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Production

How to Make a Successful How-To Video in 2022

Drew Gula

May 2, 2022

Have you ever tried to replace the oil filter in your car? Retile a bathroom? Make donuts in an air fryer? Cut your own hair? Learn to play a song on guitar?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those, I bet you watched at least one video about how to do it.

In fact, you probably search for answers online whenever you have a question. And in most cases, that hunt for information will lead you to YouTube (or some other video platform). 

Part of that is because humans are visual creatures. While it’s nice to read an explanation, many of us learn better when we see that explanation in practice. But another part is that we develop a sense of trust for people or brands we follow on social media platforms. 

And who better to teach us something new than a channel we already trust?

Whether you are a brand or a creator, making how-to videos can help you establish yourself as an expert while also engaging viewers in a helpful and informative way. So let’s go over the component parts of a great how to video and what you need to make this type of content

 

What are how to videos in 2022

How-to videos can also take a lot of different shapes and formats. Wyzowl compiled a list of some of the most popular formats for educational videos, and while they’re all a little different, each one clearly answers a particular question or shows how to solve a specific problem.

Educational videos; tutorial videos; instructional videos — a good how to video can clearly go by a few different names. But whether it’s hand-animated short, montaged clip-art, or a straight up presentation video, you’ll recognize one when you watch it. 

Tutorial videos are less about the informative pieces and more about the presentation. There are certain key features people expect from instructional videos: 

  • Visual examples/illustrations
  • Clearly defined steps
  • Sense of progression
  • Finished product/process

But from that list, there’s a lot of flexibility in how that will take shape. People film instructional videos about everything from makeup tutorials to computer maintenance to brewing alcohol. Your video could cover anything as long as it ticks off those four line items.  

Examples of how to videos

The days of reading a 15-step WikiHow article on how to replace a drain pipe are gone. Now, you’d find a 15-minute video of someone showing you what supplies you need, where to buy them, how much they cost, and of course how to make the repair. 

A shocking number of YouTube videos cover this kind of topic, which kind of makes sense. Video content has absolutely exploded in the past few years, in large part because of how accessible and digestible it is compared to text or even images.

If people want answers or directions on how to do something, they’ll end up on YouTube (or watching a YouTube video on Google or a social media platform). In fact, choose any channel you follow and you’ll most likely find at least one explainer video.

With that being said, let’s look at a few examples of great how to videos:

 

 

At the time of writing this, “how to wrap a present” was the top result for “how to” searches on YouTube. And this video is a perfect example of what a how to instructional video can be.

We’ve all had to wrap presents at some point in life, and chances are we’ve made a mess of it. This guide covers a mundane task in a clear and concise manner, giving viewers a set of steps that are easy to follow, easy to accomplish, and easy to remember for the future.

You can also see how this sort of content is perfect for social media videos.

 

 

This creator clearly found a great niche for educational content, and this easy tutorial meets the expectations of another one of the most popular “how to” search results on YouTube: how to tie a tie. 

There’s not exactly a high level of production value or even obvious quality when you glance at this video. So it may surprise you to know that this video has 36 million views, and the channel has 84k subscribers while focusing exclusively on tie content. 

Of course, you probably won’t be able to create a viral video about something as menial as tying a tie or wrapping a gift (since those corners of the video market are already locked down). But they should show you that people really connect with this sort of content, even if you wouldn’t expect to find so much engagement tied to such unexpected videos.

If you’re more interested in how a business or brand can take advantage of this how to style, here are two examples of that:

 

 

We’ve all seen a Square register somewhere in the wild. For a small business, freelancer, or DIY creator, knowing how to set up and use one could be considered must-have knowledge.

From a filmmaking perspective, this is an easy example of how to videos. The touch screen literally shows how to get started, with easy to follow instructions. (You could also use a screen recording app if you don’t like the look of recording something on another device.)

And speaking of screen recording...

 

 

Anyone who has worked on a team or collaborated on a big project has probably seen Asana, or Trello, or Monday, or any other competitor project. All of them use the Kanban board format for organization, which makes this a useful tutorial video even for someone who doesn’t use Asana.

We won’t say how to videos should be generalized to suit a wider audience. After all, people searching for “how to _____” usually have a specific question or need. But at least there are benefits to making easy-to-follow and engaging how to videos.

Why how to videos work work

A big reason why these videos are popular is the lack of a standard format. Anyone can make a good how to video because almost everything in the world could have an instructional video about how to use it or how to use it more creatively.

As a result, how to videos can be a worthwhile investment for most content creators. For example, a business that is about to introduce a new product could release a tutorial video about it to build awareness. Or a content creator could show a part of their creative process or make a branded video for an endorsed product.

So then what makes a good how to video? We’ve already covered the “standard” elements people would expect to find. But how you approach this sort of content is just as important as meeting audience expectations.

Since you’re here and clearly interested in finding the secret sauce to a great educational video, let’s try and break it down.

Organize the objectives

No one makes a successful video without setting some goals first. Production teams and content creators both think about what they want the video to accomplish before starting a project — in fact, those goals can often be like a map that directs the entire production.

Start with a question: What do you want the viewer to achieve at the end of this video? Should they master a process? Fall in love with a product? Run outside to try something new?

That answer is your end-point. Once you figure out where to start your instructional video (Where will most viewers be in relation to what you’re teaching?) you can then plan your steps out. You’ve clearly defined point A and point B, and everything in between should be obvious.

Prioritize the presentation

Quality content matters. But if you can’t get someone to sit down and take in the information you’ve put together, how effective or influential could that piece of content be?

Part of that is investing in your video production. Make sure you dedicate the time and resources to create content you are proud of and will resonate with your target audience. Spending time in pre-production, planning storyboards, or building a shot list can help with that. 

Incorporating or featuring personality is important, whether that’s your brand voice, your narrator’s delivery, or an on-screen presenter. 

Even something as simple as the background music or sound effects you use can play a role in how your audience experiences the content. Choosing to add music can set the tone, whether you want a playful video, something with a little sass, or a no-nonsense instructional video. 

(You can learn more about how to choose the right music for your video project right here.) 

Simplify the steps

If you want to make a great how to video, here’s one important piece of advice to remember: Think of it less as a presentation or lecture, and try to approach it as a tutorial video.

How you demonstrate the process, and how you split up the steps of that process, are almost as important as how you present the content.

People expect clear, concise, simple steps to keep the tutorial palatable for any skill level. While they might watch and enjoy a polished and clever video, they won’t be able to engage with the actual steps you want them to take unless the instructional video guides them.

Further reading

Knowing how to spot the pieces of good how to videos is a big step in creating an effective video content strategy. And whether you make videos on a production team or create videos from your home studio, combining a plan with the tools to pull it off is the recipe for success.

To find more tips, tricks, and tutorials on how to improve your video production, here are a few other articles on the Soundstripe blog: