How to Become a YouTube Content Creator - Launch Your Channel, Land Brand Deals, and Own Your Audience
The question of how to become a YouTube content creator has no simple answer.
There is no tried-and-tested recipe to follow. No magic formula that works for everyone.
Still, becoming a YouTuber is a dream career. You can pursue interests that you’re passionate about, interact with your followers, and give your creativity free rein.
Plus, the creator economy makes it possible to make a living as a YouTuber.
YouTube itself has reported that in the U.S., the number of creators making six figures increased by over 35% in a single year. While not everyone reaches that level – and it does take time to get there – there are plenty of full-time YouTubers.
Fortunately, there is a general battle plan you can pursue on the way to YouTube success.
As a rookie YouTuber, it can help you outpace the competition, and meet the challenges you’ll face along the way. Things are always easier to deal with when you have a plan from the start!
In this article, we’ll walk you through the four stages of your journey to become a successful YouTuber. For every phase, we’ll let you know which boxes you need to tick.
Let’s dive right in!
Table of Contents
Phase 1: Starting Your Channel, Building Your Audience
The first stage of your YouTube adventure is the most critical one. Here is where you lay the foundation for your success.
The ultimate goal is to build a channel with a loyal audience, and to hit subscriber and engagement thresholds that allow you to monetize your channel.
To get there, there are quite a few things to tick off your to-do list.
Pinpoint Your Niche
First off, you need to pick the perfect niche for your YouTube channel.
Most successful YouTube content creators focus exclusively on one topic or one kind of content. No matter if that’s fashion, healthy eating, yoga, gaming, or product reviews.
You need to do the same. Even if you have a huge number of ideas for fantastic videos, it’s essential to pick your focus carefully.
Craft Your Brand Identity
Next, you need to create a brand identity.
Sounds pretty corporate, right? And in a way it is. To become a successful YouTube content creator, you need to think of your channel as a kind of business, and make a few strategic design decisions.
In terms of your brand identity, that means carefully thinking about your channel’s name and aspects such as your handle, logo, banner, and intro- and outro-sequences.
The ultimate goal here is to make your channel memorable and instantly recognizable if it shows up in someone’s recommendations.
That doesn’t mean that any of these are set in stone. If you end up being unhappy about something, it’s easy enough to update your channel name, for example. Just be aware that you might take a bit of a visibility hit.
Set Up a Solid Content Creation Schedule
If you’ve done any research into how to become a YouTube content creator, there’s one piece of advice you’ll have heard before: Post lots of content!
Successful YouTubers post multiple videos per week – or even per day.
If you want to keep up that kind of pace, you need to plan your content in advance.
That means setting up a content calendar, and probably outsourcing some aspects of content creation, such as video editing.
Master the YouTube Algorithm
You’ve produced some great content, but it’s still not getting any views?
A common reason for that is that your content isn’t optimized very well.
To get your video into search results and recommendations, you need to master YouTube’s algorithm. That means learning about YouTube SEO.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. After Google, YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world. SEO is a set of practices that help your content get found.
A basic principle of SEO is to make your content relevant to people’s searches. This starts with finding out what phrases – or keywords – your target audience uses to look for content they’re interested in.
Then, you can include those keywords in your video, video description, and title. (Check out our full guide here.)
Promote Your Content
Finally, you need to promote the hell out of your videos.
Waiting for your audience to discover you is one way to go – but it’s going to take a while. And that’s not least because many hesitate to watch channels with a very small audience. That’s also why it can be a good idea to hide your subscribers on YouTube, at least to begin with.
The much faster route is to get out and do some good old PR.
In 2022, that means setting up other social media accounts for your channel, on platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Instagram and TikTok are also good places for putting short vertical remixes of your videos as teasers, which can gain lots of interest.
Many rookie YouTubers also set up a separate website for their channel and recycle some of their content as blog posts.
Another great way of driving an audience to your channel is to write guest posts on established websites. The same goes for collabs with other creators, whether that’s on YouTube or their podcast.
Tools to Help You
This sounds like a ton of work, right? Fortunately, there’s a whole arsenal of tools you can use to help you along the way.
Canva is an online graphic design platform that provides fantastic templates for channel assets like logos, banners, intros and outros.
YouTube Studio is YouTube’s main hub for video analytics. Here you can see exactly how many views and subscribers you’re getting. You can also optimize your video settings for SEO.
When it comes to planning and scheduling content, it’s perfectly fine to start with your favorite calendar app. Tools like Trello or CoSchedule can help you organize tasks better, though. If you want to make sure content goes live on time – perhaps across several platforms – check out Loomly and similar services.
As for SEO, have a look at TubeBuddy or VidIQ. Both tools include keyword research features, and useful bulk YouTube video editing features. This makes picking keywords and placing them in titles and descriptions a breeze.
Phase 2: Start Monetizing Your Channel – On-Platform and By Renting Out Your Audience
Once your channel is established, and you’ve found both a loyal audience and your content creation groove, it’s time to move on to phase 2 – monetization.
Most people who want to become a YouTube content creator also want to make money off the platform. There are several ways of generating income, and this is what the next stages of your journey are all about.
To start with, you can monetize your channel on the platform itself, and by renting out your audience.
In concrete terms, this means joining the YouTube Partner Program to earn with ads and finding brand deals.
Join the YouTube Partner Program
This is the traditional starting point for most YouTubers to make money off the platform.
The Partner Program allows you to claim a share of the ad revenue that the platform makes off your content. If you want to know what that might net you, we’ve asked a few creators how much YouTube paid them for a million views.
Once you’re a member, you can also use additional monetization features like Super Thanks, channel memberships, and Merch shelf.
To join the partner program, though, you need to meet a few criteria: 4,000 public watch hours, 1,000 subscribers, and sticking to several guidelines:
YouTuber Ryan Walsh’s walkthrough of applying to the Partner Program
Find Brand Deals
Another way to make money as a YouTube content creator at this stage is to offer established brands the opportunity of accessing your audience.
Most commonly, you do this through brand deals. This could be anything from acknowledging a brand as your sponsor to giving shout-outs for their products and using affiliate links.
Finding brand deals takes some research and a lot of pitching – but it’s a fantastic way to generate an additional income stream. (Check out the full guide here.)
Tools to Help You
In addition, you can start outsourcing more and more parts of your content creation process, now that you have a bigger budget. That way, you can step up the quantity and quality of your content output.
Phase 3: Expand Beyond YouTube and Own Your Audience
Next, it’s time to own your audience and take your income streams beyond YouTube itself.
Once you have an established audience that’s loyal to your channel, you can start building a community around your brand as a YouTuber. Your audience will pay to be part of that community.
For example, you can use platforms like Patreon to set up a subscription system. Subscribers get access to exclusive benefits like additional video content or printables like worksheets or checklists.
There are many tipping and subscription services out there. A few of them even have extra features for streamers and video creators in other specialized niches.
You can also use platforms such as Circle to create a private community that allows people to interact directly with each other and with you, again for a certain fee.
Overall, the goal here is to forge ties with your audience that go way beyond the comment section on your videos.
By allowing them to communicate with each other and with you, you can foster a community spirit that serves as the foundation for your monetization strategy.
Phase 4: Create and Sell Your Own Products
Finally, Phase 4 of your journey to join the ranks of the top YouTubers out there is to start selling your own products.
This could be anything – merchandise with your logo and slogan, printables, e-books, or online courses. Give your creativity free rein!
Alternatively, you can run a poll or a live stream and ask your audience what they’d like best.
The ultimate goal is to turn your brand as a YouTube content creator into something your audience can participate in – and own.
At this stage, various online platforms are incredibly useful to take the logistics off your hands.
Merch and Selling Platforms
The Bottom Line: How to Become a YouTube Content Creator
YouTube offers fantastic opportunities for creators, but it’s a competitive place. That’s why it’s crucial to have a roadmap from the start.
By mapping your YouTube journey into the four stages above, you’ll be able to stay on track. Plus, it’s easier to stay motivated when you have attainable goals and a plan for how to reach them.
And this way, step by little step, you can make your big dream real.
Ready to give professional video editing a shot?
Beyond simply uploading videos on YouTube, you will also need strategies to plan, promote, and monetize your content.
Your favorite calender app will do for a start. For more fine-grained planning, check out Trello, Calendly, and CoSchedule.
The simplest way – once you make the requirements – is YouTube ads. You can also generate an income from your fans with memberships and merch, both on and off YouTube. Finally, you can reach out to brands for affiliation, sponsorship, or influencer campaigns.