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How to Make a Promotional Video - Production, Examples & YouTube

The biggest lessons from 20 years of making promotional videos. Whatever your profession or purpose these tips will help you structure, organize and prepare a promotional video that sells you, your services-- or both.

My approach from 20 years in the entertainment industry, marketing myself as a full-time magician, hypnotist and speaker but these tips work for anyone creating a promotional video.

Grab a mousepad; let's get started.

Here's my latest YouTube Channel Promo video

Touring Tricks 60 sec Teaser Trailer

The two most critical decisions you must ask: 'who is my audience?' and 'what's their intent?'

Who is watching your video? In my world, it's people who book entertainment. How do I communicate my value to them and ideally what action I want them to take? It's easier to make incredible promotional content if you have clarity and specificity to those questions.

Content is cheap and easy to make. You can tailor your message very specifically without breaking the bank. When someone feels like you are talking directly to them, they make decisions immediately. Shouting at the world is exhausting, but one-on-one is a real conversation.

(FYI: The voice supporting you is your brand, a topic for future posts. If you have questions about branding let me know in the comments, and I'll include them)

Time for Brainstorming

Turn on music, meditate, whatever it takes, but scientifically it appears the Flow State takes 20 or so minutes. Turn off the switch that's labelled "judgement," Critical thought is not welcome in the creative mindset.

Get it all out and organize your thoughts. It's required for me to start drawing; I use OneNote on my tablet and lots of pen and ink. Use whatever lets you brainstorming freely without interruption.


{Personal notes from the above video}

Intent: Gain subscribers

Audience: Magic fans, magicians & enthusiasts


Ryan Joyce: Magician, Hypnotist, Speaker, magician, travel lifestyle, entertainer

Length: 60 sec


extensive 20 years touring

performer lifestyle

travel and lifestyle

Understand with the sound-off

Quick note about music:

I always purchase music that gives a license for me to include that online for monetization. I don't want other people's ads to run on my content, and I don't want strikes against my account.


Knowing your audience

You may have incredible footage from a vacation in the Caribbean, but that doesn't mean you should use it to establish yourself as a children's birthday entertainer. Do you know how people subconsciously thank-you for being honest with them? They hire you.

Authenticity is key.

Paying attention to details and understanding your clients perspective is essential. Otherwise, it's not a promotional video; it's YouTube content. Clients want their event to be a success, and in 3 minutes or less, it's your job to show them why you are that person.

MAGICIAN SIDENOTE: Your promotional material should be an accurate representation of you and or your act.

Watch: The Magicians Are Coming

Here's a promotional video with the intent to conjure curiosity.

Knowing your intent

I always assume this is my very first introduction. The hardest part is often simplifying your entire career into a 30 sec sound bite.

Here is the underlying narrative:

"I'm Ryan Joyce. Magician. Here's why I'm different than everyone else. I'm pretty good at what I do, here's social proof to back up my claims, and here's how you can find me."

The challenging part is how to make that enjoyable to watch.

That's storytelling.

Here are a few basics to help you out if you are getting started creating your first promotional video.

Creating your project

How to organize. The sexy topic of file structure.

I create a project (in my case, Adobe Premiere, more on that later) and in that project, I create a 1_Footage folder where I store all my relevant footage. If I am covering several topics, I'll create categories:





The first step, digitally, is to assemble all the footage into those folders. I create a 2_Assets folder for logos and quotes etc. Next, I need music as motivation. There are plenty of places to purchase affordable royalty-free music.

Drop the best clips and music on the timeline and start playing around. Your music choice instantly supports or rejects the intent of the video. It's a feeling-thing.

Emotion is an excellent intent to share with your audience, which one? Creative, funny, bookable, compelling. These are decisions that are specific to you, your voice and your branding.

Here's the basic structure for a great promotional video

  • Fast-Attention (15~30 sec)

  • Title Graphic / Welcome/Intro (3 ~ 60 sec)

  • Footage & Social Proof (Varies)

  • End Screen (5~30sec)

Here is an early promotional video I used for years.

From the Archives: My old magician promotional video

(NOTES: An example of a purchased template with my own stock footage)

Support your intent with the most exciting footage you have available. Just the moments-- not the whole video. Leave some parts to their imagination; because if they like you, their imagination finds exciting things.

Keep it simple. Keep it short.

The biggest problem most people face is not having enough good quality footage to use in editing. It's difficult for anyone to make a promotional video from three clips. Don't have footage? Take your phone out and start. Expect to delete a lot, but pixels are free.


  • Start collecting footage at every show. Get an external storage drive and backup those great shots. They are priceless.

  • Ask if you can get audience shots. Reaction shots sell. Period. Respect audiences rights.

  • Get unique angles that frame your actions as large as possible. In most cases, the closer the camera, the better.

  • Get the best possible shot through the lens of the camera. Don't digitally zoom past 150%

  • Smile-- studies support its efficacy, in case you need convincing

  • Think of yourself as a brand, appropriately showcase your branding and logo but don't throw it at them

  • Used purchase your music. There are a ton of affordable royalty-free music sites

  • Music takes a backseat. No one should compete to understand spoken words and dialogue.

Start collecting a digital toolkit of your best footage.

Promotional videos tend to be quick clips, arranged to music with voice over and fancy title screens. I'm terrible at title graphics, and I used to be terrible at editing. Work at it and use services like Fiverr when needed. In today's industry, you need to learn the basics of video editing.

When I jumped into the entertainment industry, the argument was, "Shouldn't entertainers have colour headshots?" It seemed ridiculous to me, as a new generation magician. Not as ridiculous as it does now. I rejected that idea and turned out my instincts were right.

My point: follow my advice and follow your instinct.

To the best of my knowledge your promotional videos shouldn't exceed 3 mins but here's a heads up on a trend I'm seeing. Be ready to share a full unedited copy of your show. It's happening a lot in the cruise industry,



Golden rule: when reviewing your show footage, those moments you fast-forward yourself-- the audience would fast-forward you, too.

Consider cutting or shortening these moments in your show.


Managing expectations

Magic has come a long way thanks exclusively to video. However, flashy or expensive promotional videos don't make you valuable. Be ambitiously realistic. Disappointing clients will make your life substantially more complicated and doesn't satisfy a long-term vision.

There is plenty of work out there, but each stage requires mastery. I'm not an entertainment god, but I try to always over-deliver.

Exceeding expectations is the most valuable tool you have. What makes some performers more successful than others? They continually motivate themselves to always go beyond the usual standard. Bottom line: If you put 10% more effort than everyone else, you'll always be ahead of the curve. Period. 10% is sustainable long term.

A thought about cameras, software and equipment

There are some fantastically expensive tools available! It's fun to look if you're a nerd like me. But here's the truth: use the best quality you have access to that it's it. If you can't meet that expectation, be honest with yourself; it's laziness or fear.

Magicians Bottomline: Imagine if you could only do a double lift with Jerry Nuggets. Those are expensive fingers. Creating a good video involves good storytelling, not software.

"Don't find fault. Find a remedy." - Henry Ford

Are you reading this on your phone.? Use that. Since I'm a camera nerd, I typically use a mirrorless or DSLR camera but don't for a second underestimate the mounting possibilities for portable cameras.

{unique angle gopro}

SIDENOTE: I'm not a fan of GoPro's because super-ultra-mega-wide isn't that great in most scenarios.

Going viral on YouTube

Thoughts on making YouTube content

On YouTube, everything I've mentioned above is measured and tracked and quantified. Now add Audience Retention. YouTube cares a lot about people watching and spending time on YouTube. If you people are watching 70%+ of your videos, you're going to be a YouTube star.

YouTube is a different game entirely, but many of the metrics are apparent once you understand YouTube intends to keep their viewer's eyeballs on YouTube. If you can help them do that, they'll be happy to show your videos.

Facebook is also adopting this model with its Watch Video feature.

What I learned

  • Each platform wants you to upload and share.

  • Instagram prefers square and vertical

  • Facebook is landscape, square and vertical

  • Youtube prefers vertical

Start by understanding yourself as a performer and a brand. If you don't sit down and write this stuff out, you probably don't want it badly enough. Some things take time. By the time, I mean effort.


Get rid of the expectation that your promotional video needs to dramatic. It needs to sell. Simplicity is key; don't ram ideas down people's throats. Establish your credibility with visuals, not words. Include reaction shots whenever possible. If in doubt, cut it out. Shorter is better. Promotional videos have commercial tones and voices. There is always a call to action. Include quotes and title graphics, consider outsourcing, but if you want to control your voice, you must start learning these skills yourself.

We chatted about promotional videos in great length on this podcast. Skip to 27 minutes. I've included a transcript below:

SAMPLE: Selling through curiosity: Storytelling & Content (Magic Festival Promo)

What are you promotional video questions?


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