I have spent some time over the last few weeks learning how to create a YouTube Channel and an also how to set up a YouTube Channel to optimize it for traffic. In this article I am going to share with you the steps I went through and highlight some of the difficulties, so you don’t make similar mistakes.
YouTube has been around for several years now. The first YouTube video was made in San Diego Zoo in 2005, by one of YouTube’s founders Jawed Karim.
Since then, YouTube has become part of the Google (Alphabet) empire and progressed to be the second biggest search engine on the Internet.
Now, video content accounts for over 74% of all online traffic and over five billion YouTube videos are watched every single day.
If you are looking to market a product or service, or maybe even yourself, YouTube has to be taken seriously. So how do you create a YouTube Channel?
This article will show you step-by-step, how to do it.
How To Create a YouTube Channel
Let’s start with your Google account. If you already have one, move to the next section. You need a Google account before you can create a YouTube Channel.
How To Create a YouTube Channel If You Don’t Have a Google Account
If you don’t already have a Google account set up, you’ll need to create one before you get started on YouTube.
Note that these instructions apply to setting things up on a desktop. I wouldn’t recommend setting up your YouTube channel on a mobile platform as some of the editing features arent available.
To set up your Google account, simply follow the below steps:
First, go to Google.com and click on the three vertical dots in the top corner. Then select “Settings” from the drop-down menu.
From here select “Add Account” which will bring you to this screen:
Select “More Options” then “Create New Account”, which will open up a new window where you can enter your First and Last Name. Click “Next” then end your birthdate and your gender.
Click “Next” again and enter an email address for your Google Account. This will also be your Gmail address going forward if you need one. Choose something that works for you and/or your brand, but bear in mind that if you want your name, chances are you will need to add a number on the end unless you have a unique name.
Once you have chosen a username/Gmail address and password, you have your shiny new Google account. With this, you can create a YouTube channel.
You can also set up a Google Adwords account, which gives you access to Google Keyword Planner and other useful tools. Just be aware that Google loves to take your money, so don’t set up an Adwords budget unless you plan to run ads.
How To Create a YouTube Channel If You Already Have a Google Account
If you already have a Google account, you can skip the above step and go ahead and create your YouTube Channel.
How To Set up a YouTube Channel
Go to YouTube.com and login to your account by clicking “sign in” in the upper right-hand corner. If you have multiple Google accounts, be sure to select the one you want to be associated with the YouTube channel.
I should also re-affirm that these instructions apply to the YouTube desktop site. If you use the mobile or iPad app, things will look slightly different.
Under your settings, you’ll see the option to “Create a channel. Click on it:
Next, you’ll create a Brand Account. Choose a name. It doesn’t have to be the same name that you used to create your Google account. However, it should reflect your business or personal brand.
Enter your brand name and click on the “create” button to move to the next page.
After you enter the Brand Account name, you might be asked to verify the account via text message or voice call. This depends on the security settings you have setup on your account. If that happens, enter the code you receive.
You will then be taken to the dashboard for your channel. Congratulations, you have created your YouTube channel, now, it’s time to start customizing it.
How To Customize Your YouTube Channel
This is where you can customize the look and also the description of your YouTube Channel. Let’s start with the look or what is often referred to as “YouTube Channel Art”.
How to Create YouTube Channel Art
YouTube channel art is effectively a channel banner that displays at the top of your channel page. Think of it as YouTube’s version of the Facebook cover page or the banner on the homepage of your website.
Channel art is your opportunity to get the attention of your audience and convey your brand visually. You can also present a bit of your personality and style.
Here are some examples:
Vlogger and drone destroyer, Casey Neistat keeps it simple:
Casey is pretty well known, so doesn’t need to explain much, but the picture holding the camera indicates that he is a video guy. The image in the bottom left corner is his YouTube Profile Picture. More on that later.
Steve Dotto’s Tech Channel has nice graphics and a couple of pictures of Steve which give the viewer a feel for his personality.
The slogan shows that the channel helps people understand technology. Steve has also added his website address, which is a smart move if you want to direct people to your site or blog.
Marketing Expert and Celebrity, Gary Vaynerchuk has changed a few times over the years. The statement “New Videos Everyday” encourages the visitor to subscribe to see Gary’s daily Vlog.
I also included the pinned video “Who Is Gary Vaynerchuck”. This gives the visitor chance to learn a bit about Gary to help them decide if they want to subscribe to his You Tube channel.
Finding a YouTube Banner Template
There is an optimal size for a YouTube Banner, 2560 x 1440 pixels, but note that this is for display on a TV screen.
As most of the viewers of your channel are probably using different platforms like desktop or mobile, you need to create a responsive banner that works on all platforms. I found this part particularly frustrating. My first attempt looked great on a TV screen, but most of it was missing from the other platforms.
Luckily, Google has this image that represents the best dimension for each viewing:
YouTube also makes these additional sizing recommendations:
- Minimum dimension for upload: 2048 x 1152 px.
- Minimum safe area for text and logos to be visible on mobile: 1546 x 423 px. Larger images may get cropped on certain views or devices.
- Maximum width: 2560 x 423 px. This means that the ‘safe area’ is always visible regardless of screen size. The areas to each side of the channel art are visible or cropped depending on browser size.
- File size: 4 MB or smaller.
The text and logo safe area is the 1546 x 423-pixel space at the center of the YouTube channel art banner template. You should make sure all your text and important other detail such as branding, taglines, and key images is within this area.
This is how my YouTube Channel Banner finally looked against the YouTube Banner Template, showing that the important information will be visible on all plaforms:
I use Canva to create all my web graphics. They have their own YouTube Banner Template, to help you get the dimensions right. Here is a link to it: Canva YouTube Banner Template
Tip: Take a screenshot of the YouTube Banner Template and upload it to Canva. Them overlay it onto your YouTube banner as you see in the photo above and stretch it out to 2560 x 1440 pixels.
Then upload your completed Channel Art Banner and it to the same Canva Design. Bring the YouTube Template to the front and make it translucent. You can now see whether the information in your banner is going to fit on all platforms. If it isn’t you can either resize it, crop it or remake it in Canva.
If you want some inspiration for your banner design, check out this article from Hubspot, “7 of the coolest YouTube banner we’ve ever seen.”
How to add your channel icon to your YourTube Channel Art
Each channel also has space for a profile icon. You will remember this from the banner images I shared earlier in the article. This is a circular image that starts life as a colored circle with a letter in the middle which matches the name of your channel.
You have the option to change this and typically you would upload a photo of yourself. If you look back to the banner examples from earlier in the article you will see what I mean.
Your channel icon should be 800 x 800 pixels and one of the following formats: JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG file (no animated GIFs).
To update your channel icon, you should select “my channel”, which takes you to your channel homepage.
Hover over your current channel icon (the circle with the letter in the middle) until you see the camera icon appear. Click on that icon and you’ll be able to upload a new photo or logo.
Your YouTube Channel Description
Next, you’ll want to fill out your channel description. This is the first option you see after you have created a channel.
The description you put here will appear in more than one place on your channel. It’s also indexed by search engines and can also be featured on YouTube in suggested channel categories, so it is important to optimize your channel description as much as possible.
A good tactic is to include some relevant, high search volume keywords within the opening lines of your description. You should take time to accurately describe your brand and what viewers can expect to see on your channel.
This is also a great place to add links to your website and your social media networks.
Note, that you can also add links to your YouTube Channel Art. These are displayed in the bottom right corner of your YouTube Channel Banner, like you see on this banner for Buffer.com:
How to Add Links to YouTube Channel Art
The first step is to go to your channel homepage and click on “Customize Channel”. This will take you to a page where you can edit your channel art.
Before you can add links, you need check one thing. Click on the cog icon next to the red “Subscribers” bar, under the banner. This will open up the following window. Toggle the item I have highlighted in red, to enable the “customize the layout of your channel”.
You can now return to the “Customize Channel” page and click on the pencil icon in the top left corner “Edit Links” as shown below.
This will take you to the “About” section of your channel where you can add links to things like your web site, blog or social media accounts. You can also choose which are displayed over your channel art.
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