How to Upload a Youtube Video: Step-by-Step Guide

There’s always a bit of excitement when you upload one or more videos to YouTube. The feeling is similar to what happens when you see the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel.

Uploading isn’t the final step to getting your videos available for viewing by your growing fan base. You still need to publish an uploaded video in order to make it live.

Between uploading and publishing, you have several steps to consider. YouTube rewards you with higher search rankings and supplementary video recommendations based first and foremost on your channel and on individual video watch times. 

Additionally, YouTube considers factors such as viewer engagement and video sharing rates. To keep your channel active, you must identify and coordinate each component during the planning process.

In this article, we’ll teach you step-by-step how to upload a video to your YouTube channel:

Before you upload your video

1. Picking the source

Before you upload, your videos have to live somewhere. They might be on your desktop computer, laptop, game console, tablet, or smartphone. What’s great about having so many choices for uploading is that you can capture and upload content to your channel anytime and anywhere. It’s that easy!

Sign in using the same YouTube account from all your different computers, consoles, and mobile devices so that all your videos and channel settings stay synchronized.

The web browser interface to YouTube on your laptop or desktop will have the most complete set of YouTube capabilities for uploading, optimizing, annotating, and publishing. For iOS and Android devices, you can run applications such as YouTube and YouTube Creator Studio to upload videos and manage your channel. 

iOS even offers an additional application known as YouTube Capture. Though these applications are quite powerful and have most of the features of the computer-based versions, we focus here on the browser-based versions.

2. Going public about YouTube privacy

New YouTube channel managers and creators often ask, “How do I control who can see my videos?” This is controlled by YouTube’s privacy settings, which can be found under Creator Studio’s Channel and Video Manager sections. You need to know and understand the three types of privacy settings in YouTube:

Public: This is the default setting in YouTube — everyone can view your video. Videos set to Public can also show up in all searches.

After you make a video public, you’ve officially published it. It will show up in your subscribers’ feeds. Though you can readily change the privacy settings on your content, be sensitive to how your audience is using and sharing it, because changing settings may suddenly make your content unavailable to them with no warning.

Private: This setting, the most restrictive one, prevents anyone but you from watching the video without your explicit permission. Private videos cannot be searched and are invisible on your YouTube channel. If your channel is linked to Google+, you can selectively share a private video with specific users on Google+ or within your Google+ circles. If you or your viewers don’t have a Google+ account, private video cannot be shared. Video set to Private cannot show up in search results or be viewed by someone even if they have the video URL.

Unlisted: Unlisted videos will not show up on your channel or YouTube search for viewers. However, anyone with the unlisted video URL can watch the video and share it freely anywhere on the web, including web- sites and on Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites. Unlisted videos can be included in playlists as well. A viewer does not need to have a Google+ account to view an unlisted video.

Use unlisted content as a way to share special or exclusive content with select fans or as part of a limited-time promotion or sale.

Scheduled: This special setting is reserved for YouTube partners. It automatically sets the video to Private and then changes it to Public on the date and time you specify.

Use scheduled privacy settings for channel programming consistency to ensure that videos are available at a standard date and time, regardless of whether you have access to your YouTube channel.

Your privacy settings also signal to YouTube to begin its magic. When you publish a video, YouTube starts assessing your video by using its algorithms to determine what your video is about, how good it is, and where it should fall in search results. 

The best practice is to publish a video when your viewers are already on YouTube. Publish the video so that you get immediate views on it; this indicates to YouTube that this video is indeed hot stuff and that it may be a good candidate for YouTube search and recommendations.

Playlists have privacy settings, too. One of your options during the final stages of the upload process is to put your video content into a playlist.

Don’t underestimate the power of YouTube playlists, which have become increasingly popular because they not only show up in search results but can also be customized to greatly enhance the viewing experience.

2. Upload a Youtube Video

You should have no problem finding the Upload button on YouTube — it’s on every page! You’ll find it in the top right corner, to the left of the Sign In button (if you’re not logged in to YouTube), or to the left of the bell-shaped notification icon on the top right of the window (if you are logged in). To upload your video content:

1). Sign in to your YouTube account.

2). Click the Upload button. Doing so brings up the Upload window.

3). Select the video-upload privacy option that you want from the Privacy pull-down menu. The menu is automatically populated with your default privacy setting. If you’re happy with the default setting, you don’t have to do a thing; just move on to the next step.

The YouTube upload window.

4). Still in the Upload window, use one of the following three methods to select the video file you want to use:

  1. Select files to upload: Hover the mouse cursor over the big up-arrow button and click it when it turns red. Then use the Look In dialog box to navigate to — and then select — the file you want to upload.
  2. Drag and drop video files: This one’s as simple as it sounds: Just drag a video file to the Upload window and drop it when the drag-and-drop video file’s overlay turns green.
  3. Import your videos from Google+: This option is to the top right of the main Upload window. Start by clicking the Import button there, and then select and upload the video file from your Google+ account.

5). If your method requires it, click OK to upload. Your files are on their way to YouTube.

6). Get ready to enter your metadata. In the following section, you’ll learn how to add that title, tags, descriptions, and video thumbnails.

With your videos selected and the upload underway, you’ll be presented with a new Video Manager editor screen that shows important details about the video. If you’re uploading more than one video, YouTube will show you the progress for each upload.

Entering metadata through Video Manager

The Video Manager editor screen that you see during the upload process is the same one displayed under the Video Manager section of Creator Studio. Having the video manager editor screen here as well allows you to go back later and modify the video settings. This includes such tasks as changing the video description, tags, and shortlinks.

YouTube easily handles most encoding types. If YouTube is having any problems with your file, check out https://support.google.com/youtube for more information.

Entering Information About Your Video

It doesn’t matter whether your upload is a work in progress or a finished product; you can begin adding the metadata at any time. This process is known as “video optimization.” In the YouTube world, optimization involves dealing with three distinct areas:

Basic Info: This is your most important information because it contains all the important fields for video SEO. This would include title, description, and tags.

Monetization: Creators who’ve elected to make money from ads being placed against their video can use this section to specify what types of ads can be shown against the video.

Advanced Settings: This detailed bucket list contains some esoteric information, such as licensing and syndication, along with some important fields around category classification and distribution.   

Edit the basic info first. Although it isn’t rocket science, you’ll still want to make sure to cross your i’s and dot your t’s. Follow these steps to edit your video’s basic info:

1). Make sure the Basic Info section in the Video Manager editor screen is selected.

The active section will have a red underline just below the section name. If Basic Info isn’t selected, simply click on the name, and the section fields will appear.

2). Using your newly acquired SEO knowledge, come up with an appropriate title for your video and enter it into the Title field.

3). Enter an SEO-friendly description of your video into the Description field.

4). Add SEO-appropriate tags in the Tags field.

YouTube imposes a limit of 500 characters for the entire Tag field. A tag can contain one or more words, but each individual tag cannot be more than 30 characters long. Depending on how you divvy up your 50 characters, you can end up with between 10 and 30 tags.

5). Add your uploaded video to one or more playlists.

This step is optional. You can also create a new playlist here. Simply click the + Add To Playlist button and check the playlist you want the video included in. (You can check more than one playlist.)

6). Add video credits.

Remember that this step applies only to partner channels. To give credit to your video contributors, click the + Add Role button, choose the title, and then add the person. The person will need a channel user name or URL.

7). Set the privacy level or schedule your content for publication.

Click the Privacy button which will show Published, Unlisted, or Private depending on your default settings. Make changes, if desired. If you want to schedule a video so that it is made public at a specific time, choose Scheduled after you click the Privacy button and enter the publish date and time.

The best practice is to upload all your videos as Private and then schedule your content. This saves you from the mistake of publishing a video prematurely, often before you’ve had a chance to set up all the metadata. This has happened to all of us.

If you’re part of the YouTube partner program, the Info and Settings page will have a Monetization tab in addition to the standard Basic Info tab. 

Setting Upload Defaults

After you hit your groove and are uploading lots of content, you may tire of having to enter the same information over and over again into your upload screens or through Video Manager. Fortunately, YouTube allows you to set default values on the most common Basic Info, Monetization, and Advanced Settings tabs. Just select the Channel section in the Creator Studio menu on the left side of the screen and choose the Upload Defaults option. 

Defaults are simply preconfigured values. You can change values either during the upload process or through Video Manager.

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