Buffer Marketing Library YouTube Marketing

How to Create a YouTube Channel & Make the Most of YouTube’s Billion-User Network

Kevan Lee
Kevan Lee VP of Marketing @ Buffer
How to Create a YouTube Channel & Make the Most of YouTube’s Billion-User Network
Summary

12 min read
You will learn

Summary

See how easy it is to get your YouTube account set up and running, and find out some quick wins on how to optimize your profile for maximum reach

You will learn

  • The basics of getting your account set up
  • How to create a YouTube channel
  • How to create the perfect channel art
  • Top tips for optimizing your channel.

YouTube, the Google-owned video network, boasts over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

What’s amazing, though, is that only 9% of small businesses in the U.S. are actively using YouTube, and my hunch is that figure would be pretty accurate worldwide, too.

So why aren’t businesses investing in YouTube as part of our social media strategy?

In short, because video is harder to produce than a blog post or an image.

Or at least that’s the perception many of us have.

In reality, though, video is becoming much easier and cheaper to create. This means there’s a huge opportunity for your business on YouTube.

If you’ve been debating getting started on YouTube or have maybe experimented a little and not yet found your feet, this post is for you. Throughout this post we’ll dive into:

  • The basics of getting your account set up
  • How to create a YouTube channel
  • How to create the perfect channel art
  • Top tips for optimizing your channel.

Ready to start? Let’s go.


How to create a YouTube channel

Creating a YouTube channel using your Google account

If you have a Google account, you can watch, share and comment on YouTube content. However, Google accounts don’t automatically create YouTube channels. Getting a new channel set up is a simple and quick process, though.

1. Go to YouTube and sign in

Head over to YouTube.com and click ‘sign in’ in the top right corner of the page:

youtube-sign-in

Then log in using the Google account you’d like your channel to be associated with:

google-account

2. Head over to your YouTube settings

In the top right corner of the screen, click on your profile icon and then click "Create a channel."

Where to find the YouTube "create channel" link
Where to find the YouTube "create channel" link

3. Create your channel

Next, you’ll have the option to create a personal channel or a create a channel using a business or other name. For this example, we’ll choose the "Use custom name" option, which is recommended for small businesses and brands:

You have the option create a YouTube channel with your name or a custom name.
You have the option create a YouTube channel with your name or a custom name.

Next, you'll name your channel.

Creating a name for your YouTube channel
Creating a name for your YouTube channel

Note: As you'll see from the settings at this step, creating a new channel name will also create a new Google account with its own settings and YouTube history. This account nests within your main Google account and can be fully managed from the Google settings. It's quite useful as you can use this new account to like and comment on other YouTube videos and participate in YouTube as your brand.

After this step, you'll have the chance to further customize your channel. You'll see options for:

  • Uploading a profile picture
  • Adding a description of your channel
  • Adding links to your sites – this can include custom links to a website or blog as well as social links to Instagram or Twitter
Further settings for your YouTube channel – profile picture, description, and links
Further settings for your YouTube channel – profile picture, description, and links

Congratulations! You’ve just created a new YouTube channel! 🎉

Next, let’s fill out all the information and create some channel art to get your page looking awesome (click here to jump to the next section).

How to create a YouTube channel if you don’t already 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. To do this, simply follow the below steps:

  1. Head to YouTube.com
  2. Click ‘Sign In’
  3. Now, choose the option to create a Google account
  4. Follow the steps to create your Google account

Now, you’re all set up with a Google account and can follow the above steps to create a YouTube channel.


How to create YouTube channel art

YouTube channel art is essentially YouTube’s version of the Facebook cover photo. Channel art features in a prominent place on your YouTube channel, which means it’s absolutely vital for any YouTube channel to use customized art to share your personality or more about your brand with your audience.

Here’s an example of Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel art:

Gary is well-known for his public speaking at conferences and for sharing all he knows about marketing and building businesses with his audience. This is reflected in his cover photo, which displays Gary in mid-flow giving a presentation. The channel art also serves as a promotion tool for The Gary Vee Video Experience and reinforces the cadence of new videos on Mondays through Fridays.

Here are a couple other examples for inspiration:

The Cut uses its channel art to advocate for Black Lives Matter.

Khan Academy uses its channel art to reinforce its brand, mentioning its tagline and showing off some of the fun characters and brand design.

Ok, now that you have some options in mind for what your channel art could be, here is what you need to know to create your optimal YouTube channel art ...

The perfect sizes for YouTube channel art

The best place to start with your channel art is with an optimal image size that works across multiple devices. For the best results, YouTube recommends uploading a single 2560 x 1440 pixel image.

  • Minimum width: 2048 X 1152 px. This is the “safe area”, where text and logos are guaranteed not to be cut off when displayed on different devices.
  • Maximum width: 2560 X 423 px. This means that the “safe area” is always visible; the areas to each side of the channel art are visible depending on the viewer’s browser size.
  • File size: 6MB or smaller recommended.

It's interesting to note that YouTube is available on a ton of different devices – from as small as an iPhone to as large as a 60-inch TV. On TVs, the channel art appears in the background, behind the content on your YouTube channel. On desktop and mobile devices, it appears as a banner across the top.

Tools and tips for creating YouTube channel art

In the past, YouTube has supplied a Channel Art Template to help you figure out the perfect layout for your channel art and how it’ll look across platforms. Here's a preview of the template:

channel-art-template-fireworks

You can absolutely use the ideal dimensions that we mentioned above in order to create your channel art from scratch using a tool like Figma or Photoshop.

Nowadays, the easiest way to get up and running with your channel art is to hop into a free image creator like Canva or Adobe Spark. These tools have ready-to-go YouTube templates you can quickly customize to your liking.

Here is an example of a channel art template within Canva:

YouTube channel art template in Canva
YouTube channel art template in Canva

2 top tips for YouTube channel art

1. Ensure any text and logos are within the "safe" area

The text and logo safe area is the 1546 x 423 pixel space at the center of the YouTube channel art template (see the template above). This is the area that will be displayed on YouTube when your channel is viewed on desktop screens.

Traditionally, the parts outside the safe area run the risk of being covered or illegible because of overlaid social links or profile pictures.

Be careful to ensure any important information such as branding, text, taglines, and key images are within the safe space so that they're always displayed as part of your channel art across every device.

YouTube enables you to add links to your channel and these are displayed in the bottom right corner, overlaid on top of your channel art. For example, check the bottom right of the channel art below:

Where links appear on YouTube channel art
Where links appear on YouTube channel art

When creating your channel art, it’s important to think about the space these links take up and ensure you don’t have anything important (such as logos) occupying that space within your design.


How to add art to your YouTube channel

If you’re just setting up your YouTube channel, you’ll notice the channel art space (along with the rest of your channel). To add art to your YouTube channel as well as make any other customizations, click the Customize Channel button in the top right.

YouTube channel: Getting started from scratch? Click the Customize Channel button
YouTube channel: Getting started from scratch? Click the Customize Channel button

Once you’ve clicked this link, you’ll go to another editor screen where you can click on the different parts of your profile in order to make changes.

There should be a blue button in the center to "Add channel art."

After this, you'll see a popup window that gives you the option to upload your own custom channel art. If you’d like to, you can also choose to use one of YouTube’s templates from the “Gallery” or choose to upload one of your photos from Google.

upload-channel-art

Adjusting the crop

Once you’ve uploaded your channel art, YouTube will show you a preview of how it looks on TV, desktop, and mobile.

YouTube channel art preview for desktop, TV, and mobile
YouTube channel art preview for desktop, TV, and mobile

At this point, you may want to adjust the cropping of your image so that you can ensure it’s all lined up correctly. The cropping tool can be accessed by clicking on "Adjust the crop."

This crop screen is very handy for checking how your design will look on various platforms. The clear section in the middle of the grid shows you the content that will be displayed on mobile and desktop and the rest of the image shows the image that will be displayed on TVs.

YouTube channel art editor: cropping
YouTube channel art editor: cropping

Once you’re happy with the way your cover art looks, click “Select” and your channel art will be added to your channel and saved.

Changing your current channel art

If you already have some channel art in place and would like to update it, head over to your channel homepage. From here, move your mouse over your cover art and you’ll notice a little edit button appear in the top right-hand corner:

How to change your YouTube channel art
How to change your YouTube channel art

Once you’ve clicked on this icon, you can update your channel art.

This video from YouTube also explains how to add and edit your channel art:

How to add your channel icon (profile picture)

Each channel also has space for a profile icon / picture. This is the icon that shows next to your videos and channel on all YouTube pages. The key here is to select something that will look good at very small resolutions –  many brands opt to use their logo here.

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, head to your channel homepage and hover over your current channel icon until you see the edit icon appear. Click on that icon and you’ll be able to upload a new profile icon.


5 ways to enhance your channel

1. Optimize your description

YouTube gives you a space on your channel to write a little about your brand and the content you share on YouTube. The description is limited to 1,000 characters, so you have a little room to be creative here.

The copy in your channel description won’t just appear on your channel page. It’s indexed by search engines and can also be featured across YouTube in suggested channel categories and search results. A good tactic is to include some relevant keywords and CTAs within the opening lines of your description.

And be especially mindful of the first 100-150 characters. Depending on where the description appears, the remaining text could be truncated.

Here's an example of a great YouTube channel description from Vox:

Vox's YouTube description on the About tab

We briefly mentioned channel links earlier in this post. You can have up to five links appear in your channel's banner. The first link will appear expanded (see screenshot below), and the remaining links will show up as icons.

MeUndies links to their homepage and four social profiles in their YouTube banner
MeUndies links to their homepage and four social profiles in their YouTube banner

I’d love to share with you how to add these links in four super-quick steps:

1. Click the "Customize Channel" button on your channel's homepage.

2. Then click on the gear icon in the upper-right corner, just beneath your cover art.

3. You’ll see a Channel Settings lightbox appear. Here you need to toggle on the option labeled “Customize the layout of your channel”:

channel-optionsToggle on the option to "Customize the layout of your channel."
Toggle on the option to "Customize the layout of your channel."

3. Now that you’ve enabled customizations on your channel, pop back to your channel homepage and you’ll now see the option to “Edit Links” under the settings menu on your cover art.

"Edit links" will appear when you hover over the edit icon in your YouTube channel art.
"Edit links" will appear when you hover over the edit icon in your YouTube channel art.

4. Click the “Edit Links” option and you’ll then be taken to the “About” section of your channel. Here you’ll have the option to add links and choose how many are displayed over your cover art:

You can choose up to five links to display on your YouTube channel.
You can choose up to five links to display on your YouTube channel.

3. Add a channel trailer

As soon as visitors land on your channel, you want to give them a picture of the type of content your channel covers and why they’ll want to subscribe and check out your videos. A channel trailer is the perfect way to do this.

A short, to-the-point channel trailer can be a great way to introduce people to your content. A channel trailer should grab attention as soon as it starts and also represent the type of content you create on YouTube.

It’s also important to think about the description you add to this video as it features prominently on your channel homepage.

(These trailers only appear for people who are not yet subscribed to your channel.)

Here is a look at where this trailer appears on your channel homepage. Note how the video is at left and the title and description appear to the right? That's a lot of prime real estate!

The channel trailer takes a prime position on the YouTube channel page.
The channel trailer takes a prime position on the YouTube channel page.

Here are a couple great trailer examples that might inspire you:

Slow Mo Guys

SoulPancake

4. Add your contact details (email address)

If you’re using YouTube as a business or a creator, it can be great to have your contact details on hand for anyone who is interested in your work. YouTube has a section on each channel profile for you to list your contact details for business inquiries.

This can be found under the “About” section of your channel. To find it, go to your channel homepage, click “About” from the navigation and then scroll down to “Details.” Here you’ll see the option to share your email address:

email-addressAdding your email address can be a great way for fans & customers to reach you
Adding your email address can be a great way for fans & customers to reach you

Over to you

Thanks for reading. It’s been great fun to dive into how to create a YouTube channel and I hope you picked up one or two tips from this post. If you create a YouTube channel of your own or already have one up and running, I’d love to hear from you and learn from your experience in the comments below.

Do you have any tips to optimize your YouTube channel? ?

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