It’s a new year, which means it’s time for new goals! You may have been thinking about starting a vlog on your WordPress site and YouTube for a while, but there’s no time like the present.
The vlogging craze continues to grow and spread, reaching all corners of the globe. As of last year, in fact, there were over 23 million different channels on YouTube alone! Whether you’re a complete unknown or a celebrity — and not even just a YouTube celebrity, but a celebrity celebrity — vlogging is a fun and potentially very lucrative outlet which can grow your fan base exponentially with each video.
But vlogging isn’t just a matter of pointing a camera at your face and recording your every move, whether it’s something interesting like a crafting tutorial or something mundane like brushing your teeth. Vlogging works as a career opportunity because it provides value to your viewer — even if it’s only entertainment value.
On top of that, it’s fiercely competitive and very difficult to find an aspect or a subject that hasn’t been done before, or that isn’t currently being done right now! In short, making a successful vlog requires a concerted effort, thinking ahead, and creating a well-crafted strategy. It’s far more than just recording and uploading.
But don’t despair! If you have the commitment needed, and you’re determined to make your voice stand out, you too can YouTube!
Oh, and also, follow these ten tips. Most beginners choose YouTube as their platform, because it’s easy to use and reaches a wide audience. But you can also create videos for other social media platforms, like Instagram and Facebook. Due to the popularity of YouTube for beginners, however, I’ll mostly focus on that platform throughout this article.
Tip One: Find What Makes You Unique
As I mentioned, there’s a lot of tough competition out there in the vlogging world. Everyone and their brother, and their brother’s dog, has a vlog.
So you’ll definitely need to take the time and analyze what will make you, YOU, different. What’s going to make you stand out from the crowd?
Humor is a popular go-to for this, and it’s a great place to start because there is so much potential for variety. Even if you’re dealing with a serious subject, or if you’re putting up a how-to or tutorial, adding a little levity here and there can be beneficial to how well your vlog is received.
Tip Two: Find Your Passion(s)
What are you excited about? What could you talk about for ten minutes without stopping? What subject do your friends associate you with?
Whatever that is, whether it’s the historical accuracies of the hit musical Hamilton or the stamp collection you’ve been building since you were three years old, that’s definitely your passion!
Vlogging about your passion is a great idea because you will automatically be more expressive if you’re talking about something that excites you. And viewers tend to be drawn to excitement. On top of that, your passion will reach out to an audience with similar passion and excitement, helping you to grow your core viewership.
This is also an important point for vlogging in general: if you don’t like it, don’t do it. Viewers can tell when someone is just going through the motions. So if you like what you’re talking about, you’ll like making videos about it.
This may seem like a narrow-minded piece of advice, but the truth is that nobody has just one passion, either. So make a list! Talk about one passion in one video, another passion in the second — and create tie-in videos that talk about different aspects of your subjects, as well.
Tip Three: Know Your Target Audience
Along with figuring out your passions and how you can communicate excitement through your vlog, it’s important to know who you’re going to be talking to.
I don’t mean on a personal level, because hopefully someone other than your doting family will be watching your videos. I mean on a broader level. As you choose your topics and your focus for your vlog channel, you should keep in mind the type of person who will likely be drawn to those topics and that focus, and let that guide your ongoing content.
YouTube is a popular platform, with untold numbers of videos uploaded each day. No one is going to watch every single new video — it just isn’t possible. So you need to be able to get your videos to your target audience. You can do this by how you title the videos, choosing your keywords carefully.
You should also keep in mind that, if you’re talking about a specific topic and want others who know about that topic to watch the video, you must take your audience’s knowledge base into account. Some of them may be beginners, but others may be pros.
So if you’re discussing how to tie knots, you might include a little bit of set-up information (“This is a rope”) but also make sure your information is accurate and well-informed.
It’s also helpful to choose a niche audience, rather than a broader spectrum, though this may seem counterintuitive. Don’t forget, you’re competing against millions of other channels, and many of them cover broad topics like entertainment, celebrities, sports, and so on. Narrowing your focus down also helps your channel to stand out from the rest — for instance, while there are plenty of blogs about movies, it’s much less likely to find a channel that centers on the history of strong female characters who demonstrate how to tie knots in non-mainstream films dating from before 1950. Just as an example.
Tip Four: Learn The Art Of Video Editing (And Do It Well)
Have you ever watched a video that was so poorly edited that you just x-ed out in disgust? You didn’t get anything out of it. It wasn’t even entertaining. The potential value of it was so drastically lowered by the poor production quality, the jumpy cuts, the terrible lighting, that you just couldn’t even be bothered to watch through all four minutes of it.
Don’t be that person. Don’t make your viewers x out of your video because it’s too poorly edited to watch.
If you’re a beginner, you’re probably saying, “Hold on a minute, but I just don’t know how to edit yet!” And that’s justifiable, because you’re new.
What isn’t justifiable is skipping out on learning how to edit before you start uploading.
Guess what you can use to learn how to edit YouTube videos?
YouTube! There are plenty of free tutorials available. If you want to go another route, you can find paid tutorials and step by step instructions on other sites, like SkillShare. If you’re determined and follow through on your learning, you can start editing videos within a few days.
As you pick up these skills, take the time to observe how other vloggers operate and how their editing works — what looks good, and what doesn’t. Analyze camera angles, timing, cuts, and even sound effects.
Tip Five: Be Consistent
If you want to keep your audience, you have to work at it. People get distracted all the time, and if you only upload once in a blue moon, the odds are that your viewers will drift away. So I’ll say it again: be consistent in your uploading.
This is especially important during the first three months of starting your new vlog. New videos stimulate interest and viewership, garner new viewers, and feed back to your previous videos.
Once you become an established vlogger, it’s possible to cut back on your uploads and still have dedicated viewers, but it’s also possible to learn from the actions of well-known vloggers — many of whom still stick to a consistent schedule, even after they’ve achieved thousands and thousands of watchers.
Tip Six: Quality, Not Quantity
Now that I’ve just told you how important it is to be consistent in the amount of uploads that you — ahem — upload, I’m going to throw you a curveball with this next tip: make it about the quality of the video, not about the quantity.
By this I mean that it isn’t wise to sacrifice the integrity and quality of your editing and content just to put something up on your platform of choice. It might lead to attention, for sure, but it would likely be negative attention — and despite what you may have heard, attention at all costs is not what you want.
Poor quality will result in lowered viewer numbers. And it will make it far less likely that a viewer will click on your next video. Ultimately, uploading videos without properly vetting them and investing in the quality of each one is a waste of time, both for you as the creator and for your audience as the viewers.
Quality videos can make the difference between a successful channel and an unsuccessful one.
Tip Seven: Focus On Storytelling
Storytelling is a recommended tip for a lot of different ventures, even including marketing and advertising. So if you want to grow your viewership for your new vlog, it’s wise to apply storytelling methods here, too.
Of course, storytelling is an art, and it takes time to master it. Work on your scripts, revise and edit them, re-structure as needed — and get feedback before you film.
The idea behind this is to cover the content of each video in an arc, a way that keeps the audience engaged with what happens next. Engagement is of vital importance in retaining your viewership; you want your viewers to feel a level of personal connection with your channel, and the way to do that is to tell them a story with every video.
Tip Eight: Follow Trends
Speaking of storytelling, did you know that it’s increasingly a trend in vlogging?
And keeping up on trends is definitely a top tip for starting a vlog in 2020.
Remember hearing about the Ice Bucket Challenge a few years back? Everyone was doing it, and uploading the resulting videos. That was definitely a trend, and if you had jumped on that bandwagon at that time, you likely would have seen an increase in viewer numbers.
Trends come and go, and that’s why it’s important to keep on top of them. Think of trends as ocean waves, and your vlog is your surfboard. You want to ride that wave as long as you can, but once it starts to submerge, you need to know when to get out of it before you get caught in the undertow and dragged below the water.
It sounds more dangerous and dramatic than it is, but I’m sure you get my drift.
Trends will vary from niche to niche, so keep yourself well-educated on what is popular in your corner of the internet. This means being ready to postpone scheduled videos in favor of making an up-to-the-minute trendy video instead.
Surfing trends effectively can help your vlog to get more viewers, grow in popularity, and become well known as a cutting-edge trend-follower — which is the step right below a cutting-edge trend-setter, the ultimate goal for any vlogger.
Tip Nine: Be Yourself
“Be yourself,” is great advice, especially if you channel Oscar Wilde and add, “Everyone else is already taken.”
We’ve already discussed the importance of vlogging about your passions, the things you are excited about. This extends to how you present your vlog, as well: if you try to make it artificial or over-produced, people will know. They will know, and they will judge. And your viewership will go down.
You don’t need to write out a detailed screenplay for every single video. This may result simply in a stilted, unnatural delivery, or it might look as though you’re just reading a manuscript — because you are.
As you get more comfortable in front of the camera, even a few suggested talking points may be enough to keep you on track.
Act naturally. Record naturally. But — and this is important — don’t let that naturalness become a compromise in quality. It’s still a good idea to rehearse, or at least talk through what you want to say before you start the camera rolling. And keep in mind the magic of editing and cutting, because long pauses or a plethora of filler words (um, uh, ah, y’know, etc.) can quickly become boring, or even jarring.
Tip Ten: Create Bookends
One of the things that I’ve noticed when watching popular vloggers on YouTube is how they each tend to develop a certain way of beginning and ending their videos. These “bookends” are a branding technique, and they’re definitely advised for your own new vlog.
A bookend opening and closing helps viewers to know exactly what channel they’re watching; much like a theme song — and sometimes bookends include a theme song, actually — it’s an expected, familiar, comfortable part of each video experience.
That being said, you might also want to throw in “Easter eggs” at the beginning or end. This could be something like a blooper from one take, or an addition to a point, or a vignette. You could even go full Mystery Science Theater 3000 and include a repeat of your favorite moment from the video.
Easter eggs are a great idea because they keep your audience invested in the video through to the very end. They never know what’s going to happen! It’s very exciting!
Vlogging In 2020 — Let’s Get Going!
Vlogging can be an exciting proposition, especially when we look at how popular it is world wide. It’s very tempting just to leap into creating a vlog without knowing what we’re doing. After all, that’s what experience is for!
Well, that’s what these ten tips are for, too. To give your vlog the best chance of success, focus on quality, on naturalness, and on consistency. Following the tips I’ve included here should help you to see results from early on.
As you launch yourself into the vlogging world, don’t forget to reach out and make connections with others who share your interests. Collaborations between YouTubers are very popular, and it never hurts to network.
In the coming year, We hope that your new vlog sees health, happiness, and growth — and that you record every moment of it!