What Are YouTube Shorts?

What Are YouTube Shorts?

YouTube Shorts


We've been hearing bits and pieces about YouTube's new content-creation feature called YouTube Shorts for a while now... but what exactly is it?

Set to be released in the U.S. this month, YouTube Shorts seeks to join the ranks of two other platforms offering mobile on-the-go clip creation, TikTok and Instagram Reels. It boasts very similar features, allowing users to natively record clips, splice them together, and upload them to share. 

The native YouTube Shorts camera function was released in India last year, and is still only fully available there. However, people have already been producing Shorts globally for months now, using a roundabout way even without the camera function.

According to YouTube's blog, the new clip-creation feature will provide:

  • A multi-segment camera to string multiple video clips together (up to 60 seconds)
  • The option to record with music from a large library of songs that will continue to grow
  • Speed control: Choose to speed up or slow down recording
  • Timer: Set the Countdown to record hands-free and the Stop point to automatically stop recording.

The Short Shelf


All videos uploaded to YouTube as Shorts get placed on the Shorts shelf, which is visible as a row near the top of your YouTube feed. Short shelves are still only visible on the mobile app, although you can access the Shorts on PC as well by going to the creator's channel.


Although the Shorts shelf appears near the Stories shelf, the two are very different. To publish Stories, you need at least 10,000 subscribers, and the Stories disappear after 7 days. Shorts have no such requirement and stay on your channel until you take them down. YouTube has its own algorithm for which Shorts it selects for your Home feed according to your preferences (you can't choose categories just yet), and once you click on a Short, it auto-plays in full (vertical) screen with no option to scrub back. 

How to Upload a Short (Right Now)


At the moment, if you are from the United States and want to upload a YouTube Short, you have to create a vertically-shot clip under 60 seconds by yourself, and upload it to your channel the standard way with the hashtag #Shorts included in the description. It would have to be formatted accordingly, using either standard 1080 x 1920 resolution or 4K, at a 9:16 ratio (same as a regular YouTube video flipped vertically). 

Naturally, such a process does take away from the quick-n-easy upload appeal of YouTube Shorts. At the moment, only your viewers get the benefit of watching your videos in convenient Short format, as you'd still have to go through the same upload process as a regular YouTube video. According to a Short uploaded by YouTuber Channel Makers, including the #Short hashtag in your title as well as the description increases the likelihood of your video being included on the Shorts shelf. However, we've seen many clips who already fit the format from years ago get placed on the Short shelf without any tags, so you never know.

One caveat when filming a YouTube Short is that you shouldn't have any text or important info in the bottom third of the screen. This is because the "Subscribe" button and title are overlaid on top of the video when it is watched from the shelf. Another requirement is that the Short title be 40 characters or less.

While the native Shorts camera will allow you to create only 15-second long clips at a time (for a maximum of 60 seconds total), pre-made takes can be longer than 15 seconds, as long as the final product is no more than a minute (and the correct vertical orientation).

As for the Short thumbnail, you don't get to create one—YouTube generates one for you from a random freeze-frame pulled from the video. Yikes!

According to Google, YouTube plans to provide millions of free popular songs for creators to use in their videos without fear of copyright strikes. They will even allow you to copy music tracks from other Shorts, automatically inserting a link to the original audio source.

How to Upload a Short from Mobile


Here is a preview in the from of screenshots from TechRiko from India, showing the simple steps to uploading a Short (it will work the same way in the U.S. after release):

What's the Appeal?


The appeal of uploading YouTube Shorts from PC all this time has been that because Shorts is such a new function, the YouTube algorithm has been featuring these videos a lot lately. This means you're likely to get more views if you upload Short videos, even if the convenient native filming function is not yet available. You'd also have to adjust to the drastically new 60-second format, where you have 1 or 2 seconds to immediately grab a viewer's attention before they scroll on to the next Short. If you're a bigger YouTuber, you might want to make a separate channel specifically for Shorts, while if you're a newer creator, uploading Shorts to your main channel may drastically boost your channel growth.

Are Shorts Monetized?


As for monetization, views of Shorts on the shelf in the YouTube app hold no monetary value, and don't help you get into the YouTube Partner Program, either. There are no ads being run on these short TikTok-like clips. YouTuber David Walsh Online believes that may change as Shorts begin accumulating millions of views in the future. If Shorts get watch time on a computer, however, through a channel, those views will be monetized. 

Shorts seems like a great way for TikTokers to ease their way into the YouTube platform with familiar terrain, as well as for YouTubers to expand their content to broader audiences. We don't know when exactly the YouTube Shorts creation function will be available for American YouTubers with its full features, but it is set for sometime this March






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