Friendly Advice
Sep 22, 2023

YouTube's Creator Tools: A Crash Course

Charlotte Pearse

YouTube has been around for nearly two decades, and has only continued to increase in popularity over that period of time.

As more and more people seek to find success on YouTube and make a career out of content creation, it’s definitely important to know what resources are available. Plenty of tools exist for YouTube creators, both on the platform itself and also via third parties.

If you’re interested in making YouTube videos, you should definitely make sure that you’re using all the tools at your disposal so that you can be as successful as possible.

Keep reading if you want some advice on how to get your YouTube channel off to a good start, and to learn about some popular tools for elevating your content.

Getting Started on YouTube

Before we go into more technical tools for YouTube creators, it’s important to have some background information. If you’re looking to begin or grow your YouTube channel, there are some things to know in advance.

For starters, you’ll want to put thought into what keywords you target, since you want your video to show up early on in YouTube searches. Start with broad phrases and then narrow it down to find your niche.

Investigate what selections of keywords are more popular than others. If you find out what characteristics the videos that show up first share then you can also improve upon your own videos. Targeting keywords with low competition may also be helpful.

You can also use those keywords to inform what tags you put on your video, not just the title. Being thoughtful about both of these will help your video appear in search results.

Equally important as the title and tags, however, is the thumbnail— the image potential viewers will see before they decide to click.

People only have the title and thumbnail to go on when they see a video pop up in their recommendations, so you have to put effort into both.

According to YouTube’s own reports, 90% of the best-performing videos on the platform come with custom thumbnails. This means that you should design a thumbnail rather than just let YouTube choose a random still image from the video.

Thumbnails with lots of color contrast do fairly well, since it makes it easier for potential viewers to see what’s going on. It’s especially beneficial if you use bright colors rather than ones like black, white, and red. You don’t want your video to blend in with YouTube’s background.

Including your face in your thumbnail is another way to make sure more people want to watch. Videos that have a thumbnail with a YouTuber’s face have been shown to perform better in recent years.

An image of a woman filming herself on her smartphone, which is propped up inside a ring light. Behind her is a large fern and several nice shirts hanging up.
Whether you’re filming on your phone or a fancy camera, ensure you’re putting as much effort in as possible. Notice how this YouTuber has an aesthetically pleasing background and makes sure the lighting is good.

All of the above is just about getting people to click on your video, but remember that it’s just as— if not more —important to make sure that people keep watching.

The YouTube algorithm puts a lot of value on “watch time,” because the more time people spend watching videos on the platform the more ad revenue is generated. So, taking watch time optimization into account will help both you and YouTube in general.

Two of the best ways to rack up more watch time is to create longer videos and also to make sure the intros of your videos are super interesting.

Despite the existence of YouTube Shorts, long videos still tend to perform better on the platform, and they obviously result in more watch time. Try to make your videos at least ten minutes each.

For the first fifteen seconds of your video, focus on maintaining your audience’s attention. If the introduction doesn’t interest someone watching, they’re likely to click on something else instead.

You can also create optimized playlists, which is perhaps a less well-known but no less effective method of growing your channel. The goal with this is to increase your “session time,” or time that someone spends on YouTube after watching your video.

These playlists can include other videos of yours, but you can also choose to promote similar videos by other content creators. The main thing is that you don’t want someone to leave YouTube after watching your video.

If someone continues to spend a lot of time on YouTube after watching your video, the algorithm will promote you more, because they obviously want to maximize the amount of time people spend on the platform.

Your main priority should be promoting your own videos of course. In every individual video, you should always think about the bigger picture. Encourage viewers to become subscribers and to put notifications on so that they’ll know when you put out new videos.

One good way to gain subscribers is to add a subscribe button to your “End Screen.” People that have already watched an entire video will be more inclined to subscribe. You can add other videos of yours to this screen as well.

Additionally, link your other social media accounts in the YouTube description so that your subscribers can follow you there and you can reach an even larger audience. Maybe share a short clip of a new video on your Twitter or Instagram for intrigue.

There are plenty of technical tools on both YouTube and other platforms that can help you grow your audience.

YouTube Tools

Plenty of great tools exist for you to use right on the YouTube platform. Before you turn to third party resources, make sure you’re exhausting these options so that you can get the most out of your YouTube experience.

For starters, if you’re looking for advice on how to create content, you can look at the YouTube Creators Channel. This account exists to provide creators on the platform with support, no matter what kind of content you put on your account.

This channel will help you stay informed about what’s happening on YouTube— something you can also subscribe to YouTube emails for —as well as offer advice to help you grow your audience.

If you have any questions or concerns that would require getting in direct contact with people at YouTube, you can do so via the Help Center. On this page, you will be greeted with a search bar that helps you browse through a large variety of FAQs.

The help topic categories are as follows: fix a problem, watch videos, manage your account/settings, supervised experience on YouTube, create/grow your channel, YouTube Premium, monetize with the YouTube Partner Program, as well as policy, safety, and copyright.

An image of the "Home" and "Trending" tabs beneath the YouTube logo on the website's home page. The search bar is to the right of the logo.
If you’re trying to grow on YouTube, it can be very convenient to have resources at your disposal on the platform itself. You just have to know where to look!

If the Help Center doesn’t provide the answers you’re looking for, you can always post a question of your own to the YouTube Community Forum. Creators on the platform can answer each other’s questions on this part of the site, which helps foster a positive, collaborative environment.

The YouTube Help Community has featured posts, trending posts, and categories of posts. You can also search whatever your question is on the forum to see if your query has already been asked and answered.

Last but certainly not least important in terms of available tools for content creators is YouTube Studio. This is the platform’s one-stop shop for YouTubers to look at their channel’s performance.

Arguably the most important tab within your YouTube Studio is “Analytics,” which allows you to look at your views, watch time, top videos, and much more. You can look at a viewership breakdown here, too, in order to see how many returning versus unique viewers you have, as well as what percentage is made up of subscribers.

You can even look at what searches are popular on YouTube right now via the Research tab in Analytics, as well as what content your viewers are searching for.

YouTube Studio also allows content creators to look at any comments or copyright claims on their videos, plus what your earnings look like. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll have empty bars to fill up before you can achieve earning eligibility

In order to be eligible to make money on YouTube you have to have 500 subscribers, three videos uploaded in the last 90 days, and one of the following: 3,000 public watch hours or three million Shorts views.

You’ll want to make use of these resources, especially YouTube Studio, in order to have a successful channel. However, there are plenty of tools provided by third parties that also exist to help you on your YouTube journey.

External Tools

So, what third party websites are most popular among YouTubers? Well, let’s start with some YouTube approved resources!

TubeBuddy is one tool that has become very popular among content creators lately. This browser extension— which can be installed into Google Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Opera —has 60+ features geared towards helping you grow.

Certified by YouTube, TubeBuddy provides access to channel analytics, competitor research, keyword research, tag management, comment management, bulk updates, a thumbnail maker, and more!

You can opt for a Free plan on TubeBuddy, but if you want access to absolutely every resource it offers you can also choose one of the other four plans: Pro, Star, Legend, and Enterprise.

VidIQ is another YouTube certified browser extension for viewing these types of features, though it only works with Google Chrome. It has many of the same features as TubeBuddy, but one other notable tool you can use it for is demonetization prevention.

An image of a computer screen that displays a video editing screen.
Making high-quality YouTube videos can often be a several step long process, but taking the extra steps to ensure you’re creating something worth watching will definitely help your channel grow!

Another super popular, YouTube certified resource is Social Blade. If you’ve ever seen a content creator looking at their subscribers increase towards some milestone, chances are they were using Social Blade to look at the exact number live.

Social Blade has many other valuable resources, however. It can track user statistics across many different social media platforms, and help you compare your video performance to that of other creators via benchmarking. There are also over 40 video tutorials on Social Blade to help up and coming creators.

You can use Social Blade via the website, a browser extension, or a mobile app.

There are also lots of tools geared towards helping you with specific steps along the way. One example of this is Google’s Keyword Planner and their Trends page. You can conduct keyword research via the former, while the latter will inform you what searches are super popular right now.

This will help you figure out what to title and tag your video with! Plus, your YouTube account will be attached to your Google Account anyway.

Plenty of third party resources for creating the perfect thumbnail are out there, too! Pixlr and Adobe Express are two of the most well-known ones. They both have photo editing tools, but the latter can be used to edit videos as well.

Adobe Premiere Pro is an incredibly popular desktop video editing resource that will help you make professional video content. You can import video, whether it's from a camera or mobile device, and edit it to perfection.

Other helpful tools that can elevate your video content are screen recorders like Movavi and template sites such as Filmora that offer royalty-free media and visual effects.

If you’re interested in live-streaming on YouTube, resources exist to help with that as well! Arguably the most popular of these available is Streamlabs, which helps creators engage with their audience and monetize streams.

OBS Studio, an open-source software app, collaborated with Streamlabs to create Streamlabs OBS, which offers a lot of additional features and opportunities for customization and is very intuitive to use.

Any of these resources could provide instrumental to growing your YouTube channel, but it’s up to you which ones you use. If you’re interested in becoming a content creator on YouTube, chances are the tools detailed above will help you to achieve that goal!