Confession: I am definitely not an expert when it comes to YouTube.
So, naturally, here I am writing a post about advice on creating food content on YouTube. 🙂
I know it seems a wee bit cray-zee, but I’m a huge believer in the idea of expert enough. As a matter of fact, I’ll go so far as to say that sometimes not being the ultimate expert can actually make you a better teacher (see the above link for reasons why).
So if this isn’t The Expert’s Guide to YouTube, then what is it?
I think a better way to describe this post would be A Look into My Notebook: My Personal Top 5 Tips for Food Bloggers on YouTube.
Try implementing one (or all) of these, and I bet you’ll start to see more success on YouTube!
So, without further ado, here are some of my tips:
1. Aim for consistency above all else.
Above everything else, consistency is honestly the most important.
In order for your YouTube channel to be successful, you have to deliver consistent content.
Dane Boedigheimer, the creator of the insanely popular YouTube show AnnoyingOrange, used this comparison when explaining the importance of consistently publishing new content:
You can rely on this show the same way you can rely on a television show.
Have you ever turned on the TV to watch your favorite show only to see a blank screen? Neither have I. Successful YouTube channels need to have that same level of reliability and consistency.
Even more, the YouTube algorithm favors channels that have higher watch time, and a great way to improve your watch time is by posting on a consistent basis. Subscribers look forward to and devote time to watch your video if you consistently upload on the same day each week.
To have the most success, you should ideally aim to post a new video once a week. However, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t keep to that schedule! Just try and post as often as you can while still creating high-quality videos.
Here are some tips for staying consistent on YouTube:
- Batch film your videos. Set aside a day on the weekend and film 2-4 videos at once. That way, you have enough content for the entire month, but you don’t have to film a brand new video each week.
- Quick tip: Make sure to change your outfit for each video! 😉 This will keep your viewers from realizing that you’re filming several videos in one day.
- Create a content calendar and plan your videos out ahead of time. Having a set plan will keep you focused and on-schedule with your videos. Try using a tool like Asana to keep yourself on track!
- Develop videos as a series. The ultimate goal on YouTube is to get your viewers hooked and clicking from one video to the next. You can easily do this by creating a multi-video series focused on one particular topic. For instance, you could do a holiday cookie baking series where you have individual videos showcasing how to make sugar cookies, royal icing, gingerbread cookies, etc.
- Quick tip: As you post videos in a series, make sure to create a series playlist to gather them all in one place. Then, if your viewers have autoplay turned on, they can easily play one video after another.
2. Create a strategy for your video thumbnails.
Food bloggers don’t need to be told the importance of images. We’ve all been coached on how a recipe’s food photo can make or break its popularity on Pinterest, Foodgawker, or the hundred other food sharing sites that exist.
We do eat with our eyes, after all!
The same concept is true for YouTube. A video’s thumbnail image can make or break the popularity of a YouTube video.
And, just like your video schedule, the most important part about thumbnails is consistency. Viewers should be able to come to your channel and instantly pick up on your aesthetic and understand what your brand is all about.
For example, the popular YouTube channel Pick Up Limes uses just pictures (no text) for thumbnails. Instantly, you’re able to pick up on this channel’s cozy, natural vibe because of all the colorful food and abundance of plants.
On the other hand, the YouTube channel SORTEDfood incorporates really vibrant colors and bold text into their thumbnails. When you look at one of their thumbnails, there’s no doubting it’s one of their videos.
Here are some things to consider when creating your video thumbnail:
- Use a photo for your video thumbnail. A photo will almost always look better than a frame selected from the video. Both Pick Up Limes and SORTEDfood both do a really great job of using appealing photos that showcase a certain part of the video.
- Consider adding text to the thumbnail. As you can see above, SORTEDfood uses epic text in their video thumbnails. If you decide to use text in your thumbnail, be sure to make it large so that it catches the eye of potential viewers—tiny text is effectively useless when it comes to thumbnails.
- Quick tip: Don’t know Photoshop? Use Canva to create your custom video thumbnail. They even have hundreds of premade YouTube thumbnail templates that you can use as a starting point.
- Keep it simple. Even though YouTube recommends using a size of 1280×720, the thumbnail itself will usually be pretty small. Keeping your photo simple will make it easier for people to understand what it’s about. For example, check out this screenshot of a YouTube video in a Google search result. The width is 120px on that lil’ guy!
3. Be deliberate with your links.
Just like links within blog posts, links within videos are really important.
Video is an awesome medium for mentioning a product, service, or website that your viewers can check out. Plus, there are so many different places you can put links on YouTube, so the options are truly endless!
First things first: it’s a great idea to put links on your main channel page.
On the Food Blogger Pro YouTube channel, we feature our website, Facebook page, and Twitter account.
Once a viewer subscribes to your channel, there’s a good chance they’ll want to follow you in other places as well. Why not make it as easy as possible for them?
Another awesome place for links is the description box of videos. Here are some great ideas for items to include in the description box:
- An outline of what the video will discuss (including keywords in the first 1-2 sentences)
- Links to your related videos/blog posts (including those you mention in the video)
- Your social media links
- Affiliate links (just make sure to include a disclaimer)
Have you ever watched a YouTube video and saw that little ‘i’ pop up in the top right-hand corner? That’s called a card!
Cards make your videos more interactive, and they can feature a video, playlist, channel, or link. You can easily add them in before publishing your video.
To add cards to your video, follow these steps:
- Open the Videos page in YouTube Studio and select a video.
- Scroll down and select ‘Cards’ on the right-hand side.
- Add cards as desired and press ‘Save.’
Here are a few tips when using in-video cards:
- Place cards with external links towards the end of your video. You don’t want viewers to be clicking away too soon, so keep them watching until the end!
- Keep the cards as relevant as possible. Don’t overwhelm your viewers with unrelated links or content—try to use the cards as organically as possible.
I don’t know about you, but I always find that YouTube videos without end screens finish a bit too abruptly—it’s nice to have that smooth transition out of watching the video.
And, when it comes to extending the watch time on your channel, end screens are the way to go. You can add them to the last 5-20 seconds of your video.
To add an end screen to your video, follow these steps:
- Open the Videos page in YouTube Studio and select a video.
- From the left menu, select Editor.
- Select ‘Add an end screen.’
With end screens, you can promote any of the four elements:
- Other videos
- Playlists or channels
- Call for subscriptions
- Websites, merchandise, etc.
Once you have an established workflow with end screens, you can also choose to import an end screen template from a previous video. Figure out what strategy works best for you and save some time by doing that!
4. Don’t forget about SEO.
Just like when it comes to blogging, SEO is so important on YouTube.
So here are a few areas to focus on in particular:
Before posting your video, make sure to come up with a distinct keyword strategy.
Above all else, you want to make sure that you’re creating content that people are looking for, as well as content that will rank well in search.
So how do you do that? Start by doing a bit of keyword research to determine a plan of attack.
There are lots of great free (or relatively cheap) tools out there that can help you with keyword research, such as Kparser and Hypersuggest.
As you research your keywords, make sure to keep a running list of your ideas so that you can reference them later when it comes time to plan and make your videos.
Okay, got those keywords ready to go? Here are a few tips when it comes to naming your videos:
- Feature your keywords in the beginning of the title. You want your viewers (and YouTube) to instantly know what the video is all about.
- Include brackets or parentheses. Titles with these elements seem to perform 38% than those without!
- Be descriptive. Instead of titling your video ‘How to Make Banana Bread,’ try something like ‘The PERFECT Moist Banana Bread Recipe!’ Well, that is if you don’t hate the word moist like the rest of the world. 😉
- Include your brand name. A lot of channels like to include their brand name at the end of their title (Hot for Food does this in all their video titles). This can help increase your visibility if and when people search for your channel name on YouTube.
As a rule of thumb, you should try and make your actual video as long as it makes sense for your topic. Don’t stuff your video with unnecessary information, but aim for longer rather than shorter!
In general, videos ranging from 7-15 minutes perform best on YouTube. If you have ads enabled on your channel, you will also earn more money and have more spots for ads with longer videos.
Before you hit publish on a video, make sure to add some relevant tags to let viewers know what the video is all about. Even more, these tags give YouTube a bit more information about the video.
When YouTube better understands the content of your video, it is able to increase the reach of that video.
Lead with your most relevant tags, and don’t just add irrelevant tags because you think they might help you get more views. Google knows all!
Did you know that playlists are searchable and can actually show up as suggestions in YouTube?
If you haven’t yet, go set some playlists up!
When creating your playlists, make sure to include a proper title and description that focuses on specific keywords.
Besides organizing your playlists by categories, you might also want to create a ‘Best Of’ playlist featuring your most popular videos.
5. Work on improving your watch time.
Do you ever start to watch a YouTube video, but then get bored and click out of it?
That behavior contributes to the watch time of that video.
YouTube tracks how engaging a video is by analyzing how many people start and continue watching it. If YouTube notices a video is performing poorly (i.e. lots of people leaving before it’s done), then it won’t show that video at the top of search results as often.
YouTube wants people to have a great experience when using their site, and the best way to do that is by showing the videos that are the most engaging and helpful at the top of the search results.
This same concept also applies to YouTube’s suggested videos. If your video is highly engaging, then YouTube will want to suggest it to other people.
The bottom line is this: YouTube doesn’t want to promote crummy videos. That’s why YouTube tracks engagement and favors the videos that are most engaging.
You can see how engaging your videos are by looking at your channel’s analytics and examining the audience retention.
Give it a try for yourself by following these steps:
- Go into your YouTube studio and select an individual video.
- Click on Analytics, then tab over to Engagement.
- Scroll down, and your Audience Retention will be on the left-hand side.
Is there a big dip in the Audience Retention graph at a certain point? That’s a hint that something is off with your video. It’s possible that the intro isn’t enticing, the title is misleading, or the video isn’t as engaging as other videos about similar topics.
It’s difficult (and probably impossible!) to get your watch time up to 100%, but it’s great to work on improving that percentage little by little over time.
What about you?
Do you have a YouTube account? Are there other tips or tricks that you think are important to know? What are your favorite channels to follow and why do you like them?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and advice!P.S. If you’re looking to start and grow a YouTube Channel…
Wow, thank you so much for this post. Even though you’ve only done 10 videos, you know way more than I do, who has never made a video but wants to start for her food blog. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Might I ask, I didn’t see it in the post, what type of video camera you guys are using?
Thanks Jennifer! We use a Canon 6D for both the photography and video on Pinch of Yum.
Hey Bjork! I’ll definitely be coming back to this post at a later date. I plan on starting some video recipes in American Sign Language this year. So thanks!
I just discovered Canva a few days ago too, and I absolutely love it! It is so much more user friendly and more customizable than some of the other free programs out there. I even used it to design my business card, and to do a few pictures with text that I just published. I also love that it saves all your projects right there, and you can work on them or change them how you like at any time.
And I do hope you and Lindsay have a good time while you go your separate ways this weekend. I grew up in CO, and it will always be home to me. I’m looking forward to seeing Lindsay’s pictures!
American Sign Language? That’s awesome. My aunt is an interpreter and I have two cousins that are hard of hearing and use ASL. It’s such a beautiful form of communication.
Yes! Canvas = Awesome.
Thanks for the travel well wishes! 🙂
I’m an interpreter too and I love it. I’m living in Europe right now though and I’m not using ASL, so maybe the videos will help me keep it up.
Told ya I’d be back 🙂 Thanks for these tips–they’re even more relevant now. Next on the list is to make some playlists, as I now have enough videos lined up in the queue to lump them together. I need to work on consistency as well. https://www.youtube.com/cha…
Congrats on getting those videos up Christine. They look awesome!
I think its a great idea to make recipes videos in ASL. My friend is a sign language interpreter and I know people in the deaf community. Its definitely a great market.
The blind community feel the same way, lots of food videos now are just music with titles (I fall into this category) they wish there were spoken words so they could also follow and make the recipes shown on peoples youtube channels.
Your timing is perfect Bjork, I recently started a Youtube channel in. Great tips!
What are your thoughts on the channel trailers that start playing as soon as you go to the home page of a channel? Necessary or not? As a viewer I sometimes find them annoying, so I’m not sure if I should add one to my channel.
Hmmm… To be honest I’m pretty neutral on this. You could convince me both ways!
What’s your YouTube channel’s URL? I’d love to check it out!
Okey dokey, I haven’t decided yet either. My channel is https://www.youtube.com/use…
I subscribed to your channel, and I love your Blogging Tips emails by the way!
Thanks Natalie! 🙂 So happy to hear that.
You are correct that the thumbnail image is very important. Also, making many short videos is better than creating a few longer videos (I’ve found) as the retention is more likely to last for the entire video than a partial, and viewers tend to have short attention spans unless they are looking for a detailed tutorial video.
Love the idea of lots of short videos vs. one long one. It’s really hard to make a good short video. I realized that with they FBP YouTube videos. I feel like it’s a short video but when I finally hit stop it ends up being 5 minutes long. :/
Reminds me of this quote: “I would have written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time.”
Seems applicable to YouTube as well.
Yes, I too have a loooong video for iYoodle atm but that was done, like you said, as I was short on time; kinda of an oxymoron huh?
It is, but so true! 🙂
Great info. I still have no idea what I’m doing (I have a craft channel), but it seems that one key is hitting a ‘thing’ where there is interest, but not a lot of other videos on the subject. I have NO idea what I’m doing, but I have almost 6000 followers. You seem to know more about YouTube than me! I just got lucky with some subject matter and with my followers sharing the content, they are doing all the work for me!! I love all the great info in FoodBlogger Pro. Even though I have a craft blog (with some baking recipes to come), lots of the info works for both. Thanks for all you do.
That’s awesome Bonnie! What’s your YouTube channel? I’d love to check it out.
My YouTube channel if reasonableribbon Bjork. I’d love to have you take a look! My channel is a good example to show you can have success even if your videos are not super ‘professional’ looking. You just have to have something of interest that nobody else has. The making of my first video was so traumatizing (and awful!) that it took almost 2 years to work up enough courage to try again!! lol I am spread a bit too thin to do a really good job on anything lately, but the more recent videos are not too bad. I’d love any constructive criticism you might have too. Feel free to email me.
Awesome channel Bonnie, and great advice. Some of those videos have over 200,000. Crazy…and congrats!
Bjork, Great article! You covered several key areas that are very
important to have right or get lost. One big thing I have learned over
the years on YouTube, is that YouTube is not the complete solution, but
an important portion of your brand. It is as I like to call it your
“Digital Resume & Cookbook” that you will be using to get noticed
and send people to your blog. Over the last few weeks in my YouTube
Foodies Mastermind Group, I scheduled two separate brands managers to
talk to us about working with brands. Both said that they are now
looking to work with Food Bloggers that have a YouTube channel as well.
The brand exposure is a tremendous opportunity for them and they are
looking at it very closely this year and next. You didn’t mention (or I
didn’t see) the social media impact of having a YouTube channel – huge
to say the least. There are so many platforms that you can send your
videos to that it is almost over whelming is scope, all driving traffic
back to you in someway or another. Facebook is now even letting you add
“Call to Action” buttons at the back end of your video to send viewer to
where ever you wish! Very cool.
The social media insight sounds so interesting. So far I only posted my videos to YouTube and promoted it with G+ and Twitter (which was not so effective). Do you suggest that I should also post video to other platform as well? It sounds so time consuming and I’m not sure whether they will drive higher traffic to my site other than YouTube. Any suggestion?
Maggie, you need to take advantage of the “Share” buttons that YouTube provides. You can get a lot of mileage out of that and it only takes a minute or two to share out to the links provided. As for Twitter, you need to post the video several times in the first few days of releasing your video. Post to various Facebook groups also. I drive the traffic to my video on YouTube as it is released then I post it on my website and that link gets posted to Facebook and Google+ groups. This works great for me to build my email list and you also rack up the views on your YouTube video. Don’t forget to share your playlist also 🙂 very important!
Gary! Such an awesome comment! I’m going to bump this up to the top so other people are sure to see it.
This video of yours has over 140,000 views! SWEET! https://www.youtube.com/wat…
I think this part of your comment is really interesting:
“I scheduled two separate brands managers to talk to us about working with brands. Both said that they are now looking to work with Food Bloggers that have a YouTube channel as well. The brand exposure is a tremendous opportunity for them and they are looking at it very closely this year and next.”
Such huge potential for people that are willing to put themselves out there and jump into video.
Thank you Bjork, glad that you found some value in it!
what are some of the other platforms other then instagram, facebook, twitter and twitch? I also have a food youtube channel and am curious about the brands manager. Do you have any more info on that?
Thanks Foodie Denise – Channel – Snack Chat
Thanks for those helpful tips Bjork! I didn’t know creating playlist is also important and I just created mine now! I started my YouTube channel a few months ago and only have 14 videos so far. But lately when I started to post at least one video every week or two, I started to see my subscribers growing slowly (still in 2 digits, but growing!).
About the outbound link, I didn’t see this option (to verify my website) only until recently. I think YouTube requires channel owner to spend some time to build up the channel, before some “advanced features” to show up. Not sure whether this is the right understanding.
By the way, I just subscribed your channel. Looking forward to see more blogging tips coming!
Thanks for subscribing Maggie! 🙂
Interesting observation with the outbound link option. We were able to add it pretty early on to the FBP channel. I haven’t heard for sure whether or not that’s an option that’s only available after you establish some creditability.
Yes, I have a YouTube channel. I would add that consistency over time is important. My channel is not huge, but I have managed to get about 1700 subscribers in about 10 months time. But that took time. The first two to three months I had less than 100 subscribers. Even though I was being consistent, not that many people knew about me at first.
The interesting thing is that YouTube has become the way that most people discover my blog. I mention my own blog posts in my videos, and I link them in the comments/ description box.
Really interesting! I can see that though. Videos are so much more engaging. I think people see a video and are much more curious then if they see a post on a blog. It’s a great way to find new readers!
great post here! I am really considering creating video content to increase viewer engagement. However, I want to have 2 models –
1) free videos on youTube
2) a Membership website (like yours) where people can pay for advanced tutorials. Can you please help me on how to get started for building a website such as yours? Is Food Blogger Pro built on wordpress?
thanks in advance!
Awesome! It’s a great model.
We use ExpressionEngine, Open Gateway, Membrr, and a custom design for FBP. I know lots of sites that run on WishList Member for WordPress though. Seems like a decent option if you’re looking to go the way of WordPress.
Thanks Bjork Just reading this in advance of filming for our first Cooking Chat video. One question–in just starting out on YouTube, and not sure how much I’ll do with it, would you wait to set up a branded channel until there is some critical mass of videos? Or just get started with one? (I could upload the initial ones to my personal account I suppose…I just have a few other things there).
Great question. I’d just start with a branded channel (and then keep on going)! 🙂
Amazing post. Thanks for sharing your experiences. Very helpful for the beginners.
Can someone review or make a recipe in a YouTube video as long as they credit the person?
Great question! I think this should be fine — just make sure to credit the source in both the video and the description box.
This video is a great example from a YouTube channel that does this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQsyErSoWP0
You have given an amazing ideas tips and suggestions to us. Thank you so much for this wonderful post. I will make use of it for sure.
I’m so glad to hear you enjoyed the post! 🙂
My sister and I launched a YouTube channel Evergreen Hedgehog (vegan gluten-free recipes) https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC36hod2KrEcUyWrtGJTPy0A about six months ago. We regularly release one video per week. She is responsible for the culinary part, I am responsible for the technical part. Basically, I am doing everything that you indicated in the article. At least I try to do it. Our first videos were very ugly. I dare to hope that the current videos are a little better. But it seems to me that in six months, 70 subscribers are a very low number. Although I am infinitely grateful to these seventy people for not only watching our video but also subscribing. And still, the feeling that we are doing something is not letting go.
Your YouTube channel looks awesome! I really love how unique your video thumbnails are.
I wouldn’t get too discouraged about the subscriber number — it can take a while to grow on YouTube. Just keep putting out quality content, and your community should keep growing!
Thank you for your kind words! We really needed to hear it ❤
We’re glad you enjoyed the tips, Fletcher!
I was perusing this article (and learning from the many excellent tips) when I saw a screenshot of the playlists from my own youtube channel!
We are big fans of the FBP podcast so seeing myself in the middle of one of your articles was an unexpected treat. Thanks for all that you do and keep up the great work!
Nisha!! I’m such a fan of your videos and wonderful recipes — you’ve been such an inspiration for me on my own food blogging journey. And I’m so glad to hear that you’re a fan of the FBP podcast!
P.S. I’m obsessed with your blog redesign! It’s absolutely gorgeous and showcases all your recipes beautifully 😊
adding linked videos at the end screen is a very valuable information. Got a lot to learn from it, I really liked it and I’m definitely pinning this article to share! 😊
So glad you enjoyed the post, Priya! 😊
Awesome. Great to read info.
We’re so glad you enjoyed the post, Frank! 😊
Very interesting read thank. As I currently have a Instagram page for food i have been thinking of a way to incorporate a YouTube channel with food. But not cooking as I do that in Instagram so I came up with the idea of food reviewing my favourite places to eat. I’m just doing research before I film my first review. This helped me understand it alot more thanks
That’s an awesome idea! I love watching reviews like that on YouTube. Wishing you the best of luck with your channel!
I found this useful content on Pinterest. And that’s really great info for youtubers to learn to get success. I would definitely prefer this blog post to know these tips about YouTube. Thanks for adding such a valuable post!
Thanks for reading, Rahul — we’re so glad you enjoyed the post! 😊
You’re most welcome, Leslie! 🙂