How to Start a YouTube Channel: The Ultimate Guide

How to Start a YouTube Channel: The Ultimate Guide

How to Start a YouTube Channel: The Ultimate Guide

Without a doubt, YouTube remains one of the longest-standing and most popular video platforms that attract an astonishing number of viewers, with over one billion hours of content consumed daily all around the world. Its success enabled thousands of creators a great career opportunity with tremendous potential, so why not try your luck?

Eager to become a YouTuber? The very first stage of your quest is starting a YouTube channel, but even this step consists of numerous choices, from learning algorithms to acquiring equipment, mastering techniques of shooting and editing, and much more.

It may be challenging to keep on track when there's so much to accomplish, so here's a comprehensive checklist of tips and strategies to begin your YouTube channel in the best possible way.

13 Steps to Start a YouTube Channel

Find Your Niche

It's easy to let your mind wander and get distracted when you try to cover everything at once, so choosing a niche is the initial stage. It's your domain of focus, the main subject of exploration for your channel, and the reason most people will choose exactly your content to watch. 


There are plenty to choose from, as the limit is only your imagination, but here's the list of the evergreen niches for initial consideration:

  • Gaming

  • Art and Design

  • Tech, Cars, and Gadgets

  • Finance and Business

  • ASMR

  • Education

  • Fashion and Makeup 

  • Cooking

  • Book reviews

  • Fitness

  • Health

  • Lifestyle

At first have at least a basic understanding of the industries you'll be concentrating on, then expand your expertise, dig deeper, try to find a niche within a niche to stand out, and generate more content ideas.

Analyze Your Target Audience

Finding the audience for your videos is much simpler after you've discovered your niche, and you should do this as soon as possible! By understanding what your viewers need, you'll generate better video ideas for unique content tailored to their preferences. 


Try to answer the following questions to sketch an audience persona that embodies your perfect viewer:


  • Who would watch your videos?

  • What's their age?

  • Why would they choose your content?

  • When would they watch your videos?

  • What kind of job do they have?

  • What do they gain from you as a content creator?

Defining your audience persona is crucial because it helps find value in your channel both for you and your viewers, and it becomes your motivation to pursue your goal.

Know Your Competitors

Once you're ready with the niche choice and preliminary audience analysis, it's time to learn from your competitors! Find several creators in the same niche and perceive them as people you can get inspired by. Pay attention to video effects, formats, locations and sets, branding, and presenting styles, and find out their strengths and weaknesses to learn from others' mistakes and insights.


Once you've got what works well and what doesn't, it's okay to emulate something you like. For example, you can use similar tricks for shooting or editing or peep at their thumbnail stylistics but don't just copy – take the core idea and transform it to the point where you can claim that it can't hurt your competitors. You never know who you'll end up collaborating with, and it's just basic ethics.

Invest in Equipment

The equipment affects your results as a content maker more than you can imagine, so it's essential to have an idea of what you may need to create eye-catching content. Although you don't have to buy pricey hardware right away, you do need to start with some effort. You likely can get away with recording videos on your smartphone at first, but if you intend to make it into a career, keep in mind that quality helps a lot.  

The long-term expenses appear after you build your channel and focus on improvements, but it's possible to roughly know the budget depending on the videos you're craving to make. 


Actually, you'll need some of the following:


  • PC with decent tech specs

  • DSLR camera or smartphone

  • External microphone

  • Video editing software

  • Video lighting kit

  • Tripod

  • External hard drive

Remember, you don't have to spend a lot of money on the hardware, but you should be sure that your setup has all the essential capabilities to cover your needs.

Create a YouTube Channel 

Now that the backbone of your channel is almost ready, you go to the easiest but most important step! 


To create your channel and verify your phone number with YouTube you need to:


  • Sign in to YouTube.

  • Click your profile picture and select Create a Channel from the menu.

  • Click your profile picture again and select YouTube Studio.

  • Click on Settings in the navigation bar.

  •  Find the Channel tab and go to Feature Eligibility.

  • In the Intermediate features, click Verify Phone Number and follow the instructions.

Define Your Channel Aesthetics

Consistent branding is essential when it comes to any social media. You should pay attention to plenty of things to enhance the visual presentation of your channel – you need to make your thumbnails, banner, channel icon, and watermark not a random fluke but a well-thought-out decision. 


Ask yourself a few questions before choosing the visuals:


  • Who are you as a creator, and why are you unique?

  • How can your channel icon and banner reflect your values or unique characteristics?

  • Does your niche have a common visual style among different creators?

By answering these questions you can get a more clear understanding on what visual direction to take for your channel's aesthetic


Channel Profile Image Tips

  • It's uploaded to a square format but displays as a circle, so make sure to keep the main subject centered.

  • The perfect size is 800x800px, but it will be displayed as 90x90px.

  • JPG, PNG, GIF (no animations), or BMP

  • If your channel is linked to a Google Account, your profile pictures are also linked, so updating YouTube pictures will lead to the same one on your Google Account. 


Here's the comparison between weak and strong channel icons:

Good VS Bad YouTube Channel Avatar

Compare these two images – which is most likely to catch people's attention?


Channel Banner Tips

  • A YouTube channel banner should be 2560x440 pixels.

  • The central area of 1546x423 pixels can be seen on all devices, so keep everything meaningful there (like logo, text, and images).

  • JPG, BMP, GIF (no animations), or PNG no larger than 6 MB are acceptable. 

Good VS Bad YouTube Channel Banner


Watermark tips

  • This small image in the bottom-right corner of your videos may seem unnecessary, but in reality, it successfully prompts users to subscribe to your channel.

  • It can be your channel logo or whatever you think is efficient for your branding.

  • 150x50px.

  • PNG, GIF (no animations), BMP, and JPEG.

  • 1MB is a maximum size


The same goes for thumbnails – their color palette, font, and other creative components are essential because they're the first thing users see before deciding whether to click on your video or not. 


Depending on who your audience is, the idea of a decent YouTube thumbnail may vary, but don't just use a screenshot from your video. As a bare minimum, add title text using an appealing font, use relevant images, be consistent in your style, and remember to optimize thumbnails for different devices.  


Thumbnail tips

  • Thumbnails are similar to book covers because it's the first thing people notice and judge.

  • 1280x720px (a 16:9 aspect ratio) is the ideal size.

  • JPG, GIF, or PNG formats are accepted

  • No larger than 2MB.

  • Although it's often displayed small, the image should be big enough to look fine while being shown the same size as the video player, which is a minimum of 640 px wide. 

  • Avoid misleading titles or images, even if it's for the sake of traffic optimization. 


Good VS Bad YouTube Video Thumbnail


Develop a Content Schedule 

Having a content schedule helps you to keep everything on track and facilitates the process of creating a stable routine. It reassures your subscribers that they can look forward to regularly watching your fresh videos at a particular time. Therefore, you should manage your time as soon as you've created the channel. Many content creators upload videos daily, which sounds like a good idea, but it might be overwhelming, especially for someone with a full-time job and without experience. So, start with a weekly or even fortnight schedule and boost your output when you get comfortable. 

License Music

There are a few different ways to add music to YouTube videos:

  • Conventionally, you can license music by negotiating with copyright holders, keeping in mind licensing fees and royalties. This process can take weeks or even months and costs some serious money.

  • License music from the YouTube Audio Library. It's much faster, but the range of sounds is quite limited.

  • License royalty-free music from stock media companies like ArtlistSoundstripeTunetank, or other similar sources to avoid negotiations and have the rights in 5 minutes. 

Whichever method you choose, YouTube monitors your copyright materials with its auto Content ID system, so remember to license your music to be safe and sound.

Upload Your First Video and Learn From It 

Create a video that, in your opinion, will immediately grab the attention. However, remember that it's just your first attempt, so mistakes are totally normal, no matter how much energy and time you put into work. Take it as a crucial challenge every aspiring YouTuber experiences and find some moments to learn from! It's an excellent opportunity to discover how people perceive your content, so keep an eye on what they like and dislike, and the insight into your beneficial YouTube strategy will not take long!

Monitor Your YouTube Analytics

Use YouTube Analytics to learn more about your channel, ensure progress, find loopholes to improve the outcome of your videos, and appeal to your target audience. 


The essential analytics metrics for your channel are:


  • Audience: new and returning viewers, unique viewers, and total members;

  • Overview: views count, subscribers, watch time, estimated revenue for YouTube Partners;

  • Content: views and their average duration, impressions, and their click-through rate;

Analytics on the video level include: 


  • Reach: traffic source types and overview;

  • Engagement: summary of how long your audience is watching your video, their likes vs. dislikes, and favorite moments. 

All these aspects will help you understand how your videos perform, learn more about demographics and timings, determine what works well for you, and thus ensure your growth!

Pay Attention to SEO

Along with creating a channel, you should attain its discoverability, and SEO optimization is a key tool to make it real. For example, using relevant keywords in the profile and video descriptions, analyzing them for popularity, and deriving some from your competitors are elements of a win-win habit both for you as an aspiring creator and your audience. 

You also can:

  • Use keyword research tools like Google Keyword Planner or Afhers to find out the most popular keywords and queries;

  • Find the keywords that lead to your channel on your YouTube Analytics and create content ideas based on your inferences;

  • Get ideas from platforms like Google Trends, Quora, or Reddit.

Engage With Your Audience

Like any other social media, YouTube emphasizes engagement, so your success significantly relies on your audience. Therefore, you should constantly keep people interested, and the following tips will contribute to this objective:

  • Stream on YouTube to directly interact with a wider audience without geographical constraints and build mutual trust.

  • Host Q&A sessions to allow your fans to get to know you better, increase engagement, and elaborate on points made earlier. 

  • Connect with your audience through other social media platforms to grow your presence. Announce new videos across all the channels and add links to facilitate the search process.

  • Use calls to action to encourage people to keep watching your content. Include CTAs, end screens, video descriptions, and clickable cards in your video scripts. 

Earn Money on YouTube 

After putting so much effort into building your channel, you should consider ways to monetize it because this work, like any other, deserves appreciation and support. To ensure that the money you earn on YouTube becomes a reliable revenue income, read our in-depth article on how to earn money on Youtube, which will help you learn more about YouTube Partner Program and its exclusive perks, as well as alternative income methods, including affiliate marketing, sponsorship deals, crowdfunding, and much more. 

Best Tools for YouTube



This free tool is a loyal assistant in curating your video content and ranking better on the YouTube algorithm. It has plenty of useful features – advanced keyword research, time-saving templates for engaging thumbnails and annotations, quick tags optimization, and the best time to publish.


VidIQ stands out as a user-friendly YouTube-certified solution designed to optimize your watch time, tags, and social media shares. It offers an array of features, including competitor analysis, advanced keyword research, real-time trending alerts, a cutting-edge YouTube thumbnail generator, video stats comparisons, and an insightful overview of your channel's performance. 

Keyword research:


Ahrefs is a superb research tool that never runs out of ideas and updates with new data every month. With Ahrefs' help, you'll discover relevant keywords from a vast database of over 7 billion queries. To add more, it analyzes your competitors, tracks your ranking progress, finds content ideas, and links opportunities.

In minutes, you can generate your content calendar for months or years ahead! 



StreamElements' Mercury ensures top-tier sponsorships for YouTubers and provides real-time tools that will enhance audience engagement by an average of 60%. In addition to the primary function, this comprehensive suite includes instant goal setting, on-screen shoutouts, live polling, and dynamic thumbnails. It may be hard to believe, but these offerings are free to use and promised to be just the beginning of an extensive lineup of planned tools. 

Content management:


As a content creator, you'll face numerous tasks and responsibilities, from content creation and publication to managing your workflow and meeting deadlines. Notion is one of the most popular tools for organizing and managing your info to turn it into an all-in-one workspace. It offers a diverse collection of templates, enabling you to save time and energy while keeping your content well-structured and easily accessible.

Live Streaming:

OBS Studio

Live streaming has become an increasingly valuable method to connect with your audience and ensure that your name and message are spread effectively. OBS Studio, an exceptional open-source tool, is the very first and most popular tool developed for live streaming and video recording. With its open source, it offers complete customization of your streams for no price at all, and it's a reasonable competitor for every streaming software on the market, including free and paid options. 


Lightstream is a powerful live-streaming solution that allows you to broadcast on YouTube directly from your browser. With Lightstream, you can sidestep the hassles associated with downloading, installing, and configuring software, as it seamlessly takes care of encoding and leaves you with outstanding results without excessive CPU usage. 


To learn more about streaming software and find more options, check out our article with the best YouTube live-streaming options at the moment

Summing up

Starting a YouTube channel is a challenging endeavor that requires passion, dedication, and a commitment to continuous learning. In return for your consistent work, YouTube offers immense opportunities for creativity, self-expression, connecting with a global audience, and building a loyal subscriber base. Although success doesn't often happen overnight, starting a channel can be an incredibly rewarding and fulfilling career. Work hard, enjoy the journey, and see how YouTube will open doors to various opportunities, including brand collaborations, sponsorships, and even becoming a sustainable source of income! 


  • Youtube Banner Size: The Complete Guide
    By Yaroslav Melnyk
  • How to Make Money on YouTube
    By Yaroslav Melnyk
  • How to Live Stream on YouTube?
    By Yaroslav Melnyk