It is insane how elaborate some online videos have become. Some web shows have the same production values of television shows, and web series like The Guild have gained such prominence that they are now a part of mainstream media, in spite of having originally been independently created shorts.
Even video blogs (hereby referred to as vlogs) are not what they used to be. Jenna Marbles, Tyler Oakley, Shane Dawson, Nigagiga are all examples of vloggers who have gained notorious success creating videos that have reached millions of views.
You may want to venture into the world of vlogging yourself, but feel intimidated. That isn't surprising, as it seems like a lot to take on. The good news is that you can take a minimalist's approach to creating a vlog. It will still be a lot of work, but totally doable.
Vlogging: The Simpler, the Better for You and For Viewers
If you complicate things at the beginning, you'll never manage to make it part of your daily or weekly routine. We live at the age when video creation is no longer for tech geeks only. We can use simple tools and simple set-up.
Embracing a minimalist approach is a must for any new venture: Whether it is a blog, or a vlog you are starting out, make it as simple as you can. The perfect example of simple and effective format is Rand Fishkin's Whiteboard Friday idea which they managed to make a weekly thing.
Vlogging Persona: Know What You Want To Be
All good vloggers have a persona, for better or worst. This is crucial if you are going to find success, whether it is on a small or large-scale. Not everyone is going to like who you choose to be, or what you choose to do or say. But your persona is still going to appeal to a target audience, the audience you are going to build into your regular viewership, and that is what matters.
For example, there are a lot of vlogs that ended up becoming Let's Play videos. These are among the most popular YouTube videos ever uploaded to the site (no joke). But when it comes to the most popular among that already popular genre, who comes to mind? Probably someone like:
- Two Best Friends Play (Matt and Pat)
- The Diamond Minecart (Dan)
These vloggers have a very specific persona and style that is immediately recognizable. That branding is what built their huge fan bases. Even though you probably aren't creating Let's Play videos, you can learn a lot from their tactics. No matter what subject matter you plan to cover.
Formats: Choose the Best for You
Which brings us to format. There are many types of vlog set-ups, as that word has come to encompass most styles of video that are done independently. Different formats work depending on the personality behind the camera, but the following three are probably the easiest for the novice video creator:
- Talking Head Vlogs: Where the vlogger is sitting in front of the camera and speaking directly to the viewer.
- Screencapture Vlogs: Where the vlogger is speaking either with or without their face showing, as they focus on their desktop so users can see what is being done on-screen.
- Interview Vlogs: Where the vlogger is speaking to one or more people in an interview setting, then presenting the conversation without including the viewer as a direct participant.
Take a moment to decide which of these three appeal to you, as you will most likely start there.
Vlogging Gear: Invest In Some Good Equipment
Technically, you can make a vlog on your phone or webcam. People do it all the time when they are, say, posting a recorded interview or panel via Hangouts On Air. But if you are going to be posting regular vlogs, you need to invest in a bit of equipment to do it right.
- First, get a high-end web cam. This will be your biggest expense, but it still won't totally break the bank. You are looking at anywhere from $120 for a Polycom, or $390 for a Cisco. Get the best you can reasonably afford.
- Next, get some kind of lighting you use to improve the image on camera. You don't have to run off and get something expensive for this, you can use lights you already have. Just consider switching out the bulbs for more natural looking white or bluish bulbs that simulate natural lighting. Put them in a couple of lamps, testing the image on camera until you come up with the perfect angles.
- Finally, you need a good microphone. You don't want to rely on the mic that comes standard on your webcam, because it will pick up too many sounds in the background. Most vloggers these days seem to choose a lapel clipped mic. But if you do get a mounted microphone, make sure it has a proper condenser so that is cancels out conflicting noise.
Vlogging Tools: Invest in the Right Ones
Even if you are creating the most basic type of vlog, you are going to want some tools that you can easily use, and that don't come with a ton of complicated editing software to lern from scratch. There are quite a few available to choose from:
- Screencast-O-Matic: Record what is happening on your screen, so you can create tutorials, gameplay videos, or anything else you might want to show the viewer. There is a free version, but it is worth going for the pro.
- Hangouts On Air: Free, user-friendly, and can include a number of people in on the conversation for discussions or “cameos”, from their own computer. Since it is Google, it is also optimized for YouTube use.
- Windows Movie Maker: This one has lost favor recently, as people switch to other editing software. But it is a classic for a reason, and so easy to use literally anyone could do it. There are also endless tutorials out there to help you get more creative with it.
- iMovie: Everything said above, but for you Mac users. Just like Windows Movie Maker, iMovie has been created with amateurs in mind, while allowing for more advanced use through optional features.
To Win at Vlogging: Keep It Short... At First
You may be tempted to create a six-hour magnum opus, but there is no need. Go back through some of your favorite vlogger's earliest videos, and you will probably notice that they are largely short, maybe even under five minutes long.
Follow this format until you get used to creating vlogs, and while you build a fan base. No one wants to listen to someone they don't know drone on about something for half an hour. But they are more than happy to spend three minutes if it means they might be entertained for that time. Once you have your fans, you can release longer vlogs.
Creating a vlog is easier than you might have suspected. But don't skimp out on quality, even if you are going the minimalist route. Minimalism just means it is more clean and simple, not that it requires less work to produce.
Have any tips? Leave them in the comments!