Everything You Need to Know to Start a YouTube Channel in 2021 (Complete Beginners’ Guide)

If you want to start your own YouTube channel this year, or if you already have a channel but you really want to get it to start growing this year, then this article is for you. In this complete beginner’s guide, I’m going to be covering 10 important things that you need to know if you want to start and succeed on Youtube. Let’s get into it!

1. Channel Name

The first decision that you’re going to need to make to start your channel is what to name it. You can name it your own name, or you can name it something else related to what your channel will be about.

For example, if your channel is going to be a vlog channel or about your life or about things that you like, then you’ll probably want to use your name. If you’re building a personal brand, use your name. If you’re using your channel for a business, then you’ll want to use a name that is a really professional name and describes what the channel is about, who it’s for, or use the name of the business. If your channel is going to be about some certain topic and all about that topic.

I know a lot of people are conflicted about this, and they’re not sure what the best decision is. So… there’s good news and some bad news. The good news is that the TRUTH is… it’s not going to affect your channel very much what name you choose, but that’s also the bad news, because I know that if there was a clear answer that would make it easier. What I can tell you is, it doesn’t matter that much, so don’t stress out about it. So feel free to just choose whatever name you like!

2. Register as a Business

Once you start getting some views and your channel starts really growing, then you’re going to start making some money from Adsense of your own products or services you’re selling. You will most likely want to register yourself as a business if you have not already. I’m not an accountant, and finance law definitely varies from state to state, but I can’t tell you that in most cases (in the U.S.), you don’t need to register as a business, you can simply report your income on your regular income taxes by adding a Schedule C. But there are other advantages of registering as a business, and of course, it’s best to consult with a professional accountant or business attorney about your unique situation.

3. Video Topics

If you want to get views on YouTube, you must make videos about topics that people are interested in, because there’s no way you can convince people to watch your videos if you’re talking about something they don’t care about. But that doesn’t mean you can’t talk about what you really care about! There will be plenty of overlap between what other people have to be interested in right now and things that you want to talk about. You just have to make sure that you’re making videos that fall in that sweet spot.

This is where keyword research is important because you can make a list of all the things you might want to talk about in a video, and then you can do keyword research for each of those different topics and find out which ones people are actively looking for — because those are the topics that are most likely to become successful videos.

4. Video Quality

The next thing you need to know to start a YouTube channel in 2021 is that video quality is super important. Before you start disagreeing with me and telling me about channels with poor video quality but still do well, let me explain!

It’s not just about how high the resolution of the actual video footage is — video quality has a lot more to do with how interesting the video is and how much people enjoy watching it. That’s what really matters.

In order to make a video people will enjoy:

  1. Talk about something that they care about.
  2. Share good, interesting information.
  3. Keep up the pace!
  4. Keep the video purposeful.

I break down exactly how to do this in our free Youtube workshop 3 Secrets to Reach 1,000 Subscribers and Get Monetized in Just 3 Months. You can click here to register for the next showing of the workshop!

Of course, resolution or quality of the pixels that you’re seeing doesn’t hurt either. And in some niches, it really is essential. For example, if you’re making videos for a business, you need those videos to look professional, or if you’re making beauty videos, you need people to really be able to see what’s going on, and some audiences, like the beauty audience, really do like a perfect, pretty image.

If you do need that higher quality image, then what should you do, you might be wondering, what camera should I use? That’s a really common question that new YouTubers have, so if you’re wondering what camera you should use. First, I would say, work with what you have. There are two reasons for this:

  1. You don’t know if you’re going to make videos long term. You might start making videos and decide is too much work or you don’t really enjoy it, or for some other reason, decide to not keep making videos, so I don’t want you to waste hundreds or thousands of dollars on a nice camera before you figure that out for sure.
  2. The other reason though why I’d say start with what you have is because most people have equipment that is more than adequate in their pockets. Honestly, most of the smartphones that are out today have such good cameras in them that put the expensive cameras we were using five or 10 years ago completely to shame. So, take advantage of that amazing piece of technology that you already own!
  3. Finally, getting started with what you have puts you in the right mindset of not using your gear as a crutch. If you feel like you can only make videos with the latest and greatest equipment, you’ll constantly find yourself using that as an excuse and not really put in the effort to make the best videos with the equipment you already have.

If you do need to purchase a camera, then my top recommendation for beginner YouTubers is the Canon M50. It will give you near-professional results without breaking the bank.

5. Consistency

I’m sure I’m not the first person to tell you that it is important to be consistent, BUT it’s not for the reason that everyone thinks! Everyone claims that the algorithm likes it when you’re consistent and that’s how you can get on the algorithm’s good side to gain more views, but that’s not it at all.

Honestly, the algorithm doesn’t care if you’re consistent or not. There are plenty of channels out there that only upload a few times a year, yet get millions of views on each of their uploads, which proves that the algorithm really doesn’t care. But… consistency is still important.

Here’s why: It’s important to you as a creator. In order to make great videos that people love to watch that perform well and get the views, you need to get the practice to learn how to make these awesome videos. You need to learn how to use your gear, get comfortable in front of the camera, and figure out what your audience loves to watch.

6. Video Ideas

To turn your channel into a success, you’re going to need a lot of video ideas. But, how do you get all those video ideas? My #1 tip is really to have an abundance mindset about it. If you go into this thinking that there aren’t very many good video ideas out there, then you’re going to have a really hard time finding good video ideas.

You can trick yourself to have this abundant mindset by writing a LOT of video ideas down right away before you need them. I’d recommend you start by creating a list of 100+ ideas. (Yes, literally!)

Maybe you can’t do it all in one session, but sit yourself down and just come up with 10 or 20 video ideas. Then, repeat that several times over the next week. This will show you how many different options are out there and how many good ideas there are.

From there, every time you have another idea, you write it down. Even if you’re not certain if it’s the best idea or if you will definitely make a video about it, write it down because that allows your mind to move on to the next idea instead of just thinking about the same idea over and over again.

This also makes sure that you don’t forget the ideas you come up with. This way, next time you sit down to film you’re going to have a huge list of video ideas to work with and you’ll be able to find one that is really inspiring to you in the moment and you won’t be wondering what you should talk about.

7. Upload Schedule

A common question that new YouTubers often have is, “When should you upload my videos? When is the “magic” day of the week or time of day, that is going to get you the most views?”

Honestly, this is another thing that doesn’t matter much. The main rule of thumb here is you want to make sure that you aren’t uploading when your target audience is going to be asleep. The thing about YouTube is that it’s a global platform. That means people are watching videos 24/7 because they’re watching all over the world. So, the only thing I avoid is if you are trying to target U.S. viewers (maybe because you are speaking English or you are in the U.S. yourself), I wouldn’t recommend uploading after 6 pm Pacific (because you’re going to be getting into East Coast bedtimes) or before 5 am Pacific (because over half the country will still be asleep).

Other than that, as long as you upload at a consistent day in time each week, so that you can reach the same people repeatedly, it’s not going to matter that much.

8. Video Views

Another common question I get asked is, “How do I get more views?” I know first hand how tough it can be when you’re first starting out and you don’t have any traction yet, but it doesn’t have to be complicated or difficult.

Step number one is, of course, to make good videos. You need to make videos that people actually want to watch because there’s no way that you can trick the algorithm into suggesting your videos if people don’t want to watch them. Yes, this is a bit of tough love, but it’s an important thing to know.

Step number two to get views is to communicate to the algorithm. You need to tell the algorithm what your videos are about so it knows who will want to watch them. How do you do this? With keywords. Before you made your video, do keyword research to find out what topics are popular, so you know what keywords people are looking for. Then, add those keywords into your video’s title, your video’s description, your video’s tags, and into the video itself.

Yep, that’s right — you need to say those words in the video because YouTube transcribes all videos to better understand what they’re about. What you say in your video is one of the most important ranking factors!

The algorithm will then look at all those different pieces of data and suggest your video to people who are interested in those topics. If those people respond positively, then the algorithm will start suggesting your video to more and more people who have similar interests as well.

The third step of the process of getting views is working with the algorithm. To do that, you need to know what it cares about. Turns out, there are only TWO factors that matter:

  • Click Through Ratio: When the algorithm suggests your video to somebody, how many of them click on it? What percentage of people are click on suggested videos of yours? That is mostly dependent on your videos thumbnail and your videos title, so you need to make sure that you’re designing a thumbnail that sparks their interest or sparks their curiosity.

    You also need a title that either provokes their curiosity or says really clearly what that video is about. I can say from experience that I often spend as much time working on the thumbnail and the title, as I do on the video itself, because that is going to effect about 50% of the results that the video gets.
  • Watch Duration: After someone starts watching your video, how long do they keep watching it? The longer someone watches it for the more YouTube perceives that this person is enjoying the video. YouTube’s big goal and the big goal of the algorithm is to keep people on the platform for as long as possible. If your video can do that, YouTube wants to recommend your video to more people and that’s how your video can go viral.

    On the other hand, if someone starts watching your video and 30 seconds later they click off onto something else, whether that’s another video or out of YouTube completely, then the algorithm decides that people don’t like your video that much, so they shouldn’t suggest it. The algorithm will assume it’s not doing a good job of keeping people on the platform, so obviously getting views on YouTube is the biggest challenge that most new YouTubers run into. It’s also the most important thing that you need to do in order to turn your channel into a success.

I put together a free workshop that goes way more in depth on that particular topic of gaining more views on Youtube. There’s a link down below to access that free workshop and if you are under 1000 views per video on average.

9. Grow Your YouTube Subscribers

Next things you need to know is how to get Youtube subscribers. Clearly, that’s what’s really going to grow your channel. The first step, of course, is simply to get views because the more views you get, it’s likely you’ll have more people subscribe. If you’re not already getting at least a few hundred views per video, start there.

Step two is you need to ask people to subscribe to your channel. When you make a video, even before you’re getting very many views, you want to make sure that at some point in the video you actually ask people to subscribe. Several psychological studies that have shown that if you simply suggest something to someone, they’re more than twice as likely to actually do it. So make sure that you’re using the word “subscribe” in your videos.

It’s important you do this in every video, even before you’re getting very many views, and that’s because you never know when one of your videos will take off and go viral, and it would be a real shame if that was a video that you hadn’t thought to ask people to subscribe in.

Step three is you need to tell them WHY they should subscribe. If you tell give them a reason, such as, “so you can watch my next video,” or “so you can find that next time I post,” or “so you can learn more about such and such,” or “to join the community,” it will make people even more likely to subscribe.

I know that sounds super simple and you might be thinking, isn’t there a different tactic I could use to get more subscribers? What about sub 4 sub — does that work? No, please don’t do that. Here’s why:

First of all, it’s against YouTube’s terms of service, and that means it could potentially get your channel deleted, which would be a real shame. The second reason you don’t want to do sub for sub is because it is going to be killing your channel in the algorithm. You don’t want the wrong subscribers. The wrong subscribers are people who don’t actually care about your channel and aren’t going to watch your videos. If you attract the wrong subscribers, then, when you put out a new video and those people don’t watch it, that tells the algorithm that people don’t like your videos, which will cause the algorithm to not suggest your channel to other people.

Ultimately sub4sub tactics will keep your channel small. Not only is it risky, it’s also not sustainable. Even if you devoted your entire life to this tactic, it would never grow your channel to a million subscribers. You need to use sustainable strategies like mastering the algorithm and working with it so that your channel can grow virally on YouTube.

10. Have FUN!

When you hear me say “Have fun!” You might think, “I don’t care about that. I just want to be successful.” But this isn’t me just caring about your mental health. (Though of course that’s very important.) Having fun with your videos and with your channel is actually essential for your success, and here’s why:

People can tell if you’re just doing it for the money, or if you feel starved for views, and it will repel them. You’ll bring the wrong energy to the videos, your videos won’t be as enjoyable to watch, people won’t really connect with you, and your channel isn’t going to grow. So make sure that you’re making videos about topics that you really care about, that you’re keeping the production process fun, that you’re enjoying the creative work. If there’s some part of the creative work that you really don’t enjoy, try to get some help with that part of it so that you can focus on the parts that you love.

I also definitely don’t want you to be miserable while you’re growing your channel — that kind of defeats the purpose of it! So don’t just do what everyone else is doing because you think that that is the way to be successful. Make videos that you really love and enjoy the process. Be bold, be you, and make videos you’re proud of.

If you’re ready to do what it takes to to start a YouTube channel in 2021, then register to attend my FREE Youtube Workshop all about the 3 Secrets to Reach 1,000 Subscribers and Get Monetized in Just 3 Months. You can click the button below to register to attend our next workshop. Here’s to your success!

Gillian Perkins

Hi, I’m Gillian! I’m a marketing strategist who helps online entrepreneurs 10X their sales with FB ads + sales funnels. I love combining tech, analytics, and psychology to create powerful marketing systems. When I’m not helping my clients scale their businesses, I’m spending time with my husband and two little boys, exploring new places, or seeking out choice espresso.