YouTube Video Checklist graphic - six important steps

YouTube Video Checklist for Publishing the Best YouTube Videos

If you are looking for a comprehensive YouTube video checklist, look no further! This article shares everything you need to create the best YouTube video possible. Use this checklist to set yourself up for success!

YouTube Video Checklist – Steps One Through Six

First Step: Plan Your YouTube Video

-Do some research to figure out what type of video you would like to create. Check out video topics in your niche as well as other creators.

-Now that you’ve conducted your research, what is your video idea? Use this step to plan your video concept.

-Next, create your video script. I recommend using bullet points to create a loose script so that you stay on track rather. This also keeps you from needing to memorize a long script. That takes too much time and comes across as unnatural.

-What equipment will be needed to make this video a reality? Plan out your gear.

-Where will you film? Will you use one location or multiple? Decide on a filming location and decorate your ‘studio’ as needed. Check out this article I created on YouTube background ideas.

-What is your production timeline? Work backward from the date that you would like to publish. Be sure to walk through the steps to make sure you have enough time to get everything done.

-Where will you publish this content (other than YouTube)? Will you also use this content for YouTube shorts? Be sure to create a plan for where you will publish this content. This might change how you deliver your content when filming.

Second Step: Film Your YouTube Video

-First, set up your filming location. This includes setting up any backdrops and decorations as needed.

-Next, set up your equipment. be sure to keep the room as dark as possible so that you have steady, constant lighting. Check out this article I created on YouTube equipment for beginners. 

-Do a video and sound check to make sure that your video and audio are exactly how you want them. There’s nothing worse than filming a whole video to find out that your audio isn’t working or your camera isn’t placed properly!

-Ensure you are filming in the correct aspect ratio, which is 16:9. 

-Film your content and don’t be afraid to do multiple takes in case you mess up.

Third Step: Post Production

-The next step in the YouTube video checklist is all about post-production. First, be sure to save your video in the highest quality possible (usually HD or 4K) when exporting. If you are interested in trying Premiere Pro, check out this blog post I wrote on using Premiere

-If filming on a smartphone, be sure to set your recording quality ahead of time.

-When saving your video file be sure to save the file name as the keyword that you are targeting.

-Create a custom thumbnail using either Photoshop or Canva. If you are new to editing, I’d recommend checking out Canva.

-Another way to optimize your video is to add captions. Check out this video on how to add captions to your YouTube videos.

Fourth Step: Uploading Your Video to YouTube

Uploading Your Video on YouTube

The next step in this YouTube video checklist is to upload your video to YouTube.

-Once you are logged into YouTube, navigate to the top right-hand corner of your screen. Select the plus icon to upload a video.

YouTube Video Checklist - Select plus icon in top right-hand corner of YouTube screen to upload video.

-Drag and drop your video to upload or click the select files button to find the file and upload it.

YouTube Video Checklist - Drag and drop your video or upload on this screen.

Optimize Your Video Information

Title & Description

-Be sure to add an optimized title and description when uploading your video. Many people skip the description, which is a missed opportunity! You can add details about your video as well as links in the description, so be sure to complete this part!

YouTube Video Checklist - Add your description when uploading YouTube video
Add a Thumbnail

-Next, be sure to upload your custom YouTube thumbnail. This will help to set your video apart from others and is a great opportunity to brand your content.

Next, upload your custom thumbnail.

-Next, you have the option of adding your video to a playlist. I highly recommend this since playlists can appear in search.


-You must also select who the video is made for. The options are that it is either made for kids or not made for kids.

On this screen you can add this video to a playlist and also select the audience of the video
Paid Promotion

-If your video is sponsored in any way, you must check the box under paid promotion.

Automatic Chapters

-You also have the option of adding automatic chapters. This is a great feature because it organizes your video into chapters. This helps your audience to find the information that they need, faster.

Select if this video has paid promotion and also add automatic chapters to the video to help your audience find what they need
Add Tags

-I cannot stress how important tags are for your YouTube content! While tags alone will not result in your ranking on the first page of YouTube search, they are still important for organizing your video in search. You can find less competitive tags to incorporate into your video to improve your chances of ranking.

Next, add tags to your video to help YouTube classify the video you are publishing
Video Elements

-Once you click the next button at the bottom of the first screen, you are brought to the video elements page. Here, you have the opportunity to add subtitles, an end screen, or cards. An end screen is great for directing your viewers to other videos. Cards are excellent to highlight relevant videos or comments throughout the video currently being watched.

You can now add subtitles, an end screen and cards to your video

-Once you select next on the bottom right-hand section of the screen, you are brought to the checks page. Here, YouTube explains that it is checking your video for copyright problems.

In this step, YouTube will check your video for copyright issues
Video Visibility

-Once you select next at the bottom right-hand corner of the page, you are brought to the visibility page. This page provides you with the option to make your video private, unlisted, or public. An unlisted video is only available to those who have the link.

Select the visibility of your video and choose from private, unlisted, or public. You can also schedule the video to be published at a future date and time
Schedule Your Video

-If you’d like to publish your video on a future date, you also have the option to schedule the video to go out on a specific date and time.

You can also schedule your video to be published at a future date and time

Fifth Step: Promoting Your Video

Share your video on social media

-Once you have published your YouTube video, it is now time to promote this video on social media. I would recommend sharing out your YouTube video on any social media platforms that you’re active on. It is also important to consider sharing your YouTube video on social media platforms where you know your target audience is active. An additional idea is to share out your YouTube video using a newsletter via your email list.

Sixth Step: Video Analytics

-The final step in the YouTube video checklist is all about analytics. If you are trying to grow your YouTube channel, video analytics are extremely important. I would recommend checking in on your YouTube video analytics a couple of hours after you publish your video, a few days after you publish, and then a couple of weeks after you published. 

Select the YouTube Studios button from the drop down

-To find your YouTube Channel’s analytics, first, navigate to your channel icon at the top right-hand corner of the screen. Once you select your channel icon you will be presented with a drop-down of menu items. Next, go ahead and select the YouTube Studio button. 

Once in the YouTube Studio section, go to Analytics on the left-hand side of the screen

-Once you’re on your channel dashboard navigate to the left-hand side of the screen. There you will see an option for analytics. Go ahead and select that button.


Navigate to the overview section

-Next, you are presented with a couple of different options under the channel analytics page. First is your channel analytic overview. This screen shows how many views your channel received in the last 28 days as well as the amount of watch time and your subscribers.


Navigate to the content section

-The second tab at the top, contents, shows you the performance of all of your content on YouTube, including videos, shorts, and posts. As you can see in this image above, shorts are selected which shows how many views likes, and subscribers I’ve received based on the content that I posted in the last 20 days.


The audience section of analytics

-The third tab at the top is called audience. This is a very important section because it shows you how many returning viewers you had to your channel in the last 28 days. This tab also shows you how many new viewers you had to your channel. This will help to show you whether your content helps to retain viewers or not. If your channel does a poor job of retaining your audience, then you might need to do a better job of creating content around one central topic or developing a stronger relationship with your Audience by sharing more about yourself.


The research section of analytics

-YouTube has also created another tab called research. This feature allows you to research the competitiveness of various keywords on YouTube. You are also able to gain insight into what your audience is searching for on YouTube. 

YouTube Video Best Practices

Now that we have gone through the YouTube video checklist, I will review some YouTube best practices to help you succeed as much as possible on this amazing platform. 

Pick a Niche

My first recommendation when starting out on YouTube is to make sure that you know your niche. Picking a niche is important for your YouTube channel. For example, if people know that you create a lot of content around video production, then they will know to go back to your channel if they find that is an area that they would like to improve. This is the same for really any category out there.

However, if you create random videos about all types of topics ranging from business to make-up to music, people won’t know what to expect from your YouTube channel. In addition, if you create videos around one primary topic, this will make your YouTube channel much more binge-worthy. This is because the people visiting your channel are already interested in those topics and they will be way more likely to binge your YouTube videos if they are all around the same topic.

Know Your Audience

Next, it is very important that you understand the target audience of your YouTube channel. The YouTube video checklist doesn’t mean anything if you aren’t creating your content for people who will actually watch. If you know what your target audience is interested in then it will make coming up with video topics much easier. One way to do this will be to identify your target audience by checking out Facebook groups or even Quora forums. You can easily see what questions your target audience has by checking out the questions that they are asking in these different groups. Another way to find out more about your target audience is to look at the channels of your competitors. If they are targeting an audience that you would like to Target, then you can see what type of videos they are producing and then create something similar. 

Review Your Analytics

My next suggestion is to periodically review your analytics. Your analytics are going to provide you with detailed information about how your videos are performing and specifically what you can do to improve your video content. This is also an important step that should be included in any YouTube video checklist.

As an example, you can check out how each video on your YouTube channel is performing. More specifically, you can see where your watch time drops off on each video. This is really interesting because this will show you if people are getting bored with your videos at a specific time. This could also tell you that you need to cut to the chase a bit faster in your videos. Alternatively, this data could also be suggesting that you need to make your videos more interesting and engaging by adding a wider variety of video clips. Another possibility is that you may need to make your videos shorter.

After you publish a few videos, reviewing your analytics could provide you with a significant amount of information and insight that could drastically improve your chances of growing your YouTube channel. 

Research Your Competition 

My next suggestion is to research your competition. I mentioned this recommendation a little bit earlier, but I cannot emphasize how important competitive analysis is for your YouTube channel. What I recommend is to find five different YouTube channels that are similar to the type of channel that you are trying to create. Once you’ve done this, review the different videos that each of these channels has posted. Take note of the videos that are the most successful. Specifically, you could measure views, comments, and likes. 

Alternatively, it is also a good idea to take a look at the videos that are the least successful. Once you have gathered all of his data, you might start to find trends around the most and least successful videos on each of these channels. This will help to give you some insight into the types of content that you should be creating for your YouTube channel to make it as successful as possible.

Improving Video Quality

 While video quality is not the single determinant as to how successful your YouTube channel will be, it definitely helps. One recommendation to improve the overall video quality of your YouTube videos is to film in HD or 4K. If you do not have access to a fancy DSLR camera, many smartphones now offer the option to record video content in HD or 4K. 

When it comes to sound, something that you could do is purchase an external microphone, such as a lavalier microphone or even a shotgun microphone. If you do not have the option of purchasing an additional microphone to enhance your sound, be sure to film your videos in a quiet space without a lot of background noise. Another tip to improve the quality of your YouTube videos Is to improve your video lighting. One recommendation is to purchase a ring light, which will provide consistent lighting in all environments. If you are not able to purchase an additional light, I recommend filming your videos in rooms or environments where you have a lot of natural light.

How Long Should Your Videos Be?

The length of your YouTube videos really depends on the topic as well as your niche. For example, if you are doing a live stream, these videos tend to be much longer than the typical YouTube video and sometimes last hours. However, if you create food review videos, these might not be any longer than 5 to 10 minutes. I recommend starting by creating videos that are around 5 to 10 minutes long and then reviewing how these videos are performing in your analytics. I would recommend paying special attention to watch time and where your audience drops off when they watch your videos. If they start to drop off at a certain point, then you might want to consider shortening your videos. 

Capturing the Attention of Viewers Early On

To avoid viewers dropping off of your videos too early, I recommend capturing the attention of your viewers early on. One way to do this is to make sure that if you have an intro it is very short – no more than 5 Seconds. Another way to do this is to get straight to the point if you are talking about a specific topic or educating your viewer on a specific topic. If you create vlog-style content, I would recommend engaging your audience early on with fun or interesting clips.

Upload Consistently 

 I cannot stress how important it is to upload videos on a consistent schedule. If you are trying to develop a relationship with your audience, it is important to be consistent and to publish video content when you say you will. This is all a part of the relationship-building process that you go through when you build an audience and grow your channel.  In addition, if people really like your videos, they are going to want to see more of them. Publishing more consistently will only help your channel to grow. 

How to Brand Your Videos

I have a couple of recommendations to help you brand your YouTube videos. 

Leveraging a consistent background or color scheme for your videos is one way to brand your channel. 

Another way to brand your videos is to upload a watermark to appear on all of your videos.

YouTube video checklist - select customisation in YouTube studio

To do this, first, go to your YouTube studio. Next, select the customization button on the left-hand side of your screen.

YouTube video checklist - In the branding section you can change your video watermark

On this page, you have the opportunity to change or remove your video watermark.

Another way to brand your YouTube videos is to create a custom intro for your videos.  if you choose to create a custom intro, remember to make sure that it is not too long. 

Music Copyright

When it comes to using music in your YouTube videos, it is really important to ensure that you are not using music that would result in a copyright violation. This mainstream, popular music cannot be used in YouTube videos because it will result in a copyright violation. It is important to avoid copyright violations at all cost because this could result in the permanent termination of your YouTube channel.

If you want to use music in your YouTube videos, one option is to leverage the YouTube Audio Library. The audio library provides a wide selection of music for a variety of themes.

If you want more options that cannot be found in the YouTube audio library, one service I recommend checking out is Soundstripe. I absolutely love all of Soundstripe’s music options and they have an option for literally any type of video that you are creating. Click here to check out Soundstripe. 

Brand Sponsorships

Once your YouTube channel has started to grow, one way to monetize your YouTube channel is through brand sponsorships.  You don’t have to wait until you have a massive channel to seek out brand sponsorships. This can be a really great way to network and build more of a portfolio for your channel as it continues to grow. If you were interested in learning more check out this article that I wrote on brand Partnerships for small YouTube channels. 

YouTube Channel Checklist

The perfect compliment to the YouTube video checklist is a YouTube channel checklist! Below is the ultimate YouTube channel checklist to optimize your YouTube channel for success.

Find YouTube Channel Niche

Prior to creating your YouTube channel, it’s really important to select a niche.  I touched on this a bit earlier, but sticking to one niche rather than creating videos around a variety of topics will encourage viewers to return to your channel. It will also help YouTube to understand how to recommend your videos to viewers who may be interested in a specific topic.

Who Is Your Ideal Audience?

I mentioned understanding your idea audience earlier in this article, but I cannot stress how important this is. It is important to understand what kind of videos will be relevant to your target audience. Be sure to do the research on this prior to creating your YouTube channel.

Create Your Channel 

Once you’re taking these steps and understand the vision of her YouTube channel go ahead and create that channel.

Brand Your Channel (Important YouTube Checklist Step!)

There are so many options to Brand your YouTube channel. Let’s go ahead and walk through some of the steps.

First, select the customize channel option on your YouTube channel page.

YouTube channel checklist - first select customise channel on your YouTube channel page

Next, you will be redirected to a page with different options for customizing your YouTube channel.

Channel Layout

In this section, you are able to customize the videos on your channel. You can also upload a custom channel trailer, which I highly recommend. In addition, you can select a video from your channel that returning visitors will see on your channel.

YouTube channel checklist - Customize your channel layout

Channel Icon

One of the first ways that you should be branding your YouTube channel is by customizing your channel icon. Many people choose to upload a photo of themselves, but if your YouTube channel represents a brand then you might want to upload the logo instead.

YouTube channel checklist - Next go to the branding section to customize your channel icon and banner image

Youtube Banner

The YouTube banner is one of the most important ways to brand your YouTube channel.

If you are new to creating graphics, I would recommend utilizing Canva. Canva is also great because it has templates with the appropriate dimensions for the YouTube Banner. When you are designing your banner you also want to ensure that it is mobile-friendly. After you upload your custom YouTube Banner on desktop go ahead and check to see if it is optimized on mobile. If not go ahead and make adjustments and re-upload.


I walked through how to customize your YouTube video Watermark earlier in the article, but this is another great way to Brand your YouTube channel. 

The third tab, basic info, allows you to update your channel about page, URL, as well as your social links.

YouTube channel checklist - The basic info tab allows you to edit your description, channel name and social media links

Channel Name and Description

First, complete the channel name and description sections. The channel description is a great opportunity to connect with viewers and explain what your channel is all about.

Channel URL and Custom URL

When selecting your YouTube channel name it is also important to know if you want to create a matching website for your YouTube channel. If this is the case go ahead and check or another domain hosting service to see if that domain name is available. It is also important to know that you cannot customize your YouTube channel URL until you have at least 100 YouTube subscribers

Custom Social Links

Next, you can add your social media and website links to your YouTube channel. These will appear on the bottom right-hand corner of your YouTube channel Banner.

Channel SEO

Channel Tags

First, navigate to the settings button on the bottom left-hand section of your YouTube Studio.

YouTube channel checklist - Go to 'settings' on the bottom left-hand section of YouTube Studio

Next, go to the channel tab on the left. You can add and update your channel tags here.

YouTube channel checklist - Select the channel tab on the left and add your tags!

Video Description

To update your standard YouTube video description, navigate to upload defaults. This is a great place to add links that you will use in every video, such as a website or lead magnet.

YouTube channel checklist - Go down to upload defaults to add custom information about your channel


One tool that I use regularly is TubeBuddy. This is a great tool to conduct keyword research and optimize videos. I would recommend prioritizing a tool like TubyBuddy in any YouTube video checklist.

YouTube Video Checklist – Conclusion

I hope that this YouTube video checklist was helpful Whether you are starting a YouTube channel from scratch or are refreshing an existing one, this checklist can help to keep you organized. If you have any questions, please be sure to leave a comment below!

Interested in learning more about YouTube? Check out some of my other articles!

How to Timestamp YouTube Comment – The Complete Guide

How to See Your YouTube Subscribers – Everything You Need to Know!

Can You Post Links in YouTube Comments?

How Long Does It Take for YouTube to Process a Video?

How to Change YouTube Banner on iPhone – An Easy Guide

YouTube Intro Ideas to Increase Watch Time

How to Make YouTube Playlist Private – A Simple Guide

The Best YouTube Partnership for Small Channels

How Long Should a YouTube Intro Be

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Morgan is a recognized video marketing expert and content creator. She also runs a video production company and has a passion for teaching all things video.

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