I will argue with alarming confidence (and with no actual data) that the kids of the 90s were the original vloggers.
When I was around 14 years old, someone gave me a digital camera that I talked to for hours. I would take my audience (AKA me) on my teenage adventures and say things like, “Hey guys, it’s Martina. Today my cousin and I are going to her friend’s house.” Exciting things. Fortunately, this footage never saw the light of day.
When YouTube first launched, people like me finally had a platform to share, entertain and teach stories about. But then vlogging evolved into what we know today: a sustainable source of income for influencers and an effective content marketing tool for brands.
How do you start vlogging? We’ll cover that and more here.
How to create a vlog
- Feel the competition and find your niche.
- Develop a content strategy.
- Invest in your equipment.
- Film and produce in batches.
- Optimize your vlog channel.
- Upload consistently.
- Analyze your metrics and optimize them.
1. Feel the competition and find your niche.
Before you can pull out your camera and start filming, there are a few strategies you need to develop. It starts with finding your niche.
This means you need to narrow down what your vlog covers based on your brand, audience, and demand.
Starting with your audience, does vlogging match your user personality? This is important because you want to meet your audience where they are. Imagine creating those high quality videos for YouTube, but your ideal client lives on Facebook and prefers short videos. In that case, you would have wasted time and resources. So start by reviewing your persona and making sure this company is a worthwhile investment.
Here are additional steps you should take to narrow down your niche:
- Confirm the demand for your content – Use tools like Google Trends and Google Keyword Planner to check interest in the type of content you are producing. This is a useful step in generating video ideas during the initial planning phase as well as later when the channel is live.
- Check Your Competition – How many brands are currently creating the content you want to produce? To get your answer, go to YouTube, enter your keywords in the search bar, and go through the videos on the results page. This shows you how saturated the market is and how difficult it is to stand out.
- Brainstorm your approach – Once you know who your competitors are, analyze their content and come up with a fresh, unique approach that will suit your audience.
2. Develop a content strategy.
After you’ve found your niche, the fun part comes next: content planning.
Just like with a blog or social media account, you’ll want to break down your content ideas. Start with broad clusters of topics and work your way up to specific videos. If you’re struggling, HubSpot’s Business Blogging course can be a great foundation for organizing your content.
From there, you can group your ideas into series that are great for vlogging channels. Think of these as segments on a TV show. They fall under the broader topic but only cover something specific. For example, let’s say Tasty wants to start a food vlog. There are several sub-series they could have including:
- Recipe series.
- Grocery shopping series.
- Cooking accessories series.
- Tasting series.
Social listening also helps you keep your ear to the ground and generate new ideas for content.
An additional level of planning is required with vlogging. Do you need props for filming? Do you need to be in a specific place? All of this requires forward planning to ensure that filming goes smoothly.
Once you know what topics you are going to cover, move on to the less specific areas. What will the aesthetics and style of your channel be? Is it light and airy or dark and moody? It is important that your vlog channel fits in with your overall brand. So get back to your brand identity and use that as a guide for designing your channel.
3. Invest in your equipment.
A successful vlog is not all about great content. It’s also about having the right equipment to produce high quality videos. Every video you produce requires:
- A camera that records subjects in focus.
- Clear and crisp audio.
- Lighting to match the brand’s aesthetics.
- A non-distracting background that supports the foreground.
If you are on a budget, here are a few key points to get you up and running:
- A ring light or a softbox for lighting.
- A Lav microphone for audio.
- A phone with a camera.
- A phone stand or tripod.
- A background if you want a blank background.
As your canal grows, you can invest in additional equipment.
4th Film and produce in batches.
One of the advantages of content scheduling is that you can film multiple vlogs at the same time. Batch shooting saves you hours of set-up and makes planning a breeze.
First, take a look at the content that you plan to film over the next few weeks. Then you will see which ones can be filmed together.
Keep in mind that not every series allows batch filming. For example, if some of your vlogs consist of behind-the-scenes footage, this strategy won’t work. Batch movie recordings are best for videos within the same series where the setting changes little or no change, e.g.
Once you know which ones to film, it’s just a matter of planning.
5. Optimize your vlog channel.
After you’ve filmed and edited your video, there is one more step you need to take before it can be published.
The first is a thumbnail. This is how viewers decide if they want to watch your video. You can just take a screengrab from your vlog and use that as a thumbnail. However, you will likely want to stand out with a custom thumbnail.
YouTube’s Creator Academy recommends the following specifications for your thumbnail image: 1280 x 720 pixels (16: 9 ratio) with a resolution of up to 2MB.
Next is your video title. This is key to keeping your audience interested and SEO. When writing a tip, keep the following tips in mind:
- Include your main keyword in your title.
- Keep your title under 70 characters.
- Use numbers and catchy words to grab attention. That means: “X ways to increase your brand awareness.”
Don’t forget your video tags and descriptions. Think of these as additional SEO ways to rank higher on searches and help audiences find your content.
6. Upload consistently.
Vlogging is a slow and steady endeavor that requires consistency. Yes, having quality content is important, but you can lose your audience if you don’t follow a regular posting schedule.
Think about your favorite TV shows. Isn’t it the worst if you are expecting a new episode but it doesn’t air because of a soccer game or holiday? This also applies to vlogging.
The audience expects consistency. If they don’t get it, they’re more likely to look for other brands.
7. Analyze your metrics and optimize them.
Once your channel is generating views and subscribers, you can analyze your metrics to check the performance of each video.
Key figures such as average viewing time and target group retention can give you an idea of whether your content is resonating with your target group. Re-Watches can help you identify interesting subtopics and develop more content-related ideas.
Impressions and click-through rate (CTR) show you how attractive your thumbnail and title are. If the rate is low, you may need to try different title strategies or use a different thumbnail template.
As with any business, it’s all about trial and error. Analyzing the performance of your vlogs will give you the data you need to grow your channel.
How to structure a vlog
- Get familiar with the vlogging style.
- Build from a three-act story approach.
- Encourage viewers to engage with your vlog.
- Vlog from your phone (if that’s your style).
1. Get familiar with the style of vlogging.
There are two main types of vlog styles:
- The documentary “talking head” in which the vlogger sits in front of a static camera and discusses a topic for educational and / or entertainment purposes. Brands often use this for how-to videos.
- The “come-with-me” style where the vlogger takes the audience to different places. If you’re showing off behind the scenes or on a day in the life this style is very popular.
If the video requires it, you can also combine these two styles into one video. You can also use the styles interchangeably from one video to the next.
One mistake brands can make is applying their approach to social media video and television to vlogging. Vlogging audiences tend to look for longer videos that delve into a specific topic in depth, as opposed to the short, virus-friendly content that is usually shown on TikTok or Instagram.
With audiences demanding more authenticity from brands, vlogs are a great opportunity to show off the faces behind your brand and connect with subscribers.
2. Build on a three-act story approach.
A vlog usually follows a similar storytelling format to a blog. When a viewer lands on your video, they expect an introduction to the subject followed by a deep dive. It then ends with a summary of what has been discussed and a call to action.
Following this simple structure will help you develop the content for each section of the video without deviating from course. Writing video scripts is another way to ensure that you are covering important points in your video.
Pro tip: Use a teleprompter app to deliver your script seamlessly without looking rehearsed.
3. Encourage viewers to engage with your vlog.
Comments, likes, and shares are some of the ways your audience can engage with you on your vlog channel. But how do you encourage this behavior? It starts with your video.
Your video should include opportunities for your viewers to join the discussion. A simple call like “tell us what you think about X in the comments section” or “thumbs up if you agree” will prompt your viewers to step in.
Including comments or suggestions from subscribers in your future videos is another way to drive participation and increase your engagement rate.
4. Vlog from your phone (if that’s your style).
Depending on your budget and the style you prefer, you can choose between vlogging from your phone or camera.
Vlogging with a phone can give your vlog a more intimate and informal look. It’s often used to show behind the scenes footage or when you’re taking the audience on an adventure. However, you are sacrificing image quality when filming from a phone.
If you are on a budget, a phone will do. As your vlog channel grows, it’s worth investing in a lightweight camera that works in a variety of lighting conditions and has key features like image stabilization and microphone inputs.
How to edit a vlog
Use video editing software.
When filming a vlog you inevitably take breaks from time to time, make mistakes, or have to re-record something. This is where editing lends itself.
Editing videos allows you to flatten your video to keep the most important parts. There are many video editing software out there that differ in price, ease of use, and features. The most popular options are:
- iMovie (Free) – This is a great option for beginners if you are on a budget and own an Apple product. This software has basic editing functions with a sound and music library.
- Apple Final Cut Pro (one-time fee of $ 299.99) – If you want to take your editing to the next level, this is a great option. It offers a wide range of templates, plugins, and audio mixing settings.
- Adobe Premiere Pro (starts at $ 239.88 / year) – With features like scene editing detection and virtual reality editing, Premiere is one of the best editing tools out there. It’s ideal for brands that produce video frequently and need advanced editing capabilities.
Create an intro.
A good vlogging intro serves the same purpose as the theme song of your favorite show. It helps in connecting with your audience and maintaining consistency.
There are several approaches you can take with your intro. Some brands keep it simple with a simple frame of their logo, while others prefer intros that add context to the channel with voice-overs or animations.
Whatever you choose, use this intro in every video you post.
Add sounds and music in the background.
Think of a scary movie with no terrifying music to set up the moment. Not the same, is it?
Sounds and music are subtle touches that can keep your audience engaged with your content.
One thing to keep in mind is that YouTube is very strict about the use of copyrighted material. You’ll have to use royalty-free music or risk a muted video that your audience won’t be able to enjoy.
Thankfully, there are several free music libraries online for finding royalty-free music, including YouTube Audio Library and ccMixter.
Be sure to check the fine print before downloading as some websites require you to credit the artist for your video. If you want a wider variety of music, you will likely need to subscribe to a royalty-free music library platform.
How to start a vlog channel
Choose a vlogging platform
YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google and the most popular vlogging platform. According to the Pew Research Center, 73% of adults report using it, most users between the ages of 18 and 49.
Of course, most brands and influencers start their channel here. The platform also allows content creators to monetize their videos with ads, which is an additional source of income.
YouTube is also one of the mildest platforms when it comes to video length. Users can post videos for up to 12 hours. But as I tell myself, when I’m tempted to eat a bag of gummy bears, if you can, it doesn’t mean you should. As long as the option is available, most brands should probably stick to video for under 30 minutes.
Here are the steps to create a YouTube channel.
As soon as Instagram launched IGTV, it became another vlogging platform. Users can categorize their IGTV videos by series, which makes it easy to navigate. However, unlike YouTube, content creators are limited to 20-minute videos.
A big advantage of this platform is the fact that it is an all-in-one experience. Followers can scroll down a brand’s timeline to view their pictures, videos, and purchase their products.
Since Instagram is an influencer hub, brands could benefit from working with influencers for IGTV vlogs.
Although less popular, some brands use Vimeo to post their vlogs. In 2019, the site had 170 million active monthly users. One advantage of using this platform is that there is less competition and it is easier to stand out.
What makes a vlog successful?
According to a report by CNET, 70% of the videos that users watch are recommended by the platform’s algorithm. So it is a great advantage to get to the proverbial good side of the algorithm.
The first tip for success is creating content that suits your audience’s interests. Google reported that when deciding what to watch, YouTube viewers choose interest versus production value at 1.6 times the rate.
Some publishers report that the algorithm favors longer videos. However, spokespersons for YouTube have stated that it will be prioritized not by length, but by interest. The better a video performs, the more likely it is to be recommended.
So if you focus on creating quality content that is tailored to your audience, you can create a hugely successful vlog that will drive and drive traffic to your brand.