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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

How to Write and Create YouTube Videos Like a Pro

With more than 1.5 billion users, YouTube® is second only to Facebook in its worldwide reach and appeal. In fact, according to this Hootsuite article, Seventy percent of viewers use YouTube to help solve a problem with work, school, or hobbies, and 86 percent said they regularly use YouTube to learn new things. Among millennials, the numbers for self-directed learning are even higher: 93 percent of them use YouTube to find out how to do things.

Marketing on YouTube

What these numbers mean for marketers is that YouTube is the perfect platform to attract and engage potential clients and audiences for their brand or business. This graphic from Emarketer.com shows how YouTube trails only Facebook® for acquiring views, engagement and purchases:

Views, Engagement and Purchases
Views, engagement and purchases for Facebook, YouTube, Twitter® and Instagram®

Getting started

Whether you are a self-published writer or small business owner, it's easy to see how YouTube is an excellent platform for building and engaging an audience on your social media accounts, blog, and website. With the rate of online sales consistently growing, reaching a wider audience on YouTube could be just what you need to gain more exposure and success in your entrepreneurial efforts. So how do you get started? Well, you start just like Hollywood does before it films videos—with an idea and a script.

Think of something helpful that you can provide

Since we know that audiences are coming to YouTube primarily for self-directed learning, the first questions you should consider are these: What content can I provide that would be helpful to someone? What is my area of expertise? What knowledge do I have that someone might want to learn?

For example, a self-published writer would know about the process of self-publishing and could provide insider tips to others who have not done it yet. A business offering cleaning services would know about environmentally friendly cleaning products and how to find them. An artist would know about color theory and elements of design and could easily share that expert knowledge with a larger audience interested in it for their own projects.

When creating content for YouTube, it's important to consider why most audiences use the platform and how you can become a part of that to advertise your book, business, services, or brand. Keep in mind that these audiences aren't coming to YouTube to hear advertisements or sales pitches. They are coming to learn something from someone who has more expertise in the topic than they have. So, don't give them a sales pitch—that won't work to attract and engage. Rather, teach them something. It's really that simple.

Determine your role

Depending on your advertising or marketing budget and the resources you have access to, your role might be limited or all-encompassing. It's really up to you to decide, based on your knowledge and equipment.

To create content for YouTube, you'll need the following:

  • A script writer
  • An actor/speaker
  • Someone to operate the camera (or a tripod)
  • A setting that will be optimal for uninterrupted recording
  • Someone to edit the raw footage into a seamless video (if there are cuts) in post-production

In many cases, particularly for those who are familiar with video recording technology and software, you could be performing every role in the process. However, if you are not familiar with the software, you'll likely need someone who is, especially if you have the budget for it. The more professional the video looks, the more it will engage and attract an audience.

Writing the script

While movie screenplays note things like fade ins, transitions, voice overs and dialogue, the script you'll need for your YouTube content will likely be much less specific. This is especially true if you will be both the writer and the "actor" or speaker. Movie screenplays note what characters should be doing and film editing instructions, so much of what you'll include on the script depends on how much of the acting, recording and editing you'll be doing for the content, and how organized you want to be in the process.

The purpose of the script is to set the scene, give direction to whomever is shooting the movie or video (along with any technical crew involved), and provide the dialogue for the speaker(s). In a movie script, if there is a voiceover, that would be noted. In the same sense, when writing a YouTube script, you'll want to include anything that might be written as text beside you later in the video editing process—especially if someone other than you will be editing it.

Here are some tips to consider as you write:

  • A script is a creative work and should be treated like one. Expect to fine-tune it as you would any piece of writing, and expect to go through multiple drafts and edits before it's right.
  • Depending on how you format the script, a three to five-minute video could be seven to ten pages of writing (or more). It's important to consider how fast the speaker(s) will be speaking and the length of the video you wish to make as you are writing.
  • In the post-production process, consider using images, photos, and other graphic elements, in addition to music.
  • Use a word processor for shorter videos, since no special formatting is needed to create a script. For more advanced scripts, you can download software such as Final Draft or Movie Magic Screenwriter.
  • If someone else will be operating the camera and/or completing post-production editing, include as many details as you can about camera angles, shooting location, speaker's movement and when sound effects or music should be played.

Finding the right setting

When you begin the initial stages of planning your video and writing your script, you'll need to consider the right setting for recording it. If you are an author and have a desk in a well-lit room, the perfect setting to record might be there. If you're creating YouTube content for a business or service and will need to add graphics or text as visual, you might want to consider buying a professional green-screen setup (also known as a Chromakey screen).

This video is an excellent introduction to why green screens are used, how to set one up correctly, how to light the backdrop and actor for both indoor and outdoor shooting, as well as the optimal camera settings to use when recording. The more knowledge you gain about how the professionals do it, the more professional your video will look. And what's more—it's information you're learning by watching YouTube videos! See why they're so important in marketing right now?

Performing the script

If you will be the speaker or "actor" of your video, you should also be the one to write the script. The main reason for this is you'll want to write it in your own voice. Otherwise, your performance will look stilted and forced.

There are two different approaches to performing the script and you'll want to choose on or the other based on how comfortable you are on camera. If you're not very comfortable on camera or feel nervous being on that side of the lens, you'll want to memorize your script as much as possible—just as any actor would do when given a script in Hollywood.

The point of memorizing a script is to become comfortable enough with the words to speak them on camera. Rod Rowling, a professional actor and acting coach, suggests spending at least 15 hours per five to seven-minute scene memorizing the script. If you've written the content and are an expert in the topic, you might not need this long, but it's a good estimate of the time professional actors spend in order to perform their role convincingly and confidently on screen.

A quick note on post-production

Since this article focuses on the writing part of creating a video, we won't go into the detailed work that is needed in the editing process. Much of the final look of the video will be obtained during post-production, so this is one part where you'll want to make sure you have the right equipment and knowledge before attempting to do on your own. However, there are many freelancers online willing to help with this kind of video editing work, and it would be worth the money to hire one if you are unable to do it correctly yourself.

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