Step 1: Decide what your content should be
And then make your channel about whatever you want because it’s probably going to evolve a lot between when you start and really get comfortable with it. The great thing is it’s your channel so you get to decide what it should be about.
Step 2: Figure Out Your Location
As important, if not more so, than what you’re vlogging about should be where you film your vlogs. Do you want natural light? You’ll want to vlog by a window. I tend to vlog at my desk because as a writer, that’s where I feel represents me the most. I have various items that also represent me, books, Harry Potter Funkos etc. to really give it a personal touch.
Step 3: Filming Equipment
As I mentioned in my blog about things I learned from doing YouTube, you actually don’t need anything fancy to start your channel. Your smartphone is a great place to begin, buy a cheap $13 smartphone tripod on Amazon and some LED light bulbs from Walmart and set up one on either side of the camera, and one directly above (like in a ceiling light) for optimal lighting. If you film near a window you should just need the two on either side of the camera.
Step 4: Shoot some test videos
Filming yourself is kind of weird at first, staring at a camera and trying to figure out how to talk like you’re talking to someone and not just yourself is tricky to get used to. I recommend filming a few (eg: however many you need) practice videos to get yourself comfortable. You don’t need to put these up or edit them but you could if you like them enough.
Step 5: Set up your YouTube Account
Google has plenty of resources on this topic, but essentially you’ll want to set up your YouTube account and follow what it says to set up monetization if you want to have ads on your videos and make money from them.
Step 6: Film your first video
Once you’ve decided on what you want your first video to be about, you can start filming. Chances are you could need several takes, and might mess up, the great thing is, no one has to see that. (see step 7) If you have a later model iPhone you can film in 1080p at 60 fps (for smoother videos). The back camera is usually the best of the two but you can get away with the front facing camera if you want. Sometimes seeing yourself helps. Tip: You can fake depth of field (where the background is blurry and you’re in sharp focus– and make your vids look more professional (see below). Note, you’ll want to be a good distance away for the effect to really work. Alternatively, you can film on a dark backdrop (using a sheet and push pins) to make yourself stand out even more. (see below)
Step 7: Edit your video
There are a couple of different options you have on this front. If you can afford it, you can get the Adobe Creative Suite for $50 /mo ($20 on student discount) which will give you access to the full suite of tools including Photoshop (for thumbnails) and Adobe Premiere for film editing. If you own a MacBook you can edit with iMovie which is a lot easier and comes free with MacBooks purchased after (2012 or 2014) Depending on your skill level here, this could take a minute to put together (by which I mean several hours) There are also a lot of excellent YouTube tutorials on things like editing videos with other options, as well and putting together YouTube videos without spending too much money. Free music (with attribution) for videos can be found through YouTube’s Creator Studio. Depending on how warm your lighting is, you can also white balance your videos (which is super easy in both Photoshop and Premeire) Use YT tutorials to your advantage here too.
Step 8: Create the thumbnail
If you have access to Photoshop this becomes a bit easier, what I tend to do is after I’ve edited my video, find a scene that I like and take a screenshot of that:
and create the thumbnail from that, using Photoshop. (For a cheaper option you can use Canva.com)
Step 9: Upload Your Video
As with most things, there are a few ways to do this. Uploading from YouTube itself or if you use iMovie you can upload directly from the app. When doing this you can create a title for your video, based on whatever the video is about. (See examples below) Add a description, and tag your videos with relevant information to help people find your video. #makeup #beauty #story time. A (mostly) free service called VidIQ can help you better tag videos and see tags to videos on YouTube for inspiration.
Step 10: Post your video and share it!
If you have any kind of social media, you’ll want to share your video everywhere you can after you post it. Shameless self-promotion may seem tacky, but it’s a great way to get people to look at/follow your channel. Bug your friends and family, and if you’re so inclined, talk about it with anyone who will listen. There are probably forums and sites to share your channel with. Trust me, marketing is a great tool. I don’t recommend to commenting on other people’s videos for followers, that will get your comment flagged as spam and some YouTubers (me) will delete them. Subscribe for subscribe is one method to get a subscriber base however it should be noted that this probably isn’t a way to get an active following that actually comments on your work.
And there you have it. I think I was able to start my YouTube channel for about $20 for the lights and tripod. I already had the phone, and I already had my MBP and Creative Suite– It should be noted, everyone’s path is different. Don’t think that you should have to create your channel in any sort of way. This is just my path and my advice. You don’t need a fancy camera or lighting to start. Natural light is your friend and marketing yourself is a great way to get people interested. Good luck. 🙂
Bonus tip: Take analytics with a grain of salt. Analytics are a good way to learn who’s watching your content, where, and for how long, but if you’re not careful you can go into a dark spiral with analytics. Take it for what it is, not gospel. It’s your channel, no one else should dictate your content. Also celebrate the small things, if you get 5 subscribers, celebrate. 10? Celebrate. Because every bit counts and every YouTuber with millions of followers began somewhere.
Thanks to Renard Moreau who commented on my Cissa’s Side Blog that I should write this 🙂