Your Ultimate Guide to Creating YouTube Shorts

Maximize your short-form video strategy with our ultimate guide to mastering YouTube Shorts.

Lauren Melnick
13 minutes read

YouTube is one of the most popular social media platforms out there with over 2.68 billion active users. 

But, did you know that YouTube Shorts is an emerging content format that rivals the likes of TikTok and Instagram Reels? 

In case you haven’t started using YouTube Shorts, we’re offering a deep dive into everything you need to know about creating YouTube Shorts, the opportunities these bite-sized videos present, as well as our best tips and tricks for creating engaging short-form video content. 


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What are YouTube Shorts?

What are YouTube Shorts?

When you think of YouTube, you probably think of long-form video content, like daily vlogs, beauty guru reviews and even in-depth product unboxings. But, since short-form video content has taken over the world of social media, YouTube has decided to join in and essentially released its own version of TikTok called YouTube Shorts back in 2020

Much like TikTok and Reels, YouTube Shorts are vertical, short-form video content. These videos can be captured and created directly inside the YouTube app or you can upload videos up to 60 seconds long.

YouTube Shorts even offers built-in content creation tools so you can create, edit and add music from your favorite artists with animated texts and edits. 

Why should you try YouTube Shorts? 

Since launching in the US in 2021, YouTube Shorts has garnered 50 billion daily views globally. With huge popularity, it’s a great platform to increase visibility and get your content in front of more users with the hopes of converting viewers into subscribers of your YouTube channel. 

Still not convinced? Here are four reasons why you should be tapping into YouTube Shorts: 

• Monetize your social media content: many creators, brands, and businesses from Instagram and TikTok use YouTube as an extra source of revenue because it’s one of the only platforms that offers revenue-sharing to users. YouTube Shorts creators can also qualify for the YouTube Partner Program which allows you to earn additional ad revenue from your YouTube content. 

• Promote your regular channel: if you’re already creating long-form content on YouTube, Shorts can be a powerful way to promote and direct people to your channel. Shorts provide you with an opportunity to increase the visibility of your content, get it in front of more eyeballs and boost engagement, too. 

• Repurpose your content: you’re likely already creating short-form video content for other platforms like Reels and TikTok. So, repurposing and cross-posting content from other channels onto YouTube Shorts gives you an opportunity to reach new audiences (without having to reinvent the wheel). 

• Showcase user-generated content (UGC): by now you know how essential UGC is to the success of your content strategy. If you’re a product-based business, Shorts allows you to showcase UGC made by your audience to boost your reach while also driving traffic to your channel and other social platforms. 

4 ways to use YouTube Shorts

YouTube Shorts is the perfect place to make use of short-form video content and communicate your brand messages in a bite-sized format. Plus, 

Shorts can act as a teaser trailer for what’s in store for viewers when they check out your longer-form content. 

Need a dose of inspiration? Here are four out-of-the-box ways to create YouTube Shorts content:

• Give behind-the-scenes insights into your brand: unlike Instagram Reels or your main channel videos, YouTube Shorts follows a similar playbook to TikTok. You can provide your audience with less polished videos that give them a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes of your brand. Give your audience updates on upcoming product launches, a tour of your office, or short and engaging unboxing videos. 

• Tease your audience: if you’re creating long-form content for your main YouTube channel, you can think about using Shorts as a trailer for what they can expect from your main video. You can give your audience a teaser on new product releases with a call-to-action to drive traffic to your main channel where they can see a full breakdown of your product offerings. 

• Niche tips and tricks: for brands and businesses, tips and tricks videos are a great way to harness the power of short-form video content and promote your main channel, too. You can create how-to guides, step-by-step tutorials, or even share insider hacks to help your audience work smarter, not harder. 

• Before-and-after videos: before and after videos are super popular in short-form video content and perform well on platforms like Instagram and TikTok. Why not showcase a client before-and-after or break down a recent case study into a punchy short video.

Best practice tips for creating engaging YouTube Shorts

When it comes to creating killer YouTube Shorts, you’ve got to make the first impressions count and grab people’s attention from the first few seconds. 

If you’re looking to create engaging and dynamic bite-sized content, then we’ve got our best tips and tricks to help you nail your Shorts. 

• Nail your thumbnails: thumbnails are incredibly important on YouTube and can make or break someone clicking on your videos. Unlike Reels and TikToks, which can rely on a freeze frame from your video, Shorts need an attention-grabbing thumbnail with an enticing title or question to drive views and engagement.

• Make a good first impression: YouTube Shorts are called Shorts for a reason. They rely on capturing the viewer’s attention from the get-go. Unlike regular YouTube videos you can’t rely on building intrigue in the middle or end of the video: you’ve got to make the first few seconds count with an engaging, intriguing opening statement or hook.

• Keep it entertaining: if you want to increase views you’ve got to create entertaining and punchy Shorts. Rather than relying on a one-frame shot, try to splice together different clips and experiment with different angles, edits and transitions to make your videos more engaging

• Repurpose content: we’ve already mentioned that repurposing content is game-changing when it comes to making Shorts. And, repurposing content doesn’t just have to mean resharing your Reels and TikToks. You can also repurpose your longer-form YouTube videos into bite-sized pieces of content with CTA’s that direct viewers to your channel to watch more. 

Need a hand repurposing content like a pro? Plann’s Cross-Posting feature makes it super easy to repurpose your Reels and TikToks onto Shorts in just a few easy steps. Without your Plann workspace, you you make edits and tweaks to your captions, hashtags, and posting times for each platform to optimize your content for different channels and audiences. It’s a total game changer!


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7 tips to growing YouTube Shorts

We’re excited to share expert insights from Lauren Melnick, a talented freelance digital marketer and writer for Plann. Dive into her 7 essential tips for growing your presence on YouTube Shorts!

1. Optimize Your Short Form Videos for Search with Keyword Research

YouTube is a search engine.

Like Google, you need to learn search engine optimisation (SEO) techniques to win the algorithm and get your content seen by your target audience.

How do you do that? Keyword research.

It’s the butter to your bread to win the top search results on YouTube (and Google) and get your content recommended to new users.

VidIQ is an affordable and easy-to-use tool that will save you time and help you find the best keywords.

Once you install the VidIQ Chrome extension, type a keyphrase into YouTube, and a sidebar will pop up. Here, it details how popular the search term is with users and how many creators are targeting it.

The trick is to find the sweet spot, aka high search volume and low competition.

VidIQ Chrome ExtensionWhen you’ve found your term, use it in your:

  • Video title
  • Caption
  • Text overlay and/or subtitles

Top SEO Tip: 69% of people watch videos without sound. Always use subtitles or captions to increase your views and accessibility. Plus, search engines can crawl your subtitles, improving your chances of ranking high in search results.

YouTube Shorts Keyword research

Besides helping you with keyword research, VidIQ comes with a bunch of tools to help you further optimise your vertical videos, such as a thumbnail generator, recommended tags and keywords your competitors are using.

2. Use a Good Hook

Do you dream of millions of views for your YouTube Shorts?

It sounds like a pipe dream, but creator Jenny Hoyos proves it’s possible.

Her secret? A good hook.

Jenny likes to keep hers concise and visually compelling, giving viewers the gist of the story within seconds.

All these elements work together to stop users’ mid-doom scrolls and keep them intrigued until the end.

Hello, viewer retention!

Let’s look at some compelling hooks from Jenny and other YouTube Shorts creators:

  • What’s the cheapest thing at the airport?

  • Stop trying to copy random influencers’ workouts at the gym

  • You are not ready for this

What do all three of these hooks have in common?


Our brains are hard-wired to complete curiosity loops. Psychologists Jordan Litman and Paul Silvia identified the two main types of curiosity:

1. Deprivation: This is driven by a lack of information, like when we get a text at dinner but can’t immediately read it or a cliffhanger from our favourite TV show.

2. Interest: This is when we are driven to learn more about something and quench our thirst for knowledge.

All of these Shorts use one type to open a loop and keep you watching until the end to close it.

3. Don’t Sleep on Thumbnails

You’re probably thinking, “YouTube Shorts are made for endless scrolling. Thumbnails aren’t important like they are for my long-form YouTube channel content.”

And you’re right.

Thumbnails for YouTube Shorts don’t appear on the player (similar to TikTok and Instagram Reels), but they do appear elsewhere on YouTube, such as:

  • The Shorts tab on your profile
  • Recommended videos feed
  • YouTube search results

That’s some valuable real estate, yet there is one major problem.

You can’t upload custom thumbnails on the YouTube app. You can only choose a specific frame.

However, you can get around this by creating a thumbnail in Canva and adding it as a new frame to your short-form video.

Then, when uploading your content in YouTube Studio, you can select it as your thumbnail.

Here are some design tips to increase views on your short videos:

  • Add text that describes what your video is about to pique curiosity.
  • Use an image that relates to your video topic if you’re not using a direct clip.

For example, here’s a YouTube Short video that ticks both boxes and has 971k views.

Here’s another video that only uses a random clip without any text overlay.

Which one would you be more compelled to watch?

4. Create Teasers for Your Longer YouTube Videos

Are you hosting a podcast or publishing longer videos on YouTube?

Then, use your YouTube Shorts as a mini trailer.

Grace Beverley, the host of the Working Hard, Hardly Working podcast, creates bite-sized clips with an interesting hook to entice viewers to watch or listen to the full episode.

You can repurpose these clips on other social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram, which can help you get the most out of your long-form YouTube videos and maintain a consistent posting schedule.

5. Use This Hack to Keep Up with Trending Audios (Without Being Chronically Online)

It’s no secret.

Jumping onto trending audio clips is a sure-fire way to grow on YouTube Shorts, TikTok or Instagram.

There’s only one problem.

You’re running a business. You don’t always have the time to monitor what’s trending and figure out how to adapt it for your audience.

Here’s the solution.

Plann’s Weekly Audio Trends Report.

When you sign up for your free account, you’ll find it under the “New Content Ideas” section under “Trending Audio.”

It gives you a list of current audios and tips on how to apply the trend to your business.

Not only are you saving time, but it also simplifies the content creation process. You’ll add more ideas to your content calendar and reap the business benefits of jumping onto trends ASAP.

6. Try Different Content Formats to Keep Viewers Engaged

Let’s say you run a fitness business, and workout videos might make up the bulk of your YouTube Shorts, but that isn’t all you should post.

Mix it up.

Get creative and share a variety of short-form videos to show other aspects of your brand.

For example, you could:

  • Post behind-the-scenes YouTube Shorts videos: You could focus on a different aspect of running your business each week or month.
  • Film a day-in-the-life: These vlogs are great for relationship-building and creating a personal connection with your audience.
  • Share healthy recipes: Show your audience how to get 120g of protein daily or your weekly meal prep recipes.
  • Address common mistakes or misconceptions: Whether it’s the correct form for squats or how to build muscle, create a series around all the different things holding your audience back from achieving their goals.

A health and fitness niche creator who does all of the above is @GainsByBrains. The fitness influencer turned entrepreneur takes her audience along for all her different fitness journeys.

Whether it’s a 30-day fat loss or bulk challenge, addressing hate comments, sharing her meals for the day, or explaining how she filmed the content for her fitness app, she’s always giving her audience a mix of fitness-related content.

7. Take a Deep Dive into Your Analytics

When it comes to growing on YouTube Shorts for business, your analytics are the key to grabbing your audience’s attention and creating viral hit after viral hit.

You can make data-driven decisions by monitoring specific metrics instead of relying on guestimatting for your content strategy.

Here are the insights you’ll want to check to help you double down on what’s working and tweak what needs improvement:

Key Moments for Audience Retention

You’ll find this in the video-specific section of your Analytics Dashboard. It gives you the average view duration, average percentage viewed, and how long people watched your video before swiping away.

Action Step: Review your content to uncover which videos seem to hold attention and identify how you can replicate it for future content ideas. Are you using a specific hook or a seamless loop transition? Lastly, identify and look at your videos with poor retention and figure out what’s causing the drop-off.

How Viewers Find Your Shorts

This section will give you valuable feedback on your YouTube SEO strategy. Click on “YouTube Search” to see the exact keywords driving traffic to your YouTube account. “External traffic is traffic from Google Search or other websites.

Action Step: Review the top keywords bringing the most traffic to your account. Are these keywords you have intentionally targeted, and are these search terms your ideal customer is using? Which external websites are giving you the most traffic? If you want to rank on Google Search and it’s your top referral, that’s a good sign your SEO strategy is working.

How Many Chose to View

Underneath “How Viewers Find Your Shorts”, you’ll find a metric called “How Many Choose to View”. This is an important metric for the algorithm as it shows how many users are actively staying to watch your videos vs. swiping away.

Action Step: Focus on making sure the average of this metric leans towards viewed. If more users are swiping away, that’s a sign your YouTube Shorts content is not performing well.

Top Shorts

On the same screen, you can see your best-performing YouTube Shorts. This section is a goldmine for understanding what resonates with your audience and what tactics yield the best results.

Action Step: Review your top videos and identify which topics and strategies give you the most traction. For example, if several of your top videos are day-the-life voiceovers, that’s a sign you should keep using that content type going forward.

Read More: A Comprehensive Guide to YouTube Shorts Analytics

Start Creating YouTube Shorts

When it comes to creating and optimising YouTube Shorts for business, the more you know, the more you can improve.

Start implementing strategies like tweaking your YouTube video SEO, experimenting with hooks, and improving your Thumbnails, and you could be on your way to improving your content and maybe landing a viral YouTube Shorts video!

But your game plan is only the beginning. Your strategies won’t give you the results you seek unless you have a consistent posting schedule.

Sign up for a 7-day free trial of Plann today and make social media scheduling easyyy. Map out your entire marketing content calendar, use an AI caption generator, and cross-post your short-form video content to all your platforms in a single click.

You can even schedule your YouTube Shorts content on Plann too! What’s not to love?


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