Nowadays it seems like everyone and their sister’s dog want to learn how to start a vlog on YouTube. I don’t blame them. Video content is becoming one of the most engaging pieces of media and it’s continuing to grow year after year. It’s also hard to ignore the fact that there are so many successful YOUNG personalities that have made a good living from vlogging on YouTube.
With the increase in demand of individuals looking to start a vlog, I often come across channels that are either vlogging poorly or people who are clueless on how to vlog. After years of watching vlogs and helping highly successful friends create vlogs, I’ve decided to write a complete guide that will hopefully help you kickstart your YouTube vlogging career in the right direction.
What is a Vlog and How Can I Start a Vlog on My YouTube Channel?
A vlog in my own definition is simply a log of your day or life in video format. A video log that documents an individual’s life. Typically, most vlogs out there on YouTube are mainly just footage of someone’s day, week, or month depending on the timeline that the creator wants to go with.
When I give my best practices and recommend ideas for your vlogs. I’m going off successful elements that I’ve seen across successful vloggers on YouTube. There’s no right or wrong answer on how to be successful on YouTube. But, the best creators bring authenticity to the platform and they are always improving and perfecting their craft. Remember to add creativity into your vlogs.
You might be saying, “my life is boring and I have nothing to vlog,” but some of the best vloggers create amazing vlogs with their boring days. Regardless if you’re traveling or you’re stuck inside on a rainy day. There are many ways for you to create an interesting vlog – learn to think outside the box.
The Best Vlogging Equipment for YouTube
Some of you might be asking, “how can I start a vlog or become a vlogger? I don’t own any video equipment or have the money to buy new video equipment.”
I would be lying if I said camera gear doesn’t improve the quality of a vlog, but I am completely honest when I say that video equipment doesn’t completely make a successful YouTube vlog. There’s a common saying that goes, “the best camera and the best equipment is the one you have on you” and this is true. As long as you get the video footage necessary for the vlog and you can put the footage into a well thought-out video. You should have plenty of success moving forward.
I’m going to have three tiers of recommendations for vlogging essentials below. They will range from a beginners vlog kit, an intermediate vlog kit, and a professional YouTube vlogging kit. You can choose the best equipment that fits your budget and expertise.
Beginner’s Vlogging Equipment for YouTube
Don’t let equipment hold you back. Start saving up and as you begin to get more traction on your YouTube channel, you can then begin to think about upgrading. All you need is a camera so the iPhones or any new smartphone that can take video is enough to upload to YouTube. Start by working on getting comfortable in front of the camera and learning the ins and outs of editing a video.
Camera: iPhone or Smartphone
Intermediate Vlogging Equipment for YouTube
If you’ve saved up enough money, my next recommendation would be to upgrade your camera to a point-and-shoot camera. These are easy to carry around, provide high-quality footage and great sound.
Additionally, you will want to get a small tripod to help you carry around the camera. I would suggest getting either the basic Joby GorillaPod or the Manfrotto EVO Pixi.
Professional Vlogging Equipment for YouTube
As you become more advanced, you will want to incorporate more in your vlogs. These will require more settings on your camera and new lenses to achieve the look you want. For cameras, I would highly recommend the Canon 80D because of the ability to flip out the camera screen to see yourself. It is also a very well built camera that produces high quality footage. Having the 18-55mm kit lens on the camera will be just fine to start and you can upgrade as you see the need for it.
Alternatively, you can get the Sony A6500 which is a great camera, but the biggest downside is that the screen does not flip out for you to see. This camera can shoot 120 fps and in 4k for some crisp footage and the ability to take great slow motion video.
For a larger camera, you will be required to get a larger tripod so I would recommend upgrading to the professional Joby GorillaPod. The Manfrotto EVO PIXI might be a bit smaller, but it is well built and can carry the large camera frames of a better camera. The Manfrotto BeFree is a full fledged tripod that is larger in size, but will help with interviews or areas that a small tripod would not work.
Sound is very important on YouTube. Viewers don’t want to watch a video where they can barely hear what you’re saying or if the sound is taking away from the quality content. I left this in advanced because of the increase in budget, but in my opinion, you should invest into audio early. Better sound will make a huge difference in your YouTube vlogs and getting the Rode Mic Pro where you can just attach to the top of your camera is essential.
Audio: Rode Pro Camera Microphone
Programs You Should Use to Edit YouTube Vlogs
Filming your day is one thing. But, putting the actual videos together to create a compelling vlog is a totally different ball game. It might be frustrating at first, but trust me. The more you edit, the better you will get at creating YouTube vlogs. You’ll begin to notice a ramp in speed and efficiency when editing future videos. The three main vlog editing softwares I’ve seen and recommend are:
- iMovie – Free – Beginners
- Final Cut Pro – Paid – Intermediate, Professional
- Adobe Premiere Pro – Paid – Intermediate, Professional
I’ve personally used all three of these programs and in my experience, they are all capable of creating great vlogs. iMovie would be the easiest to use, but you are also limited on the things you can do with your video. If you are a beginner who is just getting into vlogging, then I would definitely recommend you starting with iMovie to get the hang of things. Here is a good tutorial on how to start a vlog using iMovie.
Final Cut Pro and Adobe Premiere Pro are always a topic for discussion. With both of these programs, you have the ability to edit your videos with advanced features. You also have the ability to add cool effects such as slow-motion, stabilizing your image, advanced color-grading capabilities, and much more. Many major films have been edited with these two programs and they may sound difficult to use, but the majority of intermediate and professional YouTube channels use one of these two softwares to produce their content.
In my opinion, I would say Final Cut has a nicer user interface and is easier to start using. However, I prefer to use Adobe Premiere Pro because I like how everything is laid out in the program and it has the ability to be used on both Apple and Windows products.
YouTube Vlogging Best Practices
Now that you have a good idea of what is needed to start a good vlog, it’s now time to discuss the things that will actually make a good vlog. Your content is important and in order to make good content that resonates with your audience, you need to be there to entertain your viewers. Here are a few things that you should consider while filming your vlog.
- Be confident in your speech
- Avoid being camera shy
- Keep your YouTube videos short and concise
- Always look to improve your content and read the YouTube analytics
- Progression over perfection
Of course the first several times that you vlog and talk to a camera, you will be camera shy. But, as you continue vlogging you will get used to it and it will become much more natural. When I say be confident, I mean add a bit of enthusiasm and project your voice. The last thing your audience wants to hear is a boring monologue from you. Speak loud and show some emotion like you care in your YouTube vlogs.
We’re all growing shorter attention spans so be sure to keep your YouTube videos short and sweet. A lot of the best vloggers keep their videos around 4 minutes to 10 minutes long. You also want to make sure to use the YouTube analytics to figure out what is working what is not. Using the Creator Studio in YouTube, you can see your viewers’ demographics (gender, location, and more information about your audience). You also have the ability to see what videos are doing better than others and this is a good way to figure out what content you should do more of.
Last, but not least, you want to continuously create regardless if you get 1 view or 1 million views. YouTube tends to rank videos better when they see that there is more content on a channel. You never know, your next video might go viral.
Mistakes Most YouTube Vloggers Make
Now before you get started with your YouTube vlogs, here are some mistakes that you should avoid as a vlogger:
1. Including irrelevant footage
As I mentioned before in the best practices. You want to make sure that you include the absolute best quality footage in your videos. A long video with increase the number of people that click away from your vlog and if you have unnecessary footage, viewers will be bored and they will find something else to watch. With the 4 minute to 10 minute vlog time, you want to make sure that you have the viewers attention for the full video.
2. Focusing too much on the numbers (subscriber count and views)
Forget the subscriber count and the views on your YouTube video. Those numbers will come with GOOD content. Make sure you’re putting out the best videos that are well optimized for YouTube’s platform and the numbers will make an appearance.
3. Disregarding the audio quality
Audio is a major component to any YouTube vlog. A vlog usually consists of a lot of talking, so having poor audio quality will have an effect on your storytelling and will cause for viewers to click away or not get the full experience that you would like subscribers to get. It will also leave a bad first impression on new viewers.
4. Not posting consistently
Have you ever subscribed to an email list and don’t receive an email from them until months later? I sure have and I click unsubscribe right away because I don’t remember who they are.
This is exactly the same with YouTube. If you have someone subscribe and you don’t continuously make videos. The honest truth is that they will forget you and the moment you have the great video that is released, they will just unsubscribe from your channel if they forgot who you are.
Who Are Some of The Best Vloggers on YouTube?
1. Casey Neistat
Casey is one of, if not the greatest YouTuber to vlog. His passion for filmmaking, his unique personality and style make for one of the best vlogs on YouTube. If you’ve seen any vlogs on YouTube or if you’ve been on YouTube, then you have probably already heard of this man. A legend at his craft and his 8 million plus subscribers can vouch for his storytelling vlogs that keep you coming back day-after-day. Here is one of my favorite vlogs from Casey. When I talk about adding creativity to vlogs, you will recognize this while watching Mr. Neistat’s vlogs.
2. Justin Escalona
Justin Escalona aka PlayTheGameFilms is a young kid from the suburbs of Chicago. Justin Escalona started a series called Daily Docs where he vlogged and documented his days for over 400 days straight before taking a break. Pretty damn impressive for a young freshman who just moved to USC to pursue film school.
If you’ve ever watched one of Justin’s vlogs, you would appreciate the amount of work he puts into each one. His thumbnails could easily double as a great Instagram photo with the quality and the editing, but most importantly, his video edits are very very professional. The cinematics that he adds into his videos are breathtaking and his music choice is always new and refreshing and sometimes from artists that he is friends with. The overall production on Mr’ Escalona’s vlogs are amazing and his ability to turn his college experience into a well documented story each day will always keep me as a huge fan.
3. Arlin Moore
Arlin is a student at Boston University who started off doing 100 days of daily vlogging and he has since grown from 0 to over 60 000 subscribers to date. Arlin is a perfect example of someone who just went out and started creating. He didn’t have fancy camera equipment, all he had was his iPhone and he successfully vlogged each day and put videos up on YouTube. Don’t go out enough to vlog everyday? Arlin had days where he created videos straight from his bedroom and talked about things he believed in and experiences and resources that have helped him throughout college. Videos such as college advice tips, story times, or even just recommendations on books that he has read over the years.
4. Monica Church
The Millennial Crisis is what Monica Church brands herself and her vlog as. A vlog of her life and the “millennial” things that happen in her life on a day-to-day basis. A channel where other millennials can learn from or where non-millennials can watch to understand what a day in a millennials life might look like. Similar to Justin Escalona, Monica is known for some great cinematics in her videos. She is real and genuine with her viewers and you can tell that by the way she talks to the camera.
I’ve also created a list of my favourite YouTube Travel Vloggers who are very advanced and take amazing cinematics of their travels.
There is no right time to start vlogging. If you are interested in the concept of making videos about your daily life and building a following off of it, then just start. It doesn’t take much and you most likely already have enough resources to start a vlog on YouTube. Focus on perfecting your storytelling and focus on upgrading your equipment later. Learn from the best and continue to develop as you create more and more vlogs!