What makes a high-quality YouTube video? Defining a good video based on human taste is challenging, so it’s better to focus on avoiding factors that make a video unappealing.
As a video producer, your job becomes relatively easy – eliminate negative elements like shaky camera work, distorted sound, or poor lighting while ensuring your content remains entertaining.
Although it sounds simple, you’re right to suspect it might be a bit more complicated, partly due to misconceptions people still have about online videos. Some believe that YouTube videos don’t need the same quality as those intended for broadcast. However, that’s no longer true. The evolving landscape has shifted more viewers to online content, including YouTube, with increasing demands for better quality.
In this article, we’ll share tips on creating high-quality YouTube videos.
Table of Contents
Step 1. Choose A Theme For Your YouTube Channel
Think about your favorite YouTube channels. Each channel has a main theme that drew you in, and these themes can cover a wide range of topics based on the content they create.
A YouTube channel can focus on beauty, current events, opinions, health, or virtually anything else you can think of.
The theme of a YouTube channel is essentially the main topic that the user-created content revolves around. Just like with blogs and Instagram accounts, having a central theme is important to target your content to the right audience. This central theme helps you choose sub-themes that make your content more precise.
A creator’s theme is the genre or subgenre they explore in their content.
There are various types of niches on YouTube:
- Makeup and beauty
- Pets and animals
- And many more
On YouTube, the more specific your content is, the better.
Let’s say you want to start a comedy channel. While making people laugh is great, humor varies from person to person. It’s not enough to tell jokes or create skits that appeal to a broad audience. To reach your ideal viewer, you need to narrow down to specific funny moments, like being the new employee, leash-training a hyper dog, or working in customer service.
El Jefe Reviews takes this concept to the next level. He has a niche within a niche within a niche, with three levels to his content that get narrower the closer you look:
- A tech channel.
- A tech channel that reviews personal audio.
- A tech channel that reviews personal audio, specifically wireless earbuds, headphones, and speakers.
“I thought general tech was the way to go until somebody sort of educated me and let me know, like, ‘Hey, that isn’t it. You need to laser-focus on a niche, and if you can find a niche within that niche, then that’s really going to be where you find your people,” Jeff says.
To find a specific niche, ask yourself two questions:
- Does my niche have a cool subcategory?
- Is there a subcategory that doesn’t have much content, where I could create something new and interesting?
Step 2: Determine The Type of Your Video
Before you say “Action” and actually start filming, you first need to determine the type of video you want to create. There are eight common types of videos that YouTube marketers usually make:
Customer Testimonials: Customer testimonials are something every successful brand should film at some point and upload to their YouTube channel. These are short interview-like videos where satisfied customers express their happiness with the product or service, share positive experiences, and recommend the brand to others.
Explainer Videos: Explainer videos, also known as tutorial or how-to videos, are created to explain to customers how to use a particular product or service. They serve as a detailed and thoughtful way to address more complex customer support questions.
On-Demand Demonstrations: Demonstration videos are usually short clips demonstrating the use of a specific product or service and highlighting its benefits for potential customers.
Case Studies and Project Reviews: Whether showcasing successful campaign case studies or 5-star reviews of a product, these videos aim to summarize positive results and share them with the world to attract potential customers.
Thought Leader Interviews: Having good interviews with experts in a specific field helps make your brand more trustworthy. Take “The Diary Of A CEO with Steven Bartlett” as an example. Steven talks with really important and smart people about their own success and thoughts on things like leadership, starting businesses, and investing. Because of this, the channel gets super popular and gains over 4.4 million subscribers fast.
Video Blogs: Video blogs or vlogs are regularly posted videos (daily or weekly) documenting events. They are popular among YouTube marketers as an effective way to drive traffic to your website. By summarizing blog posts in video form on your YouTube channel, you offer multiple content absorption options for your audience.
YouTube Live: YouTube Live is a feature that allows you to broadcast live to your subscribers. This valuable feature enhances your marketing strategy by enabling real-time interaction with your audience through live discussions.
Event Videos: Event videos capture experiences from conferences, auctions, or other events, providing a great way to share the positive reactions of the live audience with online viewers.
Step 3: Find A Filming Location
When filming outside, find the quietest spot possible. Move away from potential noise sources like windchimes, roads, parking lots, buildings, or running water. Check for noise even if it seems quiet when you’re setting up.
If you’re filming indoors, spend a few minutes in each potential spot to listen for noises. Consider the time of day because traffic and bird sounds can vary.
For better sound quality, try to soundproof the room. Use soft surfaces like blankets or yoga mats on the floor.
Depending on your video, you might need multiple filming locations. Get input from friends and family to help you choose the best spots.
Remember to check if you need a shooting permit for certain locations to avoid legal issues. Visit each location beforehand to plan for scenery, lighting, and ambient sounds before you start filming.
Step 4: Select Your Equipment
1. The Right Camera for Your Needs
Video cameras used to be big and record on videotape. Over time, they got smaller, and tape formats improved from analog to DV and from HD to 4K. This made cameras easier to use and improved their quality. Prices also dropped, so now you can get a good camera at a reasonable price.
Nowadays, there are many types of cameras to choose from:
Dedicated Camcorder: Traditional video cameras, known as dedicated camcorders, used to be the go-to option for capturing videos. However, nowadays, there are various alternatives available. Dedicated camcorders have a classic design that feels comfortable for shooting, and they come with specific features and controls for making movies. These cameras typically have a built-in lens with a wide zoom range and can be accessorized with items like an on-camera light, an external microphone, or a handheld rig. However, camcorders struggle with wide-angle views, and their sole focus on filmmaking may be limiting for some users who need more versatile devices.
Digital SLR: Digital SLR cameras, commonly known as DSLRs, have gained popularity for both still photography and decent HD video capture. They dominate the photography market due to their larger image sensors, which result in more detailed images compared to traditional camcorders. One notable advantage is the ability to use a variety of lenses, ranging from extreme telephoto to ultra-wide-angle. You can enhance your movies made from still frames by adding an audio track and perhaps some music. DSLRs offer compatibility with numerous accessories like mounting rigs, external microphones, and LED lighting. However, the camera’s controls and design are more tailored to still photography than filmmaking, and accessories can be relatively 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 even support 4K video, meeting the ultra-high-definition television standard. However, its limitation lies in capturing only ultrawide angle views.
Smartphone: A few years ago, the idea of using a cellphone for quality video made people cringe, but that’s no longer the case. Notable works, like the Oscar-winning documentary Waiting for Sugarman, have been successfully shot on phones. However, you have limited control over audio and video quality.
Webcam: This is a budget-friendly option if your computer doesn’t have one built-in. Ideal for sitting in front of your computer, it’s easy to set up – just sit down, check the lighting, and start talking. Most webcams can capture in HD. However, the drawback is that you have to stay in one spot to stay in the frame. Without an external microphone, the audio may sound thin, and harsh lighting can make you look less than flattering.
2. A good microphone
YouTube is mostly about what you see, but having good sound is super important too. A good microphone can make a big difference in how well your videos do. Let’s look at a few options:
MV88 for on-the-go: If you’re on the move, consider the MV88. It’s a stereo condenser mic that plugs right into your iPhone, iPad, or iPod. Super handy for when you’re out and about. It plays nice with iOS video apps, ensuring your audio sounds pro wherever you are. Plus, no messy cables thanks to the Lightning® connector, and it works smoothly with Apple devices. Just note, it doesn’t have a USB port, so keep that in mind.
MV5 for sitting in front of the camera: If you’re sitting in front of your camera, check out the MV5. It’s a digital condenser mic that’s super flexible with both iOS and USB connections. Easy to use – just plug and play. It comes with three presets to quickly get the perfect sound for your videos. And, it’s got a cool, iconic style, so you won’t feel awkward showing it off to the camera.
MVL for interviews: If you’re doing interviews, grab the MVL lavalier mic and clip it to your lapel – you’ll be all set to channel your inner Zach Galifianakis. The MVL is an omnidirectional condenser mic that plays nice with both iOS and Android devices. Perfect for recording interviews or solo monologues. Easy and versatile!
The ring light would be your main light, and the LED panels the fill and background light.
If you’re filming outdoors, face towards the sun and try to shoot during softer light, like the hour after sunrise or the hour before sunset.
Indoors, stand close to a window facing it for natural light. However, this may not work well on cloudy days with inconsistent light.
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.
Avoid relying solely on ambient overhead lighting as it creates harsh shadows and doesn’t illuminate your face effectively.
4. Video-editing software
For professionals looking to edit videos on YouTube, Premiere Pro is a great choice. It works on different devices and has lots of cool features and tools for collaboration. It’s popular in TV and movies, making it ideal for giving your channel a professional touch.
Famous YouTubers like PewDiePie, Zack from Jerry Rig Everything, Theo Jo, Linus Tech Tips, Jake Paul, Smosh, and Devinsupertramp use Premiere Pro for their video edits.
You can use it for high-quality formats like 4K, 8K, and VR. It even lets you edit together in a virtual screening room. Some handy features include automatic syncing of audio and video, adding cool motion graphics from After Effects, and the ability to watch and edit a clip simultaneously.
It might seem a bit overwhelming with all its features, especially for beginners. If you’re new to video editing, you might find simpler tools (starting at number 3 on our list) more user-friendly. But don’t worry, the interface in Premiere Pro is clean and customizable, so you can focus on the tools you use the most. And if you ever get stuck, there are plenty of free tutorials to help you out.
Step 5: Shoot Your Footage
Once you’re satisfied with your setup, and you’re certain that everything is charged and functioning correctly, just start talking! Here are a few things to keep in mind when filming:
Film an intro
To make your video look more polished and professional, try filming a brief introduction. This helps smoothly guide your viewers into the main content.
Your intro can be you talking about the video’s topic, explaining something from your last video, or sharing recent updates in your life. You can also use it to set the stage for what’s coming up in the video. For instance, if the first scene involves you reacting to a surprising amount of snow, film a timelapse of the snow accumulating overnight outside your house as background context.
Capture transition shots
To smoothly move between scenes, film short clips that set the stage for the next one. For instance, if you’re shifting from a nighttime scene to a morning scene, record a timelapse of the night sky transitioning from sunset to sunrise.
You can also film yourself walking into a room before transitioning to a scene in that room. Alternatively, film yourself exiting through your front door as a transition before a scene shot in your car.
Change your shots and camera angles
Make your videos more interesting by shooting yourself from different perspectives and positions.
Experiment with wide shots to show people around you or the backdrop of an activity. Then, include close-up shots when you’re addressing your viewers.
Get inventive with camera placement—try out different locations, heights, and angles. You might discover some unexpectedly cool looks!
Create an outro
Just like an intro, an outro helps guide your viewers. It smoothly takes them from your video back to the real world.
Your outro can be similar to your intro, providing a bookend effect. Alternatively, you can film a clip of yourself wrapping up and talking to your viewers to conclude your video.
Step 6: Edit Your Video
Editing your videos for YouTube doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are some simple tips to make your videos look and sound better:
- Editing Tools: Your computer likely has basic editing software. It can help with color correction, cutting clips, and adding titles. For a more pro look, consider spending on advanced software like Adobe Premiere CC or Final Cut Pro X. If you’re on a budget, YouTube has online editing tools.
- Thumbnails: Thumbnails are super important. They’re what people see in search results and on your channel. Successful YouTubers use custom thumbnails. Get creative and make your own.
- Watermarks: Want more subscribers? Add a watermark. It’s a custom ‘subscribe’ button on your videos. To add one, go to ‘Creator Studio’ > ‘Channel’ > ‘Branding’ > ‘Add a Watermark’. Easy!
- Sound Effects: Good sound makes a video pro. YouTube has high-quality sound effects for free. If you want more options, find royalty-free music online. You can download some for free, or invest a bit for a more pro touch. “Royalty-free” means you pay once and use it as much as you want, even if your video becomes a hit.
Learn more: How to Edit Your YouTube Videos
Step 7: Upload Your YouTube Videos
Now that your video is ready, let’s get it on YouTube. Go to YouTube and log in to your account. At the top right of the page, click on “Upload.”
You’ll find a big “Drag and Drop” area. Just put your video file there, and it will start uploading. This might take a while, depending on your video’s size and your internet speed. Once it’s done, you’ll be on a page where you can give your video a name and add tags.
Tags are important. They help people find your video on YouTube. If it’s a how-to video, use tags like “How-To,” “Tutorial,” or “DIY.” Don’t go crazy, though. Too many tags can push your video down in search results. Also, some platforms, like Google AdSense, don’t like too many tags.
Think broad with your tags. If you had a unique restaurant, you wouldn’t put up a sign with a long description. Keep it simple, like “Yum Yum. Fantastic Food. Come here.” Be smart with your tags.
After uploading and tagging, share it on social media. Let your subscribers know about your new video. Even if you’re just starting, use social media to build awareness.
When your video is up, choose a thumbnail. You can pick from YouTube’s options or upload your own if you don’t like them.
When you’re ready, you can also enable YouTube monetization in your settings.
Another impressive feature on YouTube is the “Creator Studio.” Click on your image at the top right, then on “Creator Studio.” This is where you find analytics – subscribers, views, and how long people watch your content. Check if viewers watch your whole video or drop off at some point.
If you want to upload videos longer than 15 minutes, go to the Creator Studio, click “Channel,” and find the “Longer Videos” tab under Function.
On the left, you’ll see “Video Manager.” Here, you can publish, remove, or monetize your videos with one click (after enabling monetization).