If you’re starting out as a content creator on YouTube, you may be wondering how long your videos should be. For nearly a decade, creators on YouTube have thought that the longer their videos were, the better. While this has traditionally been true in some aspects, that isn’t necessarily the case today.
In recent years, we’ve seen a rise in short-form videos. First popularized by Vine and later perfected by platforms like TikTok, short-form videos have become a substantial part of the online entertainment industry. But if long-form videos are the best, then why are so many creators finding success through short-form videos?
We’re here to answer this and determine once and for all if short-form or long-form videos are better to make the most out of YouTube’s algorithm.
Benefits of making short videos
While not as monetizable as longer videos, short-form videos are very effective at racking up audience engagement and views. Think back to all the videos you see shared on social media or covered by the media. Many of them are under 3 minutes. Short videos, typically defined as videos under 3 minutes, are great for social media sites like Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram because they’re low-commitment viewing. They’re easy for people to watch anywhere simply because they don’t take much time to consume. For instance, people scrolling through their phones can spend 2 minutes watching a video on their way to work, but likely not a 20-minute video.
In the case of YouTube, the platform displays its YouTube Shorts (YouTube’s TikTok clone) on the home page, and featured videos rack up views fast. It’s one of the ways YouTube creators can break into a wider audience with viral videos and increase their brand awareness.
When should you make short videos?
As you know, short videos are short on time. You don’t have a lot of space to dive into deep topics. Depending on the type of content you want to make, this may not be an issue. Short videos can be great for quick how-tos or instructional videos. Many successful short videos on YouTube walk through a process so people can see how something is done or made. For instance, Lisa Nguyen, a YouTuber with over 1.78 million subscribers on YouTube, rose to success in under a year by posting short videos of her cooking different foods and trying to build up her spice tolerance. Most of her videos have several million views on them.
Making quick videos to explain something quickly shows you value your viewers’ time. Most people searching for videos that answer questions or explain concepts are expecting short, to-the-point content that delivers the information they’re looking for. If you can get your message across in an understandable way within 3 minutes, you’ll have a great shot at being a hit amongst these types of viewers.
Benefits of making long videos
For the most part, long videos are considered anything that stretches past 3 minutes. Longer videos can be an ideal way to communicate, since you have an unlimited amount of time to explain topics to your audience. However, this can be both a good and a bad thing. You will have to work harder to keep your audience engaged with longer videos. It’s a longer time commitment to watch a 10-minute video. It’s common to lose about 50-60% of your viewers just halfway through your video.
Another key benefit of longer videos is that you’re able to insert mid-roll ads into them. Creators can earn revenue from the number of ads watched on their videos and receive it through AdSense, which is Google’s ad program that helps advertisers run ads on videos, allowing you to make money from the ads you play on your YouTube videos. That’s why you hear that the 8-minute mark is the magic number for video length on YouTube. You have to break the 8-minute mark to insert ads into the middle of your videos. The money you make from shorter videos typically pales in comparison to the money you make with longer videos.
Longer videos are best suited for content that dives deep into a topic and tells a story. If the content you’re making discusses some complex ideas or requires some lead-up into the main topic, it’s best to make a longer video. It’s also best to make longer videos if you want to make a living directly from YouTube. While YouTube’s currently working to bring a monetization system to YouTube Shorts, longer videos are still the clear way to make money on YouTube.
How to decide between shorter videos and longer videos
While you can’t monetize shorter videos nearly as well, they can be a great way to boost your views and subscribers. Longer videos are a much more stable way to make money on YouTube. However, it can be hard to gain traction and earn a lot of views on a longer video.
When it comes down to it, the type of length your videos should be depends on the kind of content you want to make. It’s possible to use both short and long videos to get the best of both worlds. While short videos aren’t widely monetizable themselves, the gains they can offer your brand and channel can be. You can redirect your viewers to things like merch or affiliate links if you have a brand deal with a company. Longer videos can earn you a lot of revenue through AdSense and allow you to dive into topics you want to discuss.
Whatever length you choose, there are benefits to both, along with their unique share of drawbacks. Regardless, both forms of video have the potential to boost the success of your channel.