Video might have killed the radio star, but it also ushered in a new form of storytelling for the new millennium. With the rise of the video — and its main platform, YouTube — vlogging has become a popular way to tell stories on anything from makeup brands to kids’ toys. Millions of users tune in to individuals, groups, families and companies who share their personal take on what’s going on in the world. More famous vloggers can become a household name, whether for great content or provocative commentary.
While vlogs may consist of a person in a room alone, talking to a screen, there’s a sense of community in the vlogging sphere; vloggers encourage users to interact with them by subscribing, commenting and sharing. And with better and better iPhone cameras, free video editing platforms and easy YouTube signup, any audience member can join the other side and start a vlog of their own.
What is a Vlog?
As per its name, vlog is short for a video blog or log. While the vlog’s main medium is the direct address video, vlogs often include text and images on top of the video to support what the vlogger’s saying.
Many small businesses use vlogging to help up their brand and gain popularity; vlogging gives them an easy way to personalize their advertising and interact with users. The activity is also popular among teens and 20-somethings who are looking to show off new clothes, try out video games or simply depict their everyday lives. There are vlogs for every niche and every task you’d want to complete, from sports car enthusiasts to prank stars turned family men.
Why Should You Start a Vlog?
You have something you want to say.
For those who feel like they’re not being heard, vlogs are a great way to get your opinions out into the online world. You can interact with users through the comments and easily share your video on numerous social media platforms. This isn’t a one-time deal, so make sure you’ve picked a specific area or interest that you can talk a lot about. The Internet is forever — so keep your opinions respectful and considerate of other users. You can be argumentative, but don’t be offensive.
It’s done with a camera and imagination.
If you’ve got a phone and a brain, you’re more than halfway there to making a vlog. While more famous vloggers often work with more high definition videos, phone cameras often work just as well. Your content ideas and presentation matter more. Pick something you’re truly inspired by and talk away! Your excitement will shine through the video and make others engaged with your work.
It improves your communication and presentation skills.
Do you have trouble communicating with others? Do you fear speaking in public? Vlogging is a great way to jump into the deep end and dive headfirst into some presentation practice. Because you’ll be recording by yourself, the worries that come with an audience disappear. If you’re willing to go through numerous takes, you also relieve the pressure of getting your storytelling right on the first try.
You learn to connect with others.
It’s easy to share and interact with your audience when you’ve published a vlog. Use vlogging as a way to get audience feedback and interact with like-minded (or not so like-minded!) people. Use your vlog as a catalyst for discourse or a way to network and meet people who have similar interests. Learn how to optimize your content for a unique community and cater to an audience.
You want to commit to a project.
The vlogging world is fast-paced. Vloggers often respond to what’s going on around them, which includes the 24-hour news cycle and the latest releases of all new sneakers, video game consoles or eye shadow palettes. They also work for their fan base, an audience that expects them to post new content consistently to make their subscription worth it. If you’re looking to start a vlog — and gain popularity — you need to publish consistently and regularly. While a vlogger’s content might not be serious, their dedication to the craft most likely is. There’s no way to maintain subscribers and popularity without consistent updates — and that requires commitment.
You want to improve your video skills.
While some vloggers edit their videos more than others, there’s no doubt that some video skill is required to publish a vlog. Start small and do your research before trying to get your video to look like the pros. As you keep publishing and get more comfortable with the process, you can experiment with different editing styles and platforms. With videos becoming an integral storytelling device for many companies and brands, video editing skills are not only great for your vlog but also your job prospects.
6 Steps to Starting a Vlog
Now that you’re convinced starting a vlog is right for you, the harder task is actually starting it. The vlog is what you make of it. The more effort you put into your drafting, filming and editing, the more put-together and enticing your vlog will be.
1. Pick a topic or theme.
Successful vlogs focus on a specific idea, one that’s weaved through each video to connect the channel as a whole. Because there are so many vlogs out there, think away from the general and more toward the unique and specific. What’s something you love that the general public may not? What can you provide expertise on? What makes your life and set of circumstances different? Answering these questions can help you curate a feed that’s cohesive and an audience that’s connected.
2. Choose a camera.
Because the video aspect of vlogging is integral to the medium, finding the right camera’s incredibly important to your vlogging experience. Not everyone needs the world’s fanciest and most expensive camera — if you’re clear and seeable, a phone camera can work just as well. However, make sure this camera is conducive to your vlog’s specific needs. If you’re making a vlog about our beautiful earth, pick a camera that can capture the wonders of nature best. If you’re vlogging about exercise and want to film on the go, you don’t want to lug around a heavy camera that prevents your athletic activities.
3. Start filming.
While it may be a little scary to start the actual vlogging process, filming should be one of the most fun and uplifting aspects of the vlogging experience. Now that you’ve decided your topic and you have a camera, start playing around with how you want your vlog to look and sound. While you can have an outline of what you’re going to say, make sure you speak to your desired audience genuinely. Try filming from different angles or in different locations for variety — as long as the audio stays clear and you’re not cutting out any important parts of the scene. It’s important to stay loose and just go for it — you can edit out any mistakes or mess-ups during the editing process.
4. Edit your video.
Editing can make a break a video is received and viewed. Think about your favorite vlogs and how they’re edited — are they one long video taken from one angle? Or are there multiple short takes with different backgrounds? Using your favorite vlogs as inspiration can help improve and educate your editing process. While it’s fun to get fancy, make sure your work is (on a baseline) clear and easy to watch. Check on the video cropping and the audio levels — audiences don’t like to be frustrated by jumbled language and half-missing images.
5. Keep your content legal!
If you’re planning to publish on a public platform like YouTube, make sure you’re keeping your content legal. This means giving credit where credit is due for all songs and images that aren’t your own. Try using royalty-free photos and music if you’d like to mix mediums, and make sure you give credit where credit is due in the vlog description. It’s worth it to over-credit rather than getting your vlog removed after days of hard work.
6. Post and share.
The work isn’t done the second you hit your save button. With your vlog complete, it’s time to upload and share. Choose a platform that fits with your vlog theme and is user-friendly; most vloggers turn to YouTube to share their work because of the large audience and ease of use. Upload your video with an enticing title and cohesive description to attract users, and make sure the upload comes from a fully -leshed vlogger profile. Once you’ve uploaded, make sure to share your work with friends, family and anyone who will take a look. Sharing is one of the first rites of passage in the vlogger community, where those who watch will hopefully welcome you with open arms.
Zoë Kaplan is an English major at Wesleyan University in the class of 2020. She writes about women, theater, sports, and everything in between. Read more of Zoë’s work at www.zoëkaplan.com.