Over the past two year, teachers have been forced to adapt to online teaching and creating videos for their students.
Although these videos are usually made for a specific set of students, the content is often useful for students everywhere - and this is especially true for videos created by English language teachers.
In this short article I'm going to share my five top tips for boosting your videos on YouTube.
Teacher notes on YouTube
I started putting videos online 10 years ago when I was teaching a group of high school students who rarely attended campus. I’d record an explanation of a short grammar point with some practice questions so that students who skipped class could still learn and when it came to exam time the students had everything they needed to prepare - rather than frantically asking me to teach them everything during the last week of term!
A lot of my videos had only a handful of views until the first wave of Covid struck, at the time my number of views went through the roof and I started making a bit of money from my channel. After that I started paying a bit more attention to the quality of my videos, how i uploaded them and search engine optimization (SEO).
If you want people to find your videos on YouTube, you need to have a clear title, a thorough description and carefully chosen tags.
The best title for your video will be a clear description of the video such as - ‘Past Simple Tense Tutorial’ - or a search term someone would use to find your video - ‘How to use the Past Simple Tense’ or ‘What is the past simple tense?’
The description section of YouTube videos is often left empty by inexperienced YouTubers and this is the reason those videos do not get many views. YouTube (and Google) use the descriptions to search for videos when a user inputs a search term. If your description is empty, your video is unlikely to get found. Descriptions should also include links to other sites such as your social media accounts, your website or links to useful worksheets. YouTube likes video descriptions that include links!
So now that you have a good title and a good description you need to consolidate that with tags. Tags are simple pieces of data — usually no more than one to three words — that describe information on a document, web page, or another digital file. Tags provide details about the content of your video and help the YouTube algorithm detect and promote your video.
The tag section in YouTube is not exactly hidden but it is often missed. In the ‘Video Details’ section of your video you do need to click on the ‘SHOW MORE’ section to reach it. Millions of YouTube users neglect to add tags and this is the biggest reason that their videos rarely appear in YouTube (and Google) searches.
I can’t over emphasise how important thumbnails are. When viewers search for videos, they are much more likely to click on the one which matches their search term and has an attractive thumbnail. YouTube generates thumbnails for your video but these are usually just random screenshots from 3 different points in your video and it’s not often they show the best aspect of your video.
There are plenty of design tools which you can use for creating a thumbnail such as Adobe and Canva. You can also take a screenshot of your presentation and use that. Ten minutes spent making a nice thumbnail will get you a lot more views!
Initially I didn't pay much attention to the audio quality of my videos - I was only making them for my students, I thought. However, after receiving comments from some viewers, I went back and relistened to my videos and realised how bad the audio was in some.
Some of the rooms I recorded in had terrible echo sounds, some videos were just too quiet, others had students shouting in the background and some just sounded really ‘flat’. After that I focused on making sure the rooms I recorded in were quiet and weren’t echoey. I also made sure that I spoke loudly and clearly enough for the presentation. Looking at my top performing video, they all have clear sound quality so I really see that audio does impact how successful your video will be.
Create, create, create
One thing that still puzzles me is why certain videos get extremely popular while others get barely a hundred views. I have created videos which I think are great, and have spent hours making those videos and yet they get so little traffic - yet other videos which I'm not entirely happy with get thousands of views. The only thing I can take from this is to create as much different content as possible and see what works.
Don’t give up after uploading just a few videos and getting poor responses. The more videos you have, the more chance you have of one of your videos taking off, and then viewers will start to check out your other content.
Well, I hope this helps. I know there are thousands of teachers who’ve created tons of educational videos over the past two years, and it makes sense to put them on YouTube. It will help learners around the world develop their language skills, it can boost your profile as a teacher and eventually you may make a bit of extra cash each month from these videos which you’ve already created!
You can check out my YouTube channel at