The Complete Guide to YouTube Shorts


YouTube Shorts was launched in India as a beta in September 2020 before being rolled out in the U.S. in March 2021. YouTube introduced a $100 million YouTube Shorts fund to support this new feature and creators before finally rolling out YouTube shorts to over 100 countries in July 2021.

With over 2 billion monthly active users, YouTube is an established platform with a broad demographic compared to other short-form video platforms such as TikTok. This means that YouTube Shorts offer the potential for reaching an audience interested in your offerings.

This begs the question, what is YouTube Shorts, and how can you use it for your business?

In this article, we’ll dive into the details of YouTube’s latest feature, how to create your own Shorts, and examples of how other businesses are utilizing YouTube Shorts.

What is YouTube Shorts?

To put it simply, YouTube Shorts is YouTube’s answer to other 15 second, short-form video services such as TikTok, Snapchat, and Instagram Reels.

Like those social media platforms, YouTube shorts lets you create a short video using only your mobile device, with several dedicated features that simplify mobile editing.

These vertical videos have to be 60 seconds or less, with the creation tools allowing you to:

  • Add music from the audio library
  • Change video speed
  • Set a countdown timer so you can record hands-free
  • Add filters to change the look of your video
  • Add text and overlays

How to Find and Watch YouTube Shorts

There are a couple of ways you can find YouTube Shorts to watch. If you do a regular search on the YouTube app, YouTube Shorts will be included in their own section marked with the shorts logo.

YouTube Shorts Search Results

You may have noticed that the Shorts icon has replaced the Explore icon at the bottom left of the YouTube mobile app.

YouTube Shorts

Clicking this takes you to a random selection of Shorts that you can navigate by swiping up to get to the next Short. Using the menu on the right, you can like, dislike, comment, and share the YouTube Short.

YouTube Shorts Explore

As on other short-form video platforms, you can view which other videos used the sound or music in the video. To do so, click on the waveform icon in the bottom right corner of the screen. You can also click on the “Use this sound” button to create a new YouTube short with that sound pre-added for you from this screen.

YouTube Shorts Used Sounds

How to Make YouTube Shorts

Making a YouTube Short is easy. However, before you get started, you need to ensure that you have a YouTube channel setup and the YouTube mobile app installed.

Click on the Create button at the bottom of the YouTube app, indicated by the plus sign, and select “Create a Short” from the menu that appears.

Create YouTube Shorts

Before you can start creating your first YouTube Short, you’ll need to give the app access to your microphone and camera. Once you’ve done so, you’ll be present with the Shorts camera from which you can begin filming.

YouTube Shorts Record Screen

The default length for YouTube Shorts is 15 seconds; however, by clicking on the number 15 above the record button, you can change the clip length to 60 seconds. To record your clip, tap the record button, tapping a second time to end the recording. You can record multiple clips as long as you don’t exceed the 60 second time limit.

To add an existing clip from your gallery, click on the Gallery icon to the left of the recording button. You’ll be able to browse your device for videos and add them.

The menu on the right-hand side of the screen gives you several options for editing your video:

  • To change which camera is used for recording, click the flip icon in the top right-hand corner of the menu.
  • The second menu item allows you to adjust your recording speed, either slowing it down or speeding it up. This makes it simple to either add drama or fit in more content in a fun way.

YouTube Shorts Record Speed

  • The timer option allows you to set a countdown timer so that you can record hands-free. This is great for people recording themselves. To use the function, you need to set the length of the countdown, how long you’d like the recording to be, and hit “Start” to start the timer.

YouTube Shorts Timer

  • The final menu option appears once you’ve recorded your first clip. This is the align function. This option makes it easy for you to blend one clip into another. When you click the align icon, your previous clip is shown as an opaque overlay in your Shorts camera, allowing you to align your new clip perfectly so that viewers won’t notice the cut.

YouTube Shorts Align

How to Add Effects to YouTube Shorts

Once you’ve finished recording your clips, you can add various effects to your video, including text, music, and filters. To do so, select the appropriate icon from the menu at the bottom of the editing screen. There are several editing tools available:

  • The first option allows you to add music, audio clips, and other sounds from YouTube’s library. Currently, adding music mutes the audio from your clips, so you’ll have to use text overlays if you want to share information with your viewers.

YouTube Shorts Add Music Screen

  • Once you’ve added your sound, you’ll be able to choose at which point in the track the music starts.

YouTube Shorts Adjust Sounds

  • The next option allows you to add text. You can choose the color, font, and position of your text.

YouTube Shorts Add Text Screen

  • The third option allows you to adjust where the various elements of your video appear, including clips, text, and music.

YouTube Shorts Timeline

  • The final option allows you to add filters and change the way your video looks.

YouTube Shorts Add Filter

How to Upload YouTube Shorts

Once you’re happy with your video, click “Next” in the top right corner to prepare your video for upload.

You can now update the details of your video by adding a title and selecting the visibility of your upload and the audience. When you’re ready, click “Upload Short” to upload your video to your channel.

Add Details

Congratulations! Your YouTube Short is now live.

How to Analyze the Performance of Your YouTube Shorts

Now that you’ve published your video, you’ll want to know it performs. The great thing about YouTube Shorts is that they’re treated the same as all other YouTube videos on your channel, meaning you have access to all the same analytics tools as you do for your other videos.

To view your analytics, visit your YouTube Studio via your desktop and click on the content tab. Here you’ll be able to see all the videos that you’ve uploaded, including your YouTube shorts.

Channel Content

To access analytics for a specific video, hover your mouse over it and click on the “Analytics” icon. Alternatively, you can click on the video and select “Analytics” from the menu on the left.

Video Analytics

The video analytics page gives you data in the following four tabs:

  • Overview: Here, you can see how many people watched the video, for how long, and your subscribers. You’ll also get to view the moment in your video that received the highest viewership.
  • Reach: Here, you can see how many impressions your video made, along with the traffic sources that led viewers to your content.
  • Engagement: This section allows you to determine the watch time and average view duration, along with information about audience retention and likes vs. dislikes.
  • Audience: The final section gives you an overview of your viewers, including returning, new, and unique viewers. You’ll also be able to see the watch time from subscribers, age & gender breakdown, your top geographic locations, and which subtitles they used.

How to Use YouTube Shorts for Your Business

Don’t be fooled by how easy it is to make YouTube Shorts. They can be a great tool in your marketing strategy that allows you to build trust, engage an audience, and generate leads.

Here are examples of how brands and businesses are using YouTube Shorts

Financial Times

YouTube Shorts are a great way to repurpose existing content. In this example, the Financial Times uses Shorts to share a cut-down edit of a long-form video they created about music festivals, touching on the main points the video covered. This is a great example of how you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to reach a new audience.


Similar to the previous example, you can also use YouTube Shorts to promote a long-form video as WebFX did in this example. But rather than cut down existing content to make it work for Shorts, the team created a summary explaining what viewers could expect from watching the full video with a call to action to watch the full video via the link in the description.

Nabati Jewelry

Nabati Jewelry uses YouTube Shorts to highlight the various items they have in stock, giving viewers a chance to see the jewelry from multiple angles before deciding whether to purchase it or not.

Danessa Myricks Beauty

Makeup brand Danessa Myricks Beauty uses YouTube Shorts to showcase its products in real-world applications, allowing viewers to get an idea of what to expect from their range of lip colors and creams.

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Wrapping Up

As you can see from the above, creating YouTube Shorts isn’t very complicated. While you need to think about your content strategy, YouTube Shorts can repurpose content, promote products, or drive traffic to other content.

What’s great about YouTube Shorts compared to other platforms is that it exists on an established platform with a wide user base, meaning that a greater variety of businesses can use the feature to promote themselves and their products or services and reach their intended audiences.

As it is still in its infancy, new features are bound to roll out, such as monetization, which will make YouTube Shorts even more appealing to content creators. In the meantime, though, Shorts are a great tool for marketers to engage with their audience in a new way on an existing platform.

Do you use YouTube Shorts for your business? What kind of content do you create? Let me know in the comments below!


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