How to Upload a YouTube Video – The Right Way

header upload youtube video

When you’re launching your YouTube channel, uploading content ASAP is one of your top priorities. 

But there’s more to uploading a YouTube video than you might initially think. 

Along the way, there are several boxes you have to tick to make sure YouTube’s algorithm can properly process your video. Only then will it be displayed in search results and recommendations. 

Here’s how to upload a YouTube video the right way, to make sure you get the maximum number of views. 


number 1 one icon

Start the Process By Hitting Create and Selecting Your File

First off, in order to upload a video, you need a YouTube account. If you don’t have one already, check out how to set one up here.

If you want to know more about what else you need to factor in when you’re launching your channel, have a look at our free YouTube starter’s guide.

All set?

To get started uploading a video to YouTube, hit the “Create” button. On mobile, you’ll see it as a + icon in the bottom center of your screen in the YouTube app. On desktop, it’s displayed as an icon showing a + inside a camera at the top right of your screen.

step 1 find the upload button on YouTube to get started
Step 1: Hit the upload button, then select your file.

Once you click this button, select the option “Upload video”. Want to know how to upload a YouTube Short? Take a look at the full Shorts guide here

Next, you’ll be prompted to select the video file you want to upload. 

YouTube accepts a variety of video formats, though not all of them. Accepted formats are MOV, WMV, AVI, MPG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG4, MPEGPS, WebM, 3GPP, FLV, WebM, DNxHR, ProRes, CineForm, and HEVC (h265). 

If your file is in a different format, you’ll have to convert it first. For this, you can either use video editing software, or an online converter. 

number 2 two icon

Set Your Video Title, Description, Thumbnail, Playlist and Audience

Next up, you need to set the basic information for your video. This will determine how it is displayed and to whom. 

The first two elements you are asked to enter are your video title and description. Here, you need to be straightforward and descriptive. Make sure to include any information and keywords that can help potential viewers find your video.

step 2 of uploading videos on youtube fill in basic metadata
Step 2: Fill in basic video info such as the title, as well as advanced settings.

You can also use hashtags in your title and description. Plus, you can manually mark key moments as chapters in your video description. This is a great idea to help viewers (and the YouTube algorithm!) identify what your content is about. 

Your thumbnail is another crucial video element you need to set at this stage. Uploading a custom thumbnail will help your video get views. In fact, 90% of YouTube’s best-performing clips have custom thumbnails. 

Another bit of information you should enter at this stage is whether your video will be part of one of your playlists. 

The final information you need to enter at this stage is whether your video is suitable for particular audiences, such as kids, or only people over 18.

number 3 three icon

Advanced Settings: Paid Promotion, Tags, Subtitles and More

Thought you were done in the “Details” tab of the video upload process? Not yet! 

At the bottom of your screen, just under “Age Restrictions”, hit “Show More”

This will give you access to important additional settings, including your video language, whether it includes paid promotion, and tags. 

In most cases, it’s sufficient to leave the default options checked. The only information you should enter manually is your video’s language, whether you want to display comments, and the clip’s content category: Choices range from pets and animals to cars and vehicles. 

Once you’re done with all that, you can click “Next” and move on to the Video Elements tab. 

number four new icon

Add Bespoke Video Elements

In this tab, you can upload subtitles and add an end screen as well as cards to your video. 

Subtitles in your video’s language are generated automatically by YouTube. However, manually adding foreign-language subtitles can help you seriously increase your video’s reach and popularity.

End screens allow you to promote content at the end of your video – including your own assorted clips. 

And cards are dead useful if you want to display information during your clip. For instance, you can use them to ask viewers to subscribe, or to point them towards tipping platforms like Patreon. 

step 4 of how to upload a youtube video is to add video elements like subtitles and cards
Step 4: Add video elements like subtitles, end screens, and cards.
number 5 five icon

Pass YouTube’s Check

Once you’re happy with your video elements, click “Next” and you’ll reach YouTube’s Check tab. There is nothing you have to do here, except wait for YouTube’s algorithm to verify that the clip you’ve uploaded isn’t copyright protected

Once that’s done, you can click “Next” and finish the upload process. 

number 6 six icon

Set Your Video’s Visibility

As a last step, you need to select who can see your video and whether you want to publish it straight away or schedule it for later. 

In terms of visibility, you can keep it private (visible only to yourself), unlisted (accessible only with the URL), or public (discoverable to everyone via search and recommendations). 

step 6 of how to upload a youtube video set visibility
Step 6: Set the visibility and audience, and schedule the publish time.

Many creators choose to publish their videos straight away. However, there are some merits to scheduling – and not just when you’re uploading multiple videos at the same time.

For one, sticking to a fairly regular upload interval is something YouTube rewards with more visibility. 

For another, doing this also makes your activities more plannable and efficient. And that gives you time for such vital creator habits as self-care and trawling for inspiration.

But in addition to all that, the time you choose to make a video public can have a major impact on its success. (Read more about the best time to upload to YouTube here!) 

The Bottom Line on Uploading a Video on YouTube

At first, ticking all these boxes while uploading a YouTube video can be overwhelming. And it’s tempting to skip some steps, like uploading a thumbnail. YouTube will, after all, try to do some of these things automatically.

However, being conscientious about all these steps will help you supercharge your videos’ visibility. And once you’ve gone through the process a few times, it’ll become second nature. 

At the end of the day, taking your time and uploading your YouTube videos the right way will boost your channel growth – and help you go viral.

Yes, you can upload a video to YouTube from your phone using the YouTube app. Once you’ve downloaded the app and logged into your YouTube account, tap the + icon at the bottom center of your screen to start the upload process.

On mobile, you can start uploading a video by clicking the + button at the bottom center of your screen in the YouTube app. On desktop, click the icon showing a + inside a camera (“Create”) at the top right of your screen, next to the notification icon. 

You can upload videos to YouTube for free using the YouTube app or via YouTube’s website on desktop. All you need to do is create a YouTube account.

YouTube accepts a variety of video formats, though not all of them. Accepted formats are MOV, WMV, AVI, MPG, MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG4, MPEGPS, WebM, 3GPP, FLV, WebM, DNxHR, ProRes, CineForm, and HEVC (h265).