Learning how to start a vlog (video log) is relatively easy with the right preparation. Vlogging involves figuring out what style of video content you prefer and what channel you want to host your vlog on. From there, you have to film, edit, and promote your content. If you have a smartphone, you can even start vlogging for free.
To learn how to start a vlog, follow these eight steps.
1. Do Your Vlog Homework
There are many different styles of vlogging, and the best way to figure out what style you want is to conduct some research. An easy way to do this is to search YouTube for the niche that you’re interested in vlogging about. YouTube is by far the most popular platform as it displays millions of videos in varying styles.
Assess what you like and don’t like about each video. Pay attention to the music, tone, and whether they use a lot of B-roll, which is supplemental footage added to the main video. Some videos are very curated, and others have minimal editing and can be published to the video platform very quickly.
Popular vlog niches include:
- Travel: You can use your travel videos to document your journey, whether that’s international trips or visiting new eateries in your city. An example of this is the YouTube Channel Epic Family Road Trip.
- Beauty: Videos such as tutorials, unboxing products, and reviews do well in the beauty category. A popular beauty vlogger is Taisha.
- Lifestyle: The lifestyle category can encompass travel, and it can also include parenting, health, fitness, and day-to-day life. Mossonyi is a vlogger sharing about style, travel, and everyday life.
- Gamer: Share your gameplay footage via a vlog but be sure to read the terms of service (TOS) for each game before you share footage. Some encourage sharing while others prohibit it. An example of this is The Game Theorists.
2. Create Your Vlog Channel
Where you host your blog is more of a personal preference than anything. Your desired audience may prefer one platform over another, but it’ll feel less like work if you can pick a platform you already enjoy. If you dread posting and interacting on a particular platform, it’s not the best choice to devote your time to. However, some vloggers will do most of their work through one platform and share it to multiple platforms.
Since YouTube is a platform specifically for videos and is the oldest platform of its kind, it’s a popular choice for many vloggers. It’s free to use YouTube, and you can even monetize your YouTube channel with ads. To do so, you’ll need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time within the past 12 months.
IGTV stands for Instagram TV, which is the native video platform on Instagram. Videos within an Instagram feed can only be up to one minute in length. However, if you use IGTV, your video can be as long as 60 minutes. Readers can also sign up to get notifications every time their favorite creators post an IGTV episode.
The video platform on Facebook is called Facebook Watch. Content creators upload their own long and short-form content, and the platform also has professionally produced content. Users can create watchlists, which is a list of channels they follow. This won’t create any push notifications any time a new video is uploaded, but it will create a list of videos they can access on-demand.
Similar to the now-defunct video platform Vine, TikTok is a place where users create short-form videos. Many users upload lip-syncing, comedy, and talent videos with music in the background. Each video loops unless a user navigates away from it. You’ll need an iOS or Android phone to download the social media video app.
Your Own Website
If you have both the technical expertise and the funds to do it, hosting videos on your own site can work. However, you won’t benefit from the social sharing aspect of using a platform, such as TikTok or YouTube.
Videos take up an enormous amount of space on servers, which is incredibly expensive, so a better option is to host your videos on another platform and embed them onto your own site. This way, you can have your vlog and even a blog or website to which you can send people. Learn more about blogging vs vlogging.
3. Order Vlogging Equipment
While vloggers can create videos with their smartphone, you might feel more motivated to create a video if you’ve got the right equipment. You can get equipment such as lights, a professional video camera, and microphones to up the production quality of your videos. Depending on your budget, you can find each of these items new or used.
While not necessary when shooting videos in natural light, you’re going to want a standalone light source for your videos. You can find lights on Amazon for less than $30. Many vloggers use large ring lights, and others get clip-on ring lights for their phones or cameras. If you have a dedicated space to conduct your video shoots, you can use a three-point light setup.
Consider purchasing a gimbal like a DJI Osmo to keep your video stabilized if you use your smartphone to shoot video. I’ve shot some incredible footage using just my iPhone XS Max and a DJI Osmo, and people are always shocked to hear this after seeing some of my videos. I prefer this setup as I travel to some really remote places (like the Amazon jungle and rainforest or the Maasai Mara) and it’s a pain to carry a lot of gear.
If you don’t want to use a smartphone to create videos, you can invest in a camera that takes high-quality videos. Many vloggers use a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) if they also do photography, but you can also use a mirrorless camera—both of these are digital cameras with lots of settings.
Point-and-shoot cameras make it easy to take great videos if you don’t have the technical expertise to focus a shot. A popular choice for travel or adventure vloggers is a GoPro since it’s durable and waterproof.
You can find quality vlogging microphones on Amazon for less than $20. Some microphones attach to your clothing with a clip, some need a stand, and others can clip to the camera or desk. The most common vlogging microphone is a unidirectional one known as a cardioid mic. These only record sound from one direction, so it won’t pick up your neighbor mowing their lawn outside.
4. Write Your First Vlogging Script
Some vloggers have no problem spending an hour talking while others prefer to have entire scripts to follow. You may lie somewhere in the middle and prefer to follow a general outline. An outline will make it easier to appear natural on camera, rather than looking like you’re just reading. If you mess up while filming, the great news is that you can always go back and edit it out.
If you’re talking for three minutes, that’s roughly 500 written words. This means if you’re writing down every single word that you want to say, you’re spending an unnecessary amount of time preparing. If you follow a basic outline, you can fill in the gaps. You’ll find this much easier the more you do it, so practice writing your outline now and ad-libbing the rest.
The outline should flow naturally through a sequence of events. You’ll start with an introduction that tells them who you are, why you’re vlogging, and what the audience will gain by watching the video. Your intro should be relatively quick. Otherwise, viewers will likely navigate away from your video if it takes too long to get to the meat. Typically, this is less than 15 seconds.
The bulk of the video needs to explain exactly what you promise they will learn. While clickbait works for a lot of vloggers, it isn’t a good way to keep followers. Clickbait videos have sensational headlines that are designed to get a viewer to click to watch the video. If you deliver on what you say you will in your video, a viewer is more likely to subscribe.
You should follow up this section of your video by providing a conclusion. Summarize what you talked about, give a few short lessons, and provide a call to action (CTA). This CTA might be to like, comment, or subscribe to your channel.
5. Film Your Vlog
Your vlog will be much more engaging if you follow a few key rules. You shouldn’t talk too fast, don’t ramble, and use the best lighting possible. If you’re shooting a travel or lifestyle video, you might want to use B-roll. This supplemental footage intercuts within your video to create transitions or to make your audience feel as though they’re actually at the location you’re describing.
Implement these strategies while filming your vlog:
- Shoot horizontally: We live on a horizontal plane, spending every day looking at a horizontal frame. You never want to shoot a video vertically, unless you’re filming specifically for Snapchat or an Instagram story.
- Consider a tripod: No one likes to watch a video where someone is holding the camera because it shakes the video. A tripod will prevent this from happening. Alternatively, you can get a gimbal meant to stabilize the video if you’re holding the camera.
- Tell a story: The most effective vloggers tell stories while creating their videos. Each story needs a beginning, middle, and end. Tell your story as though you’re talking to your best friend.
- Be yourself: It’s hard to pretend to be someone you’re not. If you act how you normally are, you’ll appear much more natural. If you’re goofy, be goofy. If you’re great at impersonations, throw some of those in your videos too.
- Look at the camera: For “talking head” videos, where it shows you from your shoulders up talking to the cameras, be sure to look at the camera. You don’t want to look at the screen because then it appears you’re looking down.
6. Edit Your Vlog
Many new computers come preinstalled with video editing software such as iMovie or Windows 10 Movie Maker. Another popular video editing program is DaVinci Resolve 16, which is free. It offers a paid version, but for most videos, the free version will suffice. You can also opt to pay for a program such as Adobe After Effects.
When editing, be sure to focus on quality vs quantity. Ask yourself what you should cut out from the video to keep it succinct—5 to 20 minutes is customary for vlogs. If you have no desire to edit your videos, you can hire someone to do it for you. Fiverr is a good place to find freelancers.
Another popular freelancer option is to use Freelancer.com. While I can, and have, edited many videos, I lack time and patience now to do it myself. When I do sponsored travel, I use the “contest” feature on Freelancer.com. I upload all of my footage, give a few examples of videos I love, and freelancers compete to win my prize.
Throughout the competition, which usually runs less than five days, I give feedback on submissions so I can end up with the perfect video. Often, I have several submissions I love. Then, I choose one winner and offer several others runner-up prizes. This way, I have several great videos in the end.
If my contest prize is $200 on Freelancer.com, I usually offer $100 to each runner-up I choose. Keep in mind that you don’t necessarily have to choose a runner-up. I usually do because I like more than one video.
Music helps add feeling to your story, and because the majority of music has a copyright, you can’t use anything mainstream you’ll find on the radio. YouTube has its own music library you can use, or you can search Google for royalty-free vlog music. Some of these sites are free while others charge a monthly fee. Free sites are the most popular, which means you’re likely going to have many of the same songs as other vloggers if you choose that route.
Another option for using music in your videos is to sign up for a service like Epidemic Sound or Bensound. These are subscription services that allow you to download royalty free music.
Color Correcting Filters
With the free version of DaVinci Resolve 16, you can color correct your video in post-production. Color correcting videos adds a more cohesive look to your videos, so try to use the same color correcting filters across each video. You don’t want one video to be very cool in color―blue, green, or purple―and then the next one warm in color―red, yellow, or orange.
7. Upload Your Vlog
After your video gets edited, you’ll need to come up with the title, description, and thumbnail image. Some vloggers also create captions, whether through a paid service or YouTube’s automatic captioning feature.
Clickbait works, but only in the short term. Your video title needs to convey exactly what your video is about. Otherwise, you’re unlikely to gain a new subscriber.
Some of the best titles answer a question, such as “Where to Find the Best Coffee in New York That Isn’t Starbucks,” or “The Best Books to Read if You’re a Female Entrepreneur.” Follow these blog title strategies when titling your vlog episodes as it’s the same concept as blogging.
Your description should be accurate and have keywords. A keyword tells search engines and the platform on which you’re hosting your vlog what the video is about. The description also usually includes any links you reference in your video, where viewers can follow you on other platforms, and where the music in your video is from.
A thumbnail is a small image or screenshot of your video. You can create these thumbnails using a free program such as Canva, or you can use Photoshop. Some bloggers just take a screenshot of a still frame from their video and use that. Thumbnails with text on them, as long as it’s large enough to read, does better than plain thumbnail images.
One of the most popular services to transcribe your videos with is Rev.com. You can also choose to hire a freelancer from Fiverr to do it for you. Captions will allow viewers who are hard of hearing or in public places to watch your videos.
8. Promote Your Vlog
Vlogging is more than just shooting a video and uploading it to a platform. You’ll need to market your vlog channel and videos to get viewers and subscribers. There are many strategies you can use to promote your vlog, which includes collaborating, running ads, and interacting with other vloggers.
To grow your vlog audience, use these methods:
- Collaborate: You can collaborate with other vloggers on videos, or you can even work with brands. Famebit, Izea, and Perlu are influencer networks that you can use to find brand collabs. For collabs with other vloggers, you can usually find contact info for your fave vloggers on their channels.
- Like and comment: Respond to every comment someone makes on your vlog and take the time to be social on the platform you’re on. When you comment on other vlogs, other people can see that and might check out your channel.
- Ads: You can run ads to your channel using search engines and social media. Popular platforms for ads include Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram. This is a popular way to make money both blogging and vlogging.
How to Start a Vlog Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section includes the most frequently asked questions about how to start a vlog.
Can I make money as a vlogger?
You might not make any money as a vlogger. If you do earn money, you might spend more time vlogging compared to how much you earn. However, many vloggers make a full-time income creating videos for their social media channels. Your success will depend on several factors, including your tenacity, skills, resources, and consistency.
Is it too late to start vlogging?
No, it isn’t too late to start vlogging. The reason for this is because people will continue to need answers and entertainment. If you don’t start a vlog to entertain and answer questions, someone else will.
How long should vlogs be?
Most vlogs are between 5 and 20 minutes. However, some video platforms cater specifically to short vlogs, such as TikTok. These videos are usually less than 15 seconds long.
Starting a vlog is a great way to entertain and answer people’s questions. You can vlog in several niches, such as travel, lifestyle, beauty, and gaming. Many vloggers choose to host their videos across many different platforms, which include YouTube, TikTok, IGTV, and even on their own websites. In as little as a weekend, you can have your first video live and ready to share across social media platforms.