With a user base of over 2 billion, YouTube is one of the best social media sites to post content if you’re looking to reach a wide audience. It’s particularly helpful for creators, actors, and performers who can use the platform to grow their careers. Making a YouTube video is a matter of making your own channel, creating unique and engaging content, and uploading videos to the platform.
- Google: If you have an existing Google account, it will automatically populate the platform with your information.
- Manual: If you don’t have a Google account, the signup process requires all the standard details: choosing a username, entering an email address, and agreeing to the terms of service.
After you create and log into your YouTube account, click on the user icon, then YouTube Studio. This is where you go to upload videos, view analytics, and handle other features such as customization and monetization.
Before you can film and post your videos, you need to have ideas for what content to create.
- Find a perspective: The first step is not only to come up with an idea, but to figure out how to present it. What’s the point of view? What’s the reason for creating the channel? Why would audiences watch this channel?
- Be specific: Most YouTube channels have a specified interest, such as DIY home projects, makeup tutorials, or comedy skits. Don’t try to catch every single person’s attention. Instead, focus on a topic that is specific and unique.
- Generate a list: Once you’ve come up with a topic for your YouTube channel, it’s time to come up with ideas. Brainstorm! Write down anything and everything that relates to the channel topic.
- Keep it simple: Having an overly complex topic isn’t necessarily better. A simple idea that can be completed in a 5–10 minute video can be a great way to engage an audience.
- Remain flexible: Take a deep dive into a few of your top topic contenders and be open to new video ideas based on what you discover.
YouTube best practices are all about proper preparation: having the right equipment, making an outline, writing a script, practicing, recording, and editing.
While better recording equipment means more professional videos, if you’re just starting out, a phone camera or lower-end vlogging camera will suffice.These tips compiled by online media specialist Maggie Tillman can help you record better videos with a phone camera:
- Record in landscape: Turn the camera on its side and make sure it’s in landscape. Recording in portrait mode on a phone leads to black bars on the sides of the video when editing and uploading—an obvious sign a video was taken with a phone camera.
- Get the lighting right: The phone camera flash is usually overly harsh for videos. Instead, learn how to use natural light or create your own three-point lighting. If using natural light, the light should fall on and illuminate the subject. For three-point lighting, take three light sources and use them to create a dynamic, dimensional image. Three-point lighting includes the key light, which does most of the heavy lifting by lighting up the subject from the front; the fill light, which is positioned to one side of the key light to add extra nuance; and the back light, which sits behind the subject.
- Focus on the subject: Put as much of the subject in the camera frame as possible. Whether it’s you, a dog, food, or something else entirely, the subject doesn’t need to be smack dab in the middle of the frame, but it should be very clear who or what the subject is. A subject that’s too small in the frame can get lost in the background.
Make an outline
An outline will help ensure that your video is focused, thorough, and follows logical order. Highlight main ideas and then break those down into smaller bullet points. For example, the outline for a YouTube video about navigating a city’s public transit might look like this:
- City name
- Public transit name
- How it works
- How/where to pay fares
- How/where to get on
- What public transit is included (buses, trains, subways, etc.)
- Pros and cons
- Timing—is the public transit usually on schedule or always late?
- Cheap prices
- Easy to get around
- Service ends early
- Key takeaways
- Make sure to check service times
- Don’t forget your fare card!
Write a script
Expand your outline into a short script. Study the script, but try not to memorize it word for word, which can risk sounding robotic.
Down the line, you might be able to create perfect videos on your first try, but for now, spend time practicing before you publish. Record yourself as if for the final video and then watch, make notes, and revise as needed.
Finally, it’s time to record your final video. Putting yourself in front of the camera isn’t easy, but try to stay relaxed and open—and remember, the more you do it, the easier filming yourself gets. When recording your YouTube video:
- Don’t stop recording: Keep the camera rolling even if you make a few mistakes. Those can always be edited out later.
- Vary shots: Most videos will include different types of shots to provide visual stimulation and engagement. Try recording video from different angles, styles, and distances.
- Record B-roll: Supplementary footage, or B-roll, is used to depict visuals that are related to the topic but aren’t the primary focus. For a tutorial, B-roll might include showing close-up detail of a step before cutting back to the A-roll footage of you explaining the step.
Video editing is where mistakes are taken out, B-roll gets cut into A-roll, and music and special touches are added. In short, this is where the magic happens. Hiring a professional to edit your videos is always an option, but you can cut costs by editing on your own using video editing programs. YouTube even has its own built-in editor that you can use to trim and cut videos. No matter which editing tool you use, these tips will help ensure a watchable video:
Tell a story
Every video should have a beginning, middle, and end that takes viewers on a mindful journey. If you went off your outline, create a new one based on your video to see if it follows a logical progression.
If you overload your video with too many sounds, cuts, or added animations, you risk washing out its real purpose. Keep video edits on the simple side to highlight its core message.
Color correction is a simple way to take a video from looking like a home movie to looking like it’s meant for the big screen. This editing process allows you to improve any inconsistent or unappealing color and lighting in your video.
Once your video is recorded and edited, follow these steps to upload it to YouTube.
- Log into YouTube.
- Click on your user icon to open the menu.
- Select YouTube Studio and open the Channel Dashboard.
- Click Upload Videos on the Channel Dashboard.
- Select the video or videos you want to upload.
- Fill out the video details.
- Hit publish. Remember that there’s a difference between uploading a video and publishing a video. If a video has been uploaded, this means it’s been added to your library of videos but is not yet available for others to view. To make the video visible to the general public, you must not only upload but also publish it. Once published, the video will be available for others to watch.
YouTube Video Details
You should include the following details for each of your YouTube videos:
- Title: Give your video a name. Try to keep it simple and to the point.
- Description: Add some more details about the video that elaborates on the title.
- Thumbnail: Choose an eye-catching image that viewers will see along with the title. You may even include the video’s subject matter as text in the thumbnail.
- Playlist: If the video is part of a series, add all the videos to one playlist. This makes it easy for viewers to find related content.
- Audience: This is required as part of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). Indicate whether the video is meant for children.
- Age restriction: If the video is inappropriate for certain age groups, make sure this section is accurately set.
For even more details on advanced settings, check out YouTube’s Help Center.
If you’re trying to build an audience, it’s crucial to optimize YouTube videos so that they’re easily searchable and intriguing. The point is to get someone to click on your video.
- Come up with pertinent keywords: Take the time to really figure out which words best describe the video and/or your channel. Use words that accurately describe the video and that viewers would likely use to find that type of content.
- Create a strong title: Then, use the keywords to create a strong title. It’s important to keep the title short but informative. If it’s too long, like “To Navigate Los Angeles’ Public Transit, Watch This Video All About LA’s Metro System,” it can bore a viewer before they even click on the video. A long title often means it’s too drawn out. Focus on bringing keywords to the front of the sentence, where viewers can see them immediately. A shorter, snappier version of the above title might be: “LA Metro System: The Definitive Guide.”
- Have an attention-grabbing thumbnail: The thumbnail should make users want to watch your video. Whether cute, silly, or hilarious, the best thumbnails evoke emotional responses that lead to views.
- Include a strong video description: Just like the title, the description should be short and snappy. Use similar keywords to the title to give viewers a few more sentences of information before they watch the video.
- Tag it up: Choose the strongest, most relevant keywords for your video tags.