So you’re thinking about joining the millions of creators on YouTube and sharing your creations with the world - thankfully getting started is super simple with our ultimate guide to starting a YouTube channel.

Whether you want to entertain your audience and become the next Mr Beast or Dude Perfect, or join the grind of the gaming world like Pewdiepie or SSSniperwolf, get ready to join 38 million active channels worldwide uploading incredible content that gets 5 billion video views every single day!

Standing out from the crowd is key, but so too is setting up your channel. Our ultimate guide walks you through everything from how to make a YouTube channel and coming up with video ideas, through to making your first YouTube video and finding useful freebies.

Start from the very beginning or skip ahead to learn more about how to become a YouTuber:

A creator starting on their journey to start a YouTube channel

How to make a YouTube channel

First up in our guide, we're going to show you how to start a YouTube channel from scratch. Thankfully it’s incredibly simple.

YouTube is owned by Google, so to get started you’ll need to create a Google account, if you don’t have one already. You can do this from the YouTube homepage. The process is super simple, and you’ll have the option to create a personal account or a business account.

If you’re looking to share access to your YouTube Studio with other people, setting up a business account means they’ll be able to log in without having access to your full personal Google account. But if you’re ridin’ solo then using your personal Google account is the way to go.

Creating your very own channel can be done simply by heading to the YouTube homepage, then just click on your profile icon and select Create a channel.

Maybe you're not tied down to one type of content? While you can house all your videos on a single channel, you can also set up multiple channels. This means you can keep your travel vlogs separate from your cooking videos, and your film reviews apart from your magic tricks.

You can unlock all the features YouTube has to offer by verifying your account with your phone. Don’t miss out on being able to post videos over 15 minutes, upload custom thumbnails, broadcast live streams, and appeal Content ID claims!

To verify your channel, simply head to the YouTube Studio and hit the Settings icon on the left. From here select Channel and then Feature eligibility and you’re good to go.

Now you’ve made your YouTube channel, you can go ahead and start uploading videos. But, before you grab your camera, it’s worth giving your channel some extra wow factor before you get down to sharing your creations.

Customizing your YouTube channel

Your channel is essentially your shop window to the world so it’s important to make sure you’re presenting your content in the best way possible.

At the same time, you’ll want to make sure you’re using the full range of customizable features YouTube offers creators, such as your channel description, banner art and even uploading a trailer.

Take a look at any successful YouTube channel with more than a million subscribers and they’ll likely have used every opportunity to customize their channel, giving you a good idea of who they are and what types of videos you can look forward to.

It’s super easy to make changes to your channel with loads of features you can change by heading to the YouTube Studio on your channel and clicking on Customization.

Here’s our top 6 tips to customizing your YouTube channel and letting your personality shine through, before your viewers have even pressed play.

An example of a YouTube channel layout

1. Update your YouTube channel name

What’s in a name? Well in the world of YouTube, quite a lot actually! Your channel name should give your audience a strong sense of what your channel is all about.

As an example, from the names alone you can easily figure out what the Babish Culinary Universe and Epic Meal Time’s video content will be.

Remember that YouTube is a search engine and that it’s important to consider a name that can be easily identifiable to both potential new audiences and your existing fans.

2. Give your YouTube channel a description

A punchy channel description is the perfect way to flesh out your YouTube channel, introduce yourself to your audience and let them know what to expect from you and your YouTube videos.

It’s a straightforward step that’s easily overlooked but it can also be incredibly helpful in attracting new viewers as people will see your description when your channel appears in Google searches.

An example of how YouTube channel descriptions appear in Google search results

Writing your channel description is an exciting opportunity to get creative. But it’s also a chance to give first-time visitors a clear idea of what your channel is all about, so try to include:

  • What type of videos you make
  • How often you post to your channel
  • Which days do you post videos regularly
  • Why they should watch and subscribe to your channel

3. Change your profile picture

Your profile picture is one of the first things people see when they come to your YouTube channel and first impressions count! Make your channel look the part with consistent branding by uploading an awesome profile picture and channel banner.

If you’re not sure how to create a cool profile picture, you’ll find amazing tutorial videos for beginners on YouTube, as well as brilliant free tools and photo editing software, such as Placeit and Canva, which you can use to design something specially for your channel. Of course, you could also just use some of your favorite photos of yourself.

Obviously you’ll want to choose an image that’s eye-catching for your profile picture, but make sure the file size is at least 98 x 98 pixels and less than 4MB before you upload it to YouTube.

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to use to give your channel its signature look and feel, head to YouTube Studio and select Customization. From here you can upload your new Profile picture, as well as a Banner image, by clicking on the Branding tab.

4. Upload a channel banner

Your channel banner is the biggest area of real estate that you can customize on your YouTube channel. You have complete control of the space above your profile picture and it’s a great way to add some branding to your channel, as well as highlighting the type of content you upload.

As your channel banner appears differently for different devices, make sure your important information isn’t cut off if someone is browsing your YouTube channel on their mobile. To play it safe, design your channel banner to 2048 x 1152 pixels, so it appears in full for TVs and big screens, but keep your key information in a central safe area of 1235 x 338 pixels so that it shows for people browsing on mobile.

Don’t forget to let people visiting your channel know about your other social media channels to boost your followers on other platforms. You can either include them in your banner image, or head to Basic info in Channel customization where you can add a series of links that allow your fans to click through and follow you right away.

The dimensions and safe zones for YouTube channel banners
Are you going to be posting regular content? Let your audience know by including the days and times that they can look forward to seeing new videos. This will help you to build a more dedicated and engaged fanbase.

5. Make a YouTube channel trailer

Video is king when it comes to YouTube, and there’s no better way to show people what you’re about than with a trailer featuring some of the best bits from your channel. A YouTube channel trailer is like a pinned video that always appears and auto-plays for anyone visiting your channel.

So put a face to your channel name, show off the quality of content that any would-be subscribers can come to expect, and put your best foot forward by adding a trailer for your YouTube channel.

It doesn’t need to be anything longer than a minute. But if you can keep it simple, engage with your audience, and encourage people to hit your subscribe button, a trailer can really help your channel grow.

Once you’ve created a trailer video you’re happy with, head to Channel customization in the YouTube Studio and select the video you want to use. If this is your first time uploading to YouTube, head to the section below for a full guide on how to unleash your first video on the world.

6. Apply a watermark to your videos

A video watermark is basically a logo or image that YouTube automatically adds to the bottom-right corner of every video you upload. Adding a watermark to your videos sounds like a complicated task for a starting-out creator, but it’s actually very easy to do and it could make a big difference to your number of subscribers.

Simply create the image you want to use, whether that’s a logo for your channel or a button encouraging viewers to subscribe. Head to the Branding tab in Channel customization within the YouTube Studio and you’ll be able to upload a video watermark that will appear across all of your videos.

The best bit about adding watermarks? Anyone watching your videos can hover over the watermark and be shown a button that allows them to subscribe to your channel right away!

And there you have it, follow these six steps and you’ll come away with a totally customized YouTube channel that you can proudly call your own. Next up, let’s look into adding some videos.

A visualization of different video ideas for YouTube

Finding video ideas for your channel

Here’s the fun part, getting creative! You may already be bursting with ideas, so skip ahead and start making them a reality. But if you need a jumping-off point to spark some amazing YouTube video ideas, here’s some tips to help you find your niche.

Find your passion

It might sound obvious, but focusing on a topic you’re passionate about is a perfect place to start. From K-Pop to crocheting, if you love it there’s a good chance there’s a wider audience that does too, and having a natural passion for what you create will shine through in your videos.

Share your expertise

Consider yourself an expert on a particular subject? How-to videos and tutorials are incredibly popular, giving you the perfect platform to share your knowledge with the world, whether that’s killer cooking recipes, skateboarding tricks, or miming masterclasses.

Seek inspiration

You can of course also take inspiration from other YouTubers. Ever watched a video and thought you could do it better? Now’s your chance! While you might not have the budget of Mr Beast or the pectorals of Logan Paul, you can always take the seeds of their ideas and give them your own unique spin.

At the end of the day, if your content is engaging and authentic, chances are you’ll naturally build an audience that you can connect with, and which grows alongside your channel.

Still looking for a spark of inspiration? You can check out 31 YouTube video ideas to get more views in 2023 with great suggestions to help you get creative with your content.
The production process for creating a YouTube video

Creating your first YouTube video

The amazing thing about YouTube is that absolutely anyone can upload videos with the potential to be watched by people worldwide. Famous celebrities and award-winning filmmakers can appear on your homepage alongside kids on their iPhones and my gran filming her knitting. YouTube has made everyone a creator these days, so follow these three steps and join the fun by creating your first YouTube video.

1. Start with your script

While there is the potential for a finger-biting baby or a homemade lightsaber disasterclass to become an unscripted viral sensation, past experience tells us that hitting the record button on a camera and hoping for the best might not be the ideal way to create your first YouTube video.

By quickly writing up a script, you can flesh out an idea into a full-length video and pin down the perfect soundbites or talking points that might resonate with your audience. During the planning and scripting stage, it’s also an early opportunity to identify locations and even different camera angles for filming.

2. Filming your video

French beret at the ready, it’s time to get into director mode and to start filming your first YouTube video. If you’ve had a chance to plan out your video and write your script, this stage should be nice and simple.

Of course, YouTube videos can be filmed in all manner of different ways and with a wide breadth of gear and budgets, and you can check out our YouTube gear checklist to find out what you need. But the beauty of YouTube is that anybody can get creative no matter what equipment they have.

While there are big-budget YouTubers who pump $48 Million a year into their videos, there are also creators like Casey Neistat who conquered New York and captured the world's imagination with raw videos that anyone could replicate.

Some core principles to keep in mind, no matter what your budget:

  • Film your footage in as high-quality video as your phone or camera will allow
  • Keep your camera as steady as possible (you could use a tripod or a gimbal)
  • Capture nice, clear audio with a microphone if possible
  • Light your locations well to ensure your footage looks as professional as possible

3. Edit your video to life

Once you’ve got your footage, it's now time to bring it to life in the editing room. If you’re not familiar with any editing software, a quick search on YouTube will return lots of top videos on how to differentiate your Filmora from your Final Cut Pro and help you to to get started.

Top tip: YouTube loves videos that keep their audience’s attention, so when you’re editing your YouTube video, try to keep a fast pace throughout and look for opportunities to cut out anything that isn’t needed.

Start with a bang! Give your viewers a reason to keep watching and set up the rest of the video with an attention-grabbing intro, perhaps using some of the best bits of the action to come.

As for how long your video should be, there’s no right or wrong answer. But perhaps consider sticking to a consistent duration across all your content so that your audience knows what they can expect from you.

Lastly, to make your masterpiece really stand out, don’t forget to add awesome music and sound effects.

A creator browsing a copyright-free music library

Where to find free music for YouTube

You’re just one step away from uploading your first video to your new YouTube channel, but the last thing you want is for your video to get taken down due to a music copyright claim.

That's why it's always important to soundtrack your masterpiece with awesome copyright-free music that'll wow your audience and, equally importantly, that you know is safe to use in your videos.

Save yourself from hunting for tracks you can use and check out our list of the 9 best free music websites for YouTube videos!

YouTube uses a clever fingerprinting system called Content-ID that can identify all copyright-protected music and flag if it’s being used without permission. Meaning you might want to reconsider soundtracking your first YouTube video with something by Billie Eilish!

If YouTube sees that you’re using music without permission, you will receive a copyright claim. While this doesn’t necessarily mean that YouTube will then issue you with a copyright strike, you don’t want to risk potentially losing your YouTube channel before you’ve even had your chance at social media stardom.

You may well have already come across the term ‘copyright-free music’, but what does it actually mean, and how can you make sure the tracks you’re using for your videos won’t get you in trouble?

If you want to stay in YouTube’s good books, simply soundtrack your content with copyright-free music that won’t land you with any frustrating copyright claims lingering over your channel.

Here at Uppbeat, we have a huge selection of copyright-free music for you to choose from. Simply find your perfect sound from a catalog of incredible musicians, edit it into your video and you can forget about any copyright issues. Best of all, you can start downloading tracks for free!

Free Music For Creators
Create your free Uppbeat account & start downloading the best copyright-free music from the world’s hottest beatmakers.

Find your sound

Try to imagine Dude Perfect’s high octane challenges with emotive orchestral music, or SSSniperWolf’s reaction videos without comedy sound effects. It wouldn’t work, right?

A big part of content creation is finding the perfect music and sounds that will complement your video and make the viewing experience that much better for your audience.

Need inspiration? Browse Uppbeat’s catalog of world-class artists, curated playlists and a wide variety of moods and genres that’ll help you select your perfect soundtrack in seconds.

Whether you’re after laidback Chillhop to give your content a relaxing vibe, uptempo EDM to bring the energy, or sunny beats for feel-good videos, take your time and experiment to find the perfect sounds for you.

A creator uploading a video to YouTube

How to upload your first YouTube video

It’s go-time! Uploading your first video is a straightforward process, you can even do it straight from your phone! There’s just a couple of final things to tick off to make sure that your video stands out and has the greatest chance of being seen by as many viewers as possible.

Want to get your videos seen by as many people as possible? Check out our guide on how to upload a video to YouTube for essential tips on how to get your content seen far and wide.

Help your video stand out

A mind-blowing 500 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every single minute! Make sure your video stands out from the crowd and hooks people’s attention with a click-bait title or an eye-catching thumbnail.

Studies show that contrasting colors can really help your thumbnail stand out. Try out bright combinations to make sure your video doesn’t get missed, or search YouTube for tutorials on how to make thumbnails that really pop!

An example of a YouTube video thumbnail

Give creators what they want

YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google with an enormous 3 billion searches made every month.

Chances are that there’s an audience looking for your video, so make sure you consider the best title, tags, hashtags and video description to make your video show up when people are searching for your particular niche!

A good way of making your videos more accessible and creating videos with a better viewer experience is by adding subtitles. Thankfully, this is nice and easy as YouTube can automatically generate captions for your video, or you can upload and set up subtitles manually by clicking Add Subtitles in Video Elements.

Add chapters to your YouTube videos to make it easier for viewers to find different sections. Simply add timestamps and give each section a title in the description of the video and YouTube will automatically turn these into chapters when you publish.

Once people have found and enjoyed your content, you’ll want to show them more of your great work with an attention-grabbing end card and playlists of similar videos. Lead your viewers to the rest of your channel and you’ll be enjoying the benefits of an engaged and passionate army of fans before you know it.

That’s a wrap

And that’s it! Follow these steps and you’ll be well on your way to becoming a successful YouTuber. You'll have everything you need to start a YouTube channel, come up with awesome video ideas, and post your first YouTube video.

If you want to supercharge your YouTube channel, create a free Uppbeat account and keep checking the Uppbeat blog for more tips on how to grow your YouTube channel, make money from your videos, get to grips with YouTube SEO, and much more.

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