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13 Tips for Success Building a Student YouTube Channel

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13 Tips for Success Building a Student YouTube Channel Expert Guest Blog SmartSocial.com

Many educators and college admission officers recommend that students start building their positive online presence while they’re in high school. With parent’s permission, teens 13 years and older can start to build a positive online presence by creating a YouTube channel (see YouTube Terms of Service regarding the age). 

Challenge your students to think about their passions, extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or internships and determine what they would like to highlight in their videos. And since YouTube can have a positive impact on Google search results many students are wondering, what are the next steps?

So, we asked 13 experts to share their best YouTube tips students can use to create a positive online presence.

1. Don’t get discouraged & appreciate the loyal followers

Derek Gleason headshot
Derek Gleason

Derek Gleason, Lead Analyst, Workshop Digital

Most YouTube adventures start with tons of enthusiasm—and then stop after a creative effort earns little or no feedback.

The single factor that correlates most with success is a long-term commitment. So, if you’re going to build a YouTube channel, go into it with a long-term commitment.

Setting expectations at the start can go a long way toward a young person having a positive and rewarding experience. It's rare for anyone who's starting from scratch to gain a following inside of a few months. Don’t get discouraged too quickly.

So, from that perspective, I'd encourage parents to help set those expectations with their students. At the same time, from the perspective of a content creator, it helps if you have a number of ideas to pursue and angles to cover them. One idea alone—no matter how great—is unlikely to succeed.

Another way to approach it is as a six-month experimentation program, during which time a new YouTuber can refine their style or voice. Too often, there's an expectation that the very first effort should be perfect or fully formed. That's never the case—and feedback from viewers is usually the best way to get a sense of how to refine content (versus trying to guess in advance what people will or won't enjoy).

Lastly, for those who earn the attention of a few: focus on the loyal viewers you have; don't look constantly for a new audience while ignoring the one you have, however small.

2. Publish regularly and keep netiquette in mind when interacting with others

Chris Drew, Helpful Professor 

Chris Drew headshot
Chris Drew

If a student’s YouTube channel is executed well, college admission officers and future employers will be impressed to see a candidate who takes action. Sustaining that online presence for 12 months or more will show even more: that you have persistence, determination, and drive. 

Publish regularly and always reply to viewers' comments. But, be cautious to create valuable and professional content. Potential employers will see your YouTube channel, so make sure the content contains thoughtful, mature, and insightful discussion. Parents and teachers need to talk to their students about the appropriate use of the YouTube channel. 

The first thing to keep in mind is netiquette. If the goal of the YouTube channel is to build a positive online presence, don't sabotage this by posting content a college admission officer or potential employer may find offensive. This also goes for the comment section as well. Monitor it regularly, delete inappropriate comments, and respond to comments with the knowledge that your college admission officer and a potential future employer will be able to see your conduct. 

The second thing to keep in mind is copyright laws. Talk to your student about what sort of images they are legally allowed to use on the site. Preferably, it will be personal images or ones from stock photo sites with free use licenses such as Pixabay, Pexels, and Unsplash. This can help avoid potential legal issues that can and do arise.

3. Plan out your channel and have backup videos ready to launch

David Attard, Digital Consultant, and Web Designer, CollectiveRay

David Attard headshot
David Attard

A lot of people have taken to YouTube as a way to showcase their talents, hobbies, and skills. This could include dancing, cooking, or gardening, but regardless of the topic steadily increasing user engagement can help build a positive presence. 

The secret to all of this is proper planning, especially before launching your channel. Depending on the frequency of the releases, try to keep a store of three to four videos that are ready to be uploaded at will. Even if you end up with a hectic week and can't create new content, you still have enough to keep you going. 

Never compromise on quality and keep the work as genuine as possible. Everyone is looking for content that's relatable and interesting so, always aim to create that impact.

4. Write comments on other user’s videos to create engagement

Jacob Villa, School Authority Co-Founder and Marketing Director, Authority LLC

Jacob Villa headshot
Jacob Villa

Engage meaningfully in the comments section. We are often told to avoid “trolling” other users in the comments section, but the comments section isn’t something you always have to avoid. Believe it or not, publicly commenting with your YouTube channel or account provides an opportunity for you to build a positive online presence on the platform.

Do you consider yourself a history buff? Enjoy a documentary video about WWII and leave an insightful comment as to how you think this war changed the world forever. Are you into classical music? Maybe a video about Mozart would interest you and you might be able to say something about his reputation as a musical genius.

Whatever your passion is, there will always be a video that might pique your interest. As you scroll down the comments section, don’t forget that it can sometimes be a fertile ground for opinions and discussions. Write down a thought or two, discuss an interesting related topic, or even engage someone in a polite debate. Just be respectful and always keep in mind that your posts should be aimed at positively developing your presence online.

5. Remember the triple Cs when releasing content

Zoya Naqvi, Author & Digital Marketer

Zoya Naqvi headshot
Zoya Naqvi

YouTube is the second most used search engine after Google. YouTube videos can even rank at the top results on Google searches.

YouTube is one of the best platforms for building a personal brand. Showcase what you are good at through storytelling and videos. YouTube can be the place for students to advertise and present themselves to the world. You can express yourself better and connect with people on a deeper level. 

YouTube promotes your content to others because the algorithm is so content creator-friendly. Your videos can be suggested in relevant searches.

Remember the triple Cs: Content, Cover, and Caption (+Title)

If the cover, title, and caption are all good, YouTube gets more clicks. Take time to write a caption as it gets indexed in search engines and suggests your video.

Here are some free tools and extensions to help maximize your YouTube efforts:

Check out these positive YouTuber’s for inspiration on how to build your channel:

6. Use SEO best practices when creating educational content

Chris LaMorte, Co-Founder & Head of Marketing, WebChimpy

Chris LaMorte headshot
Chris LaMorte

With the rise in digitalization, it can be beneficial for students to start their own YouTube channel to build their own brand, which can also help in their job search in the future. But, the online world can also have a negative impact if you don't take the right measure to protect yourself. Here are some ways in which students can plan out their YouTube channel content and interaction on the platform:

  1. Make educational content related to your career choice: Students should always focus on creating educational/informative videos which can be beneficial for other students as well. This way, not only will the content be age-appropriate but parents won't have a problem letting their children spend time on your channel too!
  2. Use SEO best practices to create audience-targeted content: One of the most important parts of online content creation is using the right keywords. You can use tools like Google Ads Keyword Planner to find the right keywords based on the degree of competition. Soovle is another easy-to-use tool to find keywords but it is not as sophisticated as Google's Keyword Planner. Google Trend is another tool you can use to find which search terms are in trend and match your content according to those keywords. Answer The Public is a long tail keyword generator which is a really great free tool you can use for keywords.
  3. Engage with your viewers: Creating the perfect content isn't enough. You also have to engage with your audience to show them that you care for their opinion. You can host weekly Q&A sessions on YouTube or Instagram, share updates about your life, or host some free classes in any of your areas of specialization.

7. Create content that is purposeful and driven by a cause

Hitesh Patel, Founder, RRPJewellers

Hitesh Patel headshot
Hitesh Patel

A positive online presence is now seen as a huge advantage for students. Many schools have even started to give extra credit on the basis of the online content put up by their students. If you are in high school and are preparing for college admission or job applications, you can achieve an edge over many other applicants by building a positive online presence.

YouTube is a great platform to build an online presence. It focuses on interactive video content and you can actually discuss your topic of interest in depth. Here are some of the ways you can build a positive YouTube presence:

Content for a cause

While entertaining content is great, purposeful content will catch the attention of colleges. When your content is driven by a cause and purpose towards creating social change and impact, your positive presence increases on social media. Purposeful content does not mean the latest news necessarily, it just means content that has a reason behind it. The best way is to create entertaining videos with informative content.

Online community building

Interact and promote other artists and channels which are making purposeful content. When you cross-promote, you are essentially building a positive online community on YouTube. Cross-promotion is also a great way to increase engagement and interaction on your YouTube channel. You can also collaborate with similar channels and combine your views. Building a community on YouTube leads to interacting with like-minded people who have similar goals and interests.

Value your audience

Your subscribers are what matters the most. People who are loyal to your content are also the people who believe in your content. Identify your target audience and work towards generating content for them. A few ways you can do that is by replying to as many comments as you can. You can also do question and answer videos from time to time.

8. Create niche videos and commit long term

Ben Reynolds, CEO & Founder, Sure Dividend

Ben Reynolds headshot
Ben Reynolds

If students are attempting to build a positive YouTube channel to demonstrate particular expertise or skills to impress college admissions, then they can start by figuring out what skills they’re passionate about. Sift through various niche topics until you reach what you’re passionate about. You might even create informative videos throughout the process, allowing you to build a positive YouTube channel that can impress college admissions when you submit it with your application.

Starting young means you can explore more broad topics like investing, retirement funds, earning dividends, or growing a down payment on a house. It can be an educational and affordable experience, but it can also help build on your skills, such as filming and editing, writing, confidence, research, and so much more. It can also help you become an expert in a subject matter or niche.

However, sticking to it and creating more narrowed-down niche videos will also mean you're able to commit to a long-term project that can help you when you go to college and get your first job. But don’t stop there. Find that specific niche you love and build on it to create valuable content in your videos.

9. Work with advanced software and get creative with editing

Carla Diaz, Cofounder, Broadband Search

Carla Diaz headshot
Carla Diaz

As someone who does quite a bit of work online and now understands the importance of having a digital presence, starting early can really help you get a head start over other hopeful applicants. 

YouTube is perhaps one of the most popular video-sharing platforms, so getting shared and getting a good ranking boils down to your viewership and content. 

Starting early during high school is a great time as you begin to understand the type of content you enjoy creating or talking about and publishing. Whether it comes down to researched video journals or essays, maybe vlogs about your hometown, or making digital content about a video game or franchise you really enjoy (while keeping copyright infringement and parody laws in mind). 

Take your time to make sure you have an idea as to what your platform will be about, and how to showcase your skills with editing and content creation. This will determine the sort of applications or software you will need to help you as you begin to create your videos. 

Cost shouldn’t be much of a worry either, as there are plenty of free or low-cost subscription models with which to access the tools you need. One really helpful tip is to often check websites like Humble Bundle, which often offer high-end editing programs (sound, video, image, etc.) or 3D modeling and can give you an advantage over others.

If you want to look into animating or working with 3D software, a lot of video game animations tools offer free tiers for students looking to hone their skills and work as individuals. These programs even offer resources for those possibly looking to make 3D animations and work on building short reels. 

Building your digital portfolio is a good way for not only institutions of higher education to get to know you better, but for any possible new employers to see your work as an animator or researcher on a certain topic.

10. Create a video resume

Ed Brancheau headshot
Ed Brancheau

Ed Brancheau, Goozleology Digital Marketing

Students should create "video resumes" where they can dress professionally, list their accomplishments, and, most importantly, address problems that could pop up when someone searches their name. 

Additionally, you can continually create new video resumes. Then just link the old video to the new one and "unlist" the old video. Boom. Your new video will show up #1 for your name.

11. Tell a story and don’t just focus on academics

Jennifer Tang headshot
Jennifer Tang

Jennifer Tang, Skillify

Don't just focus on academics. Almost every high school student has at least one class video project on YouTube. Even if you got 100% on it, create videos that go beyond academics. Have an awesome internship? Went on a cool extracurricular trip? Participated in a rare opportunity? Create a video about it! 

Tell a story. It's not about flash effects or how viral your videos become. What you represent is what makes you memorable. Spend your energy finding an interest you can build a story around and create videos for. Draw inspiration from cool things in your everyday life, like school milestones, extracurricular events, conferences,  internships, and give your viewers a slice of what life is like from your lens. 

12. Deliver videos consistently

J Wolfgang Goerlich headshot
J Wolfgang Goerlich

J Wolfgang Goerlich, Creative Breakthroughs Inc.

Young people who convey their personality and passion over YouTube have an advantage for internships and apprenticeships. It's an opportunity to demonstrate that they are media savvy. 

The trick to success on YouTube is consistency and simplicity. It doesn't need to be a complicated video with fancy edits and a snazzy soundtrack. Keep it simple. And once the idea is down, deliver the videos consistently, weekly, or even daily. 

Students can share what they know and what they are working on. Students should let their personalities shine through. 

13. Add value to your outro

Peter Schroeder, RenderFX

Peter Schroeder YouTube for students
Peter Schroeder

An often overlooked section of YouTube videos is a solid intro and outro. You need to be able to grab your audience’s attention in the first 10 seconds and an intro is a great way to do so. 

You also want to leave your audience with a good ‘taste in their mouth’ for what they just watched, so end your videos with a solid outro. In your outro, be sure to ask your audience to subscribe. When you ask them, give them a reason why they would want to subscribe by telling them what they will gain by doing so.


Planning out your YouTube channel is essential for success. Consistency is the key after that. Always keep a Light, Bright & PoliteTM attitude online and when interacting with strangers. You never know who is watching and waiting to screenshot a slip-up.

Additional resources

Access our full course, Navigating YouTube: What Parents, Educators, & Students Need to Know

For younger children, read our YouTube Kids resource

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This is great info, thanks for giving me some ideas on how to start a dialogue with my teen!


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