Internet is full of guides on how to create a YouTube channel, but none of them helped me when our company had reached the point where we realized that one YouTube channel simply wasn’t enough. Whether you’re in the process of creating the first channel for your business, or maybe in similar situation that we were, it doesn’t matter, as this checklist will be suitable for you nevertheless.
(This guide was updated in December 2020 to reflect the changes in YouTube Studio. All links should be fixed now.)
Shortly on the background of my case: our company had created a YouTube channel in 2009, so over 7 years ago, and as a quite active publisher (685 videos at the time of writing this!) it would be fair to say that we had been somewhat early adopters in online video marketing. However, I must admit that while we had been active on publishing videos to the platform, there wasn’t that much else going on for us: no specific (long-term) video strategy, barely any upkeep in terms of channel appearances (e.g. keeping up with YouTube’s evolving features), and probably no conscious effort on trying to build a subscriber base.
I see this happening all the time, often even with some pretty big brands. Companies still tend to treat YouTube as some sort of a media library, not as the powerful social platform it is.
How to attract subscribers if I don’t have content?
The first 100 subscribers are the hardest to get. Would you subscribe to a channel which has only one or two videos? Probably not.
Hence my primary principle for creating this new channel to our company was to make it seem like it has a lot of content. This is how our brand new channel looked like with ONLY ONE uploaded video:
See what I did there? The only video uploaded by this channel is shown as the featured video as well as the first one on the first playlist. Rest of the videos are from the main (old) channel, but instead of reuploading them and losing views and SEO value, we just reintroduced them in new channel’s playlists (#13 on the Checklist). Now it looks like the channel would have been around for a while, focusing only on the consumer-facing content that we’ve produced. Sweet!
But that’s not the only trick we used to kick-start our new channel. Check the rest of them from this 17-step checklist and start building your own channel today!
Checklist for creating a new YouTube channel
- Create a new Google account
- Verify the YT account (link)
- Channel settings (the little cog icon on the left, link)
- General – Just pick your currency
- Basic info – Country of residence if less important these days as a lot of content is global anyway, but it’s good to double check it’s the correct one.
- Basic info – Channel keywords work best if you put just a couple of your main keywords. Your goal is to make YouTube understand what your channel is about, so they can promote your videos to the correct audience. Remember to include these keywords later in your Upload defaults as well.
- Advanced settings – Audience. It’s extremely important to answer this question correctly: “Do you want to set your channel as made for kids?” Assuming your isn’t, answer “No, set this channel as not made for kids. I never upload content that’s made for kids.” If you fail to answer this or you answer differently, the distribution of your videos on YouTube will be severely limited. In fact, according to YouTube Help, “Failure to set your content appropriately may result in consequences on YouTube or have legal consequences under COPPA and other laws.”
- Advanced settings – Google Ads account linking. Link if you’re going to do paid promotion for your videos on Google’s platforms.
- Advanced settings – Auto-generated captions. Assuming there’s not a lot of profanity in your content, it’s probably a safe bet to check “Don’t show potentially inappropriate words”.
- Advanced settings – Subscriber count. Now this is a tricky one, some say you should always show it, some say that showing a small subscriber count might actually be a turn-off for potential subscribers. Although I can see the reasoning in the latter, I’ve managed to grow one other channel to over 1000 subs within a year while having subscriber count visible from the start. More info about subscriber counts here.
- Advanced settings – Advertisements. Although it might be tempting to do a good deed and check “Disable interest-based ads”, be aware that doing so will significantly reduce your channel’s revenue. Also many believe that YouTube “deboosts” videos without interest-based ads as those bring less revenue for them.
- Advanced settings – Channel visibility should be public, of course.
- Advanced settings – Advanced channel settings. (Yeah I know this naming is confusing and stupid, but it’s a remnant of the merger of the classic Creator Studio and the new YouTube Studio.) Add Associated website. It’s needed if you want to link to your website via Cards or End Screens (link).
- Upload defaults
- Basic info – Few pointers. If you plan to have your channel’s name always in the video title, make sure it’s the last part of that title and not the first. It’s quite common to see companies publishing videos that always start with heir own name, effectively then cutting the full video title short on mobile screens, for example. Also pay attention to default tags (remember to duplicate here whatever you added for channel tags) and description CTAs. Visibility is good to be “unlisted” by default, then you don’t for example accidentally publish something you haven’t finished writing a description for.
- Advanced settings – Adjust as needed. Make sure that the original video language is correct, again this helps YouTube to better index your content.
- Monetization – Select as needed, but remember, nobody likes that person who selects all of these.
- Permissions, Community and Agreements are something you can take a look at, but there’s not really anything critical at this point.
- Channel customization
- Video spotlight – Add a channel trailer and a featured video! Even if you’d have just one video, put it in both places. Some folks prefer to create dedicated channel trailers to be shown for people who haven’t subscribed, but if you choose to go down that road then remember that the trailer better be damn good to a) summarize your channel truthfully and b) drive engagement and eventually subscriptions. Also you’d have to periodically, for example once a year, update that trailer to keep its contents fresh. One great tactic that I like to use is to put the channel’s most popular video as channel trailer and the latest video as featured video for returning subscribers. This way new viewers get to see your most successful content (and they also see immediately how many views that video has, great if there’s a lot of variance between videos) and are more likely to convert to subscribers. At the same time your current subscribers want to see your latest content, so putting it as a featured video is a natural choice.
- Featured sections – Create Playlists! Playlists are incredibly useful and have benefits on the platforms beyond just the obvious content categorization mechanism.
- There are many different ways to organize your content as channel sections, but I prefer “Single playlist” in most cases. This is especially beneficial if you have different series of content.
- Many people aren’t aware of this, but you can add ANY video to your playlists. This made it possible for us to “transfer” content from old channel to the new one.
- Playlist descriptions can have links, but they’re clickable only in YouTube mobile app.
- Note that when featuring that playlist on your channel’s front page, only roughly the first ~35 words or ~210 characters of the description are visible on desktop browser, and ~17 or ~120 characters in the mobile app.
- If you’ve created YouTube Shorts, make sure to add “Short videos” section to the top of your page. This section will be visible only in the YouTube app.
- “Featured channels” is a good way to showcase your company’s other channels, your partner channels or simply other creators you’d like to show support toward.
- Add a profile picture.
- Add a banner image.
- Add video watermark – this doubles as a subscribe button! Use .png to get transparent background. Single color is recommended, I’ve found white to work the best. For display time I’d go with “entire video”, unless you’ll always have e.g. 10 second intro, then it’s good to have your watermark appearing only after that.
- Basic info
- Write a good channel description. Apparently this gets indexed by search engines, so it doesn’t hurt to be a bit longer.
- Add custom URL (requires account to be 30 days old & have at least 100 subscribers).
- Add Links, but remember: only max of 5 of them are shown as icons on top of your channel art, and only the first displays the accompanying text as well.
- Add an email for business inquiries.
- Review Privacy settings – make sure you have selected to keep all your likes, saved playlists and subscriptions private. (link)
- Optional: If you did migrate content to playlists from another channel you can control, then
- Add your new channel’s name as tag to each on those videos which are now “migrated”.
- Add “Subscribe to MyNewChannel + URL” in the descriptions of those videos – this way you can drive subs to your new channel from your old channel’s relevant videos
- PRO TIP: add ?sub_confirmation=1 after your channel URL to get a subscription link, like this.
- Remove migrated videos/playlists from the old channel’s front page
- GO PUBLIC! Spread the word like hell and aim to get those first 100 subs fast
Bonus 1: if this is the first channel you’re creating, you might want to also check out the official YouTube Creator Academy‘s catalog.
Bonus 2: Double down (triple down?) with your most important keywords. Select a couple, then use those in tags, descriptions, About section, playlist names, where ever you can. YouTube indexes everything!
I honestly believe that setting up a YouTube channel is easier than what the checklist might look like. There’s just a bunch of nitty-gritty things and settings you need to get right – it’s exactly these details that make a channel look polished and professional.
Please share in the comment section if there’s something to be added to the checklist, and I’ll look into it. Just bear in mind that this isn’t supposed to be a branding or content creation guide, but more like a technical guide on how to setup a channel.
Now let me end this blog post with one of the most popular ways of ending a video on YouTube:
Don’t forget to like, share and subscribe!