How To: Make a YouTube Trailer

If you want to get sucked in to some serious short-form dramatic content, do yourself a favor and download the “trailers” app on your phone. It’s a library of movie trailers that will keep you on the edge of your seat for hours. Movie trailers are exciting, enticing, and intentionally trigger you to want more!

It’s only natural that the world’s largest online video platform, YouTube, has a built-in trailer feature for each and every channel. And if you’re not leveraging this feature, you’re missing out on a HUGE opportunity to gain more subscribers.

The other day, I was talking to a creator who has an awesome channel and a great personality to go with it, but his subscriber numbers were surprisingly low. The first thing I looked at was his YouTube trailer (obviously), which was simply a video of him talking to the camera for about 5 minutes. The views on this trailer video were more than 10x the number of subscribers he had. Here’s what this tells me: people are coming to his channel, but people aren’t subscribing. The YouTube trailer is not converting viewers to subscribers. My advice to him: make a better YouTube trailer.

Check out our new and improved trailer! 

Check out our new and improved trailer! 

A YouTube trailer is incredibly important for growing your subscriber base. A new visitor (a potential subscriber) is coming to your channel blindly, in many cases. Maybe it was through a blog post, a similar channel, or a Google search that they stumbled upon your YouTube channel. They will see a video on that front page. They will probably click on it. And they will very quickly decided whether they want to see more of you.

To put it a different way, think about your experience in visiting someone else’s YouTube channel. What are you looking for? What do you want to see there? How long are you willing to stay on that channel until you decide if it’s the kind of content you want?

Making a YouTube trailer is a given. If you have a YouTube channel, you better have a YouTube trailer. The stakes are pretty high with this one piece of content. So I encourage you to invest some time in making it awesome.

Here are five tips to keep in mind when creating your YouTube trailer:

1. Tell a Great Story. Story is everything! The story of your YouTube trailer should reflect exactly what your channel is about. If you’re a fashion vlogger, for example. You may want to avoid talking about your favorite travel destinations. Instead, focus on talking about fashion and what kind of fashion videos you’ll be creating in your channel. Make promises in your story that you’ll adhere to inside your channel. And just like any great story, it has to be compelling. Our trailer, for example, had a theme. That theme is: the future is video. And we focus on helping people step into that future so they can create more and better videos. It’s juicy and exciting for someone who is looking to make more video content!


2. Keep it Short and Snappy. The person coming to your channel is what we call a “cold lead”. That’s marketing speak for “they don’t care about you”. So it’s your job to give them something to care about and do it quickly. The creator I mentioned earlier was likely getting to the crux of his story a few minutes into his 5-minute video. Nobody stays long enough to hear the exciting parts; they’re gone long before it gets juicy.  A short and snappy YouTube trailer is a recipe for success. But beware! It is much harder to keep things concise and succinct in the world of video. Though it seems counterintuitive, shorter videos are harder to produce than long ones because you have limited time to hit on all points of your story. If you’re a chronic rambler, it might behoove you to script your trailer beforehand.

3. One Call To Action. Your YouTube trailer will have one call-to-action and one call-to-action only: Subscribe!!!! This is the singular goal of the YouTube trailer. Other content videos will urge you to like or comment or share, but not the YouTube trailer. It serves one very clear purpose: get more subscribers. Once they’re subscribed, you can ask for more from them.  


Think of your YouTube channel like an ice cream shop...A hungry shopper stops by, sees something she might like, and now she wants to try it. When she tastes that tiny sample spoonful, it better be delicious or she’s not paying.

4. Edit Awesomely! A great YouTube trailer is beautifully (and often professionally) edited. Good editing means there is uplifting music, snappy graphics, and branded text all over the place. Putting attention and care into this part of your channel shows people the level of care you’ll put into your content. I want to know how awesome your channel is when I’m watching your trailer. If you trailer doesn’t look and feel compelling, I’m assuming your channel isn’t compelling either. Here’s a sweet (and punny) metaphor for ya: think of your YouTube channel like an ice cream shop. Seeing the title of your channel, the branding and thumbnails is like looking through the glass case at all the flavors. Asking for a sample is like clicking the “play” button on your YouTube trailer. A hungry shopper stops by, sees something she might like, and now she wants to try it. When she tastes that tiny sample spoonful, it better be delicious or she’s not paying. Make sure that little sample flavor is exploding with personality and sweetness, and pretty soon you’ll have a line around the block (aka a huge following)!

5. Subscribing Made Easy. Since the only goal of your YouTube trailer is to get more subscribers, it goes without saying that you should make that process as easy as possible.


The opportunity to subscribe must appear at all possible turns: linked in the description, embedded in the end card, on your channel watermark. Actually point to the button in your video!

Once they watch your YouTube trailer, we don’t want them to click off without clicking that beautiful red button. It’s not a treasure hunt. Make it easy and idiot-proof (not saying your subscribers are idiots; the general population is just plain lazy). Subscribe, subscribe, subscribe! That’s your end game for this YouTube trailer.

Now that you’ve got all the tools and knowledge you need to create an awesome YouTube trailer, go do that. Remember: it’s majorly important for building a following and influence. If you’re looking for some inspiration, check out some of your favorite YouTube creators. You have creative license with this piece of content to make it as awesome as you are. Don’t hold back.

(Now, I don’t know about you, but I’m craving some ice cream.)