Creating a Video Streaming Site

Rachel McCollin

September 2015

 In this article by Rachel McCollin, the author of WordPress 4.0 Site Blueprints Second Edition, you'll learn how to stream video from YouTube to your own video sharing site, meaning that you can add more than just the videos to your site and have complete control over how your videos are shown. We'll create a channel on YouTube and then set up a WordPress site with a theme and plugin to help us stream video from that channel

WordPress is the world's most popular Content Management System (CMS) and you can use it to create any kind of site you or your clients need. Using free plugins and themes for WordPress, you can create a store, a social media site, a review site, a video site, a network of sites or a community site, and more. WordPress makes it easy for you to create a site that you can update and add to over time, letting you add posts, pages, and more without having to write code. WordPress makes your job of creating your own website simple and hassle-free!

(For more resources related to this topic, see here.)

Planning your video streaming site

The first step is to plan how you want to use your video site. Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Will I be streaming all my video from YouTube?
  • Will I be uploading any video manually?
  • Will I be streaming from multiple sources?
  • What kind of design do I want?
  • Will I include any other types of content on my site?
  • How will I record and upload my videos?
  • Who is my target audience and how will I reach them?
  • Do I want to make money from my videos?
  • How often will I create videos and what will my recording and editing process be?
  • What software and hardware will I need for recording and editing videos?

It's beyond the scope of this article to answer all of these questions, but it's worth taking some time before you start to consider how you're going to be using your video site, what you'll be adding to it, and what your objectives are.

Streaming from YouTube or uploading videos direct?

WordPress lets you upload your videos directly to your site using the Add Media button, the same button you use to insert images. This can seem like the simplest way of doing things as you only need to work in one place.

However, I would strongly recommend using a third-party video service instead, for the following reasons:

  • It saves on storage space in your site.
  • It ensures your videos will play on any device people choose to view your site from.
  • It keeps the formats your video is played in up to date so that you don't have to re-upload them when things change.
  • It can have massive SEO benefits socially if you use YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google and has excellent search engine rankings. You'll find that videos streamed via YouTube get better Google rankings than any videos you upload directly to your site.

In this article, the focus will be on creating a YouTube channel and streaming video from it to your website. We'll set things up so that when you add new videos to your channel, they'll be automatically streamed to your site. To do that, we'll use a plugin.

Understanding copyright considerations

Before you start uploading video to YouTube, you need to understand what you're allowed to add, and how copyright affects your videos.

You can find plenty of information on YouTube's copyright rules and processes at https://www.youtube.com/yt/copyright/, but it can quite easily be summarized as this: if you created the video, or it was created by someone who has given you explicit permission to use it and publish it online, then you can upload it. If you've recorded a video from the TV or the Web that you didn't make and don't have permission to reproduce (or if you've added copyrighted music to your own videos without permission), then you can't upload it.

It may seem tempting to ignore copyright and upload anything you're able to find and record (and you'll find plenty of examples of people who've done just that), but you are running a risk of being prosecuted for copyright infringement and being forced to pay a huge fine.

I'd also suggest that if you can create and publish original video content rather than copying someone else's, you'll find an audience of fans for that content, and it will be a much more enjoyable process.

If your videos involve screen capture of you using software or playing games, you'll need to check the license for that software or game to be sure that you're entitled to publish video of you interacting with it. Most software and games developers have no problem with this as it provides free advertising for them, but you should check with the software provider and the YouTube copyright advice. Movies and music have stricter rules than games generally do however. If you upload videos containing someone else's video or music content that's copyrighted and you haven't got permission to reproduce, then you will find yourself in violation of YouTube's rules and possibly in legal trouble too.

Creating a YouTube channel and uploading videos

So, you've planned your channel and you have some videos you want to share with the world. You'll need a YouTube channel so you can upload your videos.

Creating your YouTube channel

You'll need a YouTube channel in order to do this. Let's create a YouTube channel by following these steps:

  1. If you don't already have one, create a Google account for yourself at https://accounts.google.com/SignUp.
  2. Head over to YouTube at https://www.youtube.com and sign in. You'll have an account with YouTube because it's part of Google, but you won't have a channel yet.
  3. Go to https://www.youtube.com/channel_switcher. Click on the Create a new channel button.
  4. Follow the instructions onscreen to create your channel.
  5. Customize your channel, uploading images to your profile photo or channel art and adding a description using the About tab.

Here's my channel:

It can take a while for artwork from Google+ to show up on your channel, so don't worry if you don't see it straight away.

Uploading videos

The next step is to upload some videos. YouTube accepts videos in the following formats:

  • .MOV
  • .MPEG4
  • .AVI
  • .WMV
  • .MPEGPS
  • .FLV
  • 3GPP
  • WebM

Depending on the video software you've used to record, your video may already be in one of these formats or you may need to export it to one of these and save it before you can upload it.

If you're not sure how to convert your file to one of the supported formats, you'll find advice at https://support.google.com/youtube/troubleshooter/2888402 to help you do it.

You can also upload videos to YouTube directly from your phone or tablet. On an Android device, you'll need to use the YouTube app, while on an iOS device you can log in to YouTube on the device and upload from the camera app. For detailed instructions and advice for other devices, refer to https://support.google.com/youtube/answer/57407.

If you're uploading directly to the YouTube website, simply click on the Upload a video button when viewing your channel and follow the onscreen instructions. Make sure you add your video to a playlist by clicking on the +Add to playlist button on the right-hand side while you're setting up the video as this will help you categorize the videos in your site later.

Now when you open your channel page and click on the Videos tab, you'll see all the videos you uploaded:

When you click on the Playlists tab, you'll see your new playlist:

So you now have some videos and a playlist set up in YouTube. It's time to set up your WordPress site for streaming those videos.

Installing and configuring the YouTube plugin

Now that you have your videos and playlists set up, it's time to add a plugin to your site that will automatically add new videos to your site when you upload them to YouTube.

Because I've created a playlist, I'm going to use a category in my site for the playlist and automatically add new videos to that category as posts. If you prefer you can use different channels for each category or you can just use one video category and link your channel to that. The latter is useful if your site will contain other content as well, such as photos or blog posts.

Note that you don't need a plugin to stream YouTube videos to your site. You can simply paste the URL for a video into the editing pane when you're creating a post or page in your site, and WordPress will automatically stream the video. You don't even need to add an embed code, just add the YRL. But if you don't want to automate the process of streaming all of the videos in your channel to your site, this plugin will make that process easy.

Installing the Automatic YouTube Video Posts plugin

The Automatic YouTube Video Posts plugin lets you link your site to any YouTube channel or playlist and automatically adds each new video to your site as a post. Let's start by installing it.

I'm working with a fresh WordPress installation but you can also do this on your existing site if that's what you're working with. Follow these steps:

  1. In the WordPress admin, go to Plugins | Add New.
  2. In the Search box, type Automatic Youtube.
  3. The plugins that meet the search criteria will be displayed. Select the Automatic YouTube Video Posts plugin and then install and activate it.

For the plugin to work, you'll need to configure its settings and add one or more channels or playlists.

Configuring the plugin settings

Let's start with the plugin settings screen. You do this via the Youtube Posts menu, which the plugin has added to your admin menu:

  1. Go to Youtube Posts | Settings.
  2. Edit the settings as follows:
    •     Automatically publish posts: Set this to Yes
    •     Display YouTube video meta: Set this to Yes
    •     Number of words and Video dimensions: Leave these at the default values
    •     Display related videos: Set this to No
    •     Display videos in post lists: Set this to Yes
    •    Import the latest videos every: Set this to 1 hours (note that the updates will happen every hour if someone visits the site, but not if the site isn't visited)
  3. Click on the Save changes button.

The settings screen will look similar to the following screenshot:

Adding a YouTube channel or playlist

The next step is to add a YouTube channel and/or playlist so that the plugin will create posts from your videos. I'm going to add the "Dizzy" playlist I created earlier on. But first, I'll create a category for all my videos from that playlist.

Creating a category for a playlist

Create a category for your playlist in the normal way:

  1. In the WordPress admin, go to Posts | Categories.
  2. Add the category name and slug or description if you want to (if you don't, WordPress will automatically create a slug).
  3. Click on the Add New Category button.

Adding your channel or playlist to the plugin

Now you need to configure the plugin so that it creates posts in the category you've just created.

  1. In the WordPress admin, go to Youtube Posts | Channels/Playlists.
  2. Click on the Add New button.
  3. Add the details of your channel or playlist, as shown in the next screenshot. In my case, the details are as follows:
    •     Name: Dizzy
    •     Channel/playlist: This is the ID of my playlist. To find this, open the playlist in YouTube and then copy the last part of its URL from your browser. The URL for my playlist is   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vd128vVQc6Y&list=PLG9W2ELAaa-Wh6sVbQAIB9... and the playlist ID is after the &list= text, so it's PLG9W2ELAaa-Wh6sVbQAIB9RtN_1UV49Uv. If you want to add a channel, add its unique name.
    •      Type: Select Channel or Playlist; I'm selecting Playlist.
    •      Add videos from this channel/playlist to the following categories: Select the category you just created.
    •      Attribute videos from this channel to what author: Select the author you want to attribute videos to, if your site has more than one author.
  4. Finally, click on the Add Channel button.


    Adding a YouTube playlist

Once you click on the Add Channel button, you'll be taken back to the Channels/Playlists screen, where you'll see your playlist or channel added:

The newly added playlist

If you like, you can add more channels or playlists and more categories.

Now go to the Posts listing screen in your WordPress admin, and you'll see that the plugin has created posts for each of the videos in your playlist:

Automatically added posts

Installing and configuring a suitable theme

You'll need a suitable theme in your site to make your videos stand out. I'm going to use the Keratin theme which is grid-based with a right-hand sidebar. A grid-based theme works well as people can see your videos on your home page and category pages.

Installing the theme

Let's install the theme:

  1. Go to Appearance | Themes.
  2. Click on the Add New button.
  3. In the search box, type Keratin.
  4. The theme will be listed. Click on the Install button.
  5. When prompted, click on the Activate button.

The theme will now be displayed in your admin screen as active:

The installed and activated theme

Creating a navigation menu

Now that you've activated a new theme, you'll need to make sure your navigation menu is configured so that it's in the theme's primary menu slot, or if you haven't created a menu yet, you'll need to create one. Follow these steps:

  1. Go to Appearance | Menus.
  2. If you don't already have a menu, click on the Create Menu button and name your new menu.
  3. Add your home page to the menu along with any category pages you've created by clicking on the Categories metabox on the left-hand side.
  4. Once everything is in the right place in your menu, click on the Save Menu button.

Your Menus screen will look something similar to this:

Now that you have a menu, let's take a look at the site:

The live site

That's looking good, but I'd like to add some text in the sidebar instead of the default content.

Adding a text widget to the sidebar

Let's add a text widget with some information about the site:

  1. In the WordPress admin, go to Appearance | Widgets.
  2. Find the text widget on the left-hand side and drag it into the widget area for the main sidebar.
  3. Give the widget a title.
  4. Type the following text into the widget's contents: Welcome to this video site. To see my videos on YouTube, visit <a href="https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC5NPnKZOjCxhPBLZn_DHOMw">my channel</a>. Replace the link I've added here with a link to your own channel:

    The Widgets screen with a text widget added

    Text widgets accept text and HTML. Here we've used HTML to create a link. For more on HTML links, visit http://www.w3schools.com/html/html_links.asp. Alternatively if you'd rather create a widget that gives you an editing pane like the one you use for creating posts, you can install the TinyMCE Widget plugin from https://wordpress.org/plugins/black-studio-tinymce-widget/screenshots/. This gives you a widget that lets you create links and format your text just as you would when creating a post.

  5. Now go back to your live site to see how things are looking:The live site with a text widget added

It's looking much better!

If you click on one of these videos, you're taken to the post for that video:

A single post with a video automatically added

Your site is now ready.

Managing and updating your videos

The great thing about using this plugin is that once you've set it up you'll never have to do anything in your website to add new videos. All you need to do is upload them to YouTube and add them to the playlist you've linked to, and they'll automatically be added to your site.

If you want to add extra content to the posts holding your videos you can do so. Just edit the posts in the normal way, adding text, images, and anything you want. These will be displayed as well as the videos.

If you want to create new playlists in future, you just do this in YouTube and then create a new category on your site and add the playlist in the settings for the plugin, assigning the new channel to the relevant category.

You can upload your videos to YouTube in a variety of ways—via the YouTube website or directly from the device or software you use to record and/or edit them. Most phones allow you to sign in to your YouTube account via the video or YouTube app and directly upload videos, and video editing software will often let you do the same.

Good luck with your video site, I hope it gets you lots of views!

Summary

In this article, you learned how to create a WordPress site for streaming video from YouTube. You created a YouTube channel and added videos and playlists to it and then you set up your site to automatically create a new post each time you add a new video, using a plugin. Finally, you installed a suitable theme and configured it, creating categories for your channels and adding these to your navigation menu.

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