In a nutshell

  • Shorts are one-minute, TikTok-like videos on YouTube
  • While other platforms are releasing their own type of short-form videos, YouTube Shorts offer distinct advantages
  • You can use Shorts as an additional tool to grow your audience and generate revenue

Online video audiences are fickle. It seems that, as our phones and devices are getting larger, our video content is getting smaller. Video hosting platforms are constantly adapting to market demands. They’re also vying to be either the first or the best at whatever the current trends are. In recent years, the trend has been leaning deeply into short-form video content, as you’ll find with YouTube Shorts. 

What’s a YouTube Short?

While classic YouTube videos can be of any length, Shorts are specifically vertical content with a duration of only 15 to 60 seconds. Viewers can watch your videos casually within their feeds or go directly to your profile and binge your content. While you can capture videos with a traditional camera and add them to Shorts, it’s intended for native content. Native content refers to videos created, edited and uploaded within the app. Viewers also get the best viewing experience when logged in on the app since the vertical view can fill the screen. 

What can you do with YouTube Shorts?

The Shorts category is basically YouTube’s answer to TikTok, Instagram Reels and Snapchat Stories. Each imposes limits on the video’s duration, and each offers a few niche features to set itself apart. One of the biggest things that make Shorts special is that it’s already part of the YouTube environment. Shorts views add to your channel’s total watch time, and your Short can be created from clips from your existing long-form videos. YouTuber Dylan B Hollis (1.13M subscribers) uses this strategy. His content is part cooking channel, part history channel and part hilarious entertainment. If you’re already a fan, you may have seen his 16-minute video about peanut butter bread (recipe circa 1932). If you haven’t discovered him yet, his Short on the same recipe may find its way into your feed. It’s a clever way to generate more content in more places with less new work for you.

Dylan B Hollis Shorts
Image courtesy: YouTuber Dylan B Hollis

Some other features can help you build your brand and understand your audience, as well. For example, most platforms allow viewers to like or react to your posts and videos. YouTube Shorts goes a step further with a dislike button. Obviously, no one wants their content disliked, but if you have videos with significant dislikes, it gives you some insight into what appeals and what doesn’t. Use that to guide your decisions to gain more positive engagement. Speaking of engagement, since Shorts are part of YouTube, you’ll also have data available in Google Analytics for even more insights. 

Can Shorts be monetized? 

The answer to this question is no — but also definitely yes. As mentioned, the time viewers spend watching your Shorts will add to your channel’s total watch time. Unfortunately, this doesn’t directly count toward reaching the milestones needed for monetization. There are revenue opportunities with brand deals, AdSense and the Partner Program, but the Shorts Fund is the real objective. YouTube has developed a pot of $100 million, which YouTube distributes as an incentive for qualifying creators to make creative, popular and entertaining content. The criteria are pretty straightforward. To name a few requirements, you have to be in a qualifying country, be at least 13 years old and meet the general community guidelines. Eligible creators can make up to $10,000 in any given month. 

Is it difficult to make Shorts?

If you haven’t tried it for yourself, creating a YouTube Short is simple. If you already have a creator profile on YouTube, get started with Shorts in just a few clicks. Here are the steps:

  1. Open the YouTube app
  2. Tap the + icon on the homepage
  3. Select the option for Create a Short
  4. Select the settings and modes you want
  5. Use your camera in the vertical (portrait) position only
  6. Begin recording by tapping the red circle
  7. Tap the red square to stop recording
  8. Tap the white checkmark button to complete the recording
  9. Design, edit and caption your video
  10. Tap the blue finish button to upload your Short

For more detailed instructions and a breakdown of the editing features and options, check out our article on uploading YouTube Shorts

What’s the bottom line?

Many articles and nay-sayers blame the wild popularity of one-minute content on the supposedly short attention span of today’s youth. Maybe that’s true. Or maybe people just like injecting quick entertaining or educational videos into the precious few minutes they can spare each day. Perhaps it’s just the latest trend, and they’ll move away from it just as easily. Regardless of the reason, the rapid expansion of short-form video has created an additional avenue for creators to create, profit and promote their brand to millions of viewers — and you can, too.