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How To Upload a Video to YouTube and Get It Seen in 6 Simple Steps

July 11, 2018

YouTube is an endless wonderland of video content. You can go from cute puppy videos to interviews with your favorite celebrities, ASMR videos to a walkthrough for fixing your broken sink. 

Maybe you’ve even found yourself wanting to upload a video of your own.

Uploading a video to YouTube is huge step for any individuals or businesses looking to show off their newest marketing campaign, product, or company culture. 

If you have a video that you want to be seen, not uploading it to YouTube would be doing a disservice to yourself. YouTube is the largest social media platform for video social media marketing. It has made more than a few YouTubers millionaires (learn how much YouTubers make here). But few use it to its full potential. This can, ultimately, prove disappointing when certain goals are not met.

YouTube and Google are owned by the same parent company, so it makes sense that uploading a video to YouTube will have a positive impact on your video marketing strategy.

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The connection between the sites will increase the number of times your upload appears in search results, having a positive impact on your views.

With over 1.5 billion users, YouTube is the best social media website to host video content and make sure the maximum number of people are seeing it.

To help you kickstart your video marketing for yourself or your business, we’ve created this step-by-step guide to help you post and share all of the amazing content you’re creating with the virtual world.

How to upload a video to YouTube

The uploading process is overall fairly intuitive. But, there are a number of tips and tricks you can implement along the way to ensure you’re getting the most out of your YouTube brand account. This will help you find a community of people who will subscribe and stick around for everything you upload.

Tip: YouTube has a lot of  jargon you may not know yet. Find out what does unlisted mean on YouTube

In order to share content on YouTube, you need a video to upload! Once you have this, choose the best video editing software (or free video editing software) for your project and get started.

Create a YouTube account

The first step to uploading a YouTube video is to make a YouTube account. You can also log into an existing one using the link in the top right hand of the YouTube homepage. If you have a Google account for Gmail, Google+, or Google Drive, you may find yourself automatically logged in already.

YouTube home pageBefore beginning your video upload, it may be helpful to do some basic account set-up tasks, like uploading a profile image, uploading a banner that meets the YouTube banner size specifications.

TIP: Find some YouTube banner templates to make this process easier.

Taking this extra measure will establish your channel as more complete and provide credibility to the videos you upload.

Upload your video to YouTube

YouTube makes the actual uploading of your video file relatively easy. Simply click the upload button at the top right of the homepage (as seen in the following screenshot) and it will bring you to the upload screen.

Video upload button

YouTube accepts almost all major video file types, including .mp4, .m4v, .mov, .wmv, and .avi. These are the easiest and most popular formats to export your video in. Other formats’ files may need to be converted using software before uploading.

You can either select from your files or drag and drop into the box provided.

YouTube upload screen

You will also see privacy options on this page. This controls who is allowed to see your video and contains four choices.

Public: Anyone can view or search for the video and share the URL and any subscribers you have will see your videos in their feed.

Unlisted: The video will not show on your channel or in a search, but anyone you share the video with can send or share the URL as they please.

Private: Only you have access to the video. It will not show up in searches or be posted to your channel.

Schedule: Choose a future time and date for your video to go public.

An additional option YouTube provides is going live, instead of uploading a video file. This allows you to live-stream videos and interact with your audience in real time through a chat box.

YouTube does need to verify your account before you start live-streaming, so factor in the potential 24 hours it may take for you to gain access to this feature before planning your first live-stream.

Add information to your first YouTube video upload

While you’re filling out this information, a blue bar at the top of the screen will show the progress of your video uploading and processing. It’s important not to close the page during this process at the risk of interrupting the upload.

While adding information is a simple step, it is important to maximizing your video’s success. YouTube will bring you to a new page, prompting you to fill out numerous text boxes and select a variety of options.

YouTube description page

Title and description: Your title should be descriptive and clear to accurately reflect the subject of the video. Try to provide no more than seven to 10 words so the full title can be read when users are browsing. 

Tags: Much like the description, include relevant and descriptive tags that will help users find your video easily. Consider keywords again here. Single words or short phrases will be much more effective than full sentences.

Thumbnail: A thumbnail is the visual used in coordination with a video’s title to encourage people to play it. After enough of your video has uploaded, YouTube will pull three still images and give them to you to use as thumbnail choices. This is also how your video is represented in search results.If none of these options speak to you, there is an option to upload your own image.

The recommended YouTube thumbnail size is 1280x720 pixels. You will have to verify your account before seeing the custom thumbnail option.

YouTube thumbnails

You can see a variety in thumbnails in this screenshot. Some are simple stills, some contain titles or logos, and some are graphic representations of what the video might contain. When users hover over these thumbnails, YouTube silently autoplays a short snippet of your video for the viewer to preview.

Privacy: On this screen, you have the option to revisit the privacy settings from earlier. You can change the settings on your video between public, unlisted, or private. It is important to keep in mind that the URL remains the same regardless of the privacy status.

Add to playlist: Playlists on YouTube help organize similar videos together. For example, a playlist can put a series of walkthrough videos about a video game together. Playlists can either be used privately for your own collection of videos or highlighted on your channel for anyone who visits. Brands like Vevo utilize playlists to organize music videos of similar genre or artist.

YouTube Playlist

Edit your video's advanced settings before uploading

This section allows you to go through a variety of more specific options. These aren’t necessary, but could prove helpful. The default settings should get the job done if you aren’t interested in these.

YouTube advanced settings

However, there are a few items that may be beneficial to take a look at.

Comments will provide you with the option to enable or disable comments on the video. (YouTube’s user base is known for its occasionally harsh comment section.)

The choice is yours to leave comments on and enable more direct communication with your audience, or turn them off and avoid negative feedback.

The category section helps specify the general topic your video fits into. There are 18 categories; browse through them to determine where your video falls. Selecting an accurate category means more people can search or view your video based on similar content.

There's also a section called 'caption certification' which is important for creating content that's accessible for users with hearing impairment. Closed captioning is becoming more prominent, especially as more users view videos without sound.

A final important option to take a look at is content declaration. If you are creating a video with a paid promotion, that needs to be stated for legal purposes.

Always be transparent with your audience whenever there is a product placement, sponsorship, or endorsement involved in your videos.

Publish your first YouTube video

You can now hit the publish button at the top right to save your changes. If the video is done uploading, you are able to leave the page while it processes. You can also stick around and wait for it to complete fully.

Share your first YouTube video to the masses

Now that your video is done uploading and processing, it’s time to start distributing it. Begin by sharing the video on your social media channels. To do this, you can copy and paste the URL or use the share button on the video’s page as seen below.

YouTube share button

After clicking this, a small window pops up providing a few different options on where you can share the video, as well as a condensed link and embed option.

YouTube sharing

Facebook and Twitter are strong places to share to because they allow for quick re-sharing to large groups of people at once. Sharing on other social media sites like reddit, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or Tumblr can help rack up the view count as well.

Test out a few of these options and determine where your audience is. You may find an unexpected platform is where the best results come from.

Monitor your first YouTube video's analytics

Now that you’ve successfully uploaded your video to YouTube and worked to get it seen, you can take a deeper dive into your options as a creator. Simply click your profile image in the top right corner and click Creator Studio.

YouTube Creator Studio

From this dashboard, you are able to quickly access your videos’ analytics. Typically, views are a good indicator of how many people are seeing your video. However, watch time will tell you if they are actually sticking around for the whole thing. The subscriber count will show you how much of your audience is interested in any future videos.

Click view all to explore these analytics more in-depth. Analytics, such as traffic sources and audience demographics, are at your fingertips.


Back on the dashboard, you will also see any comments that have been left on your videos and all of your videos ordered by most recently uploaded.

Quickly replying to comments and periodically re-sharing the video on social platforms will help you build a community around your content - and your brand. 

Related: See who's winning the YouTube popularity contest with our list of the top 10 most subscribed YouTubers.

Now that you’ve successfully uploaded your first YouTube video, it’s time to get back to the drawing board for the next one.

As you continue to upload videos to YouTube, you will understand what resonates with your audience. 

Whether your main goal is growing your view count or your company, YouTube should be an essential tool in your marketing strategy.

Curious how to change your URL to something that aligns with your brand? Here's how to create a YouTube custom URL.

Get resources on how to use YouTube, FREE.    Explore →

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