How to make a YouTube video: step-by-step process guide
Written by: Dexxter ClarkYou want to make a hit YouTube video, right?
Where do you start?
In this article a step-by-step process on how to create the best YouTube video possible to grow your channel, get more views and more subscribers in 2023.
By watching a YouTube video you probably won’t associate with the amount of work that is done to produce the video.
The general opinion seems to be that you can make a YouTube video in an hour. Well, no!
The upload time alone takes that much time.
Let’s start at the beginning.
1. IdeasBefore you start, begin with gathering ideas.
Hitting record without thinking about what you are going to shoot is a bad idea.
I gather those ideas every day, all day long and write them down in my phone.
When you write down ideas, you have a list of video ideas to pick from.
Pick the video you’d like to make and proceed to the next step.
2. ResearchTopic research is important to increase your chances of success.
I define research as:
I look into different video topics on the list in my phone at the same time to see which topic gives me the highest chance of success.
I research the fertility of a topic: should I make the video or not?
How is the competition? Is it strong?
Can I rank for the video?
With which keywords can I rank for the video?
Information you actually want to use in the video.
I use Google and YouTube itself.
Enter a combination of your targeted keywords and watch at the first 5-10 videos from start to finish.
I write down additional ideas connected to the topic.
Fact checking is important, viewers will grill you in the comments if you didn’t do proper research.
Think also about the contents of your thumbnail in this stage and your video title.
You don’t have to make the thumbnail right now, but it can help you to focus your content.
This way your thumbnail and title complement each other and are both part of the story you are telling.
When you know what your thumbnail is going to look like, you can shoot thumbnail photos if you have to.
When you take the photo when your camera and lights are already set up, it will save you time later because you have to set up all your gear again.
Depending on your type of content, your research can take up 1-8 hours.
How to do researchDiscoverability is the important for getting a foot in the door as a small channel, viewers need to be able to find your channel in the first place.
Because your channel authority is low, you won’t trigger the suggested algorithm.
Also the search algorithm is triggered by channel authority.
But if you focus on a small niche and there is not a lot of competition, so you will be able to rank for that.
When you have a channel about mobile phones, focus on a niche:
like phones with a normal headphone jack instead of telling everyone about the new phone of the famous fruit company (which is every phone channel is doing).
Once you have established a little bit of authority, you can try to rank for more competitive topics.
For every video it’s important to find a good balance between keywords that drive a lot of search traffic and its competition.
When you have a low channel authority:
- you need extremely low competition and
- high amount of search traffic with your target keywords in order to even rank.
When you enter the search term in the YouTube search bar, you can see how well the top ranking videos are doing.
Look for the numbers in the first 5 videos.
If one of the first 5 videos has 500K views, but has only 1K subscribers, this is an extremely good topic and keyword to rank for.
The channel authority is probably low (when we see the 1K subscribers) and the view count is relatively high for a video on a small channel.
On the other hand, if a channel has 500K views and one million subscribers, don’t even bother as a small channel.
So called “long tail keywords” are easier to rank for than “small tail keywords”.
In other words, the longer a search query is (long tail), the more specific it is.
When you type in the YouTube search bar the words “mobile phone” it will automatically show you longer tail keywords, like “mobile phone games” and “mobile phone ringing sound effect”
Research toolsYouTube and Google don’t give away data on search terms and search velocity, except in their own in-house tools like Google Trends and YouTube Analytics.
Every third party tool you buy does a guess, based on the publicly available data you and I can find ourselves.
Therefore buying a tool a hardly worth the money to get ahead of the competition, however it can speed up the research process.
These tools can be helpful when it comes to research.
VidIQ, Tube Buddy and Morning FameVidIQ and Tube Buddy are browser plugins, Morning Fame is a standalone website.
These tools are helpful when it comes to keyword and topic research.
Besides a plethora of features that YouTube doesn’t provide for you, the tools help you with target keywords.
In the YouTube video editor, Tube Buddy automatically gives keywords suggestions of search terms that viewers often use.
These can be suggestions given by the YouTube search bar, but also commonly used tags of similar videos.
These tools give you insight about the search competition and the amount of search traffic, so you can make a more educated decision to use certain keywords in your title, description and tags.
The tools are based on a monthly subscription model and can cost you $10 - $150 a month, depending on the features you want.
The auto suggest of the YouTube search barThis is probably the cheapest research tool there is, because everybody has it: the suggestions of the YouTube search bar.
When you type in a search term, YouTube tries to predict which search term you are most likely to search for.
This auto-complete mechanism displays the most common searched keywords, even the long tail keywords.
If the auto-complete mechanism not shows the target keywords you are after, nobody searches for that topic.
Don’t even bother making a video.
To get suggestions for your search term, use the ABC method.
You type in “mobile phone“, it shows you automatically the suggestions.
After pressing space, type in “a”, the suggestion bar adjusts it’s suggestion to all search terms start with an “a” in the area of mobile phones.
We do the same thing with “b”, “c” and so on.
So you search terms will be:
- “mobile phone a” (YouTube suggests: “mobile phone ad”, “mobile phone animation”, …)
- “mobile phone b” (YouTube suggests: “mobile phone best”, “mobile phone bag”, …)
- “mobile phone c” (YouTube suggests: “mobile phone camera”, “mobile phone components”, …)
You can exclude certain terms with the dash (-) sign.
If you type in “mobile phone -pear”, you won’t find phones of the famous fruit company.
The auto suggest of GoogleThe same trick we did with “mobile phone a” in YouTube we can do in Google.
Sometimes there will be different results in Googles search suggestion than YouTube’s.
If it is a popular search term, somewhere on the top of the page is a section called “people also ask”.
Here you can find related questions to your current search term.
These might be long tail keywords or have suggestions you never had thought of.
If you enter a search query, at the bottom of the page is a section “Searches related to …”
This section reveals is useful to get the search intend of the user: what are most people looking for?
Your target search term is: “mobile phone charger”, the suggestions might reveal: “how to fix a broken mobile phone charger”, “where to buy a mobile phone charger”, “how to repair a broken phone charger with household items”.
It is clear that people that are searching for chargers, have a broken charger.
Make a video about fixing mobile phone chargers instead of a top 10 of the best phone chargers.
Also here you can exclude certain terms with the dash (-) sign.
Google trendsGoogle trends is a free website by Google in which you can spot search term trends.
You have to take Google trends with a pinch of salt.
I noticed that some popular search terms not even return results and sometimes the data is outdated.
I noticed that a video game returned the message “this is a growing popular search term”, but when you look at the graph you see that the initial hype has already died down and the search term is on its way down into dark nothingness.
Google Trends can also give search term suggestions.
Keywords EverywhereKeywords Everywhere is a paid browser plugin for Chrome.
It uses the suggestion bars of Google and YouTube to display the amount search term traffic.
When you use Keywords Everywhere with Google it displays a sidebar with extra search suggestions in order of search traffic.
Due to the fact that the numbers in this tool are a wild guess, paying for the full version is a waste of money.
If the tool does a guess, so can you.
Yoast Google SuggestA tool that also builds on the Google search bar suggestions, is the Yoast Google Suggest Expander.
It’s a tool that lists all relevant search terms.
They use the ABC trick that I mentioned earlier in this article, but made it into a tool.
3. Writing the scriptI write scripts because they give me a laser focus on the goal of the video.
That goal can be getting views, subscribers, extend session watch time or buying my product.
If you know what your target is, you can write your script towards that goal.
With a script I can move information around to make the flow (and goal) of the video better.
Targeted Call To Actions (CTA) are incredibly powerful and missed opportunities if haven’t thought about them.
A lot of creators are just fine with bullet points to talk about, but I like to write out whole sentences.
The reason for that is three-fold:
1. I’m not a native English speaker
I need more time to think about how to say something.
My native Dutch has a different sentence structure, literal translation makes a weird kind of English.
Numbers for example are always a brain teaser: in The Netherlands we say 6-and-80 when we mean 86, the English say 60-8.
I made several videos where I said 265, when I meant 256 Gigabytes and didn’t even notice when editing.
I gave haters a field day in the comments.
I need to think ahead about what I’m going to say, otherwise I’m lost for words or can’t think quickly enough of what I’m about to say.
I have also the tendency to not finish my sentences when I work with bullet points , because I think of something else to say mid-sentence.
I also have the tendency to say: “I’ll come back to that” and never do.
I only find out when editing that I never talked about it, which is confusing for the viewer.
2. Converting the script to a blog is easy
With little to no effort I rewrite the script for a blog post on my site.
3. converting the script to a freebee is easy
I copy the script into a separate document and use it as a freebee.
When viewers subscribe to my mailing list, they receive the transcription of the video in their mailbox.
I don’t have to stick to the exact wording of my script when I’m recording.
It’s just a reminder to give my lines as fluently and quickly as possible to the camera.
I work with script templates with the video meta-data and video structure already in the template.
I can just copy the template for a new video and start filling in the blanks of the template with information I gathered in the research phase.
Most of the time every idea is a separate paragraph.
I go over every paragraph one by one and start crafting sentence out of the ideas.
When I uploaded the video to YouTube I can copy/paste the data from the script into the YouTube video editor and upload the thumbnail in one effort.
After I have finished the text, I group every 2, 3 or 4 sentences (depending on the topic) together and give them an ascending number: I start with 1, 2, 3 and so forth.
Those numbers are the scene numbers.
By recording only 2 or 3 sentences at a time, I can easily remember lines when I record the video.
When I hit record on the camera, I mention the scene and take number in every take (it’s my equivalent of the clapboard).
This helps me in the edit later.
For every scene I change the camera angle a bit for the jump cut.
A 8-10 minute video is give or take 25 scenes.
Although my script helps me to prevent mistakes, sometimes I find mistakes when editing.
I know exactly what to tell by looking at the script when I decide to reshoot a scene.
A script can look something like this:
(you can download a free example script in the free YouTube downloads section of this site).
YouTube video script Video working title: writing a book YouTube title: how to write a nonfiction book for beginners Thumbnail: “huh” head scratch pen in book Freebee: excel sheet with wordcount. CTA1: subscribe and hit bell CTA2: download spreadsheet CTA3: passive income playlist Keywords: how to write a nonfiction book for beginners [45/68] how to write a book for beginners [10/15] YouTube description: Have you ever wondered how to write a nonfiction book for beginners? This is your chance to finally figure it out. I’ll talk about gathering ideas, writing and proof reading. Additional notes -on more than one YouTube channel B-roll footage -On couch with laptop -Typing on keyboard -Screenshot Word writing Script contents [hook] 1 Have you ever thought about writing a book? You experienced something or leaned something and thought: that would make a great book! 2 At least I did, multiple times in my life, but never knew where to start. Writing a book is so much work! Well in this video I’m teaching you a method to decide if you should write the book, how to organize your thoughts and ultimately write the book step by step. 2A At the end of this video I have two super duper secrets to motivate you. Those helped me a lot and I’m excited to share them with you. [bumper] [intro] 2B My name is Dexxter and I do video about doing business, creativity and income. Subscribe and hit the bell to receive all the updates. 3 I will not sugar coat it, writing a book takes a lot of work and perseverance. […] 24 Proof reading There are proof readers and editors who help you to improve the quality of your work. In my case I need help with my English, but even native speakers need proof readers. 24A [counting down to bonus tips] More tips about passive income in my special playlist, click on the link in the description 24B Bonus Tip 1: logfile Keep a logfile of how many words you wrote. I will put a link in the description where you can download the spreadsheet for free. This way you can keep track of your progress. The “stupid” thing motivates you to write more. 25 Bonus Tip 2: Block off time Distractions are the worst for writing and killing ideas. Your dog that barks, an email that comes in, a phone that rings, the doorbell that rings, and the need to go to the toilet. What works extremely well for me is blocking of time.
My scripts is not always written front to back in one go, I often have additional ideas after I numbered the scenes.
This is where my “A” and “B” numbers come in, so I don’t have to assign new numbers throughout the whole script when I make addition or omission.
In the example I showed, there is scene 2A and 24A, those were added later.
I use the word “keywords” instead of “tags” in the script.
The keywords are important to write the script around.
But I use the keywords also as tags, although tags are hardly used by YouTube anymore.
In the keywords section you see numbers after the keywords [45/68].
Those numbers are the rankings from the keyword research tool I use.
The tool uses a ranking starting with 1 for bad and 100 for good.
The first number (45) is the unweighted score and the second (68) is the weighted score.
Weighted takes into account my channel authority, the unweighted does not.
I’d like to write scripts in batches.
I block off time and write 3 in a row, mostly the 3 I want to record.
Writing 1 script can take up: 1-2 hours, depending on the length of the video.
4. RecordingThe recording phase is the most tangible part of the whole video-making process.
I block off time, switch off phones and email programs, going to sit down and try to record 1, 2 or preferably 3 videos in a row.
By batch recording you only have to do the gear setup once (lights, camera, battery etc).
Recording is still the most energy intensive process for me.
After a couple of hours recording I’m totally worn out.
I noticed that I will get faster over time.
When I started, I could only record one video a day.
Now I can do 2, sometimes 3 a day.
I hope I can get to 6 one day.
A method I “stole” from my days working for television is keeping a take list.
Every take is one start-stop on the camera.
Every take has a different file on the memory card of camera this way.
On the take list I note down what the good takes are.
This saves me time in the editing process.
Recording a video takes up 2-3 hours per video, depending on the topic, video length and the amount of English words I can’t pronounce.
5. EditingThe funny thing is, back at my days as editor at the local television station, I hated video editing and I swore never to do it again.
In fact, I was hesitant to start YouTube because of the mandatory video editing.
I still hated it when I started YouTube, but after a few months I got in the rhythm of making YouTube movies.
I became obsessed and I love editing now.
The idea of having a puzzle with pieces of raw video material and fit them together in a way that holds viewers’ attention, gives me a rush.
But when a project is big, there is so much footage to keep track of.
Or when the editing time increases exponentially with animations, then I don’t like it as much.
I love the projects when they are small, quick and manageable.
I use the take list I made during recording, the take list tells me exactly which takes are good.
Now I can go down the take list and literally delete all the video files where I screwed up.
I keep a backup though, in case I need the other takes.
It happens sometimes that I spot mistakes in the edit (sometimes I say things I didn’t mean to say) and need the other takes to compile a proper take for the video.
Video editing is time intensive.
Really simple videos I can do in an hour.
Normal videos take me about 8 hours to edit.
Monster edits take me multiple days.
The rendering process to make video file out of your edit can take up 1-4 hours depending on the length of your video, resolution, video format, the amount of effects used and the speed of your computer.
6. UploadUploading the video to videos to YouTube is easy, but time consuming. Uploading videos can take up 2 - 6 hours depending on your internet connection and the size of your video file.
7. Post productionA stage of the process that no YouTube viewer considers, is post production.
Post production consists of a number of small tasks, most of them you can copy/paste from your script.
Here are the parts of the production process:
I’ve put the time next to it (if haven’t done the research):
- writing a good title (2-10 minutes)
- making the thumbnail (30-60 minutes)
- writing a compelling the description, including getting urls from other videos (30 minutes)
- adding cards (10 minutes)
- adding an end screen (10 minutes)
- adding subtitles / closed captions (2-4 hours)
- writing an email for the mailing list (30 minutes)
- putting the video on the website / writing the blog (1 hour)
- posting on social media about the video (15 - 60 minutes)
When you are serious about YouTube and want to take it to the next level, take a look at my video training program: Viral Strategy.
The program takes you step-by-step through the process of getting views, subscribers and going viral.
For new creators I included a module that guides you step-by-step through the process of starting, creating and setting up a YouTube channel.
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