In recent years, short-form vertical video has become king. It’s no surprise when you look at the worldwide pandemic that forced everyone inside and consequently meant everyone was spending a lot more time on their phones, combined with the meteoric rise and success of TikTok. Nowadays, TikTok videos are everywhere - you can’t escape them.
Naturally, other big tech companies such as Facebook and Google had to sit up and take note. So, while Facebook has launched IG Reels (TikTok, but on Instagram), Google has gone ahead and launched YouTube Shorts (TikTok, but on YouTube). Quite simply, TikTok was becoming too much of a YouTube competitor.
So, is this YouTube vs. TikTok? Kind of. The whole situation is a little confusing and nobody yet knows where this all leads, but there’s a lot of potential with YouTube Shorts, and we don’t want you, content creators, to miss out. We’re here to break down YouTube Shorts, giving you everything you need to know from what it is to how you can start creating on the platform and even monetize!
What is YouTube Shorts?
Okay, so what is YouTube Shorts exactly? The short (pun intended) answer is that it’s TikTok for YouTube. It’s basically the same concept of an infinitely scrolling feed of short videos that can be anywhere up to 60 seconds in length. You watch, you like, you scroll down to the next one. The same creative concepts and trends that you see on TikTok are all here.
In fact, given how early the platform is, you’ll find plenty of TikTok videos that have simply been re-uploaded here to YouTube Shorts.
How do you watch YouTube Shorts?
So, how do you watch these YouTube short videos? Well, there isn’t any sort of Youtube Shorts app that exists as a standalone product like TikTok does. Google had built the YouTube Shorts platform straight into YouTube.
Using the mobile app, all you need to do is open it up and you’ll see the button for “Shorts” at the bottom of your screen in the menu navigation tile. It’s front and center and has replaced the “explore” button, telling you all you need to know about how badly they want this part of the platform to become a success. All you need to do is tap that button and boom - you’re scrolling through those YouTube short videos immediately.
You may also notice YouTube Shorts appearing elsewhere on the mobile app - sometimes on your homepage as a “Shorts shelf” widget and perhaps even under a YouTube video you’re currently watching. They are constantly experimenting with how and where to feature this new element of the platform.
Things to know about creating a YouTube Short video
There are just 2 simple things you need to know about creating a YouTube Short video. That’s part of the success of TikTok, by the way. Creating something is so easy and accessible.
With YouTube shorts, your video must be:
- Shot in the vertical, mobile-first format
- Have a runtime no longer than 60 seconds
The rest is completely up to you. Have a scroll through the feed to see what’s trending and working for others. There are a million different directions in which you could take this!
How to upload a YouTube Short
Just like the process of uploading a standard YouTube video, the process of how to upload a YouTube Short is satisfyingly easy. Anyone can do it.
- On the mobile app homepage, tap the”+” button at the bottom of the screen
- Select the “Create a Short” option
- You’ll be taken to the YouTube Shorts camera where you can record a 15-second video from scratch (with the ability to add effects and tracks just like TikTok music). Alternatively, you can upload a video from your camera roll (which is probably the preferred option as this video can be up to 60 seconds in length).
- Once you’re happy and have made all the edits and adjustments you want (cycling through the ‘next’ menus), you’ll arrive at the upload screen.
- All you need to do is give a title or caption to your video and click Upload. Easy!
How can you monetize YouTube Shorts?
In the battle of YouTube vs. TikTok, this was always going to be a key question. Why should creators choose YouTube over TikTok? Of course, for well over a decade now, users have been able to monetize YouTube videos. But YouTube Shorts is not YouTube. Currently, there’s no direct way of monetizing YouTube Shorts.
We can expect that to change, of course. Right now, YouTube Shorts is ad-free. I encourage you to enjoy this strange novelty while it lasts because undoubtedly, Google is looking to implement ads into the YouTube Shorts experience. Going forward, ad revenue will certainly be one way of monetizing your shorts, much like the standard YouTube platform has been doing so for many years now.
The best way to look at YouTube Shorts from a monetization point of view right now is to understand that if you can crack the algorithms and produce short-form content that people want to watch, it can really help in growing your channel numbers - particularly in the views and subscribers departments. By using YouTube Shorts as a tool to grow your subscriber base, you can then funnel those viewers into watching your longer, standard YouTube videos that can be monetized. It’s a great growth hack that’s being played out right now.
And wait - there’s one more thing...
The YouTube Shorts fund
Just in case you were still doubting how serious YouTube is about this Shorts business, they’ve gone ahead and announced the YouTube Shorts fund. If you want to earn money by creating YouTube Shorts, this is a huge boost.
Over the course of 2021-2022, YouTube will be handing out $100m to creators making original content on YouTube Shorts. There is a catch, unfortunately. As of right now, you have to be invited to join the fund by YouTube themselves, and it’s only available to creators in select countries such as the US, Brazil, UK and India. Hopefully, we’ll see that rolling out to include more people in the near future! As YouTube admits themselves, this $100m fund is just the ‘first step’ in figuring out YouTube Shorts monetization.
So, that’s the breakdown of YouTube’s latest adventure. We’ve covered everything from looking at what is YouTube Shorts, as well as how to watch YouTube short videos and how to upload a YouTube Short.
This really is YouTube vs. TikTok, and it’s going to be interesting to see how it all pans out over the next decade. There is one thing we can be certain of - these big-tech companies (whether it’s Google or any other YouTube competitor) are all going to keep throwing money out there vying for your attention as both an audience member and a creator. There’s never been a better time than now to be a creative and we have a feeling it’s only going to get better!
Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK), and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.