YouTube, the Google-owned video network, boasts over a billion users — almost one-third of all people on the Internet — and every day people watch hundreds of millions of hours on YouTube and generate billions of views. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.

What’s amazing, though, is that only 9% of small businesses in the U.S. are actively using YouTube, and my hunch is that figure would be pretty accurate worldwide, too.

So why aren’t businesses investing in YouTube as part of our social media strategy?

In short, because video is harder to produce than a blog post or an image.

Or at least that’s the perception many of us have.

In reality, though, video is becoming much easier and cheaper to create. This means there’s a huge opportunity for your business on YouTube.

If you’ve been debating getting started on YouTube or have maybe experimented a little and not yet found your feet, this post is for you. Throughout this post we’ll dive into:

  • The basics of getting your account set up
  • How to create a YouTube channel
  • How to create the perfect channel art
  • Top tips for optimizing your channel.

Ready to start? Let’s go.


How to create a YouTube channel

Creating a YouTube channel using your Google account

If you have a Google account, you can watch, share and comment on YouTube content. However, Google accounts don’t automatically create YouTube channels. Getting a new channel set up is a simple and quick process, though.

1. Go to YouTube and sign in

Head over to and click ‘sign in’ in the top right corner of the page:


Then log in using the Google Account you’d like your channel to be associated with:


2. Head over to your YouTube settings

In the top right corner of the screen, click on your profile icon and then the ‘Settings’ cog icon.


3. Create your channel

Under your settings, you’ll see the option to “Create a channel,” click on this link:


Next, you’ll have the option to create a personal channel or a create a channel using a business or other name. For this example, we’ll choose the business option:


Now, it’s time to name your channel and select a category. The channel options available include:

  • Product or Brand
  • Company Institution or Organization
  • Arts, Entertainment or Sports
  • Other


Note: a new Google+ page will also be created for your brand. 

Congratulations! You’ve just created a new YouTube channel ?


Next, let’s fill out all the information and create some channel art to get your page looking awesome (click here to jump to the next section).

How to create a YouTube channel if you don’t already have a Google account

If you don’t already have a Google account set up, you’ll need to create one before you get started on YouTube. To do this, simply follow the below steps:

  1. Head to
  2. Click ‘Sign In’
  3. Now, choose the option to create a Google account
  4. Follow the steps to create your Google account

Now, you’re all set up with a Google account and can follow the above steps to create a YouTube channel.

How to create YouTube channel art

YouTube channel art is essentially YouTube’s version of the Facebook cover photo. Channel art features in a prominent place on your YouTube channel, which means it’s absolutely vital for any YouTube channel to use customized art to share your personality or more about your brand with your audience.

Here’s an example of Gary Vaynerchuk’s YouTube channel art:


Gary is well-known for his public speaking at conferences and for sharing all he knows about marketing and building businesses with his audience. This is reflected in his cover photo, which displays Gary in mid-flow giving a presentation at what seems to be a large event. The inclusion of his handle @garyvee helps users to identify him on other social chanels and his signature branding makes the art feel personal.

Here’s what you need to know to create striking YouTube channel art…

The perfect sizes for YouTube channel art

The best place to start with your channel art is with the optimal image size that works across multiple devices. For the best results, YouTube recommends uploading a single 2560 x 1440 pixel image.

  • Minimum width: 2048 X 1152 px. This is the “safe area”, where text and logos are guaranteed not to be cut off when displayed on different devices.
  • Maximum width: 2560 X 423 px. This means that the “safe area” is always visible; the areas to each side of the channel art are visible depending on the viewer’s browser size.
  • File size: 4MB or smaller recommended.

YouTube also supplies a Channel Art Template in both PNG and PSD formats to help your figure out the perfect layout for your channel are and how it’ll look across platforms:


Here’s an example of how I used this template to create some channel art for the Buffer YouTube account:


And here’s how it looks across various platforms:

2 top tips for YouTube channel art

1. Ensure any text and logos are within the safe area

The text and logo safe area is the 1546 x 423 pixel space at the center of the YouTube channel art template. This is the area that will be displayed on YouTube when your channel is viewed on desktop screens.

Be careful to ensure any important information such as branding, text, taglines, and key images are within this space so that it’s always displayed as part of your channel art across every device.

2. Consider your channel links

YouTube enables you to add links to your channel and these are displayed in the bottom right corner of your channel art. For example, check the bottom right of the channel art below:


When creating your channel art, it’s important to think about the space these links take up and ensure you don’t have anything important (such as logos) occupying that space within your design.

How to add art to your YouTube channel

If you’re just setting up your YouTube channel, you’ll notice the channel art space is blank with a clear call to action to add your art:


Once you’ve clicked this link, you’ll see a popup window that gives you the option to upload your own custom channel art. If you’d like to, you can also choose to use one of YouTube’s templates from the “Gallery” or choose to upload one of your photos from Google+.


Adjusting the crop

Once you’ve uploaded your channel art, YouTube allows you to adjust the cropping of your image so that you can ensure it’s all lined up correctly.

This crop screen is very handy for checking how your design will look on various platforms. The clear section in the middle of the grid shows you the content that will be displayed on mobile and desktop and the rest of the image shows the image that will be displayed on TVs.


Once you’re happy with the way your cover art looks, click “Select” and your channel art will be added to your channel and saved.

Changing your current channel art

If you already have some channel art in place and would like to update it, head over to your channel homepage. From here, move your mouse over your cover art and you’ll notice a little edit button appear in the top right-hand corner:


Once you’ve clicked on this icon, you can update your channel art.

This video from YouTube also explains how to add and edit your channel art:

How to add your channel icon

Each channel also has space for a profile icon.Your channel icon shows over your channel art banner. It’s the icon that shows next to your videos and channel on YouTube watch pages. The key here is to select something that will look good at very small resolutions –  many brands opt to use their logo here.

Your channel icon should be 800 x 800 pixels and one of the following formats: JPG, GIF, BMP or PNG file (no animated GIFs).

To update your channel icon, head to your channel homepage and hover over your current channel icon until you see the edit icon appear. Click on that icon and you’ll be able to upload a new icon:


5 ways to enhance your channel

1. Optimize your description

YouTube gives you a space on your channel to write a little about your brand and the content you share on YouTube. The description is limited to 1,000 characters, so you have a little room to be creative here.

The copy in your channel description won’t just appear on your channel page. It’s indexed by search engines and can also be featured across YouTube in suggested channel categories. A good tactic is to include some relevant keywords and CTAs within the opening lines of your description.

2. Add links to your channel


We briefly mentioned channel links earlier in this post and I’d love to share with you how to add these links in 4 super-quick steps:

1. The first step is to head to your channel homepage and click on the ‘cog’ icon next to your subscriber count:


2. Next, you’ll see a Channel Settings lightbox appear. Here you need to toggle on the option labeled “Customize the layout of your channel”:


3. Now that you’ve enabled customizations on your channel, pop back to your channel homepage and you’ll now see the option to “Edit Links” under the settings menu on your cover art:


4. Click the “Edit Links” option and you’ll then be taken to the “About” section of your channel. Here you’ll have the option to add links and choose how many are displayed over your cover art:


3. Add a channel trailer

As soon as visitors land on your channel, you want to give them a picture of the type of content your channel covers and why they’ll want to subscribe and check out your videos. A channel trailer is the perfect way to do this.

A short, to-the-point channel trailer can be a great way to introduce people to your content. A channel trailer should grab attention as soon as it starts and also represent the type of content you create on YouTube.

It’s also important to think about the description you add to this video as it features prominently on your channel homepage.

(These trailers only appear for people who are not yet subscribed to your channel.)

Here are a couple of great examples:

Gary Vaynerchuk


4. Add your contact details (email address)

If you’re using YouTube as a business or a creator, it can be great to have your contact details on hand for anyone who is interested in your work. YouTube has a section on each channel profile for you to list your contact details for business inquiries.

This can be found under the “About” section of your channel. To find it, go to your channel homepage, click “About” from the navigation and then scroll down to “Details.” Here you’ll see the option to share your email address:


Over to you

Thanks for reading. It’s been great fun to dive into how to create a YouTube channel and I hope you picked up one or two tips from this post. If you create a YouTube channel of your own or already have one up and running, I’d love to hear from you and learn from your experience in the comments below.

Do you have any tips to optimize your YouTube channel? ?

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Written by Ash Read

Content crafter at Buffer. I’m fascinated by storytelling, entrepreneurship, and travel. When I’m not writing, you’ll usually find me on a football pitch or basketball court.

  • Sam Christie

    How do you feel about channel name vs URL? Obviously you want to keep it as simple as possible (esp. for a business), but then you have YouTubers who are super successful even though their URL is something that they picked at random one day…do you think it matters much?

    • Hey Sam, that’s a great question. I wish I had some data here to back up my answer, but my hunch is that URL may not matter too much. I feel like it’s quite rare on social media for someone to type in a full URL to visit a profile. If you can get a short URL that matches your channel name, I think that’s ideal. But I think personally, I’d probably go for the name over the URL (though I could be way off). Would love to hear your thoughts on this, too 🙂

  • Laura Longville

    Love this. Thanks as it was simple to follow and implement! I can always count on you guys!

  • Ferrarimangp

    This is an excellent step-by-step guide to getting started on Youtube. I love the screenshots and organization!

  • Very well explained. Already implemented few of them on my channel. Thanks!

    • That’s awesome to hear, Malhar. Love to hear how these updates work out for you 🙂

  • Leon Sheed

    Good set up guide Ash. Maybe for the next one we can talk about the Equipment Needed to Start Your Own YouTube Channel.


    • Thanks Leon, that’s a great suggestion.

  • Simple as that!

  • Nice and simple walk through here Ash. I didn’t know about the links in the profile cover art area. Probably was added after I made mine years ago. The dimensions for all the different screens are very helpful too. Thanks and 7 cheers to all Bufferoos! 🙂
    Have a wonderful Wednesday and I’ll be sharing this with my network today.

  • Cat Michaels

    Super tut, Ash! I shared your post with my Kid Lit community as a way to notch up our channels and also as a great example of a how-to post.

  • Paddy lock

    very informative article. thanks for sharing

  • I have begun to use YT as an additional and alternative way to share information, beyond my blog, article/content writing and. I am currently employing some of the strategy you discuss and your article has provided further useful and additional “how to” information for progressing and implementing those strategies. I believe there is a mountain of opportunity for the taking from YT marketing

  • Aumkar Upadhye

    It’s awesome trivia and dragged myself into the days , when It was so alien! I researched myself a little, which helped me to portray myself through better medium. @YouTube
    takes you to the places, put you on the stage..the well you perform the well you get appreciated., as good as theater (@Youtube = Virtual Theater) @ashleyread:disqus you described channel creation, creatives and marketing really well, deserves round of applause!!

  • nice post to make thousands YouTube followers.

  • Jessica

    Can you recommend a “kit” for small businesses that don’t have any camera equipment beyond an iPhone? What AV gear is necessary vs. nice-to-have?

  • Arun Sarathy

    Hi Ash, read your post top to bottom religiously for neat tricks and found great ones like adding site links and social icons.

    Just one observation: towards the end you’d mentioned “5 ways to enhance your channel” but I found only 4.

    Checked more than twice and also checked if anybody else mentioned in the comments but found none. Since I am reading this article on my Android phone I wasn’t sure if I was missing something.

    Nevertheless, great post otherwise! ..i just wanted to point this out to ensure I don’t miss that one extra tip from you.


  • Dark

    One of the things i have learned is making simple youtube profile pics. i make them for people. im on fiverr

  • TheTechieGuy

    If your business is just starting out, the top three elements I tell my clients are : 1) Viewers will forgive bad video but won’t forgive bad audio – if they cant hear you,they won’t watch. 2) upload several videos but leave them unlisted. This way you can have a play with text, thumbnails, end-screens, descriptions etc without customers seeing anything. When you are ready to go live, having multiple videos also shows that this is not a “once off experiment”. 3) Think carefully about Playlists (think of them as TV channels). Will you have every video in one location or put videos into their own Playlist? eg. you might want to have company news in one and product reviews in another or How To Guides in yet another. It gives your YouTube channel some structure.

  • Mary Grace Faulkerson

    Great article for beginners. Try #BuyRealMarketing to help you with gaining Youtube views fast and easy.

  • Farabi Al

    This way you can have a play with text, thumbnails, end-screens, descriptions etc without customers seeing anything.You Develop Your Career Get Now

  • Farabi Al
  • Farabi Al

    Great article for beginners. Try #BuyRealMarketing to help you with gaining Youtube views fast and easy.

  • Farabi Al
  • Farabi Al

    Super tut, Ash! I shared your post with my Kid Lit community as a way to notch up our channels and also as a great example of a how-to post.

  • Farabi Al
  • Farabi Al

    Can you recommend a “kit” for small businesses that don’t have any camera equipment beyond an iPhone? What AV gear is necessary vs. nice-to-have?

  • Smart Tutorials

    This is a very informative article about how to create a youtube channel. I have really learned a lot from this video. If you want, you can also try this tutorial This will also help you learning creating a youtube channel in a very easy way. Thanks you.

  • Shawn Wood

    People on your newsletter must love you. This content is pure 100% gold

  • Yousuf Kalo

    that was nice though

  • dahir


  • West

    create article found something similar in this video

  • Loren Davis

    Most of this is not true.