The hidden YouTube video structure that NOBODY talks about

The hidden YouTube video structure that NOBODY talks about
Written by: Dexxter Clark
You may not notice it, but most YouTube videos are constructed in a certain way.
A way that the viewer unknowingly expects to look like, otherwise it feels weird.
A book also doesn’t end with the introduction.
In this article the best way to structure a compelling YouTube video.

This structure is developed and tweaked by movies and television shows over the years and is adapted to the YouTube ecosystem.
The structure might slightly vary from different types of content, a vlog has a different tempo than a tutorial.
But you might be surprised that the structure is pretty much the same.
If you are aware of this structure, you’ll see this structure everywhere.

What is the structure of a successful YouTube video?

1. The hook

Getting viewers in the door is difficult, but once they are in the door (they clicked on your video), you have to grab their attention so they keep watching.
The hook sets an expectation for the video.
A good hook shows the viewer the mystery, question, problem, dilemma or information the viewer will learn:
“Why are bananas curved?”
“How to prevent falling down the stairs when you are drunk?”
“How to get tan in 3 days”.
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You have communicated crystal clear what viewers gain from watching your video.
The viewer decides in the hook if he is going to watch the video or not.
You have 5-10 seconds to convince the viewer to watch the video.

The hook confirms that viewers clicked on the right video for them.
Everything has to be right: the video quality, the sound quality, the personality of the host, the looks of the host, the knowledge of the host, can you actually understand what the host is saying? Does the content confirm the title/thumbnail (not clickbait), is the content actually the content that the viewer is looking for? Is the content on the right knowledge level?
The hook has to be compelling and give the viewer information about the contents of the video.

A lot of vlogs use a clip of the vlog as teaser to get viewers in the door.
If that clip is not interesting enough, viewers go away and watch another video.
So that clip has to be darn interesting!

A tutorial can contain an abbreviation of the information you are going to learn with some shots about the material you are going to show later in the video.

Writing a compelling hook can be quite challenging.
If I make a not-so-interesting tutorial about the play button of a DJ player, I make sure that in the hook I ask questions that DJ’s want answers to, things they hadn’t realized they didn’t know.
“I noticed that a lot of DJ’s don’t know what the flashing sequence of the LED means around the play button”.
Only at the end of the video I give away the answer.
This way you can reach and audience retention of 50% on a video about the play button, the most dull and common button on every MP3 player in the world!
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In movies they use the beginning of the movie to hook you in.
Mostly they start with the atmosphere.
You see New York in the rising sun, you see the sky scrapers, the Statue of Liberty, you hear a fun upbeat melody, you see people walking on the street, you see a yellow cab, a woman getting out of a cab, slamming the door and ripping her coat that is stuck on the taxi door while she walks away.
You know this is going to be a romantic comedy.

Another scenario:
You see New York, the last bit of sunlight after a long day, you see the silhouette of sky scrapers against the dark blue sky, you hear an eerie slow melody, you see the tires of a yellow cab racing by that suddenly stops and you see the shoes of a man slowly getting out of the cab.
You know this is going to be a serious gangster movie or horror.
They movie makers tell you that you walked into the right movie or not.

Movies take more time for the hook, 5 to 10 minutes to “dress” the movie.
Sometimes they start with a mystery you want answers to.
They can take 5 to 10 minutes because it’s a social convention not to walk out of a movie theater if you don’t like what you see.
After all, you paid to see the movie.
In YouTube land, viewers are not that patient.
Another video is just one click away.

Netflix original movies are produced for an impatient audience.
They do not extend the hook for 5-10 minutes.
The viewer is taken right into the mystery, question, problem or dilemma of the movie.

Television shows also work with the hook in a similar way as YouTube videos do.
At the beginning of a talk show you see clips of what is coming up.
They raise questions you want answers to.

2. Bumper

The bumper is the part where you present your show, program or channel.
Television and movies also use bumpers.
The bumpers of movies about a certain secret agent have become famous over the last 50 years.
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Everybody who grew up with the B-Team knows the theme song of the bumper by heart.

In the bumper you can show the viewer what your channel is about.
What kind of content do you make?
I like to show tiny video clips so people can see what I do with the channel and at the end of the bumper I show people a photo of my face and a text of what I do: music production.

The bumper has to fit and represent the video and the channel.
A lot of creators see the bumper as the vanity moment to boost their ego.
They think: “Yes, I can have a bumper like a real television show”.
They jump into advanced animation programs and make a beautiful bumper.
Don’t! This is YouTube with 99% amateurs; it’s not a professional cable show!
Often the bumper misrepresents the quality of the video or content in the wrong way.
You don’t want your viewers to think: “If the bumper is so good, why is the rest of the video garbage?”.

A bumper has to add something to the video,
If viewers see the bumper, they have to be enticed to subscribe because of all the other content on the channel.

A bumper has to be short, just 2-5 seconds or so.
A longer bumper makes people want to skip or click away.
Five seconds is not worth the effort to move your mouse to skip the bumper or click on another video.

A lot of creators mistake the bumper to be mandatory, but it’s not, it’s completely optional.
If you don’t have a good bumper that fits, just skip it altogether.
I know a couple of big channels that don’t even use bumpers.

3. Sponsor message (optional)

If you have a sponsor, a good place could be right after the bumper, where people actually see the advert.
Keep it short (just a couple of seconds), you don’t want lose viewers.

4. Call to action (optional)

Right after the bumper you can choose to do a Call To Action (CTA).
You can do this at the end of the video, but let’s be honest, most people don’t make it to the end.
A call to action can be a request to like the video and subscribe to the channel.

Keep the CTA short, otherwise it takes too long for viewers to get to the meat of the video.


You can also choose to use an animated graphic to remind people to subscribe, while the video is playing.
This is the ultimate road in the middle with the best of both worlds: a CTA and progressing the video to prevent people clicking away.

5. Introduction (optional)

The hook hooks people in, in the introduction you can explain what the video is about and what you are going to do in the video.
Prevent the introduction to have overlap with the hook.
The hook can ask the question that the viewer wants to be answered and the introduction can be the part with the overview of the video.

Sometimes the introduction can be nothing more than to mention the table of contents.
If the hook was also your introduction, or the introduction doesn’t add anything useful, skip the introduction altogether.

This is also the part where you can introduce yourself, what kinds of videos you make and what your mission is (in other words: why should people subscribe).
Here you can also display your relevant expertise, like “I helped millions of entrepreneurs all around the world to double their revenue, I wrote 500 books, I can lift 10 people with my thumb, I spoke at the UN conference, I’m declared a saint in 3000 countries”… you get it.

6. Meat of the video

Yes, finally! The meat of the video!
I say finally, because some creators drag this moment out for 2 or 3 minutes, that’s far too long.

The number one complaint I got in the comments was not getting to the point quickly enough.
Nowadays I strive get to this part of the video within 30 seconds.
Judging by the audience retention graphs, this works very well.

The meat of the video is what the video is all about: the information of the tutorial, the actual vlog, the actual prank of the video.

7. End of the video / end screen

Do it quick and painless, or don’t do it at all and end the video immediately.
You can do a CTA in this part for liking the video and subscribing to the channel.

Want free YouTube tips and tricks?
Check out the YouTube channel for this website. (opens YouTube in new tab)

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Dexxter Clark
Content creator / YouTuber
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