What makes a high-quality YouTube video? Given the nature of human taste, establishing clear criteria for defining a good video is perhaps an impossibility. Therefore, it is better to focus on avoiding the factors that make a video almost unappealing.
As a video producer, this makes your job relatively easy. Just eliminate the negative factors – like shaky camera work, distorted sound, or poor lighting – while making sure your content is entertaining.
It sounds simple, but you are right to suspect that it might be a bit more complicated, in part because of the misconceptions people still have about online video. Some people still believe that an online video, or in this case one for YouTube, does not require the same quality as other products intended for broadcast.
That’s just not true anymore. The way things have evolved, more and more viewers are watching content online rather than on TV, and they are demanding better and better quality. This demand means that more and more people are watching videos on sharing sites like YouTube, and the bar is getting higher in terms of production value and content.
In this article, we will share some tips with you on how to create high-quality YouTube videos.
Table of Contents
Step 1. Choose A Theme For Your YouTube Channel
What kind of channel are you creating? Will it be a how-to channel, with videos and advice for Do-it-Yourselfers? Will it be a travel vlog? Will it be inspirational or spiritual in nature? Will you tell stories? Share cautionary tales? Share your philosophies on life? Or a combination of all of these?
Know this before you shoot your first video! Be clear about your intentions on your channel and follow through with that intention in each video; don’t make the viewer guess what you, your channel, or any video is about. Title your channel and each video appropriately and tell your audience upfront what you will cover in the video.
- Prepare Your Talk! If you aren’t an experienced public speaker or presenter (or even if you are) preparation is your friend. Before you shoot a video, prepare an outline with the following:
- The topic of the video.
- What do you want people to gain/learn/understand/experience?
- If it’s a how-to or instructional video, create an outline of the points you want to cover. It’s ok to refer to notes while you shot your video.
- If it’s a Vlog, what’s your message or purpose? Yes, every video needs to have a purpose, even if you’re just vlogging your day or a walk in the park! What do you hope your audience will walk away feeling, thinking or learning?
- Practice! Practice! Practice!
Some of the feedback I get most on my YouTube channel is that people watch my videos, partly, because of how comfortable, inviting, and warm I am in front of the camera. If you’re camera-shy, self-conscious, uncomfortable, unsure of yourself or your purpose, or are unprepared, it will show.
Humans pick up subconscious signals from others in nanoseconds, if you aren’t at ease in front of the camera, your audience won’t be at ease watching you. They may not even consciously be aware of their unease, but their subconscious will tell them something isn’t right, and they’ll click away. Possibly never to return.
When I began my sales career the company, I worked for sent me to a three-day class to learn how to create presentations and speak in public. They video-taped me more than ten times over three days and critiqued me, both one-on-one and in front of the group for three straight days. Yes, it was brutal, but I came away from that class a much better speaker and I honed my skills over the upcoming decade of public speaking and presenting.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t have $10,000 to spend on a course to teach you how to present and speak in front of a camera (neither did I, the company paid for it!). Don’t fret! I am here to share with you the invaluable lessons I learned in that class and over 10+ years I’ve been presenting and speaking in front of large groups of business owners!
TIP: If you’re stationary, look for a local ToastMasters group to join. Toastmasters is an international organization with local groups to help people become better public speakers. I’ve heard great things about the groups from colleagues who have become better speakers by joining.
Step 2: Determine The Type of Your Video
Before you say “Action” and actually start filming, first you need to determine what the type of your video will be. There are eight types of videos that YouTube marketers usually create:
1. Customer Testimonials
Customer testimonials are something that every successful brand should film at some point and upload to their YouTube channel. They are short interview-like videos where content customers are filmed to express their satisfaction with the product/service, share their positive experience with others, as well as recommend the brand to anyone who is considering their products or services.
2. Explainer Videos
Explainer videos are also called tutorial videos or how-to videos and their main purpose, as the name suggests, is to explain to customers how to use a particular product or service. They are also a very detailed and thoughtful way to explain some more complex customer support questions.
3. On-Demand Demonstration
Videos Demonstration videos are usually short videos filmed with the purpose to briefly demonstrate the use of a particular product or service, as well as to reveal its benefits to potential customers.
4. Case Studies and Project Reviews
Whether it is the case studies of a successful campaign or the 5-star reviews of a certain product, the purpose of these videos is to recap the positive results and share them with the world in order to turn potential customers into buyers.
5. Thought Leader Interviews
These videos are quality interview with experts of your niche with the sole purpose of increasing the credibility of your brand.
6. Video Blogs
Video blogs or usually called vlogs are frequently posted videos (on a daily or weekly basis), documenting some events. Video blogs are popular among the YouTube marketers because they are a great way to get people to visit your website. By summarizing a certain blog post and uploading the video to your YouTube channel, you also give your customers multiple options in which they can absorb your content.
7. YouTube Live
YouTube Live is a feature that allows you to broadcast live to your subscribers. This amazing feature is of extreme value for your marketing strategy because it allows you to connect with your audience live, and lets them engage in real-time discussions.
8. Event Videos
Event videos are those videos that show some experience of a conference, auction, or some other event, and are a great way to share the positive reaction of the present crowd to your online viewers.
Step 3: Find A Filming Location
Ideally, you need a quiet room where you can close the door and set up your camera equipment, but you can do this almost anywhere.
You do not need a studio environment – it can even add a little personality to your video if the scene looks homey. For example, a combination of couch and plant? Perfect! A cozy seating area? Great! In front of a bookshelf? You better believe it!
Depending on the type and concept of your video, you may need one, two, or several filming locations. Finding the perfect shooting spot can be tricky, so you might want to involve your friends and family to help you out with this one.
Whatever you choose, remember that for some locations you may need a shooting permit, so take care of this one beforehand to avoid being sued. Before shooting, visit each of the locations to determine how to adjust the scenery, take care of the lighting, pay attention to the ambient sounds, etc.
Step 4: Selecting Your Equipment
1. The Right Camera for Your Needs
Video cameras were once bulky devices used to capture moving images on videotape. Through the years, cameras got smaller and tape formats evolved from analog to DV and from HD to 4K, with corresponding improvements in ease of use and quality. As a result, prices fell precipitously, which means that now you can buy a decent camera at an affordable price.
The only difference now is that there’s a wider selection of cameras – some might even call it “bewilderingly wide”. Here is a list of the major categories:
Dedicated camcorder: Until recently, dedicated camcorders were the only way to capture video, but now they are simply one of many options available. Features include a time-honored design for comfortable shooting, movie-specific features and controls, and a wide zoom range with a single built-in lens. It’s also designed to accept a variety of accessories — an on-camera light, say, or an external microphone or a handheld rig. On the downside, camcorders lack the ability to capture a wide-angle view. They can cover a wide range of telephoto shots but are unable to fit all the subjects in a room in the frame. Monomaniacal devotion to the same task – making movies – is another dilemma. A camcorder could be passed over by some users simply because they can’t send a text or make a phone call with it.
Digital SLR: It turns out that many digital single-lens reflex cameras also capture decent HD video, so digital SLRs rightly dominate the still photography market. That’s great news since the image sensor is larger (in comparison to conventional camcorders), so it captures more detailed images. All lenses that fit the mount can be used on the camera, so you can capture movies using a wide variety of lenses, from extreme telephoto to ultra-wide-angle. In addition, you can add an audio track and maybe some music to a movie made from still frames. There are many accessories available, including mounting rigs, external microphones, and LED lighting. There are a few downsides, including that the controls and fit of the camera are more conducive to still photography than moviemaking, and the accessories can be quite expensive.
GoPro: The rugged, waterproof, and relatively inexpensive mini marvel can be mounted on just about anything to capture amazing views, from the unique perspective of a skydiving helmet to the rider’s view from a BMX bike. Some models are capable of capturing 4K video, the new standard for ultra-high-definition television. Its downside is that the GoPro can only capture ultrawide angle views.
Smartphone: When you thought about taking a serious video with a cellphone just a few years ago, you’d wince because the results were often dismal. Since serious works have been captured on a phone, including the Oscar-winning documentary Waiting for Sugarman, this is no longer the case. Unfortunately, you have little control over audio or video quality. As for accessories, your options are limited.
Webcam: If your computer does not already come with a built-in webcam, it is affordable to purchase one. Thus, it is perfect for situations where you will sit down in front of your computer. Sit down, check the lighting, and begin talking. The majority of cameras can now capture in HD, so you’re set. The downside is that you need to stay in place or you might position yourself outside the frame. When you don’t use an external microphone, the audio can sound thin. Even worse, if the lighting is harsh, you will look awful.
2. A good microphone
YouTube is primarily about the visual experience. But unless you are putting on a show about the sublime art of French pantomime, good sound is critical to your success. And a good microphone can make the difference between social media fame and YouTube’s lower leagues.
If you are on the go, the MV88, a stereo condenser microphone that plugs directly into your iPhone, iPad or iPod, is a good portable option. This mic works seamlessly with iOS video recording apps, so you get professional-quality audio no matter where you are. The Lighting® connector means no clunky cables and perfect compatibility with Apple devices, but the MV88 does not have a USB port, so keep that in mind.
If you are sitting in front of your camera, consider the MV5. This digital condenser microphone offers the flexibility of iOS and USB connections. It’s completely plug-and-play and has three built-in digital signal processing presets to help you quickly find the right sound for your shots. The MV5 also has an iconic style, so you will not be embarrassed to show it off to the camera.
If you are doing interviews, just attach the MVL lavalier mic to your lapel, and you are ready to become the next Zach Galifianakis. The MVL is an omnidirectional condenser microphone that works with both iOS and Android mobile devices, allowing you to record both interviews and monologues.
A good setup for YouTube lighting is called “3-point lighting”, because it’s made up of three lights – the main light, the fill light, and the background light.
- The main (key) light – This light should be stronger than the two other ones, and the one that points directly at your subject’s face, just above eye level.
- The fill light – this light fills in any harsh shadows left by the key light, to give a more pleasing look.
- The background light – point this light towards your background, and you will get some light that separates your subject from what’s behind them.
The ring light would be your main light, and the LED panels the fill and background light.
4. Video-editing software
For professionals, the best video editing software for YouTube is Premiere Pro. This cross-platform software is packed with powerful features and flexible collaboration tools. Used throughout the TV and film industries, it’s the way to go for the kind of slick production values that will take your channel to the next level.
No wonder famous YouTubers use Premiere Pro to edit their videos, including PewDiePie, Zack from Jerry Rig Everything, Theo Jo, Linus Tech Tips, Jake Paul, Smosh, and Devinsupertramp.
You’ll find support for 4K, 8K, and VR formats, as well as the ability to edit together via a virtual screening room. Other useful features include automatic syncing of audio and video, the ability to include motion graphics from After Effects, and the ability to watch a clip and edit it at the same time.
There are so many features that it can feel a bit overwhelming at times, and newcomers to video editing will probably prefer one of the simpler tools on our list (starting at number 3). However, the interface is quite clean and can also be customized, so you can prioritize the tools you use more often. Plus, there are plenty of free Premiere Pro tutorials if you get stuck.
Learn more about the best YouTube editing software.
Step 5: Shooting Your Footage
1. Choose your background
Setting the background (also called the backdrop) for your video’s scripted lines has a big impact on how your story is told. If you choose your location and background strategically, you can save a lot of time.
Using a fixed paper background can make the production process much more efficient. This way you do not have to set up and tear down multiple interview shots, and it’s a good option if you want to shoot multiple people quickly.
Another consideration you should not overlook is your talent’s outfit choice on the day of the shoot. No one wants to experience a color clash between sets and wardrobe.
2. Place your camera
Use a tripod to position your camera above your eye level or slightly above your head if necessary. Tilt your camera down a bit to make your body look flattering. This angle will make your jaw and neck look more accentuated.
If you do not have a tripod, place a stool over a table and position your camera at a higher angle. Make sure your camera is not positioned too high or you might look funny.
YouTuber Amber Sholl explains to her viewers the benefits of shooting videos from above – this is how your highlighter comes into its own
3. Set up your lights
Place your camera directly in front of the light. Typically, ring lights come with a mount that allows you to place your camera directly in front of (or in line with) your lighting fixture. If this is not the case, find a ledge or small tripod to stabilize your phone near the light source.
Aim the light (and camera) so that they are in line with your face. Most ring lights you buy come with an adjustable tripod, which is great. Just make sure you are the center of attention!
Place the light about three feet away from your face. This is more of a suggestion than a hard and fast rule. The video should look brightest and clearest from this distance, but you may want to play with it a bit to get the effect you want.
Step 6: Edit your video
After filming, it is time to edit the video material and create a compelling video of high quality to upload to your YouTube channel.
Editing Tools. Chances are, your OS already has some editing software that offers basic tools for editing such as correction of color, cutting clips, or adding titles. However, if you want a video with a more professional look, then spending some money on more advanced software such as Adobe Premiere CC or Final Cut Pro X, is highly recommended. If you want to keep things pretty low-budget, YouTube also offers online editing software for that purpose.
Thumbnails. Video thumbnails are extremely important. The video thumbnail is what potential viewers will see in their video search results, on your YouTube channel, as well as their suggested column on their right when watching similar videos. The most successful YouTube marketers have their own custom-made thumbnails uploaded, so get creative and make one yourself.
Watermarks. Want to further encourage your viewers to hit the ‘subscribe’ button? Then adding a watermark is a perfect choice. Watermarks are custom-made ‘subscribe’ buttons that are placed on your videos with the purpose of attracting the viewer’s eye and encouraging them to press conveniently and subscribe to your channel while watching your video.
If you want to add a watermark, go to ‘Creator Studio’Channel’ Branding’. Press ‘Add a Watermark’ and follow the uploading instructions.
Sound Effects. High-quality sound effects are probably the most important factor that makes the difference between a professional-shot video and an amateur one on a low budget. But you don’t have to have a giant budget in order to include movie-like music. Now there are many ways to add a quality sound to your videos without draining your budget.
YouTube itself offers a variety of sound effects of high quality to choose from for your videos. But if you are not so crazy about that option, then finding royalty-free music online is perhaps your best solution. There are royalty-free sounds that you can actually download for free, but if you want to add a more professional tone to your videos, then think about investing some money and downloading the right music for your video for a flat price.
Royalty-free means that, once you pay for the download, you are free to use the music file any way you see fit, without having to make additional payments, even if your video skyrockets on YouTube.
Learn more about how to edit your YouTube videos.
Step 7: Uploading Your YouTube Videos
Now that you have put the finishing touches on your video, it’s finally time to upload your work. Open YouTube and access your account. At the top right of your web page, you’ll see an “Upload” button that will take you to an upload landing page.
On it, you’ll see a large “Drag and Drop” button that allows you to upload your files directly to the browser. Once you have dragged and dropped the file to start the upload (which may take a while, depending on the size of your video and the speed of your internet connection), you’ll be taken to a video details page where you can enter the video’s name and meta tags. Take some time with the tags, because they play a crucial role in how easily your content is found through the YouTube search engine – which some call the second largest search engine in the world.
The easiest way to figure out popular tags is to break your content down into its basic elements – if you are making a how-to video, add “How-To,” “Tutorial,” “DIY” or another appropriate tag. Make sure the bar is not crowded and add as many tags as you can think of.
Most people do not realize it, but today’s search engines automatically place such content with an overwhelming number of tags further down in the search results.
Also, some monetization options like Google AdSense have strict policies against supporting video content with too many tags. You can also simply type the text your potential viewers would ask for into the search engine to see what other tags you could enter.
Do not make the tags too specific, as that will limit the audience that could potentially be led to you. Think about it – if you were opening a restaurant, even if it was an unusual Nordic-Thai fusion restaurant, you would not put up signs that say, “Stop by for people who want to experience the ultimate clash of two cultures that never really met in middle age. Perfect for those weird cravings you never knew you had when you wish you could get lutefisk on a bed of pad Thai.” No, you’d say, “Yum Yum. Fantastic food. Come here,” or something like that – you get my drift.
Once you have uploaded the video and added the meta tags, click on the social media icons and add a personalized message that sends a notification to all your subscribers letting them know about the new upload on your channel – once you have subscribers, that is, but do not let that stop you from marketing your content on social media, especially since these platforms offer the fastest way to increase awareness of your intellectual offerings.
Once the video is uploaded, you’ll be given the option to choose one of three thumbnails to use as a thumbnail for your video when you view it as a visitor in a list. Although this option is not available immediately after you upload your first video, you have the option to upload and use a custom thumbnail from your computer instead. This can be beneficial for you if you do not like any of the thumbnails automatically generated by YouTube.
We will not talk about the monetization options yet, but once you have them enabled, you can enable monetization for your videos yourself in these settings.
Another impressive feature on YouTube is the “Creator Studio”, which is available as an option once you click on your image icon on the top right of the YouTube page. Once you access this feature, you’ll be redirected to your channel dashboard, where all the relevant analytics of your work will be available, such as the total number of subscribers, the total number of views, and the estimated minutes that your content has been watched by viewers. This way, you can check whether most viewers are watching your content in full or switching off after a certain point.
This is also the feature you need to access if you want to upload videos that are longer than 15 minutes. On the Creator Studio page, click the Channel option in the left column and look for the Longer Videos tab under Function.
On the left side, you’ll see a column where the Video Manager option is available. Accessing this option will take you to a list of your published content with options to publish, remove, or monetize videos with one click (after enabling monetization methods).