Does this sound like you?
You have an idea and you want to create a YouTube video for it.
You want your video to look and feel good. You want to create something you’re proud of, bring your idea to life and do it justice.
If that’s the case then you’ve just hit the jackpot.
In this step-by-step guide, we’ll show you exactly how you can create a killer YouTube video.
We’ll cover everything you need to know: from preparation all the way to publishing, and getting your video seen; we’ve got your back.
Let’s jump right in…
Step 1: Research Your Topic
The first thing you need to do when you have a video topic is research it.
That’s because seeing what other creators have done in your topic will help you decide what works well, what you can improve on, and what you can do differently.
In fact, “YouTube is more than just a place to watch videos, it’s a gold mine of data” and you need to use it to your advantage.
This is coming straight from our in-house video expert and creator, Daniel, who single-handedly runs both of Uscreen’s YouTube channels.
Talk about a YouTube superhero, am I right?
To start, go to the channels you’re trying to emulate, or search for your video topic on YouTube’s search bar. Then watch at least 5-10 videos being made on your topic and on similar topics!
You should keep track of the:
- The types of video that get views around your topic.
- Different video structures and styles.
- Length of these videos.
- Thumbnails and video titles used.
- Calls to action (i.e. like and subscribe) and when it was used.
- Transitions used (i.e. B-roll, GIFs, text, etc.).
This will help you plan your content in the next step and see what your video should look like. (Or, if you don’t like what you see, what it shouldn’t look like!)
By the end of each video ask yourself these 5 questions:
- What do these video creators do well?
- What can you improve on?
- How many views are these videos getting?
- What are people saying about these videos in the comments section?
- Are the video titles and thumbnails intriguing? (More on that in Step 3).
Answering these questions will help you understand what a good video on that topic looks like, and how you can get your own video up there with the greats.
This brings us squarely to the next section…
Step 2: Plan Your Video Content
Now that you’ve researched your video topic, ask yourself, what’s the point?
Or for a less existential question: what is the goal of the video you’ll be making?
Video content typically tends to fall into 1 of these 3 categories:
- Education: you’re a relative expert in something and you want to teach a skill, idea, or concept to your followers (i.e. tutorials).
- Entertainment: you want to create something that interests and fascinates viewers (i.e. vlogs, video clips, comedy skits, etc.).
- Awareness: you want to raise public concern about a problem, topic, or product (i.e. opinion videos, video marketing, product reviews etc.).
It’s critical that you identify what you’d like to achieve with your video before you start creating because this will inform how you’ll deliver it and what type of video you’ll create.
Then it’s time to create a storyboard. This is a visual representation of your video sketched out, you can do it digitally or manually. It’s kind of like having an outline for your video content.
That’s where you’ll take your notes from Step 1 and decide on the structure of your video, it’s length, and what will be included in each take.
Here’s a template we found on Creately that you can use:
Having a storyboard will help you gage what you’ll need to do and prepare to create your video. (More on that in the next step.)
If you’ve never created a plan for your video content before, grab a piece of paper and ask yourself these questions:
- What is the point of my video?
- Who is my target audience?
- What is my budget?
- How many people will I need?
- What is the target length of the video?
- What will I use for the thumbnail and video title? (Make sure to come up with options for both, more on that in Step 3).
- Where will the video be filmed?
- How will the video be shot?
- Will there be vocals in the video?
- If so, will I need to write a script?
- Do I have the equipment to do this myself? (More on that in Step 5.)
- Do I need to include any text or images in my video?
- Will I edit the video myself or send it to a video editor? (More on that in Step 9.)
Answering these questions will help you get clearer on the specifics of your videos and you’ll be well positioned to do the next steps.
Step 3: Create Catchy Titles and Custom Thumbnails
Remember the list of video titles and thumbnail options we mentioned in Step 2? Well, now is the time to use them!
Video titles and thumbnails are the first point of contact you have with a viewer. They need to encourage people who come across your video to click and watch it.
Let’s get into each one…
Video titles are the first text your audience sees when they come across your videos.
That’s why you need to ensure your headlines…
- are relevant to what your target audience is searching
- accurately describe what’s in the video
- are short and sweet
- don’t contain clickbait
- contain relevant keywords (more on that in Step 4).
…to give your video the best chance of appearing on someone’s search.
If you look at Uscreen’s own Health & Fitness YouTube channel you can see that our video titles are to the point, include relevant keywords for our target audience, and inform the viewer what the video is about:
You should also consider running your list of video titles with trusted advisors and see which ones are the most interesting and intriguing.
Custom thumbnails can help you increase your click-through rate. Meaning, if your thumbnail is eye-catching and exciting enough, when people come across it they’ll click on your video to watch it.
We always recommend customizing your thumbnail as opposed to using a screenshot from your video. Your thumbnail should include:
- Clear imagery: visually show you’re answering the searcher’s query.
- Basic text: make it catchy, short, and it can include keywords for your video (more on that in Step 4).
- Vibrant colors: make it aesthetically pleasing, have these colors stand out against the YouTube backdrop, and make sure the colors are consistent with your online presence on other social media platforms.
- Use faces: people are drawn to other people, so if it’s applicable use prominent faces that illustrate emotions.
- An element of curiosity: peak your viewer’s curiosity, don’t give away too much of your content.
Take the thumbnails on Uscreen’s main YouTube channel, for example:
You can see the consistent use of our brand color, blue, which stands out against YouTube’s grey background and strengthens Uscreen’s branding.
We’ve also used a mix of graphics, keywords, and faces with clear attention-grabbing expressions.
Having these things will enhance your video’s message and performance.
Speaking of performance…
Step 4: Optimize Video for Search Engines
Part of writing catchy titles and creating thumbnails that entice people to watch your video is finding the right keywords for your content.
This will help you connect with people who use the YouTube search to find videos. Afterall, YouTube is the world’s largest video search engine.
And to get your video seen on YouTube you’ll need to use some search engine optimization (SEO) tactics.
One of the main things to do for YouTube SEO is conduct keyword research. Keywords are phrases that users are searching for, like:
- How to make banana bread.
- iPhone 13 review.
- How to tie a tie.
You need to target the most relevant keywords for your video content by using it in your description, tags, thumbnail, and video title. This tells YouTube and Google’s algorithms what your videos are about.
The first step in conducting keyword research is understanding the problem that your video is solving. You need to get into the mind of your potential viewer.
Let’s say you’re looking to create a video on the topic: how to make pancakes. You can see that on both the YouTube and Google search the title of the first and second results includes these keywords:
Now to delve deeper into your keyword search, go to Google and YouTube’s search bars and see what keywords they suggest for that topic.
Pro-tip: You can use the asterisk (*) as a wildcard to replace any word in your search query to see the most popular variation of that keyword search.
Once you’ve searched for different variations of the keyword, you can compile a list of the most common or popular searches.
For this example, the most popular searches seem to be:
- How to make pancakes.
- How to make fluffy pancakes.
- How to make banana pancakes.
From this search we’ve learned 3 things: people want pancakes, they want them fluffy, and they want them healthy. (Where do I sign up?)
So, you can use descriptive words like fluffy, and the searcher’s query: how to make pancakes for your tags, title, and description.
There are several tools you can use to see what keywords your potential viewer is going to search like:
- YouTube search bar.
- Google search bar (to appear on Google’s video carousel).
- Google Trends.
- Keywords Everywhere.
By using these tools you can better understand what people are searching for and the demand for that keyword. This will help you decide which keywords to use for your videos.
To learn more on how to conduct keyword research and make your YouTube videos SEO-ready, check out our guide below:
22 Ways To Get More Views On YouTube
Read this Article
Step 5: Get Your Equipment
Now that you have a plan in place, it’s time to see what tools and equipment you need to bring your vision to life.
Different types of video content call for different types of equipment. For example, a parody music video has different needs than a fashion vlog.
Before we can talk about buying equipment we need to figure out your budget. Now, chances are you fall into 1of these 2 categories:
- The Bootstrappers: you have a limited-to-no budget and want to spend as little money as possible (preferably none) making videos.
- The “I’ve Got Some Cash To Splash”-ers: you have some money to spend on equipment and tend not to mind investing some of it in a new camera or lights.
The good news is, regardless of which category you fall under, you can still create high-quality videos.
Here are the essential gear you’ll need to create your YouTube videos:
- Camera: anything from a fancy DSLR down to your iPhone/Android camera can get the job done. You can also use high quality webcams if you’re live streaming.
- Microphone: preferably external (because quality matters, ya know?).
- Lighting: natural or artificial, as long as they’re bright enough.
- Tripod: used to stabilize your camera or phone because even small shakes can be visible in a video.
- Storage: memory cards (or enough space on your phone).
- Video editing software: if you have Apple products like an iPhone or a Mac you can use iMovie, or check out this extensive list of video editing tools you can use.
We live in an age where you can take professional-style pictures and videos with your phone. So, it’s best to master the gear you do have and upgrade as you go.
Once you’ve got your filming equipment, it’s time to put it all together…
Step 6: Set The Stage
When you make a YouTube video, you need to prepare your filming location to be camera-ready.
If you’re recording a fitness video, this could simply mean choosing the spot in the house with the best lighting and creating a background to go behind you.
A great example of this is Adriene Mishler from Yoga With Adrienne. Her videos all contain a “branded” background that fits her personality.
This may change as she uploads new series of videos, but she keeps the same background for a long period:
This helps to keep attention on the speaker and not on their background. Notice how her yoga studio is not distracting but instead adds atmosphere to the video.
If you’re recording a video that’s less flexible and needs to be done in a fixed place – like a cooking tutorial – you’ll need to prepare the area as best you can.
So when you’re placing the camera you might need to consider:
- Having to decide what needs to be in your video’s background.
- Where the lighting will be so you, and what you’re filming, appear clearly.
- Having a good angle where you can look engaging (i.e. facing the camera as opposed to away from the camera).
To stick with the cooking example, YouTube’s Sam The Cooking Guy uses a top-down shot to capture the absolute essentials for the videos, while his son holds a second camera to capture the chef, background, and ingredients he plans to use during the video!
If you’re trying to keep it as simple as possible, just remember to keep clutter out of the shot and allow the subject of your video to take center stage.
Now that your environment is set up, it’s time to get the star of your video ready…
Step 7: Prepare Yourself To Be On Camera
Being on camera can be scary.
If you’re anything like me, you immediately start sweating, your throat gets dry, and you develop a stutter that you’ve never had before in your entire life.
The good news is there are ways to make being on camera more pleasant and enjoyable for yourself and your viewers.
My best advice is to treat it as a conversation with the camera.
Think of the camera as one person from your target audience and talk directly to them. You’re not presenting or putting on a show; you’re just having a conversation with someone.
So, do the same things you’d do in any conversation!
Look at them directly, be energetic, smile, and stick to the topic. If you want a little more advice on this I recommend you check out our 7 expert tips for being comfortable and confident on camera.
Or, check out this video below:
Once you feel ready, it’s showtime!
Step 8: It’s Time To Hit Record
If you’ve followed the steps so far, it’s time to turn your camera on and hit record. Feels good, right?
Regardless of the type of video content you’re recording, there are a few things for you to keep in mind.
First and foremost, keep the camera rolling.
If you misspeak or make little mistakes…
…don’t stress out and restart everything. Just take a breath, and keep going (starting shortly before the mistake) without turning the camera off.
This makes the entire process much less stressful and you can fix everything else in editing!
Secondly, embrace what you know.
Trust that you know your topic and get creative with it.
Being new to creating a video can actually give you a huge advantage, you’ll have a different perspective and will more likely create original content.
The final, and most important thing, is to have fun.
I know this sounds corny, but making a YouTube video is supposed to be fun.
That’s why the platform got so popular in the first place!
People were able to flex their creative muscles, upload videos (sometimes go viral), and eventually they turned into video creators. (Without even having a fancy cinematography degree).
So, enjoy the learning process. Making great YouTube videos should excite you and entice you to make more videos.
Step 9: Edit Your Work
When you’ve recorded your video, it’s time to edit it!
This is where you can clean up any mistakes you’ve made while recording and make your video YouTube-ready.
Remember, if you get to this part of the process and realize there’s something missing or something can be done differently, that’s okay.
Reshoots are part of the business…
…it may be a bit frustrating but it’s better to go back and do it right than to just be okay with mediocrity.
In the editing process you’re looking to:
- Organize clips in the right order.
- Add voice over if necessary and synchronize it with the video.
- Remove unnecessary footage or bloopers or weird pauses.
- Add intros and/or outros, use them strategically as these can dip viewer retention.
- Add cuts and transitions (i.e. strategically placed B-roll, GIFs, graphics, screenshots, audio snippets).
- Adjust the color of your footage with colograding.
- Use text on screen to help your viewers to retain more information.
Doing these things will add so much value to your YouTube video, and they pretty much work for any kind of video you want to make.
It’s also worth getting feedback on your edit from trusted friends or advisors. Sometimes when you stare at things for too long, you get some kind of cabin fever.
It’ll be well worth your time to literally step away from your masterpiece and get a fresh pair of eyes looking at it.
Now, editing software may be the most important equipment investment you make. It has the power to supercharge what you’ve created for YouTube and turn it into a high-quality engagement magnet.
If you’re on the prowl for great video editing software check out our guide below:
The Best Video Editing Software for Beginners – Ultimate Guide
Read this Article
When you upload a new video on your YouTube channel, consider repurposing that video for your social media platforms.
This is a great way to get more people to watch your video.
Here’s how you can do this:
- Pick your social media platform: from your research on your video topic in Step 1, take note of where else your competitors are posting content, make sure you’re on the same platforms they’re on. If they’re on a lot of different platforms, using Facebook or Instagram are safe bets.
- Perform social media competitor analysis: after you’ve found your topic competitors on social media, look at what types of content they’re sharing, the times they post, and their engagement rate. This will give you a good idea of when your audience is likely active and the type of content they want to interact with.
- Look for repurposing opportunities: see what’s valuable, practical, or shareable from your YouTube video, and look at different ways you can present them. You can present the same idea in multiple ways like text-based posts, video snippets, infographics, and more.
Your goal here is to get people so excited about your content that they want to watch the full video.
Wrapping It Up…
That’s it guys! By now, you should be well equipped to make your own video for YouTube.
These are the 10 steps you need to follow to make a YouTube video:
- Research Your Topic
The first thing you need to do when you have a YouTube video topic is research it. Watch all the videos being made on that topic and similar topics. Answering these questions will help you see what your video should look like. You want to learn from your competitors, take what works well, and improve on the existing videos in your topic.
- Plan Your Video Content
Identify what you’d like to achieve with your video before you start creating because this will inform how you’ll deliver it and what type of video you’ll create. Then create a storyboard to see what you’ll need to do and prepare to bring your video to life.
- Create Catchy Titles and Custom Thumbnails
Your video titles and thumbnails are the first point of contact with your audience. They need to be engaging and entice people to click on your video.
- Optimize Video For Search Engines
Use relevant keywords for your video title, tag, description and custom thumbnail (if needed).
- Get Your Equipment
You’ll need a camera, external microphone, good lighting, a tripod, storage, and a video editing software. Master the gear you do have and upgrade as you go.
- Set The Stage
Prepare your filming location to be camera ready, with minimal visual distractions.
- Prepare Yourself To Be On Camera
To help yourself relax on camera, treat the filming process as a conversation.
- Hit Record
Start recording your content, keep the camera rolling, and edit out any mistakes in the next step.
- Edit Your Work
Use a video editing software to put the footage together, create strategic transitions, remove any bloopers, and synchronize any audio.
- Repurpose Your Video For Social Media
When you upload a new video on your YouTube channel, consider repurposing that video on your social media platforms. This is a great way to get more people to watch your YouTube video.
By following this step-by-step guide, you’ll be able to create engaging videos that can reach your audience.
Now, if you want an easy way to move those videos over to an independent VOD platform and scale up your monetization success, then reach out to us.
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What supplies do you need to make a YouTube video?
These are the essential equipment you’ll need to create your YouTube videos:
– Camera: anything from a fancy DSLR down to your iPhone/Android camera can get the job done. You can also use high quality webcams if you’re live streaming.
– Microphone: preferably external (because quality matters, ya know?).
– Lighting: natural or artificial, as long as they’re bright enough.
– Tripod: used to stabilize your camera or phone because even small shakes can be visible in a video.
– Storage: memory cards (or enough space on your phone).
– Video editing software: if you have Apple products like an iPhone or a Mac you can use iMovie. Here’s an extensive list of video editing tools you can use.
What is the best camera for making YouTube videos?
The type of camera you use will depend on the type of videos you want to create and your experience level. Check out this list of the best cameras for YouTube videos.