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How To Create a YouTube Channel From Scratch

It might seem hard to learn how to create a YouTube channel and account from zero, but it doesn’t have to be.

Stacey McLachlan May 8, 2023
Cover image

Fun fact: YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world behind Google, which owns YouTube.

Fun suggestion: Your brand should have a presence there.

The opportunity to reach your audience on YouTube is massive, with 1.7 billion unique monthly visitors. More than 60% of those users visit YouTube every single day. Wouldn’t it be nice if they took a look at your content while they were there?

Luckily, creating a YouTube account isn’t difficult. Creating a successful YouTube channel is a little more work. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there, too.

In this post, you’ll learn:

  • The basics of how to create a YouTube channel from scratch
  • How to optimize your channel for success
  • What kind of YouTube content tends to resonate with viewers
  • And more!

Bonus: Download the free 30-day plan to grow your YouTube following fast, a daily workbook of challenges that will help you kickstart your Youtube channel growth and track your success. Get real results after one month.

How to create a YouTube channel in 6 simple steps

Before you can put your incredible YouTube marketing strategy into effect, you’re going to need a YouTube channel. Luckily, It’s pretty easy to create a new YouTube channel, even if you’re a beginner.

Take off your cinematographer hat and put on your click-a-bunch-of-buttons hat: here we go!

Step 1: Create a Google account

YouTube accounts are connected to your Google account (Google is YouTube’s parent company). If you don’t already have a Google account, it’s time to make one. Don’t worry; it’ll just take a couple of minutes.

Go to and tap Create account.

use your Google account to sign in

Pop in your details and preferred new email address. Done!

add first name last name username and password under Google account details

Step 2: Create a YouTube account

Head to and tap Sign In in the top right corner.

YouTube sign in button

Select your Google account and enter your password.

Google account and password

Tap your profile icon in the top right corner and select Create Channel.

create channel option under profile icon

Oh, and in case you’re wondering how much it costs to start a YouTube channel? It’s totally free!

Step 3: Customize your channel

Enter your name and YouTube handle, and upload a profile photo — this is how you’ll appear on the site to others, so you may want to use a brand name and logo here.

Not sure what to name your channel? Try our AI-powered YouTube username generator and let the robots do the creative work for you.

enter name and YouTube handle and upload profile picture

Tap the layout tab to customize the following elements of your channel:

  • Add a channel trailer
  • Pick a featured video for returning subscribers
  • Add sections to your homepage

If you don’t have those pieces ready to go for now, that’s totally fine. You can always update this later once you’ve got some content up and running.

YouTube Studio channel customization layout

Step 4: Update your channel branding

Tap the Branding tab to access more customization options:

  • Change your profile picture: Use something that’s at least 98×98 pixels
  • Change your banner: This appears at the top of your channel page. Aim for an image that’s a minimum of 2048 x 1152 pixels
  • Add a video watermark: This image will overlay onto your content in the right-hand corner. For best results, use an image of 150 x 150 pixels.

branding tab with picture and banner image

Step 5: Add a description and basic contact info

Tap the Basic Info tab to update details like your handle and URL. You can also add links and contact info and write a description of your channel.

The description is a great opportunity to add some keywords and hashtags that will help your target audience find your channel. It may be short, but it’s a powerful tool for both communication and discovery, so you’re gonna want to get it right.

Check out our guide to writing a great YouTube description here or try our free YouTube channel description generator.

basic info including description and URL

Step 6: Add some content!

Hopefully, you’ve got a video to actually put on this YouTube Channel, but if you need a minute to whip something up… we’ll wait.

Oh, and if you’d rather not show your beautiful face on camera (we get it), we’ve got a TON of faceless YouTube channel ideas to help you out.

OK: once you’ve got that vid file ready to roll, just tap the Play icon on the left-hand side of the screen to access the video menu. Tap the blue Upload Videos button.

upload videos icon

As your video uploads, you’ll be prompted to enter some details about this great piece of film. Add a title and description that explains what viewers can expect… and don’t forget to cram in those search terms and keywords while you’re at it.

You can also select a thumbnail to help your video stand out in search results and on your channel page. This can be a still from the video or a separately uploaded image, but either way, make sure it POPS. Read more on how to create a great, eye-catching thumbnail below.

YouTube video details thumbnail

On this video upload page, you can also add the video to an existing playlist or create a new one. More on the benefits of playlists below, too!

Tap Show More at the bottom to access options like tags and subtitles.

show more tags and subtitles

Tap Next when you’re done, and you’ll be taken to a menu that invites you to add cards (links to other videos) and an end screen. You can always go back and add or adjust these later as you amass more content.

video elements add cards

Tap Next. The next screen will advise you if there are any copyright issues with your video — for example if you’ve used an unauthorized audio clip from Jaws to accompany your jellyfish video.

Tap Next if there are no issues. Your last hurdle to clear is the Visibility screen. Here, you can choose whether to publish a video publicly or keep it private. You can also schedule your video to go public at a later date.

video visibility private unlisted or public

Tap Save, and now your first video is out in the world. You did it! You’re a YouTuber!

Top tips for starting a YouTube channel

Of course, creating a YouTube channel is one thing… creating a successful YouTube channel is another. To stand out from the crowd or reach an audience, follow these tried-and-true best practices.

Read on for our top YouTube channel creation tips or watch a video that explains the exact tactics we used to get the first 10,000 subscribers on our own YouTube channel, Hootsuite Labs.

Add eye-catching channel art

Your channel art and thumbnails are your billboards, so make an impression!

An effective thumbnail is clear and accurate and works in tandem with the video’s title. But it also needs to stand out.

Thumbnails are the way viewers decide what to watch when they’re skimming through search results. This means you don’t just need to communicate what your video is about. You need to stand out from the competition, too.

And a lot of the competition is… loud.

Big, bold fonts, bright colors, exaggerated faces: these are the staples of the YouTube thumbnail. Love the look or hate it, it obviously works, or people wouldn’t be doing it.

bright colours in YouTube thumbnail

But amid all this visual noise, there’s an opportunity to stand out from the crowd. Evaluate what everyone else is doing, and try to swerve. For example, choose a distinct color palette, or go full-on minimalist to stand out in a sea of neon colors and Impact font.

Chill_Village has a distinct, low-key thumbnail style that reflects what its content is all about — chill-hop music playlists.

chill village channel low key thumbnail style

Experiment with our channel art templates here.

Choose the perfect channel icon

A channel icon is like a logo for your YouTube presence. It should match your brand and complement your channel banner.

Essential oil company Vitruvi uses a simple ‘v’ logo for its channel icon, in a palette that complements the muted tones of the home-lifestyle banner image.

Essential oil company Vitruvi simple minimalist channel icon

When picking an icon, follow YouTube’s recommended image dimensions to avoid any stretching. Preview your channel on multiple devices to check everything looks good.

Create playlists

Organizing and creating video playlists on YouTube is the best way to keep your viewer on your page.

British comedian Mawaan Rizwan has his channel organized into playlists like ‘Music Videos,’ ‘Live Performances,’ and ‘Best Of.’

British comedian Mawaan Rizwan YouTube channel playlists

Not only do YouTube playlists organize your related content in one neat-and-tidy list, they also auto-play. Once one video ends, the next begins… and so on. This minimizes the chances that a viewer will move on to another channel.

Create a channel trailer

When someone first comes across your channel, a channel trailer is a way for them to get a sneak peek at your content. Better make it count.

Just like the Hollywood hotshots get you hooked to see Avengers 7: Tokyo Drift, you can give your audience a taste that leaves them wanting more.

Assume the viewer is a perfect stranger, so introduce yourself and tell them exactly why they should subscribe. Keep it short, sweet, and snappy: let ‘em know what your content is like and when they can expect new uploads, like Yoga with Adriene does on her channel.

Create great content, consistently

This is going to sound very obvious, but we’re going to say it anyway: Viewers want to watch good videos.

But what makes a good YouTube video is a little different than, say, what makes a video that would win a foreign film festival.

According to Search Engine Journal, successful YouTube videos have attention-grabbing intros and great branding, background music, and clear audio.

First We Feast is one account that’s crushing it: the food-focused channel posting content regularly to clearly defined series and recurring features like the interview show Hot Ones.

First We Feast channel consistent video content

Calls to action are important too. Whether your goal is to drive your audience to your website, increase your subscriber count or spark a conversation in the comments, the right CTA can help make that happen.

Like with all social media content, there’s no perfect formula for a successful YouTube video. Some brands thrive with slick, highly-produced content, while others gain traction by being raw, unfiltered, and authentic.

YouTube star Emma Chamberlain doesn’t overthink her channel’s design, doesn’t make over-the-top thumbnails, and doesn’t even have an image for her banner. The titles of her videos don’t have many keywords. Instead, she relies on creating intimate, authentic videos for an existing devoted audience subscribing for substance, not splash.

emma chamberlain intimate videos with few keywords

Explore some ideas of engaging content from other social media platforms to inspire your experimentation.

Optimize your videos for searchability

YouTube is dense. There are billions of videos for viewers to sift through, with more than 500 hours of video uploaded every minute. Competition is stiff. So if you want your channel to thrive, discoverability is downright essential.

Here are some YouTube SEO tips:

  • Make sure your channel description is clear, concise, accurate, and rich in keywords
  • Include search terms in every individual video description
  • Give videos and playlists clear, SEO-friendly titles
  • Don’t forget to use the tag feature to address common spelling errors
  • Use your primary keyword as the video file name
  • Say your keywords out loud in the video… and then turn on the subtitles

jellyfish video details

Pro tip: If you need help creating engaging, keyword-rich video descriptions, check out our handy AI-powered YouTube video description generator.

Read more on the science of the YouTube algorithm and social media SEO basics. You’ll be dominating the search results in no time.

Schedule your videos

Give your videos the best chance to make it big by posting them at the right time: when people are online and ready to watch them.

Your channel analytics will tell you if there’s a day of the week or specific time that tends to get high viewership or engagement.

Once you’ve got that intel, you can publish regularly within this time frame with the help of scheduling tools like Hootsuite. Here’s a step-by-step guide to scheduling YouTube videos.

schedule YouTube videos

Understand your audience

It’s hard to make compelling content if you don’t know who you’re making it for, so make sure you’ve got a good sense of your audience persona before you dive in.

Who are they? What do they like? (Why won’t they call me?!)

Once you’ve got a few videos under your belt, see whether or not you’re hitting the mark by diving into your YouTube Analytics. Cold hard numbers will tell you if, how, and when your work of art is making an impact.

Experiment with YouTube advertising

If you’re not getting the reach you want with good ol’ fashioned organic content, it might be time to toss a few bucks behind a promo campaign.

YouTube ads are available in these four categories:

  • Skippable in-stream ads
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads (including bumper ads)
  • In-feed video ads
  • Masthead ads

YouTube video ad new campaign

For more info on YouTube’s ad formats and how to use them, check out our detailed guide to YouTube advertising.

Ask viewers to subscribe

When someone subscribes to your channel (a.k.a hits that bell button, ding-a-liiiiing), they get an alert when you put a new video out into the world — so growing your subscriber base is the best way to boost your organic reach.

There’s a reason why “Don’t forget to subscribe” is the sign-off of choice for YouTubers big and small.

Having a lot of subscribers doesn’t just get you more views. It can also make you eligible for YouTube’s monetization features: a.k.a., the YouTube Partner Programme.

There are two ways to join the YouTube Partner Programme:

  • Hit 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours within the year
  • Hit 1,000 subscribers with 10 million Shorts views within 90 days

YouTube partner program eligibility
Source: YouTube Help

Once you’re in the YPP, you have greater access to YouTube resources and can share in revenue from the ads on your account — which can end up being pretty lucrative.

On average, YouTubers make between $3 and $5 per 1,000 video views through AdSense.

But of course, your mileage may vary. There are big creators out there cashing out $200,000 from AdSense each month and newbies who make far less than the average.

Oh, and advertising isn’t the only revenue source on YouTube. Creators may also make money from sponsorship deals, brand collaborations, merch, tips, or crowdfunding. Learn more about how to make money on YouTube and how to make money on social media in general.

Of course, we know that growing your subscriber count is easier said than done. For more on that, check out our complete guide on how to get more YouTube subscribers.

Try out new formats like YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts are a newer feature of YouTube: short-form, vertically oriented videos that clock in at 15-60 seconds long. Shorts launched worldwide in 2021 and have quickly become YouTube’s prize new feature, garnering more than 6.5 billion daily views.

What sets YouTube Shorts apart is its ability to convert viewers into subscribers for your channel, a must for brands and creators. It’s a low-effort feature to try out, one with big potential rewards. Any new features YouTube drops are probably worth testing. In fact — social media platforms often give an algorithm boost to new features to help give them visibility. Ride that bandwagon, baby! (If it makes sense for your brand, of course)

This is just the tip of the iceberg for creating a successful YouTube channel. If you’re interested in learning more, check out our blog post about how to get more views on YouTube, 23 smart ways to promote your YouTube channel, and how to become a YouTube marketing master.

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By Stacey McLachlan

Stacey McLachlan is an award-winning writer and editor from Vancouver with more than a decade of experience working for print and digital publications.

She is editor-at-large for Western Living and Vancouver Magazine, author of the National Magazine Award-nominated 'City Informer' column, and a regular contributor to Dwell. Her previous work covers a wide range of topics, from SEO-focused thought-leadership to profiles of mushroom foragers, but her specialties include design, people, social media strategy, and humor.

You can usually find her at the beach, or cleaning sand out of her bag.

Read more by Stacey McLachlan

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