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.
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)
- Fill in Upload defaults – pay attention to default tags and description CTAs (link)
- Add Branding watermark – this doubles as a subscribe button! (link)
- Go through Advanced settings (link)
- Channel keywords are very important – make sure to duplicate the most relevant ones to your upload default’s tags!
- If you plan to monetize your channel, make sure you have NOT selected Disable interest-based ads
- Associated website is needed if you want to link to your website via Cards or End Screens (link)
- Channel recommendations – check #10 for details on this, they are the same thing despite being called different in different places.
- 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.
- Review Privacy settings – make sure you have selected to keep all your likes, saved playlists and subscriptions private. Personally I see the Activity Feed as an useless, outdated feature, so I always uncheck those boxes. (link)
- Add Channel art (link)
- Add channel info in “About” section
- Write a channel description (apparently this gets indexed by search engines)
- Add an email for business inquiries
- 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.
- If your company has other channels, make sure to display those in Featured Channels element
- Related channels is another tricky one. In my experience, this displays top 5 other channels your subscribers have also subscribed to.
- The good: might increase your channels credibility, because it makes it look like the channel is part of the same bunch with those 5 other – often popular – channels. Also when this feature is enabled, only then your channel is eligible to appear on other channels’ Related channels section
- The bad: could potentially display your competitors’ channels. If so, I encourage to disable it.
- Assuming you’re using the new YouTube UI, you need to first click “Customize channel” button on your channel page. You’ll now see the old UI, and you can click the little gray cog icon. This opens up Channel settings
- Review Privacy settings. Again, make sure subscriptions and saved playlists are set to Private. Note that saved playlists are not the same thing as playlists that you’ve created. More on those later.
- Enable Customize the layout of your channel
- Create Playlists!
- 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.
- Also if you’re collaborating with other YouTube channels, this is a great way to feature e.g. content that you’ve sponsored, but which has been originally published elsewhere.
- Playlist descriptions can have clickable links
- 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.
- There are many different ways to organize your content as channel sections, but I prefer “Single playlist / Horizontal row” in most cases. If some series has particularly many videos (or deserves a bit more real-estate), then a solid option is “Single playlist / Vertical list”.
- 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.
- Create (i.e. ask a designer to create) new video ending template, that can facilitate a big SUBSCRIBE button from YouTube’s native end screen elements
- Although it has a bit goofy hover effect, it still drives those precious first subscribers to you
- 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
- Add custom URL (requires account to be 30 days old & have at least 100 subscribers)
Bonus 1: if this is the first channel you’re creating, you might want to also check out YouTube Creator Academy‘s “Build your channel’s brand” course.
Bonus 2: I left out Channel Trailer from this Checklist on purpose, because it does take some time to produce it. But if you have the time and resources, I’d highly recommend creating one! We’ll definitely add a trailer to our new channel shortly as well.
Bonus 3: 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!