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What is a Vlog? The Ultimate Guide to Vlogging

What is a vlog and what is a vlogger?

A vlog is simply a site or channel where someone posts videos that express their point of view or experiences or promotes a product or point of view. The term vlog is a combination of the words “video” and “log,” so – a video log. And the peeps that create vlogs are “vloggers.” Vlogs are no more than blogs that use a video format or a video blog!

Vlogging is an extremely popular format in social media and digital entertainment, with YouTube being the most popular video sharing site. YouTube is one of the top most-visited sites on the internet and a massive platform for vloggers to present their videos.  

Vloggers create huge social communities and bring together people of common interests and goals. A vlogger may promote a point of view, a product, cause, or service or designed to entertain or educate. The vlogger’s goal is to connect with the audience, build and influence a “tribe” of committed fans, and share their insights, ideas, and experiences with them. 

Vlog content is personalized for a specific audience and they are often filmed with handheld point and shoot cameras or an advanced phone but may involve more elaborate production. Bloggers manage their channels as a blogger would a blog site, and most often monetize their following and traffic. 

Vlogs can be about anything!  

video

Vlog content is as varied as blog content. If you’re thinking about starting a vlog, you probably know what you’ll focus on. If you’re not there yet, there are online tools to help you research topics. 

Your vlog content is going to be driven by your motivation to vlog.

  • Is your goal to entertain and share your insights, point of view, and experience?
  • Are you sharing information like product reviews or promoting a cause that is important to you?
  • Is your goal to educate your target audience with “how-to “info or tutorials on your topic, demonstrations, or interviews to help people figure out how to do something like cooking a perfect keto dinner or building an Ikea desk?

What a vlog can’t be:

CAUTION: A vlog can’t be illegal, insulting, hateful, nudity, or sexual content harmful or dangerous or in violation of copyrights.

How to start a vlog

Here are some things you need to know to get your vlog started, from picking your platform and niche, creating a YouTube channel, publishing videos, and getting ready to monetize.

  • Pick your platform

YouTube is the top video platform on the web. It is Google-owned and provides access to a vast global audience. YouTube is the second most visited video channel globally, with over 2 billion users monthly and the second most-used search engine, right after Google.

  • Create your YouTube channel. 
    • Log into YouTube and access “Your channel list” where you’ll click on “Create a new channel.” You’ll need to verify our account by entering your phone number and confirming the code they’ll send you. Bam! Your YouTube channel is live. 
      • You can customize your channel to make the look match your branding, tone, or personality by clicking on “Customize Channel.” There you can add imagery, descriptions, a trailer, icon, or other links.
      • “Channel Settings” lets you pre-approve viewer comments before publication, which is recommended for a beginner. 
      • You can integrate your channel with Google Analytics and AdWords or hide your subscriber count (again – not a bad idea for a beginner).
      • A good tip – you can customize your YouTube URL to youtube.com/yourname once you have 100 plus subscribers, or your site is 30 days old and has uploaded art and icon. 
      • You can choose to upload a video or go live! 
      • Your viewer comments and stats will all live on your Channel Dashboard. It’s a good idea to learn what’s in there. 
    • You are ready to go! But you may want to lock in your domain name too and build out a simple site. That’s a separate topic! Stay tuned. 
    • The next step is to get the equipment you’ll need to create your videos.

What equipment is needed to start a vlog?

Many bloggers start with the bare minimum of a decent phone camera and an idea. Here is a look at some of the other decisions you’ll need to make as your vlog grows. 

  • Camera,
  • Microphones
  • Lighting

There is a long list of equipment you could buy to get started. But that is NOT necessary. Get your feet wet with a video made right on your iPhone or Android. Most recent phone cameras have decent technology, which is a great way to try out the video platform if you haven’t been working with it. 

Find a private and quiet spot and shoot away! Maybe you’re a natural, or perhaps you need a little polish. No shade! Practice with a script, or with a screen capture video if that’s something you expect to do to get more comfortable. 

Here are some products to think about if you’re a little more experienced with videos and want to upgrade your equipment.

Cameras

The main qualities you need in a camera will depend on what you are shooting. Cameras come in lots of sizes and price points. A

Are you shooting in a studio? 

Will you be doing outdoor shoots, moving shoots? 

You get the idea.

Overall, mirrorless cameras are recommended for vloggers, but you can also get good footage with a DSLR, a compact camera, or a phone. Some features to consider are external mike port, 4K video, an articulating screen, and the ability to produce high-quality stills.  

Take some time to list out the types of videos you expect to produce and then shop your new phone. Meanwhile, use your phone video to get an understanding of the features you might need. Pricing can run for a couple of hundred dollars to thousands. 

Microphones

Audio quality is critical to making an engaging and high-quality video. Your in-camera microphone is probably not going to get you the quality or flexibility you need. You’ll need to suppress background noise and manage what your audience hears. Top vloggers use a variety of mikes. 

Wireless microphones are excellent for providing a hassle-free solution. They often come with a lavalier microphone that can clip onto clothing. Another option is a shotgun microphone mounted on your camera or a rig beside the camera. It is directional, so it records from wherever you point it. This is an excellent option if pinning a microphone to your subject is out of the question. Good audio will make a tremendous impact on your video.

Lighting 

Lighting is another critical aspect of creating professional videos. Your viewers won’t stick with you if they have to squint to follow your video. Natural light is always great, but it is not always an option. Your home lighting is probably not going to work. 

Some options to consider:

  • Softbox lights, which will direct the light where you want it and avoid shadows. 
  • Umbrella lights provide a broader light source and can light the entire scene.  
  • Ring lights are great to keep the video’s subject perfectly lit and may be best for you if you are on-camera for most of your videos. 

Do your homework and understand features like beam spread, light stand height, portability reflectors, and diffusers before you buy. Lights can range from less than a hundred dollars to a few hundred. 

Editing Your Video – What will you need?

Unless you are live streaming, you may want to edit your video.

There are tons of simple video shooting and video editing apps for your phone or your desktop. 

Here are a couple of popular options:

  • Some top video editing tools are Window’s MovieMaker and Mac’s iMovie.
  • An excellent FREE live-streaming app is OBS Project. 
  • Kap is a great screen recording solution.
  • To edit lots of footage, use Shred Video, which is excellent for beginners. 
  • Filmic Pro is a video camera for your iPhone or Android that will give you more shooting options.
  • Videoleap and ProCam will also help you make the most of shooting on your iPhone.

Pro Tip

Check out Mixkit for a ton of HD videos that you can use for FREE.

And now for the sound

There are numerous royalty-free sources of music and sound effects.

Check them out and follow their tutorials.

  • YouTube offers free music and sound effects audio library.
  • Others to check out: SoundCloud Search, Jukedeck, or Audionautix. 

Pro Tip – It’s essential to use royalty-free music as YouTube uses ContentID, which means copyright owners can monitor anything uploaded for their protected material. You could get de-monetized, or get a copyright strike. 

And now – Action! Tips for making your first vlog

The appeal of video format is that people hear and see you, allowing you to connect in a super-personal way. Make the most of that. Keep these vlogging tips in mind as you start creating your video content.

  • Keep it personal by looking right into the camera (and at your peeps!)
  • Make your tone consistent with your material and brand, but be friendly. 
  • Talk directly to the viewer, using the word “you” and asking questions. Leave space to “hear” your viewers. 

Your video’s structure is important too!

  • Create your hook – How many times have you tuned out a movie after the first few seconds? Don’t let that happen to you. Create a compelling hook and get right to it in the first few seconds. Show your audience what’s in it for them, and why they shouldn’t bail on you. 

Like your high school speech teacher told you – “Know your audience!”

  • There is a keyword tool available for YouTube. Check out Keyword Tool for YouTube to see what’s already out there on your topic, and what your audience is searching for. Assuming you know these answers can cost you lots of wasted time. 

Stay current! Make sure you know what videos are trending and are popular with our audience.

  • Tools like YouTube, trending videos, and YouTube search trends will help you stay relevant and cutting edge! 
  • Drill down on the most popular articles and see why people are watching them.

A few final tips

  • Be sure you have chosen your niche carefully. 
    • Does anyone care? 
    • Are you passionate and knowledgeable about it to vlog about it for years?
    • It is too saturated or do you bring a new perspective?
  • Be consistent. To maintain an audience, you must consistently feed them with entertaining, informative, and well-expressed content.
  • Don’t look like a hack! The more professional your video looks, the better. This means you may need to invest in a good camera at some point.
    • Pay careful attention to your lighting and your audio. 
  • Your audio needs to be super-clear. Invest in a decent microphone. Add music to give your videos an additional impact. 
  • Practice your editing and make use of titles and thumbnails. 

Now it’s all up to you.

YouTube can help you drive traffic, build your brand, create leads, and generate revenue. 

Let your personality and content shine, step into optimizing, monetizing, and building your following of raving fans.

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