YouTube is the place to be for aspiring content creators for two reasons: A huge potential audience and one of the most rewarding content monetization programs of any social platform.
Worry it’s too late? 98% of Americans visit YouTube monthly, and almost two-thirds visit daily. Users stream 694,000 hours of video content every minute. But it’s far from oversaturated: There’s actually never been a better time to start a YouTube channel.
These 17 beginner YouTube tips will get you views, encourage people to subscribe to your channel, and keep you growing from day one and beyond.
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17 YouTube tips for beginners
Tips for starting a YouTube channel
1. Pick the right channel name
The perfect YouTube channel name:
Has your company or personal name in it.
Has a word or phrase that categorizes it.
Is short and easy to say.
Stuck? Just use your first and last name. Many of YouTube’s most successful creators use their name, such as Peter McKinnon, Michelle Phan, and of course, the inventor of the modern vlog: Casey Neistat.
2. Pick the right niche
Relax, this is easier than choosing a channel name. Why? Because unlike death and taxes, you can change your content niche.
You may think you’re passionate enough about something to fill hundreds of hours worth of content… But, you’ll find out for sure when the grind gets tough and you don’t want to get up early and film another video about it.
You can change your niche later, although it may risk alienating any audience you’ve already built — so do spend some time defining what your channel is going to be about.
To pick your niche, ask yourself:
What do I lose track of time doing?
What could I talk to my friends about for hours?
In my free time, what do I search/watch/learn about online?
3. Set a consistent posting schedule
The road to YouTube failure is paved with good intentions.
If you want to be a serious YouTuber, you need to treat it like the job it is. That means setting a consistent and realistic publishing schedule and sticking to it.
Many new creators plan on one video per week. But if you’re just starting, you’re likely juggling a full-time job and other responsibilities. Once weekly may not be realistic for you.
Consistency matters more than frequency. If you can only make a video once every two weeks, that’s fine.
Creator burnout is a huge issue. TikToker and YouTuber Jack Innanen summed it up as: “I get to the point where I’m like, ‘I have to make a video today,’ and I spend the entire day dreading the process.”
Sticking to a sustainable schedule will keep you moving forward without burning out, increasing the chances you’ll stay with your creator journey long enough to see results.
4. Make small improvements in every video
Spicy YouTube marketing tip: You can’t get views and subscribers without first having videos.
As popular YouTuber Ali Abdaal says, “Your first video is going to suck.” He recommends instead of trying to make every video “the best,” try to improve one small element each time. Try a new title sequence, add some background music, or test a new editing software.
Those small changes add up over time to improve your channel without being overwhelming.
YouTube SEO tips
5. Use relevant keywords in video titles
YouTube is a search engine, like Google — except the search results are all video.
Keywords help the YouTube algorithm understand what your video is about, making it more likely to show up in the “suggested” column alongside related videos. This means you have a better chance of reaching new viewers.
Keywords can be as simple as one word (“tech” in the example above). Phrases of two or more words will often give both YouTube and people a better idea of your topic, such as “house tech,” “drawing tech,” and “smart home.”
Don’t go overboard here — one keyword in your title is fine. Plus: Keep it short.
Studies show video titles under 10 words perform best in YouTube’s search results, with 81% of top-ranking videos being under this limit.
More importantly, aim for around 60 characters max for your title length, which is about 8-10 words (with spaces). You’re allowed 100 characters, but only the first 60 show in search results.
6. Use relevant keywords in video descriptions
Keywords are important in descriptions for the same reasons as above. Dedicate the first few lines to describing your video, using 1-2 keywords.
7. Link to important info in video descriptions
Use the rest of the description field to tell viewers about you, your business, and link out to your other platforms.
This can be a boilerplate template that’s more or less the same for each video, though consider tweaking it if:
You have a sale, special offer, or event to promote.
You mentioned any products in your video. (Include affiliate links!)
Otherwise, always include:
Video timestamps (learn how to make these later in this article).
Links to your other social profiles.
Your website and/or a specific landing page.
A short blurb about you/your company.
Want an instant uplevel? Grab one of our free, editable video description templates.
8. Set your channel tags
Channel keywords act like general labels for your channel, telling YouTube what your main topics are. The titles and descriptions of each of your videos are more important for your overall YouTube SEO, but these take 5 seconds to set up, so why not, right?
From YouTube Studio, click on Settings then Channel.
You aren’t limited to a specific number of keywords, only 500 characters total. Keep it to 7-10 keywords at most.
9. Use playlists
YouTube playlists help you rank higher in search results because users are more likely to keep watching the next video, which increases your overall views and watch time — and makes YouTube think you’re pretty cool.
You can add other creators’ videos to your playlists — which is a good idea for collaborations later on — but at first, make your own. Group your videos by topic, or keep a specific series together. (Bonus tip: Later on when you get big and famous with a fancy verified account, you can create official series playlists.)
Manage your playlists in YouTube Studio, either under Content -> Playlists or quickly add a new one from the top Create menu.
10. Try YouTube Shorts
Shorts are videos under 15 seconds, although you can combine up to four 15 second segments into one 60 second Short. YouTube automatically categorizes any video under 60 seconds as a Short. Shorts have this red symbol in search results and feeds.
Shorts are also featured in a dedicated Shorts section where users swipe through them, TikTok-style.
Take a 15 second snippet from your latest video and upload that as a Short. Better yet, grab a few snippets from each video as you’re editing it and you’ve now got 2-3 Shorts to publish throughout the week.
Read our YouTube Shorts guide for tips to make the most of this exciting new format.
General YouTube tips and tricks
11. Record your videos well ahead of time
I said it earlier but it’s so true: Consistency wins on YouTube.
Stay ahead of production by having your videos ready 1-2 weeks before they’re scheduled to go live. This helps minimize any unforeseen circumstances that can knock you off track, like getting sick or family emergencies.
12. Become (or hire) a video editor
Your YouTube content — what you’re saying, how you’re saying it, what’s unique about it, etc — is what hooks people, but good video editing is what keeps them watching and coming back.
Editing will take much longer than actually filming the video but it’s time well spent. Borrow inspiration from your favorite YouTubers to start figuring out your own editing style and techniques. Your videos won’t look as slick as theirs right away, but you’ll get better.
Depending on your budget, you could outsource to a professional video editor as soon as you start your channel. Although for most creators, the ability to do this only comes after their channel starts making money.
Either way, set a goal for yourself of hiring an editor once your YouTube account starts making a certain amount per month. It will free up your time to focus on creating content.
13. Use chapters/timestamps
Video timestamps, also known as chapters, are clickable links allowing viewers to skip around a video. Not having them means people may leave if they can’t find what they’re looking for easily.
Not using timestamps is like publishing a blog post without paragraph breaks. Gross.
You can add timestamps manually or YouTube can auto-create them.
To add them manually, type them into your video description. You need to:
List at least 3 timestamps.
Format them as “01:05 Name of Chapter”
Use 0:00 as the time of the first timestamp.
You can also edit past uploads to include timestamps this way. After you save the description, you’ll see clickable timestamps like the above example.
14. Design eye-catching video thumbnails
Your thumbnail is what really hooks people. They’ll decide in a millisecond if your video is worth watching based on it. Some creators spend up to 2 hours making one thumbnail image.
Your thumbnail should be so good that someone doesn’t even need to read the title to know what the video is about.
Art with Flo’s thumbnails are well-branded with a common color palette and style, so viewers can instantly recognize their tutorials in search results.
A few thumbnail design tips:
Use icons or logos (if applicable for your topic).
Keep text minimal.
Add creative elements to catch the eye, like hand-drawing, neon lights, etc (depending on your brand).
15. Review your analytics
To go forward, you need to go back… in time. Not with a Delorean, but by reviewing your YouTube analytics at least monthly.
Find your analytics in the left side menu in YouTube Studio.
Key metrics to help you understand how your channel is performing:
Subscribers: Including unsubscribes.
Top videos: Give your audience more of what they want.
Channel watch time: This should trend upward every month. Not? Rejig your content strategy.
Traffic sources: See how viewers find you, including search keywords.
Plus, you can explore demographics and more, including ad revenue statistics once you meet the YouTube Partner Program eligibility requirements to monetize your content.
16. Caption your videos
Closed captioning your videos makes your content accessible and inclusive to everyone. Approximately 1 in 5 people experiences a degree of hearing impairment, and about 5% of the global population is deaf or hard of hearing. Captions ensure you don’t exclude any of your potential audience.
You can either supply your own written transcripts, or have YouTube automatically caption it with automated speech recognition.
For creators just starting out, YouTube’s automatic captions are a great option. You can edit the captions if YouTube gets any words wrong, and editing is a lot faster than typing captions from scratch.
However, once your channel starts taking off or earning income, consider hiring someone to professionally transcribe your videos. Go even further and caption your videos in multiple languages — YouTube will show viewers captions in their preferred language — to build a global audience.
17. Be direct with your audience
Last but not least: Be honest.
In your videos, say, “As a new channel, your likes, comments, and subscribes mean a lot, so hit the like button and subscribe, and comment below with your answer to (insert question related to your video’s topic).”
Your fans want to support your work so let them know in plain language how they can.
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