Ready, Set, Edit: 7 YouTube Creators Share Their Must-Know Hacks

Before Rachel Fong can share the secrets to crafting a mini unicorn cake using nothing but an easy bake oven with her million-plus followers, some not-so-sweet work is required: Editing.
Like most other YouTube stars who have built a career around their online channels, Fong has learned that a good edit is key to making videos that fit with her kawaii-focused brand. But while picking up a camera and filming may feel intuitive when you've grown up with a smartphone, editing footage usually requires more skills and time, not to mention additional software. This doesn't mean that you should feel intimidated: Many of the most well-known YouTubers took a DIY approach to learning how to edit.
With that in mind, we turned to the creators behind six popular Youtube channels to find out what tech they use and which skills they've picked up over the years. If you're an aspiring vlogger, get ready to watch some tutorials then pick up your camera.
1 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Fong.
Rachel Fong

Channel: Kawaii Sweet World

Category: Baking

Subscribers: 1.1 million+

First step post-filming: "Step one is to get all the tech set up so I’m free to focus on the creative aspects of editing. For me, that means making sure I have my MacBook charged and ready to go, along with my external hard drive plugged in with all my video assets. I also use a Blue Yeti microphone to record voiceover which conveniently connects via USB port.

Must-have software: "I really like Final Cut Pro X. I find that it’s intuitive to use and there’s plenty of plugins that you can purchase online to jazz up your videos easily.

"I always start by making a rough cut of all the footage, which is just the clips strung together and cut to approximately the length I’ll need [to speak over them]. I never write a script for voicing over videos because I find my videos feel much more personal and casual unscripted."

Lessons learned: "I think about how the editing of my videos fits with the overall Kawaii Sweet World brand aesthetic. Since the design of my channel is focused on cute or 'kawaii' things, I try to keep the effects I add relatively simple but cute as well."

Take-away hack: "Keep in mind that 'finished' is often better than perfect. You’ll improve a lot faster and feel much less frustrated if you learn when to stop editing and instead move on to the next project. Have fun experimenting with how editing can change the tone and pace of your videos, but don’t get too caught up in perfection."
2 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Kelsey and Kendra Murrell.
Kelsey & Kendra Murrell

Channel: Glamtwinz334

Category: Beauty

Subscribers: 620,000+

First step post-filming: "The number one thing for us after filming is to have a beverage on hand, preferably tea or water and maybe a snack, since this may take a while. Then, we import footage from an SD card to iMac and have earbuds on deck.

Must-have software: "The editing software we’ve been using for about three years now is Final Cut Pro X. The editing process is very tedious and can take a lot of time: We add files to the timeline and arrange clips as desired, then trim and cut the footage, add music and photos, adjust audio and add voiceover, add text overlay, add transitions to clips, add captions and create a thumbnail that will stand out and speak to the video.

Lessons learned: "If we had to name one thing that we’ve picked up, it's how to use a screenshot for our thumbnails. This has made creating thumbnails super easy for us."

Take-away hack: "Find software that you’re comfortable with and learn to use it. The more you use editing software, the more you’ll find out the different features it offers. You just have to dive in and begin playing around with it."
3 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Remi Cruz.
Remi Cruz

Channels: MissRemiAshten, RemLife

Category: Lifestyle DIY

Subscribers: 1.7 million+

First step post-filming: "I make sure to have all my equipment with me: Laptop, memory cards, card reader, and headphones. I also make sure my charger is plugged in and connected, because I’ve learned [the importance of] keeping my computer charged while editing the hard way."

Must-have software: "I use Final Cut X for all my videos. After my clips are all imported and I’ve looked over all [of them], I’ll pick my favorite ones to piece together as a short intro for the video. I’ll add in my talking intro, the body of the video, and then finish with my talking outro. I know that the video is done once all the ideas in my head are complete, and I watch back the entire video with a smile on my face."

Lessons learned: "After I learned about saturation and color temperature, my videos were never the same again."

Take-away hack: "Learn the shortcuts for your editing software and don’t be afraid to look for help, whether it’s going to a friend to vent, vlogging about it, or simply just looking up a YouTube tutorial."
4 of 6
Photo: Courtesy of Jessica Chou.
Jessica Chou

Channel: Jessicann

Category: Auto

Subscribers: 16,000+

First step post-filming: "I always have my hard drive ready to offload the footage and audio from my SD cards. I do this immediately after I’m done filming to back up the footage. I’ll also keep the footage on my SD card until I’m completely done editing my video, just in case something happens to my hard drive."

Must-have software: "I use Final Cut Pro X. I know a video is done when I’m satisfied with the flow, length, graphics, music, and volume. Volume is a biggie for me because I hate when I’m watching a video and it suddenly gets too loud or too quiet. Once I’ve checked off all these requirements, then I’m ready to hit export!"

Lessons learned: "I’m completely self-taught, so any tricks I’ve picked up took me a while to pick up. When I discovered that you can copy and paste transitions and motion graphics, like text popping or sliding in, [it changed] my life."

Take-away hack: "Watch some of your favorite creators’ videos and take a look at their editing style and graphics. What do you like about their style? What don’t you like? Are there transitions you like? Are there motion graphics you like? What kind of music do they use? I’m always watching other creators’ videos for inspiration."
5 of 6
Cassey Ho

Channel: Blogilates

Category: Fitness

Subscribers: 4 million+

First step post-filming: "I am very fortunate to have a trusted videographer on my team who handles the filming and editing of most of my fitness videos. But when it comes to more personal stuff, like vlogs, I edit these so that they feel more like a diary. In that case, step one is to make sure my SD card has all the footage. I know that sounds silly, but I've definitely deleted raw, unedited, perfect footage before and that is not a good feeling."

Must-have software: "I use Final Cut Pro X. After I stick the SD card into my computer and copy all of the footage over, I begin to lay it out on my timeline. Then I look for music on Epidemic Sound, which is a fantastic audio library for royalty free music. I look for songs that help bring out the story and the feelings in the video. From there it's just cutting, editing, watching and rewatching until the video feels right."

Lessons learned: "When I have a lot of footage to go through and I don't want to keep watching mess ups, I edit by looking at the sound waves on the timeline. If there's a lot of start and stops or a bunch of silence, I just slice that off without even watching the footage. It saves me a lot of time.

Take-away hack: "My editing style has one philosophy: The video has to effectively help the viewer learn something in a fun way with a personal touch. As long as we're doing that, it doesn't matter if it's a cooking video or a fitness video — the end goal is the same."
6 of 6
Rachel Smith

Channel: Rachel's English

Category: Education

Subscribers: 1.1 million+

First step post-filming: "Step one is always organizing. I often record in batches. The most videos I filmed in one day was 36 — that’s a lot! So it’s easy to waste time searching for things if you don’t have a good organizational process. I have set up my own system that involves libraries, events, projects, and tags."

Must-have software: "I use Final Cut Pro X and have for years. After organizing, I assess what I will do and what I will hire a freelancer to do. I work backwards from my publish date and look at all the people that might need to work on a video, from editors to transcriptionists. So much of what I do is project management!"

Lessons learned: "For students working on pronunciation, I might take a small fragment of a phrase and loop it several times. Doing this with audio helps the brain hear speech as music and give the student a better chance to imitate a native speaker accurately."

Take-away hack: "Keep it simple. If you’re just starting out, don’t think you need the same software and know-how as other YouTubers who have been doing this for years. iMovie or other simpler programs can be a great way to get the basic ideas of what video editing can do for you. Don’t feel that you need to move on from something until you start to feel the limitations of it."

More from Tech


R29 Original Series