How to Make Your First YouTube Video Stand Out

Step into the world of YouTube with confidence. From finding ideas to writing scripts to uploading your project, here's everything you need for your first YouTube video.

It’s time to quit stalling and get uploading!

Yes, that video you have held out from putting on YouTube for so long is ready for the world to see. But how do you make sure it has the best chance of being watched?

Read More: From Viewer to YouTube Creator: How to Make the Switch

For most creators, it's hard to feel perfectly satisfied by the first attempt at making a YouTube video. If that sounds familiar or you're going through the same thing, the best thing to do is optimize your content. Give it a fair chance on YouTube, and then simply press publish.

In the video above, our expert Dan talks about all the things he wished he had known before starting a YouTube channel. Using his experience and our expertise, we'll help you create a first video that truly stands out.


Most creators start on YouTube either with a niche or a particular type of video in mind. So, for your very first video, try to stay as close to your original point of interest as possible. Replicating what has already worked on YouTube works well as long as you have your unique input to add.

Brainstorming Video Ideas

Start by exploring your interests, trends within your niche, and questions your target audience might have. Use tools like Google Trends, YouTube itself, or vidIQ’s AI video idea generator to gather ideas and inspiration. Finding out what has worked before is necessary to remove the guesswork from this process!

Understanding Your Target Audience

Identify who your videos are for. Are they beginners in your field, or are they looking for advanced techniques? Understanding your audience's needs and preferences is crucial for creating relevant and engaging content.

For your first video, the YouTube dashboard won't help you with detailed analytics or your audience’s preferences. That will come much later when you have dozens of videos posted and a few subscribers on your channel. Today, your best bet is to make a video that you would like to see and that attracts your target audience.

Finalizing Your Video Concept

Once you've brainstormed and researched, choose a concept that excites you and meets your audience's needs. Pick an idea that has succeeded across multiple areas, because that means it works. Tools like vidIQ's outlier marker also make finding these outliers super easy.

Packaging Your Video

As important as it is to get the content right, the way it's presented is equally important, if not more. The whole point of good packaging for your video is to reel in viewers and deliver on what you promised in the title and thumbnail. There are mainly three ways to do this: by designing a stunning thumbnail, crafting a good title, and writing an effective video hook.

Designing Your Thumbnail

Every YouTube video has a thumbnail, whether you create one from scratch or let the system pick a random frame to display. But because they're so good at attracting views, you should always aim to upload a custom thumbnail.

“Your thumbnail is that first peek into your content, the make-or-break moment. A killer thumbnail could literally be the difference between getting your big break on YouTube or going completely unnoticed,” Dan says.

Use high-contrast colors, readable fonts, and a clear image that represents the video's content to grab attention. Make your image pop out so that viewers can notice them.

Read More: How to Choose a Winning Thumbnail Style for Your YouTube Channel

Crafting Your Title

Your video's title should be catchy yet descriptive. Look at titles that have worked for others in your niche or category, and adapt accordingly with keywords that fit your content.

Also, think of the actual brainstorming process. You might go through dozens of titles before landing on the perfect one, but that doesn't mean you should throw out the other ideas. Save the best ones just in case they lead you to a better idea.

“Make sure you have a preferred first, second, and third title, even extra thumbnails if you can,” Dan says.

Writing an Effective Hook

The first 30 seconds of your video can almost decide the fate of the rest of your video, because this is where retention typically starts falling. So, whatever you’ve thus far promised with your title and thumbnail, must be paid off.

“At the very beginning of the video to minimize drop off you want to assure the viewer that their expectations are being met,” Dan says.

Read More: YouTube Intros: 8 Ways to Hook Viewers In the First 8 Seconds

Scripting Your Video

A script that is well-structured and snappy is just what you need to guide your video's flow. That doesn’t necessarily mean you can't leave space for changes and ad-libs, though. Practice your script, but remember that you don't have to memorize it verbatim. The important thing is to understand how your content generates value.

The viewer that you’re trying to attract should get their proverbial "money’s worth" from your video. Try to create loops within your script to keep them hooked for answers and information. Use intrigue and creatively work your way toward the final payoff!

Recording Your Video

Let's be real here, the first few times are going to be a little awkward, especially if you’re not used to being in front of a camera. But everybody has to go through it, and you will too! Creators have started with all kinds of equipment, so make the best of what you have.

“You already know that in concept it doesn’t really matter what equipment you use. I promise people have created pretty amazing things with just the phone in their pocket,” Dan says.

Editing Your Video

Now it’s time to edit your video and kill your remaining darlings. This is where you may have to make some of the toughest decisions about your video’s final form. But what matters is that you cut out the fluff and deliver the goods as best as you can. Sloppy editing doesn't indicate a lack of special effects and transitions; most of the time, it's a sign of bad storytelling.

It’s important to learn certain techniques to enhance your video, but that will happen with time. And, if you ever want to make a viral video, follow these editing tips!

Uploading Your Video to YouTube

If you haven't already, set up your YouTube channel with a clear, descriptive channel name. Use keywords in your title, description, and tags to improve your video's performance.

A compelling description can also encourage more clicks from YouTube search pages. Choose the right category, add captions for accessibility, and select an engaging thumbnail.

But once your video is uploaded, you have a new task ahead of you.

“The beginning of a video's life is critical for optimization. Be prepared to monitor closely the first 24-48 hours and make changes to underperforming elements like the title and thumbnail. Act quickly to maximize viewership and retention from the start,” Dan says.

FAQ: Making Your First Video

How do you start your first video on YouTube?

Begin with a clear idea of what you want to share. That makes it easier to plan your content, script, and recording setup. Be authentic and speak directly to your audience, focusing on delivering value.

How do you start as a beginner on YouTube?

Start by defining your niche and understanding your audience. Equip yourself with basic recording and editing tools, and don't be afraid to learn as you go. Consistency and passion are key.

How can I improve my video's visibility on YouTube?

Optimize your video for SEO by using relevant keywords in your title and description. Engage with your audience through comments and create content consistently.

Many of the things we talked about above are essential skills that require years to master. It’s unfair to hold yourself to massive standards as if you were a seasoned creator, so don't expect everything to go perfectly.

YouTube isn't easy, but the goal is to develop the right mindset for success!