How to Plan Your YouTube Content

Making YouTube videos is an exciting process, but before you can head into the studio and hit “record”, you need to come up with a plan. Planning your YouTube content involves researching potential topics, brainstorming ideas, creating a content calendar and writing scripts and shot lists—all before you start filming. It might sound like more work, but YouTubers who plan their content generally end up with better-quality results than those who don’t.

To kickstart your content planning, we’ve put together this comprehensive YouTube Guide. Keep reading to find inspiration, tips for creating a content calendar, essential planning tools and helpful templates from Envato Elements that will speed up the process.

Why Plan Your YouTube Content?

The best YouTubers plan before they start recording. Why? Well, YouTube videos that have been carefully thought out stand out in search results—they’re engaging, well structured, highly optimized, and generally more professional than those that have just been thrown together.

Not only does content planning improve the quality of a YouTube video, it also makes it easier to actually create. When it comes time to record footage and voiceovers, you’ll have a clear idea of your goals, have written a script and comprehensive shot list, and know what you want your video to look like when complete. So while planning your content might take more time at the beginning, it’ll save you precious time in production.

Types of YouTube Content

The best YouTube channels incorporate a mix of content. Explore some of the more popular content types below.

Generally used by brands and businesses, explainers are short videos that present or explain a topic, product or service. Many explainer videos on YouTube are animated for clarity and engagement.

Tutorial videos teach viewers how to do something. For example, a chef might create a step-by-step video around “how to make pasta” while an artist might create a tutorial on using Procreate brushes.

A favorite or “best of” video showcases a selection of topics, products, or moments. Best ofs could be used by influencers sharing their favorite products or critics revealing their favorite (and least favorite) scenes from a film.

A vlog or video blog is a video that focuses on the person who has made it. Vlogs generally involve the YouTuber talking directly to the camera and recounting a particular experience, event, or topic.

In a haul video, a YouTuber shows and discusses a selection of products they have purchased. Hauls are used across all kinds of YouTube niches and often include a discussion of cost, benefits, and shopping experience.

Share your thoughts with a review video that starts a conversation and adds credibility to your channel. YouTubers cover all kinds of topics in review videos—from films and games to products, and restaurants.

Trending Video Templates for YouTube

Create killer content that engages your audience and builds your brand with these top templates.
Kickstart your YouTube channel with this complete template kit, including customizable openers, lower thirds, transitions, logo reveals, and subscribe overlay buttons.
Create a memorable opening sequence with this animated Premiere Pro template, featuring captivating motion graphics, unique transitions, and kinetic typography.
Everything you need for your channel in one easy download! This pack includes lower thirds and titles templates, transitions, end cards, subscribe buttons, and much more.

Trending Shorts & Story Templates for YouTube

Engage your audience between videos with these trending templates. Remember—you can use Instagram Story templates for YouTube Shorts and Stories too!
Monochrome magnificence! This eye-catching black and white template includes five pre-designed layouts so you can choose your favorite or create a stylish series.
Featuring animated textures and brush transitions, Grunge Stories is a modern and impactful pack. Including 20 design templates that are easily customized in After Effects.
Animated, stylish and varied, this template includes 15 story layouts and plenty of customization options. Perfect for video promos, teaser trailers, and product launches.
Stand out in the Shorts tab. Featuring quick transitions, kinetic typography, and nine unique designs, this template will help get your point across in style.
Make your 15 seconds count with this highly visual story template, featuring motion graphics, animated text, and placeholders for video, mention, and location stickers.
Create a fast-paced and engaging story with this brutalist template. Add a professional look to promos, teasers, trailers, and more in just a few clicks.

How to Create a YouTube Calendar

Stay on top of your video schedule with a YouTube calendar that maps out your content.
Creating a content calendar might seem time-consuming, but it’s essential to success. Managing a YouTube channel involves regular research, planning, recording, editing, and promotion, and without a clear plan in place, this simply can’t happen.

Every few months, set aside some time to consider the content you’d like to create. Plan a list of ideas, order them based on your priorities and goals, and pencil in dates for recording, editing, and release. The below questions are a useful starting point if you’re struggling with your YouTube calender:
  • What topics are trending? 
  • What are your subscribers and users in your niche searching for? 
  • What are your goals? What content can you create to achieve them?
  • How can you help your audience overcome challenges?

YouTube Planning Tools

Now that you’ve created a YouTube calendar, these planning tools will help you bring it to life.
Write scripts, share ideas, and create actionable content plans with Google’s free cloud-based document editor. It’s an essential tool for the modern YouTuber.
Take your to-do list to the next level with Trello. This free planning tool allows you to seamlessly track ideas, manage projects, and collaborate with others.
Streamline publishing. YouTube Studio allows you to upload and schedule videos in advance so you can release content at optimal times without being beholden to your laptop.

How to Structure a YouTube Video

Learn the optimal structure for a YouTube video and start creating successful content.

Focus on the first 15 seconds

The first few seconds are make or break on YouTube. It’s your opportunity to capture the audience’s attention and show them why they should watch your entire video. Instead of starting with your branding or a drawn-out introduction, use an eye-catching motion graphic.

Use the HICC structure

The HICC structure is an effective framework for video creation and it’s used by many YouTubers. In this structure, your video will start with a hook, followed by an intro, then the content or main part of your video, and lastly, a call to action.

Hook

A hook is anything that grabs your audience’s attention so they want to continue watching. It could be a highly engaging visual sequence, a question that viewers will want to be answered, or even a cliffhanger that keeps viewers engaged until the end.

Intro

This is an opportunity to introduce your topic and signpost your content. Many YouTubers will use a combination of talking heads and visual effects to keep the intro engaging. You might also include a logo reveal or opening sequence in this section.

Content

Now that your audience knows what to expect, it’s time to launch into the content. This is the longest part of your video and is where you’ll provide valuable information, answer any questions you’ve raised in the intro and give closure by ending cliffhangers.

Call to action

Finish your video with a call for viewers to like and comment on your video, subscribe to your channel, watch another of your videos and follow you on other social media platforms. Many YouTubers use end screen templates in this section for efficiency.

YouTube Specs & Video Lengths

Learn everything you need to know about YouTube video specs, including video length limits and optimal file sizes.

YouTube Videos

While YouTube videos can run for up to 12 hours, 10-15 minutes is considered the optimal video length. Videos should be exported as MP4 with a maximum size of 128GB, though the platform also accepts 3GPP, AVI, FLV, MOV, MPEG4, MPEGPS, WebM, and WMV files.

YouTube Shorts

Shorts can be up to 60 seconds in duration and must be formatted vertically with a 9:16 aspect ratio—ideally 1080 x 19200 pixels. While it’s quick and easy to upload shorts from your smartphone, they can also be uploaded and published via a computer.

YouTube Stories

Stories are vertical videos with a 9:16 aspect ratio and a maximum length of 15 seconds. Many YouTubers will split longer videos into 15-second clips to upload as stories, however, as this is designed for short-form content, it’s best to keep a series of stories to less than a minute.

YouTube Ads

YouTube ad specs will depend on the type of ad. For example, vertical ads must have a 9:16 aspect ratio while pre-roll and display ads need a 16:9 ratio. Some pre-roll ads can be skipped after five seconds, so it’s important to get your point across quickly.

Top YouTube Trends

From livestreams to co-watching events and SEO for video, explore some of the top YouTube trends that might inspire your YouTube content.

Trend 1

SEO For Video

YouTube is first and foremost a search engine, so it’s important that YouTubers consider search engine optimization (SEO) when creating content. Creators should be optimizing file names, video titles, and descriptions, adding tags, and including popular keywords wherever possible.
SEO For Video
YouTube Challenges

Trend 2

YouTube Challenges

Unleash your competitive side with this YouTube trend! Challenge videos generally feature a split screen format with two people going head-to-head to compete in a trending challenge, or a competition of their own. It’s an easy and fun way to engage your audience.

Trend 3

Gaming Livestreams

If you’re looking to compete in a gaming niche, you need to start livestreaming. Whether you’re a Minecraft, Fortnite, or Garena Free Fire enthusiast, you’ll capture the attention of new and existing subscribers by hosting a livestream and sharing tips and tricks while you’re playing.
Gaming Livestreams
Co-Watching Events

Trend 4

Co-Watching Events

Co-watching allows your subscribers to watch your videos together in real-time, sharing reactions and comments through live chat. Encouraging co-watching events is a great way to build a community around your channel and grow your subscribers.

Trend 5

On-The-Go Video

Short, bite-sized content is all the rage, and YouTube offers multiple options for engaging viewers while they’re on the go. For example, the Chapters feature allows users to skip through to key sections of a video, while YouTube Shorts and Stories are optimized for mobile viewing.
On-The-Go Video

How to Get Started on YouTube

Explore tips, tricks, and advice to help you get started on YouTube and create a successful channel.
New to YouTube? This beginners guide is for you! We cover everything you need to know about starting a channel, from account set up to content types.
Your niche literally informs everything—from the type of content you create to the audience you target. Find out how to choose the right niche for your channel.
Discover the best video cameras, microphones, and lighting kits on the market and learn how to use them to film an engaging YouTube video.
With more than two billion active users on YouTube, you’ll need a strong strategy to target the right audience and grow your subscriber base.

YouTube Content FAQs

Start with a brainstorm—come up with as many ideas as you can and jot them down on a piece of paper, Google Doc or Trello board. Make note of any special events or holidays that you might like to acknowledge and add these to your list as well. 

Once you have a list of content ideas, move them into a logical order and establish a content schedule (for example, you might want to release a new long-form video every week, with two YouTube shorts and one story in the lead up). Be flexible when planning your content as new ideas or topics may arise as you work through the plan.

Grab inspiration from your favorite channels or other YouTubers in a similar niche, or try collaborating with an influencer in your space. Try polling your audience or reading the comments section on related videos to see if viewers are asking for coverage of a specific topic. 

The type of content that works for your channel may not work for others, so it’s important to try out as many as you can to see what’s most successful. Some of the most popular content types on YouTube include explainer videos, tutorials, best ofs, vlogs, hauls, and reviews.

Good YouTube content starts with research. Explore what’s already been created on the topic and use search tools to discover what users are searching for on YouTube. When it comes time to record, invest in high-quality filming equipment to ensure your videos are top quality. Many YouTubers use pre-designed templates and assets to achieve professional-quality content, without having to create these from scratch.

YouTube videos should always be recorded and uploaded in 1080p. This means your videos will be high definition across all devices, which will encourage viewers to watch until the end.

To use copyrighted music on YouTube, you need to have permission from the original creator or company who owns the music track. When you upload a video to YouTube, the audio will be run through a system called Content ID. If it detects copyrighted music, a copyright notice will appear on your video. If you have permission to use the song, you can upload the license and the notice will be removed. If not, your video may have ads shown over it, or be muted, blocked, or removed.

To avoid copyright infringement issues, access to a library of royalty-free music tracks is essential. Envato Elements has over 104,000 creator-safe music tracks available for download. Every Envato Elements audio download comes with a license file, which can be quickly and easily uploaded to resolve a copyright notice.

Further Reading

Advance your YouTube knowledge with these articles from Envato Tuts+ and the Envato blog.
YouTube has emerged as a destination where creators can share high-quality content and earn a serious living. Explore the new YouTube economy in this blog from Envato.
A content strategy is integral to building a successful YouTube channel. But what does this actually involve and where should you start? Find out in this article from Tuts+.
The 2020s have been big for YouTube, but this is just the beginning! Find out what video trends and emerging features to keep an eye on now and into the future.

Your YouTube Toolkit

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Avoid complex and stressful copyright notices. Our ever-growing library of royalty-free music tracks will give you peace of mind when planning and creating content.
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Meet the Experts

Premiere Gal – AKA Kelsey Brannan – is a creative and highly successful YouTuber. In addition to building a 374K strong subscriber base, she’s also founded Gal Media Creative, an impressive video editing house and marketing company. Premiere Gal and her team at Gal Media Creative love the range of assets available on Envato Elements:

“For motion graphics, stock video, and sound effects, I love Envato Elements. It’s also a great resource for my editors when they need to find a quick effect or stock clip to use in my video. They just do a quick search and there it is!”

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