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There are a lot of reasons to avoid planning.
It takes time. It’s hard. It causes major FOMO (fear of missing out) because while you’re planning your YouTube videos, other people are out there filming theirs.
But here’s the thing…
The best creators on YouTube plan their videos before they shoot! Planning your videos before you shoot is not only going to elevate the quality of your work overall, it’s going to make your shooting much easier so you’ll actually be able to create better work, faster. As a result, you’ll be cranking out high-quality videos and your YouTube channel will begin to grow on autopilot, and as other people’s growth stagnates, yours will skyrocket.
Plus, instead of standing awkwardly in front of your camera, shifting your weight from side to side as you try to think of what you’re supposed to say next, you’ll have an organized and useful video presentation that will make people smash that like button, subscribe to your channel, and keep your fans coming back for more.
Now that the population of YouTube creators has skyrocketed to more than 50 million, there’s more competition for eyeballs than ever before. And YouTube fans are getting savvier by the day. They can tell when you’ve thrown a video together, and as a result, YouTubers across the board have upped their game.
Take, for example, the CEO of Smart Passive Income, Pat Flynn. In 2009, he filmed this dark, shaky, off-the-cuff video showing a tour of his one-bedroom apartment.
After a decade of practicing his craft, Flynn now has videos that demonstrate much better planning.
What took Flynn more than 10 years to master, we’re going to show you in this brief but comprehensive guide. You’ll learn the shortcuts to plan your videos like a pro without having to spend years of frustration trying to figure out what went wrong.
The benefits of planning your videos when you create your YouTube channel goes beyond just knowing what you’re going to say. We’ll be covering scripting ideas, but you’re also going to need to determine locations, props, b-roll footage, and more. There’s a lot that goes into creating a video that people want to watch.
But like we said, that’s just one part of the formula for success. Here are the four key benefits that come from the planning process:
Now that YouTube has been around a while, we’ve got ample data to know what works and what attracts and retains an audience.
Spoiler alert: it’s pretty much identical to what you see in your favorite movies, advertisements, and other digital content.
Video is all about storytelling, whether you’ve got a vlog about your life or you teach software tutorials. We’ll show you how to plan and create a compelling story, no matter what your niche is.
According to YouTube, the first 15 seconds of your video is the most important. That’s when people make a nearly instant decision to either keep watching or click the back button.
New evidence from Harvard Medical School suggests that this window of opportunity has now shrunk to 8 seconds. This means that you’ve got to have something compelling right off the bat to get people glued to their screens and hanging from the edge of their seat, eager to see what’s coming up next.
Options to “hook” your audience include:
The chance that you’ll remember everything and stay on track without an outline is virtually nil. Make sure you map out what you want to cover in advance.
You might also want to consider a storyboard, especially if you’re going to shoot in more than one location, you’ll be using props, or guests will appear in your video.
By combining an outline and a storyboard, you’ll have a clear picture of everything that is going to happen in the video and when. If you have a team, then this step is absolutely essential because it will enlighten everyone to your vision while ensuring they’re all on the same page.
Think of the outline as a list of your talking points and the storyboard as a simple presentation of the visuals in your video.
Just about every professional YouTuber follows a formula called the HICC formula.
There’s no single right answer to how long your video should be, but keep in mind that shorter videos get the highest completion rate. Naturally, this makes sense because it’s easier to sit through a one-minute video than a 15-minute video.
That doesn’t mean a short video is always your best option, though. You have to balance the goal of sharing in-depth and valuable information with keeping people interested. According to YouTube, the recommended length is a range between 7 and 15 minutes.
Once you know what you’re going to say and how you want to say it, it’s time to figure out how you’re going to make it happen.
If you skip this step, then you’re asking for obstacles like your desired location being closed, or your video shoot running hours past when you’d planned to wrap.
No matter how good you are at planning, there are always unforeseen things that can go wrong, but the goal here is to help things go as smoothly as possible.
Unless you’re filming in your bedroom, you’ll have a lot of factors to consider about location accessibility. Are there certain hours you can’t access a spot? Do you need permission to shoot there? Is it noisy or are there objects or obstructions that will mess with your view or your lighting?
Don’t forget to check that where you’re filming is well-lit, quiet, and you can get a good shot. It’s also smart to take some test footage and review the sound quality and lighting to confirm that both the location and your equipment are right for your needs before committing to a location for shooting.
What scenes are you filming and at what time? This step is crucial if you have a lot of moving parts. You might need a call sheet for more advanced production. Or, you can simply mark up your storyboard with times and instructions in the margins. The key is to have all your shots documented.
A basic shot list should include the following information:
If you’re the only one in the video, you can skip this step. However, if you’re going to be using friends, family members, coworkers, or professional actors, you’ll need to prep them for success.
At a minimum, have the following covered:
It’s rare for a YouTube creator to wake up in the morning and say, “I’m going to film a video today!” Then bounce out the door with their camera and come back hours later to complete the editing and upload.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither should your videos.
For each video, have a calendar of tasks and due dates. You can include a deadline for your script and outline completion when editing your video is due, and when you plan to publish your video.
If you’re working with other people on your video, don’t forget to share the calendar with them and get feedback about any concerns about meeting a deadline before you get started.
Too often, talented creators slap together their brand as an afterthought. However, you’ll take your videos to the next level by creating a brand identity and then incorporating it into your videos during production. Creating a unique aesthetic will not only look great, but it will also help viewers identify you from the crowd!
For example, does your logo have the color orange in it? Consider filming in a spot that has décor that complements your brand colors. Get creative here! By having a consistent look and feel to your videos, you’ll be instantly recognizable and grow an audience that much faster.
Don’t do the awkward wave at the end of a video, followed by a creepy walk to the off button on your camera. Instead, you’ll want something more professional. It could be a digital outro that has your logo or a signature phrase you say at the end of your video. Create something that leaves an impact, calls your audience to action, reminds them who you are, and be consistent!
As you plan your video, you should have your brand colors easily accessible in a folder or written down somewhere. The same goes for your logos and images. This step might seem premature, but after you’re done shooting, and it’s time to start editing, you’ll be glad that you have all your digital assets all in one place for easy access.
B-Roll footage is any video you use that isn’t obtained when shooting your principal footage. A good example of B-Roll is stock video. You can plan where you’re going to place your b-roll footage during the storyboard or outline phase. By knowing where you want to put your b-roll in advance, you can plan to read from your script when you know your face won’t be on camera. This can cut down the time it takes to memorize a script.
It’s also helpful if you’re talking about something technical, and you don’t want the camera to pick up on your eyes going back and forth across the screen as they try to keep up with a teleprompter. Never underestimate how much B-Roll you might need, its always better to shoot or collect more than you think you’ll need!
There’s a helpful blog post, How to Create Your Youtube Home Studio that discusses all the equipment you need to be successful on YouTube.
After you finish reading this, head on over to that article to get more details. It will tell you everything you need to know about choosing the right camera, mic, lights, editing software for post-production, and set design gear.
Over the years, we’ve also discovered these other helpful and time-saving tips that will lead to high-quality videos for your YouTube channel.
Planning your first few videos might seem like a lot of work, but we can promise you three things: