The Essentials of Editing Videos for Online Courses

Selling online courses can be a competitive industry indeed. To get noticed amid a flood of content published by your competitors, you need to make sure your instructional videos tick all the boxes in terms of quality and appear as professional as they can be.

This means you’re likely going to need to spend some time editing your instructional footage. In case you don’t have the right digital tools at your disposal, you should consider investing in them – at the end of the day, this can mean all the difference between results that are excellent in every way and the ones that are decent at best.

With this out of the way, what are the essentials of video editing every online teacher should know? Stay tuned as we outline the key takeaways.

Make sure your video is worth editing


Don’t think editing your video will magically fix all the pre-production mistakes novice online instructors often make. In other words, you need to do a good job recording a decent take first, only then should you worry about editing. This will provide a solid basis for any tweaks you decide to apply later on.

For starters, always have a plan when recording, even if you don’t script out the entire thing. For instance, you could semi-improvise by leaning on a couple of bullet points you’ve prepared ahead of time. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but as you’ll soon find out, it does make a difference as far as the flow of the presentation goes.

Then, if you’re filming yourself talking or demonstrating a process, see to it that the area has proper lighting and background and that it provides optimal conditions for filming. If you haven’t already, invest in a proper microphone and a good camera (although even a consumer-grade smartphone camera can be a decent choice these days). These are all seemingly minor things, but it all adds up in the grand scheme of things.

In the early stages of making educational videos, your microphone is more important than video quality. Get a good microphone like the Blue Yeti or an equivalent, and you will not regret it! Nick Malekos, Senior Marketer at LearnWorlds, the top Online Course Platform.

Choose a video editing software you’re comfortable using

Before you can enhance your video tutorials and thus make them more appealing, you’re going to have to decide what training video software to use.

Overall, choosing the right software comes down to personal preference, although you should also base your decision on what exactly it is that you want to achieve.

If the only thing you need to do is trim out some excess footage and glue the pieces together, even the good old Movie Maker or an open-source equivalent should be up to the task. On the other hand, if you need some advanced features to truly make your instructional videos all they can be, don’t be afraid to look into some higher-end software to see if it’s worth it for you.

Tweaks to apply when editing a video


Below, we’ll give you some ideas on what tweaks to apply to make your videos appear polished and professional:

  • Add subtitles. Although YouTube now uses speech recognition technology to automatically generate subtitles for your video, who’s to say that you’re going to be uploading your material to this specific platform? As you grow your online teaching business, you want to keep your options open, so consider adding subtitles if it fits the context of the video.
  • Add sound effects. Are there crucial moments in the video, perhaps when you make things ‘click’ for your viewer by delivering a clear, concise, and coherent explanation and the lightbulb goes off? Highlight them by tastefully adding sound effects where they can enrich the overall atmosphere. The sounds you add should be subtle and shouldn’t distract the viewer. Be careful that the volume of the sound effect is not greater than that of the spoken audio.
  • Reduce background noise. Remember the importance of recording in an environment with as little sound pollution as possible? Although you can remove some of it in post-production, think of them as finishing touches rather than a magic solution. If you turn up the background noise reduction knob too much, you’ll find that it can bite into the actual spoken audio you want to keep, hence the importance of getting it right from the very beginning.
  • Cut out the parts that contain mistakes or the ones that are simply too long-winded. Remember that you should keep your instructional materials as engaging and to the point as possible – going on a tangent may be an impulse that’s hard to resist but consider whether it adds value to the student or not.
  • Add transitions between scenes. If your video suddenly jumps from one part to the next without a proper transition, it can appear hastily put together and not very professional. At the same time, those PowerPoint-like scenery twisters can be a bit too much as well. Try to shoot for the middle ground between the two extremes (as a general rule of thumb, the most basic and subtle transitions usually work best).
  • Add hovering text boxes. Let’s say you’re interviewing an expert in your niche for this example. To make it clear for the listener, consider adding text boxes that contain their name and occupation. Typically, these work very well in the bottom part of the screen.

The final steps


When you’re happy with the results of your editing, it’s time to export the video you’ve made. Since the exact process can vary between different video editors, here are a couple of key points to remember.

Firstly, you’re going to have to select the overall quality you’d like your video to be. Since platforms like YouTube automatically create alternative lower-quality videos out of the one you’ve uploaded so as to optimize the experience for those viewers on a weaker connection, shoot for high-quality export settings.

Secondly, you’re going to need to choose the right format to export to. Typically, MP4 and AVI both work well and no third-party players should have trouble opening them.

Finally, it’s time to upload your video! Depending on any exclusivity agreements you’ve signed, this may be a single online platform or it could be multiple platforms for extra exposure. Either way, marketing your online course is a whole separate topic we’ll cover on another occasion.

To conclude

Editing your video course may seem technical at first, but most modern video editors make the process as straightforward as possible. So make sure to get comfortable using your video editing software of choice, stick to the best practices we’ve outlined above, and may your video course be the best one the internet has seen.