I’ve been investing in YouTube video production for my business since 2017.
In fact, I spend 3-4 entire days per month filming and delegating the footage to my YouTube producer. On average, I spend around $300 per month on production.
However, it wasn’t until my third year doing it that I got monetized on YouTube, and even better, saw real ROI begin to happen—as in, direct prospects contacting me to buy hours after watching my video.
That’s the trust you can build on YouTube.
In fact, I have one single video that is dominating the top of YouTube for its keyword, now climbing up in views organically every week (it just blew past 70k views). I’ve also gotten monetized and make about $130-ish every month in YouTube ad revenue.
What’s even better—the leads and prospects we earn. I’ve brought in $10,000+ in sales from the leads that find me on YouTube.
I don’t burn myself out on production. In fact, I rarely do more than film one or two videos every month! But, I’m consistent. If it’s 1x/month, that’s my minimum.
Finally, I know a thing or two about how to make YouTube videos for your business in a way that will seriously improve your ROI.
In today’s blog, I’m going to teach you exactly how to make YouTube videos for your business, including who I hire at different stages, what tools to get, my entire setup (lights, decor), and more.
BONUS: a section on the new $2,200 camera I upgraded into, and why I upgraded.
Here’s a few stages of lighting evolution my office has gone through!
Tell me in the comments – do you like the neon style or the light/bright/white style?
Table of Contents: The Complete Guide on How to Make YouTube Videos that Make Money
How to Make YouTube Videos for Your Business: Where to Start
Before we begin, let’s get one important detail straight:
You CANNOT jump into creating YouTube videos for your business right away. You CAN’T start with an idea for a video.
I know, I know. You’re excited and raring to start creating and publishing video content. Don’t get me wrong – that’s great!
But, diving in without a plan won’t lead to any traction.
A strategy is really, really vital here if you want your videos to stand a chance and do well. If you want views, if you want comments, engagement, and visibility in YouTube search, you have to approach making videos with a plan and a cohesive channel theme from day 1.
So, let’s talk about how to build that strategy.
How to Define a Clear Theme & Identity for Your YouTube Channel Strategy
When you create a YouTube channel, you need a cohesive theme and identity.
This is the first big step to complete on your journey to make successful YouTube videos. Why?
Because a themed, cohesive channel is an optimized channel. An optimized channel resonates better with viewers, lures in your audience, and gives them a reason to keep watching you.
Your channel theme and identity also tell viewers what they can expect from you. What kind of videos will you be putting out? What topics will you cover? It all falls under your theme + identity umbrella.
For example, my channel’s identity and theme flow from my branded Content Hacker™ tagline: “Relevant, powerful content marketing that fuels your brand to the next level.” And, of course, that theme stems from my expertise as a 10+ year veteran in content marketing.
To make sure people know and understand my theme as soon as they view my channel page, it’s emblazoned loud and proud across my cover photo:
Other experts do the exact same thing. Examples:
Valuetainment by Patrick Bet-David (“The #1 Channel for Entrepreneurs”):
Backlinko by Brian Dean (“Higher Rankings & More Traffic”):
And Sunny Lenarduzzi (“Helping You Be Your Own Boss”):
Giving your channel a theme doesn’t just help your audience, though. It also helps YOU plan and create relevant content they’ll love.
It wasn’t until I themed my channel that I began to see a lot more success on YouTube. Coincidence? I think not.
How to Script Content Topics Your Audience Cares About
Now that you have a roadmap in the form of a channel theme, it’s time to think about actually creating videos for your small business!
But, before you can turn on your camera, you need solid content topics to talk about.
I always recommend starting from a place of research and expertise.
You already tied your expertise to your channel theme. So now you need to drill down to find out what your audience wants to know under that topic umbrella. Like this:
Pssst… I teach this concept and much, much more in my Content Transformation System.
Don’t choose random topics that interest you – you have no idea if those topics will interest anyone else. Instead, find topics your audience cares about, specifically, ones they’ve ASKED for.
For example, my YouTube channel topics come directly from questions real people ask in the chats that come through my sites.
Two keys here are 1) research and 2) LISTENING.
LISTEN to what your audience is telling you, whether that’s in customer chats, on social media, in DMs, emails, blog comments, etc. They’re your best source for content topics and ideas. Don’t ignore them!
YouTube SEO for Business: A Short Guide
True or false:
With an audience-vetted content topic in hand, you’re ready to start scripting.
Before you can script, you NEED to think about YouTube SEO, keywords, and optimization.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine in the world (only behind Google). It has an algorithm that looks at user signals to figure out what videos to display and when.
More than 500 hours of video content is uploaded to the platform every minute.
Every. Minute. That’s a lot of competition.
To show up in YouTube search AND suggested videos, you need to be mapping your content topic to a keyword and optimizing accordingly. SO. Let’s talk about YouTube SEO.
Map Your Content Topic to a Keyword (Use YouTube SEO!)
SEO on YouTube works similarly to SEO for your written content. After all, there are a lot of written, optimizable components to any video posted to the platform:
- The video title
- The video description
- Closed Captions (CC)
Using a good keyword in all of these places, plus relevant video content, will get you far.
You already know you can’t find great keywords without an equally great keyword tool. For YouTube SEO, I recommend VidIQ.
In general, you’re looking for a keyword that ties into your topic but has low competition. That means there aren’t a ton of videos out there associated with that keyword – which gives you a better chance at ranking.
Check for low search volume (between 100 and 1k) and a low difficulty score (also called a “competition score” on VidIQ – less than 50 is a good starting point).
For more tips on finding great keywords to use in your YouTube business account, including video titles, descriptions, etc., I highly recommend Backlinko’s guide.
Besides using good keywords in the right places, another big-impact YouTube ranking factor I’ve noticed is age. This video, for example, gets 1,000 new views every week. But those views didn’t start racking up until a year after publishing. Keep that in mind as you continue creating video content.
How to Outline Your Video Topic with Key Talking Points
Okay. You’ve got an audience-approved topic and you have keywords mapped to that topic. Time to outline what you’ll say in your video.
Starting with an outline helps you define each piece of the topic you’ll cover. It also makes scripting go much faster, and keeps your final video organized and concise (read: shorter and sweeter).
Without outlining and scripting, you might find yourself rambling in your video and unable to collect your thoughts. With a good outline, you’ll create a good script, so don’t skip this step.
In general, outlining doesn’t have to be complicated. I recommend just jotting down the key points you’ll go over in your video. List them one after another. Under each point, add a few sentences about what you plan to talk about. Will you reference an outside source? Will you need a photo or a URL displayed on-screen to help illustrate your point? Make note of that in your outline.
Once your key points are down on paper, add sections for your intro and your outro – what you’ll say to start your video and introduce your audience to your topic, and what you’ll say to end the video and sign off.
And that’s pretty much all you need for an outline. Simple, right?
Time to Create Your Script
Now that you have an outline, script the whole thing out!
Since you took the time to outline first, scripting will be as easy as filling in the blanks and fleshing out your outline skeleton.
Expand on your key points. Write down what you want to say, especially stuff you don’t want to forget to include.
If you’re comfortable in front of the camera, you might ad-lib or riff here and there on your script – that’s totally fine. The script is both a reminder and a jumping-off point. You don’t have to script every single thing you’ll say in the final video unless that helps you.
This is your content creation process – tweak it so it works for you.
Finally, when you’re ready, film!
“Push the Damn Button!”
Here’s the thing about creating videos.
The hardest thing is to get started.
Here are my words of advice. I’m going to quote Brian Fanzo: “PUSH THE DAMN BUTTON!”
You can’t do it until you, well, do it. Guess how long it took me, five years ago, when I began filming for the first time ever — to get 10 minutes of quality footage?
Eight hours of stopping, starting, stopping, and starting again.
It takes WORK to get into a rhythm. It takes WORK to get comfortable filming if you’re not used to it. It takes WORK to iron out the kinks and find your groove.
But you CAN do it. I did!
You’re welcome for the dose of inspiration. (Hopefully, that inspires you. No, it wasn’t fun. Worth it? Hell to the yes.) Once you’re finally in the thickets of video content creation, once you’ve “pushed the damn button” a few times, it gets easier.
That said, I have some tools and resources that will make the process a whole lot easier… including people I hire to get my videos looking sharp!
How to Film Your YouTube Videos: Equipment You Need vs. Equipment You Want
Think of these resources as “Julia’s tricks of the trade.” These are MUSTS for making YouTube videos for your business you’ll be proud of!
For even more guidance and tips on making content that works to grow your business, check out our 1-hour Content Hacker Workshops.
1. You NEED a YouTube Filming Setup
Think of your YouTube filming setup as your “studio.” This is the place you go when it’s time to shoot. Social Media Examiner says having this space set aside will streamline your workflow, and I agree.
You don’t want to be searching for a spot every time you film. You need something you can just sit down in front of and film with minimal effort. However, effort should go in to creating this space.
It will save you mountains of time and energy to have this spot ready and waiting for you whenever you need to film, so I highly recommend setting aside a small corner in your home, office, workspace, etc. JUST for filming.
My setup is downstairs in my second home office, set up with décor that I personally identify with. (You need a “ME” corner.) I tend to change this up and it evolves with me over time.
I’m a content creator, so my corner typically includes stacks of books and a vintage typewriter. I got the lighted marquee letter J on Amazon.
I’ve played with my lighting several different times.
Back when I set up neon lights, I tried a lot of products and shipped them back to Amazon. Finally, I love my lights. It’s a setup of five individual different lights. Neon lights earn you a higher click-through rate on YouTube. I still recommend doing it and have my lights in the closet if I ever want to switch back to this.
YouTube Equipment you NEED:
My lights are these following products.
- $59.99: Ustellar 4 Pack 25W RGB LED Flood Lights Color Changing Indoor Outdoor Floodlights
- $13 x 3: 3 of HAHOME Waterproof Fairy String Lights,33Ft 100 LEDs Indoor and Outdoor Starry Lights in pink, purple and blue
I placed all these lights in creative ways on a bookshelf. I’m sure you could think of even more cool ways to display them!
I recommend trying out the flood lights at a minimum. You can place them in a corner on the floor behind you and get an excellent neon-looking light. You get four in one box, and I’ve only had to use two.
What else do you need to produce clear, crisp videos in a space? For a beginner, all you need is good lighting, a video recorder, a tripod (stand/stabilizer), and good audio recording equipment.
Here’s my space, minus neon-lights, currently lit up with natural lighting plus the below Neewer Ring Light.
- Lighting: $65, Neewer Ring Light Kit
- Smartphone tripod: $55, UltraPro 72″ Inch Heavy-Duty Aluminum Camera Tripod with Universal Smartphone Mount.
- Audio: $20 and 100% plug-and-play (don’t waste money on any other lavalier mic, so many of them don’t even work!): Rechargeable Shotory’s Professional Lavalier Microphone for iPhone, Camera, PC, Android, Lavalier Lapel Microphone with USB Charging, Omnidirectional Lapel Mic
- Adapter: You’ll need a headphone-to-lightning adapter for your iPhone to hook into a lavalier mic. $8 on Amazon
Now, what about a camera a.k.a. video recorder?
If you’re new to YouTubing, your smartphone with 4K camera turned on will do just fine — and any top-of-the-line smartphone has a 4K camera these days. (Here’s how to make sure 4K quality is turned on, on iPhone and Android.)
If you’re ready to invest in your video equipment, let’s talk about the gadgets you need to put on your wish list.
Video Review: The Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Camera vs. iPhone 11 Pro Max
I recently upgraded to this bad boy: $2,199, Fujifilm X-T4 Mirrorless Digital Camera XF16-80mm Lens Kit. My goal was to upgrade the look, feel, and quality of my videos. For the past ten years, I’ve filmed everything on 4K mode with my iPhone. My last year of video recording has been accomplished with the iPhone 11 Pro Max.
This $2k camera is most definitely in the want section. I filmed for years, finally got my channel approved for monetization in 2020, and just started making YouTube income in April of 2020.
I had a channel since 2013 and began to actively film in 2018 and 2019. I have filmed hundreds of videos with my iPhone.
Funny story, I haven’t even made enough in lifetime ad revenue to pay for the camera yet. LOL!
But, leads come in. And this is the real money—as it should be for you, too, if you run a business and want to promote that business through YouTube. I would estimate in income earned from the leads and prospects that have invested in my programs and services after finding me on YouTube, I’ve earned upwards of $10,000.
Check out the incredible difference of a $2,200 camera vs. an iPhone. Guess which one is taken through the Fujifilm mirrorless camera:
I LOVE IT. Seriously! I’m excited to see how my channel grows with high-quality production.
Here’s a video I recently did showing you the before and after of filming with an iPhone vs. the Fujifilm XT4:
My Recommended YouTube Publishing Checklist & Timeline: Why You Should Give Yourself TIME and a PROCESS When Filming
I don’t recommend filming and creating videos right before you want to publish them.
Great content – including videos! – takes TIME, and a process.
Great videos aren’t rushed: I recommend a two-week timeline per video. I usually film 20-25 days minimum before my final video gets published on YouTube. Here’s my timeline and process. In total, it’s about 12 days. The beauty of this is I can film several videos in one day if I want to, so I have several videos going through this timeline at once.
- 1 day: I come up with topic ideas a day minimum ahead of filming and use VidIQ Pro to research low-competition keywords on YouTube. (It’s worth the money, and is super simple to use, as we covered in the YouTube SEO section.)
- 1 day: I create an outline the day of filming, so it’s fresh in my mind as I film.
- I film and edit (same day as outline day).
- 1 day: I edit out the footage I don’t want my producer to produce. It takes me about a day, in-between the other tasks I have going on. I create a detailed list of text and effects I want my producer to add for me.
- 4-5 days: My producer gets the video with the production notes and gets to work.
- 1 day: I review final files and ask for any revisions if needed.
- 3 days: I schedule my video out on YouTube typically three days ahead of time. I like to publish later in the week, but I often test this and try earlier weekdays, too. The time of day really depends on your subscribers, where they are based, and when they are watching—which can change dramatically month after month.
Before my producer gets my video, I cut out footage I don’t want him to use with one or both of these tools: TechSmith’s Camtasia, and Apple’s native iMovie.
I recently had to switch to iMovie after learning that Camtasia was crashing due to the size of my file recorded with the Fujifilm. (And I have the latest version of Camtasia.) It froze for minutes at a time when editing the heavy file. iMovie, thankfully, did not. I’ll probably work in iMovie for the foreseeable future. As much as I love the UX of Camtasia, it just cannot handle heavy files as well as iMovie.
Editing in iMovie.
Editing in Techsmith’s Camtasia.
For producing and publishing video content, every little detail counts. You need to ensure all your bases are covered to end up with a final video you’re proud of, and one your audience will love, too.
Start scheduling your video at least three days before it comes out, if possible. The checklist is so long, I find myself continually getting better at optimizing it if I come back every few days instead of rushing through it in one day.
Here’s Everything You Need for Publishing Your Video on YouTube (Checklist):
- A great title, optimized with your keyword
- A custom copywritten description, also optimized with your keyword — have body copy, then a footer you can copy and use again telling people where to follow you, etc. See how I do it on my video.
- A thumbnail (always create a custom video thumbnail to stand out! DIY if you have the skill, or hire a graphic designer) — I first take these on my iPhone, then I send it to my designer. Here’s how that turns out (AMAZING!).
- Pick a day/time to schedule your video (let YouTube suggest the time)
- Audience (made for kids or not)
- Tags (very important! Your main keyword should be the first tag, and your synonymous keywords the secondary tags — have 10 or 15 total)
- Upload Closed Captions, or CC — very important (use my suggested provider on Fiverr if you don’t have a transcriptionist, see next section)
My Personal Video Production Resources & Partners (Who I Hire!)
Great videos usually aren’t a solo endeavor. I enlist quite a bit of help with producing and finishing off my final video end-products. Here’s who I hire for that help.
High-Quality Video Production
Expect to pay $200 minimum for your video production (including an intro) if you want production illustrative elements like illustrations, animations, well-designed text, etc. A good video producer uses top-notch tools like Final Cut Pro and will be able to handle intricate design requests.
I’ve run into my fair share of unprofessional video producers that have delayed my project deadlines by over a month. Avoid unprofessional producers at all costs. They will delay your project and eat up your investment.
My recommended video partners:
- Cilara on Fiverr is my producer! (you’ll pay about $200 in a custom gig for a 10-minute video with all the effects, animations, etc.)
For B-Roll Footage, Creative Filmography, and More:
- My husband films my B roll. Need more help? Ryan Gàllego and the team at Media Pouch – Awesome local video producer here in Austin
Fiverr for Captions:
- I hire adins_design time and time again for all my captions. His gig is very accurate in transcription quality, and it’s only $5 for 10 minutes!
You’ve Got This! Start YouTubing Today
Believe me, I get it…
Making YouTube videos for your business is a ton of work, no question.
Hopefully, these tips helped clarify and simplify some of the steps for you.
Build your strategy, brainstorm a few topics, and get going right now!
But, if you’re struggling to start…
If you need guidance and a strategy…
If you’re tired of the ups-and-downs of trying to be successful…
If you’re ready to build a sustainable online business the long-term, strategic way…
Consider applying to my transformative coaching program, The Content Transformation System, where I’ll teach you how to set up your business, systems, and marketing in 90 days or less — and reach the income and impact you crave.