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Anyone can post a video on YouTube, but the channels you follow that have a million-plus subscribers take serious work and commitment to build and sustain. Being a YouTuber can be a full-time job, and it's a competitive field. Your brand and content have to stand out in a vast sea of work by other people who want the same thing you do. 

If you've got an idea for a channel and are serious about trying to hack it as a YouTuber, knowledge is power. There's no formula for internet fame (side-eyes all those moth memes), so there's no guarantee that you'll win a YouTube Creator Award or walk a red carpet in the near future (should coronavirus lockdowns get lifted, of course). It's important to keep your expectations reined in and to set attainable goals. 

But online education classes can help you build a solid foundation in branding, camera use, video editing programs, social media marketing and staying motivated.

Check out these five online classes and our list of must-have equipment to start your new YouTube channel off strong, or for help refreshing an old channel:

Skillshare; screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Australian content creator and brand identity designer Jeremy Mura offers a course on starting a YouTube channel from scratch on Skillshare. In YouTube for Beginners, Mura guides you through the logistics of how to set up a YouTube channel, researching trends for content, analytics and monetization, and tips for growing (and keeping) your audience.

In the discussion section of the class, Mura also provides personal constructive feedback for his students as they build their channels. Mura's course has 34 lessons, all of them 10 minutes or less. He also has helpful videos on his own YouTube channel, though they aren't as laser-focused on content creation as the ones offered on Skillshare. 

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

Skillshare; screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

There are a lot of people trying to make it on the internet. Something has to make you stand out from the crowd. What can your channel offer that's unique? 

Music composer Mikael Baggström teaches a course on Skillshare called YouTube: Use Branding to Grow Your Channel. The course has 16 lessons about the importance of branding, video style, catchphrases and logos to make your channel feel fresh and different -- and hopefully get more followers. 

What it costs: Some online classes on Skillshare are free when you create an account, but most require a premium membership, which costs $99 annually or $19 a month. You can sign up for 14 free days of unlimited classes. The premium membership is also ad-free and lets you download classes to your mobile device and watch offline. 

CreativeLive; screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

Subscribers and clicks are the lifeblood of internet content. While getting a social media shout-out from your favorite podcaster or YouTuber might help turn the tides, understanding marketing basics can give you more control over attracting and keeping viewers.

Brand strategist Sunny Lenarduzzi's Build a Fan Base on YouTube class on CreativeLive has 13 video lessons with information like choosing topics, writing scripts, understanding YouTube's algorithm and optimizing your content for search engines. 

If you're not quite ready to commit to classes, you can check out more of Lenarduzzi's videos for free on her YouTube channel.

What it costs: CreativeLive lets you purchase a Creator Pass for $39 a month or $149 annually. This gives you access to features like the site's entire library of over 1,500 classes and ways to track your goals with learning paths. You can also set up an account and purchase classes individually. For example, Lenarduzzi's course costs $29 while CreativeLive runs a spring sale. Otherwise, it costs $49. 

CreativeLive; screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

The right editing software is key when putting all your video clips together. Though it's not the only option, Adobe Final Cut Pro X is a popular choice for video editing software. To learn how to use it, Abba Shapiro, an Adobe master trainer, teaches Final Cut Pro X Bootcamp on CreativeLive. The class costs $79 on its own or $13 a month with a Creator Pass. You need to have a copy of Final Cut Pro X as well.

The course has 39 lessons that take a deep dive into the program and how to use it effectively. You'll learn the ins and outs of Final Cut, trimming, overwriting, importing and exporting media, setting up new projects, mixing audio, green screens and using multiple cameras. 

What it costs: CreativeLive lets you purchase a Creator Pass for $39 a month or $149 annually. This gives you access to features like the site's entire library of over 1,500 classes and ways to track your goals with learning paths. You can also make an account and purchase classes individually. The class costs $79 on its own or $13 a month with a Creator Pass. You need to have a copy of Final Cut Pro X as well.

Udemy; screenshot by Alison DeNisco Rayome/CNET

If you're pursuing a YouTube career, you should be comfortable in front of a camera. Even though some YouTube hosts are iconic for rarely showing their faces (ever seen Binging with Babbish?), it's typically a good idea to know some basics about hosting a video and honing your online personality. 

T.J. Walker, founder of Media Training Worldwide, teaches On-camera Charisma for YouTube Stars on Udemy. It's a two-hour crash course in speaking confidently on camera, connecting with viewers and finding flattering camera angles and time-saving techniques for recording and editing. Walker also offers a more in-depth 26-hour media training course on Udemy.

What it costs: Udemy's course prices are set by the individual instructors from a price tier, unless they choose to offer them for free. Walker's courses cost $70, for example. Depending on the class you pick in general, make sure you check the Requirements section before you pay for the course. For example, if you take the Adobe Illustrator CC Essentials Training course for $70, you also need to purchase Adobe Illustrator software on your own. Just be aware of any necessary course materials and what those might cost as well. 

Basic equipment you need to become a YouTuber

You don't have to break the bank to assemble a working studio for your YouTube channel. Do your research. As your channel develops, you'll get a better idea of what equipment works best for your needs and budget. Here are a few starter suggestions: 

Webcam 

A lot of people film videos on their phones, but you might want to use a webcam to improve your video quality and camera angles. A solid option is the Logitech C920S HD. It uses full HD 1,080P video recording with HD autofocus and light correction. In addition, the C920S has stereo audio with dual mics and a privacy shutter.

Read more: Ultimate webcam tips: How to look and sound great online

Microphone

If you're filming with your phone, the Rode smartLav+ Omnidirectional Lavalier Microphone is a good budget option. Just connect the mic to your phone or tablet headphone jack to get started. If you're looking for a studio mic, the Blue Yeti USB Mic is a popular choice. It's more expensive than a lavalier microphone, but it has three condenser capsules that help you record in many different situations.

Read more: Best vlogging camera for 2020: Sony, Canon and more compared for YouTube

Tripod or gimbal stabilizer

A tripod can enhance the quality of your video and also lets you film without worrying about whether there's a secure place to prop up your camera. The Manfrotto PIXI Evo 2 Section mini tripod costs about $40 on Amazon

You can also go the gimbal stabilizer route if you're filming with your phone. The Hohem Smartphone Gimbal 3-Axis handheld stabilizer supports up to 280 grams and has a trigger bottom for sports mode and recentering shots. The stabilizer works with a mobile app to take advantage of beauty retouching and AI face and object tracking. 

Lighting 

Never knock the natural light a window can provide, but finding the right LED Ring light can take your videos to the next level. The LED Ring Light 6" with tripod stand has three light modes and 11 brightness levels. You can also check out the Rovtop 6" Ring Light with tripod. Though it has only 10 brightness levels, it does have a phone holder built in. 

Read more: Best gear for online meetings: Webcams, lights, mics, tripods and more

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