How-To Do How-to Videos: Tips, Tricks, and Best Practices

How-to searches are incredibly popular, especially when it comes to video.

Think about it: How many times have you turned to Google, YouTube, or social media platforms to solve a problem or learn something new? Chances are at least a couple of times, right? Well, you are not alone!

There’s a reason why users can’t get enough of how-to (or instructional) videos – They quickly answer specific questions by combining educational content with an entertaining approach—delivering instant value to the viewer!

For businesses, this trend represents a great opportunity to connect with prospects – By addressing their target audience’s most relevant questions, they can share their knowledge in compelling and innovative ways.

So, if you are wondering what it takes to make effective step-by-step tutorials, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve put together this easy peasy guide with everything you need to know about getting the most out of your how-to content.

Let’s begin.

The Benefits of Using How-To Videos

Before we dive into our guide properly, let’s take a minute to talk about benefits. There are a couple of reasons why you may want to include tutorial videos in your next marketing strategy, but three, in particular, stand out:

  • Builds brand trust: Few things are more effective in building credibility than sharing with your audience truly useful content. By developing content that answers essential questions or addresses specific pain points, you will be positioned as an expert, a source of qualified answers.
  • Improves engagement & reach: Most people prefer to learn about a product or service by watching a short video. So, if you want to teach your target audience how to do something related to your product or your industry, do it with video! You will get far more clicks than if you used another format. Plus, if it’s original or instructive enough, your audience it’s going to share it, improving your organic reach as well!
  • Drives sales: Before making an online purchase, consumers need a certain amount of information about the product and the brand. You can create this type of content to provide all the answers they need in a single piece. Moving potential customers further in the sales funnel without being overly promotional or spammy!

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A Few Popular Styles of How-To Videos

These are the top how-to video styles:

Instructional Videos

In its more basic form, instructional videos simply walk through all the steps needed to complete a task from start to finish. Their main purpose is to help answer specific questions and instruct people to do something they didn’t know how – mostly based around popular search queries.

Instructional videos are very straightforward and clear, so they are often used to describe how to accomplish all sorts of simple actions. For example, how to build or fix something.

Explainer Videos

Explainer videos are used to illustrate more complex processes or ideas, like the ins and outs of a software or an IT solution.

In a nutshell, these are short, animated pieces that harness the power of storytelling to help the viewer understand in less than 2 minutes why a product or service exists. But, most importantly, explainer videos are designed to address an audience’s specific pain point and introduce an ideal solution – yours!

There are different types of explainer videos, like character animation, 3D, motion graphics, stop motion, whiteboards, and much more!

Social Media Micro-Videos

Ok, you’ve probably seen hundreds of these videos on social media, especially Instagram. Buzzfeed Tasty, anyone?

These are short (or sped up), engaging, and super easy to follow pieces that focus on giving simple instructions for a specific action. For example, how to cook veggie sushi or how to dye your own hair.

They are meant to be consumed within social media platforms, so they use very captivating visuals to catch the user’s attention immediately.

Screencast Videos

These videos showcase a computer or phone screen recording and include audio narration to teach viewers how to perform a task. They are highly targeted, very instructional, and an excellent alternative to visually answer specific – and tricky – questions.

Often used by tech companies to clear up a problematic concept, tool, or process, they tend to be short, informal, and have low production value.


A webinar is an online live event designed to share knowledge, ideas, and updates. Brands can use them to demonstrate a product, present a workshop, or host a special event, like a lecture or a panel.

Once the event is finished, you can use the recording to embed it on your website or include it in a blog article. However, they tend to be very long, so it’s often a good idea to edit them down to make them more engaging. For example: cutting them down to shorter pieces, including graphics, transitions, etc.

Things to Keep in Mind to Create Killer How-To Videos

For a how-to video to be successful, you will have to pay attention to certain elements during its production process.

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Choose Your Video’s Topic and Pick the Style

The first (and most) important thing you’ll need to define is your video’s subject matter. You probably have an instinctive idea of topics you can tackle with your piece, but you’ll have to choose one.

In video marketing, everything starts with your audience. After all, you are developing content specifically for them, right? In this case, you need to deliver information that’s relevant to your prospects – that’s how you are going to attract and connect with them.

Zone in your target audience. What are they most curious about? What are their pain points or needs? What do they search on Google? Which questions are they making the most? Do they even search on Google and YouTube, or they use social media?

Ask yourself (and your team) these questions to brainstorm ideas and identify possible topics. Once you define one, pick a style that can help you represent it the way you envision it. In case you need inspiration or new ideas, you can look at the competition and find out what type of content is already out there.

Write a Solid Script

Your script is going to be one thing or another, depending on the format you choose. It may include narration, perhaps it features a person talking to the camera, or maybe you’ll use animated typography.

Whatever format (and therefore script) you choose, it’s very important to make it simple and clear. Keep your steps or indications short and straightforward. Check they follow a logical order and that they flow naturally.

Remember that these videos are meant to provide useful information in the most digestible and understandable way. Don’t make the instructions too technical or complex. Use language and terms that are familiar with your target audience.

Another thing you should avoid is getting too detailed. For one thing, your video has to be short. People don’t have the patience nor the will to spend 20 minutes time watching a video—every second and word count.

So, when you sit down to write your script, focus on your topic’s key points, and dismiss everything that’s not really necessary to illustrate your idea. We know this can be a bit challenging, especially if you need to explain complex subjects. But, if that’s the case, you can break down the information and create a video series rather than a long, confusing single piece.

Draft a Storyboard

The storyboard is like a comic strip with the visual representation of your video, from start to finish. It includes all types of indications to guide your teams during production and post-production—for example, camera angles, dialogues, lighting, music or sound cues, transitions, etc.

What makes storyboarding so important is it helps you confirm – or not – if everything you wrote on your script makes sense visually. That every step and direction that you included in your how-to video is logical and do-able.

Plus, when you work on your storyboard early on your project, you can identify mistakes in advance, before you start the actual production. Giving you time to adjust or cause-correct what’s needed to make sure your final product looks exactly how you planned.

Organize Production Tasks

Once you’ve all the previous steps covered, you’ll have to plan your actual production.

Each project is a world in itself, with different needs and priorities. However, the following tips can help you plan ahead and prevent you from wasting time and sometimes even money.

  • If your video involves actors and or a group of people, consider scheduling a rehearsal to practice being in front of the camera. Usually, people are camera shy or aren’t that familiar with the dynamics involved in this kind of production. This will ensure your shooting day runs smoothly and seamlessly.
  • Save time in your schedule for delays and reshoots, trying different angles, correcting mistakes, and so on. As the popular saying goes, Prevention is ultimately better than the cure!
  • Test your audio and visual quality before you start recording. Make sure that each camera, light, microphone, software, and every element you’ll need to shoot work. The last thing you need on your production day is wasting time trying to fix a broken tripod!

Now You Know!

How-to videos are a great marketing resource for businesses of all types of industries.

Whether you are a tech startup or a very niche company, these videos can help you connect with audiences, build trust, and improve engagement. What’s more important, now you know that they manage to achieve that by providing answers and sharing useful information with their audiences.

So, you need to roll up your sleeves and start digging. Find what those questions are and develop content that addresses them. Hopefully, if you combine that information with the tips and trick we provided, you’ll be one step closer to making a killer how-to video!

Good luck!

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