4 Tools That Could Help “Level Up” Your YouTube Game
Amazingly, it’s now been just over five years since I uploaded my first YouTube video. What’s more, as I just learned by happenstance, I’ve apparently uploaded 200 videos to my channel. As you can probably imagine, since that first video, a lot has changed. Beyond changes to my scripting, structure, and skills, the past few years have seen upgrades to lighting, sound equipment, cameras, etc. Nevertheless, every so often, I like to take a look at what other tools I could be using that might make my content even better.
With that in mind, I wanted to highlight four tools — which I have varying amounts of experience with — outside of the basics that could help you “level up” your YouTube game.
Tools for Leveling Up Your YouTube Content
I’ve mentioned my overall distaste for video editing before — but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to get better at it. Furthermore, there have been times when I’ve had ideas for my videos that I just didn’t know how to execute (and didn’t want to invest the time in learning). That’s why I was intrigued to learn about some editing software plugins that might come in handy for someone like me.
In particular, I discovered the mKBHD toolbox from MotionVFX. If you’re not familiar, MKBHD (AKA Marques Brownlee) is a tech YouTuber — and one of my favorites. Recently, he launched his own plugin tool that makes it easy to utilize and customize some of his transitions, on-screen graphics, etc. At a cost of $99 and considering that it was available for Adobe Premiere, I decided to give it a shot.
While I’ve played around with the plugin a bit, I have yet to actually employ any of the tools in a video — mostly because I’m still learning about all it can do. That said, I’m really excited about the possibilities this could open up for my content in the future. And, of course, while I started with Marques’ plugin, it seems MotionVFX offers a number of different tools, compatible with Premiere, Final Cut, and Da Vinci Resolve. So, if you’ve been looking to improve your editing but don’t want to manually add all the bells and whistles, this may be something worth checking out.
I’m always amazed when I watch a YouTuber who can eloquently deliver an entire video’s script to the camera — and without jumpcuts! How I envy such a skill but, alas, I am nowhere near as skilled in this department. Thus, as I’ve previously discussed, I’ve deliberating structured my videos around this shortcoming, as well as my allergy to the aforementioned jump cuts. But, what if there’s another solution?
These days, there are plenty of teleprompters aimed at content creators. From what I’ve seen, these typically utilize a phone or tablet to display the script but reflect the text onto a panel located in front of your camera lens so you’re looking right down the barrel while reading. Many also have remotes so you can continue scrolling the text. It’s a pretty cool idea, to be sure, but does come with some caveats.
One downside of these teleprompters is that, like with most things, going cheaper can be a waste of money while going high-end might also not be necessary — so good luck finding that sweet spot. Additionally, these prompters come in a variety of sizes, which each have their own pros and cons. Basically what I’m saying is that a lot of research will likely need to go into your perfect prompter search. And that, my friends, is why I have yet to try this route for myself. Still, I do think it’s an interesting idea, which is not only why I mention it here but also why I continue to look into purchasing a teleprompter every now and again.
Back on the topic of editing, to me, one of the coolest editing tricks involves chromakeying. After all, who doesn’t love a fun greenscreen effect? In my case, I had previously learned a little bit about green screening when I was tasked with filming a few shots for a friend’s project. This involved my wife and I hanging some green fabric off of our softbox lights… but we quickly realized we barely had enough.
Cut to a few weeks later when it came time to shoot a few other elements for the same project and I just went ahead and bought a “real” green screen. Specifically, I picked up the Elgato collapsible green screen at my local Best Buy (the staff were all shocked and delighted to learn they even carried it, so cool point for Kyle). Although the product’s 64.7-inch width makes it a bit bulky, I was amazed at how easy the collapsible design made setting up and storing the green screen. It was also much more affordable than I would have expected, coming in at $160.
Now, what will my personal finance review channel do with a greenscreen? Well, that remains to be seen. However, I’m betting that the clever little YouTuber in you can figure out some cool uses for your content. If that’s the case, then I’d recommend the Elgato — but perhaps it’s worth experimenting with homemade options before making the investment.
Finally, we come to one that I actually have full-on experience with! A couple of years back, I realized that I was regularly coming up with holes in my video as I didn’t have good images to go with my narration. This problem eventually led me to set off in search of a stock footage solution. Ultimately, I decided to go with Storyblocks, and have continually used the service since.
Let me state upfront that the way I use stock footage is often cheesy — and that’s mostly because I find stock footage itself to be inherently cheesy. That said, while you can find more “serious,” artsier, or higher quality stock clips, they’re likely to come at a cost. So, once again, you may need to do a bit of a balancing act when looking at different options.
With that out of the way, one of the things I like about Storyblocks and some other sites I’ve checked out is that they allow you to search their clip library before needing to sign-up. Because of this, I was able to type in some of the common phrases I’ve needed footage for in the past to see if the platform had anything to offer. More often than not, that answer was “yes” for me, leading me to subscribe.
Overall, I’ve really enjoyed incorporating stock footage into my content (it even makes me laugh sometimes) and absolutely love how much time it’s saved me in terms of editing/searching for images. And while Storyblocks has served me well so far, with my renewal upon me and the platform discontinuing some of its plans, I am considering what else is out there and perhaps trying something new — so I’ll be sure to keep you all updated on that front.
When it comes to YouTube, growth and evolution are the name of the game. And while it may not always be necessary to spend money in order to improve elements of your channel, reinvesting in your content can also prove fruitful. So, whether you ultimately decide to try these tools or others, keep moving forward with your YouTube channel — and good luck!
Also published on Medium.