If you release a new YouTube episode every week, that’s 52 episodes a year, and 52 great ideas you need to dream up, develop, and execute brilliantly. If that sounds like a challenge, don’t worry. We’ve got a process you can use to create a great episode every time.
Co-Founder, One Stone Creative
There are three main steps to writing scripts for Youtube Videos: finding ideas your audience wants to hear about, creating a workable concept from the idea, and fleshing out the concept into an effective structure.
This is one of the parts of running a successful YouTube channel that many people overlook initially. Many YouTube creators are already used to coming up with dozens of blog posts, great podcast content and product and service offerings, but the unique environment of YouTube requires some specialised knowledge when it comes to creating reliably good scripts for the platform.
Because you’re designing content that is going to be seen and heard, you have to pay special attention to being clear and concise. You don’t want too MUCH in a video, but everything you say must be highly valuable.
Finding Video Ideas You and Your Audience Will Value
Notice that we said ‘finding’ ideas. Some people might be able to sit down and list 52 unique and compelling ideas for a show. And that’s awesome. It’s also pretty rare. First and foremost, because you need to be thinking about how video is fitting into your overall strategy, and making sure all of your videos serve your needs in that way. That adds an element of challenge to coming up with Youtube video ideas – most won’t be total standalones, and so you need to consider the overall arch of your production calendar over months or years.
When you’re creating onboarding videos, for example, it’s easy to determine their purpose and the action you want someone to take afterwards. When you’re coming up with a channel idea however, it can be more nebulous.
This means that your idea planning should start (but not be restricted by!) the different goals you have for your business.
In your ideas document (or spreadsheet, or project management software – whatever works for you) create a list of high-level goals you have for your business.
Some examples might be:
- Growing your Youtube Channel
- Opt-Ins to various lead magnets.
- Booking calls to discuss service offerings.
- Purchasing ready-made courses and products.
- Virality and engagement.
- Resources that answer common questions you can point people to.
- Directing traffic to other platforms like podcasts and blogs.
Each of your ideas will fit into one or more of these overall categories, and knowing what they are at the beginning of the process is very helpful when you get to post-production!
Okay – ready to talk about actually finding your ideas?
Good – let’s go.
Find out where your people are online. You might try Facebook groups, industry blogs, multi-author sites like Medium and the Huffington post, forums like Reddit (or one of the hundreds of topic-specific environments!) – anywhere that the people who will want to listen to YOUR podcast are also hanging out.
Clues to Look Out For:
Articles or blog posts that have a LOT of shares and engagement – people obviously care about the content. You want to be a little discerning here. Popular blogs and spaces will have tons of engagement on everything – keep an eye out for ABNORMAL engagement. When something that is in the general topic area of a blog or site gets significantly MORE attention and engagement than usual, it’s a sign that it’s a really hot-button issue, and you could contribute something meaningful to the conversation.
Questions people ask, especially in Facebook groups related to your topic. This is where people go to get information, and when you have the expertise to answer questions that come up, you can make a video that will really be valuable to people. If someone is publically asking a question, you can usually be sure that there are dozens, if not more, wondering the same thing. In social media and forum platforms you can often share a video you create in order to answer a question without breaking any rules our boundaries of the community. (But make sure to check!)
Posts or hints from industry leaders.They tend to have excellent research processes (and teams to help them!) so when they talk about trends or issues, you can bet it’s because a lot of people are interested. (Note – we’ll get into this more later, but we’re not talking about copying what industry leaders are doing – rather that the topics they are identifying as important can be good jumping off points for your unique vision.)
This is a great time to batch some of your production work. Keep a list of show ideas, both from your own imagination and from what people are talking about online. There are really no rules here; write down anything and everything – if possible, indicating which of your GOALS the idea could be helping to support.
Now, having an idea doesn’t mean running with an idea. In fact, you probably shouldn’t run with every single idea that you have. Not everything is a winner, and there’s an extra step in coming up with ideas for YouTube videos that most people skip!
Vetting Ideas for Video Scripts
Vetting basically means making sure that your idea has enough of the right qualities to be a fit for the platform.
Some ideas are suited to different ways of being communicated. Something very details and complex might do better as a blog post first. Something that’s going to involve a discussion with others might need a test drive in audio. Sometimes ideas will really make the most sense when communicated through an infographic.
So here are the three questions that WE use to vet an idea for Video:
- Does this idea exist where my expertise and may audience’s interest Intersect?
- How has the topic been approached before?
- Do I have a definitive statement to make about this topic?
Let’s go through each of them.
The first question: Does this idea exist where my expertise and my audience’s interests intersect? This is where you’ll be most effective because you’re in a position of authority telling people what they want to know.
Not sure if your idea is in this intersection? Think about how you FEEL about the idea? Could you confidently and excitedly tell someone about it? Teach them the basics quickly and effectively? Help them get as excited about it as you are?
That’s the sweet spot right there.
The second question is: How has the topic been approached before?
It’s good to know what’s already been said about a thing because then you can say it better or differently. If you didn’t generate the idea from other authorities or thought leaders in your space (when you’ll know exactly how THEY deal with it) take your idea right to Google and see what people are saying.
Are other people adequately addressing all aspects of your idea? If so, that’s a fail, and you’ll want to give this idea a pass.
If you have something new, interesting or important to ADD to the conversation around the idea – put that in the save pile.
And finally, ask yourself: do I have a definitive statement to make about this topic?
Vagueness and ambiguity are not your friends. If you can’t speak with certainty and give a real answer, the idea isn’t worth doing. You want to be continuing the conversation and setting yourself up as a real authority on the topic. If you’re wishy-washy, not sure, or really, not that familiar with the topic area, it’s not the best idea for a video, although you may want to put in a pin in it for later as your business grows.
When an idea passes all three of the questions – it’s a keeper.
The next step is to create a workable concept from it.
Creating a Concept from an Idea
Look at it this way:
An idea is: hey, it would be cool to do an episode about capturing great audio! You’ll know it’s an idea because it sounds like a title, something you’d click on to find out MORE information.
A concept is: I’m going to do an episode about capturing great audio by acoustically treating a room, getting the right gear, and post production cleanup. You’ll know you have a good concept when you can think of at least three supporting things to flesh out the idea, and you can speak with confidence on each one.
Basically: an idea is the seed from which a video script grows. A concept is more detailed and will get into more of the meat you’re going to be presenting.
This is the last real vetting step. For your ideas that passed the questions – could you think of at least three really interesting, significant things to say about it?
Structuring Your Ideas For Video
Moving on, the final step in creating a great script for your episode is to take the concept and expand it to fit a solid structure. Now, some people can get in front of a camera and deliver a well-structured episode off the top of their heads.
Most of us can’t.
But we will say without any hesitation that taking the time to plan it out will always result in a better episode. You don’t have to create a word for word script: bullet points and outlines work too if you’re a natural talker.
Now, Megan and Audra BOTH Work with a full script for Youtube Videos – although Audra has the experience to use points or outlines for audio only work. It all comes down to your personal style and what works best for you. (If you DO need a full script – TellyPrompt is a great free Chrome plugin (First response if you Google it!) that will let you have scrolling test in front of you while you’re shooting. Very fancy.
So, as you might know, Audra Casino – the creative mind here at the Video Doctors, worked in audio broadcasting for nearly two decades. She made it all the way to the fifth largest market in the US, and can tell you this: the very best radio personalities never fly by the seat of their pants. They have a plan, and they’re so good at executing it, you’d never know.
You want to imitate them as much as possible.
You want to imitate them as much as possible.
There’s a simple structure we use that hits all the bases:
- A hook, something that grabs your listener’s attention.
- Include a video bumper that makes a statement of purpose.
- Tell people what they can expect and invite them to subscribe.
- Get into the content. We do shorter episodes, so we like to stick with about three main points.
- A Call to Action, or a CTA, telling our viewers what step we would like them to take next.
- A Final Thought
Here’s a little more information about what each of these could look like:
A hook hits on a point of real pain or interest. What is going to cause a visceral reaction in the viewer? Spark their curiosity? Shock them a little? Get them excited enough to keep watching?
Good hooks can sound a little silly the first few times you try them. They aren’t exaggerated, exactly – but they’re a teaser of what’s to come, and so they can be more excited or enthusiastic or brief then your content would normally be.
Here’s an example of a hook that we might use for a video about WordPress themes:
“You might be wondering what kind of theme you should choose for your WordPress site. This is a big decision, and it is going to impact a lot of other decisions you’ll be making down the road. Don’t worry, however, we’ve got you covered with 3 rules of thumb you can use to make sure that you’ll have a site you can work with!”
This is a short video with your main brand and messaging on it. It doesn’t have to be complex! You can use a service like Splasheo to make a simple logo reveal one. That might look like this one from Megan’s old project Newbie Academy:
We like including a little more of the messaging that we feel our brand and business represents. Adding a bit more content to a bumper not only looks professional but as your presence grows, makes people Here’s ours:
If you’re not ready to add a full bumper to your site – use a quick logo reveal or now, and get a full bumper with unique music later on! (Yes, we can make that for you, just book a call and we can talk about your style!)
Expectations and Request
Before getting into your main content, spend a few moments reminding your viewer of who you are, why they are there, and that they can subscribe to stay in the loop.
This is going to feel SUPER repetitive, but it’s actually an important part of reinforcing your voice and authority in your videos.
You don’t want to make it long – but remind people of your name or business name, the different topics you’re going to cover in your CHANNEL not just the video, and that if they haven’t yet – they should subscribe for new content as soon as it’s released.
Ours goes like this:
“We’re the Video Doctors [our name], helping entrepreneurs conquer videos. [Why we do this] Each week release videos talking about things like technology, editing, and performance, to marketing strategy, relationship building and systems that you need to grow. [Setting Expectations] If that sounds like something you need, you should subscribe. Also, check out the show notes for all the links. [Request for Action] And now, let’s talk about [what the main content is going to be, as described in the hook]”
Depending on your personal style, you can have more narrative or more technical content structures. There are actually 5 different styles that we have identified for Youtube Video Content (Find out yours here!)
Briefly, they are:
- Thought Leadership. These videos make huge, possibly controversial statements about important topics.
- Mentorship. These are conversational, and connective in style – really about creating and nurturing relationships.
- Teaching. These are explanatory videos to teach a concept, skill or idea.
- Entertainment. These videos are for fun! If possible, be entertaining just to engage and connect with people!
- Reviewing. When you’re giving recommendations or talking about different options people have, a reviewing video gets your point across perfectly.
You can mix these up in your channel, but you’ll find that you tend towards one of them more than any of the others, and roughly HALF of your videos should stick to one style.
As we mentioned earlier, you want to keep yourself to three main points that you’re going to cover. You can always direct people to podcasts and blog posts if you need to dig into something in more detail.
You want to aim to keep your videos in the 4-7 minute range, which is about as far as most people’s attention spans will go on Youtube, and three key elements is a good number to work with. People will be able to choose a favorite or most important one to discuss as THEY share the content, and it’s an easy number of points for someone to remember.
After you’ve given people something to learn or think about, it’s time to ask them to do something.
The Call to Action
Don’t overlook the importance of a CTA. It can be as simple as asking them to subscribe or like the video, or it can invite them to visit a landing page on your website. But THIS is where you will ROI by growing your channel or making money from products.
Go back to your list of goals from earlier in this post. For each idea, you’ll have one MAIN call to action, and possible, another two or three.
Usually, in copy, you only want ONE call to action – but video is wonderful because it’s reach is so broad you can include different calls to action for different people, and it’s so easy for someone to click a link from your video, that they can easily choose the one that is the most appealing to them.
For example, in most of our videos, we invite people to subscribe, to watch at least one other video, and view a resource on our website.
Once you’ve gone from idea to concept to structure, it’s a process you can repeat over and over again. You’ve got to be consistent with publication and execution, so your audience will know they can count on you, week after week, to deliver the content they want.
The Final Thought
The final thought is going to play during your endscreen, and may or may not still have you speaking in one of the corner segments. This should be very shot – just a final summation of a key point, or something for the viewer to think about as they are choosing which of your calls to action they should follow.