YouTube video ideas & tips

YouTube gives everyone the opportunity to upload their video content and communicate directly with the world. Almost everyone these days has access to some sort of video-recording technology and many people are keen to join in on the action. All you need is an idea!

The secret to making an awesome YouTube video is VALUE. Videos become successful or go viral because they offer a lot of value to their viewers. The opposite of this is videos that are dull, self-indulgent and pointless. Offer value to your viewers and you will be rewarded with traffic and favorable comments.

How will your YouTube video offer value? There are two main ways to do this: entertainment and information. Everyone browsing the Internet is looking for one or both of these things. All YouTube videos that get a lot of traffic provide at least one of these things, usually both. The key is to find out what YOU are good at. Is there something you know how to do that most people do not? Are you genuinely interesting or funny? Do you have access to information that is both desirable and hard to get hold of? These are all ways of offering value. People who do this on YouTube are rewarded with thousands of views and hundreds of positive comments.

Those who are able to do so consistently develop their own channel, which is an excellent way of getting regular visitors and building a community. That’s when you can start to draw some practical benefits from all that traffic, such as selling a product or diverting traffic to your website. There are several YouTube channels that are incredibly informative and authoritative.

And now, for some practical examples of how to do all of the above!

Video blogs

There are lots of video blogs on YouTube. Most fall into the “pointless and self-indulgent” category. A few of these video blogs are exceptionally informative and provide information and insights that cannot be obtained elsewhere. These tend to be individuals who are experts in their field and have access to valuable information. Their insights are valuable by virtue of their expertise.

There is something else worth mentioning about video blogs – although the most successful ones all provide highly valuable information direct from the horse’s mouth, they have one more thing in common: they are also very entertaining. This is not because the bloggers are cracking jokes while simultaneously disclosing information, but because they’re fascinating characters and just hearing them speak and get hot over the issues that are close to their heart is in itself entertaining. There are undoubtedly some very useful video blogs out there that get little traffic and will never break out. This is because, although the bloggers disclose useful information, they are not good communicators, so their video blog never gains traction.

If you have valuable information to share AND are fascinating to listen to, your video blog will almost certainly become a hit over time. Very few people have both attributes, but if you do, this is a surefire hit.

“How to” videos

Again, there are thousands of these, but only a handful become truly popular. The key is to make it genuinely useful and niche-oriented. Sticking to an obscure niche is probably the way to go, as it ensures both low competition and a dedicated audience. You can make a video about how to mix a dirty martini if you want to, but the competition is intense.

The “how to” video niche is probably a growing segment, because although almost everything has been covered on the Internet in writing, I very much doubt that the same applies to videos, and many people simply do not like reading and much prefer to watch a video of whatever they are interested in learning. Hence there is a significant segment of the population that is as yet unsatisfied, because the topic of interest has been covered in writing but not on video. Stick to what you know and like and you will find an audience.

Viral videos

Viral videos are the holy grail of the Internet. They are very tricky to make because although it is possible to rationalize a viral video’s success retrospectively, it is almost impossible to apply that same analysis to the production of a new viral video. You can take all the concepts that we can glean from past successes and use them to make a new video, and you will find that it will probably never go viral. The “viral” phenomenon is truly elusive.

A recent scam perpetrated by professional advertising agencies is to make a staged video of an unusual event and pass it off as a home video. The first few attempts did indeed go viral, but like all scams, this will soon burn out for good, and good riddance.

Tour videos

You can make a video in which you show something you truly love. This could be a coin collection, a vintage car, or pretty much anything else that you are passionate about. If you make a good video of something you love, the niche followers will come out of the woodwork and find your video. I have seen many excellent examples of such videos, which managed to attract tens of thousands of views and lively discussion in the comments section. These videos were not made by professional videomakers; they just showed something that the maker is truly passionate about and everything else took care of itself.

When you are ready to take the plunge, there are several things you can do to ensure that your video is a cut above everyone else’s. With the exception of speaking well, none of these recommendations are particularly difficult to implement, and yet they can greatly enhance the quality of your YouTube video.

1. Shoot the video with care and use good video production practices. This means ensuring that the subject is well lit and not darker than the background. If you are using a webcam or a cell phone to shoot this video, paying attention to the lighting conditions is especially important. If all you have is a cell phone, by all means go ahead and shoot your video — just make sure that the video is not shaky and that the main subject is brighter than the background.

2. If the YouTube video you are making is a “how to video”, it is particularly important that whatever you are showing us is clearly visible. You could be showing us your favorite car, your stamp collection or pretty much anything else you care to share. Whatever it is, we’ve got to be able to take a good look at it, otherwise the “tour” will be pointless and frustrating.

3. Pay attention to what is going on in the background, especially if you are a total video newbie. I have seen a lot of YouTube videos get flamed or derided as a result of something going on in the background that the viewers found annoying or worse. One excellent video blogger recently posted a video that he shot in a hotel room because he was on a business trip, and a large fraction of the comments focused on a figure that was faintly visible on the bed in the background, and speculation abounded on who it might be. YouTube viewers are incredibly good at spotting anything in the background that is in any way noteworthy, so be very careful.

4. If you are making a blog-type video, speak clearly and be as compelling and concise as possible. One thing that all successful YouTube video bloggers have in common is that they speak very well, and tend to be something of a character. Those who do poorly are very long-winded and speak in a monotonous voice. They upload 10-minute videos in which they ramble without making a point. Their videos feel “slow” and very few viewers make it to the end.

Conversely, successful video bloggers are amusing to listen to and pack a lot of useful information and insights into their videos. Almost everyone watches the videos all the way to the end and then goes back to the beginning and watches again. With good video bloggers, people cannot wait for the next installment.

5. Make sure that the title of your video is both accurate and keyword-rich. This will help users to find your video and is very important when you are in the process of building your YouTube following.

6. Here is the big YouTube video tip: no matter what kind of video you’re uploading, make sure that it fully complies with YouTube’s recommended settings in terms of frame size and aspect ratio. If your video’s aspect ratio or frame size does not match the settings, YouTube will resize it and/or display in the incorrect aspect ratio, which is incredibly annoying. For HD YouTube videos, the best settings are H.264, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 format, 1280×720 resolution, 44.1KHz Stereo MP3 or AAC audio. Make the frame rate the same as that of the original video.

Good luck with your YouTube videos!

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