YouTube Shorts: Why You Need to Be Creating Them

By David Utke •  Updated: March 11, 2022 •  Website Tutorials

YouTube shorts are fun, interesting 1 minute or less videos shot on your phone that can enable you to grow a brand new channel to thousands of views a day in just a matter of days.

Like a lot of creators, I have a personal blog and vlog creative outlet. Since I live abroad full time and and run Website Creative Pro (the name of my online business), it’s fun to make videos of all the interesting places I go and see. One thing I always do when I travel is post to Facebook to share with friends and family.

So when I found out I could post those same stories I already had on my phone to YouTube as a short video, I figured why not. Let’s give it a go. At worst I would have an archive of videos from my phone.

Results from posting videos to a dedicated shorts channel.

How to make a YouTube short

To get started with shorts is easy. First, you’ll need a phone with a good camera. Next, record a 1 minute or less video with your phone vertically, not landscape, like you would do if you were posting to Instagram or Facebook.

In the YouYube app on your phone, press the button to upload a video, then select your 1 minute video. Give it a title, a description and use the hashtag “shorts” in the description. Post your video and wait for the shorts algorithm to pick it up.

You could also take a quick picture and use that picture as a thumbnail if you like or let YouTube auto generate a thumbnail.

Creating a “shorts” channel

As I did not want to annoy my audience on my main vlogging channel where I post videos that are 30 minutes to 2 hours in length, I decided to create a separate YouTube channel dedicated to only short videos. Sort of like how Mr. Beast created Mr. Beast Shorts.

Then I decided to blast this channel with short videos. I launched 9 videos in the first day (see the analytics above) and what happened was the classic 80/20 principle at play. About 20% of the videos (in this case 3 videos) drove all the views. The rest did not catch on.

But what has surprised me has been this channel growth in terms of subscribers and views. Already with a channel that is only a few days old it’s getting more views than my larger established channel that has 80+ videos where the average video length is over 20 minutes.

Should you create a separate “shorts” channel?

It depends on a case by case basis. For some content creators I would say NO. You’re much better off posting shorts to your main channel. However, if you’re someone like Mr. Beast who creates epic, large scale production videos it makes total sense to create a shorts channel.

Other creators it may make sense to post a short occasionally on their main channel as a way to tap into the shorts algorithm and all the benefits it provides without annoying their established audience.

It also depends on how my shorts you want to publish, the style of the video and how engaging it is and what you’re comfortable doing. For most creators I would leverage shorts into your standard channel and not create a separate “shorts” channel.

How to use shorts on an established channel

If you already have an established channel, think of a way to turn your content into a fast paced, 1 minute video. Then post that short as filler content in between posting full length videos. For example, let’s look at Drew Goldberg’s channel:

Drew already has a channel with over 1 million+ subscribers and a sizeable audience across multiple platforms. He uses shorts that are simply his full length content edited down to be under a minute with sub titles added to increase watch time.

If you already have a large channel this is the approach I would take as well as you want to capitalize on the view potential shorts can deliver. Create a proper thumbnail and hire an editor to create these types of videos for you if your normal content is quite long and well edited.

Shorts shelf algorithm

A lot of creators may not know this but YouTube shorts operate under a different algorithm than the rest of YouTube. As such, when you post “shorts” you’ll get traffic referred to as “shorts” in your data. Yes, if you already have an established audience already your shorts will be viewed by your main audience and get a handful of views.

The real magic happens once videos get picked up by the shorts algorithm. Then your views will take off like a rocket, but only if they get picked up. I have numerous shorts that fell flat and are sitting at 15 views. I would personally let everything sit for a month. Under performing shorts I would delete.

The good thing about this new feature is that it gives you a chance to get a bit more exposure because YouTube is providing the platform with a new feature and not enough creators are taking advantage of it. The downside is that it can be a bit difficult building an audience strictly through shorts as they are restricted to the “shorts shelf” on mobile. Once one short is done, it moves to the next from a different creator.

Hot and cold with YouTube shorts

One thing I also need to mention is that your Shorts channel is given a chance by the algorithm upon creation. That means it’s not uncommon for creators to publish shorts that get a lot of views fast.

However, the issue is long term sustainability. This is determined by your videos watch time and overall engagement likes comments, likes and shares. Most YouTube short channel start hot and then grow cold after a week or two. Meaning you’ll see your views take off like a rocket and crash just the same.

If that’s you, then your run on YouTube shorts is probably over. However, some short channels continue strong like Black Bear Forge II.

Will this impact my watch time?

Yes it will. Your average view duration will tank as you’re posting 1 minute videos. It’s too early to tell if this will negatively impact your video exposure and performance once you go back and post a “normal” length video.

As shorts are in beta, I think it’s best to just risk it and see how things work out. Long term, YouTube may create a dedicated “shorts” tab on your profile and then on the “video” tab will be your standard videos.

Again, this is just a guess. From what I’ve experienced and seen, YouTube shorts are under a different algorithm. It would make sense to not hamper a channels growth once they post a standard video that is searchable and full length.

Will YouTube shorts help me meet the 4000 hours, 1K subs requirement?

Yes and no. Shorts are quite effective at driving views and subscribers to your channel but the watch time is low and does not count to the 4000 hour requirement at this time.

So if you’re looking for a “short” cut (pun intended) to getting monetized, this is not it. With that said, it is a fast track to massive daily views and steady subscriber growth. If you already have an established channel, I would leverage shorts by creating a short, catchy 1 minute video and post it after a few full length videos.

What makes a good short?

Shorts that are fast paced, interesting or funny seem to work best. Again, these are 1 minute videos but you should take the time to edit and create something worth watching. You’ll need a a few clips, either from your phone or camera and to then edit them in portrait with a video editor on your computer.

In addition, you can follow what works for other popular YouTubers and break down other videos into short 1 minute videos where you cover a specific topic.

What’s the best camera for shorts?

Use any modern smartphone or get one of our cameras for vlogging. When uploading a short it will be maxed out at 480P as it’s designed to be views only on mobile, but when you export on your computer make sure it’s as high as quality as you can get it as video quality does seem to be a factor.

With that said, the latest iPhone would be best because you can shoot at a wide angle and edit a few clips together with iMovie. Again these are 1 minute videos so the best approach would be any type of video you would normally post to Tik Tok or as an Instagram/Facebook story.

You can also edit your full length videos and render them in landscape and under a minute so they get detected correctly as a “short” video by the YouTube algorithm. Last you can use old clips but redo the talking head parts in landscape.

Add text to your shorts

Text on shorts help add to the overall retention of the video. If you’re content is focused on you talking about a specific topic consider adding in big bubbly text to match what you’re saying. This does not necessary for all types of videos but it’s one feature that’s been proven to work.

How to make money from YouTube shorts

Currently there is no way to monetize YouTube shorts. If your channel is already monetized then display ads can run on your shorts if viewed from a desktop or laptop. But in the shorts shelf on mobile, there is not yet a direct way to run ads.

Also with a new, dedicated shorts channel that is not monetized there is no way for a channel like that to make money. Shorts are still new but over time it’s expected that YouTube will come up with a way for creators to benefit from their content.

Last, short currently has a dedicated fund in order to incentivize creators to make shorts. This shorts fund is currently run as a loss so it’s not clear if this will be a way to make money from YouTube shorts long term.

YouTube Shorts – The Secret is Out

To conclude YouTube shorts are a fascinating new feature to take advantage of. Not only are they fun and easy to create, it’s staggering the amount of views you can get. At this time the way shorts are implemented, it’s great for getting views and subscribers but not much else.

You can’t monetize shorts in any meaningful way currently and it’s difficult to get people from a shorts only channel, to your main channel. But if you’re a new creator with a iPhone and want to give it a go, try it out.

David Utke

David Utke is a professional blogger, YouTuber and a highly rated user experience consultant. He and his team create helpful tutorials, software reviews, videos and more based on real-world experience. Join over 30,000 monthly readers and 20k+ YouTube subscribers!

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