Putting your first video out on YouTube can be a scary thing! Just ask us — we’ve been runnng our own YouTube channel for a while now and have learned many lessons along the way. Now, with nearly 100 videos under our belt it’s time to share a few tips that we had to learn the hard way.
If you’re working on making your first YouTube video, these tips should help you make it the best video it can be.
1. Have a Strong Concept
The worst sin you can commit is to make a video that’s about nothing or, conversely, about too many things. A focused YouTube video that deals with one main theme or issue will be much more watchable than something that’s all over the place.
Consider making multiple videos, unless you’re making a variety program with dedicated segments.
2. Plan, Plan and Plan
While there are some people who can just turn on a camera and make magic happen with their very first YouTube video, for the rest of us there’s no substitute for planning. A final video, even a basic one, is the result of many moving parts coming together. If you’re running a one-person project, then you’re responsible for organizing all of those parts.
In media lingo, this is known as “pre-production”. If you take the time to do it, your first YouTube video will be much better for it. This includes:
- Writing your script.
- Planning out shots, additional footage and the look of the video.
- A list of equipment you’ll need, on-screen props, etc.
Pre-production looks different depending on the scale and type of video, but you can’t hit the record button before ensuring everything is in place.
3. Great Audio Is King
You’d think that in a video, the most important thing to get right are the visuals. However, it’s both more difficult and important to get the sound right. Viewers will put up with some visual quality problems. However, if your audio is unpleasant to listen to or hard to understand, viewers will switch it off.
Making a good, professional-sounding audio recording isn’t too hard, but you’ll need to do a little homework to figure out the right solution for your needs. This will include selecting the right microphone, learning how to use it properly and also how to treat and edit your audio after it’s been recorded.
To get started, we recommend that you have a look at Microphone Tips: How to Reduce Background Noise and Get Better Sound as well as Make Your Voice Sound Professional With These Quick Audacity Tips.
4. Lighting Matters More Than Camera Quality
One common mistake people who are new to making video commit is to focus on their camera too much. The idea is that the better the camera, the better the footage. However, even a cheap camera can create great images with proper lighting. The best camera can do nothing to fix a poorly-lit scene.
For some ideas on good fundamental lighting, check out Putting Together a YouTube Studio On a Budget.
5. Write a Script for a Teleprompter
Teleprompters used to be equipment only big TV studios could afford, but now you can get an affordable one that’s perfect for YouTube work. These basic teleprompters use a smartphone or tablet as the display source. You mount the teleprompter on your tripod, mount your camera on the prompter and then slide your phone or tablet into the teleprompter.
This allows you to read your script while looking directly into the camera. It’s up to you whether you want to read the script verbatim or just use it as a way to keep track of key talking points.
In addition to a teleprompter, you’ll also want a good teleprompter app for the phone or tablet you’ll be using. We’re quite fond of Elegant Teleprompter Pro, but there are many to choose from. You may also want to use a Bluetooth remote so that you can control the text without having to be at the camera.
6. Do Multiple Takes
First time video creators may have the impression that those great videos they see on YouTube were done in a single take. The truth is that great videos take many takes to get right. SD cards are cheap these days and you don’t have to worry about running out of film.
So hit that record button and keep at it until you’re happy with your performance. Later, when editing your video, you’ll discard all but the best takes. It’s also perfectly fine to construct your video out of the best pieces of individual takes. You can edit them in such a way that it won’t be obvious.
7. Edit Your Video!
This may seem an obvious point, but there are plenty of YouTube videos out there that didn’t have the benefit of proper editing. Simply lining up your clips after trimming them isn’t enough. Instead, take the time to edit your raw material carefully into a cohesive product.
Think about the structure of your video, the pacing, and where you want to direct the attention of the viewer. Don’t worry about being fancy. Basic editing, such as simple cuts applied well, will do more to elevate a video’s quality than advanced editing done poorly.
8. B-Roll Is Your Friend
If you’re going to make videos for YouTube, then you need to become familiar with the concept of “B-Roll”. That’s a type of supporting footage used to illustrate what your video is about. For example, if your A-Roll is footage of you talking into the camera, the B-Roll would be footage that demonstrates what you’re talking about.
B-Roll serves many different purposes. For one thing, it helps keep the attention of viewers. It always helps to offer a variety of shots and visuals to keep things interesting.
B-Roll is also useful for disguising cuts in your A-Roll or otherwise covering up visual mistakes. You can use anything as B-Roll: images, action camera footage, screen captures, etc. Just as long as it adds something to your video and doesn’t strictly serve as window-dressing.
9. Your Thumbnail Is Crucial
Before viewers watch a single second of your video or read its description, they’ll see your thumbnail. In many ways this makes your video thumbnail one of the most important parts of your first YouTube video. If your thumbnail doesn’t grab the attention of potential viewers, then the content of your video becomes irrelevant.
YouTube thumbnails have their own genres, trends and design conventions. The best advice we can give you is to look at the thumbnails of other YouTube creators who make content in the same area as you. What’s appealing about their thumbnails? What information do they put front and center?
You don’t have to be a graphic designer or a Photoshop wizard either, thanks to tools such as Canva you can quickly put together templates that suit your needs.
10. Keywords and Descriptions Are Worth Your Time
If you care at all about getting as many people to watch your video as possible, then you shouldn’t neglect your video tags. Look at the tags that other videos you are in competition with use. Try to think up as many relevant search terms for your video as possible. This will help people find your video both via the YouTube internal search function and external search engines.
Learn from Your Mistakes
Once your first YouTube video is out, it is worth paying attention to what people have to say. As long as you can separate constructive criticism from comments that add nothing to the conversation, you can make each video better than the last. One day when you publish video 100, you’ll have honed your content to a fine edge.