Your First YouTube Video: 5 Things You’ll Need
When YouTube first started, it set off a revolution. Suddenly, anyone could create a piece of content, make it available to the world almost instantly, and do it all for free. Despite that simplicity, the platform can still manage to intimidate some people and prevent them from uploading their videos. But do you really need a ton of stuff in order to post your first YouTube video?
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at a few common stumbling blocks stopping people from getting started on YouTube. Continuing that series, I wanted to share five simple things you’ll need to create your first video — some of which you may already have:
5 Things You’ll Need to Make Your First YouTube Video
Before you buy your equipment, download editing software, or even set-up your channel, you’ll need to start with a video idea. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to make a master list of several ideas to get you going. That way, you can either add to this list as new ideas come to you or keep it as a backup for when creator’s block strikes.
By the way, there may be an instinct in you to make your first video about what your channel will be and offer an introduction. While that may not be a bad idea depending on what type of channel you hope to create, I’m of the mind that it’s far better to start by offering actual content from the jump. In other words, instead of telling people the types of videos you’ll be creating, you can just show them. Then, once you’re a few videos in and your subscriber count starts to grow, you can create a channel trailer that will introduce your larger vision to the world.
Once you have your topic selected, the next step is to figure out what you’re going to say about that topic. In some cases, this might mean writing a formal script while others might prefer just to jot down some notes. As it turns out, there are pros and cons to each approach.
Personally, I write full scripts for each of my videos. However, that’s partially because the structure I’ve established (using mostly voiceover) which allows for this. Meanwhile, the parts where I am on camera are still scripted, but I memorize those lines so that I can deliver them without reading.
If you do want to go the scripted route and don’t feel confident in memorizing the whole thing, there are some options. For those willing to spend a few dollars there are actually teleprompters you can purchase fairly cheaply. Some of these even operate using tablet devices, such as an iPad, and cost around $200.
Another option is to just memorize a section at a time and then use editing to stitch the whole thing together. This technique has become so popular on YouTube that the “jump cut” style has practically become a staple of the platform. That said, there are some viewers who find these cuts jarring, especially when they’re coming fast and furious.
For those who want to forgo a fully-scripted format, my advice would be to at least make an outline with notes and talking points you can refer to while filming. The truth is that no one likes sitting through rambling talking heads when they’re looking for answers to their questions. To prevent viewers from skipping around your video or closing the tab, make sure you keep yourself on point and moving forward even when flying without a script.
You probably saw this one coming seeing as YouTube is a visual medium. Thus, it’s extremely helpful if you have a camera with which to film. But the good news is that you may already have a serviceable camera in your pocket right now.
Yes, today’s smartphones are often equipped with impressive cameras capable of capturing HD and even ultra HD quality video. Therefore, if you don’t want to pony up the cash for new equipment just yet, you don’t have to! Additionally, if you do want a dedicated camera but don’t want to spend a fortune, you can try sites like eBay or Amazon and buy used equipment to help cut your costs.
Funny enough, you don’t even technically need any type of camera to make videos since you can use audio and other images such as still photos or screen captures to create content. For the latter, there are several different programs you can use, but I just utilize Quicktime on my Mac. As for stills, some of my favorite stock image sites include Pixabay, Unsplash, and Pexels. Of course, you’ll want to be creative with how you use these mediums and ensure you’re still finding a way to engage viewers.
First the bad news: you’ll probably want some sort of editing capabilities before posting your video to YouTube. Luckily, the good news is that there are now several options, varying in affordability and ease-of-use. For example, on desktop, there are free editing programs such as iMovie (for Mac) or HitFix Express. There are even mobile apps you can use to trim or fully edit videos on your phone. However, if you’re looking for something more advanced, I personally use Adobe Premiere CC, which is a subscription-based service.
On top of that, there’s a reason I made this one simply “editing” and not “editing software” or something similar. That’s because, really, you could get away with posting your video as-is if you’re good about editing yourself in real-time. As we discussed in the script/notes section, keeping your points tight and concise is best. But, if you can do that in one take without editing, more power to you!
Last but not least, before you can upload your newly-created video to YouTube, you’ll need to set up a channel of your own. This is actually a pretty painless process, but you will need a couple of things. For one, you’ll need a Google account such as a Gmail address. If you don’t already have one, you can make one during the sign-up process.
Next, you’ll need to pick a name for your channel. Truth be told, while this is key, it won’t become too big of a deal until a bit later. That’s because you can change your actual channel name after the fact, but your custom channel URL will remain. Here’s the thing though: you won’t be able to reserve a URL until you have at least 100 subscribers, so don’t fret too much at this point.
After you’ve gone through the steps of creating a channel and verified your e-mail address, all you’ll need to do is hit the camera icon near the upper right corner of YouTube and select “upload video.” You can drag and drop the file you saved or select it from your computer. Then, just add a title, description, and some tags and you’re ready to publish!
Actually, before you hit publish, it’s probably a good idea to watch the video back to ensure everything worked properly. Moreover, you can save a video as “Private” if you want to be the only one who can access it or “Unlisted” if you want to share the link with friends but not have it be searchable. Then, once you’ve ensured everything looks good, you can set it to publish. Congratulations!
Creating your first video on YouTube might not be as difficult as you think. While there are certainly a few things you’ll need, fancy equipment, masterful editing skills, or even a built-in audience are not among them. Instead, you can launch with just an idea, some great content, and a free account (although a camera and some editing ability can’t hurt). So what are you waiting for?