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How to Upload a Video to YouTube: Tips and Tricks for Upcoming Content Creators

Published August 10, 2023

Out of all the video-uploading platforms, none are as popular as YouTube. This powerhouse of a brand earns tens of billions of dollars on a yearly basis. For comparison, its biggest current competitor, Vimeo, earns a little over $150 million per year. Therefore, it’s no wonder why so many upcoming content creators turn to YouTube as their potential source of livelihood.

Of course, growing your channel on YouTube isn’t easy. Its top creators like PewDiePie, Markiplier, and Mr. Beast all spent years before managing to break into the big leagues. In addition, most successful content creators spend hours researching different ways of making their material stand out. So, as a new YouTuber, you have to take things step by step. And the very first of those steps is fairly straightforward — uploading a video onto the website.

Nowadays, how you upload a video will depend on the platform you use. In this article, we will cover different methods of getting your videos up on YouTube, including some of the potential troubleshooting you might have to do along the way.

What to Know Before the Upload

Now, before you even consider putting a video up, you have to check a few important boxes. After all, not all videos will be appropriate or compatible with the platform itself. And the last thing you want to do is give up early just because that video you worked hard on doesn’t appear on your profile page. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what you need to take care of before you hit that Upload button.

Which Video Files Does YouTube Support?

It makes sense that a video-uploading platform would support certain types of video formats but not others. Therefore, you won’t be able to upload a video unless you convert it.

Fortunately, YouTube is a vast website that has the ability to host multiple different video types. So, here’s a complete list of every single format that you can expect to find there:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .MP4
  • .FLV
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • WebM
  • DNxHR
  • ProRes
  • CineForm
  • HEVC (h265)
  • 3GPP.

In other words, if you try to upload anything not on this list, like .RM, .MKV, .OGG, .SWF, or .QT, you’re likely going to run into an error once the upload is done.

Following the Community Guidelines

Just like any other social media website and content-uploading platform, YouTube has a set of community guidelines for every content creator to follow. These guidelines are in place to keep the users safe from any potential harm that might come from videos that are uploaded onto the platform. Furthermore, it’s a method by which YouTube keeps its integrity as an ethical company that values both the creators and the subscribers/viewers. If you refuse to comply with these guidelines, you’re effectively going against YouTube itself and will, therefore, not be able to upload your material to the platform.

In 2023, the guidelines are divided into several categories:

  • Spam & deceptive practices
  • Sensitive content
  • Violent or dangerous content
  • Regulated goods
  • Misinformation.

Aside from these guidelines, clearly listed and categorized for all users to parse through, YouTube also needs you to comply with its monetization policies. This is especially important if you want to earn money on YouTube by creating content. Nearly all social media platforms, such as Instagram and TikTok, can be monetized, and if you do it right, you might just make a decent living off of creating content.

Copyrighted Material

Copyright is a huge deal among YouTubers, and the platform knows this. That’s why they have strict policies when it comes to using copyrighted material.

As a creator, you should strive to upload material on YouTube that doesn’t violate the copyright laws of any country. That includes the use of audio, video, or written material that is legally owned by another company or individual. In other words, your ideal video ought to contain audio and visuals that you’ve personally created and that don’t exist anywhere else.

Now, depending on the type of content you want to create, this area can get a bit tricky. A huge section of YouTube includes media reviewers (such as film or video game critics), commentary channels, and parody accounts. There are certain laws that allow the use of some sections of copyrighted material, provided your content is transformative in nature. For example, you can’t upload an entire scene from a movie as is, but if you edit it enough and provide voiceover or video commentary to it, you might evade a copyright claim from the owners of the original media.

Sadly, this particular type of content is not the safest to make since there are brands that will abuse the system and file false DMCA claims, even if the material you have is completely within fair use. It’s 2023, and there still hasn’t been a proper solution to the false DMCA claim problem, and content creators continue to fight for freedom of expression, which includes reviews and criticism. Once again, the best you can do is to follow the copyright guidelines to the letter and hope that your video will stay up and be properly monetized.

Upload Content Using a PC Web Browser

Now that you know what to do before the actual upload itself, let’s get into the specifics. Firstly, we will focus on uploading videos via a PC browser. The steps are as follows:

  1. Log into your YouTube account.
  2. In the top-right corner of the main page, click on the Create icon (it looks like a video camera).
  3. You’ll be given two options, Upload video and Go live. Pick the first option.
  4. A pop-up should appear with the Drag and drop video files to upload prompt. There will also be a Select videos button underneath. You can either click Select videos and choose the content you want to upload or select the videos from your File Explorer and drag them to the screen.
  5. Wait for the video(s) to upload.
  6. Each video you’ve uploaded will have an Edit option (with a graphic of a small pencil next to it). Click on it to edit the following information:
    1. Title of the video
    2. The video description
    3. Video thumbnail
    4. Playlist
    5. Audience
    6. Age restriction.
  7. While editing, you’ll notice the SHOW MORE prompt. Click it and edit further information:
    1. Paid promotion
    2. Automatic chapters
    3. Featured places
    4. Tags
    5. Language and caption certification
    6. Recording date and location
    7. Distribution and license
    8. Shorts sampling
    9. Category
    10. Ratings and comments.
  8. After editing all of the elements, click Next.
  9. YouTube will proceed to check your video for any copyright infringement, and if it’s cleared, click Next.
  10. In the Visibility section, click on the Public radial button. That way, everyone will be able to access your video.
  11. Whether your video is fully uploaded or not, once you’ve picked the Public option, click on Publish.
  12. Wait for YouTube to process the video. It can take anywhere between a few seconds and a few minutes, depending on the video’s length.

Upload Content Using a Smart Device

The uploading process is the same for both Android and iOS users. All you need is access to the YouTube app, which you can download from either the App Store or the Play Store. However, most smartphones already have the app preinstalled with other Google-related software.

In order to upload a video using your smartphone or tablet, you’ll have to do the following:

  1. Open the YouTube app.
  2. Tap on the “+” symbol at the bottom of the screen.
  3. You’ll get four options: Create a Short, Upload a video, Go live, and Create a post. Pick the second option for longer videos or the first one for Shorts.
  4. For first-time users, you will see a prompt asking if YouTube can access your camera and photo gallery. Approve both.
  5. Choose the video you want to upload and tap Next in the bottom right corner of the screen.
  6. You’ll receive the prompt to add all of the information listed in the PC section earlier. Add everything that your video needs, and again tap Next.
  7. You’ll see a prompt to choose your audience. Pick one and tap Next.
  8. Wait for the video to upload and appear on your main page.

Interestingly, the app version of YouTube immediately gives users an option to upload a Short. However, that process is slightly different with the PC uploads. If your video is already under 60 seconds and has either a vertical or a square aspect ratio, it will automatically be uploaded as a short. On the other hand, if it’s of the same length but has a horizontal aspect ratio, both the app and the browser version will give you an Edit into a Short option for extra trimming.

What If Your Videos Aren’t Uploading?

Sometimes, even after you’ve checked everything, your video may not end up on the platform. You’ll either get an error, or the vid simply won’t appear on the main page. It’s quite common, even for seasoned content creators, and there could be lots of reasons behind this occurring. Here are a few possible causes (and solutions) of this problem.

Internet Connection Issues

More often than not, the internet connection is the main culprit behind a slow upload. Maybe your connection is low, or the weather outside is obstructing the upload. Whatever the case may be, you can check your upload speed using tools like speedtest.net. If the connection is stable enough, all you have to do is wait a little while, and the video will eventually upload.

VPN Interference

Since we’re on the subject of internet speed, some software can take up bandwidth and slow it down. One such piece of software is a virtual private network or a VPN. And while such tools are definitely useful when it comes to protection on the internet, they can also hinder your uploads. Therefore, try switching your VPN off when uploading content on YouTube.

Wi-Fi Lags

Lots of people use a wi-fi router in their homes to distribute the connection equally among all devices in all rooms. However, that does tamper with stability. If you want a constant stream of internet with little to no interruptions, connect your device to the modem directly using an ethernet cable.

Different Web Browsers

You might be using Chrome for your daily internet browsing needs. Alternatively, you could also be using Firefox, Opera, Safari, or even Microsoft Edge. And since not all browsers function the same, it stands to reason that a few of them will upload videos slower than others. Depending on what you’re using, simply try switching to a different browser and retry your upload. Broadly speaking, it’s better to avoid Microsoft Edge since it performs objectively worse than nearly all other commercial browsers.

Cache Memory Full

Due to constant browsing, our PC’s or smart device’s cache will probably be filled with useless temporary files. If you want to get rid of all this clout, simply clear the cache of your browser, and you may experience a faster upload speed. For example, if you’re using Chrome on your PC, click on the three-dot menu and, under More Tools, pick Clear Browsing Data. You’ll be given several options, but generally, you’ll want to tick Cached images and files, followed by clicking Clear data.

Video Size Issues

Is your video too large or too long? YouTube generally cannot support content that goes beyond 256 GB in size. In terms of length, YouTube’s former limit used to be 12 hours, but this was recently changed, so you’re able to find videos that last well over 24 hours. Therefore, your only concern is the actual file size. If it’s too big, you can convert it into a different video format or simply trim its content a little.

Video Format Issues

We’ve already touched on this topic near the beginning of the article, but let’s go in-depth for a second. What if your video file is in the supported format but doesn’t upload? Well, all you need to do is convert it into a different file format that YouTube supports. As we’ve stated earlier, the platform allows access to lots of file formats, and you only need to convert the video until you find the one that fits.

Reinstalling the App

Phone users might run into glitches with YouTube, especially between major software updates. That can result in the app running in its previous version, which may be incompatible with the latest OS variant. If that happens, simply reinstall YouTube and try again.

Video Deletion

If all other methods fail, then maybe that particular upload is not coming through because the video itself might have some issues, like corrupted audio, for instance. Should that be the case, delete the video altogether from the upload list. Once it’s gone, you can try reuploading it under different conditions.

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Written By:
Jessica is a writer who specializes in social media, marketing, and digital strategy. She is a graduate of Antioch College and earned her MBA at Boston College’s Carroll Graduate School of Management, specializing in STEM Management. Her work has been published in numerous academic journals and mainstream publications. She lives in New England with her husband, two children, and three dogs.
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