Right now, the highest converting, most engaging content online is video; specifically YouTube. However, with almost 30 hours of video being uploaded every minute, how do you stand out? This article will show you how to make a good YouTube video.
Before we get into the specific parts of how to make a good YouTube video, it is important to know that all good YouTube videos from the top channels all have a common list of elements. Whether it is a vlog style video, interview style, or tutorial style, they all have these elements. They may be arranged differently from video to video, but they are all there. Having said that, let’s get started…
Technically this isn’t part of the video itself, but it is a HUGE factor in whether or not the video is watched. If you are a new channel (if you’re reading this you probably are) your main source of YouTube organic traffic will be in the “suggested” or “related” videos section. If you have a terrible thumbnail that’s not engaging, people will swipe right past your video and everything else we discuss is pointless. The thumbnail, which is easily created on Canva for free) should have a few things:
A Human Face
It’s no secret that people react to and are attracted to human faces on a subconscious level. It’s no different when scrolling social media or YouTube. Make sure that your thumbnail includes your face and that it takes up most of the image.
One Of The Six Basic Emotions
It’s one thing to have your face on the thumbnail. It’s another to display one of the six basic emotions that conveys the general feeling of the video. This will tell the viewer on a subconscious level how they should expect to feel (or what feeling they’ll be avoiding) by watching your video.
For instance, let’s say you are making a video about common mistakes in your niche. If you title it “5 common mistakes to avoid” and show an angry face, you’re telling the viewer that they will not be angry if they watch the video. Same thing with a video title saying “5 things you didn’t know” and a surprised emotion. You’re telling them they’ll be surprised with what they uncover.
For reference, the six basic emotions are Anger, Surprise, Disgust, Happiness, Sadness, Fear. If you’re ever stuck remembering what they are, think about the cast of the movie “Inside Out.”
Curiosity Based Text
Include 5 words or less in the thumbnail. Preferably in all caps. This is meant to spark curiosity in the viewer. This text can’t be read by YouTube so you don’t have to use keyword-relevant language. Use what you think will cause the viewer to click. Something like “I Wish I Knew Earlier” on a video titled “5 things you should know when starting ….” is a good example.
Also, make sure that you can read them from far away. Remember, there is a good chance someone will be watching this on their phone and the thumbnail will only be about an inch wide and 3/4 of an inch tall. Be liberal with the font size and use a contrasting color.
Follow a Template
All of the top channels follow the same thumbnail template for every video. It’s like a branded wrapper. This way, someone can instantly recognize a video as yours and is more likely to click on it if they like your stuff.
If you’re stuck wondering how you should design yours, Canva has many free templates to choose from and will automatically size it for the perfect resolution.
Keyword Rich Title
Every video that you make has to have a keyword-rich title so that YouTube can serve it up when someone searched for it. However, don’t make it so keyword-based that it doesn’t make sense. “Best Email AutoResponder GetResponse” is a terrible title, but “Here’s Why I Think Get Response is The Best Email Autoresponder” is a great, keyword-rich title. It should come up when someone searches for both “Get Response” and “Best Email Autoresponder.”
You want to ultimately write so that humans can understand what you’re trying to say, but you also want to write in such a way that computers can make it out too. It’s an art form that is learned through trial and error.
Good, Clear Description
Your video description is where most of the YouTube SEO takes place. This is what YouTube reads to figure out what the video is talking about. As well as having a literal good description (so that YouTube understands) of what the video is about, a good description has a few key components:
Mentions The Subject a Few Times
This falls under “good description for YouTube” but also for the viewer. If your video starts slow, the viewer can look at the description to see what is coming next. Place some verbiage in there that will make them want to watch until the end. After all, making a good YouTube video is all about maximizing watch time.
Some people place a transcription of the audio here, but I prefer seeing a good summary paragraph or two.
If you’re planning on affiliate marketing via YouTube videos (I assume you would be reading the article here) be sure to place your affiliate links (clearly labeled of course) in the description. If you have a website or Facebook group that you want people to check out as well, include links to them too.
It’s common practice for many YouTubers to just have a generic link template written up in Google docs or something and just copy and paste it into the description rather than writing it out every time. Chris Fix is really good at this.
This is the last bit of YouTube SEO. I used to think for the longest time that these meant nothing, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. YouTube video tags are how you tell YouTube what you want your video to rank for. For instance, if you are making a video about an email autoresponder and you want it to show up when someone searches “unicorns” (highly unlikely, but we’ll use it for now) you would put “unicorns” in the tag section. This is how you tell YouTube that you want to be known for other keywords that you may not have written in your title or description.
If you are struggling to come up with tags, VidIQ is a free chrome extension (they have paid plans too) that will help you come up with some tags that aren’t necessarily well known and will cause your videos to rank high right out of the gate.
Every TV show has its own short intro for every episode right? Well, your YouTube channel should be no different. The first 5-10 seconds of every video should have the same short introduction. It should show your channel name and your tagline for the channel. This will strengthen the brand of your channel and bring everything together even tighter.
If you are unsure of how to create one, check out Video Creek. They have about 75 different intros that anyone can customize. You literally pick the one you like from stock, tell it what colors you want, plug in what you want it to say, and your custom intro pops out 30 seconds later.
Relevant Subject Matter
Now we actually get to talk about what you’re doing on camera. If you want to make a good YouTube video, you actually have to make a video people in your niche want to watch. If you just make videos about what you find important, you will find that almost no one will watch them. Do some keyword research and look at the bigger channels in your niche to see what they are talking about in their videos. Sort by most-watched. Also, VidIQ will show you some good keywords to make content around as well.
All the SEO in the world will do you no good if the video you make is about something people aren’t interested in. It’s one thing to get someone to click the video, it’s another to get them to watch until the end. If you keep it interesting, relevant, and to the point, keeping people to the end will not be a problem.
Here’s the part I bet most of you skipped to. That’s also why I put it so far down the page. Video gear is actually one of the smallest parts of the equation. Most iPhones and Google Pixels can shoot in 4k with great microphones these days so it’s super easy to get high-quality shots.
However, if you want that extra edge and professional look for your video, it can be done pretty cheaply. You’ll only need a few things and about $300.
Obviously, you need a camera to make a good YouTube video. However, you do not need a $600 DSLR camera with Bluetooth capability, remote display, and a shotgun mic. I made all the videos in my Starter’s Guide with a $39 USB webcam that sits on the top of my monitor. It shoots 1080p (Full HD) and came in 2 days from Amazon. It’s a no-name camera and I’m more than happy with the shots it provides. It also has a threaded hole for a tripod if I want to mount it on one.
What I especially like is that it plugs right into my computer. I do mostly screen-share style videos with picture-in-picture and this allows the shot of me to automatically sync up with the screen share. I don’t have to timestamp anything.
BONUS FACT – You know the clapboard Hollywood movies use when they say “action?” They use that to create a spike in all the microphones in all the cameras. This way, when they go to edit the 12 different camera angles, all they have to do is line up the clap sound in the beginning and all the shots are exactly in sync with each other. A USB camera, mic, and the right software ensures that you never have to do this when making your videos.
Obviously, people are going to hear your voice when you make videos. To make sure you have the best sound, pick up a good USB mic. I personally use the Blue Yeti. It seems to be a staple among YouTubers because of its relatively low cost (about $130), great sound, and versatility. You can set it to only pick up sounds in your direction and block out all other background noise. I also recommend a POP filter so that when you’re saying words with P and F you don’t cause wind noise. It sounds silly, but it makes a difference. I got mine on Amazon.
Backdrop and Lighting
If you’re like me and make videos in a dirty, unfinished basement under the lights that have a pull string, you need to pick up a backdrop and good lights. They’re only like $75 and won’t make your viewers think you’re recording from the set of the SAW movies.
The lights I have came in a pair and they have the umbrella shades so I’m not hit with direct light and they are also set up opposite each other so there are no big shadows in my shot. They also have UV bulbs in them that mimic sunlight so that I appear natural on camera. If I just use the incandescent lights, the whole shot has a yellow tinge to it and looks very 1980s.
I also have a backdrop that came with the lights on a nice frame so that I have nice wood paneling behind me instead of beat-up drywall covered in nail holes. I also got the backdrop and lights off of Amazon.
Video Editing/Screen Capturing Software
If you plan on making any sort of cuts or edits, you need editing software. It’s much cheaper than hiring a VA over time and you can cut out your major mistakes (I promise, there will be plenty) you make when recording. I was recommended to use Screenflow, but they only service Macs, and I’m on PC. Per Screenflow’s site, they said I should try Movavi and I couldn’t be happier. The software was only $80 one time and I have access for life.
Remember when I recommended a USB camera and microphone? This is why. Movavi will capture and record what I do on screen, pick up what I say in the mic, and record via the webcam all at the same time. After I hit “stop recording,” it will keep the screen capture front and center, but it will shrink down the video it recorded of me and place it really small in the bottom right corner automatically.
This completely eliminates having to sync up the mic, camera, and screen capture manually. All I have to do is worry about cutting mistakes and the rest is done for me. The interface is super simple and I could use it with zero editing experience. It also allows me to superimpose titles, extra onscreen graphics, and create seamless transitions between shots in a drag-and-drop format. It’s a semi-professional video editing software made for dummies. I love it. Check it out if you’d like.
If you’ve been paying attention and keeping track, I’ve only recommended $324 worth of equipment. That’s less than the cost of the camera you thought you needed and you now have every single thing you could possibly need for the foreseeable future. Doesn’t saving money feel good?
Call To Action Elements
Now that you have a video that is sure to be found, it’s on a subject people are sure to watch, and you look good on camera, it’s time to make sure your viewers do what you want them to do. After all, isn’t that the name of the game? Every good YouTube video has a few calls to action contained within it. They are as follows:
Ask For The Subscribe and Ring The Bell
YouTube is all about building up the channel subscription. If people subscribe to your channel, they watch more of your content. If they watch more of your content, you end up making more money. However, most people need to be reminded that if they like what they’re watching, they should hit the subscribe button. Otherwise, they’ll forget. When that happens, they click out and are lost forever. Watch any Buildapreneur video to see what I mean. Spencer asks for the subscription in every video.
In addition to subscribing, it’s important to have people hit the bell icon too. This will turn on push notifications and they will get a huge alert on their phone every single time you upload a video. Watch time among your subscribers will skyrocket if you have people “ringing the bell” along with subscribing. You can either work it in nonchalantly or you can be like Scotty Kilmer and make a quick video of you ringing a giant bell while screaming “Ring the bell!” It’s up to you.
Hit The Like Button
Also ask people to hit the like button. Hitting the thumbs up like button tells the YouTube Algorithm that the public likes the video and that they should show it to more people. Every good YouTube video has a lot of likes and a good like to dislike ratio. If you’re like me, you hardly ever think about the like button when watching. You viewers will be no different. Remind them so they don’t forget.
Graham Stephan is the master at this. He will be mid-sentence when all of a sudden he blurts out “be sure to smash the like button!” It’s hilarious and has kind of become his thing.
Drop a Comment
Comments are another way that YouTube gauges whether or not a video is good. After all, YouTube makes money when people stay on YouTube. When people are commenting and talking about a video they are watching, they tend to stay on YouTube longer.
An easy way to drive comments on your videos is to directly ask a question to your audience. Project Farm is amazing at this. He does a lot of testing-style videos and asks the viewers what he should test in the next video. His comment sections often number in the thousands. Figure out a way to ask for audience input and you’ll see your comments flourish.
Share It With a Friend
Jaspreet Singh of The Minority Mindset does this very well. In every single one of his videos, when asking for the subscription he also asks that you share it with one friend. By seeing videos go viral, YouTube will show it to more people and your exposure will go up exponentially.
Check Out Your Website, Store or Link Below
This is something BleepinJeep does very well. Matt has a website bleepinjeep.com and he is sure to mention it at the beginning of each video. He usually starts with “Hi, this is Matt with bleepinjeep.com where we have all the best off-road videos and none of the boring stuff.” He’s also usually wearing something ridiculous so he doesn’t come off as a shill.
Another thing Matt does well is directing people to the BleepinJeep store. He mentions that they have “muffler bearings, flux capacitors, and all kinds of other cool stuff.” Anyone who is into cars knows those are fictitious items but checks out the store anyway because of the humor in the request.
Drawing attention to the links in the description is also important. You can’t just plaster your affiliate link across the screen, so make a mention that if the viewer likes the item you’re using in the video, they can get their own using the link in the description. There’s no need to be overly pushy about it. If they like you, the product, and the video, they’ll click.
How To Work Every Call To Action In
If you haven’t noticed, there are a ton of things you have to remember to do. If you did them all at once, you would have a solid minute or more of you talking about what you want the viewer to do and you would lose your audience in the process. There are two styles of doing this.
You can work them in as you go like most channels do, or you can take the approach that Glove and Boots does. Because they are a puppet channel (a hilarious one by the way) they can’t really work calls to action into their main content. To get around this, they recorded an outro showing the puppets asking you to like, subscribe, comment, share, and ring the bell. It’s really well done and tacked onto the end of every video.
The Greatest Call To Action EVER!
Glove and Boots also pulled off probably the greatest call to action in the history of YouTube on New Years 2019. It’s probably not practical for your channel, but it’s worth mentioning.
On New Years Eve, they released a video where the two main characters are leaving for a New Years party. After they left, a gnome appears from off of the bookshelf and explains that he’s been hiding in every single video of 2019. He tells the viewers to go back and re-watch every single video if they don’t believe him. He revealed two hiding spots but declined to mention the other 45 or so.
By doing this, he effectively doubled Glove and Boots’ watch time for the entire year with a single video. Not to mention he did it at a time where ad revenue is at its peak. Again, not something that is practical for most channels, but it warrants a mention.
Video cards are those little white boxes of text that you see pop up in some videos. They usually point to either another video on the channel or an affiliate link. YouTube is all about watch time and if you can put someone on a related video, it increases your watch time and takes them further into your ecosystem.
Courage To Just Do It!
The last thing on the list. Courage! All of this theory is exactly that, theory if you don’t get off of your butt and do it. YouTube videos aren’t going to make themselves. Rip the band-aid off and just make some terrible videos. You are going to be terrible in the first video you make and probably the second. I know I was. But something very strange happens when you get to video number 5 or so. YOU GET BETTER! You’re more comfortable in front of the camera, you can tolerate the sound of your own voice, you don’t stumble as much.
I started making videos by making my starter’s guide (45 videos) and if you watch the “Expectations” video, that’s the 3rd ever video I’ve made. I was awful. Then watch the “Next Steps: One Funnel Away” video. You’ll notice I’m super comfortable behind the camera and I rely less on cuts to sound good and I just flow better. It took me about 4 days to shoot all 45 videos and really get comfortable on camera. You’ll get better at making videos in less time than you think.
I hope this guide helped you. I’ve been an avid watcher of YouTube for a while and I watch with a very critical eye. These are my observations and I hope they give you a clear picture on how to make a good YouTube video as well as give you the courage to go out and make your own. Remember, you have to produce at some point. Don’t get stuck in the consumption and learning stage. Good Luck.