How to Write Engaging YouTube Video Scripts
Most people don’t know this, but in another timeline, YouTube may not have become the second largest search engine in the world.
When they launched, they wanted to be a video-based dating site. You’d log on, watch videos from potentials, and pick one.
As history goes, YouTube quickly realised its potential and became the online video platform we know today.
Today, 2 billion users from around the world turn to the video platform for content. And sure, comedy sketches and cat videos will always be internet favorites, but so will more serious content.
Google found that 7 in 10 users turn to YouTube to solve a problem related to their job, studies or hobby.
And with the world leaning into video in a big way, savvy copywriters see opportunity. You can carve-out a share of the YouTube video script writing cake.
You see, video scripts are a big deal. Every business creating content for YouTube needs a well-structured message to take to market. Who better than you to be that writer?
The power of YouTube video scripts
There’s no denying that it takes more than a strong script to rank a video on YouTube. You need a captivating thumbnail, an enticing description that’s SEO’d, and a catchy title.
But after those get viewers to click play, you’ll need to grab and hold their attention. And that’s where smart scriptwriting saves the day.
YouTube ranks content according to many factors, but the most important are engagement-based. For your video to beat the competition, it needs to get more watch-time, views, likes, shares, and comments.
Your thumbnail, description and SEO isn’t going to do all that, but your script most definitely will.
Want to know how to create an engaging video script?
In this blog post, I’ll share a step-by-step process for writing video scripts that command and hold viewer attention. I’ll show you how to identify strong topics for videos, how to produce an effective outline, and how to strengthen your script.
1. YouTube scripts and finding a strong topic
Unlike SEO copywriting, your video script doesn’t need to focus on keywords or other SEO-related metrics. While you will need to mention certain points related to the topic you choose, writing your video script is all about creating content your viewers will find helpful.
Finding strong topics to use is, therefore, as easy as focusing on the pain points and desired outcomes of your audience.
But to know what their pain points are, you need to dig deep and develop an intimate understanding of their lives and how your solution fits into their daily experience.
What are the challenge that lead them to actively search for a solution? How can you help?
Validate your topic
Once you list out some ideas, it’s time to validate them and cull your list.
The following three-step approach will help identify your audience’s interest level and potential subtopics you can incorporate.
Step one: gauge interest using Google Trends
Google Trends is often used for identifying trends on search engines and also works for YouTube. Using Google Trends is as simple as typing in a term and selecting YouTube from the source drop-down menu.
What you’ll see next is a graphical representation of the interest in your term over the last 12 months.
A score between 50 and 100 indicates high interest. A score around the 50 mark shows moderate interest, and anything between zero and 50 represents low interest.
In the example below, we can see that the interest in “SEO” is rapidly rising in the past 2-3 months comparing to the previous period, which can be a good sign to cover a topic around that search term.
Step two: identify potential keywords using YouTube suggestions
Once you’ve established the interest level for your topic, and decide you’d like to move ahead, it’s time to identify more specific keywords and ideas using YouTube.
YouTube pulls a third of the internet. These are people searching for content using YouTube’s search bar. As users type terms for content that they want to see, YouTube’s algorithm is learning and suggesting content that most accurately meets user demands.
Turning to YouTube suggestions is one of the smartest tactics you can use to identify keywords and content ideas to include in your script.
YouTube’s auto suggest feature is very similar to Google Suggest. As you start typing in the search bar, YouTube will show a list of relevant queries that contain your keywords. These are the queries that users on YouTube are actively searching for.
You can also use the asterisk (*) in your search query together with your main keyword. The asterisk will act as a “wildcard” and show other variations of your search query.
Once you have several topic ideas, and a list of keywords and search queries, collect them in a Google Doc or a Google Sheet for use in step two.
Step three: establish keyword volume with Ahrefs
Next, use Ahrefs to gather keyword search volume. Ahrefs has fast-become the go-to SEO, keyword and research tool almost everyone uses today. It will help you refine ideas for your script based on keywords and their search volume.
As you learned in step two, identifying which ideas that people are actively searching for and including them in your script is important. Introducing too many ideas can overwhelm viewers, while too few can leave your audience underwhelmed.
Ahrefs does a great job of presenting information on search terms.
For example, the “Newly Discovered” report includes new terms added to the Ahrefs database that includes your keyword. These can help you create new content ideas based on terms that have started to generate more search volume.
2. Create your outline
Whether you’re planning live-streaming sessions or pre-recorded video, developing a structure for your script is essential. An outline will help you arrange your ideas so they flow as you deliver your content.
One of the most effective structures is based on grabbing attention early, introducing yourself, delivering value and closing with a call to action.
Here’s what goes into each part.
According to YouTube, you have 15 seconds to grab the attention of your audience. If you don’t, there’s a good chance they’ll click back to find a video that better serves their needs.
The best hooks identify what your audience stands to gain. They are specific, clear and easy to understand.
For busy viewers, this approach is perfect. It acts as a form of reassurance that clicking on this video based on its title and thumbnail design was a good idea.
After sharing how your audience will gain (in your hook), identify yourself and the brand you represent. Then, tell your audience what you will be sharing with them in your video.
With this formula, you capture the viewers’ attention and keep them engaged through the first minute of your video.
When crafting a YouTube video script, make sure to really hone the first two steps, by first engaging your viewers by telling them how they’ll gain from watching before introducing yourself and diving deeper into the topic at hand.
For example, if you’re going to cover “How to do X”, Your hook can be “Today, I’m going to show you how to do X to achieve Y, let’s Go!” and your intro can be “Hi, My name is X, welcome to our channel where we help you achieve Y, today I’m going to share…”
The body of your video script
This is where you’ll deliver all the value and it will be the longest section of your script.
It’s important to create a body that flows, ensuring each point is salient and connected to your core topic.
Here’s a simple, three-step formula for structuring the body of your script:
- Introduce three to five points so you don’t overwhelm your audience.
- Elaborate on each point using examples for the context where needed.
- Complete the body with a summary of what you’ve just shared to drive your message home.
- Include your call to action. Tell your audience what to do next.
What’s the optimal video length?
There’s a simple rule of thumb to follow when producing video content.
Make it as long as necessary and as short as possible. And this all has to do with the type of information you’re sharing and how much time you really need to get the message across.
Research by Wistia shows that if there ever was a sweet spot, it would be between six and 12 minutes. This, apparently, is where engagement decay starts to set in.
But what about videos that go beyond the 12-minute mark? Think Media recommends cutting yours into two parts. This way, you get the viewer’s undivided attention.
Tips for strengthening your script
While these steps are effective, crafting the perfect YouTube video script will take more than an outline and a great idea. Here are three tips for injecting more character into your script, and making your videos more engaging and concise.
Make it conversational
Conversational YouTube copywriting is easier than it sounds. By being conversational, your video scripts help you produce more engaging videos. They are easier to relate to and feel personalized.
The best way to sound conversational is by writing for an audience of one. You’ll find that communicating with one person is far less intimidating than addressing thousands of strangers. There’s also a degree of intimacy that would otherwise be lost if you focused on speaking to a larger audience.
Write stronger paragraphs
A smart way to cover each point is by structuring each paragraph. Introduce an idea in the first sentence and elaborate on it in the following sentences. It’s an old copywriter’s technique that’s highly effective and one you’ll undoubtedly begin to spot and well-written text.
For example, here’s how you would structure a paragraph on what “Viewing loop” is:
“A viewing loop is a way of keeping people on your channel. And, it’s one of the most effective – yet overlooked – ways to increase your views.
It works by prompting people to watch more interesting or relevant content you’ve created and forms a “loop” where people stay tuned into your videos.”
Don’t forget a call to action
Tell your viewers what to do next. While it may seem like the obvious thing to do, neglecting to include one can stunt your YouTube channel’s growth.
Put another way, if you’re trying to generate more views, subscribers, and potentially monetize them with links to external pages and resources, not mentioning those resources won’t help.
When you call out what viewers must do next, ensure your calls to action includes a benefit. For example, if you’re offering a free guide, explain what the guide is about and why it matters and what viewers stand to gain from downloading it.
Introduce pattern interrupts
Pattern interrupts were popularized in the study of neuro-linguistic programming. They are designed to break thought patterns by introducing what seems like a sudden and unexpected idea.
When used correctly, they can help “reset viewer minds”, forcing viewers to pay attention for longer periods of time (something that can help position your videos in front of more viewers, boosting views on YouTube and your channel’s success).
They also come in different forms, from switching camera angles and subject positioning on-screen, changing the volume of your voice or using graphics in your video.
Take Neil Patel’s video titled “8 Things to Master in SEO – Do You Know Them?”
Buffer used pattern interrupts to boost their YouTube channel growth by 59% in just 30 days.
Edit. Edit. Edit.
Any copywriter will share that writing has more to do with editing ideas than the number of words you use.
As you edit your script, focus on introducing enough pauses between each point related to your core topic. Read the script out loud. Hear how the video flows and pay attention to the rhythm of the words to nail down the timing. This will allow you to perfectly package your ideas as easy-to-digest concepts by offering examples for anything that appears complex.
Over to you…
YouTube copywriting involves a little more than video titles and descriptions. It includes producing well-crafted scripts that help drive engagement.
If well-written, your scripts can help build a strong and loyal audience filled with viewers who actively engage your content and help drive results.
Big thanks to Amir Shahzeidi for this post! What do you say… are you going to try YouTube video script writing?