Video is trending up and it has been for a while. Sorry to kick this article off with such an obvious statement but it had to be said. Whether you’re a professional content producer or just a user of social media, you’ve probably noticed the trend too. Heck, you’re living the trend: video is everywhere.
Over the last ten years, a few things happened simultaneously to elevate the demand for video to such heights. Internet speeds are increasing, phone screens are getting bigger, phone cameras are getting better, and video is becoming cheaper to create and publish.
All these factors lead to some dizzying statistics: according to Alexa, YouTube is the second most popular website after Google. And, according to YouTube itself, users view more than 1 billion hours of video on the platform each day.
If you’re creating content and looking at YouTube as the next step, it can feel intimidating to take the plunge and publish your first few videos. Where to start? Over the years, I’ve watched a lot of YouTube channels rise and fall and I’m sharing that knowledge with you here, to help you get the first ten YouTube videos you need up and running.
The first video you should make is your channel trailer. A channel trailer is a preview of everything your channel will offer viewers. It answers one fundamental question: what will viewers get out of watching my channel?
A channel trailer should look and feel like a movie trailer. It should be quick and snappy, showing the best parts but cutting out before you give it all away. And like a movie trailer, it should strongly convey an emotion.
Remember how old-school movie trailers would pretty much tell you the whole story? Like this Jurassic Park trailer, still available on YouTube. Steer clear of that; it’s too literal (even if it is a great film). Try to create an emotion instead of a straightforward narrative. Give the viewer a taste of the feeling they’ll get when they come to your channel.
Animated intros and outros
This one isn’t technically a video you’ll post by itself, but it’s a video you should make before you start publishing your regular content. Animated intros/outros, or even just a static image, go a long way toward professionalizing your video content.
There are several reasons why you should invest in a slick intro. First, it looks great and increases production value immediately. Second, it gives users a preview of what to expect in your video.
On YouTube, video titles can be cut off and lost in the noise, but a thumbnail of your beautifully designed title card as an intro cuts through. It captures the viewer’s attention and explains the purpose of the video. Titles are still important, because they do more of the SEO work. But in terms of convincing viewers to click on your video, the intro is the heavy hitter.
Finally, using your brand colors and fonts in the intro increases brand recognition if you choose to retarget viewers down the line.
This is your first ‘official’ video. If you’re going to be splashing your face across your Youtube channel, it’s time to introduce yourself to the audience. It doesn’t have to be overly staged or edited. Don’t agonize about scripts or lighting. Just say hi, and talk about the business you’re representing and what sort of content you’ll create in the future.
Don’t overthink it, just get it out there.
The listicle is a perfect low-hanging fruit to generate momentum in the early days of your channel. The format is endlessly consumable and easy to serialize. There’s no set formula for what content goes in a listicle. It can be practical items like “10 easy back-to-school hairstyles for kids”. Or informative items like “20 surprising facts about mushrooms”.
In the early days of running a YouTube channel, organic search volume might not be your main priority. However, all content you publish should be relevant to the queries your audience is searching for, even if it takes a while to generate views.
And remember: make sure you keep the visuals consistent, with an intro card for each item on your list.
Explainer videos are a great way to ride the wave of trending topics while establishing your place as an authority in your field. But how do you figure out what’s trending and what questions people have? This is where your research comes in.
One way to figure it out is to observe trends yourself. If you’re an active part of your industry’s online community, you’ll notice trends as a matter of course. Hashtags on Twitter are a good litmus test, as is diving into threads and seeing what questions people are asking. This is an easy way to understand the current issues and topics of interest for your community. However, it doesn’t give you the full picture — just an overall idea of what people are willing to discuss in the public sphere.
Another avenue for discovery is to look at the data. SEO keyword data volume gives you a clearer picture of the queries people in your industry are searching for. In turn, this data gives you ideas for explainer videos. Once you land on a topic, make sure you include the search query in your video title and relevant metadata fields.
Launch a series
Repeat content is an easy way to attract return viewers or, even better, subscribers. It’s important to have consistency across your video content so viewers know what they’re getting. Serial content is an easy way to do this. That’s why one of your early videos should be the first in a series. Down the line, these videos can combine into playlists.
Source: John Lewis plc
Interviews and how-to videos are an easy way to cover serial content. In a serial context, you can quickly cover a full set of SEO question keywords without coming up with a new way to cover the keywords for every single video.
If you already have an active audience on another platform, it’s time to call on them for some guidance and gently nudge them over to your YouTube channel. In a Q&A video, you’ll address questions sourced from your audience and answer them in detail.
Instagram stories are a great way to source questions for these types of videos. But, as with previous video types, you can also find search queries and respond to these queries in a Q&A style. What are the most common questions people are Googling in your industry? Mix them in with a few crowd-sourced ones and you have a video or even a video series.
Behind the scenes
By now, you’ve published a few videos complete with slick intros and outros and you’re hopefully building up subscribers. It’s time to go behind the scenes.
There’s nothing nosy followers like more than to lift the veil and see what’s really happening. Film a tour of your office (or home office) and introduce your colleagues. Show your morning meetings or your Slack exchanges. Viewers are usually keen to get to know the unpolished people behind the polished content. Any human moments you feel comfortable putting out there will be worth their weight in gold.
You’re doing everything you can to drive organic engagement and views on YouTube, but it’s likely at some point you’ll need to experiment with paid video advertisements. There are a few options for YouTube advertising:
- In-stream ads: These can either be skippable or non-skippable. Non-skippable ads have a high engagement rate and are shorter (capped at 15 seconds). Skippable ads are cheaper and can be anywhere up to three minutes (although I don’t recommend this — aim for 15 to 30 seconds).
- Bumper ads: These are, by their nature, non-skippable. They can be displayed either at the beginning, middle, or end of a video. They’re great for growing brand awareness but are limited to 6 seconds.
- Trueview video discovery ads: You may have seen these while browsing YouTube. Discovery ads turn up in search results on YouTube, above the organic results. But they have to be relevant to the search query, so do your research and make sure your video represents a common search query. These ads are a great way to generate organic interest in your content and channel. However, keep in mind your video will only play on click, there’s no auto-play function.
Your own TED Talk
I don’t mean a real TED talk, of course, but a TED-style talk. TED talks (TED standing for Technology, Entertainment, Design) have taken off in the last few years and created a template for a really engaging style of presentation that’s exploded around the world.
Some of the quality can be attributed to the speakers and the simple setting that focuses on content rather than anything showy. But the underlying purpose of TED talks is summarized well by their slogan: “Ideas worth sharing”. A TED-style talk is a short, easy-to-understand seminar about important ideas, and they’re infinitely sharable. You don’t have to pace up and down on a big stage — you just need to discuss your thoughts on a big idea.
The content outlined above should be enough to get your video channel going and cover the main bases. With your presence established, you can then focus on expanding your content and growing your audience on YouTube.