The Creative's Guide to YouTube

The Creative's Guide to YouTube

Ever post a new video on YouTube and wonder where the audience/views are? Like each individual social network, YouTube has its own rules and best practices. 

Follow these tips to not only be seen and heard, but become recognized, remembered, and remain relevant!


1. Create a strategy

Every minute, 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube. How do you rise above the noise? The first step is planning!

While you may have had success with a video or series in the past, how do you continually replicate your success without burning out? Pass through these 10 filters to further shape your content strategy.

Never lose sight of your original idea and vision, but consider passing it through YouTube’s proven fundamentals of creative strategy.


2. Make awesome videos

I get help with my weekly videos from my videographer, Gregg Monteith. Who do you know with great equipment? Here are the other videographers I endorse in L.A. and NYC

Lighting, sound, and video quality are super important to not only make a lasting first impression, but retain an audience. Filming on an iPhone is fine, but consider investing in external audio. We’re more forgiving of poor video, but not sound!

If you're in L.A., NYC, Berlin, London, Tokyo, or São Paolo, you can go to YouTube Space to improve your video production skills with free workshops. When you grow a true fan following, YouTube will even lend you space to film and edit your new videos! 


3. Craft thumbnails

This video thumbnail is paramount. It’s the first impression of your content—whether I discover it through an email, search result, or suggested video. By default, YouTube offers you three thumbnail options. However, I’d suggest you go pro and make your own.

You can do that by taking a screenshot of the original video and layering text through graphic design software. is a great resource. Use custom dimensions of 1920 x 1080.

YouTube culture skews young, and these thumbnails can be very small. As such, consider a comical capture and meme-like headline. The point is to grab attention with your thumbnail, capture interest with your headline, and then engage a targeted audience with amazing content.


4. Craft headlines

Use key words and strong language to draw your audience in. It’s not all about grabbing attention and interest—you’re creating a magnet for the right audience and need to fulfill! Headlines should truly reflect what’s contained in the video content.

You can ask a question—revealing the answer in the video.


You can also raise eyebrows (“noise riding” pop culture and playing into the Buzzfeed effect).


5. include metadata

Be sure to fill out a description of the video. Include a link to your website in the first few sentences so people can learn more about you. In the meta data or keywords section, be sure to help Google pair you with your audience by using relevant keywords for your video.

YouTube (like Periscope, Instagram, Facebook, etc.) has its own best practices and core audience. All of those platforms are great for actors, comedians and other creative artists. Specifically for actors, YouTube is a great channel for hosting a Web series, video blogs, demo reels, performance clips, interviews, etc. 


What's your YouTube channel? Comment below!

(Silly or amazing videos are welcomed, too. 😉)

Tony Howell is a digital strategist dedicated to helping you design your future—creating offline success from your online presence.