The Work That Goes Into A Youtube Channel: It’s Not All Fun & Games

Sandra Dahl
12 min readMay 24, 2021

Hey everyone! I hope this week is treating you well! I feel like there are a lot of misconceptions about the amount of work that actually goes into content creation for a Youtube Channel. I’m talking to two groups of people: the people looking at starting a channel, and family members or friends of people starting a youtube channel.

First, if you are looking to start on Youtube, you also may be split into two groups: those of you who think it’s going to be super easy; all you need to do is film and post and you’re ready to go. The other group just wants to know the steps of content creation so they can get a good grasp on the process. For family members and friends that think it’s all a big joke, or something fun or even a hobby, think again. I mean, it may be for some content creators. They may be doing it as a side hustle or just something to amuse. But, for the vast majority of creators on YouTube, it is a full time job.

I know for myself, I work harder in my business than I ever did at my full time, paid jobs. I’m going to discuss all the things I do for my Youtube Channel only. Keep in mind that I also have other parts of my business in addition to all that I’ll list here. I have two Youtube channels; the main one is planning & art content, and the second one is beauty and makeup. I also have my sticker shop, this weekly blog, Patreon, and all my other social media that I use for marketing and advertising my content.

Also the process that I will be describing down below is not the same for every creator on Youtube. Everyone has a different niche, style and way of creating content. What works for some people, may not work for others. For example, some people can get away with editing on their iPad or phone, but I much prefer using my computer to edit my videos.

Before we even get to the planning stage, there is a lot of prep that goes into having a Youtube Channel. The steps below are just for the individual video creation process, but you also need to figure out a few things for your channel in general. There is a lot of time spent researching products to use, such as filming equipment, lighting, products to use in the video, searching for said products online and watching “how to” videos before you start. I spent hours researching and browsing the internet before I even began either of my channels. For the individual video creation process, let’s get started:

STEP 1: Planning

  • I will sometime get a spur of the moment idea (Like an “aha” moment) and I’ll quickly jot down my ideas in my bullet journal or on my Asana app on my phone.
  • Most of the time, I will schedule myself an hour or so every week to have a brainstorming session to come up with ideas around my content pillars and niche (area of “expertise”). The content ideas I come up with can be used for my blog, stickers and Youtube Video Ideas.
  • There are certain videos that require more thought, and I like to write down any important notes that I want to cover during the video. This has become more important as I get into youtube Tip videos, since there is usually a lot of information to cover.
  • I also create my monthly content schedule. Holidays play an important role in my process; for instance, I’ll create videos that are seasonal, or my bullet journal setups will sometimes reflect certain holidays like Christmas or St. Patty’s Day. You will see how this process comes full circle at the end, when I go to schedule my videos.

STEP 2: Prep

  • Since I create planning and art videos on my main channel, and makeup tutorials on my second channel, there are a lot of necessary components to prepare before actually filming.
  • If I’m creating a bullet journal video, I need to gather all the supplies I’ll be using while filming. You don’t want to be grabbing extra things while the camera is on, because that just means there will be more editing to do in the end. If you plan well, the editing process is much smoother. If I’m painting or coloring, I try to have the palette of colors picked out before hand. I will also lay out my paint before hand as well. If I’m creating a “Plan With Me” Video, I pick out my washi tape, stickers, and I have a plan before going in. For example, do I want to talk as I’m working, be silent and do a voice over, etc…
  • Makeup tutorials are similar; I will lay out all my makeup prior to filming, in the order I’m going to apply it.
  • As well, the videos where I am talking to you guys (where you can see my face), and the ones where I’m not actually doing my makeup in the video, I always do makeup for as well. If I’m not filming my makeup look, this can take me 10 minutes, up to an hour for a full glam look. Usually though, I take advantage of this and create two videos: I’ll film a makeup look that will take about 1–1.5 hours, and then I’ll continue making any videos where I need to show my face, since my makeup is already done.

STEP 3: Scripting or creating outlines

  • I tried scripting before, and it just isn’t for me. Sometime, I’ll work off of a blog I’ve already written, but if you follow something on paper while trying to talk to the camera, you know it just doesn’t work. However, it does work better if you are recording a voiceover.
  • Sometimes I will create a general plan for myself if I have a lot to say, like in my Youtube Tip Videos. Most of the time, I fly by the seat of my pants and just say what comes to mind. I edit out all the “ups”, “buts” and “likes”, and will only write things down when I don’t want to forget something specific I want to say in that video.
  • Writing things down takes time. If you do plan on fully scripting a video, remember that this could take 15 minutes to at least an hour.

STEP 4: Filming

  • I have generally two styles; the top down (when I’m filming planner or bullet journal videos), and the front facing, when I’m doing my makeup or talking to the camera.
  • I am in the process of filming more angles of more things, because I am also trying to improve my video quality at the same time. If you do this, you will notice that filming takes a lot longer. However, it may be worthwhile for you if you also want to improve or upgrade your filming style.
  • You may also need to ask someone to help you out, or hire outside help for filming. This takes time, energy and possibly money.
  • In addition, if you use a camera, make sure your batteries are charged prior to filming. There’s nothing worse than your battery dying in the middle of a video. Either way, you will need to wait for your battery to charge. If you do it before, at least your video will not be interrupted, and you won’t have to reschedule a filming time.
  • You need quiet time to film, so if you live in a busy household or have kids at home, sometimes you can’t just film whenever you want. You either need someone to watch the kids, schedule time when no one else is home, or film early morning or late at night which means less sleep!

STEP 5: Uploading onto Computer/Hard Drive

  • Once you have completed filming, you need to upload the video from your phone or camera/SD card onto your computer. I film on my phone, and I have all Apple products, so I simply use Airdrop to transfer.
  • When I used to film on my iPhone 7, it took a lot longer, and I had many problems with transferring the video to my computer. When the video is longer, it takes longer to upload as well. Also, if you are in the middle of a transfer with Airdrop, and you forget about and go to do something else, your upload will fail and you will need to start from the beginning.
  • TIP: Sometimes it’s better to upload onto a portable hard drive. (1) Anyone can work on editing the file because your video is now transportable and (2) It won’t take up valuable space on your computer’s internal hard drive.

STEP 6: Editing

  • This is probably the longest part in the entire process. (Again, if you use other methods, it might not take you as long).
  • Unless I’m fast forwarding a video and doing a voice over, the editing will take at LEAST AS LONG as the time of the video itself, plus an additional 30 minutes to 1 hour of stop-and-go time. This is basically when you are fine tuning and cutting out clips. I will have a video soon, showing you how to edit with iMovie.
  • Adding in additional clips and pictures also takes extra time. (For example, when I edited my perfume collection video, I added in cards to show the notes of every perfume. The process of ONLY adding cards took 3 additional hours to the editing time, because I used Canva to create them. Then I had to go back into the original video and find the spot to add them in and then change the setting of each one so I had a picture-in-picture, just the way I liked it).
  • TIP: You can speed up your entire video 2X or 3X just to edit it, and then bring it back to normal speed when you’re done to save time.

STEP 7: Voice Overs

  • Again, you need quiet time to do this. I usually record my voice overs late at night when everyone is asleep. Our furnace was really loud, so I would have to time it in between when the furnace went off again. (It’s fixed now though, so it’s no longer an issue!)
  • It does take me a shorter time to film a video without talking and then record the voice over after. This is because I tend to get carried away (no script, flying by the seat of my pants) on tangents. Generally with a voiceover, you can be more focused on what is happening in the video and speak accordingly. Also, you can read from a script this way if you want.
  • There are many different types of ways to record your voiceover. You can use your voice memo on your phone and upload the audio to your computer. You can use a separate microphone for best sound quality. I just use the microphone on my MacBook Pro, and I record directly through iMovie, as the video is playing.
  • This again takes as long as the video itself, since you need to watch the video through and do the talking while the video is playing.

STEP 8: Adding Music

  • Sometimes it takes a long time to find that perfect song for your video. I use Epidemic Sound. It is a monthly subscription, but they have so much music to choose from and the tunes are amazing. You do need a separate subscription for each channel that you have.
  • You can use the free music from either iMovie or Youtube, but I would suggest to always list the credits in your description box just in case, so you don’t receive a copyright infringement from Youtube. Don’t chance playing ANY OTHER music from artists outside this scope, because you may get a copyright notice and a strike against your Youtube account.

STEP 9: Writing Description

  • This part sometimes can take awhile. There is a customizable spot under settings where you can add information that would pertain to every video. (I.e. A welcome message, or a “please subscribe” message).
  • I always add the products used in every video, the links to my Amazon Affiliate Account and video links if I talk about them in my video. You can add up to 5 cards within your video, (see below), but if there are more, add them to your description. I also leave the music I use in my videos.
  • As I’m watching my video during the editing process, I write down (either on a piece of paper, or on my iPad) all the items used and then transfer it to my description after. You can do this as you go though, if you don’t mind switching between your screens).

STEP 10: Adding Links for Affiliate Marketing and/or Videos

  • Obviously not everyone will have or want affiliate marketing links on their channel. I add them to every planner video. I need to look up each product to find the link, and then copy and paste it into the description.
  • Also, if you talk about your videos or other creator’s videos, its a good idea to leave it linked down below. Simply go to that video, copy the link and paste it down below. It won’t show up as an actual link until you have saved the video and get out of the editing mode.

STEP 11: Adding End Screen/Cards

  • The end screen is a good place to leave your subscribe notices and videos that you want your audience to watch next. You can use the same one from a previous video instead of doing this each and every time.
  • Cards are where you can link videos and playlists. (Either your own or other creators). If it’s someone else’s channel, you need to leave a comment. I usually just say “Check out So-and-So’s Channel”).

STEP 12: Creating Thumbnail

  • A lot of content creators will argue that this process can take longer than the filming process itself. Personally, I don’t agree. This is the thing that is going to initially draw people to click on your video, so you want it to be visually appealing/compelling.
  • I use my iPad Pro to letter and draw on top of a picture that I took for a specific video. You can also just use your computer, and add text on top. (Canva Pro is also a really convenient tool to have).
  • Youtube automatically has three clips you can choose from if you don’t take your own, but you don’t really have a choice other than the three and they are usually not the most flattering. I would definitely recommend to take a completely separate photo for your thumbnail.
  • I always film my video, and think about what is most pleasing to the eye, or to my viewers. Once I’ve had time to think about it, I take my photo AS SOON AS I’M DONE filming, since I already have the content right there in front of me. Then, once I go to write my description, I will edit the thumbnail. Sometimes I change the lighting, but mostly I just add text or some visually pleasing elements on top of the picture.
  • Most of the time, you will need to resize your picture. Youtube allows a maximum upload of 2mb for your thumbnail. Mine are usually about 4mb, so simply use the ‘tools’ option on your computer once clicking on the thumbnail, and make it smaller.

STEP 13: Scheduling your video/Content Planning

  • Finally! The last step! Or is it? At least this part kind of brings you back to the beginning. At the part where you enter your description, add cards, and the end screen, can choose your video to be unlisted, private, public or schedule for a future time.
  • If you have all your ducks in a row, you have pre-planned your content and are now technically a month ahead. (I.e. As of the writing of this blog, all of my content is complete for the next 30 days!) You can schedule your videos, even down to the minute. I always do this and I mark it in my planner so I know which video is playing on which day. This really comes down to the beginning, where you have already pre-planned your content according to the month, holidays and what your personal plans are.

STEP 14: Watching your video go live and be available for comments and/or questions.

  • It’s important to follow up with your videos. If you want to grow on Youtube, you need to respond to comments and questions. Technically, you can do this on the go with your phone. Just make sure to leave comments, and don’t just like it. This is how you create relationships with your subscribers and viewers. If you engage with people, they will be more likely to watch your content in the future.

STEP 15: Study the analytics of your videos

  • Helps you with content ideas (Find out what your audience likes most and create more of that)
  • Do it per video, every week or at least every month. Find out when people stop watching with the retention rate. Why? What could you do differently next time?
  • You can use this as a learning and growth tool so that you can make future content that your viewers will love to watch.

Well, that’s it. I hope you can see that creating content for Youtube is more involved than what you originally thought. Keep in mind, what you put in, is what you get out of it. So if you are truly intent on turning your YouTube Channel into a career, then you need to put in the time and the work to make it happen.

xoxo! SAN ❤️



Sandra Dahl

My name is Sandra, and I started my online presence as a content creator on Youtube. I have two channels now and also a Blog on my website at