How to create videos that engage audiences every time

Learn how to stop the scroll and stand out from the competition with videos that instantly engage your target audience.

We live in a glorious time for mass communication. It’s easier than ever to reach a global audience with your videos — and almost anyone can do it. You don’t need much to create videos that engage audiences. All it really takes is a laptop or mobile device, an internet connection, and (ideally) something worth talking about.

But nothing worth doing is ever that simple. As video creation has become more democratized, the competition for attention online has become downright fierce. The creator landscape today is enormous, and standing out from the crowd is no easy feat. If you want to make content that’ll get people to stop scrolling long enough to actually hear what you have to say, you may need some advice from the pros.

In Episode 6 of the Storyblocks original series, The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video, you’ll learn how to hook your audience right away with original videos that are authentically you. Your instructors for this session are professional content creators Zolita (ZOLITA) and Shannon Beveridge (nowthisisliving). With a combined YouTube audience of over 1.3 million subscribers, they both know a thing or two about how to capture attention.

Tip 1: Your videos don’t have much time to engage audiences

Image of an hourglass with white text that reads Tip 1 - Be quick to create videos that engage audiences.

Today’s attention spans are measured in seconds, so your videos need to hook your audience immediately. You need to grab their attention right away and let them know exactly what they’re committing to watching.

To achieve this in her music videos, Zolita always aims to make her opening shot as visually captivating as possible. Her goal, she says, is for people to drink in those first 10 seconds and not want to click away. “With so much content out there to consume, if your content isn’t making a striking impression from the jump, it’s incredibly easy for someone to scroll on by,” she says.

Since time is such an important factor when it comes to making videos that engage audiences, you need to get the most out of every second. This requires you to develop a keen sense for what to include and what to leave on the cutting room floor. In video creation, less is very often more. So, edit out any fluff — but just be sure you aren’t also cutting too much substance.

You can usually save a few precious seconds by trimming up silences and removing verbal pauses like “umm” and “uhh.” Slicing these out will give your video a tighter overall feel. Most viewers will forgive a fairly liberal use of jump cuts, but use your best judgment case-by-case to decide if you really need one. As both Shannon and Zolita point out, a lot of discernment goes into video editing.

Want to grab your audience’s attention with the first few seconds of your videos? 
Watch Episode 6 of The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video.

Tip 2: Use captivating visuals to create videos that engage audiences

Image of Zolita from one of her music videos with white text that reads Tip #2 - Be visually captivating to create videos that engage audiences.

Think about the video content you’re trying to make. What specific visual elements will really make it stand out? If you’re a makeup artist, your lighting design needs to flatter the looks you’re showing off. Any successful kid’s content creator will tell you the more colorful their videos, the better. If you’re making B2B videos, bold motion graphics might be just what you need to stop the scroll. These types of details can signal to an audience that the video was created with them in mind.

The way you approach capturing your audience’s attention may differ depending on the platform. If you’re making TikTok videos, for example, your on-screen titles and subtitles will likely be the first thing your audience notices. On YouTube, eye-catching video thumbnails can attract viewers like a magnet. 

Zolita says she’s learned that her eye-popping thumbnail images are among the biggest reasons her music videos get viewed. Here are some good rules of thumb(nail) she shares to help you create images that will entice audiences to watch your videos:

  • Close-ups are always preferable to wide, far-away shots
  • Make plenty of eye contact
  • Be sure to saturate them with color

You also want to give some context within your thumbnails so people know what they’re about to watch, and stop to actually watch it. You can easily achieve this by adding some brief, punchy text to a video thumbnail.

Pro tip: Be recognizable

Another way to attract more eyeballs is by making your content consistent. It should look familiar and easily recognizable to anyone who’s seen your videos before. You can achieve this by developing a signature look, and including elements of that look in every video you create. Storyblocks’ Maker Brands makes it easy, letting you apply channel- or brand-specific flourishes like fonts, colors, or logos to future videos with a single click. 

Zolita and Shannon point out making your videos instantly recognizable is a great way to grow an audience. Fostering that visual familiarity can be as simple as how you frame your shots, or using the same trademark background image in all of your video thumbnails. In the videos themselves, you can use similar stock B-roll footage to make your content look more professional and consistent.

Want to develop a unique visual style for your videos to engage audiences? 
Watch Episode 6 of The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video.

Tip 3: Make videos to engage audiences by being true to yourself

Image of Shannon Beveridge holding her hair up with her hand on her head with white text that reads Tip #3 - Be unique to create videos that engage audiences.

With so much content out there, creating something completely original can be a high bar to clear. The next best thing is to put your own spin on something in a smart way. After all, there’s only one you — so use your uniqueness to your advantage.

Audiences can smell fakeness from miles away — but they gravitate toward anything that feels real and authentic. Shannon shares that being true to herself was incredibly helpful when she first began making YouTube videos. Her channel only started to take off after she started speaking directly from her own lived experience. 

“Never underestimate the power of authenticity. People will always connect to something that they feel is real and authentic.” 

– Shannon Beveridge, nowthisisliving

Taking part in a social media video trend is one way to get viewers. Just don’t get so caught up in what’s popular that you forget to give it your own twist. It’s human nature to be inspired by people who are making content you like. That’s a good thing. But if you want to create videos that engage audiences, you need to make sure your take is authentic to you.

Pro tip: Find ways to engage new audiences with your older videos

Repurposing your existing library of video content is a clever shortcut for branching out to other platforms without compromising on authenticity. With a little imagination, you can borrow shots or ideas from your earlier videos to create something brand new for a different audience. For example, when Zolita was first starting out on TikTok, she’d re-edit the music videos she published on YouTube specifically for the new platform. This gave her a chance to introduce her existing content to an entirely new audience.

You may need to tweak elements like style, length, and even screen resolution to conform with various platforms. But the authentic “you” factor that no one else can replicate is the one common thread you need to always maintain.

Stopping the scroll is important for any video creator, but you can’t let it get into your head. Don’t be intimidated by the scroll. Don’t let it dictate the kind of content you create. And definitely don’t let it stop you from creating videos at all. Instead, use urgency, visuals, and authenticity to make your videos stand out from the crowd.

Want to inject authenticity into your videos and engage audiences? 
Watch Episode 6 of The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video.

Next time on The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video…

Storyblocks’ original series, The Beginner’s Guide to Creating Video, is free for you to watch right now. You can binge the whole series in less than an hour, or just pick and choose individual episodes that interest you. Regardless of how you watch it, you’ll pick up tons of tips. Tune in now to learn how you can start making great videos faster than ever before. 

Coming up in Episode 7, you’ll learn all about aesthetics, and how to define a signature look and feel for your videos.