Moin. Running a YouTube channel is hard. There’s a lot of things to consider, ranging from thumbnails and SEO to get found better, to monetization and branding. And while each of these things are important in their own right, it’s easy to lose track of what really matters: Making great content.
Your content is the actual video. The things you say, the things you show, the narrative, the structure. And it’s this content that makes people laugh, that makes them think, that amazes them, or makes them learn. Your content is fundamentally the most important thing about your channel, without it, none of your other strategies will work. For example, a good thumbnail and title without great content is just clickbait. And as for SEO, well, the most important metric is user happiness, followed by watch time. All your keyword research won’t have much effect if it’s not backed up by great content.
So how do you make great content? Well, it all starts with the idea.
A Great Idea
Good ideas are hard to come by, great ones even harder. Getting a great idea consists of two parts: First getting any sort of idea for a video, and then selecting the good ones.
To get ideas, you can use pretty much any “getting creative” strategy. I won’t go into too much detail about that here (just googling “how to get creative” should get you plenty tutorials) but one which I like to do is: Being bored. Specifically, a certain kind of bored in which I am away from entertainment (social media, videos, …), but am just stuck with me and my surroundings. Because of this, I tend to be very creative when falling asleep, or in those blissful moments when I wake up before the alarm and just wait for it to go off.
When you do get ideas, make sure to write them down, especially if they happen around your sleep. You will forget them otherwise.
Once you have a list of ideas, simply pick the best one to make your next video about. I say “simply”, but you can consider a lot here:
- Uniqueness. If you have an idea which hasn’t been done before, it’s probably better than something that’s been done to death. For example, a travel guide to fictional places (eg from games) would probably be better than yet another Minecraft let’s play.
- Detail. Some ideas sound great at first, but may fall apart on closer inspection and end up sucking after all. The more detailed your idea is, the more likely it is that you’d already have stumbled upon any idea-breaker, so it might stay a good idea until the end.
- Awesome-to-effort ratio. While sorting ideas, you’ll find that you could with a quick and easy thing, or with a way better, but more time-intensive idea. When choosing between them, make sure that an idea that takes 3x as much time to complete also is 3x as awesome as the quick idea.
There are more factors to consider (such as: does the idea fit your audience?), but these make more sense in a later section. Especially if you’re just starting out, you don’t need to worry about them yet, and focus on exploring instead.
Once you have a great idea, you need to execute it. How to execute it is your job – since it’s different for each genre and each creator, there’s very little to be said which would cover anything to a satisfactory degree. The important part is that you do execute the idea at all and make videos.
If you do a good job at executing the idea, you’ll have a very good video. But chances are – especially if you’re doing these things for the first time – that the execution will be sorta meh. And that’s alright, under three conditions:
- You need to acknowledge that your content isn’t perfect. This is key to all improvement.
- You need to know which part didn’t work.
- You need to figure out a way to fix it for your next video.
The first point should be self-explanatory, but figuring out the other two points can be tricky.
How to figure out what part didn’t work
One way to do this is the viewer retention graph in YouTube Analytics. It’s a brutal, no-sugarcoat-kind of feedback on how your content has been perceived. On the right, and in the studio itself, you’ll see a quick explanation of how to read it.
Overall, the graph tells you about a couple of things. Most importantly, if the graph drops off very quickly in the beginning, your content didn’t meet the viewer’s expectations.
In the best case, that just means your title was a bit too sensational, which can be fixed the easy way (just update the title) or the hard way (re-do the video to make the content delivers on all your promises).
In the worst case, it means that your entire video straight-up doesn’t work. Ie that either the starting idea or the execution or both were bad enough that the viewer went back to look for something else to watch. There isn’t really anything you can fix in this case, but you still can learn.
If you see the problems right away, fantastic! If not, try to think of the individual aspects that make up your video: Does the pacing work? Is anything noticeably unpleasant about the video? Can the idea even carry a video of this length? And so on.
Generally though, if you don’t see what you’re doing wrong, you might need more knowledge on what constitutes a good video. You can gain this knowledge by watching other videos and analyzing them properly, or you can hire me to do it for you and teach you everything I know so you can get back to making videos more quickly.
Fixing the things that don’t work
After you’ve figured out what went wrong, it now is time to make sure you don’t repeat your mistakes. Sometimes, this happens automatically as the same stroke of bad luck probably won’t happen twice, or you aren’t using a specific thing which caused you trouble before.
Other times, it’s up to you though to make sure you won’t repeat the same problem twice. For example:
- If your problem is a lack of structure, preparing a script might help.
- If your sound is very bad and you can be barely understood, you can fix this with The Audio Guide to Happiness, or: How to make your Streams & Videos sound good. Note that this is the only instance in which upgrading your mic might actually improve the content itself. Generally, a viewer watching your video in 360p on their phone with $5 earbuds won’t notice whether you’re using equipment costing $50 or $50000.
- If it’s the way you come across, you might want to practice how you say things and your body language while doing it.
- If your problem is that your video runs out of steam, making it shorter might help. Also, if it’s an idea only good for a handful of seconds, consider making a #shorts video out of it.
If you’ve come this far, you know how to find and filter ideas, and how to self-critically evaluate your content. You may find yourself drifting towards the “make every video your best one yet” mindset in the future. This will be helpful to get your content to new heights. That said, should this start hindering your video production due to perfectionism, you might op to go for the softer “raise the average quality of your past 5 videos” instead.
Also: This is not all yet. This post focussed on things you can improve for yourself. But there are near endless possibilities in the realm of market analysis and marketing which you can consider. We will discuss these in a later post, so make sure you stay tuned here and follow us on twitter to get an update on that.