Vlogging has exploded recently, thanks to lockdowns and technology. Here’s how to get yours rolling.
Video blogging, or vlogging, got its start in the early 2000s. It arguably started with Adam Kontras posting a video with his blog, talking about his attempts to get into show business. Other people started up on the Internet in various formats, but it wasn’t until YouTube started up in 2005 that vlogging really kicked off. It remains as the primary video form of YouTube, and vlogs are still mostly posted on YouTube.
Vlogging is certainly accessible to most people, though there are still plenty of hidden costs, the equipment being the biggest. But even if you’ve just got a phone and an idea, you can get started and take off. Just look at TikTok stars.
There’s no doubt about it, vlogging is a serious business. It can generate a lot of income, but it’s hugely competitive. I’ll be brutally honest here: If you’re not in it to win it, then don’t expect to win it. And even if you are, you probably won’t. It takes a lot of time, dedication, skill, timing, and luck to end up on the top.
Many that you see on top today are mostly there because of the last two parts. They started when YouTube started, and just kept going. Nowadays, because there’s so much competition and an already established set of vloggers, it’s more difficult to break into popularity. But it’s not impossible, you just have to know what you’re doing.
If you’re planning on starting a vlog, then follow these 8 points of advice and start with one leg up in the race.
Define your purpose – business or pleasure?
This should be your first consideration. If you’re only looking at doing vlogging as a hobby, practice some skills, or to let off some steam or as a pastime during pandemic lockdowns, then you don’t need to be at the top of any game. You just need to get a decent set up and get started.
If you’re doing it for business, then you need a plan, skills and investment. Of course, you can use a vlog to build those skills, and then fire up a new one once you feel you’re ready. There are no rules here. You also need to have fun doing this, because the chances of a breakout, million dollar success are stacked against you. But you can have a lot of fun and make a decent second income.
Before you start a vlog, you need to be honest with yourself on this. It will save you a lot of money in the long run.
Define your genre
There are a number of established genres these days. People like genres, because it lets someone generally know what to expect from a show. It also allows a vlogger to define a market, and know where they stand in it.
The genre or niche is important because it helps to define your show. It doesn’t have to be so rigid, but you do need to determine a primary subject. Is it a cooking show, a hunting show, a sword fighting show? After determining this, approach your channel as you would approach a channel on cable television:
If you finally found your favorite underwater basket weaving show, would you want it to start telling you how to build castles all of a sudden? Maybe you would, but probably not. Are you old enough to remember when MTV switched from showing music television to cartoons and edgy comroms? You’ve got to determine that from the beginning and be clear with your audience so you don’t leave a bad taste or become a meme for the wrong reasons in the years to come.
Choose something that you love and focus on that. You’ll learn new things, your enthusiasm will shine through, you’ll become part of a community of people with shared interests, and it’ll be easier to stick with it. Even if your vlog never breaks through, you’ll have these four amazing and important things going for you.
To give you some ideas:
- Fashion, Shopping, and Beauty – About all the latest, oldest, or even silliest trends going on today. This includes people with dressing tips, makeup tips, shopping tips, and you’ll often see crossover of these three genres.
- Gaming – Probably the first breakout genre, all about playing games, reviewing games and so on. The most successful vlogger of all time, PewDiePie, got his start by just filming his reactions to playing games and making fun of them.
- Travel – Undoubtedly hard to pull off in coronatimes, but there are lots of people looking to escape their homes and countries today. You can just take videos walking through streets, eating food, reviewing hotels, talking about modes of transit, and more. Not long ago, this genre provided people with lots of free hotel stays and meals, but for many hoteliers and restaurateurs, it became tiresome having people expecting free rides.
- Behind the scenes – Are you creating some sort of interesting production and wanting to show people how it’s done? Magicians, actors, cinematographers, directors, musicians, painters, and more can find a comfortable place with this genre.
- Photography/videography – From showing off your skills and improving them to teaching other people how it’s done.
- Unboxing and review – One of the first things I do before ordering an expensive product is to look people up who already bought them, opened them, and played with them to see their initial reactions. People in this genre often get lots of freebies – but not to start with.
- News – Do you have something to say about this or that president that you just have to unload? Or maybe you think you can do better journalism than what’s out there? That’s basically how Vice and Buzzfeed became serious news channels.
- Family – Are you a new mom and dad? Were you trying to do one of these other genres but your 1-year-old kept interfering? No worries, there’s a place for that.
- Lifestyle vlogs – If you don’t want to focus too much on one thing, this might be for you. It’s the format that got the Kardashians so big and why not you? It’s possibly one of the hardest ones to get a loyal following though, as YOU are the subject of interest and not anything that you’re discussing.
These genres, niches, styles, or whatever you want to call them are just rough outlines for you to get started. They often have a great deal of crossover that can stay focused. You can have a travel channel that does shopping for travel gear (a visit to REI or Bass Sports Pro anyone?), looks at travel games like Microsoft Flight Simulator, and talks about traveling with family. Notice how diverse the channel can be while staying on theme?
Be sure to watch other people too and ask yourself what you like about their show and what you don’t. Are there some good ideas you can pull from there? Are there some bad ideas you can avoid?
Also remember to be unique. Figure out how you can stand out from the crowd.
Get some equipment
This is where it gets expensive and you need to decide how far in the game you want to be. Are you just a hobbyist? Then maybe you can get by with a USB mic and webcamera. But if you want to be taken seriously, you need to be serious. Consult our blog about the equipment you’ll need to get started.
Choose your platform
In 2005, YouTube was basically your only option. But over the years, the marketplace has expanded. Don’t feel limited to just one. You can post to YouTube AND to Vimeo, and so on.
Other platforms besides YouTube:
- Facebook (and FB Live)
- Instagram (Stories, Live, Twitch)
- Twitter (if they’re very short)
For vlogs, like any business, branding is very important. Branding defines your vlog and allows viewers to psychologically know what to expect from you even before you open you mouth. Areas you need to be sure to explore and settle on are your colors, thumbnails, and even music. Create Music offers a great selection of royalty free stock music to choose from, with an editor on which you can easily prepare some unique sounds for your theme and production. Check out our guide on branding.
It’s time to set up all that equipment and start filming! You’ll want to be sure to create an outline and use it as a guide to go along with. Unless you’re a skilled actor, I’d highly suggest ditching any scripts you might have written. If you script it, it will sound scripted. The more natural you can go the better. Just glance at your outline to remember what’s coming next and keep going. You can always edit out any mistakes later.
Don’t worry about making mistakes while you film. Before posting, you should always edit out any mistakes that you’ve made. There are various editing tricks you can use to cover up mistakes, from just straight cutting to get a kind of choppy feel that’s popular these days, or by splicing in footage at the places where you mess up.
Choose an editor with a workflow that you enjoy. You can find two free options on our blog here.
Upload and keep going
Once you’ve edited your blog, upload it and spread the word. Don’t necessarily expect your friends to help and don’t be offended if they don’t, that’s just the nature of the game. You want to be consistent. Choose a frequency to post and stick to it. Choose a day to post and stick to it. That way people will know when to expect new material and they’ll come back for more. Make sure to follow our Instagram, Facebook, and/or Twitter keep up to date with our blog and discover more of our great stock music.