How to Edit a YouTube Video

How to Edit a YouTube Video

With over 720,000 hours of new video content uploaded on Youtube every day, having a good story to tell is no longer enough to make you stand out. As a result, mastering the art of not only attracting, but also retaining audiences has emerged as one of the most important skills on the platform.

This is so especially given the fact that YouTube’s algorithm tends to consider metrics like click-through rates and audience retention rates when deciding whether or not to promote a video. This is where knowing how to properly edit a YouTube video comes in handy.

Proper YouTube video editing will allow you to capture a viewer’s attention within the first few seconds of landing on your video, keeping them from clicking on the next attractive thumbnail. It will also hold their attention longer, not only by piquing their interest, but also by conveying your message or story in a clear and effective manner.

Both of these things will make it easier for you to not only build a loyal subscriber base, but also to receive a steady boost from the YouTube algorithm. And in most cases, these are the two ingredients necessary to guarantee YouTube success.

Here is what you should know about how to effectively edit a YouTube video.

Editing your video’s narrative

The first step in editing your video is to ensure that the information that it contains flows naturally, and that it maintains a tempo that is ideal both to your audience and your preferred delivery method.

This is also the stage where you remove any unnecessary content and awkward pauses. Thereafter, you will then have to arrange the resulting cuts in a way that makes sense, and then finally tie them together with appropriate jump cuts.

This process is usually cumbersome, and even a few seconds of raw content may consume multiple hours when it comes to fine tuning narrative. And while having a script usually helps, most YouTubers don’t use them because they take time and money to produce. And for some, reading from a script can mess with the flow of their delivery and their discomfort may then translate into them appearing plastic or as lacking confidence. As a result, most people just prefer to wing it, and this is what makes editing a YouTube video’s narrative labor intensive.

The first thing that you should do, is to use your video editing software to get rid of parts that do not advance your narrative. “Ums” and “ahs” should be the first things that you should remove. You should also carefully go through the video, hunting for any signs of repetition, and if you find any, you should remove them. The next pieces that you will then have to remove are tangents, or fluff content that don’t help to advance the aim of the story.

You should always keep your audience in mind when making the cuts. And while it is difficult to avoid falling into the temptation of keeping cuts just because you are in love with them, you should be ruthless in purging unnecessary content because with every second of irrelevant information that you leave in the video, you are risking losing your audience.

After you are done cutting out unnecessary clips, the next step is to arrange the different clips in a way that not only makes sense, but also flows smoothly enough — from a narrative perspective — to ensure that your audience keeps watching.

For this stage, you may have to go through the footage several times to not only ensure that the video contains enough information to be useful, but also that it does not drag. You may also have to make a few more cuts in order to ensure that the delivery is tight.

After figuring out the order of the clips, you should then proceed to tie them together with beautiful transitions. You can achieve this by simply embracing the cuts and feature obvious jumps through time. You can also use a zooming or panning effect where you zoom into the video at points where you are about to start a new sentence, hide or acknowledge jump in time, or introduce new information. When done right, the piecing together process can help you to maintain the video’s tempo.

Enhancing engagement with b-roll

At this stage, the goal is to tell a visual story that keeps your audience engaged. It may be through making the information more entertaining or easier to understand by using video footage or text.

You can get video footage to use in this stage of YouTube video editing by digging through the archives of stock video websites. You can also decide to shoot the footage yourself. Whichever option you choose, the goal should be to only include footage that enhances your video’s story telling.

If you don’t have access to stock video and using your own footage isn’t an option, text is the next best option. Most video editors offer the ability to add text to videos, and thus you should be able to spice up your narrative by highlighting important points by using text. To make the text more eye-catching and interesting, you can use different animations. Playing with text sizes, text colors and different placements on the video will also reduce the risks of monotony.

Most YouTube agencies recommend sticking with a given set of fonts and colors when using text to spice up your video. This is because doing so enhances your brand recognition. It builds familiarity when it comes to returning viewers, something that makes it easier for you to build a loyal customer base. Furthermore, for people who love your content, your videos will be able to easily stand out in a sea of recommended thumbnails.

When including b-roll in your video, it is always important to maintain a healthy balance between switching to b-roll and the narrator. This is because using too much b-roll can end up making the video less personable and hence unrelatable. On the other hand, failing to include enough b-roll can make it harder for people to understand the messaging. It can make the video boring, making it harder for you to maintain your audience’s attention.

Color correction and grading

Color correction and grading is necessary in order to make the video visually appealing. It involves playing with settings like contrast, saturation, brightness settings.

For beginners, this step can be a little bit challenging since it involves not only familiarizing yourself with the advanced settings of your video editing software, but also having an kind of artistic eye that will enable you to decide what looks good. And given the fact that getting this step wrong can lead to your video looking jarring or losing important details, it is usually advisable that a beginner skips it or simply contracts it out to a video editing agency.

Sound editing

Adding relevant sound effects is a good way to enhance your delivery, adjust your tempo, or even increase the entertainment value of your video. The right background music can also help to create a given mood, build up suspense or have whichever dramatic effect you choose. These are things that you should add at the sound editing stage.

However, sound editing involves more than simply adding sounds and background music. Most video editors provide users with the ability to enhance video sound. This may involve increasing or reducing the volume of the audio. It may also include removing disruptive background noises. And given that YouTube has a tendency to favor family-friendly content, you can increase your chances of monetizing your video through the YouTube partner program by muting or bleeping any curse words.

When adding music or sound effects to your video, you should always be aware of copyright law. Using copyrighted content could leave you with a copyright strike that may then put your account at risk of getting deleted. Cases of videos getting taken down or content creators getting sued as a result of copyright violations are also common. Since you don’t want to get on the wrong side of the law, or of YouTube’s Community Guidelines, then it is important that you stick to using copyright-free music or at least know exactly how to use copyrighted music under the fair use exemption.

Therefore, when to pay for music or sound effects, and where to go looking for copyright free sounds and music is a skill that you will eventually have to develop in order to be effective at sound editing.

After you are done editing the video’s sound, the next step is to perform editing checks with the aim of catching any typos or any other editing mistakes. You will thereafter export the video in an appropriate format — MP4 is ideal for YouTube videos — and then upload it to YouTube.

As any successful YouTuber will tell you, video editing is one of the most time-consuming and cumbersome stages in the YouTube video production process. In fact, in order to ensure that their videos look professional, and that they don’t get overwhelmed by the editing process, most advise using a video editing agency. This is because by subcontracting the editing work to an agency or a freelancer, a creator is usually able to concentrate on activities that they are passionate about — creating content — while avoiding the soul-sucking nature of the video editing process.

Great article? Spread the word!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

twenty + thirteen =

Recent Posts


20% OFF

the 1st month of


with promo code




The top 5 YouTube thumbnail formats proven to achieve 6-13% CTR, you can start using today!