I’ve completely changed my video production style recently and it has made an immediate, positive impact on the performance of my YouTube channel.

It all started with my first impressions video for the Apple Watch Ultra.

Rather than do my normal ‘sit down at the desk, talk and pepper you with b-roll of the product’ routine, I decided to film chronologically throughout the day and avoid being rooted to the same spot for too long. I even placed an appalling McKinnon-inspired coffee sequence at the start and filmed myself running down the street.

The production process was miles outside of my comfort zone but it was also a huge risk. The YouTube audience is brutal with its retention, you see. Make one section of your video too long or self-indulgent, and you lose them in milliseconds.

But it worked. Massively. To date, that video is achieving views that are three times higher than usual (and which have just surpassed 72,000), has brought in 642 new subscribers and earned an impressive amount in AdSense revenue.

This is why I’m using it as a template going forward.

I applied the same technique to a follow-up video for the Apple Watch Ultra this week, and it enabled me to write, shoot, edit, and publish it in less than a day.

This is how I did it.

The secret lies in the blog

I’m a broken record about this, but I will not stop telling you about how important blogging is for YouTubers.

This is for two reasons:

  • blogs provide another invaluable opportunity to build your audience and earn more revenue; and
  • blogs can form the basis for your videos.

My content repurposing process always starts with the blog. That gets written, published, and shared on social media. I then break the blog down into a series of bullet points for a video ‘script’, from which I work during the shooting process.

It’s a time saver, but it also means I know what I’m talking about. I’ve already written, proofread, and published the blog post, therefore I’ve got my thoughts in order for the eventual video well in advance.

I did that with my Apple Watch Ultra follow-up video. The blog post was a simple ‘5 things I’ve learned’ affair but enabled me to section off each of those learnings into separate scenes for the video.

All that was left to do was bullet-point each scene, grab my camera, and head into the fields near my house. Everything was fresh in my mind. I had a clear plan, and all I needed to do was find a few locations from which to ramble into the lens.

That shooting process took just two hours, including some b-roll back at home.

The importance of your process

If I’m boring about the importance of blogging for YouTubers, I’m biblically boring about the processes behind my business.

Whether it’s the steps I go through to write a blog, shoot a video, or keep track of review units, they are so important. Without these processes, I’d make countless mistakes, miss publishing dates, and disappoint sponsors. I’d basically have no business at all.

The process for creating these new-look videos is a mixture of old and new. The nuts and bolts of what goes into the shooting, editing and publishing remain as they have over the last couple of years; everything is tracked in Notion, and I use all of the same tools to get everything done.

The biggest difference is the shooting method. Now that I’m no longer constantly welded behind a desk, I’m using a carefully crafted camera setup to capture each scene. For the gear nerds among you, this consists of:

It’s a brilliant setup, thanks almost entirely to that MantisPod, which can be placed on pretty much anything, safely hung from stuff and crammed into virtually any small space for the perfect shot.

With that gear in hand, I can shoot so easily. I just find my spot, set up the angle, read my bullet points, and hit record. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat – until I’ve captured everything and can head into Final Cut Pro to piece it all together.

I don’t mess with my edit process, either. Over the last two years, it has formed into something I can smash out incredibly quickly, and, tellingly, it has adapted brilliantly to this new form of shooting and scene-based video making.

What I didn’t do on Monday was spend ages trying to work out how to do something, or figuring out what I should do next, because I already knew. My processes were, as ever, my knights in shining armour.

Once you find a process that works, stick with it. Don’t change your toolset. Don’t be tempted by others because they do something different (or because they suggest you’re doing it wrong – you’re not). Close that editing software comparison review and crack on with what you know.

Killing your darlings

A quick note on this horrible but unavoidably important phrase.

If you want to get super-fast, efficient, and good at making YouTube videos, you need to learn how to chop out the stuff you want to keep.

It takes a while to spot it and this comes with practice and experience, but over time you’ll identify instances in videos where you’re not adding any value at all. When you do, it needs to go – immediately.

We all do it. Wandering down literary cul-de-sacs, waffling, repeating yourself, trying to be funny, meandering into totally unrelated, whimsical tales that no one cares about but you.

The only reason I was able to shoot, edit, and publish that Apple Watch Ultra video in less than a day was because I dispensed with the guff. I’ve gathered enough experience thus far to cut some of that out during the filming process, but there are always some leftovers once the footage enters Final Cut Pro.

Trust me, when I find it, that stuff lasts seconds before it is deleted from the history books forever.

Don’t sweat the thumbnail

I wrote recently about how little time I spend on YouTube thumbnails. This will horrify some, who suggest that you should spend at least as long on your thumbnail as you do on the video itself. Longer, even.

I respectfully disagree. I’ve never spent more than twenty minutes on a thumbnail – and that’s a long time for me. Most of the thumbnails you see on my channel were created in about ten minutes – sometimes far quicker.

They’re not perfect. Some undoubtedly have a negative impact on the performance of the video. But the majority seem to work pretty well.

My thumbnail process looks something like this:

  • Step 1: Shoot a photo of myself holding the product and pulling a silly face.
  • Step 2: Give the photo a quick edit in Lightroom (smash the contrast, sharpness, vibrance, and clarity).
  • Step 3: Throw the resulting photo into Canva, add a caption that provokes interest, and export.

Simple. Easy.

However, for this particular video, I was even more careless with the thumbnail. I simply grabbed a screenshot from the video (shock horror – yes I did the unthinkable) and combined it, side-by-side, with a photo of my Apple Watch Ultra that was taken on my iPhone, in my kitchen, with horrible lighting, and run through Instagram’s processing days before.

Bosh. Done. Over thirty-thousand views in 24 hours.

Wrap up

I don’t want to make light of the work that went into my Apple Watch Ultra follow-up video. It was as hard, intense, and occasionally stressful as every other video I’ve made. But it was also enthralling, exciting, and a huge amount of fun.

I hope this inspires others to step outside of their comfort zone and try new ways of creating content. Doing so is always a risk, but like everything in life, if you don’t try, you’ll never find the magic.

If you want to see the result of Monday’s effort, here it is!

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