The 5MadMovieMakers channel has been running for nearly seven years and has almost hit one hundred thousand subscribers on YouTube. Fifteen 5MMM videos have accumulated at least one million views. While these stats don’t put the channel at the top of the list, the videos must be doing something right. So here’s several tips to making internet videos, learned from personal experience in the field.

What should my video be about?

Find a subject you’re passionate about or come up with videos that have something to say. Try to find a topic that interests many people, but be sure to add your own twist. Make sure your videos will stand out from content that is already on the internet. If someone else makes videos similar to what you want to make, copying their style means you have to out-do them to succeed. It would be better to make your own unique style of videos than to fight someone else for the same audience.

How should I make my video?

Make the video so that anyone, anywhere, can watch the video and get something out of it. Even if people aren’t directly interested in your subject, you should present the material in a fun, entertaining and professional manner to show you care about the time people are giving to your content. Remember that your video might be seen by someone who doesn’t speak your language, so be sure to visually show the subject of the video instead of just talking about it. Focus on the emotional impact your video will have on viewers. Make it funny, sad, inspiring, scary, epic, intense, or exciting.

Should I plan my video out?

Planning is important but remember to be flexible when filming. A great idea might present itself while recording and it would be foolish to ignore it just because it’s not in your script or storyboards. Having said that, most of the successful 5MMM videos are concepts that were imagined weeks or months before they were filmed. It helps to sleep on an idea and come back the next day with fresh eyes, though at some point you will just have to go with the ideas you’ve got and get it done.

How do I keep my audience’s attention?

YouTuber Freddy Wong says to use the title and thumbnail to create an expectation for the viewer and then to exceed this expectation in the actual video. Videos that fail to live up to the expectation set by their thumbnails and titles are called “clickbait”, since the creator only cares about getting views and clicks instead of meeting the demands of the customer. Don’t sell yourself short and give your video a lame title, but make sure that the viewer will feel your promise of content was fulfilled and exceeded.

How long should my video be?

Your video should get to the point but cover everything viewers expect it to. Longer videos have recently gained popularity since YouTube’s algorithm rewards longer watch times, but remember that online viewers appreciate brevity and efficiency. Most viewers decide in the first few seconds if a video deserves their attention. Since most filmmakers start out with videos that are too long, you should err on the shorter side. Better to have someone watch all of a short video and have a positive experience than for someone to leave or click away before a long video is done. Before uploading, show a video to friends and see if they think the pacing is too fast or too slow.

What technical aspects should I worry about?

Make sure the video is filmed at a good resolution. Remember that the video will be watched on both big and small screens. Make the frames-per-second consistent. Don’t slow footage down if you didn’t film it in slow motion. Make sure the video is well-lit and bright enough to tell what’s happening even if you’re watching on a darker screen. Use microphones to capture clean audio. Add music to complement what’s happening on screen. Don’t use still photos or presentation slides. Avoid too much text on screen. Match screen direction so that a person or object moving left-to-right in one angle will continue left-to-right in the next angle. Export and upload at the highest possible quality settings. Be consistent in style. These “rules” aren’t always necessary but they will impress anyone who happens across your work.

How do I avoid copyright strikes and takedowns?

Use your own original content as much as possible. If using someone else’s content, be sure to get their explicit permission, or check to make sure it’s royalty-free or in the public domain, or make sure to transform it in such a way that it doesn’t duplicate the original (such as a parody, remix or analysis). Even if you follow these rules, there’s a chance the system will catch content it recognizes from elsewhere. Also be aware that while many brands are fine with you making videos with their products, other brands may feel that you are misrepresenting their company and may choose to file a takedown request if you use their intellectual property.

How do I get more views?

Connect your videos to each other with links in the description and at the end of the video. Upload at least once a month to encourage people to keep visiting your channel. Use keywords to bring in viewers through search engines and related videos. Share your video on social media, email it to friends and submit it to relevant websites. Be patient and wait; some videos succeed at first while others get views over time.

How do I respond to comments?

Remember that people react differently online than they do in person. When you show a video to a live audience, you can hear their laughs, screams, sighs and gasps. Online, all you get is a thumbs up or down and maybe a few words in a comment. Comments usually represent the extreme reactions, both positive and negative. Be sure to engage with people who respond positively to the video. Answer good questions that aren’t answered in the description. Look for requests in the comments if you need ideas for your next video. Be willing to take constructive criticism but ignore the comments that are outright mean. However, remember that even the mean commenters are still giving you ad revenue by watching your video; sometimes controversy in the comments can be a good thing.

How do I keep growing my channel?

Try not to make the same video over and over. Even if you find success with a certain type of video, always be open to improve your work. Find different locations, themes, music, subjects, stories, materials, or actors to mix it up. Don’t sell your videos to licensing companies or multi-channel networks. Never sell a video now if it could make you more money in the future. Don’t make videos for contests since the payoff is always uncertain. Don’t let someone on another video site upload a copy of your video. Finally, remember that your videos will be probably be up on YouTube for as long as YouTube exists, so make them as good as possible before uploading. A commitment to quality over quantity is crucial.

Thank you for reading. At the end of the day, remember that online video is not everything. Be sure to pay attention to all of the other aspects of life that can help fuel your work and keep you going.

Filming "Backyard Marble Runs"