Siddhant Dubey

An Intro To Shortform Content Creation

I’ve been posting (mostly vertical shortform) videos for years now, and over time, I’ve managed to grow a small following of 78,000 people: 20k on YouTube, 30k on TikTok, and 28k on Instagram. In doing so, I’ve learned a ton of lessons, and I have used those lessons to grow my Instagram audience from 10k to 28k since the beginning of this year. It’s not an insane amount of growth, but it’s made me a decent sum of money, considering the amount of time I’ve put into it, and I’ve gotten to know some cool people. I’ve had a few acquaintances ask me about getting started, so I thought I’d write this guide to share the lessons I’ve learned.

Step 1: Define Your Audience

Niches are fake, kind of. When you’re getting started, it can be helpful to stick to a niche to get some initial traction, but limiting yourself to a niche leads to boredom and a lack of growth. You should instead be thinking about who you want your audience to be. Imagine the archetype of a member of your ideal audience; mine would be something like this: a young tech professional/CS major/programmer who has a sense of humor. It’s not very specific, but yours can be as specific as you want, and you’ll still have a potential audience of millions. The easiest way to think of this ideal audience member is just describing yourself from a year or two ago because that’s the type of person you can best provide value to. There are lots of people like past you, and you can entertain them, educate them, and help them better than others can.

Step 2: Recognize That You Have To Just Do It

Take a deep breath, swallow the part of you that cringes, and just start posting. You’ll probably make bad stuff at the beginning, but you will get better the more reps you put in. You can put in a ton of time on that first video, make it excellent, and still not get that many views, which can be disheartening, but it is very possible. This is why I recommend starting with videos that take you less time to make but still give your potential audience some value. You can always work on being more polished later. So, just build a regular habit: post every day, every two days, five days a week, or something like that. You’ll learn quicker and build an audience quicker. Once you have the habit locked down, your rate of growth will accelerate.

Step 3: Coming Up With Ideas/Content Break Down

You should be making videos that do two things: make you happy and make your audience happy. A video should either entertain your audience or teach them something new, depending on what type of creator you are. You can be a personality-based creator, a big idea creator, or an educator. Personality-based creators are the people who could watch paint dry, and you’d still tune in. Big idea creators are like Mr. Beast. You watch them because of the ideas they bring to life, not because you actually care about their personality. Big idea videos would work regardless of who makes them because there’s no personal connection to the audience. Educational videos operate in much the same manner, but people may like the way you explain things, building a connection. Ideally, it should all be about building a connection with your audience. I mostly make educational content, and I try to make it as entertaining as possible by infusing bits of my personality so I don’t drown in the sea of creators.

If you’re trying to grow, I think you should throw in a big idea video every once in a while, something that caters to an audience bigger than what you currently have. This is a video you put a ton of time into, but you don’t do it often. Something like one big idea video, followed by five or six smaller concept videos tailored to your current followers, focusing on giving them as much value as possible because those are the people that matter. You’ll get more satisfaction from DMs from your followers than you will from videos that get a million views. Over time, the quality of your videos and the size of your audience will increase, so your big ideas today may be your small concept videos tomorrow.

Coming up with the ideas themselves can be quite difficult the more you post, especially if, like me, you post almost every single day. It’s hard to come up with something new every day, which is why making videos about your lived experiences is probably the easiest way to come up with a steady stream of content. Document your life, share the lessons you learn, the mistakes you make, the things you build, and you’ll have a steady stream of ideas. That’s the type of content I make, and it definitely helps take the pressure off of coming up with new ideas. You will have days where you’ll put something out and know it’s not your best work, but that’s ok.

Step 4: Scripting Content (Figuring Out The Hook)

I don’t script out the entirety of my videos, but I do list some bullet points, and I definitely script the hook. The first three seconds of your video make or break it, and you need to grab the viewer’s attention. You can either do this with a visual hook, which would be something weird or cool to look at, or with a verbal hook. The types of videos I make don’t lend themselves well to visual hooks, so I need to use words to bring the viewer in. You need to either stun your viewer, promise them valuable knowledge, or make them angry. These are the hook formats I use that seem to work.

Honestly, my hook game is pretty bad, you can do a lot better and if you workshop your hooks, you will do a lot better.

Step 5: Filming Content

I’m going to write down the bare minimum of what you need to film decent videos.

  1. Your phone. You do not need a camera, just your iPhone.
  2. Get Capcut (on your phone). Film your video with the multi clip setting so you have the freedom of erasing bad takes without ever leaving Capcut.
  3. Good lighting: Being well-lit while you speak to the camera can transform an ugly video into an aesthetically pleasing one.
  4. Great audio quality: the iPhone mic is good enough, but you can buy a set of two cheap wireless lav mics on Amazon for $22. You can also use programs to digitally enhance your audio quality, either using the standard noise reduction filter in editing programs (all you need) or something like Adobe AI Audio Enhance (this isn’t that great, tbh).
  5. Make sure to be natural when you’re talking to the camera, being too polished can be a turnoff (on TikTok especially). Don’t act like you’re trying to sell something or build an audience, just be the most entertaining/educational version of yourself.
  6. Try to capture b-roll footage to add to your videos during editing. It makes your videos nicer to watch and increases engagement.

Step 6: Editing Content

If you have no experience editing videos, this is how to go from zero to one as quickly as possible.

  1. Install Capcut (on your computer). It’s lightweight and very easy to use. It’s not what I use for longform because I can’t color footage, but it’s good for shortform. If you want something more powerful, get DaVinci Resolve (my fave) or Adobe Premiere (not free).
  2. Caption your videos! Easy engagement hack and it makes your videos more accessible. Capcut has an autocaption feature built in and it works quite well. You can then cut the captions up so that there are only two to five words on screen at a time, it makes the video feel less cramped and more engaging. These captions should be large and bold, I recommend the “Classic” font at size 17-20 on Capcut.
  3. Do not leave a millisecond of dead silence in your videos. It breaks immersion and ruins engagement. Cut. It. Out. Make sure there is no gap between your cuts, no gap at the beginning of your videos, and no gap at the end. NO GAP!!!
  4. Add b-roll! Just looking at a talking head is kind of boring, b-roll spices it up. This can either be done with video clips you film, or by you filming your videos greenscreen style in Capcut, and pointing to the background. Greenscreen content is usually good for sharing something you saw on the internet and generally gets decent engagement in my experience.

All of the above is the bare minimum for a decently engaging video. To go above and beyond, make something that is aesthetically pleasing to you.

When it comes time to upload your content, ensure you’re putting relevant hashtags on TikTok and Instagram. You can drop the hashtags on TikTok once you get big enough, but I’m unsure about Instagram. Do the same when you’re uploading on YouTube shorts. Try to post the same video on all three platforms. TikTok and Instagram allow videos > 60 seconds, so try to stay in that 60-90-second range. YouTube shorts does not allow videos > 60 seconds. What I like to do is film such that the first 60 seconds of every video are a complete video unto itself, and everything after is just a bonus for the viewer. This allows me to film once, edit once, and post on all three platforms.

Step 7: Making Money

There are two main ways you can make money as a creator: ad revenue and sponsorships. You will likely make more money from brands sponsoring your content than you will adsense. To get brand outreach, just put your email in your bio. These are the requirements for making money from ad revenue on each platform.

I haven’t tried to actively monetize my following, but I’ve still made $5000 so far this year from sponsorships and ad revenue! Monetizing depends on your audience’s expectations. I’ve made it a little harder for myself to accept sponsorships by bucketing myself as “coding guy.” I shouldn’t have tried to niche down. It’s easier to accept sponsorships if you’re a personality-driven creator because people care about you, not your knowledge. You should only ever accept sponsorships from reputable brands with products you would consider using. I get dozens of crap emails every week and see people promoting said crap. Doing so sours your relationship with your audience. You can try to actively pursue something like UGC or email brands with ideas for sponsored content. This has worked for people I know, but I’ve never done it. Of course, you can also sell a product or course or something to your audience. I haven’t figured out how to do this without sounding or feeling scammy, which brings us to our next step.

Step 8: Maintaining Your Dignity

You have to try and keep a good reputation both for your “business“‘s sake and for yourself. It’s very easy to do things in the content world that cause you to lose your dignity. You can become famous for making straight slop (I make slop from time to time), but doing so leaves a bitter taste in your mouth. Building a loyal audience, slowly and steadily, is the way to go. This is something I’m working on by making my content more polished and more about my personality (not narcissistically, just lessons through stories) so people can differentiate my videos from the rest.

If you want to talk about getting started you can dm me @thesidcodes on X (formerly Twitter) or email me at sid [at] I’ll get back to you as quick as I can. If you feel like I left anything unanswered, please let me know and I’ll add it to the guide if it makes sense.