How to create customer how-to tutorials on a budget

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This article was originally posted on the NumberBarn Blog.

As the Customer Experience Manager for NumberBarn, part of my role includes creating customer facing how-to video tutorials.

Knowing absolutely nothing when I began, I used resources such as webinars, YouTube videos, online articles and simply asking friends tons of questions to learn.

This article includes many of the steps I’ve learned along the way with the intention to help someone else who may also be starting out with these videos.



Educate your customers on your product or service using creative, informative video tutorials without blowing tons of cash!

There’s also a big NEED to ensure that your customers feel supported with efficient self-service to find answers to their questions.

At NumberBarn, we built our YouTube channel, Help Center and Blog to include step-by-step instructions and FAQs featuring inexpensive, creative, brand-friendly tutorial videos with little to no money spent.

How do you get started creating your own videos? Glad you asked.

We’re not perfect and there is always something new to learn, but here’s what has helped us create our awesome tutorials. Maybe it will inspire you to create some too!

Start with the Overview

What in the world is this video tutorial going to be about? A high-level overview of your tutorial will be helpful in the creation of the video. Answer these questions:

  • Who is this video for? Who will be acting in this video?
  • What problem will this video solve? What is our intention behind creating it?
  • Where will this video be shared? Where will this video be filmed?
  • When will this video be published? When will this video be filmed?
  • Why is this video important?

For NumberBarn, here’s how we typically answer these questions:

  • This video is made for our customers. Jenny Sue will be acting, filming, recording and editing the video. The Pig may also make an appearance.
  • This video will answer the question of how to complete this task. Our intention is to educate and empower our customers with #numbersmart knowledge.
  • This video will be shared on our YouTube channelHelp CenterBlogTwitter,Facebook and Instagram.
  • This video will be published on x date. We will film this video on x date.
  • This video is important to showcase our brand voice, educate customers and save them from having to contact us via email or chat.

Write the Script

Write down the general instructions of the process that you’re explaining to your customers. Make sure to translate any industry jargon into a language that your customer will understand. Highlight each chunk of the script with the individual who will be doing the talking or what style the video will display, like this sample script from How to Authorize a Port Request:

A sample of our tutorial script

Draw the Storyboard

While optional, the storyboard helps put your script into visual chunks. Get super artsy with it or just draw on a whiteboard with little to no art skills, like Jenny Sue’s storyboard for How to Authorize a Port Request below, to get the ideas across. The goal is to simply have an idea of how each section of will appear when you’re filming.



Art is not Jenny Sue’s best skill…

Time to Film

Filming your video tutorial doesn’t require a fancy schmancy camera. Sure, if you have access to this – consider yourself lucky! All of the NumberBarn video tutorials are filmed in landscape mode using an iPhone and a tripod purchased on Amazon. Video files are transferred to a computer for editing via AirDrop. Our earlier videos were made without an external microphone, which caused the sound to not be as clear as we’d like. We’ve upgraded to using a microphone that connects to the phone for clearer sound. This article goes into a lot more detail about creating a clean and crisp video with your iPhone. For Android users, this article has some great advice.

Capture the Screen

With the video, you’re doing more than just telling your customer how to make the change – you’re showing them how to make the change. A screen capture tool allows you to film what you’re doing on your computer and put it on a video for others to watch from the comfort of their own device. At NumberBarn, we use a program called Snagit. To see how it works, watch the video below. No, we’re not partnering with them nor do we get a cut of a sale if you buy the software. We’re simply sharing what works best for us to help make things easier for you!

Edit the Video

Throwing everything into one video takes a robust yet simple editing program. To keep things simple, we use iMovie. We add in additional video clips, music, images and more to create one fun little video tutorial. A behind the scenes peek into how iMovie looks for one of our videos can be found below. For an overview of how to use iMovie, check this out.

Post on Social Media

We host our videos on our YouTube channel. Finished videos are uploaded with a video description. Our video descriptions contain:

  • A title
  • A video overview (this text might actually be the initial overview you wrote)
  • Contact support (for us, we always want to make sure our customers know who to reach out to if they have questions)
  • Music credits (we’ll always credit the artist for any royalty-free music that we use in our videos)

We share our videos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We don’t want to flood our channels with too many videos, therefore we found posting a video 2-4 times a month works best for us. If you don’t have a clue how to plan your social media strategy, start with this article.

Creating Catchy Images

A thumbnail image is the main image you’ll see on the YouTube video before you press “play”. Any additional images we use in the video, or even other social sharing posts, are created with an online tool, Canva. This free program allows you to use pre-made templates, upload images and add text and other visuals to make your image POP, like this one for our video, How to Authorize a Port Request:



Help Center

When considering how to communicate instructions and answers to your questions, keep in mind the different learning styles they may need to absorb the information. Self-service is a powerful tool in the customer experience and we strive to find as many ways to empower our customers to find the answers they need without having to contact customer support, including embedding our tutorial videos into our Help Center.

Blog Posts

The NumberBarn Blog, while a great marketing tool, also offers an even more casual way to share how-to’s and answer common customer questions in a variety of formats. Taking a complicated situation and sharing it in a less formal environment gives the reader an opportunity to engage with our brand while learning about a feature, product or service.

Want support on creating your first tutorial video? Send me an email!

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