How to upload a video to YouTube

How to get your videos in front of millions of people, for free…

The other day, someone asked me, “What, exactly, is YouTube?”

Stunned, I explained that YouTube is a free online video service that allows anyone to view, upload and share videos that can be viewed by anyone else in the world with an internet connection.

My reply was followed by a blank look, and then a follow-up question:
“Ok, then, just how do you upload a video to YouTube?”

I then realized that what I thought was an obvious and simple thing to do, is actually new and unfamiliar territory for many small business owners and amateur video producers.

So, if you’re interested in learning how to make your videos available to hundreds of millions of people worldwide – and you don’t know where to start – then this quick YouTube tutorial is for you!


A Brief Introduction to YouTube

YouTube was founded in February 2005, as a free web-based service that would allow people to watch and share their videos. The site has since exploded into the web’s premier multimedia entertainment destination with more than 70 million videos being viewed daily.

In October 2006, Google purchased YouTube for a whopping $1.65 billion, leading to the video site being named TIME magazine’s “Invention of the Year” for 2006.

Here are some of YouTube’s features. It allows any web-connected user to:


  • Browse millions of videos uploaded by community members
  • Upload, “tag” and share videos worldwide
  • Make uploaded videos public
  • Find, join and create video groups to connect with people with similar interests
  • Subscribe to member videos, save favorites and create playlists
  • Embed YouTube videos into websites using special video embed code

Your YouTube Account

You must first sign up for a free YouTube membership to upload videos. With your membership, you will also be able to do things like create viewing playlists and comment on other videos.

When you upload a video to YouTube, it stays online until you choose to take it down. YouTube may also take it offline if they believe your video violiates their terms of use (e.g., adult content, copyright infringement).


Instructions for uploading a video to YouTube

To get started, the first thing you should do is click on the “Upload Videos” icon in the upper right corner of the YouTube home page:

Click on 'Upload Videos'
Click on ‘Upload Videos’

Login if you already have an account. If you don’t, you’ll need to complete and submit the sign-up form to create one:

Create your YouTube account
Create your YouTube account

Describe your video

Once you’ve registered, you’ll be able to begin the two-step video upload process. First, you’ll need to provide some information about the video you’re uploading:

Provide information about your video
Provide information about your video

You’ll want to include relevant keywords in your title, description and “tags” that people will use when searching YouTube for video content. For example, if you’re uploading a video snare drum lesson, be sure to include potential search words such as “drums, lessons, snare, music,” etc.

Keep in mind, that YouTube video pages appear in Google’s search results. So it’s possible that someone searching for “drum lessons” on Google will stumble upon your video drum lesson on YouTube without actually searching YouTube directly.

Select the appropriate category and language for your video, and press the “Go upload a file” button. The alternative “Use Quick Capture” button would allow you to record a YouTube video instantly via a camera connected to your computer. (We’ll go over this option in a future tutorial.)

Public or Private?

On the next page, you’ll be able to upload your video file and specify the privacy settings (public or private):

Make your videos private or availabe to the public
Make your videos private or availabe to the public

If you’d like to only select people you invite to be able to view your videos, choose “Private.” Otherwise, if you’d like anyone in the world to be able to view your videos, you should select the “Public” option.


YouTube video requirements and recommendations

YouTube accepts video files from most newer digital cameras, camcorders, and cell phones in either an .AVI, .MOV, or .MPG file format. According to their site, videos saved with the following settings convert and display the best:


  • MPEG4 (Divx, Xvid) format
  • 320×240 resolution
  • MP3 audio
  • 30 FPS

(Note to WVZ Members: Be sure to review the tutorial on how to get the best results when uploading videos to YouTube.)

There is no limit to the number of videos you can upload, but there is a file size limit of 100MB for “Standard” account members.

Videos can be up to 10 minutes long. If you have a Director’s Account, you can upload longer videos. The YouTube Director program is especially for musicians, amateur filmmakers, videobloggers, or professional content producers.

YouTube asks that you not upload “copyrighted, obscene or any other material which violates YouTube’s Terms of Use.”

Upload your video

To upload your video, press the “Browse” button to locate the video file on your computer and then press the “Upload Video” button:

Uploading your video to YouTube
Uploading your video to YouTube

The amount of time required to upload a video depends upon your internet connection speed and the size of the video you’re uploading. It can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.

According to YouTube, for users with a high-speed broadband internet connection, the upload time is usually in the range of 1-5 minutes per MB (e.g., a 10MB file would take 10-50 minutes to upload).

Once you’re video has been uploaded, YouTube will automatically convert it to the Flash video FLV format for use in the YouTube FLV player. This usually takes just a few minutes. Your video should be live shortly thereafter.


Uploading to YouTube – Summary

Here are a few things to keep in mind when before you go YouTubing:


  • Remember to include your web site address in all videos you upload so it’s easy for people to remember and find you.
  • To save time and leverage your efforts, submit your videos to several video sharing sites at the same time.
  • Increase your chances of being found by uploading as many videos as possible.
  • Get a Director’s Account to take advantage of additional benefits.
  • Remember, your file must be under 100MB in size and no longer than 10 minutes in length (most are under 5 minutes).
  • Longer videos require more compression, which means the quality goes down as the length of your video goes up.

YouTube makes it easy for you to quickly get your videos in front of a worldwide audience who’s looking for the content, products and services you offer. Just create an account, upload your videos, and join the party!


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