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How To Edit Videos for YouTube in 9 Steps (2023)

In today’s competitive ecommerce environment, many small business owners have added the role of content creator to their duties. Countless retail customers watch video as part of their daily routine, and companies benefit from offering them engaging, high-quality videos tied to their businesses and products.

The most used internet video platform is YouTube. According to Statista, YouTube has more than 2.6 billion active users worldwide, making it the second-most-popular website in the world, after Google. 

As an ecommerce entrepreneur, it may be advantageous to learn video editing so you can easily make your own video content. Whether you’ve tried making a YouTube video in the past or are brand new to video creation, it’s quite easy to get started on a YouTube video editing platform.

How to edit videos for YouTube

  1. Plan your video
  2. Record your footage
  3. Choose video editing software
  4. Import your video footage
  5. Edit your footage
  6. Add visual effects
  7. Add music and sound effects
  8. Export your video
  9. Publish your video on YouTube

You don’t need a film school degree to edit YouTube videos. You don’t even need a large budget, thanks to the free video editing software that’s widely available online. What you do need is a clear plan and an understanding of what today’s video editing tools can do. Here’s a step-by-step guide to creating and editing YouTube videos:

1. Plan your video

Start making a video by planning a video concept. Most YouTube videos have simple concepts; they don’t have interweaving storylines like a movie or TV show. You might consider making educational how-to videos related to your business, like a fabric company offering a sewing tutorial. You could create a fun person-on-the-street video where you ask willing pedestrians about trends related to your industry. For example, the owner of a ballcap company could ask people how much they’d have to be paid to wear a rival team’s ballcap.

You could also create product videos demonstrating how to use your product, or unboxing videos, showing shoppers what they can expect when they make a purchase. 

Whatever style of video you decide to make, ensure you have your camera or phone fully charged, and any products, props or additional equipment you might need ready. It’s helpful to write out a script or draw a storyboard to plan out each shot you need to capture. 

2. Record your footage

Editing videos is part of post-production, but first, you must address actual production, which means filming all the raw footage that you’ll go on to edit. Make a list of all the footage and capture more than you think you’ll need. It’s risky to assume you can fix it in post-production, so keep working until you get the shots you want. This will make the editing process more efficient. If you do multiple takes, it’s helpful to keep track of the good and bad shots, so you know which ones to use when editing. 

Pay attention to the audio capture as well. Ensure you can hear people speaking clearly, and there isn’t distracting background noise.

3. Choose video editing software

Once you’ve captured your footage, you’re ready to start editing, and you have many software options at hand. Many content creators choose to edit their YouTube videos for free using the service’s built-in video editor, found on the web-based YouTube Studio platform. 

If you have more ambitious editing goals, you can explore paid editing tools like Adobe Premiere Pro, Adobe After Effects, and Final Cut Pro. You can also go with a free video editor like Shotcut and DaVinci Resolve

Or, check your computer’s pre-installed software; your machine might already have a video editing tool. For instance, Apple computers come with iMovie, a basic editing tool that can export high quality videos. If you wish to edit your videos on a mobile device, explore video editing apps designed for this purpose.

4. Import your video footage

Your video editing tool will allow you to import video in a variety of formats, including MP4, MOV, and MVK. Notably, you can import your video in one format and export it in another. YouTube—and most internet streaming services—favor the MP4 format.

Consult your specific software for importing instructions. In most cases, importing is quite simple and intuitive. YouTube’s video editor, for instance, has a drag-and-drop window in the middle of the screen.

5. Edit your footage

The next step in the video editing process is using video editing software to make changes to your footage. You can trim clips, add transitions, add text, change the color palette, overlay audio, and more. Today’s video editing software works much like word processing software. Just like word processing software lets you cut and paste sentences from the middle of a paragraph, video editing tools let you splice a clip and move your footage around to a different spot in the video timeline. You can also merge multiple videos into a single video by importing them one at a time and then combining the footage.

As you edit, consider the sequence of clips and ensure you have a beginning, middle, and end. Think about a consistent intro style, card, or sequence viewers will recognise as belonging to your brand. Same with transitions. Your editing software might have lots of transition options, but it’s important to pick one and remain consistent.

As you might expect, paid programs like Adobe Premiere Pro offer more sophisticated editing options. Yet even a web-based video editor like YouTube’s video editing tool can handle most splicing, moving video clips, and building transitions between them.

6. Add visual effects

You can add special effects to your YouTube videos, weaving in people or objects that weren’t in your original footage. This includes text pop-ups to highlight or explain something said in the video, or offer more information about what the viewers are seeing. Consider your brand style, like fonts, colors, and logos when adding in visual effects. 

Some high-end video editing software may let you do this, or you can export your video and use a program like Adobe After Effects to handle this task. The built-in YouTube video editor is more rudimentary and does not let you execute high-end video effects.

7. Add music and sound effects

Most YouTube videos benefit from musical underscore, particularly product videos that showcase one of your company’s items. Even a dialogue-heavy video, like an interview, can benefit from intro or bumper music on either end of the main video clip. 

Your video editing software, including YouTube Studio, may give you access to free music and sound effects you can use without the permission of a copyright holder. Freesound has a variety of sounds you can use at no cost, while Looperman has a capella vocals, music, and sounds you can use if you credit the creator. You can also commission original music from a composer. This music may be better tailored to your specific video footage and your personal taste.

8. Export your video

Once you’ve edited your video to your liking, it’s time to export it for use on YouTube. If you’re editing within the YouTube Studio platform, you can skip this step and publish directly onto your YouTube channel. If you’re using a different piece of video editing software, it’s best to export your video using the MP4 video format with H.264 video codec and AAC audio codec. YouTube does support other video formats including MOV and WebM, but MP4 is a good choice for optimal compatibility and quality across all users’ web browsers.

9. Publish your video on YouTube

The final step is publishing your video on YouTube. You can upload videos to YouTube Studio via a drag-and-drop editor, or by selecting a file on your computer or mobile device. YouTube will prompt you for a video title and a brief description. You can also enter keyword terms for YouTube search engine optimization (SEO), but you may have better luck popping those keywords into the title itself. Select or create a thumbnail image for your YouTube video. You can use free tools like Canva to easily create eye-catching thumbnails for your videos. 

Consider the best time to publish your video according to your target audience, location, and type of content. 

YouTube will offer you additional features, like automated closed-captioning. This is a good option, as not everyone is watching video with sound on. If you do use closed captioning, proofread the text to ensure the language is accurate. 

YouTube video editing best practices

To get the maximum utility out of your YouTube videos, adhere to these best practices:

Keep your concept focused

Aim to tell a single story or convey a single concept in your YouTube video. If you have more to say, make a separate companion video.

Tell a story

Use the editing process to shape your footage into a concise, easy-to-follow narrative with a beginning, middle, and end.

Use multiple camera angles

Keep the video engaging by cutting to different camera angles over the course of your video. You can even add B-roll footage, which is supplemental footage you cut to between shots—for example, an exterior shot of your business, stock footage, or shots of your product. 

Use transitions and effects to serve the story

Today’s video editing software can create transitions and effects that would have been impossible only a few short years ago. It’s fine to incorporate these effects into your YouTube video, but choose your moments judiciously. Special effects should always serve the story, not distract from it. 

Ensure the dialogue is audible

Few things irritate video viewers more than inaudible dialogue. Avoid this issue by using a sound technician when you film, and then prioritize clarity when editing your audio tracks.

Create engaging thumbnails

A thumbnail is a still image from a video that YouTube shows on a search results page. Choose one that represents your video well but also piques viewers’ interest. For instance, if you have a product video about a particularly powerful vacuum cleaner, you might want a thumbnail showing the vacuum holding up an entire rug with its suction power.

Experiment with different video editing software

You don’t have to remain loyal to one piece of software throughout your video editing career. You can try different programs and see if one feature set, or one workflow, better suits your needs as an editor. Many programs have a free version that allows you to test features before buying.

Start selling your products on YouTube from Shopify

Shopify comes with powerful tools that help you promote and sell products on YouTube. Sync your product catalog, tag or pin products in livestreams, and manage all your sales from Shopify.

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How to edit videos for YouTube FAQ

What software is best for editing videos for YouTube?

For many content creators, YouTube’s in-house video editing software, called YouTube Studio, will cover all their needs. YouTube’s built-in editor lets you view your footage clip-by-clip in a video timeline panel. It lets you trim these clips, move them around, and add transitions, titles, and free music. It also lets you upload your work directly to YouTube without involving third-party software.

How can I optimize my videos for YouTube?

You can make your videos more appealing to YouTube users by giving them catchy titles that accurately describe the content. You can include trending keywords when you upload, which may help you turn up on a YouTube search page and get more YouTube subscribers.

Where do I find the YouTube video editor?

The YouTube video editor is found on the YouTube Studio platform. From the main YouTube page, look for an icon in the upper-right corner that looks like a camera with a plus sign in the middle. Click this icon will launch YouTube Studio, including its web-based editor.

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