Ever wonder why people click on your videos but don’t stick around?
It’s not about keywords, the metadata, or even the YouTube algorithm. The real problem? It’s me. I’m the problem. It’s me. Yep, it was me. Well, my editing anyway. My videos were boring, and if your videos are not getting more views and more watch time, well, it’s probably you too.
Sorry, but here’s the thing: great video editing isn’t about flashy transitions and using a ton of stock footage. It’s about editing the video to keep the viewers engaged from start to finish. And guess what? You don’t need to spend 10 hours per video to achieve that.
I’m going to share with you some tips and tricks that I’ve learned in the seven years that I’ve been on YouTube.
I’m no pro editor, but I’ve definitely learned a few things that took my channel from where I was to almost 20,000 subscribers in only a couple of years. I’ll show you how to make your videos more engaging and watchable, and yes, do it all without making editing your full-time job.
These tips work with all video editing software programs, so don’t worry about the software yet, because my first tip is actually done during the filming process and not during editing at all.
TIP #1 -TALK TO YOURSELF
As you’re looking at the camera and you say your line, if you mess up, just pause, inhale, and start over again. You may have to do that multiple times, or if you’re like me, about 75 times. When you get to the take that you like the best, speak right to the camera and say, “That’s the one, okay, moving on.” You can even do something like clap when you’re starting a new section.
It’s not just for show. It gives you a clear visual and audio marker when you’re scrubbing through your footage. This will help you to delete all of your mistakes very quickly so that now you’re only working with the parts of the footage that you actually wanted to work with, not 100 different mistakes.
TIP #2 – PICK UP THE PACE
Next, we want to pick up our pacing. I know that when I’m on YouTube watching videos, I tend to watch them on 1.25 to 1.5 time speed. I want to hear what they’re saying, but I want to hear it faster. When I’m editing my videos, if I’m tempted to play it back at 1.5 speed, I know that my pacing is off. In this video, I’m going to demonstrate exactly how I fix that using VEED.io. VEED is an online video editing program that is ideal for beginners. It’s user-friendly, it’s affordable, and it’s cloud-based, so it works with both PC and Mac. It has a ton of great features.
So, if you are in the market for a new video editing program, Get the VEED 30% off and access to the exclusive live events and VEED Creators Discord community HERE.
After I removed all of the mistakes, I selected the clip in the timeline that I needed to edit, and I then select media and then the custom. You’ll have to play with this a little bit to find out what the correct speed is for you, but for myself, I find that somewhere between 115% to 125% seems to work the best for me and my own speech pattern.
The goal is to keep it moving along quickly enough that nobody would be tempted to watch it at 1.5 speed on YouTube because, spoiler alert, if your video is boring, no one’s going to watch it.
TIP #3 – REMOVE PAUSES
Next, we want to remove as many pauses as possible. My personal rule of thumb is never to have dead air that lasts longer than about half a second. We never want there to be a time period where there is no speaking, no audio, no music, no dialogue, no sound effects, no nothing. But I find that when I’m editing everything in the same line in VEED, I still end up with pauses that are a little bit longer than I would like, and that’s where J cuts and L cuts come in. I will split the clip and then move on to the line above it.
When you have the sound from the next clip start while you’re still watching the original clip, it’s called a J cut. An L cut is when we see the second clip, but we’re still listening to the audio from the first. Don’t worry; there will not be a test at the end of this.
In Hollywood movies, they typically do this with dialogue with multiple people, but there’s no reason why we can’t do that, even if you are the only person in your video. I do this all the time, simply to make it so that the minute I stop speaking, the next sentence starts, and there’s no big breath in between. When you do this right, people won’t even know that it’s happening, and I guarantee you watch videos all the time where this is going on.
You just don’t notice it because the pacing of the video is so good that you’re completely focused on what the person is saying and not on their editing techniques.
The reason that we do these things is to keep the viewer watching as long as possible; if they click but then bail within the first 30 seconds of the video, you are teaching YouTube that people don’t like your video, and therefore, they are not going to show it to more people.
TIP #4 – THE BEAUTY OF A ZOOM CUT
Another way to create visual interest very simply is called a zoom cut. The beauty of a zoom cut is that it doesn’t require a second camera. It just means you’re going from a wide shot to a mid shot, or from a mid shot to a closeup, or from a wide shot to a closeup and back again.
It’s the same camera angle, but we’re just zoomed in on something when it’s really important, and we want to direct the viewer’s attention to what we were saying right then.
I love Zoom cuts because they really don’t require any skill. We just split the clip on each end, and then we can zoom in a tiny little bit, or we can exaggerate it and zoom in a lot if we’re trying to be funny or we really want to get the viewer’s attention.
Now we’ve removed all of the extra pauses, we’ve done a few zoom cuts to add interest, and you’re not speaking too slowly. Now we just have to add a little bit more visual interest.
Back in the day, I used to do very little editing. I have been on YouTube now for 7 years, and I know nothing about editing. I was completely self-taught, so I did as little as possible. It was not uncommon for me to go 10 or 20 seconds at a stretch and have nothing change on screen, and it didn’t matter back then.
It still worked, and I was still able to get clients for my videos. Ah, those were the days. I feel like an old lady now.
We are fighting for everyone’s attention these days, and in order to get it and keep it, we have to not only provide them with value, but we also have to give them something to look at on screen.
Over the last few weeks, I really wanted to understand what was working right now in 2024 when it comes to editing to keep people’s attention. I went to my YouTube homepage, and I looked at all the videos that were being recommended to me. I was looking for ones that were published within the last week and had hundreds of thousands of views, and then I started taking notes like crazy.
How often were they changing what was on screen? What were their titles like? Were they using music? Were they using sound effects?
I took a ton of notes, and what I found was that the people who had the most views on their videos and were getting the most love and reach from the algorithm were people who were making a change every 3 or 4 seconds on screen.
Every 3 to 4 seconds! Oh my gosh, are you kidding me? I know it sounds like a lot, but it can be as simple as having text pop up on the screen, and it can have a graphic or some B-roll pop-up. We can have a lower third pop-up at the bottom, or it could be at the top. Nobody says it has to be at the bottom just because it’s called a lower third.
And between all of those things, and the zoom cuts, and a little bit of b-roll now and then, now we’re talking.
We just need to make sure that we don’t have extended periods where nothing is happening on screen at all, except your smiling mug talking to the camera. I know you’re beautiful, but come on, give us something more to look at.
I know it sounds like a lot, but using simple techniques like what we’re talking about now will enable you to make those changes every 3 or 4 seconds. Play your video from the beginning, and when you get to a part where more than 5 seconds go by, and nothing has changed on screen, that’s where we’re going to add something.
You can also use b-roll, and VEED luckily has a large library of stock footage to choose from.
So, if I’m making a video about Savannah, Georgia, I just go to their stock footage library, and I type in Savannah, Georgia. They’ve got a bunch for me to choose from. I just pick one, I drop it down onto my timeline, and boom, now I’ve got b-roll.
If you change up what they’re looking at every couple of seconds, it’s called a pattern interrupt, and this keeps their attention longer. They’re watching the video, and then oop, something else happened, and oh my gosh, look, something else happened just now. It definitely holds their attention.
One of the biggest mistakes that I see beginning video editors make is going overboard with the transitions.
Just because your software can do this, doesn’t mean you should. An unnecessary transition has the opposite effect of a pattern interrupt. It is so jarring that it really is off-putting, and it just makes the person want to leave the video altogether. You’ll notice that this video has very few transitions.
We’ve done jump cuts, straight cuts, zoom cuts, but not a lot of the spinning in between frames, and that was done on purpose. We don’t want to make anybody seasick. I do not want them to feel like they’re watching The Blair Witch Project. So keep your transitions to a minimum and use them strategically.
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