6 Easy Tips for Making a Great How-to Video [+Free Templates]

6 easy tips to make a great how-to video

We live in a fascinating age when almost any knowledge is available at a click of a mouse. 

A device connected to the Internet allows you to get a degree in Economics, learn about the daily life of penguins or get 50+ ways to fold a serviette. All at once, not leaving your apartment. 

barney stinson-wow fact

We got so used to it that any time we don’t know how to do something, the first thing to come to mind is asking Google. Unsurprisingly, searches that start with “how to” stand amongst the most popular quires worldwide.

Searches that start with “how to” are amongst the most popular quires worldwide.

Also, it’s not news that video is the pivotal form of online content today.

Coupling these two facts will give you an idea of how popular how-to videos are. And this is something that can’t be overlooked by a savvy marketer.

In this article, we’ll nail down

  • what are how-to videos
  • why do you need them for your marketing
  • and what are key things to consider when creating short video guides. 

Educational Video Content at a Glance

According to statistics, in recent years video has become the preferred means of learning new things.

Source: Think with Google

There is a logical scientific explanation for that. Video is a powerful media that appeals to 2 main channels of perception – vision and audition – at once. Thus, it is much easier and efficient for the brain to process information this way.

Video is a powerful educational tool appealing to 2 main channels of perception – vision and audition – at once.

Educational videos come in various forms. For example: 

  • Documentaries. Full-length pro-made videos that feature real people and events and provide a factual report on a subject.
  • Online video courses. Videos of academic nature that come in structured series and usually provide some fundamental knowledge on a topic. 
  • Video tutorials. These are highly practical and usually long or mid-long videos that give detailed guidance referring to some complex task.
  • Webinars and live videos. Online broadcasts serve as a platform to share opinions and communicate with the audience in real-time.
  • How-to videos. The term is quite self-explanatory: a how-to video provides watchers with instructions on how to do something. 

Let’s take a closer look at the notion of a how-to video.

What are how-to videos and why does your business need them?

Wikipedia gives quite an accurate interpretation:

how-to is an informal and often short video describing how to accomplish a specific task. A how-to is usually meant to help non-experts and may leave out details that are important only to experts.

Thus, we can define 3 key criteria to describe a how-to video:

  • Short-form,
  • Practical,
  • Conversational.

I bet you’ve seen at least a few how-to videos in your life, so let’s get to the next question.

Why do you need to produce and share how-to videos as a marketer?

There are several reasons to add videos of this type to your content mix: 

  • To gain the trust of your audience
  • To show your authority in a certain area 
  • To showcase your product in a relevant context
  • To entertain the audience 
  • To attract attention to some other content piece.

Now, let’s see what makes a good how-to video that is valuable both for business and consumers.

1. A good how-to video is relevant 

Even if you know 35 ways to carve a watermelon, probably such a video won’t fit your dog grooming business. 

When you choose a topic for your how-to video, it’s not a good idea to rely on your gut feeling or personal interests. Instead, study your audience to identify the gaps and pain points that you could heal with your advice.

The tips you share don’t have to relate directly to your business or product, but they should correlate with it. 

The tips you share don’t have to relate directly to your business or product, but they should correlate with it.

For example, short video food recipes could work for any business that relates to home apparel, foodstuffs and alike.

Customize this template

Bonus tip: 

If you’re not sure about what topic would be the best choice, ask your social media audience a straightforward question.

For instance, run a poll on Instagram Stories offering two options and let your followers tell what they prefer.

Poll in stories

This is a surefire way to deliver the most relevant educational content and connect to your audience at the same time. 

2. A good how-to video should be brief

Have you ever found yourself asking Google how to do something only when the situation was almost a disaster?

Or maybe you were stubbornly trying to figure something out and finally gave up at 3 o’clock in the morning? 

google it

Well, you’re not alone out there. 

In either case, you probably want a quick fix to your problem. And your watchers want the same thing.  

Here’re some tips on how to make your how-to video shorter:

  • Solve 1 problem at a time. How-to videos are meant to answer very specific questions, so don’t try to cover multiple tasks in one clip.
  • Cut out intermediate parts. If you describe a process that takes time, skip the frames that don’t provide any new information. 
  • Speed up the recording. If you can’t skip any parts of the process, make your video faster by x1,5. 

3. A good how-to video is practical 

As said, how-to video exists to provide a simple and quick fix to a problem. Right here, right now. Thus, after watching your video it should be very easy to apply this knowledge to real life.

Focus on doing 

Your target watchers already know what and why they need to do, they need a how.

So don’t waste their time on a long introduction, curious facts, or important opinions. Get straight to the point and provide as much practical information as possible within a short time frame.

Customize this template

Keep it realistic

If your how-to involves additional equipment, tools or ingredients, make sure that they are available at hand for your target audience. 

It is also a good idea to start your DIY video with a list of everything that’s needed to complete the task.

DIY flower bouquet

When doing a how-to video, keep in mind that it is supposed to ease one’s life not to complicate it further.

When doing a how-to video, keep in mind that it is supposed to ease one’s life not to complicate it further.

4. A good how-to video is neither nerdy nor boring

Do you know this famous quote by Albert Einstein? 

If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough

Whatever task you’re solving with your how-to video, do your best to explain it in a way that non-experts can get.

Avoid complex language and professional terminology that are unknown to people outside your industry. Your purpose is to help the watcher, not to show off your supremacy.

Avoid complex language and professional terminology that are unknown to people outside your industry. 

Another curse of educational videos is that they might get boring. So even if the topic is not that exciting, think of how you can mix in some humor.

For example, take a look at one of our templates for inspiration.

Customize this template

5. A good how-to video is easy to consume 

Give it a structure

It is easy to follow a video when it has a clear structure. Break your narrative down into a few simple steps to make the viewing experience more convenient.

Here is a ready-to-use template of a step-by-step video guide.

Customize this template

Bonus tip:

If you are going to publish your video on YouTube, take it even further and add timestamp links in the video description.

They create a sort of navigation to skip around different parts and are extremely useful for longer tutorials.

Timestamps on YouTube

Use captions

Take care of users who prefer (or have to use) silent mode. Captions will help you provide equal experience to those who will watch a video with the sound off.

Customize this template

6. Good how-to videos are not salesy

Though it’s quite natural to showcase your product in your how-to video, be careful not to turn it into a sales pitch.

First and foremost, make how-to videos to help, not to sell.

For instance, this video by Nike doesn’t say directly that their shoes are the only good option for runners. It actually leaves the audience with a feeling that they got advice, rather than watched a commercial. 

How to choose running shoes

How to choose running shoes

If you want to create a how-to video of this sort, grab a template from our collection.

Customize this template

Bottom line

How-to videos are a great addition to your content marketing mix. If made well, your audience will definitely appreciate your guidance and eagerly wait for the next episodes. What else do you think is important for a great how-to video? Feel free to share in comments.

Short how-to videos work great to connect to your audience and build trust. Learn simple tips on how to make them.

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