Step by step guide on uploading a great video to YouTube
YouTube is one of the biggest websites in the world and the go-to place for video content. Uploading your own videos to YouTube is easy, but it’s important to understand all the different features and settings when doing so.
Please note that this guide relates to uploading a video on YouTube’s desktop website and not via the mobile app. The desktop uploader has more options and gives the creator the best experience and it is recommended to use that where possible.
Uploading a Video more than 15 minutes long
First up, it’s worth noting that if you are intending to upload a video that is more than 15 minutes long, you will need to verify your YouTube account before you are allowed to do this. You can do this by ensuring you are logged into the channel you wish to verify, and then go to https://youtube.com/verify — you will be prompted to enter a mobile number that you will send a text verification code to, or it will phone you and you will need to enter the verification code that is read out to you on the call. Once your channel is successfully verified, you will then be able to upload videos that are longer than 15 minutes long as well as gain access to other YouTube features. Each YouTube channel will need it’s own verification, even if multiple channels are held under the same Google account, and you can only verify two channels per year per phone number.
Uploading your first video
Once you are ready to upload your first video, head to the YouTube homepage and click the ‘CREATE’ button in the top right hand corner. Choose ‘Upload Video’ from the two options that appear in the drop down.
A pop-up will appear allowing you to either drag and drop the video file that you wish to upload, or click the ‘Select Files’ button to browse for a particular file on your computer.
The upload will begin as soon as the video is selected, and you can begin entering all of the information about the video whilst the upload is in progress.
You will see there are three menu items at the top of the pop-up: Details, Video Elements and Visibility. We’ll cover all of them in this guide, but this section refers to the first tab — Details
Enter the Title of your video. Try and be as clear as possible with the video title, make sure it’s not too long and remember that a title is really important in YouTube search. Think about a title that would mean your video appears in search results, when people are searching for the topic that your video is about. Videos starting with “How to” tend to perform very well as millions of people are looking for how to do things on YouTube every single day.
Enter the Description for your video. The description should give full details on what the video is about. You can also include links in the description to other videos on your channel, a link to your channel to encourage subscriptions, or third party websites such as your social media profiles to encourage your viewers to follow you. You can enter up to 5000 characters in the video description, but don’t feel obliged to make the description longer than it needs to be.
Below that, you’ll be able to choose the Thumbnail for your video. If you have verified your account, as outlined in the section above regarding uploading a video more than 15 minutes long, then you will be able to upload a custom thumbnail for your video. This means you can upload an image from your computer that will appear as the main thumbnail image for this video wherever it appears, such as in search, your YouTube channel, and even when embedded into a third party website. This is the most common choice for YouTube creators, but alternatively you can choose one of the three suggested options that appear, which will be still images taken from random points of interest in your video that you have uploaded. It may take a little while for these suggestions to appear if your video is still uploading, especially if it is a large file, so you may need to come back to this later.
Next you can decide if you want to add this video to a one or more of your Playlists. Playlists are great for grouping together videos related to the same topic or theme and then displaying those on your YouTube channel. Playlists also appear in search and can help you get more views on your YouTube videos. It is not a requirement to add the video to a playlist, so you can leave this section blank if you prefer.
You’ll then need to outline the Audience for this video by selecting a radio button to indicate whether or not the content is ‘Made for Kids’. This is a new addition to the YouTube upload process and has been put in so that YouTube is compliant with the Children’s Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and other laws. If the video is aimed at an audience of children, then choose ‘Yes, it’s Made for Kids’. If it’s a video that would be of interest or aimed at teenagers, or adults, then you should select ‘No, it’s not Made for Kids’. Note that if you do select ‘Yes, it’s Made for Kids’, then your video may appear in search results for Kids videos and search terms and also in the YouTube Kids app.
Below that is an expandable drop down that allows you to turn on an age restriction, which will only show the video to viewers that have verified in their YouTube or Google account that they are over the age of 18. If you select ‘Yes, it’s Made for Kids’, then these options will not be selectable.
There is then a More Options drop down for further options — the majority of these are not relevant to the average YouTube creator, but I will touch on them below so you understand what the options mean:
- Paid Promotion lets you select a checkbox to indicate that the video you are uploading is to promote a product or service, and you are being paid to do this by a third party. This should be disclosed so that viewers understand they are watching a promotional video that has a commercial advantage for the creator.
- Tags let you add keywords that are relevant to your video. Tags used to be useful for videos to help them rank better in YouTube search and recommendations, but they are no longer a ranking factor so are hidden in here. Tags are now useful only if you have words that are commonly misspelt, to ensure that people can still find your video in search. Separate each tag by a comma.
- Language, subtitles and closed captions (CC) lets you upload a subtitle file for your video if you have one, which will appear as captions on the video. It’s good for a professional video, or videos where there is music on top of someone speaking, but in most cases YouTube is brilliant at auto captions.
- Recording date and location lets you select the date and location that the video was recorded, if relevant.
- License and Distribution lets you choose whether the video is a standard YouTube license (which is what you want in most cases) or Creative Commons. Be warned that if you select Creative Commons, you are giving people permission to use your video in their own content on a third party website, but they will need to provide you with attribution, as in a link back to your content. This is used commonly for music that other YouTube creators can use in their content.
- Below that you can choose whether or not to Allow Embedding which means the video can or can not be added into a third party website using a HTML embed code. And Publish to subscriptions feed and notify subscribers which I don’t know why you’d ever want to deselect that.
- You can choose a Category that your video will be added to, although again it’s not much of a ranking factor. It is worth adding it to the Gaming category however if your video is about a certain video game, as it will be picked up by YouTube and appear under the content for that game in YouTube Gaming, which can help bring more traffic to your videos. If you select Gaming, you will be able to enter the title of the game if you wish.
- Finally you can choose to disable or enable Comments and Ratings on the video being uploaded.
Now we move on to the second tab at the top of the pop-up, Video Elements. This section is for adding end screens or cards to your video content in order to promote certain things during or at the end of your content.
Add an End Screen to promote content right at the end of your video. You can choose from different templates such as only showing related content from your own or someone else’s channel, or also including a button to subscribe, which is always worth doing as an extra way to encourage subscriptions to your YouTube channel after someone has finished watching one of your videos. After all, if they have watched it all the way to the end, then they are highly engaged with your video and are much more likely to consider subscribing to your channel to get more content. Therefore I recommend including the subscribe button in your end screen.
You can also Add Cards which appear at certain points in your video to promote content. For example, if you are talking about a particular video that you did previously, you can add a card at that point which will pop up in the corner of the YouTube player so that the user can click on it and open the video in a new window. It’s a great way to get your viewers to watch more of your content.
We’re now onto the third and final tab at the top of the pop-up: Visibility. This section helps you to let YouTube know about whether your video is public, private or set it up as a premiere.
You can choose from the two separate options to Save and Publish which will make the video live now, or Schedule which will make it live in the future at a time and date that you select.
In the Save and Publish section you can choose between Private, Unlisted and Public.
- Private means that the video will be completely hidden from YouTube search, your channel and will only be visible to people who you explicitly share the video with. You can only share the video with people who have a Google account, so bear that in mind. Even if someone has the link, the video will not load if it has not been shared with them.
- Unlisted means that the video is hidden from YouTube Search and from your channel, but people who have the URL to your video will still be able to view it. This is common for things like how-to videos embedded on third party websites, so creators can more clearly see statistics based around how that video is performing on their website, as the video would rarely be watched on YouTube itself.
- Public means that the video will appear in YouTube search and third party search engines including Google. It will also appear on your channel and your subscribers will be notified that the new video is available and will appear in their subscriptions page. This is the most common option for creators. You can also set it up as an Instant premiere, meaning the first run through of the video will play as a live event, and it will automatically turn into a normal YouTube video after that first play through is complete. More on YouTube premieres in another article — be sure to follow me on Medium for that.
The Schedule section allows you to set the video to go live at a date and time in the future. Just choose the date and time and be conscious of the time zone so you don’t make it live earlier than you were expecting.
You can check the Set as Premiere box to set it up as a premiere which will play the first play through of the video as a live event at the set date and time. After the first play through is complete, the video will become a normal YouTube video. As mentioned above, more on YouTube Premieres in another article.
If you have chosen to make the video live now using the Save or Publish section, the button on the bottom right corner of the popup will say Publish. Click this to make the video live and your video upload is complete.
If you chose to schedule the video for a date or time in the future, including as a YouTube Premiere, the button in the bottom right corner of the pop-up will say Schedule. Click this when you are ready and the video will go live at the date and time you chose.
And that’s it! Any questions?