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How to Make a Video on YouTube

Max Freedman
Max Freedman

Learning how to make a video on YouTube could bring your marketing efforts to new heights.

Videos are often the best way to engage internet users and introduce them to your business. Even with little background knowledge or training, you can use videos to grow your audience and drive new sales. This guide includes a step-by-step breakdown of how to create a YouTube video and how to optimize it to reach the most viewers possible.

Why YouTube?

Why is YouTube the best platform for videos? Here are some of the advantages of using YouTube:

  • User base. YouTube has over 2 billion users. According to YouTube, this number is one-third of the total number of internet users. It's also about one-fourth of the world's total population.

  • Use rates. YouTube users view YouTube videos approximately 5 billion times per day. That's in part due to YouTube's size: The platform is home to approximately 1.3 billion videos.

  • Monetization. You might be thinking of using YouTube to better connect with your target audience and acquire new customers. After all, that's how you've traditionally earned revenue. However, YouTube use in and of itself can earn you money as well. If you grow your channel to 1,000 or more subscribers and generate 4,000 hours of watch time in a year, you can run ads on your videos and thus monetize them.

  • Extensive analytics. Through YouTube Analytics, you can learn how your videos are performing. You get access to metrics regarding user demographics, interests, engagement and more. With this information, you can make smart decisions about your future YouTube content. 

Despite the many advantages of using YouTube, you may want to explore other video platforms as well. Learn about TikTok and some other important video alternatives through this article: How to Make a Viral Video.

How to make a YouTube video

Although anyone can easily film a video and upload it to YouTube, not all videos will have positive impacts on your business. You should adhere to the following best practices for YouTube video creation to make the best content possible. We've separated these tips into three sections: strategy, development, and additional tools and resources.


1. Start with a meaningful topic.

Given the rise of YouTube personalities, you might be tempted to focus on developing a strong brand or aesthetic for your company. That goal isn't bad, but it shouldn't be your starting point. Instead, begin by choosing meaningful video topics.

No matter how impressive your videos look, you will struggle to build an audience for your channel unless they provide useful information. For example, if your company sells skin care products, you could create videos explaining certain skin conditions or beauty trends. That way, your focus isn't on your company or your brand but on interesting subject matter that pertains to both your audience and your business.

While you should prioritize interesting subjects, you should also connect your products to your topic at the end of each video to generate sales and encourage your viewers to browse your company's offerings. Of course, this approach raises another question: Who's watching?

2. Determine your audience.

When deciding which subjects your videos will cover, you should know your audience and their interests. To use the skin care company example again, if you know your customer base skews younger, you might want to discuss the natural and organic components of your products, because research shows that younger customers prefer natural and organic skin care products, according to Statista.

But what if you don't know who your audience is? A combination of demographic marketing and YouTube Analytics can give you that information. With this data, you can make educated guesses about the problems your audience faces and assess how your company can address these challenges.

For demographic marketing, you can use surveys and other methods to determine your audience's age, location, gender, income and more. To find the overlap between these audience statistics and those of your YouTube viewers, upload some videos about your chosen topics and use YouTube Analytics' demographic function to see who's watching them.

If you mostly see congruence between your demographic marketing results and your YouTube Analytics results, stay on your current path. If not, figure out which topics might interest your actual audience, and change your strategy accordingly.

3. Conduct more research.

At this point, you might have a solid idea of who's in your audience, or you might still be guessing. In either case, conducting more research is important. Additional research can entail asking and answering more questions about your audience, or it can involve exploring how your competitors or other companies in your industry are using YouTube.

When you browse your competitors' content, keep the following questions in mind:

  • What topics are my competitors covering?
  • Which topics are generating the most views for my competitors?
  • What are my competitors' commenters saying?
  • What aren't my competitors doing?

You may want to create content for topics in which your competitors are seeing high rates of engagement and viewership. If you notice that your competitors aren't doing certain things in videos that you think make sense, such as answering audience questions or including examples of influencers and famous people using their products, you can try implementing these approaches.

4. Go back to the drawing board.

With your new information in hand, it's time to turn your findings into action plans. And you shouldn't go it alone – if you have employees, now is the time for ideation.

Gather your marketing team, creative team and other relevant employees for a brainstorming session about how to transform your discoveries into meaningful, engaging content that's relevant to your products. Jot down any ideas that your employees like. Delegate tasks, and set deadlines for creating your videos. Then, get to work.

Developing a YouTube video

1. Use the right camera.

Sometimes, you can film a YouTube video right from your phone. After all, with every new round of smartphones comes improvements in camera quality and features. On the other hand, most professional video cameras and camcorders still offer better quality than your iPhone or Android. So how do you know which option is right for your video?

If you want to use a video creation device intended solely for video, you might prefer a camcorder if you don't want as steep of a learning curve and you need a strong built-in microphone. A high-quality digital camera such as a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera may be better if you want to modify your lens and thus alter your viewing field. Smartphones may be a better option than both camcorders and digital cameras if you don't want to buy another device, though their features may be comparatively limited.

2. Know what you'll discuss.

Earlier, we mentioned starting with a meaningful topic and addressing subjects that your competitors aren't prioritizing. However, choosing topics is only the beginning; it's a step that prepares you for further video development. If you think of your video strategy as a house, the topics are just the exterior, but inside the house are many distinct rooms. Each room in your house is a chance for a YouTube video.

Returning to the idea of a skin care company posting videos about skin conditions, don't just make a video that lists a bunch of conditions and then move on. If you're going to make such a video, you should follow it with longer videos about each skin condition. A video that explains the basics of eczema and how your product can address it is better than a video that simply names the condition and does not connect it to your product in depth.

You should also look at your videos' comments to see which topics your audience wants to know more about. (Or, you can just ask your audience directly.) You can also browse your competitors' comments to see what people there are asking for, and once you've created that content, you can target your competitors' audiences in your marketing. You'll also need to decide how deep you'll go into future topics.

3. Think about your video length.

Shorter videos may drive higher engagement, but it's not always best to go for brevity. While younger viewers may prefer shorter videos, older viewers may be willing to stick around longer, Adweek reported. Additionally, YouTube tends to rank longer videos higher in its search results, according to search engine optimization (SEO) company Backlinko.

That said, whether you're targeting an older audience or hoping to rank higher, you shouldn't make your video longer than needed to make all your points. If you need only three minutes to fit all your content, don't stuff your video with fillers to reach four minutes. And, as previously mentioned, a video on one "room" of your "house" is better than a video about the whole house. Balancing length and topics can be challenging, but properly doing so is important.

4. Develop a script and a storyboard.

To ensure that you get through your topic in the time you've allotted yourself, develop a script and a storyboard. Doing so helps to bridge the gap between how you want your video to look and how it actually turns out.

If your video will include solely your voice over your content, then write short, simple lines that don't give you much room to deviate from the script while still clearly making useful points. Think about it like this: Someone reading a complex sentence can just go back and reread it if they don't understand it right away, but it's not as easy to rewind a YouTube video.

Once you've drafted a script, create your storyboard. A storyboard is a group of images that, in sequence, tell approximately the story you hope your video will tell. Only you and your creative team will see your storyboard, so you don't need to create striking images. All you need from a storyboard is a sense of how your content can be divided into parts.

When you combine your storyboard with your script, you'll know if you've written too many lines for one part of your video. If the portion of your script corresponding to one of your images is disproportionately long compared with other parts, then you'll know to cut it back. You should also make sure that the lines ending one part of your storyboard transition seamlessly into the next; you want a video that flows so well that your viewers will never know it was storyboarded.

5. Decide on your YouTube search keywords.

If you know anything about your company's web visibility, it's that SEO is a huge part of the equation. You can also think of YouTube as a search engine. It's the primary site that people use to search for videos. As such, the search terms on YouTube should inform your YouTube video development strategy.

It's easy to familiarize yourself with prominent search terms (also known as keywords) without using fancy SEO tools. Just go to the YouTube search bar and search for a word or short phrase related to your business, and see what appears.

To use the eczema example again, typing "eczema" into the search bar gives suggested searches, including "eczema treatment," "eczema on face" and "eczema skin care routines." Create videos about each of these topics, and include these phrases in your titles, descriptions and cards to increase the chances that people searching for these terms will find your content.

Once you've decided on a primary keyword for your video, make sure the word or phrase is spoken aloud during your video. Since YouTube provides subtitles for your content, anything you say is generated as text, so if you say your keywords out loud, you give YouTube's search engine crawler another chance to associate your video with the keyword.

Through this approach to YouTube search keywords, you can build the foundation of a successful YouTube video development strategy. However, to use the house metaphor again, you don't just lay a foundation; you also make sure the foundation is firm and secure before building on it. You might ultimately need an SEO software platform to ensure that the foundation is indeed secure.

YouTube video tools and resources

1. SEO software

Certain SEO software platforms can assist you in targeting the right SEO keywords and optimizing your videos to appear when these terms are searched. Some platforms will auto-complete or assist with your tags, annotations, cards and titles. Others will display possible keyword choices based on their search volume (how often a term is searched), how often your competitors use them or how much viewership these words typically direct to videos.

2. Quick-creation software

You can create a memorable YouTube video without filming unique footage for your YouTube video. Some software programs allow you to create compelling videos with free stock footage. However, you should usually combine stock footage with your own footage, as bad stock footage can ruin a viewing experience.

As an example, let's say your skin care company is promoting its moisturizer through a video about why dry skin is more common in the winter. Use your quick-creation software platform to pair images of your moisturizer and footage of people using it with stock images of winter weather and dry skin. However, don't use your quick-creation platform for the entire video. It should expedite, rather than replace, your creative process.

3. Video editing software

Often, successful YouTube videos haven't been uploaded directly from their initial filmed state. Editing can be crucial to a video's success, as can choosing the right software for your editing needs.

What you'll need from your video editor will vary depending on your video format. If you're recording your computer screen to walk people through a set of instructions or guide them through your web store, choose a screen recorder with built-in editing functions. If you're uploading video from a phone or a video camera, you'll want a video editor with easy color correction and quick rendering times.

You may also want to consider using video editing software with music, graphics and other special effects. Of course, the more capabilities your software offers, the more you'll pay to use it. It's best to keep costs low, especially for your first few videos, which might not immediately capture the attention of your audience.

What else you should know about YouTube

Knowing how to make a YouTube video should be just the start of your video marketing plan. Once your first video is up, you should regularly work to improve your videos' visibility, grow your subscriber base, boost your brand awareness and build your community.

Image Credit: Kritchanut / Getty Images
Max Freedman
Max Freedman Contributing Writer
Max Freedman is a content writer who has written hundreds of articles about small business strategy and operations, with a focus on finance and HR topics. He's also published articles on payroll, small business funding, and content marketing. In addition to covering these business fundamentals, Max also writes about improving company culture, optimizing business social media pages, and choosing appropriate organizational structures for small businesses.