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How to start a YouTube channel

Thinking about starting a YouTube channel for your creative business or interest?

Starting a YouTube channel can be daunting. Did you know that it was something on my wishlist for years? Despite it being something that I really wanted to do, I had NO IDEA where to start and delayed starting for literal years!

I don't want you procrastinating for years though, I want to take away the overwhelm of starting your own YouTube channel. So I've broken it down into steps for you.

Have an idea

This one's obvious, but you need a general idea of what sort of content you'd like your videos to cover.

I had a mindmap with all of the different ideas I had in mind based on my numerous interests - calligraphy, psychology, tv show reviews, stationery, learning Japanese, journaling etc.

I grouped together some of the interests that worked well together (calligraphy, stationery and journaling) and went from there. Those were interests that I'd be consistently interested in so I knew that I was going to continue to enjoy creating videos on the topic.

I put together a list of all of the video ideas I had. At first I used word documents, then I discovered Trello which was a game changer for organising ideas. You can watch how I use Trello to plan my YouTube videos in the video below.


  • What are your interests? They can be anything?

  • Which interest is calling to you the most?

  • Can you think of 5 video ideas within that interest?

  • Which video would you like to start with?

  • How will you track video content ideas?

Remember that you don't have to stick to just one interest if you don't want to, it depends on what you want from your channel which brings me onto my next point...

What do you want from it?

Do you want this to be a fun, creative hobby or do you want to use YouTube for your creative business?

"Have a YouTube channel" was my goal and so I created YouTube videos for a few years without a plan other than reach 1k subscribers (which I have yet to hit).

In the back of my mind, I was creating these videos with the view of having a creative business but never really linked the two together. Looking back I sadly feel as though I wasted a lot of time on these as I was neither using them for my business or just enjoying it as a creative outlet.

If you've read my how to juggle a side business post, you'll know that having a plan is important. Creating YouTube videos were helpful for gaining experience in front of a camera and putting together content but I didn't have any strategy.

YouTube could have been used as either:

1) A sole income, in which case I should have niched down my content and put out better work more consistently

2) A way to promote and sell other offerings which I didn't do

3) A purely creative outlet / hobby

With any activity in your business, ask yourself the "why". It can feel as though you're making progress when you're putting out videos egularly and your subscriber count is growing but what's the why?


Ask yourself the following questions

  • Will YouTube be a creative outlet or will it be part of your creative business?

  • Why do you want to start a YouTube channel?

  • Are you going to start promoting a product of your own or of another company's?

  • When in your journey will you do this?

  • Where would you like to direct your subscribers?

Which equipment do you need?

What equipment do you actually need to get started?

It's simple, and you probably already have this piece of equipment already in front of you - a mobile phone. That's it. That is genuinely all you need to be able to get started.

But does it need to be the newest iPhone? Nope. You really don't need fancy or new tech to get started.

Don't get me wrong, it's definitely helpful to have newer, fancier technology but it's definitely not essential. For example, I used a Pixel 2 phone for years and the video quality was good enough for what I needed. I've now recently changed to the iPhone 11 Pro with recording in mind as I wanted better battery life when recording.

The most important thing is getting a video out there in the first place.

There are two pieces of equipment I'd recommend upgrading if you can afford to though:

A microphone

Having poor audio quality impacts your video and can cause viewers to switch off. I'd personally watch a video with poor video but good audio than the other way round and I'm sure other viewers would too.

I started by using my iPad to record audio, but you can use phone. It did the job but the audio wasn't great. I later upgraded to the Blue Snowball microphone and wow, it made such a difference. I've now been using this mic for years and enjoyed better sound quality in my videos.

A tripod

I wince when I look back at how I used to record video. I grabbed a stack of books and balanced my ipad over the top. It would often wobble and I was scared that my iPad was going to fall off at any second and break.

Not only was I risking my technology, but it meant that I struggled to get the desired angle for recording the video.

Now I use a tripod and it takes a lot of the stress out of filming. The tripod I use was gifted so I don't know the brand but I have started using a ring light which has a tripod built into it.

Something to consider when looking at tripods is what you need from it. Does it need to just be able to face you, or do you need something that can take overhead shots for filming your hands? Check whether the tripod you're looking at meets that need before going ahead. For example, the one I've linked can film your face, but isn't suitable for overhead shots.


  • Are there any pieces of equipment you'd like to upgrade for future YouTube videos?

  • Will your phone battery last when recording for the amount of time you want to record?

How to actually create a YouTube video

This bit is rather important, you need to know how to actually create a YouTube video right?


The easiest way to get started is to record an "all in one" video, i.e. you record in one sitting without adding any b-roll or recording audio separately, that way no editing is really needed.

If you'd just like to cut out parts of the video, YouTube's free software allows you to do this.

However, if you'd like to record better audio with a microphone, you'll need a software to record it on. I recommend Audacity which is straightforward to use and allows you to edit the audio.

If you'd like to stitch together the audio and video, you'll need a video editing software. This can be a paid option such as Premiere Pro or you can look into free options.

Alternatively, you can look at outsourcing all of the editing to someone that knows what they're doing! You can use platforms such as Fiverr to do this. Frankly, I wish I'd have outsourced editing. It takes a considerable amount of time, particularly if you're inexperienced.


When you start to get a little more experienced, you may want to start adding b-roll to your videos. These are essentially shots taken at different angles to make the viewing experience more interesting.

For example, if I'm doing a stationery review, you may watch me writing with the pen from over-head and I talk about the tip being broken. I might then choose to record a short up-close video of the tip so that watchers can see more clearly what I'm on about.


Wherever possible, try to film in an area with natural light. This can be challenging when you live in a place such as the UK but do your best as it does make a big difference in your video quality.


Do not use copyrighted music. To start with, I recommend just using music from YouTube's Audio Library which is visible in YouTube Studio (YouTuber's behind the scene's dashboard). Music in this library is often copyright free and gives you a pop up if extra creditation is needed.


Now you'll need to actually upload your YouTube video. Make sure you have a YouTube account set up and then click the upload video option. You'll need a title, description and tags. Don't worry about getting this perfect as you can edit the details later on if needed.


  • Do I need any additional software?

  • Will I edit videos myself or outsource to someone else?

Put out one then continuously improve

Your first video doesn't need to be perfect. Neither does your 10th or 100th. What's important is that you consider ways to improve in the future.

Let me show you one of my early videos:

Now compare to one of my more recent videos:

Is my most recent video perfect? No. I can think of several ways to improve BUT it's definitely an improvement on my video from a couple of years beforehand.


  • How often am I going to review my YouTube videos / processes?

  • Where will I record my reviews?

  • How will I put these actions into place?

Decide where to promote

One of my biggest mistakes is that I didn't really do any promotion of my YouTube videos elsewhere.

I spent HOURS each weekend creating these YouTube videos, time that I could have spent unwinding from work and then even didn't properly promote them, what was past Gemma doing!

Now why am I telling you this? Because your time is valuable and you should make sure that any work you do has a purpose.


  • Where are you going to promote your YouTube videos?

  • How often are you going to promote them?

To sum up

Whoops, this was meant to be a quick blog post, but I realised how many learnings I'd like to share!

To sum things up for you though:

  • Think of a video idea

  • Understand the reason behind creating a channel (for fun, to promote a product, etc)

  • Record the entire video on your phone and improve equipment/processes with time

  • Decide on where and how often to promote your videos

Found this helpful and want other tips for running a creative business? Pop your name and email below to get my free guide for creative business owners.

You can also check out my coaching services if you want more 1-on-1 support or sign up for a free 30 minute coaching call.


Please note: several of the links within this post (such as Amazon links) are affiliate links and I'll earn from qualifying purchases.


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