In our post covering how to make a YouTube channel, we highlighted everything from start to finish - from planning your content, creating a channel banner, uploading your first video and making a YouTube channel trailer.
In this article, we’re going to dive into that topic further, covering everything you need to know about why you should make a channel trailer and how to do it! Along the way, you'll see some examples of YouTube channels with awesome-looking trailers.
Why you should make a YouTube channel trailer
Before we get started on the how, let’s break down why you should be creating a YouTube channel trailer.
As tempting as it is to just stick the most recently uploaded video on your channel as the trailer, that may be doing you a disservice. Not every video you upload will show off your full skillset and hammer home your unique selling points.
The best way to think about it is the same way you think about a trailer for the latest film. Your channel trailer is a teaser for a potential new audience, giving them a real taste of what they can expect from the content you upload. If you have a successful trailer that people like and enjoy, it can play a pivotal role in increasing your viewer count and then converting those new views to solid channel subscriber numbers.
Currently, there are more than 23 million YouTube channels out there, so the competition is fierce. Creating a powerful trailer that’s unique to you can really help set you apart from the crowd. Think of it as another vital cog in your marketing strategy machine - you want to give them a reason to subscribe and stick around.
How to make a YouTube channel trailer
Now that you understand why, it’s time to look at what goes into making a great YouTube channel trailer. We’re going to presume that if you’ve made it this far into setting up a channel, you probably already know how to edit. However, just in case you’re completely new to this or you’re interested in learning some valuable tips from the experts, it’s well worth reading our article on video editing and video editing software.
The truth is that there are many, many ways to create a channel trailer, and what works for someone else doesn’t necessarily work for you. In general, here are our rules and advice to consider:
- Unique selling point: Think about what it is that makes your channel unique. Why should viewers subscribe and return to watch more? This is what you should base the channel trailer around.
- Don’t assume: Don’t assume that the viewer has ever heard of you before. Pretend as if they’ve never watched any of your videos and don’t have a clue about what you do and who you are. So, keep things simple and narrowly focused - introduce yourself and tell them why they should subscribe.
- Make an immediate impact: Just like any other YouTube video, you should look to having something in the first 3 to 5 seconds of your trailer that really hooks the viewers in and encourages them to watch more. Assume that your viewer is in a rush and has a short attention span. If you don’t hook them, they’re gone.
- Keep it short: Assuming that your new viewer does not have much time and a short attention span, you should keep your trailer short. How many film trailers have you watched that cross over the 2 minutes and 30 seconds mark? You need to make every second count, pitching all the great things about your channel in a concise, quick and entertaining way. All you need to do is tell them who you are, what content you’re creating and when they can expect your next upload.
- Call to action: Finish the video with a clear call to action; ask them to subscribe! At the end of your channel trailer, you can add an end-card that prompts the viewer to subscribe.
- Show, don’t tell: If you’re creating a channel about snowboarding, don’t just tell them you’re good at it; show them all the best footage you have out on the mountains! If you’re a comedy channel, make it funny. If you’re covering philosophy, share some of your favorite quotes or book (keep it short). After all, YouTube is a visual medium, and you should look to use your very best shots and scenes. It’s a little like when you create a showreel.
- “Stock up": I would be remiss not to mention the power of some high-quality stock footage. Use a service like Artgrid to help make your video really stand out. We’ve got a ton of brilliant stock video clips ready and waiting! Check out this great article about how to edit stock footage into your video.
- Great music: Think about the music you use in your trailer. You want it to appropriately affect the energy of your video and stick in the minds of viewers. Chances are, you’ll find something perfect in the Artlist library. Check out this article all about adding music to video.
- Use subtitles: Another key thing that many people often overlook is subtitles. When a video crops up in someone’s YouTube recommendations, it can often begin auto-playing with no sound. If you incorporate subtitles, it can make a real difference in the viewer instantly understanding what the video is about even without any sound playing. This entices them to click and watch more. Check out this article covering everything you need to know about how to add subtitles on YouTube.
- Show yourself: Don’t forget to show yourself on camera. While voiceovers can be a great vehicle for storytelling, it can really help if you show yourself to your audience. It helps them connect with you by seeing who you are and getting a feel for your personality. The whole reason people subscribe to a channel is for the creator - they’ve invested in you, the person.
So, that’s why and how you should be making your YouTube trailers. Essentially, you need to think of it as your “elevator pitch.” Imagine you only have 30 to 60 seconds to convince someone that they should invest their time and energy in subscribing to your channel and watching your videos. The shorter and more succinct you can be, the better the trailer.
Josh Edwards is an accomplished filmmaker, industry writing veteran, storyteller based in Indonesia (by way of the UK) and industry writer in the Blade Ronner Media Writing Collective. He's passionate about travel and documents adventures and stories through his films.