Viewers abandoning your content is terrible for your channel. If people leave your content early, they are sending a HUGE negative viewer signal to the YouTube algorithm saying, “People don’t like this!” And because of this, your video gets surfaced to less people. Nobody wants that! Thankfully, there are a lot of things we can do to avoid this problem. We will talk about those today.

Creator Spotlight

But first, I want to introduce you to Preston Flaniken. As a car salesman, Preston had a desire to give people reliable information about trucks from a trusted source. He struggled with having the time to create content and coming up with ideas that would hold his viewers interest without being repetitive. To overcome this, he had to pivot away from the truck comparisons and focused in on special features of the trucks that weren’t even mentioned in the owner manuals. After working with us in Video Labs, he has a growth strategy and is already seeing significant growth. You can check out his channel .

What does your Viewer Want

As creators, sometimes we think we know what the viewer wants to see. But once we get into the backend and see the viewer retention graph, we find out we were wrong. Other times, we create videos based on what feels the best to us and we don’t have the viewer in mind at all. This is a recipe for disaster.

Our goal is to get you crafting quality content for your Ideal viewer. And by “quality” we aren’t talking about production value. Fancy editing is nice, but it’s just the icing on the cake. You have to first have a good video before you can start adding frosting. So let’s start with a guide to your video structure to keep people engaged from beginning to end.


Who are you crafting this video for? Who is your target audience? (I know, I know. We are talking about target audience again.) But is this video intended to go a little broader because it’s intending to be more discoverable? Or is this for your community -people who know, like and trust you already? This is going to change a lot of things, even how you open your video.

After you decide that ask yourself, “How do you want your viewer to feel at the end?” You have know where you are taking them before you start the journey. This is going to affect how you film, what you say and how you edit. And, it will save you a lot of time if you have this planned out before you click record. What is your intention in making the video? And where are you wanting them to go after this video? All of this should be thought out ahead of time.

Title & Thumbnail

Your thumbnail is the start of the hook. You need to plan what your title and thumbnail are going to be before you even start filming. It needs to spark curiosity and build some sort of tension that makes your viewer NEED to click to relieve that tension and get the answer to the question you created with your title and thumbnail.

This is the start of the viewer’s journey. They see the thumbnail, read the title and then click the video to hear the opening seconds of the hook. It’s really hard to know what those opening seconds will be if you haven’t thought about the title and the thumbnail.

Hook & Introduction

There are some obvious mistakes that people make in their hooks that get viewers to abandon the material right away. The function of the hook is to hook people in further. It is not an intro to who you are. The hook should be close to 5-10 seconds. For better or for worse, short-form content has impacted this. We have to get into it right away.

Do not use your hook to ask for things. Immediate calls to action will kill your video. You haven’t even established your connection, but yet you’re asking people to like, subscribe, comment, etc. Doing this annoys people and they either skip or bail immediately. It ruins the flow of your video. Please, don’t do this.

After your hook you can have an intro or some sort of branded spot. A branded spot is not just branding. Don’t just pop up your logo on your video. Your branded spot needs to convey your value proposition to a brand new viewer. Give them 3-5 seconds with something they can connect with.

But you don’t HAVE to have an introduction at all. If you are telling a story and adding in an intro will kill the flow of your story, leave it out.

The hook pulls you in and the intro sets the stage. It sets the expectation for the viewer properly.

Continuing to carry on “old YouTube” ways of the talking head starting every video with the same scripted intro, will kill your video. Keep it conversational. If it feels forced to you, it will feel terribly forced to your viewers. Take a couple seconds to just share, “If you’re new here, I’m George. I used to think I could never be creative, but I taught myself how to draw and now I’m going to teach you.”


This is the point where there is going to be multiple paths depending on what type of video you are making. But no matter what, you are going to want to start with simple story structure by answering these basic questions:

  • Who are the characters in the story?
  • What do the characters want?
  • Why can’t they have what they want? (Obstacles)
  • What happens if they don’t get what they want? (What are the stakes?)

This may sound like a lot, but you can answer this in just a few sentences. Mr. Beast starts his hook in every single video by answering these questions. It can be simple: “Today, I’m going to try to build a dresser. I only have enough wood to do this once, so I can’t mess it up. I’ve never done this before, but Sam here is an expert and he is going to teach me to do this with just the supplies I have on hand.”

Now instead of just a series of events happening, we have tension because we know what is at stake. Retention and engagement will be higher simply because of that.

Along the way, you can have more obstacles come up that you need to overcome. But you don’t need to have 84 ways to build a dresser or 50 tips to do xyz. Try not to go beyond 3 key things. Too many roadblocks gets frustrating for the viewer because the story stops moving along. But, no roadblocks is boring. There has to be a balance.

Also, don’t be afraid to leave in your mistakes. Don’t feel like your “how to” needs to be perfect. The mistakes lead to connection for your viewers. They probably do that too!

Don’t cut the human part out, but at the same time we do need to cut more than we are. If you rewatch your video and think, “Hmm, should I cut this?” then you probably should. When we help creators, usually we evaluate people’s videos and decide that they could cut 1/3-1/2 of their content. That’s SO MUCH! So leave the human stuff but don’t stay beyond your welcome. Keep your videos to 3 core things and think, what really moves the story along and what doesn’t.


The “end” of your video should really not be more than 20 seconds. Don’t start using ending language such as, “Thanks for stopping by, I hope you enjoyed this, Don’t forget to like, comment, subscribe…” This is immediately signaling to your audience that there is no more value left and I can abandon this video.

Instead, show the transformation. Every video must have some sort of change. Maybe you show that final dresser that you were working on. Or maybe it’s the failure of your attempt. At the end of the day, we need to leave your viewer feeling something. Think of movie structure: Did they beat the bad guy? Is there resolve? Are you left with a cliff hanger? Is there some intended ending or is this just the end of your series of events that was going nowhere?

This ending can lead directly into a pitch. Where are you sending them to next? What makes logical sense? If you just built a dresser, what video would make sense for them to watch next? Direct them to that video next.

This last 20 seconds is a new hook. What intriguing idea can you open up now that will draw them into another video? Try to use the word “but.” It can be as simple as, “This dresser was hard, but it was not nearly as hard as when we tried to build that nightstand. You can check that video out here. You don’t want to miss it.”

Bringing people all the way to the end of your video AND getting them to click the next are HUGE green flags to the algorithm. This will ensure that your video is seen by more people and you are not wasting your efforts. Remember, the viewer is just waiting for a reason to click off. Don’t give them one.

Power Tip

Image polls on the Community Tab are now more available. If you have 500 or more subs, then you have access to the community tab. Pictures are so vital in allow you to visually see the story. Try it out and let us know if it helps your engagement.

Keep Changing Lives!

Tim Schmoyer

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