Are you ready to start vlogging on YouTube? Starting and maintaining a YouTube channel can be both fun and profitable, and it doesn’t have to take over your entire life, either.
If you want to create quality YouTube vlogs and build an audience of engaged viewers, you’ll just need to do a little bit of planning, practicing, and marketing. If you follow these tips and techniques, you’ll be on your way to vlogging success.
1. Planning Your YouTube Channel
Before you pick up your vlogging camera and upload videos to your new YouTube channel for the first time, you need to sit down with a pen and paper and do some brainstorming and planning. Ask yourself a few questions and be as detailed as you can with the answers.
Why Are You Vlogging?
Your reason for vlogging is going to have a huge impact on how you continue. Do you want to make this your career? Are you just sharing some fun tips and tricks with friends (all over the world)?
If your goal is to be a professional vlogger, think about how much time you can devote to your YouTube channel on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis right now. This will largely determine what you can do with your vlogging channel as of this moment.
If you’re vlogging because you have some extra time on your hands, and you’d like to try a new hobby, you probably don’t have any set goals for your vlogs yet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t build a following and make your YouTube channel a real success. Think about this as you move on to the next questions, and don’t hesitate to come back and add more to your answer.
What Is Your Industry or Niche?
What are you going to vlog about on YouTube? Choosing an industry or niche helps you focus your content on the topics you’re most passionate about. If you aren’t passionate about a subject, don’t vlog about it. Your passion will drive you to continue vlogging, even when you’re low on ideas.
Vlogging about a topic you don’t care about, even if it’s the latest trend, is a great way to set yourself up for a loss of motivation to work on your channel. If your vlog channel feels like a chore now, it will quickly become one later, and you’ll have trouble keeping up with the things you need to do to keep it going.
Identifying your industry or niche now and choosing one that you care a great deal about is the first step to creating a successful and sustainable YouTube channel. And it will help a great deal when it comes time to branding your content and building your audience, too.
Who is Your Audience on YouTube?
On that note, who are you talking to when you’re vlogging? For example, beauty vloggers’ audiences are usually women and girls interested in fun and helpful tutorials on makeup and hairstyling tips.
Describe your ideal viewer, and you’ll have a good idea of your audience for your YouTube channel.
Sit down and brainstorm a description of your ideal viewer. Get as specific as you can, and keep this list along with your other planning notes. You can add to it and refer back to it whenever you need to think about new topics or when you’re making branding decisions about your channel.
What are Your Short-Term and Long-Term Vlogging Goals?
Where do you want to be with your channel in two months after you start vlogging on YouTube? What about six months? What kind of success would you like to see in the first year and then 2-3 years from now? Write it all down, and it will help you get a good plan together for developing your channel.
2. Choose a Good YouTube Name
Keep all of that brainstorming and planning handy. You’ll want to refer to it in the future whenever you’re making decisions about vlog topics, collaborations, and other moves for your YouTube channel. For now, though, let’s talk about your YouTube name.
Choose a unique name for your YouTube channel that stands out and incorporates something about your niche or industry at the same time. For example, if you’re planning a vlog about DIY bicycle repair and maintenance, you could call it “Brake Time with [Your Name]”.
Take some time and come up with a great name for your YouTube channel. This can be a tricky process, so have some patience with yourself. Brainstorm the topics you’re most passionate about, the catchphrases you use the most, and your personality.
Think of fun plays on words that you can make involving your industry or niche. Then, when you’ve come up with a few ideas, search for them on Google and make sure that no one has already claimed them. If your idea for a name is already taken, go back to the drawing board. Don’t worry if this takes some time; the process is worth it in the long run.
3. Practicing How to Vlog
Next, there’s a certain style and art form to vlogging that a lot of first-time vloggers (and even some veterans) have difficulty with. Before you actually film yourself and upload it to YouTube, try these practice techniques to hone your skills.
Don’t feel rushed to get your first video uploaded to YouTube immediately. Remember, you’re building a high-quality vlogging channel, and that means putting in a little bit of front-end work. You don’t have to take forever in the practice phase. In fact, you can get started making vlogs and uploading them pretty quickly, but you want to make sure that each and every video on your YouTube channel is presentable, watchable, fun, and informative, from the very beginning.
Practice in Front of a Mirror
First, don’t even pick the camera up yet. Just sit down (or stand) in front of a mirror and start talking. Pretend that the mirror is the camera, and go through a practice run of your first YouTube vlog. As you watch yourself, you’ll notice things that you can improve for the real deal. Practice your whole script a couple of times (if you have one), and then practice the parts that seem awkward or uncomfortable a few more times. After several practice runs you should start feeling more and more comfortable and confident.
Film “Test” Vlog Footage
Next, do the same thing but switch to using your vlogging camera. Film some “test” footage of yourself, and you’ll see which angles work the best, whether you need to improve lighting or sound, and if you need to speak more clearly, too. You can even try your hand at editing some of your test footage to get an idea of how that process works, too.
Practice Speaking Into the Lens
A lot of new vloggers will look away from the camera or will look down at the viewing screen if they have a front-facing camera. This looks really awkward on screen, so you’ll want to break this habit before it even forms. Practice speaking into the lens while you’re standing or sitting still, and do the same while carrying the camera in your hand and filming yourself as you move, too.
This will help you get more comfortable with choosing the right angles and movement as you vlog. You can also practice while keeping your camera off as you speak to the lens and get comfortable moving around with your camera. This is a great way to work on those vlogging fundamentals.
4. Filming Vlogs for Your YouTube Channel
Now that you’ve practiced what you’ll do in front of the camera and how you can best film yourself, whether you’re sitting down in one place or moving about and filming yourself, it’s time to start creating your vlogs. Let’s discuss a little bit about the camera and equipment you should be using and how to use them most effectively to create a professional and crisp look for all of your YouTube vlogs.
A Vlogging Camera with Good Video Quality
First of all, you really do need to find a good digital camera with up-to-par video quality. YouTube has had HD capabilities for several years now. And, thanks to smart TV technology, more and more people are watching YouTube videos on their large-screen HD TVs. That means, if you want to really build a following, you need to cater to people who watch videos on all sizes of screens.
Your viewers aren’t going to stick around for low-quality YouTube videos that are hard to watch.
Fortunately, though, HD digital cameras like the Canon Powershot series start as low as $100-150. As you pay more, you get more definition, higher quality audio, and other features. With the right microphone and lighting setup, though, you can get great footage without spending a ton of money on your camera.
Audio is Important
Speaking of audio, it’s just as important as video quality. If your audience can’t hear and understand what you’re saying, they’re going to go somewhere else to get similar information and/or entertainment. If you make too many YouTube videos with poor sound quality, people will tend to avoid your videos, even when you pop up on search results.
You can avoid this, though, by ensuring that you get a camera with a quality microphone or one with a microphone input. When you get your vlogging camera, be sure to practice with it and take some test footage to test sound quality on your videos.
Generally speaking, if you are filming in a studio or quiet room most or all of the time, you can probably rely on a good in-camera microphone. If you’re out in the field or there is a lot of background noise where you’re filming, an external directional microphone is the way to go. Your test footage will tell you which direction is best for your YouTube vlogs.
Video Lighting Enhances Quality
Now, let’s talk about your lighting. You don’t have to invest in a professional lighting setup. If you can’t film your YouTube videos during the beautiful, natural light of the day, then you may be able to create great lighting effects with nothing more than a couple of lamps and some white poster board.
Try lighting up an entire room while also having light pointing towards yourself from different angles. Lighting is one of the most important factors for creating high quality YouTube vlogs. If you have good lighting in your vlogs, it makes a big difference in a good way!
Experiment with poster board reflectors, lampshades, and light placement until you get a clear, bright lighting setup that’s flattering and professional.
5. Editing Your YouTube Videos
Most vlogs on YouTube need editing. If you’re giving a tutorial on baking a cake, you won’t film the entire baking process. If you’re vlogging about smartphone reviews, you’ll want to add in some images of the smartphones you’re talking about. Even if you’re just editing in your channel logo at the beginning or end of your videos, you’re going to need to get somewhat familiar with video editing.
As you start playing with editing software, you’ll find that you have a lot of options for transitions between scenes or takes. Intricate transitions with swirls, slow fades, or random colors can be distracting to viewers at times. Simple transitions like straight cuts are almost always the most popular and best option.
With this in mind, try out a few of the free video editing software available to you, but don’t feel pressured to choose one over another simply because more people like and use it. Play with a few and find one that you feel comfortable using. If your editing software seems natural and intuitive to you, you’re going to have a much easier time learning all of its ins and outs and how to create great YouTube videos with it. Once you’ve got the hang of things, you can upgrade your editing program or go with a premium paid software for more features.
The faster you can get used to and comfortable with your editing software, the faster you’ll be able to edit future vlogs. When you can cut down on production time, you may be able to increase your output. Even if you don’t intend on putting out more than a vlog a week, this will help streamline the process and give you more time for creative work and channel marketing.
If you’re feeling lost as to how to edit your YouTube vlogs, take a look at some similar vlogs and how they’re edited.
Whenever you’re not sure about how to achieve a particular effect, search for a “How to” video on YouTube or Google for that particular video editing trick.
Another thing to consider when editing your vlogs is in-video music or beats. Adding background music to YouTube videos is something that many vloggers do because it can enhance presentation. Choose a beat that goes well with the theme of your vlogging channel and is not distracting. It should not be louder than your voice, though. Go with something that you believe will give a lift to your videos and blends well with your content.
Most importantly, do not use copyrighted content or music in your vlogs. Make sure you have permission to use the material you’re interested in. Thankfully, YouTube has a great resource for royalty-free music and sound effects with their audio library.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with editing your YouTube videos. Once you’ve played with a few different techniques, take a break and then come back and watch your video with a fresh eye for what works and what doesn’t. Ask friends to look at two different takes and see which one works the best. Good video editing is essential for vlogging channels on YouTube.
6. Branding Your YouTube Channel
Now that you have the tools necessary to start vlogging on YouTube and create great vlogs with high quality video, audio, and editing, it’s time to talk about how you’re going to start branding your YouTube channel.
As important as creating quality, compelling content is, it won’t matter how great your vlogs are if no one ever sees them. Fortunately, though, with a little bit of work on branding and online marketing, you can start spreading word about your vlogging channel.
Create Social Media Pages
To start with, you absolutely must get active on social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google+ are your best friends when it comes to advertising and marketing your YouTube videos and your channel. Create a profile for your vlogs on each of these platforms, and start posting.
As you do this, though, take the time to understand the best practices for each social network. On Facebook, for example, you should only post at about twice per day. It will prevent you from filling up peoples news feeds. On Twitter, however, you can post all day long, and your followers won’t be annoyed from multiple posts. Tailor your posts to each platform.
Be sure to read our posts on how you can use social media marketing your vlogging channel:
Create a Logo for Your YouTube Channel
Each of your social media presences is going to need a profile picture, and you’re probably wondering what to choose, right? This is actually an easy one when you have a memorable logo for your YouTube channel. Creating a logo is potentially the most important part of branding your channel and your vlogs. With a good logo you can make all of your social media and other web presences instantly recognizable as yours.
You can also add your channel logo to the beginning and end of your YouTube videos. This will increase brand recognition and will ensure that viewers see your name and brand even when they watch your videos through someone else’s Facebook page or tweet. Remember, not all of your viewers will be going to YouTube to see your vlogs, so you have to do some in-video branding to increase brand recognition and awareness.
YouTube Channel Profile Picture and Channel Art
If someone sees one of your vlogs on Facebook, Twitter, or Google+, and they click through to your YouTube channel, what will they see? They should see your logo as your profile picture, and they should see a branded image as your channel art (your background image). This will further cement your brand to viewers, and they’ll be more likely to recognize you and your videos again in the future.
7. Branding Your YouTube Videos
You can even add branding to your videos themselves. As we mentioned earlier, you can add your logo to the beginning and end of your videos (or displayed during the entire video), but that’s not all. In addition to a branded intro (and outro if you want) on every vlog, you should also add links to your social media pages and other web presences in the first few lines of your video descriptions. This makes sure that new viewers can see where they can get regular updates and extras from you between vlogs.
You can also include branding in your YouTube videos with props or a branded background. Print on demand sites like CafePress, District Lines, and Spreadshirt give you the ability to design your own T-shirts, mugs, posters, banners, and other pieces of merchandise. Take a look through the options for branded products in their online stores and come up with something fun and creative for your YouTube channel.
For example, you could have your own branded coffee mug on the table next to you as you talk about the latest foodie trends. You could also hang a poster or banner with your logo on it to create a branded background for your vlogs.
As your YouTube channel takes off, you could even sell some of the branded items you feature in your videos. A lot of the sites that let you print your own custom merchandise also have tools in place to let you set up your own e-commerce store that you can link to from your YouTube channel and social media. See how branding can really get your YouTube channel off the ground and can even help you start monetizing your video content?
8. Building a Community for Your Vlogs
You need to get involved with your viewers and build a community around your YouTube channel and your vlogs. By showing your audience that you care about what they have to say and that you see them as more than just “subscribers” and “views”, you’ll see more people subscribing to and engaging with your vlogs.
Start by getting involved with the comments on your YouTube videos. You’ll find that a lot of commenters have questions for you. Think of each of your vlogs as the opening of a conversation. Then, when your viewers continue the conversation in the comments, jump right in and join the discussion.
You can also give the conversation a kick-start if no one’s commenting. After you upload a vlog to YouTube, post a question for viewers. You could say something like, “What do you think of this technique? Do you have any tips you’d add or things you’d change?” Then, once people start answering, keep it going with more questions and answers.
Using Social Media Effectively
On all of your social media platforms, be sure to do more than just post links to your YouTube videos. Instagram is a great place to post behind-the-scenes pictures and teaser stills for upcoming vlogs. On Facebook, you can post a poll asking your viewers which topics they’d like you to discuss next. And, of course, you should always get involved and interact with your followers in the comments.
In addition to your Facebook fan page and other social media presences for your vlogging channel, you can also start a Facebook group and/or a Google+ community and invite viewers to get involved in discussions about topics related to your channel’s industry or niche. This is a great way to create space for discussion and interaction focused on common interests, and it lets you give your audience the reins to direct the conversation.
You can even create a scheduled Twitter chat where everyone tweets back and forth using the same hashtag for a designated period of time. And if you want to add a little more life to your chat, you can even schedule a Google Hangouts video chat with your fans, too.
Shout-Outs and Mentions
Finally, you can make individual viewers feel appreciated and boost engagement at the same time by including shout-outs and mentions in your YouTube videos. You can do this by featuring a “Comment of the Week” at the end of each of your videos and by personally shouting out and/or thanking specific supporters and fans when they make contributions to your vlogging community.
When you show appreciation and gratitude to your fans, you’ll not only give them that special feeling of appreciation but they’ll also be inspired to do more. You’ll see more quality comments and conversations and more engagement as you show your audience that you care.
Overall, the more you personally engage with them, the more your followers and viewers will feel like they’re part of a caring community. They’ll feel more connected to you and more excited about your vlogs, too. You’ll see more subscriptions, more shares, and more likes as you continue to grow your YouTube community.
A Few Vlogging Tips
So, now that you’re ready to start vlogging on YouTube, let’s go over a few tips that every vlogger should follow. If you keep these in mind every time you hit “Record” on your camera, you’ll be ahead of the game.
Look into the Lens When Speaking
When you film yourself, pretend that you’re talking to an old friend. Look at the camera lens as if you’re looking into your friend’s eyes. This will increase your engagement with your viewers in each video, and it avoids a lot of awkward shots and filming errors.
Film Extra Vlog Footage
When in doubt, vlog it. For example, you may not show yourself curling every lock of your hair in a beauty vlog, but if you don’t film it, you won’t be able to edit and show time-lapse footage of the process.
If you’re uncertain of one angle, do another take from a different angle and see which one you like better or if you want to go back and forth between them for the final product.
Also, it’s good to have more than less. You won’t know how good the footage will be until you start editing. By having extra vlog footage, you’ll be prepared for any edits or unexpected turnouts.
It’s Okay if You Mess Up
On that note, don’t be afraid to mess up. Just take a breath and start over or pick up from where you were before you missed a line or made a mistake. That’s what editing is for!
Find Your “Vlog Speaking” Voice
Practice speaking clearly and slowly with your vlogging camera. You’ll notice that it’s much different trying to speak while engaging with a camera lens when you first start vlogging. Don’t worry, practice makes perfect! Record yourself speaking at your normal rate and then record yourself speaking at a slightly slower rate and with more emphasis. Listen to the difference and practice using your best speaking voice on camera.
Have Fun and Let Your Personality Shine
Remember, your viewers have thousands (and sometimes millions) of choices for videos on fitness advice, cooking tips, styling their hair, or movie reviews. Your personality will set you apart and make your vlogs stand out.
Create a Vlogging Schedule and Make it Known
And, last but certainly not least, consistency is key in the world of vlogging. Set up a schedule for your vlogs and make sure that your audience knows it. Post it in your YouTube profile and in all of your profiles on social media. Include it in your outro. Just saying, “Look for a new video every Wednesday morning!” will get this schedule in your viewers’ thoughts and increase your return viewership.
The hardest part of creating something you’re proud of is waiting for other people to notice it. It takes time to grow on YouTube, so it’s important to have patience.
While creating YouTube videos is hard work, it’s very enjoyable. You should create vlogs because you like to do so. Not because you desire to become famous or rich. If you decide to make videos because you like them, then you’re setting yourself up in the right direction.
We definitely hope you now have everything you need to know to start vlogging on YouTube. Follow these tips and techniques, and you’ll be on your way to vlogging success!
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