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One of the best things about YouTube is the huge audience just waiting for your content. But before you can taste success you need to know how to make a YouTube video.
Let’s assume that you’re a complete beginner that doesn’t know the first thing about making YouTube videos. Fortunately, the basics can be learned. So here are our top tips for beginners.
1. Plan Your Video
Before you can make your first YouTube video, you need to understand your subject. Work out what you want to say, and who you are talking to. Is your video designed to entertain? Maybe you are putting forward an argument in a bid to convince others? Or perhaps you intend to shine light on a subject and educate people.
With this in mind, try to put yourself in the viewer’s position when watching the sort of content you hope to produce.
Ask yourself what makes you click on a YouTube video? What keeps you watching and stops you from closing the tab? If you can isolate what your favorite YouTubers are doing right, you’re already making strides towards replicating their success.
Not all videos require the same approach. If your video is wordy, you might want to draft a script. This can be time consuming, but it provides you with an opportunity to tighten up your video before you’ve started recording. Read through your script and make sure it’s relevant, concise, and flows properly.
You may also want to consider creating a rough script, like a list of bullet points that you want to cover. If you’re comfortable speaking at length with only prompts to guide you, this might be a better choice. Do keep in mind that it’s easy to ramble and lose your audience if you’re working without a script though.
Remember to let your own voice shine through, even if you are working from a script. In time you will develop your voice and style, and devise your own ways of how best to start YouTube videos, closing comments, calls to action, and the usual “like and subscribe” sign-offs.
2. Understand Your Audience
Once of the most important aspects of learning how to create YouTube videos is understanding your audience. If you want your video to perform well, it has to speak to your intended audience. Ultimately, the type of video you’re creating will dictate who is watching. For this reason, put some serious thought into how long you want your video to be.
Most of the time, shorter is better. Most of us skip from post to post, article to article, and video to video while browsing the web. Attention spans are shorter than ever, so being concise is one of the most important aspects of YouTube success. YouTube’s audience dwarfs that of its nearest competitors which means your content has to stand out to succeed.
There’s a growing contingent of YouTubers creating video essays, which are traditionally much longer than the short format that most videos adhere to. Video essays that are under 20 minutes long may leave your audience feeling short changed. Many creators upload video essays that are 45, 60, and 90 minutes long that go on to enjoy hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of views.
There may be more effort involved in creating longform content, but there’s an audience for it if your video resonates. By contrast, you probably wouldn’t want to upload an hour-long vlog of your weekend trip to the beach. Recipes, reactions, and cat videos thrive on the platform, but most are under 10 minutes long.
Keep in mind that your brand new YouTube channel will be limited to videos that are under 15 minutes until you get verified. According to this ComScore report, the average length of an online video is 4.4 minutes.
There’s another important aspect of viewership you have to consider while creating YouTube videos. Does your content comply with YouTube’s new COPPA rules that aim to protect children?
3. Learn the Basics of Video Production
Depending on the video you are making, you’re probably going to need to learn some video production skills. The exception here is if you’re creating a video that uses footage that you haven’t shot yourself, like a reaction video, game review, or movie critique. With that in mind, even videos that fall under these categories will benefit from your face on camera.
You can shoot your video with nothing more than a smartphone. However, if you’re willing to purchase (or have access to) a mirrorless or digital SLR, your videos will look better. This is especially true in low light situations. To help you get started, here is the best vlogging setup for under $1,000. You might also want to consider getting a ring light to boost the look and feel of your video instantly.
Don’t worry too much about technical specifications to start with. Shooting in 4K is nice, but most content is still consumed at 1080p or below. Read our tips for shooting better video when you’re ready to tackle some of the more technical aspects of production like shutter speed and color profiles.
4. Understand the Importance of Sound
When you’re creating a YouTube video, you’re telling a story. You might be surprised to learn that most of the heavy lifting will be done using audio, not video. Audio forms the basis of your narrative, while the video is often supplementary. This isn’t a hard and fast rule to follow, but you should always be thinking about the relationship between audio and video.
There’s a lot you can do in post to spruce up poor video, but there’s little that can be done about bad sound. That’s why it’s so important to ensure that your sound quality is up to par. While passable sound quality might seem good enough, one easy way to improve your overall production quality is by investing in a decent microphone.
If you’re speaking directly into the camera, you don’t want to rely on the in-camera mic. Check out our recommendations for shotgun microphones for a microphone that mounts to the top of your camera and captures audio from whatever direction it’s pointed in. Another alternative is a lavalier microphone, which clips to your clothing to capture clear spoken word.
There’s nothing wrong with using these microphones on a PC or Mac to record a voiceover, but if you’re not relying on a piece-to-camera setup then you might be more comfortable with a desk-mounted microphone instead.
If you are recording directly into a computer, you should use a decent audio editor to do so. Audacity is one of the best places to start, since it’s fairly powerful and completely free.
5. Pick a Video Editor and Learn How to Use It
So you’ve got your video and audio files ready to go. The only thing left to do is edit everything together into a finished production using a video editor. Which video editor you choose will likely depend on your budget, but there are plenty of packages to choose from.
On a Mac you might want to start with iMovie (below). It’s a free video editor which simplifies the process of editing video. Take a look at the best free video editors for Mac to see how it stacks up against the competition.
The closest thing to iMovie for Windows users is probably Wondershare Filmora. It’s not quite as simple as iMovie in its approach, but it’s got many of the same features and targets the free price point. If Wondershare Filmora doesn’t appeal, here are the best free video editors for Windows.
If you’re looking for a professional video editor that won’t break the bank, look no further than Da Vinci Resolve (below). Resolve is commonly used by professional colorists for grading footage, but it comes with a fully-featured non-linear video editor attached. You can use the video editing component for free, with the fancier grading tools locked behind an upgrade.
If you have the cash to splash then you could spring for an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription, which would provide access to Adobe Premiere Pro at just over $20/month (or around $50/month for the full suite). Final Cut Pro is the logical upgrade for Mac users enamoured with iMovie, but it requires a hefty one-off payment of $299.99.
Whichever app you end up settling on, the most important thing is to learn how to use it properly. Funnily enough, YouTube is your best friend here since the service is flush with tutorials and tips videos for most video editing software.
Create, Upload and Publish
With your masterpiece finished, it’s time to upload and publish your first YouTube video. Congratulations, you made it. You now know how to make a YouTube video, so what’s next?
If there’s one piece of advice most successful YouTubers seem to repeat time and time again, it’s to keep uploading content on a regular basis. Like so much else in life, consistency is the key to success. Work within your means, your skill levels, and your available free time to produce a schedule you can realistically stick to.
This article details how to make a YouTube video and is clearly aimed at beginners. But once you’re up and running, you can focus on how to turn your YouTube channel into a success.