If you’re just getting started with online video – whether for your business or for yourself – one of the first steps is creating a YouTube channel. YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, after Google. If you want your videos to be discovered you should definitely give them a home there, even if you’re also posting them to your website, Facebook, or elsewhere.

Luckily, creating a YouTube channel is free and easy to do. We’ve put together a quick checklist to help you get set up.

Step 1: Create a Google account

YouTube is a Google service, so you’ll need a Google account in order to create a new channel. If you don’t already have a Google account, head over to accounts.google.com to create one. Once you’ve got your account, head over to youtube.com and login to get started.

Step 2: Create your YouTube channel

Once you’re logged into YouTube, click on “My Channel” in the menu on the left. This will open up a dialog box where you can set up your channel.

Set up your channel on YouTube

If you are creating a personal account, enter your name, gender, and birthday. You can also upload a profile image now, but we’ll be adding it in the next step. If you are creating a channel for your business, click on the option “To use a business or other name.” Then, name your channel, select the type of business, agree to YouTube’s Page Terms, and click “Done” to create your channel.

Create a new YouTube channel

Step 3: Upload your channel art

Once your channel is created, you’ll want to add some channel art to make it look nice. To do this, simply navigate to your channel and click on “Add Channel Art” at the top.

Add channel art to YouTube

The recommended size for channel art is 2560 x 1440 pixels and your file cannot exceed 4 MB. Choose an image that reflects your business. In our example, we’ll be uploading a picture of flowers for a flower shop’s YouTube channel.

Once you’ve uploaded your image, you’ll be able to adjust the crop for the different platforms people will be viewing your YouTube channel on. You’ll click on the “Adjust the crop” button and then click and drag until you find a position you like. When you’re done, click on “Select.”

YouTube channel art

Next, click the pencil icon on the square in the upper left corner of your channel art to change your channel icon, or profile image. You’ll do this by uploading a profile image to your Google+ page or profile.

YouTube tells you it might take a few minutes for your channel to update with your profile image. It actually might take more than a few minutes, but it will happen eventually, so keep checking back.

Step 4: Add a channel description and keywords

Once you’ve got your channel looking good with artwork, it’s time to add a description. Click on the “About” tab on your channel page to do this and then select “Channel description.” Your description can be up to 1,000 characters and will appear when visitors check out the About page on your channel.

Now it’s time to make sure your channel gets discovered in search. Hover over the part of your channel where your channel name is displayed and click on the pencil icon that appears on the right. Select “Channel settings.”

Edit channel navigation YouTube

This will take you to the Advanced settings page, where you can select your country and then add keywords for your channel. These keywords are important. Think about what potential customers might be searching for on YouTube in order to find your business and be sure to include all of these relevant keywords and phrases.

YouTube account information

Step 5: Add links and contact details

From the same page, you can add links and contact details. If you’re a business owner, it can be helpful to add a contact email where potential customers can contact you.

When you add links, you can select a title that will appear for each link that viewers will click on to go to the link you select. Links will appear beneath your channel description on the About tab of your channel. This is a good place to add links back to your website, as well as to any social profiles you may have, including Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and more.

Add custom links YouTube

Note that up to five links can be overlaid on your channel art. If you’d like this effect, simply select from the dropdown channel at the top “Overlay the first X custom links on channel art.” Here’s what it should look like once your profile image is updated, your channel art is added, and links are displayed over channel art:

YouTube channel

Congratulations! Now your YouTube channel is set up and you’re ready to start uploading videos. Stay tuned – in future posts we’ll explore how to set up a channel trailer, organize playlists, and more to help you get the most out of YouTube. We’ll add links to these posts below as they are released.

If you have any questions about YouTube, or other aspects of online video or video marketing, let us know. Leave a comment below and we’ll address your questions in future blog posts.

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