Your Complete Guide To Creating Viral YouTube Shorts

Your Complete Guide To Creating Viral YouTube Shorts

How to start creating YouTube Shorts, best practices and how to monetize YouTube shorts in order to achieve your business goals.
Your Complete Guide to Creating Viral YouTube Shorts

We are in the era of short-form video and everyone is swarming to TikTok… but there may be a new sheriff in town. YouTube, the second most visited website behind Google, launched YouTube shorts in the US in March of 2021 as a direct competitor to TikTok. As the veteran in the video space, YouTube already has an advantage. Shorts have their own dedicated space on the YouTube app, and they appear on the homepage, in search results, and on the Shorts tab online, creating optimal exposure to their already huge audience of over 2 billion monthly users (in comparison, TikTok has over 1 billion monthly users). 

YouTube Shorts Overview

What are the key differences between other short-form video platforms and YouTube Shorts?

TikTok Vs. Reals Vs. Shorts Average Screen Time

1. Built-in audience

One of the main advantages of YouTube Shorts is that it is part of the larger YouTube ecosystem, which has a user base of over 2 billion monthly active users. This means that Shorts creators have access to a built-in audience that they can potentially reach with their content from the get-go. Not to mention, this audience is already used to video format coming from this platform. With YouTube’s user base being so diverse and spread across multiple regions and languages, creators have the added benefit of being able to reach a global audience.

2. Monetization options

YouTube offers more ways for creators to monetize their content than other short form video platforms – this includes ads, channel memberships, Super Chat, and Super Stickers. This gives creators more flexibility and control over how they earn money from their Shorts. Historically, YouTube has been known as a platform that allows creators to have a lot more freedom in monetization which will most likely attract creators who have an audience on another app and are looking for less restrictive options. 

3. Licensed music library

YouTube Shorts also offers a licensed music library of over 250,000 songs that creators can use in their videos. This is a significant advantage over other short-form video platforms, as many of them have more restrictive rules around music usage, or offer limited music options for creators. We have all been there where we try to find a song on another platform and it doesn’t have it or you’re unable to use it due to licensing. YouTube Shorts really said “that is not cash money at all”.

4. Searchability

Shorts appear on the YouTube homepage, in search results, and in the Shorts tab, which makes them more discoverable and searchable compared to other platforms that rely on algorithmic content discovery. While other platforms have mysterious and hard to understand SEO structures, YouTube makes it a lot easier to optimize your content for discoverability. This is probably one of the strongest arguments for YouTube Shorts for creators because it’s a much clearer structure to success. Not to mention, YouTube has much more experience serving the right content to the right audience. 

How to Start Creating YouTube Shorts

Obviously, in order to create YouTube Shorts, you must first create a YouTube channel. However, there are two ways you can go about creating content for this platform. 

1. Creating in the platform 

To start creating Shorts using the YouTube app, you’ll need to enable the Shorts camera feature. To do this, go to the YouTube app on your phone, tap the “+” icon, and select “Create a Short.” Use the Shorts camera to record your videos, keeping in mind that Shorts are limited to 60 seconds. You can record multiple clips and stitch them together later if needed. Then, use the editing tools in the Shorts camera to add filters, text, music, and other effects to your videos. Once you’re happy with your Shorts, upload them to your channel by selecting the “Upload” button on the Shorts creation screen. Here is where you can add a title, description, and thumbnail to make the video more inviting to watch and searchable. 

2. Uploading videos created off the platform

If you already have a presence on another short-form video platform, you can easily download those videos (without the watermark of course) and repurpose them on YouTube Shorts. You will notice that the audience may be a bit different from your previous platform, so you will want to experiment with what content works best and then be more selective with what you bring over. 

Best Practices for Creating YouTube Shorts

1. Use eye-catching thumbnails

Thumbnails are the first thing viewers see before they decide to watch your video. Make sure your thumbnail stands out and clearly conveys what your video is about. Use bold colors, clear fonts, and high-quality images to make your thumbnail eye-catching. YouTube is usually a more click-bait platform so feel free to use dramatic titles and images to entice people to watch. Don’t forget, the thumbnail and the caption are two different areas to maximize SEO. You can use a different title on both to convey different messages. For example, the title might be “Three Reasons NoGood is SoGood” and the Thumbnail might say “Check Out the Best Marketing Agency in the WORLD”. I would for sure watch that video. 

2. Utilize trending topics 

YouTube trending topics and delivery methods are going to look different from what is trending on other platforms. Pay attention to what content is doing well and what content you are seeing on the homepage.  Like any other social media platform, timeliness is on your side. If there is a big event happening, news just got released, or new products are dropped relevant to your niche and industry, being one of the first people to talk about it is an extra boost for viewership. One of my first viral videos was when I found out Betty White died. Horrible day. 

3. Create engaging and unique content

Like any platform, your content is the cornerstone of your success. If you create engaging, entertaining content that provides your audience value, that will win over any strategy. This value can be through your delivery method, camera presence, or the actual topic of the video. Approach this content like you would any other platform. Does your content provide entertainment, motivation, or education in some way?

4. Engage with your audience

Respond to comments, ask for feedback, and encourage viewers to like and share your videos. The best way to learn about what your community wants is to pay attention to what they are engaging with and then start a conversation with them. Take advantage of the captions and the comment section to ask questions, poll your audience, etc. 

How to Monetize Your YouTube Shorts

In order to get paid with YouTube shorts, you need to join the YouTube Partner Program (YPP). To be eligible for the YPP, you need to meet the following requirements:


  1. Have at least 1,000 subscribers
  2. Have at least 4,000 watch hours in the past 12 months


  1. Have at least 1000 subscribers
  2. Gain 10 million public Shorts views in the last 90 days.

Once you meet these requirements, you can apply to join the YPP and monetize your YouTube shorts.

To monetize your YouTube shorts, you need to enable ads on your videos. This can be done in your YouTube Studio dashboard by selecting “monetization” and then turning on the “shorts” option. When ads are shown on your shorts, you will earn a portion of the revenue generated from those ads. The exact amount you earn will depend on various factors, such as the length of the ad, the ad format, and the viewer’s location. YouTube pays creators a portion of the revenue generated from ads shown on their videos, and the amount can range from $0.01 to $0.05 per view. This means that for 1 million views, a creator can earn anywhere from $10,000 to $50,000, although this is just an estimate and the actual earnings will vary.

How to Create on YouTube Shorts, TikTok, AND Instagram Reels

How can brands create a multi-channel short-form video strategy across multiple platforms without exhausting resources and while remaining strategic? If you are creating for one platform, there is no reason you shouldn’t be using that content on other platforms. The best practice is to choose a primary platform where you start your content plan and then take the content made for that platform and use it to post and experiment on the others. For example, if you are already creating on TikTok, either save the raw file of the video or download them from TikTok using a tool like Musicaldown, and repost them on YouTube Shorts, Instagram Reels, and even Facebook Reels and Pinterest. You will quickly learn what content does best on each platform and you can then strategically decide which videos you choose to repurpose where. Additionally, you can play around with hooks and editing styles on each platform to determine what each audience engages with. A listicle video that uses a greenscreen may work on TikTok, but that same list in a vlog form showing the different items may work better on YouTube. 

Video Content Distribution Strategy

Should You Create YouTube Shorts? 

Absolutely, especially if you are already creating content on other platforms. YouTube is a proven platform with enough history to know what they are doing in terms of the algorithm and monetization standpoint. In any case, it is wise to have a multi-platform presence for any brand to best build a community and have multiple channels for audience reach. 

If you need help producing short-form videos that enhance your brand presence and add value to your marketing strategy, we are here to help. 

Sarah Baus
Sarah is a TikTok Community Manager who specializes in short-form video strategy and production with experience in content strategy in the business, fintech, and wellness industries.


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