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Creator and Artist Stories

YouTube Creator Playbook tips: the first 15 seconds

By Ryan Nugent

Audience Development Strategist

This is the first of a series of posts sharing tips from the YouTube Creator Playbook, a resource full of best practices and strategies that you can start using on your channel and videos right away.

Ever notice how many of your favorite shows start with a great two-minute scene followed by the opening credits, instead of the other way around? How often has a great movie trailer caught your attention and made you want to go see the movie right away on opening night? With so many entertainment choices, all types of creators know how important it is to capture the attention of audiences early on. This same idea applies to videos on YouTube, and here’s how you can use this creative technique to attract and keep your viewers watching.

Make compelling content first...

  • Start off with something that will immediately grab attention, whether it’s what you say or a stunning visual
  • Make it clear what your video is about early on, so viewers aren’t confused about what they’re watching
  • Tease the rest of the video so the audience is intrigued to see where you take them.

...share your channel branding later.

  • A flashy intro may look cool, but it’s not the star of the video - let them see you, or your great content, first
  • Make your branding compelling by making it entertaining or unique to each video

The general concept of capturing the audience’s attention upfront applies to all types of content in different ways. Find what’s right for your channel. Check out these great examples:

Toby, on CuteWinFail, addresses the audience, makes a joke, and sets up the show all on the first 15 sec.

Want to keep your branding upfront but still use this strategy? The voiceover for College Humor’s Jake and Amir packaging changes with every episode.

Need more ideas? For how-to content, such as cooking or fashion tutorials, the first few seconds of a video is a great place to present a “sneak peek” of what the finished product of the tutorial will be. This lets the viewer know what amazing thing they’ll be capable of making if they watch your video.

FoodWishes’ cooking channel does a great job of this:

You can learn more about how to structure the first 15 seconds of your videos, and lots of other tips and strategies in the YouTube Creator Playbook. These suggestions were pulled together from YouTubers like you, and we’re eager to see how you’ll apply these tips in your own creative ways.