7 Things to Consider When Starting a YouTube Channel

If anyone tells you it’s too late to start a YouTube channel, ignore them. The platform is booming, and while there have been some controversies over the years, it’s still possible for a new content creator to build a successful YouTube channel from scratch.

Before you dive in, there are some things you need to think about if you want to maximize your chances for success. There are no guarantees when it comes to YouTube, but here’s a list of topics that you may want to consider before diving in too deep.


1. What’s Your Motivation for Starting a YouTube Channel?

Not motivation in the sense of “being eager to act and work,” but rather “the reason why you act and work.”

Maybe you want to teach others how to do something, like how to program web and mobile apps. Maybe you want to tell brilliant stories through short film. Or maybe you want to play and review video games. It can be anything, but it has to be something.

Your motivation is the basis for three key elements shared by every successful YouTube channel: topic coverage, target audience, and reason for existence.

  • Topic coverage is WHAT your videos will be about.
  • Target audience is WHO your videos are intended for.
  • Reason for existence is WHY they should watch your videos.

For example, MUO’s YouTube channel includes gadget reviews and tech tutorials (what) intended for people who want to level up their tech-savviness (who), and we do it in a way that’s down-to-earth and approachable for even the newbiest of newbies (why).

You have to define these things before you launch your channel. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a hodge-podge channel that fails to capture any kind of meaningful viewership, and no meaningful viewership means no long-term success.

Related: How to Change Your YouTube Channel Name

2. How Frequently Will You Upload Videos to YouTube?

Once you know how to make a YouTube video, what kind of content you’ll make, and who will be watching it, you need to decide on a production schedule. How often will you release new videos?

This often mainly depends on content type:

Be realistic, be honest with yourself, and think long-term. You might have the energy to do one video per day right now, but what about the long term? How much time do you really want to dedicate to the channel? Do you work to live, or live to work?

It may sound silly, but changing up your frequency later on down the road could really tick off your viewership — so much so that they unsubscribe. Even missing one day, week, or month could trigger discontent with fans. The more this happens, the more likely the discontentment.

When in doubt, go with a lesser frequency. You can always live stream to fill in the gaps.

3. The Recipe for Youtube Success: Substance and Style

Many people will tell you that success is all about “substance over style.” Well, they’re wrong. The true key to success is “substance AND style.” YouTube viewers eat with their eyes, and if you serve up a dish that’s healthy but bland, many will turn their noses up at it.

Of the many ingredients to a successful YouTube channel, three involve style:

If your channel will involve personal audio, then you need to work on articulation, confident voice, and getting rid of annoying speech patterns (like upspeak). If you’re going to be on camera, you’ll want to work on standing steady, looking into the camera, smiling, not fidgeting, and so on.

Public speaking isn’t for everyone. If you don’t feel comfortable talking in front of the camera, come up with another exciting format to present yourself. So long as the style stays cool and consistent, showing your face often isn’t the most important aspect. In fact, it can create a veil of excitement and mystery.

But you also need to edit your videos well. Pick up a good video editing app, making sure the quality and framerate are high enough, and cutting out all the unnecessary bits.

4. What Equipment Does a YouTuber Need?

To succeed, you’ll also need to acquire some essential equipment for creating high-quality videos. Fortunately, you won’t have to spend much to get started.

At a bare minimum, you’ll want to have:

  • Room: Before you drop hundreds of dollars on a DSLR or mirrorless camera, know that a high-quality webcam or your smartphone is good to start. Save the high-end cameras for when you’ve been doing this for over a year and know what exactly you need to improve.
  • Tripod: If you have a camera or end up using a smartphone, then you’ll want a tripod to hold it up and keep it steady.
  • Microphone: The built-in microphones that come with cameras are often terrible. Get an external microphone and record audio separately, then mix it with the video afterward. Learn more about condenser versus dynamic microphones to pick the right one for your content type.
  • Green Screen: A green screen is necessary if you want to change the background in your videos. While an actual green screen kit could cost upwards of $ 50, you can use a literal green sheet or DIY one with a white sheet dyed green.
  • Screen Capture Software: Only necessary if your videos involve screen capturing, such as Excel video tutorials or PC gameplay. I highly recommend OBS Studio, which is free and can record your screen as an MP4 video file.

This is just an overview — what you will need depends on the content you plan on creating. Once you’re truly invested, you may want to try building a YouTube studio at home.

Want to succeed? You have to promote yourself. Just as with any business, advertising is everything. Here are a few unabrasive options:

  • Social Media: Building a social media following can be just as hard as building a YouTube channel, but if you have followers already, they might be your first fans. You can also consider doing social media giveaways for exposure.
  • Forums: These are great, especially the big ones like Reddit. Find a community that’s relevant to your content, then share ONLY your best content. Don’t share too frequently, otherwise you may be banned for spamming.
  • Collaborate: Working with others isn’t just a good way to network and expand your contacts — when they share your collaborations with their audiences, it exposes their audiences to you. It’s a win-win for everybody.

Bear in mind that promotion is a long game. It may take months, or even years, for your channel to gain popularity, so check out our tips for building an audience for your channel. Perseverance is the number one trait shared between YouTube creators!

6. Making Money From Being a YouTuber

Making money through YouTube is harder than it used to be, but it’s still possible today even if you’re just starting. While most people think YouTubers earn boatloads of cash through advertisements, the truth is that ads rarely pay well for the effort.

Running a Youtube channel is very much like starting a business. So how do the top YouTubers make their money? A combination of many monetization methods:

  • Affiliate sales and product promotions
  • Consultation services
  • Direct advertisements that aren’t Adsense
  • Public speaking events
  • Support from fans who donate
  • Alternative revenue streams (selling merchandise, creating apps, Patreon platforms, etc.)

7. Set Attainable Goals

An effective goal has three core elements:

  • Measurable: The goal should have a quantified component that lets you know, at any given moment in time, whether you’ve reached it or not.
  • Timed: The goal should have a realistic deadline.
  • Controllable: The goal should be an action you can perform — not an outcome.

For example, you might want to put out 10 videos (measurable) by the end of your first month (timed). Note that “put out a video” is an action you can perform, whereas “reach 1,000 viewers” is not an action but an outcome. “Earn $ 50 this month” isn’t a goal, whereas “find and negotiate a sponsorship deal” is.

Create a few goals, then keep creating more as you reach them. You’d be surprised how effective this can be at keeping you motivated and on track to success.

What Kind of YouTube Channel Are You Making?

The main takeaway is this: creating and running a YouTube channel is easy, but building one that’s successful takes a lot of effort. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to practice, and a lot to keep in mind.

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