What are the skills and time needed to host a YouTube channel?

I have Googled info about basic steps to upload videos and how a YouTube channel works, and revisited a couple of good threads here on the forum in this category, but I’d like to ask some questions for any of you who have a YouTube channel or are familiar enough with the process to share your thoughts.

  • What is the time investment to start a YouTube channel and maintain it?
  • How long on average does it take to make a video and upload it, and get it ready for view? (see examples below or give your own)
  • How much do you need to know about their “monetization” process, if any?
  • How much do you need to know about the licensing options and legalities?
  • How much technical knowledge or editing savvy do you need about videos?
  • How much video related equipment is a basic necessity?
  • Anything else I need to know?

So here’s a basic scenario, just for an example. Let’s say I have a mastered song (audio track) of my own that I want to put on YouTube. It’s 5 minutes long.
Example 1 is I just want to pick a static image for the video, or maybe a few simple transitions of images, make a video of that with the audio track, and then upload it to YouTube. Per the above questions, what all would likely be involved in terms of knowledge needed and time required?
Example 2 is I actually shoot a “music video”, video footage of some sort to help tell the story of the song. I assume that could take quite a few hours of time depending on how involved it was, time to edit and finalize, and maybe make the video file size much larger than Example 1 … requiring more upload time?

I’m just wanting to get a general idea of the time commitment (and any other resources) needed to maintain a channel, and perhaps this can be a good resource for anyone else wanting to know.

You can basically spend as much or as little time as you want. It’s very easy to set one up and upload your first video. Do you have goals in terms of how large you want your audience to be? It is a lot of work if you’re looking to make a successful YouTube channel, but if you just want to have one it’s very easy.

Making a video with a static image and your song is super easy. Do you have any video editing software? I use Sony Movie Studio. It can take… maybe 15 minutes or so to render a 3-4 minute song. That’s total guess, but ballpark. Then it takes maybe another 15 minutes to upload to YouTube and go through processing and whatnot. You have to add a title, description, and some tags if you want. That’s about it!

If you want to make a music video, there’s no clear cut answer on how long that will take. It completely depends on what you’re trying to make. However, the file size should be the same as the video with just the picture–it shouldn’t take longer to upload to YouTube.

I would say: none. It’s your music so you have the right to upload it. Make sure you own the image you’re using, or whatever footage as well. If you get enough of an audience to start thinking about monetizing your videos (5,000-10,000 subscribers maybe?) then it’s a good problem to have! But I think all you have to do is turn it on. I haven’t given it a thought, personally. I’d need much bigger numbers than I currently have to want to monetize my videos.

Well, if you’re going for the static image… not much. If you don’t have any video editing software, I’m sure there’s something free you can use to do just that much. But if you want to make more complicated videos, it’ll require more techniques and capable software.

If you want to shoot a music video, you’ll need a camera of some sort! That’s about it. There are a lot of options when it comes to quality, and a lot of stuff you can buy to make your footage better. But yeah I think that’s all you need. If you have a smart phone, you’re basically all set.

Yeah, I think you are really over-thinking this! :wink: I don’t know if you upload your music anywhere like Soundcloud or Bandcamp or elsewhere, but YouTube isn’t all that different. For some people, it’s a source of income and a lot of work. For other people, it’s just a platform to share their videos with anyone who might want to check it out. Making videos can be really fun. I’ve been making YouTube videos for over 10 years. Mostly music, but also some comedy and other stuff sprinkled in. You can post a video every day, or you can post a video and never post another one ever again. There’s really no commitment. It’s all about how much time you want to put into it. So if you want to create a channel, I would say just go for it!

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Thanks for all the info Cristina!

Ha, it’s okay, I over-think everything. :grin: I’m really just thinking about this in a long-term way, years into the future maybe. I imagine a lot of people don’t do that, they just upload and go. I’m trying to gauge how serious I am and a commitment level etc. The “5-year plan” type of thinking. In my mind, that determines then how much time to invest and what the goals are. I do think it’s really interesting that people can basically make a living with a successful channel, but I’m sure that usually starts with just having one and doing something with it and see where it goes from there. No idea of audience, that’s part of why I’m doing the thinking process is to be more clear about what the goals would be.

I have that too. I went through the learning curve and editing process, so I feel reasonably comfortable making a video. I was a bit surprised how long the render process is, very similar to what you stated - about 3 times the time length of the video etc. I didn’t know if that was a good average though.

If that was a goal, I assume it would require strategizing and a lot of effort to get there. At least for me. That’s why I’d at least like to think about it in the planning stage. For someone who already has a popular brand, then they get on YouTube, I’d guess they already have a bit of a head start. From what I understand, you can choose to monetize (or not) individual videos. Some topics/descriptions are more likely to attract advertisers than others, and controversial topics may not attract any. That also seems like a conscious choice, at least in this strategic planning process. Consulting the map before hiking the mountain, as it were. :nerd_face:

I guess that’s what quite a few people use, though I’m sure some get a lot fancier. Lighting seems as or more important than the video quality perhaps, as it would impact the video quality to a degree. For talking videos I think some people use webcams too.

Wow, so you must have gotten in on the ground floor! I think there’s something intimidating about these social media platforms and technology that I’m finally looking at overcoming. I’m not sure why, other than being plenty old enough to remember when none of it existed. :neutral_face:

There’s something to be said for planning these things, but spending too much time thinking about it before actually trying it is kind of a waste of time. Many of the most popular youtubers advocate jumping and making videos and uploading them so that you can at least get your practice in while no one is watching. You really can’t know what you want to do ahead of time, as you will have no basis for how good you are at it. And who knows, you might even hate it, so why spend a lot of time wondering before trying it out? I’m no success on youtube (and really just started putting videos up a month ago), but I know without putting in time doing it, I won’t ever be a success, and with these social media platforms that can come and go, it’s better to jump in feet first and learn how to swim after you’ve hit the water than it is to stand on the edge trying to figure out just how that swimming thing works, especially since, with youtube and things like it, you aren’t going to drown. The water is shallow.

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Yeah, I have read that. I guess you can always delete videos that you later think suck, or hide them (private) or something like that? I guess I look at it as a kind of showcase, and would rather have ‘intelligent design’ rather than random weirdness. It may be that I’m a bit of a perfectionist too. :wink:

It seems to be a function of things moving so fast these days with technology changing and evolving. And whatever you put out there theoretically could be archived and online “forever”. I guess that doesn’t need to be an obstacle, it just seems like the intention of building a reputation suggests some careful career steps. Maybe that’s old-fashioned thinking. In dialoging about this I’m realizing that I have some core beliefs about “how things work” from the way I grew up and my life journey. As times have changed, the methods have too, and it certainly seems weird at times when it seems to conflict with “how things used to be”. Many years ago, Alvin Toffler wrote a book and produced a movie called “Future Shock”. Nobody seems to really think about that anymore, but I can tell you that sometimes I feel like Fred Flintstone in an episode of The Jetsons. :woozy_face: (and that reference is really dating me too …)

It sounds like you have everything you need, if you’re already comfortable editing videos! Like Mark said, you’ll learn a lot by getting started. There’s no risk here. It’s not like enrolling in an expensive college, or even like buying a guitar and starting to take lessons. In an hour you can have your first video up.

I would like to share my own personal experience with being a YouTube creator though, since it has been 10 years and I’ve gone through a lot. Firstly, I’m not a success. It’s embarrassing how much I put into my channel at various points, and that I never “made it.” I think you get a lot of “survivorship bias” with popular YouTubers talking about how to become popular on YouTube. I’ve bought some of the courses, watched a lot of videos, implemented techniques. I’m smarter than your average bear, and my videos don’t totally suck. I watched a lot of people of comparable skill grow their channels with relative ease. It can be very disheartening. I wish I could see all of the other people in my boat, but that’s the whole point–we’re not visible.

This past year I’ve stopped caring so much. I still get a small rush whenever I post a new video, wondering if this will be the one. See that’s the part that people don’t talk about… yeah it’s not necessarily a huge time commitment to optimize your tags and do a bit of marketing and whatnot, but all of that effort serves to build up your hopes. It can take up a lot more space in your mind that you want it to, like an emotional roller coaster. The more effort I put in, the more I got crushed when it didn’t work. So fine, I’m not cut out for it. Maybe I dodged a bullet. I still like to make music and videos, and I still post them to YouTube. Some people like my stuff, and at this point that’s enough for me. I don’t feel a lot of pressure, and I realized that I don’t need the validation as much as I thought I did. You can easily find shitty music on YouTube with hundreds of thousands of views. It pains me to change myself to appeal more to others. I’ve tried, and I can’t live with it. So if my channel never gets more than 2k subs, so be it. I’m gonna do it in a way that aligns with my core values, and is fun for me.

Once, when I was at my first internship in college, I mentioned to a college that I wanted to get into video game programming. After a short conversation about it, he dissuaded me. I never perused it again. It’s kind of weird a long-time dream of mine was changed by a 20 minute conversation with someone I hardly knew, but for some reason I just knew that it wasn’t what I wanted. I guess I wanted to share my story in case any of you guys can be saved a lot of trouble over a YouTube channel.

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I’m probably wrong here but I wouldn’t even think about a YT promotion effort until I had an ample stock of dynamite material just dying for some exposure, but YMMV! :slight_smile:

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I know it seems like I’m over-thinking at times, but what you have pointed out is part of the reason why. I can’t know what direction it would take, but I’d at least like to decide how much time I’d want to invest in promoting and improving, if at all. At least as a starting philosophy.

Thanks, that’s something I tend to think about too. I guess I’d call it “emotional investment”, to me it’s a very real thing. My feelings can strongly affect me, so part of dipping the toe in the water is preparing emotionally for what is to come, rather than the impulsive dive and shock of cold water.

Right, and I mentioned core values in my reply to Mark. That’s important to me, and part of the planning process. Why do I want to do this? What do I expect? What am I willing to do or not do? On my Billion Views thread I have been exploring what it means to have incredible success with YouTube views and record sales etc. For some people it seems to just happen, not that it didn’t take them some hard work, but some kind of magic kicked in with public approval and skyrocketed them to the top. It seems so random, left up to chance and the fickleness of “viral reality”. But I have also seen some channels with good content with virtually no views on a wide swath of videos over time. I know that algorithms account for some of this, but I think it’s still a good idea to get grounded in some kind of expectations.

Thank you very much! This is exactly what I was hoping for was to hear some real world “war stories”. To me it’s worth a few hours of web research and forum discussion to see if it’s something I may want to invest much more time and learning and emotion in over a span of many years. From a lifetime of experience, I tend to now “pause to check” when I come to a fork in the road. You just described one, and I can relate to how a long held belief can evaporate or change in a chance encounter conversation with someone who has a different perspective than yourself.

That’s a valid point. I did use the musical artist example, but I’m not limited to thinking about just that either. At this stage, I’m just trying to understand all this a bit better. 1) It may be that a content strategy needs to happen before the channel. 2) Doing videos would help unveil what that strategy could be. 3) Or, just do it for fun and not take it seriously. The potential avenues are becoming pretty clear.

Yeah, that’s great stuff to think about. I had to sit down earlier this year and ask myself those sorts of questions, and came to the conclusions that I wrote about. Too much of my “why,” was for validation. I didn’t feel like a worthwhile person. I realized that no amount of success can ever change how I fundamentally feel about myself. So instead I’m focusing more on day-to-day stuff. Being a good wife and co-worker. Being nice to people. Giving help when I can. That sort of thing. The hardest part for me is not being spiteful/bitter/jealous of the people who get all of the attention that I always wanted. I basically have to just stay away from the internet for a while when it gets to me too much.

It became an addiction for me, in a way. And since I’m not going to stop sharing my music, I’m always going to get pulled back in. But I’m getting better at putting it down. I totally understand the “emotional investment” aspect. It’s a very real thing for me too.

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It’s great that you came to that conclusion. We do tend to search for external validation, our society almost revolves around that. Even more so for musicians and artists I think. I have noticed that there’s a strong undercurrent of inherent insecurity in terms of seeking fame. Almost like public adoration would substitute for real love.

Research has shown that smart phones, internet, social media, etc can all be addictive. They trigger brain chemicals like dopamine and reward centers of the brain. They make us feel good temporarily, almost like a psychoactive drug or alcohol or caffeine. Advertising takes advantage of this too, and masses of data are now being accumulated on every person … mainly so that companies can target you to buy their stuff. YouTube does this also, it’s designed to get people sucked into watching it for hours at a time so that advertisers get face time with potential buyers. And they’re competing with Netflix, so they have to win. :roll_eyes: It hasn’t escaped my attention that even wanting to get into the YouTube thing is like making a deal with the Devil. :smiling_imp: :hot_face:


I was going to write a whole bunch of crap, as I think it’s not as big a deal as it seems you think it is, but instead, here’s a suggestion.

Make an account under an alternate email, put up some videos, and experiment. See how long it takes you, see what the interface looks like, see what you can do. Allocate ten or twenty hours to the experiment, and then take the account down when you’re done.

We see getting involved in these platforms as a huge endeavor that has to go right, because we’ll feel bad if it doesn’t, but my son has more than 30k subscribers to his youtube channel for a really niche kind of thing. He just started out putting up videos of things he wanted to share with only the thought of sharing what he was making.

Put stuff up. See what happens. Like any artistic endeavor, the results are not predictable.

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Ah, a prototype! That’s something I can get my head around. I’m obviously wanting to explore it but not ready to commit to a plan yet. Thanks, that may be the ticket!

It certainly seems these things either go somewhere or they don’t, or serve their intended purpose of “just doing it”. The niche thing is actually quite effective, as I understand it.

I read something that suggests doing cover song videos and posting them on YouTube, since people know those songs and they don’t know your original material at first. I see some conflicting information about licensing though. Most opinions say don’t worry about it as YouTube will automatically claim a copyright on behalf of the original artist, and forward any ad revenue from your cover song video to them as royalties.

And if you’re not planning to sell that song online or put it on a CD for sale, then sync licenses or mechanical licenses - while perhaps technically appropriate - don’t serve a practical purpose and few people worry about it or have any issues.

Does anybody know how this works in practice, or have any experiences with it?

I found this info, I assume it’s reliable. They suggest cover songs are covered by a blanket licensing deal YouTube has with publishers. They even say that you get to split the ad revenue with the publisher.