Today, short form video is the number one way for creators and businesses to reach new and viewers and quickly grow their audiences. And while TikTok and Instagram Reels may feel crowded, YouTube Shorts is growing rapidly and presents a major opportunity for those willing to upload. Over 1.5 billion people watch YouTube Shorts every month, and as the leading video platform, YouTube can provide other advantages to Shorts creators that competing platforms simply cannot. Now is a better time than ever to get started and learn how to make YouTube Shorts!
In this article we will outline everything you need to know, from coming up with ideas, creating and posting, and even analytics - We’re covering it all. Let’s dive in!
First, what makes YouTube Shorts different from other short-form video platforms?
YouTube Shorts obviously isn’t the only short form video platform. Here’s how it’s different (and similar) to the rest.
- 60 seconds: Like the length default on other short video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts can currently be 60 seconds or less in duration
- Vertical: Also like TikTok and Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts dimensions are designed for a mobile-first experience, with a vertical video aspect ratio being the only option
- Discovery-based: YouTube Shorts differs from TikTok in many ways, but one similarity lies in how videos are recommended to users. YouTube decides which Shorts to surface to its users through a combination of engagement signals and a user’s personalized interests
The key differences
- Connection to your YouTube Channel: Thanks to the connection with your YouTube Channel (if you have one), YouTube is able to offer you a number of benefits as a Shorts creator, including stronger insights into who they should recommend your Shorts to, and an analytics suite that combines your YouTube Shorts stats alongside your long-form YouTube videos.
- Monetizing with YouTube Shorts: As of 2023, YouTube Shorts are included as part of YouTube’s Partner Program, meaning that you can earn a share of the revenue from ads shown in the Shorts feed. The split is quite favorable - YouTube shares 45% of total ad revenue with creators in the YPP creator pool. Beyond that, YouTube has other monetization options that other platforms don’t, for example paid channel memberships.
How to Make YouTube Shorts in 4 Steps
Starting from scratch on a new platform can certainly be intimidating, and can even feel surmountable given the fast pace that things are changing nowadays. Despite the similarities that YouTube Shorts shares with TikTok, Reels, and others, to achieve success you will need to give dedicated attention to your YouTube Shorts. That means optimizing for the types of YouTube Shorts prefers, following their video specs, posting at the right time, and learning from your results. If you’re looking for a easy framework to follow when learning how to make YouTube Shorts, we recommend using the following 4-step process
Step 1: Brainstorming ideas for your Shorts
Obviously, creativity is the most important characteristic of being a content creator (it’s in the name!). Being a creator on YouTube Shorts is no exception. Learning how to make YouTube Shorts starts with the creative process. Determining the right Shorts ideas that will resonate with your audience isn’t an exact science, but there are two types of Shorts content you can create, and thus ideate around:
1. Recording new content
If your strategy on YouTube Shorts is to maximize your chances of going mega-viral, then recording new content is most likely your best shot.
There are a number of approaches to take if you plan on recording new content. Specifically though, you should focus your efforts on coming up with ideas that will win the YouTube Shorts algorithm. Here are a few pointers for doing so!
- Understand what the algorithm looks for.
Learning how to make YouTube Shorts starts with the algorithm. The YouTube Shorts algorithm, similar to other platforms, looks to promote Shorts that have high early engagement, follow trending sounds/styles, and have a unique level of originality. One unique aspect of the YouTube Shorts algorithm though is its usage of users’ watch history. YouTube has much more data around the video watching behaviors of its users than any other platform, and thus a deeper understanding of the precise interests and preferences of its users. YouTube will promote your Shorts to the users it thinks your content will resonate with most.
- Look to other creators for inspiration.
Spying on what kinds of Shorts other creators are putting out is a great way to draw inspiration and help you come up with your own ideas. One method we recommend is to simply use YouTube search and the “#shorts” modifier. Search any query and add “#shorts” to the end, and you’ll see a feed of the most relevant shorts that have recently been uploaded. It’s a great way browse through what other creators are doing!
- Follow popular YouTube Shorts themes, as a template.
There are a handful of common Shorts themes you will see on the platform, that span across all niches and creators. Following these themes can give you a quick “template” to jump in with, and speed up your creative process. For example, talking head Shorts, motivational Shorts, before and after Shorts, and more. You can see our full list here
2. Repurpose existing content
If you still want your Shorts to have mega-viral potential but want to reduce your effort, speed up the creation time, and release more Shorts overall, then repurposing existing content may be right for you. This is a massively overlooked tactic when learning how to make YouTube Shorts. Repurposing existing content involves taking a long form video (at least, longer than the Shorts length of 60 seconds) and parsing it down into smaller chunks that can go onto YouTube Shorts as their own clips. Our Ultimate Guide for How to Turn Long Videos into Viral Shorts is a great resource on this, but to summarize, here are the main things to know:
- Curation versus Editing: Repurposing long form videos videos into Shorts can ultimately be broken down into two steps: curation and editing. Curation means choosing which parts of the video deserve to be their own Shorts, and editing means adding the extra flavor needed before posting. As a rule of thumb, 80% of your effort should be on curating, and 20% should be on editing.
- When curating, you can use frameworks to help you craft a winning Short. For example the hook-value bomb - CTA structure, which starts by capturing the viewer’s interest, then communicating the main value they came for, and finally calling your viewers to action.
- Editing is an underrated step in which you can add all the extra flare that make your content stand out. At the very least, make sure your cuts and transitions are clean, and add visual elements like captions, highlighted keywords, and emojis to keep viewers fully engaged!
You can always go the manual route when repurposing existing content, and dedicate more time and energy towards creating the perfect final product. But with tools like Opus Clip you can do it start to finish in just minutes, automatically turning your long form videos into short-form clips ready to post. Opus Clip uses the newest GPT-3.5 AI to seek out the most engaging parts of your long-form video and exports those specifically as clips. To try it out for free, just join the discord and paste the link to a long-form YouTube video!
Step 2: Filming and editing your Shorts
Choosing the right idea for your Shorts forms the foundation. But learning how to make YouTube Shorts is incomplete without understanding the right filming and editing practices. Without these, your Shorts will fall apart before you’ve even started! Filming and editing the right way is critical, as it affects how your viewers’ experience your Shorts and interpret the value you are trying to communicate. Not to mention the numerous ways in which the YouTube Shorts algorithm specifically assesses your Shorts’ filming and editing when deciding how to promote you. Let’s break down the basics to get your filming and editing on point.
Follow the right specs when filming
To be frank, short video is short video. Whether you’re talking about how to make YouTube Shorts, TikTok, Instagram Reels, or another platform, there are going to be lots of similarities in specs. But YouTube Shorts does have a few in particular that differ from the rest. Be aware of these and keep them in mind when preparing your Shorts for upload.
- Dimensions (and resolution): As mentioned earlier, YouTube Shorts is designed for a mobile-first experience, meaning a 9:16 aspect ratio is required. Specifically when it comes to dimensions and resolution, you should try recording and exporting to 1920px wide by 1080px tall. This will guarantee that the resolution is crisp enough for larger phones as well as smaller ones.
- Duration: At the time of this writing, YouTube Shorts can only be 60 seconds or less. Of course, you can always upload longer videos to YouTube, but they cannot be tagged as Shorts and benefit from the YouTube Shorts algorithm and feed. Make sure your Shorts are less than 60 seconds, and as an extra tip, we recommend leaving at least one second of buffer just in case your video exporter produces unexpected results.
- Audio: If your Short will use a trending sound, then you can easily select it from the YouTube library. But assuming you are using your own audio, consider applying audio balancing through your video editing software to avoid your audio coming out too loud or too soft.
- Other details: YouTube Shorts also allows for thumbnail upload, a title and description, and usage of hashtags. These can all make a difference for you in the long run if used thoughtfully… So come prepared!
Nail down your editing
If the idea and main substance behind your Short are what grabs your viewers’ attention, great editing is what keeps their attention. Editing is a massive subject to cover, but here are the most important points for Shorts creators to consider.
- Add text, music, and sound effects - This is the number one way to take a Short from average to exceptional. Add text captions, background music, and sound effects to your clips. When done right, this makes your Shorts more engaging, increases watch time and replays, and can ultimately be the difference between your channel growing or plateauing. Alex Hormozi is a great example of this, as his editing style has become recognizable to creators everywhere.
- Use the right tools - Adobe Premiere is a favorite among creators who have more free time, as well as professional video editors. Premiere gives you control over every last detail, and . If you’re looking for a more affordable option you can try Canva, which offers a more basic functionality.And of course, if you want to create Shorts at a higher and faster volume, AI video editors are right for you. These tools do the heavy lifting for you, and can sometimes feel like having a full time professional Shorts editor on your team! Our product Opus Clip is being used by creators who want to automatically turn their long-form video into 10+ short clips. This is a great way to get your YouTube Shorts uploading off the ground and start with a bang.
Final tips to help you produce the perfect Short:
- Don’t be a perfectionist with production value! Remember, quality over quantity is only true to an extent. When producing Shorts, make sure you aren’t getting stuck trying to perfect the last 1%.
- Don’t overwhelm with too much info. Remember the acronym K.I.S.S.? Keep it simple! The best Shorts communicate one thing exceptionally well.
- Never lose sight of your audience. Don’t get caught up in trying to follow trends too closely. Think of what your audience wants, and use that as your true north at all times.
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Step 3: Posting your Shorts to YouTube
The most YouTube-specific part of how to make YouTube Shorts is obviously the process of uploading and posting. While this sounds intuitive, there are a few key features to be aware of that can give you an added edge. And as with all things, a few common mistakes that are easy to make. Last but not least, posting your Shorts at the right time can have an outsized impact on both your initial traction as well as your long term success on the platform. Let’s go over the essentials.
Uploading your Shorts through the YouTube interface
Posting a YouTube Short is completely different than a traditional long form YouTube video. As a matter of fact, if you’ve uploaded a TikTok before, that experience is actually closer in similarity to uploading a Short than uploading a long form video on YouTube!
1. To get started, you’ll need to open the YouTube app on your phone. From there, press the + (create) button in the bottom navigation and click “Create a Short”.
2. Record a new video clip, or upload one from your gallery. You can then adjust the length by trimming, and click “Done” when you’re happy with your clip.
3. Time to edit. You can a sound from the YouTube Library, add effects, retouch it, apply a green screen, and more. When you’re happy, click the checkmark in the bottom right corner, and “Next” whenever you are ready to post!
4. Don’t forget the details before posting. Add your title and description, and make sure the other settings are made to your liking. Then click “Upload Short”
5. Once your Short is uploaded, it’s time to post. Click “See Video” and then “Edit”, and then you’ll be able to adjust any last settings, like adding hashtags. Click “Save” to officially post your Short!
Stay ahead of these common mistakes
- Don’t let your specs and quality fall behind during editing. If you’re just now learning how to make YouTube Shorts, you can easily get caught up in all of the editing bells and whistles YouTube Shorts has to offer. And you might find yourself actually reducing the overall quality of your video! This could include reducing the resolution and crispness of your original video, throwing the audio off balance, or other mistakes. Make your edits intentionally, and don’t feel like you need to cram your Short full of them.
- Running into uploading issues. Many Shorts creators have reported that their videos can fail to upload, especially longer shorts. We recommend uploading your Short using a Wi-fi connection whenever possible, rather than cellular data. If your Shorts are still struggling to upload , you may want to check your internet upload speed using a tool like Speed Test by Ookla.
- Finish strong by selecting the right tags. As shown above, once your short is uploaded, you can add tags and specify other settings before posting. Don’t skip this step! Using the right tags can help put your shorts in front of the right audience. If you’re wondering which tags to use for your audience, simply look at tags being used by other Shorts the favorite creators from your niche.
What’s the right time to post?
Figuring out the right time to post is something most creators overlook when learning how to make YouTube Shorts. This under-appreciated hack can give your Shorts a nice boost in initial traction. But when exactly is the right time to post? While we’ve covered this topic in detail in our article, The Best Time to Post YouTube Shorts for Your Audience, there’s no single answer or calculation to follow. There are, however, a few patterns we and others have observed around posting at the right time. Let’s summarize.
- Different niches seem to have different optimal post times. Be mindful of time zones, and then consider the following patterns:
- Sports and entertainment 🏀 - For fans of this content, lunch or late afternoon seem to be the best time to post
- Business, finance, and career 💼 - First thing in the morning is the best post time, as people tend to look for this content during breakfast or as the work day begins
- News and commentary 🎙 - First thing in the morning works best here too!
- Lifestyle 🧘♀️ - Evening works best, as most lifestyle content fans seek out this content as they are winding down for the day.
- Gaming 🎮 - Gamers come alive in the evening, and content consumption is no exception.
- Experiment, experiment, experiment! Create a posting schedule for yourself that tests out different times and days. Then, go back and see how each Short performed. Repeat this a few times to build up a stronger dataset for yourself.
Ultimately, finding the right time to post is a process of trial and error. Always be experimenting, and figure out what times work best for your specific niche and content style. YouTube Analytics gives you a ton of tools that will help you infer the best time of day to post Shorts for your audience. Take full advantage!
Step 4: After you post: Engage, analyze, and learn
Remember that being successful on any new platform is hard work. Your job isn’t done after you click upload! And if you’re underway with your journey as a Shorts creator but want to figure out how to make YouTube Shorts that stick, there’s plenty for you to work on.
When we talk to successful short-form creators at Opus, we notice a few common behaviors that they all do outside of simply posting their content. Two of those habits that are most relevant to YouTube Shorts are staying on top of your comments and learning from your analytics.
Stay on top of comments!
Comments are one of the key signals of engagement, which as you now know, is of the utmost importance to the YouTube Shorts algorithm. While you can’t force people to leave comments, responding to comments as a creator has been shown to encourage new comments from viewers. After all, who doesn’t want a chance at interacting directly with the creator? If you never respond to comments at all, you will miss out on this opportunity.
At the very least, making sure to read all of your comments is a must. This is one of best ways to learn the sentiment of your viewers and start understanding what content you should create next.
Learn from your analytics
We live in a time where data is king, even for artists and creators! Everyone, no matter their niche or education, needs to learn how to put on their data analyst hat.
Thankfully for YouTube Shorts creators, YouTube in particular has provided one of the most creator-friendly analytics suites in the industry! You can use YouTube Analytics to see your Shorts performance, learn more about the audience you are starting to attract, and even spot upcoming trends you can pounce on!
Conclusion: How to Make YouTube Shorts for the long haul
Learning how to make YouTube Shorts is a necessary process any creator, no matter their size or experience. The key is to understand your audience, get creative with an understanding of the YouTube Shorts algorithm, and learn from the data available to you.
Last but not least, always be flexible with your content creation style. We recommend creating a mixture of recorded Shorts and repurposing existing content. If you’ve never tried repurposing existing content as a strategy for uploading Shorts at a higher volume, now is a great time. Our product Opus Clip was built for this, using the most cutting edge GPT 3.5 AI. If you’re just getting started on your YouTube Shorts journey, this was made for you!
If you’re interested, you can try it now for free in our Discord
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About the Author
Rebecca Xu is the Product Marketing Manager at Opus, and a professional simultaneous interpreter. She is a story teller, food lover, globe trotter, and sarcasm connoisseur. She loves learning new things through reading, traveling, and exploring. Most of the time, you can find her either in an ice-cream shop, or on her way to an ice-cream shop.