People all over the world use YouTube as a tool to learn new skills, listen to music, or just relax with a funny video. But beyond consuming content, plenty of people are also interested in learning to make YouTube videos or even starting their own channels.

That’s why we’ve compiled this guide full of advice about how to make a good YouTube video from successful YouTuber Marques Brownlee. With nearly 14 million subscribers, Brownlee has made a name for himself on the platform reviewing gadgets and conducting interviews with tech icons like Mark Zuckerberg.

How to Make a YouTube Video in 9 Steps

Let’s start with the most important thing: how to make a YouTube video. 

Remember, these nine steps are just a starting point. You’ll learn more about videography by practicing, filming, editing, and posting.

Step 1: Brainstorm a Creative and Original Video Idea

In order to create a YouTube video, you have to know what you want to create. Think about the kinds of topics you’re interested in and decide on a specific angle. Do you want to film reviews about new technology? Team up with friends and shoot prank videos? Or maybe just talk about your favorite historical character or record a session playing your favorite video game? The sky’s the limit. 

If you need more ideas after brainstorming, you can also perform keyword searches with a tool like Google Keyword Planner. Learning about what other people are interested in can spark new ideas and help you create content that gets you discovered.

Step 2: Write a Conversational Script

Marques Brownlee
Skillshare instructor and YouTuber Marques Brownlee shares a script he wrote on his phone.

Imagine this: you’ve set up the perfect shot at the perfect location, you start filming, and your mind goes blank. After all that hassle, you don’t want to fly by the seat of your pants and find yourself with unusable footage.

Actors use scripts before going onstage, documentary filmmakers use scripts for voice overs, and believe it or not, YouTubers use scripts to plan out what they want to say in a video. 

This doesn’t need to be something you read word-for-word. In fact, often the most helpful scripts are concise and simple, outlining the bullet points you want to cover. 

When Brownlee writes his script on his phone, he bolds the text he will deliver on camera and leaves the rest of the text in a normal font to represent what will be overlaid with b-roll (background footage) as a voiceover. 

It’s also a good idea to read what you write aloud to ensure it sounds conversational and natural. Ultimately, you can use whatever method you want to write a script that works for you, but don’t skip this important step of figuring out the gist of what you want to say. 

Step 3: Develop a Shot List

Plot out the overall vision for your video as well as the individual shots you want to get. 

Once you have your script developed, it’s time to go one step further and determine your shot list. Figuring out the visuals you want to include will save you a lot of time on-locations and ensure that you have a compelling video lined up.

Make a list of all the locations you want to shoot and figure out what images need to be on the screen to develop your script into a story. You’ll also want to take different kinds of shots including wide-angle shots, medium shots, and close-ups.

For example, if you are discussing how to play a board game, you need to have shots of the board game and the people playing it. Your wide-angle shot will be of the entire group playing the game. Your medium shot will be one person laying down a piece. Your close-up will be a zoomed-in shot of a game piece.

“Focus on the realism of lighting and outdoor environments and things like that to help the viewer to better understand what they’re looking at and how it actually looks,” says Brownlee.

Step 4: Assess Your Technology and Equipment 

Marques Brownlee
Test your audio and your lighting before you start shooting. 

Before you begin shooting your footage, you need to test your equipment, audio, and lighting. If you don’t, you risk shooting unusable footage and wasting your time.

Let’s start with audio. Poor audio that’s too quiet, distorted, hard to understand, or diluted by background noise will frustrate viewers. Recording sound before you shoot lets you know if your audio needs to be adjusted, or if you need to invest in better technology like an external microphone.

You’ll also want to consider lighting. Though you can record near windows for natural lighting, never record directly in front of a window as you will become a silhouette. External lights like what Brownlee uses offer ambient lighting that highlight your surroundings without overpowering your video.

Step 5: Shoot a Creative Video

set up your recording space
One you’ve refined your shooting environment, you’re ready to press “record.” 

You’ve adjusted your settings, technology, and environment before shooting and you’ve jotted down a script to guide you. Now it’s time to press “record” and deliver your words or vision on camera. 

If you’re shooting at home, make sure to clean up any clutter so you don’t have a distracting background. It’s also helpful to position your camera at eye level using the Rule of Thirds.

Actually shooting your video can feel a little nerve-wracking. But, keep in mind that it’s okay to do a couple takes until you’re satisfied. You don’t have to get it perfect the first time. 

Shoot Epic Videos

YouTube Success: Script, Shoot, Edit with MKBHD

Step 6: Add Branding Elements

When you decide to create your first YouTube video, chances are you don’t want to stop at one—you plan to create more. 

Set yourself up for success by creating an extra video element to build a brand for yourself and direct people to your work.

For example, start off your video intro with something memorable that will remind viewers that you have a channel, not just one video. That could mean starting your video with:

  • A graphic intro that includes your channel name
  • A short verbal intro introducing yourself and your channel
  • Your logo appearing at the beginning of your video

You can also create an element that adds cohesion to the end of your video and encourages viewers to stay on your channel. YouTube allows you to add different buttons to the end of your video. You may consider:

  • A subscribe button
  • A button that links to another video or playlist
  • A button that links to another YouTube channel
  • A button that links to your website or podcast

Step 7: Edit Footage to Create a Cohesive Storyline

A big piece of knowing how to make YouTube videos is knowing how to edit them. 

A large part of becoming a YouTuber includes learning how to edit YouTube videos. Brownlee prefers editing with Final Cut Pro, but you can use any editor you’d like for your footage. 

As you edit your video, make sure that the story makes sense to an outside viewer, ensure that transitions are smooth, and cut extra footage as needed.

Once you’re done editing, go back and give it what Brownlee calls the “eye test.” Watch the video in full and notice which parts of the video you lose interest in. If you’re getting bored watching certain sections of your video, your audience will too.

Beginners will often chase perfection and keep editing and editing. “You can always find something to make better,” says Brownlee. But it’s better to get the video done and uploaded, so you can move on to the next. Your video editing skills will improve with time and practice.

“You have to live with uploading a pretty dang good thing that’s just about done versus trying to make the greatest thing ever seen by mankind,” Brownlee adds. 

Step 8: Post Your Video and Optimize for YouTube Algorithms 

What does the YouTube algorithm want to see? Quality. 

YouTube’s goal is to keep viewers watching videos on the platform for as long as possible, so the company can serve you more videos (and ads) and make more money. That’s why YouTube serves up recommendations based on the user’s past activity, popular content, metadata, and more.

Those suggestions are effective. According to Pew Research Center, 81% of American YouTube users at least occasionally watch videos suggested through the recommendation algorithm.

“To this day, as much as we talk about YouTube’s algorithms and everything that they focus on and how it can change over time, I still think they’re all targeted towards driving and rewarding quality,” explains Brownlee. “That’s what I end up focusing on—is making a good video.” 

Beyond creating high-quality videos, there are a few other things you can do to influence your ranking in the algorithm:

  • Optimize your video description text by including keywords in the first sentence.
  • Publish your videos when your audience is online, which requires learning how to make a YouTube video private and scheduling videos ahead of time.
  • Build a relationship with your community, reply to comments, and engage.
  • Create playlists and custom thumbnails.

Step 9: Evaluate and Grow Your Channel

Don’t forget to see how your video performed to get ideas about future content.

YouTube will give you statistics on how well your video performed. That data will include:

  • Watch time (how long people watched)
  • Number of views
  • Subscriber change
  • Traffic source
  • Audience demographics (age, gender, geography)

You can use this information to determine what kind of content works for your channel and to determine what other ideas are worth pursuing. What video was most popular and how can you create similar content? What kind of content doesn’t exist yet that your audience might enjoy?

Remember, to grow your channel, you also need to create a consistent experience across videos and make it easy for people to understand that you have more than the video they just enjoyed. “Certain things you get good at, like intros or like graphic design, can really help people stay engaged with your video,” says Brownlee. 

4 Common YouTube Questions (and Answers)

To kick off your future success with knowing how to make a YouTube video, we’ve answered some of the most popular questions beginner YouTubers have.

1. How many views do you need to get paid on YouTube?

To get paid through advertisements on your page by YouTube, you have to qualify for the YouTube Partner Program. To be accepted to the program you must:

  • Have at least 1,000 subscribers
  • Have more than 4,000 valid public watch hours in the past year
  • Create an AdSense account
  • Sign YouTube’s terms and conditions

2. How much money can you make on YouTube?

The most popular YouTubers make millions every year. In 2020, some of the top earners included:

  • Dude Perfect with $23 million
  • Mr. Beast with $24 million
  • Rhett and Link with $20 million

Even kids can earn serious money on YouTube. Nine-year-old Ryan Kaji earned $29.5 million in 2020, making him the highest earning YouTuber of the year.

The amount of money you make depends on how you diversify your income and how popular your channel becomes. YouTubers make an income through a variety of methods:

  • Merchandise sales
  • Sponsored content
  • Patreon
  • Ads 

As far as money made directly on YouTube, according to Forbes estimates, a YouTuber can make up to $5 per 1,000 video views.

3. How long does it take for a video to get views on YouTube?

When you first post a video, YouTube may boost your video since it’s new content. That means you can start getting views right away.
But, since your video lives indefinitely on YouTube, it might get traction and views months (or even years) after it was published. 

4. How do you make a YouTube video for free?

You can learn how to make a video on YouTube without spending a penny, especially if you use your existing phone to film. Then, edit footage on your computer using free editors like iMovie or DaVinci Resolve or directly on your phone with free popular apps like Quik or WeVideo. 

You’ll produce a high-quality video, without investing money in expensive programs or equipment. 

Make Your Own YouTube Channel!

YouTube Success: Script, Shoot, Edit with MKBHD

Written By

Kaitlyn Arford

  • Click here to share on Twitter
  • Click here to share on Facebook
  • Click here to share on LinkedIn
  • Click here to share on Pinterest