Attention YouTube Producers

Let’s say I want to watch a video to learn how to cut curved sections into paving stones. This is a natural thing to turn to YouTube for, since watching people using the tools communicates more than text ever could. While viewing a video with a promising title, here is a bunch of stuff I could do without. All these comments can be generalized to improve ALL YouTube How-To content. Because almost all of it is terrible. The best ones spend only about 1/3 the time on topic.

So! Stuff I DON’T want:

Content – Information I simply don’t need

  1. Why you pulled up your old pavers
  2. Why you decided to do the project yourself
  3. Other challenges of the project
  4. What the other parts of your patio will look like
  5. You only have to tell me about different-sized hammers once
  6. I did not just click a link about cutting stone to watch a man stand around talking and gesturing, even if it was the best-edited video in the bunch

Editing – Annoyances standing between me and what I want to know

  1. I don’t want to look at your leg while you cut interminably at the stone, just out of view.
  2. I don’t need to watch while you adjust the camera angle
  3. I don’t need to listen to you apologize for taking so long to get the camera angle right
  4. I don’t need to watch all five minutes of the cut in real time while the sound of the power tools screams through my speakers
  5. I don’t need to wait for the power tool to stop spinning before you speak again. (Except the one guy who made that a humorous moment.)

Quality – Sure would like to see what you’re doing there…

  1. The camera should not be six inches off the ground for most of the important parts
  2. Selfie stick is not as good as tripod; tripod is not as good as cameraman.
  3. Plan for loud noises or silences

Credibility – Are you serious?

  1. Stonework with large power tools while wearing flip-flops? Really?
  2. You’re really cutting stone that’s braced only by piling other stone on top of it?
  3. You just said “this probably won’t fit.” Why am I watching you again?
  4. While you mumble and fiddle, I’m finding another video.

Every damn second of a video about cutting curves in pavers should be about exactly that. That’s not to say you can’t have relevant side information — safety, tips for marking the curves to cut — but ultimately it’s not a video about you saving money by not calling a contractor. It’s a video about cutting curves in pavers. (Or it’s a video about breaking down a chicken. Or whatever.) Remember what you are teaching, and make your video 1/3 the length of your original “cut”. (Most aren’t cut at all.)


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