How to make an explainer video? 10 rock-solid steps!

Making an explainer video can look daunting!

With the right process, you can make it super-simple!

Choose any type, style or way. The process for them remains the same!

Wear your learning hat and get ready!

Step 1 – Nail down your requirements

Original Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

You should have a very good handle on what you want to achieve. Thoroughly answer these questions.

What is your aim? To win new customers? To retain existing ones? Build trust and loyalty?

What is that #1 problem that your product resolves?

What are the top 3 pains of your customers in their daily lives?

How does your product resolve the #1 problem and the top 3 pains?

Who is the target audience? Programmers, drivers, hippies?

What type of explainer video do you want? Product intro? Demo? How to?

Which explainer video style should you adopt? Animation? Live-action? Kinetic typography?

What will be the tone of your video? Formal? Corporate-ish? Humorous? Naughty? Kinky?

What are your competitors making? Get inspired by their style or make something very unique (there is nothing wrong in getting inspired, but give it your own special touch).

Step 2 – Write the script

Your script is the crux of your explainer video. It covers your entire storyline.

How many times have you watched a movie and said “What was that? Where was the story? It was the same stuff you see all the time!”

Your explainer video is no different than a movie. You need to have a sure-fire script.

In the context of explainer videos, a script achieves 2 objectives.

  • Covers the detailed problem, solution, and call-to-action
  • Becomes a gold copy for the voiceover artist to record the audio

You can use a very simple PSC (Problem, Solution, Call-to-action) model for your scripts.

In every script, you should have these 3 elements blended like a delicious chocolate
smoothie!

Let’s take the case of the Crazy egg explainer video and see how beautifully, they have incorporated these 3 elements.

  • Problem –

    Think of a 1-line problem statement, which your product will solve.

    For Crazy Egg, the problem statement they used was “Why are your website visitors not converting?”. Simple but powerful.

    Then describe the top 3 everyday pains faced by your customer. This means drilling down the problem statement into 3 specific pains.

    The pains addressed in this explainer video are:

    First – ‘Typical web analytics tools give very limited visibility.’
    Second – ‘Cant improve your site’s conversion rate until you know why your visitors are leaving?’
    Third – ‘Can’t find specific pages or sections which visitors don’t like.’


  • Solution –

    This is the place to introduce or highlight your product to the world! To project your product as the only savior for your customer.

    At this point, showcase your features, but just skim through them. Don’t harp on them so much, that your customer runs away.

    Just have a few words on each feature. Highlight the benefits the customer will get using those features.

    Talking about the Crazy Egg explainer, right at the start of this solution section, it addresses the 1st pain. The customer can easily see it’s just not another web analytics tool.

    It doesn’t have just 1, but 4 splendid features to give remarkable visibility.

    Each feature shows where exactly users spent the time on pages. Where they clicked. The sections they didn’t click. The portions they just scrolled through.

    2nd and 3rd pain are also addressed! Customers can now easily find problematic pages, winning pages and make adjustments to increase conversions!
  • Call-to-action –

    This is the section where you want your customer to take action. Subscribe. Go for the free trial. Buy.

    Like in this case, the customer is enticed to take action. Hear these winning lines in the video.

    “We made it super easy for you to get started. That’s a 30-second setup.”
    “Why not sign-up for your free trial right now? Put Crazy Egg to the test for the next 30 days. It’s on us.”


    No wonder, this video them drive an extra $21,000 a month in new income!

    Check out these ready-to-use script formats from blockbuster explainers.

Step 3 – Create the storyboard

If the script takes care of the voiceover, a storyboard helps you visualize your explainer video.

Want a dragon emerging from the clouds? Flying right towards the viewer? As if it will pop out of the computer screen?

Or a simple scene with a shepherd with mountains in the background. And a bright sun with a beaming smile?

How will you visualize this before producing the video? By using a storyboard!

You can draw this on simple sheets of paper. You don’t need anything fancy. That will save a lot of your time!

Lee Lefever from Common Craft has written this cool post on making a storyboard.

He presents a very simple process, which I love!

  • Identify key lines in your script which you want to blow up into scenes
  • Use PowerPoint blank slides and add each of these lines as titles of slides
  • Fire up the printer and get all of these printed out
  • On each sheet, draw rough sketches to visualize your story. You don’t need to be Picasso. Even if you can draw a line, that’s enough!

For making an explainer video for ExplainerFAQs.com, I quickly created one from a template.

You can use a simple format like this and use very simple stick figures to convey the concept.

I know these stick figures suck! But these are enough to give you the visual cues for producing the video.

Don’t prefer PowerPoint? Then check these free storyboarding templates.

NOTE: You will not need a storyboard if you go for pre-built templates available in almost all DIY explainer video software.

Step 4 – Add a suitable voice-over

A voiceover can make or break your explainer video.

According to popular opinions, if you have an average video, but a very good voice-over, people will still like it. But not the other way around.

Check out this example of a bad voiceover. Fast forward the video to 8:21 and you will understand what I mean.

There is always a debate about whether voice-over should be done first or after a video is created.

For an animated video, it probably makes more sense to have the voice-over done prior.

The voice-over artist can freely record without trying to catch up. That would give a nice, natural tone.

Once you have the voice-over, you can tweak or adjust your animation as you like.

For a live-action explainer (where there is no lip-sync), typically the voice should be recorded afterward (there are exceptions and opinions vary).

Victoria Feinerman is a professional voice artist and runs a dedicated blog on voiceover recording.

Here you can find awesome tips on finding a voice artist and getting the work done top notch!

On a high level, you should take care of this.

  • Make sure the script is free from grammatical errors. Punctuations should be in the right places. Don’t miss those commas and periods!

  • Clearly, state the right emphasis for specific words.
    E.g. If you want to emphasize the words ‘explainer videos’, don’t write this. ‘I want to learn about explainer videos.’
    ‘I want to learn about explainer videos’, is one to go with.

  • If you want specific tones or emotions at certain places, highlight it.
    E.g. If you want an exciting and upbeat tone, this should give a clue to the artist. [Upbeat] ‘I want to learn about explainer videos.

This awesome post How Do I Prepare a Voiceover Script by Victoria details the process.

There is a terrific FREE voice script template up for grabs!

Fill the template with your script and hand it over to your voice artist. The results should be epic!

Step 5 – Produce the video

Original Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

Using your script, storyboard, and voiceover, you are ready to produce your explainer video!

Choose your explainer video style.

As you are probably aware, on the highest level you live-action and animation.

Live-action

If you want to go with a live-action video (highly authentic and customized), you will need the following:

  • Camera & lighting equipment
  • Actors
  • Locations

The other option is to use stock footage. There are a variety of stock footage options available.

With a great selection of stock footage, you can make some unique live-action explainers by adding this.

In your editing stage, you can really add some great effects and text to make your video stand out.

Animation

For animated explainer videos, there are many software tools available. These cover a variety of styles like 2D, whiteboard, and others.

And there is a software platform available for every skill level. Even a beginner with absolutely no experience in such software can make explainer videos easily.

In these types of platforms, the main concept is:

  1. To create objects (doodles, drawings, background, text)
  2. To sequence these objects in a ‘Timeline’ as per the story

Once ready, the software will add motion to each object as per the sequence. Voila, your animation is ready!

Well, that’s a very simplified explanation of the animation process. You will end up doing many other tasks.

And you don’t have to produce a Disney movie! A simple animation can be as effective.

The good news is, there is software to help you! You don’t need painstaking hours to produce an animation.

With DIY software like Rawshorts, you can create one in minutes!

Upload your script. The AI technology will build a video in minutes!

And it works (I have tried it!)

Rawshorts also gives the option to convert your blog post into a video. How cool is that?

Step 6 – Add music and sound effects

Imagine what would have happened if there was a Voice-over to this Spotify explainer video. I bet it would have flopped big time!

They wanted the music to be the only HERO.

A pleasing soundtrack can lift your explainer video to another level! Or in the case of the Spotify explainer, it can take the center stage!

There are a ton of websites offering royalty-free music tracks.

Things to take care of when selecting music:

  • It should complement the business – If you are making an explainer video for a corporate audience, you cannot have a high decibel rock track.
  • It should blend with the video style – You should choose a track which marries perfectly with the style and mood of your video.

    Personally, I prefer to have upbeat, pleasant and peppy music for all explainer videos.

    Stay away from melancholic stuff!
  • It should never over-power the voiceover – Though you can adjust the volume of the music, choose tracks that never take the full focus away.

    Else your audience will just listen to the awesome music. And the voice-over will go to the trash bin!

Step 7 – Editing and post-production


Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Editing

Editing involves 2 key aspects.

Reducing the video duration

Ask your friend, colleague or spouse to review your video. And edit ruthlessly.

Many a time, you will not want to cut out a single shot from your video (it is your baby after all).

But remember it’s not a baby! There is an audience and potential customers waiting out there. And your job is to make them LOVE your video.

If you can say the same thing in a short video, why not?

Rearranging and mixing shots or scenes

Sometimes you may feel that there are certain sections that need to be moved around. Rather than having a linear narrative, you can mix and mash.

Caution – Be careful while doing this. You may have already recorded the audio. So this might not be possible at all.

Post-production

Post-production involves adding elements into your video so that it stands out.

For live-action videos specifically (applies to animation as well), you will need all or any of these at some point in time.

  • After effects or special effects – These are needed to add some wow elements to your stock live-action footage.
  • On-screen text or annotations – A few words of stylized text can add spice to your video.
  • Audio corrections – If the audio quality is not great, you will have to make corrections using audio tools.
  • Style blending – Add your 2D or 3D animation in your live-action footage. Though, make sure you make it look realistic and complete. If done wrong, it can turn out to be a mess.

Step 8 – Hosting

Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Congrats, if you have completed all the steps to reach here!

Now that you have created your explainer video, where will you host it?

No, not on your website hosting platform! It will eat up resources and slow down your site.

Instead, you can upload your video to a third-party hosting solution. And then embed the video on your site wherever you like!

The #1 free option is of course YouTube. And because it is free, your users will see ads, will see other videos and also go off your website!

And you have other free options like DailyMotion.

If you want fully professional hosting, go for others like Vimeo, Wistia, etc.

Step 9 – Marketing

To make your explainer video reach every person, put it everywhere!

  • Showcase it on the home page of your website
  • Add it to all your social media profiles and pages
  • Attach to your email signatures
  • Do a bloody good SEO job. Put the right titles and descriptions for Google and other search engines to find it.
  • Ask your connections to give a backlink to your video. Ask a backlink from an influencer (that would be epic).

Step 10 – Sit back and tweak if necessary

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

The hard work is done. Reap the benefits.

Make sure to keep an eye on usage statistics. That will help you to tweak your explainer video. Or to make better videos in the future!

Now that you know the process, choose this list of affordable explainer software (monthly plans).

Featured image credit –
Image by Manfred Steger from Pixabay 

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