How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business: a Step-by-Step Guide

How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business: a Step-by-Step Guide

If you’ve been itching to start your own YouTube channel but aren’t sure how to go about it, this guide will teach you what you need to know to get your business channel up and running. Whether you choose to take the YouTube plunge on your own or prefer to hire an independent expert, the time to promote your business on YouTube is now.

The seven steps this article will cover include:

Things to consider before starting a YouTube channel for your business

Like other self-promotion or business marketing endeavors, establishing a YouTube channel comes with some fundamental best practices. Before jumping in head first, answer the following questions:

  • What is your goal for your YouTube channel?
  • Do you know who your target audience is and what their preferences are?
  • What are the best ways to engage your audience with video?

Know the goal of your YouTube channel

There are many reasons to start a YouTube channel. For example:

  • Showcase their talent. YouTube is the leading platform for creatives to showcase their visual, musical, or performance art. The goal may be to increase your fan base and monetize content.
  • Build a brand. Producing and posting videos that demonstrate your organization’s strengths, philosophy, and products or services is a great way to promote your brand.
  • Drive sales. Videos are ideal for demonstrating products and showing off services to drive sales.
  • Educate the public. Video is a powerful education tool, which can be used to teach skills, inspire action, and change attitudes.

There are as many reasons to start a YouTube channel as there are creative ways to develop its content. Knowing why you want to go on YouTube gives you the sense of direction you need to create a YouTube presence that will meet your expectations and achieve your goals.

Know the target audience of your channel

Once you have pinpointed the goals for your channel, figure out who you want to reach with your video content. Think about your intended audience and try to describe them using a combination of the following:

  • Location
  • Gender
  • Marital status
  • Income
  • Education
  • Employment
  • Existing beliefs

Now, take these insights and try to create a few personas—fictional characters who represent your key audience segments—incorporating as many details as possible. Describe each persona like they are a real person. You can even give them names and lifelike backstories. The point is to understand who you want to attract to your YouTube channel.

Know what type of video content will engage your target audience

Once you’ve determined the goal of your YouTube channel and have a good idea of who your channel will attract, think about what types of video content will resonate with this target audience. For example, you’ll want to consider answers to the following questions:

  • Are my viewers looking for pure entertainment? If so, what type?
  • Do they prefer educational content?
  • Do they want to have their beliefs challenged, or are they more comfortable with content that supports their belief systems?
  • Are they active on social media? If so, what platforms do they use?

Understanding who your audience is and what types of content they prefer will help you determine which videos to produce. Since social media platforms operate under different content sharing rules—and dictate how long or short your videos should be, as well as how to handle potential issues like the use of copyrighted music—knowing your audience’s social media habits will help you create videos that are easily shared.

Depending on your business purposes for creating your YouTube channel, you might consider one or more of the following content styles:

  • Advertisements
  • Interviews
  • Product demos
  • Reviews (products, restaurants, music, services, etc.)
  • Recordings of live event streams
  • Tutorials

Now, it’s time to start your YouTube channel. Follow along below to get started.

Step 1: Create a Google account

YouTube accounts automatically connect to established Google accounts. If you don’t already have a Google account, you will need to create one. Depending on the purpose of your YouTube channel, you might want to set up a separate Google business account, even if you have a personal Google account. Here are some reasons why:

  • With a Google business account, you can manage all the Google products you use with a single account.
  • A Google business account keeps your personal information and actions and your business information and actions separate. It promotes brand integrity.
  • You protect your business name from third parties. If you secure your Google account under your business name, you preserve the right to use the name for all Google platforms, including your YouTube channel and your Google My Business account.
  • Your YouTube channel will be more valuable to potential customers of your product/service if it’s not intermingled with personal platforms and information.

To set up your new Google account, go to accounts.google.com and click on “Create Account.” Then, fill in the details and follow the verification steps.

Create a Google Account

Step 2: Create your YouTube channel

Now that you have established a Google account, you can head to YouTube to create your channel. Under “Settings,” you’ll be brought to your account page. Below “Your YouTube channel,” you should see a “Create a new channel” link. Follow the prompts that follow.

Youtube channel

Note that if you open up YouTube without first launching your Google account, you will be asked to sign in (as shown below). Sign in and follow the sign-up instructions to create your channel.

Step 3: Personalize your YouTube channel

Once you get to the YouTube “Create Channel” page, you will be asked to choose if you’d like to use your personal name or create a brand account. A brand account allows you to use a different name than your Google account. (Note that you’ll have to be signed into Google to create a channel.)

If you choose to create a brand account, it’s important to come up with a name that accurately describes your business while being engaging. It should be unique but easy to remember and spell since you’ll want users to be able to search for you. However, make sure that users can still recognize your brand if the name slightly differs from your business.

You’ll now have the opportunity to add special branding to your channel to make it uniquely yours. You can personalize your channel by adding:

  • A channel icon
  • Channel art
  • An “About” narrative

Add a channel icon

Sometimes referred to as a profile picture, your channel icon is a small identifying image that will appear on every channel page, video, and comment you make under this account. This can be your photograph or, if you’re creating a channel for your business, your logo.

Your channel icon is an important piece of branding, and it’s worth the effort to create one that reflects the image you want the world to associate with your enterprise. You want the image to be memorable and help people form an immediate and positive association with your company and your brand.

Channel icon

If you don’t already have a professionally designed logo, you can easily commission one from a logo designer on Upwork. Even if you have a logo, it’s important that you get it properly sized for use as a YouTube channel icon.

To replace YouTube’s default channel icon with your own:

  • Click the “Customize Channel” button at the top of the Create Channel page.
  • Select the pencil button on the right-hand corner of the default icon and click on “Edit.”
  • Select “Upload Photo.”
  • Crop your photo as desired and click “Done.”

Upload channel art

The background image you choose for your YouTube channel is called your channel art. It can be changed as often as you’d like and is a great way to keep visitors engaged and interested. Like your channel icon, your channel art should always reflect your overall branding. Here is an example from Upwork.

Upload channel art

To add channel art:

  • Go to the YouTube homepage and click your icon in the top-right corner.
  • Select “My Channel.”
  • Select “Customize Channel.”
  • Select “Add Channel Art” and upload your image.

Keep in mind that users will be accessing your YouTube channel to watch videos on different devices—smartphones, tablets, laptops, and TVs. Your art will look different on each device. To optimize your channel art across these devices, use an image that’s 2560 x 1440 pixels. At a minimum, the image dimensions should be 2048 x 1152 pixels.

Fill out the “About” section

You can describe yourself and/or your business in the “About” section. This section deserves some time and attention, as it’s your chance to introduce yourself to new users and let faithful followers get to know you even better.

You’ll want to include most of the following:

  • Your location and contact information (email, phone number, etc.)
  • A link to your website
  • Links to your other social media accounts
  • Links to other channels tangentially related to your brand when appropriate (Featured Channels section)

You also should include a narrative that explains the “why” of your channel—the special programming or information that sets what you have to offer apart from other channels.

About section

To add your channel description, click on “About” in the top menu of your “Customize Channel” page and add your information and text where indicated.

Step 4: Add a channel trailer

One of the most effective ways to promote your channel is through a YouTube channel trailer. These are short, entertaining teaser videos set to automatically play. Their purpose is to draw attention to your channel so viewers can instantly understand who you are and what they can expect on your channel.

The steps to uploading a channel trailer are:

  • Go to “Customize Channel.”
  • Click the “For New Visitors” tab.
  • Click the “Channel Trailer” button.
  • Select your trailer and save it.

When creating your trailer, keep these best practices in mind:

  • Keep it short, preferably between 30 seconds and one minute long.
  • Start strong and provide enough information to pique a new viewer’s interest, but not so much that they won’t feel the need to visit your channel for the rest of your video content.
  • Include a call to action with a subscription button and an invitation to share.

In this screenshot of Upwork’s YouTube channel trailer, you can see the short and engaging description of the company’s mission plus a clear call to action followed by a link to the company’s page.

Channel trailer

Step 5: Outline a content calendar

Like any other content marketing endeavor, consistency is key to keeping and growing an audience. The way to keep your channel content fresh and your viewers engaged is to create and follow a YouTube editorial calendar. Think of it as your strategy roadmap to keep you on track and loyal and new viewers coming back for more. These tips will get you started:

  • Keep a consistent video upload schedule. Know your audience and meet their scheduling expectations. For example, if your business uploads how-to videos on home improvement every day, you may disappoint viewers if you slack off once or twice a week. You’re better off slowing down from the outset—perhaps to three video uploads a week—than overpromising and under-fulfilling.
  • Plan your content in advance. You will never achieve consistency if you find yourself scrambling at the last minute for content ideas. Know, at least generally, what you want your video content to cover and give yourself time to gather information and produce the videos.
  • Sync your YouTube content calendar with your business promotions. Your YouTube content should sync with your business marketing and promotions. Plan ahead to launch video content that is relevant to and coincides with new product launches or store openings.
  • Set up a video promotions schedule. Determine when and how you’ll promote your videos and schedule these campaigns.

Step 6: Upload your first video

Once you have your channel set up, it’s time to create and upload your first video. You’ll need to make sure the quality and production values of your videos will support your overall goals for the channel.

If you’re doing a series of interviews, a quality home video shot with a smartphone might suffice. However, if you want to do high-end product demonstrations or create a series of subscription-based tutorials, you may want to invest in professional equipment like a DSLR camera, a fast aperture lens, some lighting equipment, and video editing software so that you can add professional finishing touches, like music and effects.

You might also consider hiring a professional videographer to record and edit your video. If your goal is to put a polished look on a pitch or demonstration, you might even think about hiring a professional video scriptwriter.

Once your video is ready for upload, getting it onto your YouTube channel is quite easy. All you need to do is this:

  • Click on your YouTube icon.
  • Select “Creator Studio” from the drop-down menu.
  • Click on the arrow that says “Upload.”
  • Select your video from your device.

Be sure to pre-select your privacy settings to make your video accessible to all viewers. If you want to release the video on a certain day, select the option to schedule it accordingly.

Step 7: Optimize your video content

Unless you’re creating a video channel for your own amusement, you’ll want to do everything you can to optimize your video content to attract viewers and encourage subscribers. In other words, you want to make it easy for users to find your videos through search engines.

No matter how clever you are at search engine optimization (SEO), you will still need to produce videos that people want to watch. SEO might get a visitor to your channel once, but they aren’t going to return unless you fulfill their content needs. Go for quality, consistency, and originality and then work on enhancing your visibility through SEO.

A few best practices for optimizing your video content include:

  • Use a target keyword in your video title. For example, if you own a guitar store and are creating a video to demonstrate a new line of Taylor acoustic guitars, you’ll want to make sure that the title of your video and the video name mention acoustic guitars and the Taylor brand. You’ll want to target acoustic guitar players and Taylor fans and make it easy for them to find your video. Keep the title short. A 70-character maximum is often recommended.
  • Use target keywords in your video description. You have a little more leeway in your video description to organically insert additional keywords that a viewer might use when searching for demonstrations of Taylor acoustic guitars. For example, you might want to add “6-string guitar” or “acoustic-electric guitar” to the description. Keep the word count down here as well. Sticking to 350 characters or less is a good rule to follow.
  • Tag your video. Tags are descriptive keywords that help YouTube viewers find your content. You can add them by selecting “More Options” while uploading your video or after upload by navigating back to your video.
  • Customize your thumbnails. YouTube will automatically create a thumbnail image for every uploaded video. You can upload a custom thumbnail image to replace the auto-generated image to make it stand out.

Do you need a little more help with optimizing your video content? Independent YouTube SEO experts on Upwork can help guide your SEO efforts when creating high-quality videos.

Make your YouTube channel a success

Creating a successful YouTube channel to promote your business doesn’t have to be a complicated or cumbersome process. It’s OK to start slowly and incorporate the tips and best practices covered in this article as you go along. The important thing is that you continue to put effort into your channel so that it becomes a staple of your business’s marketing strategy.

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How to Start a YouTube Channel for Your Business: a Step-by-Step Guide
The Upwork Team

Upwork is the world’s work marketplace that connects businesses with independent talent from across the globe. We serve everyone from one-person startups to large, Fortune 100 enterprises with a powerful, trust-driven platform that enables companies and talent to work together in new ways that unlock their potential.

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