This content was updated on 5/23/19 to reflect new industry standards and platform updates.
For some small businesses and organizations, getting started on YouTube can be scary. Trust us when we say that the benefits of being on YouTube greatly outweigh the downfalls. Don’t let your initial nervousness get in the way of giving this powerful channel a try.
The most important thing you’ll need for a successful YouTube channel is something you most likely already have — an understanding of who your audience is as well as what kinds of things they may find valuable. For example, if you run a pet store you know that your audience is mainly comprised of pet owners and that they find animal-related tips and tricks, such as “how to train a dog to sit” or “tips for leash-training a cat,” valuable. Taking note of your audience and their interests will help you determine where to focus your efforts when creating content for YouTube.
Video content can reinforce your branding efforts and show off your business expertise. However, it’s also a great way to entertain, educate, and connect with people.
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In order to truly make the most of the opportunity, here are 10 things you’ll need to do when you’re first getting started on YouTube:
1. Define your goals
Before you do anything, it’s important to consider what you’re hoping to get out of YouTube. This will help you decide what kind of videos you want to create and define the right audience for your content.
Again, this is likely strongly connected with your small business or organization’s audience. If you run a makeup company, posting tutorials on how to get ready for a night out make sense. However, your subscribers may find it odd if you’re giving tips on unrelated topics, such as gardening or yoga.
It is also important to keep in mind why you want to be on YouTube to begin with. Are you looking to spread the word on your organization’s mission? Do you want to increase sales to your brick-and-mortar store?
Having a goal in mind from the start means you’ll be better able to create content that your audience will want to subscribe to, comment on, and share. If you focus on content that is useful to your audience, particularly if it’s something you are an expert in, your viewers will see you as a trusted resource for information.
2. Create a channel
To create a YouTube channel, you will need a Google account. You can either use an existing Google account or create a new one for your business.
Once you have created your account and navigated to YouTube, you will be asked to name your channel. We suggest using the name of your business, as it will be the most recognizable. You want to make it easy for your target audience to find you! Remember, YouTube is basically a search engine (and is powered/owned by the world’s largest search engine – Google). Consider specifically how people would search to find what your business offers.
Next, you will answer a couple of questions and agree to the terms. Then – voila – you are the proud owner of a brand new YouTube channel.
It’s important to do a little bit of housekeeping before you start promoting your new page. After all, you want to make sure you make a good first impression!
Here are a few quick things you should focus on:
Your channel icon is basically your YouTube profile picture. This image is automatically pulled in from your Google account. In order to make your channel recognizable, it is a best practice to upload your company’s logo as your channel icon. If you don’t have a logo, use a high-quality image that represents your business in a professional manner.
You can help your channel stand out from the crowd by customizing your channel art. YouTube provides a great walkthrough of this process, complete with dimensions and how your artwork will be displayed across a variety of devices including mobile phones and televisions.
Be mindful when choosing your channel art. We suggest using a simple design or pattern that is consistent with your company’s branding, or an image that accurately represents your business, because it gets cropped to a very small portion of a larger image. Keep in mind that you must have the rights to use any image you choose. Lastly, go check out what these images look like on other devices to make sure everything looks good. Your channel art will appear differently depending on what device your subscribers are viewing it on.
The about section is an opportunity for you to tell people who you are, what you do, where to find you, and how to get in touch. Be sure to link all of your other social networks here so that people can follow you on multiple channels. You should also link to your company website in your about section so people can connect with you and sign up for your email list.
Of course, it’s important to make sure you are using the correct image sizes on your YouTube channel. Use our guide to guarantee perfectly sized social media images, every time.
3. Begin making and uploading videos
Now, it’s time for the fun part!
Gather all the equipment you have and go shoot some video footage. Don’t have a ton of recording equipment lying around? No worries. Even if you’re only working with your smartphone, you can still make a really great video as long as it’s useful to your audience.
Remember to be confident and have fun. Great videos always have good energy; if you’re not having fun making the video, your audience probably won’t have fun watching it!
Here are a few helpful resources to help you get started:
In addition to the above resources, keep in mind that you are just starting out. You can always upgrade to more advanced equipment later. When it comes to editing videos, make sure to choose a simple editing software that won’t be too overwhelming. YouTube even offers up some built-in editing tools you can take advantage of after you upload.
4. Create playlists
Once you’ve created a few videos, group them together into playlists on your channel. Even if you only have a few videos, it’s a good idea to put them together on a playlist to help your subscribers easily sort through your content. This is an important step as the title you choose for your playlist can also help you rank higher in Google search results.
Playlists will also encourage people to watch more of your videos because they’ll see a list of the rest of your videos in the series, which makes your content more episodic. Autoplays do a good job of engaging viewers to watch multiple videos, with no effort on their part.
YouTube also allows you to feature playlists on your YouTube channel page. This is a great option because you are able to organize and categorize your content while also highlighting the videos you want to draw the most attention to. For example, on the Constant Contact YouTube channel, we feature our how-to videos and webinars on our channel in order to make our educational content highly accessible.
5. Share your videos
While your videos will likely get some traffic through organic search alone, don’t hesitate to promote your videos through your other online channels, such as your website.
The people who have already connected with you on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Pinterest are likely to appreciate your new videos as well.
6. Analyze your data
Once you’ve started putting your videos out there, it’s important to take note of how people are interacting with them.
Ideally, you want people to watch your video all the way to the end. The audience retention report in YouTube Analytics can show you at what point viewers stopped watching your video. This is a good way to gauge if the length of your videos is right or if there is a particular part of the video that may be turning people away. Typically, shorter and more engaging videos are most effective.
Check out this blog post for more information on YouTube Analytics and how to take full advantage of the features.
7. Stay engaged with your audience
One of the worst things you could do on YouTube is to upload your video and then forget about it.
Check in every once in a while to see if people are engaging with your video. Responding to people’s questions or comments can create conversations that help your audience learn more about your company and add even more value to your video.
Not only can they learn from you, but you can learn from them! Take feedback into consideration and use it to adjust your videos, better catering to your audience’s needs. Every comment you receive on a video is an opportunity to create a deeper conversation and connection.
8. Make your videos accessible
By adding subtitles and closed captions to your YouTube videos, you can open up your content to a larger audience, including deaf or hard of hearing viewers. This also allows for international viewers to take advantage of your content, as they may speak a different language than the one spoken in your video.
Adding closed captions is simple. In fact, YouTube has a tool that automatically generates them! However, this tool is not perfect and often requires minor edits or tweaks to deliver a good user experience. YouTube’s support page has step-by-step instructions on how to create, edit, or upload subtitles and closed captions.
9. Decide who should have access to your channel
If you are going to be the only person contributing to your YouTube channel, you can go ahead and skip this part.
However, if you are managing a small marketing team or want to give one of your employees access to the account in order to respond to viewer comments or upload videos, you will want to understand how channel owners and managers work on YouTube.
You should always make sure you are the primary owner of the account. This way, if an employee leaves or changes roles, you will be able to remove or edit their access. This also prevents any ex-employees from being able to control the account after they’re gone.
You can learn more about channel roles and how to add people to your account here.
10. Consider going live
Live video is more popular than ever. Going live is a great way to build trust and loyalty as it is an authentic way to communicate with your audience. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself and your brand new YouTube account!
YouTube Live can be enabled on any verified YouTube. However, only accounts with at least 1,000 subscribers are able to live stream on mobile. In order to enable live streaming simply go to YouTube’s Creator Studio tools and click on the Live Streaming tab.
Looking for live streaming tips? We recommend using a network with high-speed internet and setting up in a location where there is minimal background noise or distraction.
Creating a successful YouTube channel and engaged community of subscribers may seem like a lot of work, but the reward is worth it
Video content can help you become a trusted authority in your industry, as well as a personable source of entertainment.
You don’t have to be a filmmaker or a professional editor to be successful on YouTube. All you need is to figure out how you can offer your audience something of value. This way, they’ll appreciate your effort, engage with your content, and come back to visit your page again and again.
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