You don't need a huge production budget to make YouTube videos. However, as the site has grown in popularity, you're much more likely to get noticed with better quality. Fortunately, YouTube itself has plenty of tools to help stand out and make videos worth watching.
Learn YouTube Best Practices with Creator Academy
Ever since YouTube came on the scene, many people assumed that all they have to do is do something funny on camera, upload and then become an internet star. While this can occasionally happen through dumb luck, most producers have to work hard behind the scenes to make it happen. YouTube's Creator Academy has a wealth of guides that teach you about all the nuts and bolts your favourite YouTuber doesn't mention.
This is actually putting the cart before the horse a bit, since we haven't even gotten to making videos. However, it's worth mentioning first because it gives a good overview of what all a successful YouTube channel entails. Here are just a few of the lessons:
- The art of getting viewers: These lessons explain how (and why) to upload branding images to your channel page, custom thumbnails for videos, channel trailers, and more.
- Grow your audience: This collection deals with how videos will be distributed to your subscribers, how to cross link with annotations, and how to organise your videos with playlists and sections.
- Earn money: Advertising brings its own mess of complications. Throwing a video on YouTube and randomly sticking ads isn't as easy as it sounds. These lessons will help explain how YouTube's ad tools work and how to make the best use of them.
If all of that sounds a little too much like a second job: good. YouTube is an amazing platform for sharing videos with friends, family, or building a massive worldwide audience alike. However, it can be a very involved process if you really want to make a job of it. And chances are someone out there is going to do the same thing you want to do who is willing to go through all this work. So before you get started, decide what type of YouTube producer you want to be. That will help inform which tools you need and how many of these lessons you can skip.
Make Basic Edits with the YouTube Video Editor
Unless you're uploading raw footage from your mobile phone, you'll need some kind of video editor to turn those shots into a proper video. While there are more powerful video editors out there, YouTube's built in editor offers the basics without downloading any extra software. You don't even need to manage your video library. Simply upload your videos as private and you can start cutting them together.
Google has a basic guide to the editor here. It allows you to trim clips, merge several other videos, add captions, music and a small selection of effects. If you don't have a video editor, start with this one. It's great for practice and, more importantly, you'll learn fairly quickly what you need from an editor when you go looking for a new one. It's also very handy if you need to make quick edits to existing videos.
Get Free Music and Sound Effects From the Audio Library
As soon as you start making videos with any level of professionalism, you'll bump into licensing issues pretty quickly. YouTube is particularly good about pulling down videos that contain copyrighted soundtracks. To avoid this, YouTube has a collection of music that's either free or comes with licences that allow you to use it.
Most of the time, free libraries of music are crappy, low-quality stuff that may make your videos sound worse than silence. However, YouTube is also a music service, so it has a special relationship with artists. The ad-supported section of the library includes popular, recognisable songs that are available to use with certain conditions. In some cases, your videos may be blocked from certain countries. In most (if not all) cases, you may not be allowed to monetise your video. However, it does mean you can legally use songs from Gangnam Style to Chandelier without getting your videos taken down.
There is also a section for sound effects you can import into your videos. The collection is substantial and organised by categories, including cars, sirens, gunshots, animals, and even generic science fiction-y sounds. You can mark sound effects you use as favourites so they're easier to find later.
Track Your Users Responses with Analytics
Even if you don't decide to make a job out of YouTube videos, the site's analytics can provide some fun and useful insight into the people who watch your videos. You can track traffic to your entire channel or individual videos and see how it changes over time. Of course, it doesn't stop there. This is Google after all. Here are just some of the information you can glean from your videos' analytics:
- Estimated minutes watched: Not all views are created equal. Google collects data not just on how many times viewers watched, but how long they stayed. Estimated minutes watched can show you which videos viewers are spending the most time on.
- Location breakdowns: You can see breakdowns of where your viewers are coming to you from by region, country, or even state. The details are so fine you can see how many minutes each state spent watching your videos.
- Playback sources: YouTube's embedded player allows viewers to watch your videos without ever visiting your site. Analytics allows you to see how many people are watching your videos on your own YouTube page, versus a player included on other sites.
- Subscriber, Likes and Comment activity: How much people engage with your videos is just as important as how much they're watching. You can use these trackers to see how much your viewers are compelled to interact with you after watching a video, and how they prefer to do it.
Analytics can be a complex topic on their own and you could spend a lifetime trying to guess what they mean and still be wrong. It's best to use analytics as a feedback tool, not a divining rod that will tell you what's going to "go viral". However, when used properly, they're a valuable asset to have.