YouTube is the second most visited social media network in the world (Facebook remains number one). Big brands use YouTube to engage consumers, distribute value-added content, promote their products and services, educate people, demonstrate thought leadership, build brand awareness, and more. Smaller businesses are rapidly catching up to their larger competitors on YouTube.
Business owners new to video marketing may find making a YouTube video daunting and avoid the challenge entirely. Others attempt to make videos and fail. What these individuals lack is a strategic approach to YouTube video creation. This step-by-step guide explains everything you need to know to produce professional YouTube videos consumers will love.
Research and Planning: The Foundation of a Solid YouTube Video
Never start the development of a video by filming. Much like traditional movies and programs, it takes a lot of research and planning to create coherent YouTube content people in your target audience will engage with and find value in.
Here are our expert tips for how to research and plan your video.
Find Out What the Competition is Up to
The best place to start planning YouTube videos is with competitive research.
See how your competitors use video content in their overall marketing strategy, and leverage it as a source of inspiration for your content. What are they doing well, and what do you not like? What can you learn from it?
Look for gaps in their content that you could fill with your own. For example, if they don’t have educational videos that would benefit consumers, your YouTube channel could fill this niche.
Get started by creating a list of your competitors. Then, review their YouTube channels. See which of their videos have the most views and comments to determine what your target audience is engaging with. Look for patterns and similarities among the most popular videos, along with topics and themes that fall flat.
This step will help you understand what resonates with people in your audience and what doesn’t — along with key opportunities — before you invest time and money in your content.
Conduct Keyword Research
Conducting YouTube keyword research will help you find the correct search terms to include in your video content. Adding meaningful, well-researched search terms to your video title and meta description can significantly improve your video’s performance on YouTube.
Start by making assumptions about what people in your audience search for – step into their shoes for a bit. Search for those terms on YouTube. If videos from your competitors pop up, you may be on to something. Check to see if they have lots of views, are of high quality, and answer the questions posed by searchers. This will help you identify opportunities to create better content that might rank higher.
Tip: Include a written copy of your video transcript in the YouTube description to maximize your chances of appearing in search results.
Match Your Video Content to Your Brand
Before creating any videos, consider how they complement your overall brand and other marketing assets.
Think about the mood of the content you’re creating, its tone of voice, and how all of the video’s elements – music, lighting, voice-over, color composition, logo use, and more – come together to reflect your brand.
If you worked with an agency or other expert to develop your brand, they can help with this. Otherwise, consider hiring someone temporarily to help you come up with your YouTube video guidelines.
Land a Location
If you’re filming at your office or home, this is a relatively easy task. Set up your camera in different places to find the spots with the best backgrounds, lighting, and filming angles.
If you’re shooting off-site, give yourself plenty of time to find the right location. Consider lighting, equipment setup needs, and conditions on the day of the week and the time of day you plan to shoot.
Note that some locations require permits to film. Ask for permission to use someone else’s business or a public facility. Get the requirements and secure permission to use a space in writing before you start filming.
Write a Script and Create a Storyboard
The last thing you want to do is show up on location with no idea of what you want to shoot.
Avoid this by creating a script and storyboard. Begin by writing your script, including on-camera dialogue, an outline to guide a free-form conversation, and the voiceover layered on top of footage in post-production. Keep your script simple. Make statements short so they’re easy to deliver and consume.
Next, take your script to the next level by creating a storyboard, a comic-book-style presentation of your video. These lay out how different shots come together to tell a coherent story. Using software like Storyboarder makes the process easy.
The Right Equipment: What it Takes to Create Professional Videos
Leveraging the right tools to produce your videos will make them look polished and professional.
Don’t Invest in Unnecessary Equipment
Making a YouTube video doesn’t have to be expensive. You can likely use the hardware you already have to create your video. Most newer smartphones come with high-quality cameras that are perfect for shooting videos. Simply purchase a tripod for your phone to keep things steady. Depending on the video you’re creating, you may be able to use the webcam that’s built into your computer, or you could purchase an external web camera. Web cameras are great for shooting webinars, testimonials, tutorials, and interviews.
If your smartphone isn’t giving you the video quality you want, purchase equipment (if you plan to shoot a lot of videos) or rent it from a video hardware rental company (if you plan to film infrequently.) You can also work with a video production partner.
Test the Audio
Nothing makes a video seem like an amateur effort more than low-quality audio. If you plan to use the camera on your phone or computer, run an audio test. Having clear audio is critical to people sticking with your video on YouTube. If you’re not getting the sound quality you want, invest in or rent a professional microphone.
Check Your Lighting
Lighting is what sets high-quality and low-quality videos apart.
Before you begin shooting, run a few lighting tests. If things aren’t looking attractive, invest in quality lighting equipment if your budget allows, take a trip to your local hardware store to buy a lighting kit, or move existing lighting around to achieve a professional-looking video. Block windows that are making things too bright or creating heavy shadows. If you shoot outdoors, wait until an hour or two before sunset when the lighting is soft and appealing.
Download Editing Software
If you’re willing to watch a few tutorial videos, you can probably edit YouTube content on your own. There are many free or affordable (and easy-to-use) video editing platforms available.
If you use a Mac, your laptop comes with iMovie already loaded. This program handles basic editing tasks, including splicing footage, adding text overlays and effects, adjusting audio levels, and more.
Other options available for download on a Mac or PC include:
Before selecting editing software, compare features and read customer reviews to find a suitable option for your needs.
If you don’t feel confident editing videos, hire an outside company or freelance video editor to edit your video.
Develop Meaningful Intros and Outros
Getting people to watch your videos and act on them is as important as the actual video content. Engaging intros bring viewers into your videos. Strong outros get them to take action. Here’s how to create both.
Create an Attention-Grabbing Intro
Today’s video viewers are savvy and sophisticated, and they have no shortage of choices. If you can’t grab their attention in five seconds or less, you’ve lost them.
Your intro must explain what’s in it for the viewer fast to get them to watch on. Make a promise in your intro and make sure your video keeps it.
Come Up With a Compelling Outro
You want consumers to take action after they watch your video. After all, what’s the use of spending all the time, effort, and money developing content for YouTube if nothing comes of it?
End your YouTube video with a compelling call to action, whether it’s to visit your website, subscribe to your channel, watch additional videos, contact your team, make an appointment, purchase something, etc. No matter what, never leave viewers wondering what to do next at the end of your video. Instead, make their next steps very clear in your outro.
Upload Your Video and Optimize It
YouTube makes it easy to upload and optimize your video.
Upload Your Video Fast
YouTube provides tools to make uploading videos simple. Here’s how to upload your first video:
Set up your channel: You may already have a YouTube channel. If you don’t, you must create a YouTube account and a channel for your brand.
Brand your channel: YouTube lets you choose the name of your channel and upload profile images, just like you would on Facebook and other social platforms. Select an attractive, meaningful image to create a polished brand experience. Add content to your profile page that includes your keywords to boost your YouTube SEO.
Upload the video: Navigate to your channel. Click on the video icon in the top right corner. Then click on “upload video.” Next, you will be asked to upload or drag and drop your new video from your computer. The whole process should take just a few minutes.
Optimize Your Video for Search
After you upload your video, add a title, description, and tags to improve your SEO. Here are a few tips to make the most of your video data:
Come up with a compelling title: The title is the first impression viewers will have of your video in their search results. A video title must be clear and persuasive and explain what viewers can expect from the video.
Use keywords in your video description: Leverage the keywords you found in your research wherever you can to improve your search ranking. This is particularly important in your title and video description.
Use tags: YouTube tags are a simple way to improve your video’s ability to be searched. Tags on YouTube are similar to those used in other social channels. Your keywords offer good tag possibilities.
Add an Eye-Catching Thumbnail
Selecting the right video thumbnail is an integral part of optimizing your video on YouTube. Your thumbnail is the image associated with your video in search results. It must stand out from all the others so searchers select it. YouTube automatically selects a thumbnail for you – however, it’s likely not the most compelling one from your video. Instead, choose a custom thumbnail that will get noticed for all the right reasons. Make it bright, clear, effective, and an understandable representation of what your video is about.
Promote Your Video
Going live with your video is only the beginning. Now you must promote it. You’ll get some traffic from YouTube if you handled SEO correctly. From there, it’s up to you to create some added heat around it by sharing it on social media, placing it on your website, and including it in email newsletters. YouTube will recognize all the additional traffic from other sources and reward it with added reach.
Monitor Analytics to Optimize Your Video Marketing Program
YouTube has analytics built into its platform that makes it easy to see how your video is doing. They’re similar to the Google Analytics you monitor on your website. YouTube Analytics allows you to track:
Leverage this data to optimize your future YouTube video efforts.
What videos are people engaging with the most? How can you create more content like theirs?
Is there one video that’s on fire and could go viral? Maybe it makes sense to run a paid ad campaign to get even more traction.
Has a video failed? Is there a way to fix it, or should you change course moving forward?
Metrics can help you make informed decisions about your video content plan moving forward. Rest assured knowing that not every video will be a winner. Even the pros fail now and then. Metrics can significantly improve your hit record, especially if you’re a newbie YouTube video producer.