs discourage you: Every creator has to start out at zero subscribers. Even the MrBeasts of the world had to put in the work to build an audience over time.
The best tactic for success on YouTube is to approach the platform with a long-term vision in mind. By thinking ahead about your strategy, you can start off on the right foot as a YouTube creator.
Ready to Take Your Channel to the Next Level?
Our tools can give your channel an unfair advantage.