How to Make the Best YouTube Channel Trailer
No channel is too big or too small to have a YouTube channel trailer.
It’s a sneak peek into the world or your business. It reveals why your channel exists, your personality, and the drive behind your passion.
And, ultimately and most importantly: it makes your ideal audience and potential future customers subscribe to you.
A YouTube channel trailer is often the most viewed video on a channel, so it’s a unique opportunity to win new subscribers and leave a strong first impression. A smaller channel with a great channel trailer will look more attractive than a larger channel with a poor trailer and an unclear message.
A smaller channel with a great channel trailer will look more attractive than a larger channel with a poor trailer and an unclear message.
Want to make the most out of your channel trailer and grow your YouTube presence? This guide is for you.
A channel trailer is typically shown to users who are still unsubscribed to your channel.
You might be tempted to simply let them see your most recent or your most popular video. Showing this to your existing subscribers makes sense — you want them to see the latest and greatest from you.
But your non-subscribed visitors may have never heard of you. They probably don’t know the topics you most frequently talk about and what it is that could bring them value on your channel. Thinking about that, your latest video might not always communicate that.
For example, let’s say your channel is about a healthy lifestyle and features fitness, nutrition, food supplements and healthy habits, but your latest video always only features one of those things. This makes your potential subscribers miss out on most of the goodness you offer!
Here are some of the reasons you should definitely consider adding a custom-made channel trailer.
Quickly catch new visitors’ attention
Your regular videos might vary in length and dynamics. If a 25-minute video is the first video your potential subscriber sees, do you think they will go into trouble of watching that long to decide if you’re the right channel for them?
A short channel trailer will do a much better job because you get to convey the reasons to follow you in a matter of moments.
Let them know what to expect
Is your content actionable? Is it funny? Relaxing? Educational?
With your channel trailer, you can show the tone and nature of your videos with short scenes and list the categories and topics you cover. Setting expectations this way is one of the best ways to entice them to subscribe.
You can also state your publishing frequency if you have a schedule. Half of 18- to 34-year-olds would drop what they’re doing to watch a new video by their favorite creator, so you should let them know what days and times you upload!
One goal only: to encourage them to subscribe
In your regular videos, you might ask for various actions from your viewers, such as giving a ‘thumbs up’ to the video or click through to another video.
In a channel trailer, you can make an extra effort to get the new visitor to subscribe without any distractions of your regular content. Here, you get to show them the best content they will receive from you and invite them to join your community by subscribing.
A perfect example comes from Jamie Oliver:
For your channel trailer to be effective, it needs to catch your visitors’ attention immediately—otherwise, it can’t do its job!
Let’s look at what it takes to make that happen.
Amy Landino, a video strategist, speaker, and author, writes about the importance of keeping the eyes moving in a video to attract and retain attention in her book Vlog Like a Boss.
This is necessary because a YouTube channel homepage often looks busy as there are video thumbnails, buttons, playlists, and — of course — an option to leave the channel altogether.
Fast-moving and dynamic footage won’t be appropriate for everyone. For example, a yoga channel often publishes slow-paced videos, so it wouldn’t make sense to feature a dynamic video as a channel trailer.
However, it can still include elements that draw immediate attention, like text, eye-catching images, and short scenes.
Storytelling and the “this was made for me” feeling
A brilliant channel trailer takes the viewer on a journey. It doesn’t just say it as it is—it shows it.
So if you want to tell your potential subscriber you like to cover certain topics on your channel, along with your voice and on-screen text, you can quickly take them through it by showcasing what it is you’re amazing at.
When it feels like there is a story behind all that — your touch and your personal take on the topics you talk about — people feel like they know you and are drawn to connecting with you.
You’ll be talking about recipes from all around the world? As you mention them, show footage of cooking the food. Are you featuring book reviews? Show some books! The footage itself can add a lot to what you’re saying or typing out on the screen.
And when it feels like there is a story behind all that — your touch and your personal take on the topics you talk about — people feel like they know you and are drawn to connecting with you.
Sunny Lenarduzzi, a popular entrepreneurship YouTuber tells her story in a fun and fresh way:
Less is more
You don’t need to feature all that you’ve done and created in the past to get your new visitors to fall in love with your content. Feature the best!
For example, this is one of the previous channel trailers from Lonely Planet. It’s only 15 seconds long, but it mentions things important to travelers—discovering, play, exploration, and experiences, along with footage of incredible travel scenes:
Now that you know what makes a YouTube channel trailer successful, here’s how to make it brilliant from start to finish.
Make the most out of the first few seconds
To hook the viewer in immediately, use a combination of short scenes, text, and sounds (music and/or a voiceover).
This will help you catch the eye of the viewer even if their sound is off or if they are on their smartphone in public and can’t switch it on right then. If you succeed in conveying what you’re all about, they will subscribe regardless of not hearing you!
You can see the process of mixing these elements and adding various text in this video we did with Peg Fitzpatrick, a social media expert:
How to Create a YouTube Channel Trailer in Wave.video (Day 2)How to create a YouTube Channel Trailer
You can use text to add elements such as a short title in the first screen and listing key topics you cover as you show them, just like you saw in the Lonely Planet example earlier.
Getting the length of a channel trailer right
Scour YouTube channels long enough and you’ll notice that most outstanding channel trailers start at about 15 seconds long and rarely go over a minute in length.
Check out this example from GoPro’s channel. You can bet they have hours of footage they could have used in their trailer, but they used the best they had to tell a story of being different, which is a huge part of their brand:
You can notice that as the narrator guides you through the different parts of different experiences, like traveling, walking, meeting new cultures, food, and nature, the scenery changes.
They could have made this a 10-minute video and the footage would be equally amazing, but they still only kept it at 60 seconds.
In case you need to make your video longer because you don’t feel your best footage is sufficient to get your point across, try adding relevant stock footage.
Bonus tip: A tool like Wave.video has the full range of categories for high-quality stock videos and images.
Give them the one perfect reason to subscribe
Remember there are thousands of other channels that cover similar categories like you.
If you are creating fitness videos, will they be super easy to follow or feature exercises that have been more effective for you than other, more popular exercises?
If you are giving marketing advice, will you show your viewers behind the scenes of your own marketing strategies?
Whatever it is you’re offering, show the one thing that will make them think: “How did I get by without this so far?”
An excellent example is the channel trailer from Rebecca Brand, a lifestyle and recipe channel. About 20 seconds into the trailer, she says that every one of her recipes comes with a recipe card for easy implementation, which is an important feature of great recipe content:
Don’t forget the call-to-action
Your channel trailer is not the place for vague, generic endings.
Throughout your video, and especially towards its end, make sure to invite your viewer to take action. Instead of asking them to like the video or click through to your website, ask them to subscribe to your channel—loud and clear!
Use the combination of the following to make it easy and obvious for the viewer to take action:
- Verbally say it after you tell them your main reason for them to follow your journey
- Use on-screen text that states the same in case the sound is switched off
- Use YouTube cards to make it easy to subscribe with one click on the video
Now that your awesome trailer is ready, head over to your YouTube channel to upload it and make it available to your non-subscribers.
Step 1: Enable channel customization
Go to your channel by clicking on your profile picture at the top right corner and then click My channel.
Click the gear icon at the right-hand side and in the window that pops up, toggle on the Customize the layout of your channel option, then click Save.
Step 2: Upload your channel trailer video
As you do that, make sure to add its title, description, relevant tags, and set it to Public.
Another thing you might want to do is add an eye-catching thumbnail to increase click-throughs when it shows up as a recommended video next to other videos.
Bonus tip: If you’re creating your channel trailer in Wave.video, you can create a great thumbnail by screenshotting your video in the editor!
Step 3: Set the video as the channel trailer
Head to your channel’s Home tab. Below the tabs, you will see the options For returning subscribers and For new visitors.
Click on the For new visitors and click on the + Channel trailer button.
From here, select the video you just uploaded and click Save. Make sure you’re happy with how the title, description, and thumbnail look like. Once all looks good, you’re set!
Start capturing new YouTube subscribers
With a well-thought-out YouTube channel trailer, you can easily drive new channel subscriptions and build a loyal viewership that will happily watch, comment, and share each new video you publish.
We can’t wait to see how you communicate your message, share the way you shine, and grow your YouTube channel through the roof.
If you need help creating your channel trailer, make sure to take a Wave.video account for a free ride and make a video you will be proud to showcase. Happy creating!