Have you thought about starting a vlog, but never got to it? Now is your chance! In this blog, successful Cambridge vlogger Elena Handtrack shares her top tips for getting started
You have probably watched at least one vlog on one of your YouTube visits. Vlogs are videos that document the life of the video-maker. Back when I was in high school, I used to love watching these videos. When I got bored in the summer before Cambridge, I decided to start my own vlogging channel on YouTube. It grew out of curiosity of what it would be like and, honestly, boredom. My early videos were pretty bad but I was very proud of them (and still am) because it is hard to get used to filming yourself. Talking to a camera is something new for most of us and editing your first videos can be daunting.
But if there has ever been a perfect time to start learning how to do these things, quarantine is it! So if you have ever been even just a little bit curious about starting a YouTube channel, here are some things I wish someone had told 18-year-old me when she started her channel:
1. Have zero expectations
When I started making videos, pretty much no one cared about them. Getting 100 views seemed massive and I never thought I would get 1,000 views at some point. But it also did not really matter to me: I made videos for me, for having something to do, but not for views. I am now at a point where I have over 30,000 subscribers and I get a monthly paycheck from Google, but this is two years and over 100 videos later. I would still be doing this if the only people watching were my mum and my grandma – because I am making these videos for me. So when you begin, make sure you start doing this for you and not for views or financial benefits. If those things end up coming around, that is great, but they may not or they may not be permanent, so do it to have fun. Trust me, it will be more enjoyable that way!
…when you begin, make sure you start doing this for you and not for views or financial benefits.”
My first video (2017):
2. Think before talking to your camera
This may sound obvious, but it was not so obvious to me when I started out! I used to think that I could just pick up a camera and start talking about something (I would absolutely not recommend this strategy). If you are vlogging, just take thirty seconds and think about what you want to discuss with the camera now. If you are doing a sit-down video talking about a specific topic, take a few minutes before turning on the camera and write down some key points. This will give your videos more structure and ensure you do not talk repetitively (you will thank yourself for this while editing, since it means less of the clip will have to be cut).
3. Learn how to edit a video
Editing is probably the scariest part of starting out with vlogging. I would recommend getting a free software (e.g. iMovie for Apple devices) and experimenting with it. Whenever you hit a wall, open up YouTube and type in the name of the software and a few keywords about your problem. The great thing about YouTube is that it basically contains the guidelines for starting to actively post on the platform. I never had anyone explain editing to me, but I taught myself with the help of tutorials. It was not always easy to learn how to do these things, but it will make you feel even prouder whenever you find out how to do something new!
It was not always easy to learn how to do these things, but it will make you feel even prouder whenever you find out how to do something new!”
4. Equipment really does not matter
I used to think that YouTubers need fancy equipment – a great camera, a tripod, a good computer for editing, and so on. But the truth is – all it takes is your phone. You can even edit your videos on your phone. Your audience will not care about your videos having fancy audio or cool transitions, they will instead care about you. They will want to get to know you and learn more about whatever you want to communicate through your videos, whether it is a message about the accessibility of education, a good joke, or fashion tips. What will make your videos great is not the quality of your audio or the number of pixels of your video, but you. Your attitude. How you make your audience feel.
What will make your videos great is not the quality of your audio or the number of pixels of your video, but you. Your attitude. How you make your audience feel.”
5. Love your videos, even if they are kind of terrible
Your first videos will probably not be masterpieces – getting used to talking to a camera takes time. Becoming comfortable with sharing parts of your life takes time. But you should nonetheless give yourself props for making them. Every video is a lot of work – your audience may only see a short clip of a few minutes, but creators usually put hours of work into those short clips. So respect yourself for putting in that work. As long as you are comfortable with the content of the video being on the internet forever, do not be hard on yourself if it is not perfect. Take it from someone who has been making videos for over two years now: no video is ever perfect!
…but even though they may never be perfect, they will improve.
Good luck for your first video!
Skills you can gain through vlogging, which transfer to many careers:
- Increasing your confidence speaking to an audience
- Developing your passion and knowledge around a subject
- Research and planning skills
- Entrepreneurial aptitude