By Rachel Kiley
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ASMR videos have exploded across the internet in recent years, morphing from something that didn’t even have a name to a full-blown trend with subcategories and dedicated channels for viewers seeking various specific stimuli in the ASMR world.
Fortunately for content creators, the low barrier to entry and the fact that this popular genre of video is still regularly evolving means there are plenty of opportunities for new creators to jump on the ASMR bandwagon and carve out their niche. If you’d like to know more about what it takes to start making ASMR videos yourself, read on.
What is ASMR?
ASMR refers to autonomous sensory meridian response, a tingling sensation in response to certain stimuli — often auditory, but sometimes visual or tactile — that generally starts around the scalp and travels down the back of one’s neck and down the spine. It’s considered to be a relaxing sensation, often triggered by gentle sounds such as blowing or ocean waves.
In turn, ASMR videos are recordings made of specific sounds, visuals, or scenarios intended to provoke this reaction in viewers.
Why do people like ASMR?
ASMR is often used for relaxation. People who experience it say it can help reduce stress and anxiety or even help them fall asleep. There have also been suggestions that it activates parts of the brain associated with oxytocin (known as the love hormone) and dopamine, which is released upon anticipation of a reward.
How does ASMR work?
Researchers are still diving into the science behind ASMR, but it is currently believed that only around 20% of the population experiences the phenomenon.
For those people, parts of the brain that are associated with reward and emotional arousal are activated when watching videos that trigger their ASMR, according to a study performed in 2018.
Another study by psychology professor Stephen Smith compared the brain scans of people who reported experiencing ASMR to those who didn’t, without exposing them to ASMR at the time. He noticed a difference between the two — where activities of certain areas of the brain tend to work together as a sort of network, that wasn’t so much the case with people who report experiencing ASMR.
“It does make intuitive sense that a condition associated with atypical sensory association and atypical emotional association would have different wiring in the brain,” Smith said.
We’ll have to wait a while longer for more definitive answers regarding the science of ASMR, but for those who experience it, the sensations it provides are proof enough that it is both real and relaxing.
Do ASMR videos make money?
All content is able to be monetized, and something as popular as ASMR is no exception.
According to Dexerto, the top-earning ASMR creator on YouTube, Jane ASMR, makes over $500k per month. Other high-earners in the field are making in the millions.
But you don’t have to be among the top creators to make good money from ASMR videos. You just have to find the right audience, have a good branding strategy, and make consistent, quality videos. For more ideas on how to get paid for your videos, check out our guide for making money as a content creator.
Types of ASMR videos
When you think of ASMR, you probably think of sound first and foremost. Those are the most well-known types of ASMR videos, centered around whispering or tapping or other gentle noises, but they certainly aren’t the only ones.
1) Talking — Yes, whisper videos are popular among ASMR enthusiasts, but speaking in a low voice, reading books aloud, or even just saying certain types of words can also produce the desired response in viewers.
2) Texture — Exploring the sounds made by certain textures is also a popular category of ASMR, usually accompanied by a corresponding visual for those who prefer more than just audio. Crinkling and scratching are two common examples of this.
3) Food — ASMR food videos can refer to listening to someone eat specific types of foods (crunching vegetables, slurping soup, or just plain old chewing), but also to anything from the sizzle of oil in a pan to a knife chopping up meat.
4) Roleplay/Personal Attention — Roleplay and personal attention ASMR often go hand-in-hand, with the creator setting up and running through scenarios that make the viewer feel cared for.
5) Visual — While ASMR videos generally have a visual component, some focus almost entirely on visual stimuli rather than auditory ones, such as the flicker of a candle in a dark room.
6) Tactile — Tactile ASMR is all about physical touch. While that can’t be replicated over video, for some people, watching tactile ASMR (like someone running fingers through their hair) play out on screen evokes a memory or sensation close enough to it that it triggers a similar response.
What are some popular ASMR triggers?
While any number of things can trigger ASMR for an individual, there are some stimuli that are more commonly appreciated among ASMR enthusiasts than others.
- playing with slime
- water dripping
- eye contact
- light patterns
- mixing paint
- brushing hair
Any of these proven triggers would be a great place to start on your own journey to creating ASMR videos, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box either.
How to make ASMR videos [Step-by-step guide]
Now that we’ve dived into what all ASMR entails and what some of the more popular topics are, it’s time to discuss how to actually make these videos.
Pick a topic
It’s best to pick a trigger that resonates with you when you’re first getting started in ASMR. Having an emotional connection to what you’re making will allow your intuition to help guide you in creating the type of content you would want to see yourself.
If you aren’t sure where to start, revisit the list above of popular triggers, go down the YouTube ASMR rabbit hole, or just sit quietly and reflect on the sounds, visuals, or other experiences that give you that tingly feeling all ASMR enthusiasts are chasing after.
Plan your video
Some ASMR videos can be done somewhat on the fly, while others may need more prep. For example, if you are doing a roleplay ASMR, you may want to come up with either a script or a basic outline as to how you want things to go beforehand. But even if you are starting with something more simple, like scratching different surfaces, you may want to decide in advance how you want to film that visually, whether you want to change up sound patterns along the way, or even roughly how long you would like the video to be, as ASMR videos can get quite long. You can adjust a lot of things in editing, but it never hurts to go into things with a plan.
Gather your equipment
You can make ASMR videos with nothing more than a smartphone if that’s what you have to work with. If you’re looking to upgrade to better, dedicated equipment, you’ll want to start with a camera and an ideal ASMR microphone, such as the Sony ZV-1 and the Blue Yeti, and go from there.
Check out our list of everything you need to make ASMR videos for gear recommendations and suggestions for accessories you may not have thought about. (And don’t forget to double-check that everything is working before you jump into recording!)
Prepare your recording space
Most likely, you’ll be recording your videos in an apartment or house, both of which are subject to all sorts of ambient noise you may not even register anymore. You’ll want to find the place in your home that gives you the most control over that — far away from a busy street, a dripping faucet, a noisy refrigerator, or any roommates that might be bustling around in their own rooms. Some people even set up recording spaces in their closets, so don’t be afraid to get creative.
Once you’ve chosen your space, do what you can to block out any existing or potential noise. Hanging up sound blankets will help with thin walls or windows, and putting down rugs will help stop any sound from bouncing off hardwood floors.
It can also be a good idea to plug in your microphone and listen through a good set of headphones to see if there are any noises you aren’t picking up on until they’re emphasized on the recording, like a ceiling fan or someone watching TV in another room. You likely won’t be able to shut out all the noise, but anything you can get rid of before you start to record will save you effort later during editing.
If the visual component of your video is particularly important, such as if you are engaging in roleplay ASMR set at a bookstore, you’ll obviously need to set up your space for this as well. Position your camera early on so that you know exactly what your frame is and can dress your set accordingly.
Record your video
Now it’s time to actually make your video! Remember that most people seek out ASMR for relaxation, so stay calm and relaxed as you record. Speak or move slowly and be conscious of any noises you might be making just by moving around. While some creators opt to do their ASMR videos all in one take, don’t feel confined by that. If you need to edit pieces out, that’s perfectly fine, and editing can help make the sound transitions come together smoothly. And even if you go into recording with a plan, don’t be afraid to try something unexpected out if you feel so inspired — you can always take it out later.
Check your footage
Watch and listen to your footage (with headphones) before moving on, so you know right away if there’s anything you need to re-record.
How to edit ASMR videos
Once you’re sure you’ve gotten everything you need in terms of audio and video, it’s time to move on to editing. If you recorded in one long take, you may be tempted to skip this step, but there are always improvements to be made in editing.
Choose your editing software
If you have an Apple computer and just want to get started without investing more money, iMovie will handle most basic edits. For something with more capability, try Adobe Premiere Elements for beginners or Adobe Premiere Pro if you already have some experience editing. You can also check out DaVinci Resolve, which offers both a free version and a paid upgrade.
While most video editors have some sound editing capabilities, getting comfortable with using dedicated audio editing software will ultimately only serve to improve the quality of your ASMR videos. For that, GarageBand (for Mac users) or Audacity are good free options, while Avid Pro Tools is a powerful professional upgrade.
Import your files
It’s a good idea to get in the habit of storing your video and audio files on an external hard drive, such as the WD 2TB Elements Portable drive. Connect your phone or camera to your computer or plug in your memory card, and transfer the files over. From there, you can import them following the instructions from your editing software of choice, which usually just requires a simple push of a button.
Line up your clips
Now that all your media is available in your editing software, you have to choose which clips you are going to use. Assemble the video clips in the timeline to make a rough cut of your edit. Things will go more smoothly if you do that first before you start playing around with trimming different parts or adding special effects to individual clips.
Edit your video
By now, you’ve probably watched other ASMR videos similar to the one you are making yourself. Hopefully, you paid attention to how they were paced, how they did transitions between shots, whether they cut away to close-ups or other angles, and any other techniques that can help you in your own edit. Don’t worry about emulating someone else’s style, or making a particularly intricate edit right away, but thinking about what other people have done can help, especially if you get stuck or something doesn’t feel right to you in your edit.
Mostly, this step will just be made up of splitting, shortening, and combining clips to make a cohesive video. You can also play around with color correction to enhance your visuals, especially if you opted to include DaVinci Resolve somewhere in your editing workflow.
Edit your audio
Assuming audio plays an important role in your ASMR video, take your time on this part of the edit. Listen for any ambient sounds that interrupt your audio and do your best to isolate and remove them from the track. You may also have to play around with fixing pops and hisses that can’t be isolated and removed. Fortunately, many audio editors come with intuitive presets that help with this, although playing around with their settings will often get you the best results.
Enhance your video
Most experienced content creators include a title card and an end card on their videos to let viewers know what and who they are about to watch and to provide suggestions of other videos on their channel to watch next. It’s good to get in the habit of doing this even from the first video so that your content has a professional, uniform look to it that viewers can come to associate with your brand.
Export your video
Now that your video is done, you have to export the whole thing into a single video file to upload to YouTube. The specifics of this will depend on your video editing software, but generally, you will want to export to .mp4 (sometimes referred to as H.264 format), with a frame size of at least 1280 x 720.
Optional: Edit for different platforms
If you are planning to utilize social media like Instagram or TikTok to draw viewers to your YouTube channel, you may also want to edit bite-sized videos tailored specifically to those platforms to get potential viewers interested in checking out the full-length video. Don’t forget to tag those shorter clips with your YouTube channel information so people know where to go.
Now that your ASMR video is recorded and edited, it’s time to upload it to your YouTube channel! But even after that, you’re not finished just yet. For more information on how to build an audience and explore avenues for making money with your ASMR videos, check out our guide for content creators.