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It’s crazy to think back to when I created my YouTube channel and recorded my first vlog that it would have turned into what it is today. My ultimate dream was to somehow find a way to make a living creating videos, and with well over a million followers on my Collin Abroadcast YouTube channel today, it’s still kind of surreal to think I am actually doing it. As a result, I get people asking me all the time about how to start a vlog.
My goal is to be able to share my knowledge and experience to help other aspiring video creators succeed. So in this blog post, I’m taking it back to the very basics for those of you who are just starting out on your vlogging journey. I’m going to break down some of the things you need to do to start a vlog and get moving in the right direction with your content. So let’s get into it!
What is a Vlog vs. Blog?
First, let’s just make a quick clarification here. Many people are familiar with blogs, which first originated as a form of online journals. But now blogging has become a business all on its own, as well as being an integral part of marketing in general. Blogs are primarily text-based, written articles while vlogs are video versions of blogs (hence the name). In the same way blogging has evolved into a big business, video blogs or “vlogs” have exploded in recent years.
Due to the popularity of platforms such as YouTube, and with advances in technology with regard to cameras and editing software, vlogging continues to grow. Also, studies show that with the proliferation of Smartphones and access to fast internet, consumers tend to prefer video over text-based content. This is especially true on social media, as people are using the internet to watch videos for entertainment as well. As a result, the vlogging industry is just going to continue to grow with opportunities for new content creators to enter the field and put out their own unique content for people to enjoy.
Okay, so now let’s go into some of the steps you need to take to start a vlog!
1. Find Purpose and Discover Your Audience
One of the first things you will need to try to figure out is the purpose of your channel and who your audience will be. This is easier said than done, and it’s not always clear right away. You might have to do a bit of soul searching, as well as some research into the types of content people want to watch in order to narrow this down. And even then, your focus could evolve over time as you put out content and see how people respond to it. In a way, you are always testing to learn what your audience wants to see!
There are 2 main areas that you will need to assess when it comes to finding your purpose and audience for your vlog. That is to understand yourself, including your skills and interests, as well as researching the audience.
Understand Your Interests and Skills
- What are you passionate about?
- Is there anything that you are an expert in or want to become an expert in, through doing your vlogs?
- What types of things do you enjoy doing?
- Are there topics that you love to talk about or want to document?
- Do you have any special education, background or skills that you could share with others?
- Do you know how to do something that others don’t? Do they ask you to show them?
- For example, maybe you know how to play guitar and people have asked you for lessons.
- Maybe you make some really cool art or other crafts that people ask you how to do?
- Perhaps you are really skilled at doing things on the computer and people want to see how to do it too.
Overlap With Audience Interests and Needs
Think about what types of people would watch your videos and why. What do they care about? What do they have questions about? What do they need? How can you help them solve their problems? Or just entertain them?
Ultimately you will need to see where your interests and skills overlap with your audience’s interests and their needs. This is key, really. Because at the end of the day you have to put content out into the world that people actually want (or need) to watch. This is critical if you are looking to monetize your vlog and turn it into a business that earns you a living down the road.
Making content may be fun for you personally, but if no one watches it then you won’t be able to create a business out of it.
2. Be Inspired. And Research Like Crazy.
If you are already interested in becoming a vlogger, then you have likely been watching a ton of vlogs already. Keep at it. There’s so much inspiration to be found out there, and these videos can help you get a clearer picture of what you want your channel to be like. Not only that, this is a critical part of your research.
Don’t just watch the videos at surface level and move on, dig in and take some notes.
- How did they start the video?
- How did they end it?
- What did I learn, if anything?
- What’s their shooting style like?
- What was their editing style and transitions like?
- Did they incorporate music? Where and how?
- How was the video itself structured?
- Did it tell a story? What type of story and how was it structured?
- What did you like / not like about the video in general?
- Length of the video?
- Read the comments! What is their audience saying about the video?
There’s a lot you can gather just by watching other vloggers and their videos. Take this part seriously, because it can really help you on your way to discovering your voice for your vlogs and creating your brand. This is an ongoing part of being a video content creator, not just at the beginning of your journey.
3. Decide Which Video Platforms to Use
When people think of vlogging, they usually think about YouTube. And that makes sense, since it’s one of the biggest and most popular platforms out there when it comes to video. Also, because YouTube is owned by Google, strategically-speaking it’s a valuable place to store your videos to help grow your audience. Plus, it’s a flexible platform that allows you to embed videos on websites, share, as well monetizing.
While I highly recommend that people have a YouTube channel for a variety of reasons, that doesn’t mean it has to be their only channel. You can definitely leverage other platforms as well and interlink them all together to help grow your audience. Facebook has really come onto the scene lately with their video capabilities and the fact that so many people are on Facebook every day. With new monetization features, Facebook is a growing platform for video creators who want to increase exposure to their content and also monetize their videos on another platform. There are also platforms like IGTV and even Twitch where people can post video content.
So, while you may end up having a primary platform, you don’t need to only focus on one. You can use multiple to help grow your vlogging exposure and build it as a business.
4. How to Create a YouTube Channel
Since YouTube is valuable and so many vloggers use it, in this section I’m going to go over the basics of creating your YouTube channel and setting it up so you are ready to start posting videos.
- You’ll need to log into YouTube with your Google account. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to create one.
- Once logged in, you can go to your channel list and click “create a new channel”
- Create an account for your new vlog / brand. You may want it to be different than the name on your general Google account that you log in with.
- Then you’ll need to use your phone number to verify the account and confirm it with a code that will be sent to you.
- That’s it. Your channel is technically created. However, there are a few more things you will want to do to customize it.
Basic Customizations for a YouTube Vlog Channel
As a video content creator, you will want to do some additional customizations to your YouTube channel so that it’s ready for you to start posting and promoting your new vlog brand. Here are some key things you should do, at minimum, to ensure your brand is represented well on YouTube.
- Click the “customize channel” button to change the look. You can add art, icons, and even a channel trailer. Also, you should definitely add a good description of what your channel is, including links and other channels you might want to feature. If you have a website, then definitely make sure you add it here!
- Then go to “channel settings” – this is where you can check if you want to moderate comments by approving them yourself. Comments can really help your channel because it shows people are engaged. You also have the option to translate your channel so it can reach foreign audiences.
- In the “advanced” settings area, this is where you can integrate with Google Analytics and AdWords if you are tracking your data this way or doing any advertising. It’s also where you can hide your subscriber count (if you don’t want people to see) and disable some ads if you want to.
- Another feature in the “advanced settings” is that you can customize your channel URL with the name of your brand. Definitely do this! However, you must have 100 subscribers or more to do this, your channel must be more than 30 days old, and you need to have uploaded some channel art images and an icon.
- Also, take time to navigate to the “YouTube Studio” part of your channel. You can see this is like your creator dashboard – it’s where you can upload videos or even do a live stream if you wanted to. This is where you will check the stats of your videos to see how they are performing, monetization features are here as well, and you can also see all your viewer comments.
Essentially, that’s all you really need to do to set up your YouTube channel and start uploading videos. However, because YouTube is so important to many vloggers, I recommend that you continue to learn about the platform. From watching tutorials, reading about different features (such as adding end cards, etc.) to learn about best practices and how you can always improve your channel.
5. Invest in Good Video Gear
I know many of you starting out may not be able to go out and buy the most expensive camera out there. And that’s OK! While you don’t necessarily need the very best or most expensive camera to make a good video, you do need to consider the overall quality of the videos you want to make. Quality is very important in video production. Producing higher quality videos may require specialized equipment and higher quality cameras, but there are lot of things you can do with moderately priced equipment – at least when you are getting started.
My advice: when you are just getting started, I recommend buying the best camera you can afford. Don’t overdo it, but don’t cheap out.
In my opinion, the quality of your equipment really makes a difference. Especially today with so many vlogs out there, quality is key and will make you stand out in a good way. Over time as your channel grows, you can upgrade and invest in even better equipment. In fact, I have quite a lot of camera gear. And I think it’s pretty fun to test out crazy new gadgets and other unique types of cameras which allow you to get some epic shots!
6. Practice, Practice, Practice!
There’s no substitute for practice, really. Vlogging is one of those things that you probably won’t nail right away. But you will get better at it every single time you do it. Don’t freak out too much about those initial videos. Nothing will ever be absolutely perfect, so trying to be a perfectionist will just hold you back because the idea is to grow and improve. So in theory, if you’re growing with every video you create, then years down the road you’ll probably look back and cringe at the first videos you made. But that’s not a bad thing. If anything, shows just how much progress you are making. Just get out there and do it!
Tips for Filming in Public
When it comes to filming in public, people tend to get nervous. You may be self-conscious thinking that people are watching you, and you may even be distracted by other people around you. That’s just how it goes. But I promise it’s really not all that bad once you get over that mental roadblock. In the end, people are just doing their own thing and don’t care too much about what you are doing. You can definitely learn how to block them out, and as your confidence and experience grow, this will become less of an issue.
Helping people get over their mental roadblock of filming in public is something I care a lot about because it definitely held me back at first. So be sure to check out my complete blog post about the psychological barriers of filming in public and how to overcome any fears that you have so you can go out there and film with confidence.
As you practice and your confidence grows, and you will improve with each and every video you create.
7. Always Keep Learning & Improving
One of the aspects of being a content creator is that there is always something new to learn. Whether it is a new software or editing skill that will make your videos pop. Perhaps it’s improving the way you integrate music into your videos, learning how to use a new piece of gear, etc. But it’s also other stuff like copyright laws, etc.
Honestly, the best creators out there are the ones who know that they are never done learning.
With each and every video they challenge themselves to improve upon what they did before. This is the right mentality to have if you want to be successful as a vlogger, because nothing ever stays the same. Technology changes. YouTube algorithm changes, audience interests may even change. So having this neverending learning mentality is the very best way to grow and improve your craft so you can continue to thrive over time.
8. Nurture and Listen to Your Viewers
Your community of viewers is everything because without them you don’t have an audience. Whenever you make a video, keep your community in mind. When they ask questions, you should take the time to give thoughtful answers. Allow them to feel welcome in your community and nurture those relationships. In the end, they are the ones who determine if you are successful. And they will also help you to spread the word by sharing, commenting, etc. on your content.
Your Audience is a Valuable Resource!
Another important aspect of your community is that they are a great resource for you. Listen to them. Find out what they like or don’t like. Learn about the types of content they want to see and listen to hear what they care about. Your community is a valuable window into learning more about your audience and being able to provide them with more of what they want.
9. Network & Collaborate With Other Vloggers
When you become a vlogger, don’t be afraid to network with other vloggers. In fact, it’s a necessity. But it can also be a lot of fun! Over the years, I’ve met some awesome people and made great friends with other vloggers. They are a great bunch to learn from and can really help you to improve your videos too.
Abroadcast is all about bringing creators together. So we’ve actually have a Creator Community – and we encourage you to join it so you can connect with other vloggers, learn from each other, collaborate and improve together! Add your name to join the community using the form below!
Once you join the Creator Community you’ll also be invited into our Facebook Group so that you can connect with other video creators like yourself!
Collaborations With Other Vloggers
Doing collaborations with other vloggers is also a really fun way to learn from others as well as getting more exposure to your channel through cross-promotion to another audience. In fact, this is one of the best ways to really grow your channel and build your audience. I’ve had some fun collaborations over the years, like this Yiwu market video I did with Scotty from Strange Parts. We had a blast making this video exploring the world’s biggest wholesale market in Yiwu, China!
Kick-Off Your Vlogging Journey!
While there’s actually quite a lot that goes into being a video content creator and vlogger, it’s definitely something that anyone can do if they are passionate about it and willing to put in the time to learn and grow. And you have to start somewhere! So I hope this blog post has given you some insight into how to start a vlog so that you can kick-off your vlogging journey in the best way possible.