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How To Start a Vlog: A Beginner’s Guide

My Damn Channel screen grab

So you’ve been blogging for a while now and have decided that you’d like to start making your own vlog posts too, but where to start?

Vlogging has become a big deal in the blogging world. The huge popularity of sites such as YouTube means that many bloggers are turning to video content to get more blog traffic. But how do you get in on the act? And what do you need to know before you get started? Never fear our vlogging guide has the answers!

Vlogging platforms

When contemplating setting up a vlog, the choice of platforms can seem bewildering. Essentially, a video platform is a site that you can upload and share your video on, which you can then embed in posts on your original blog.

YouTube is the undisputed king of video blogging. With around 72 hours of footage uploaded every minute, it’s easily the most popular video-sharing platform on the web.  The wisdom of ‘follow where others lead’ makes YouTube a tempting offer, however, the problem with the popularity of this platform is that a lot of rubbish gets uploaded, and this could get in the way of people seeing your (brilliant) stuff.

Of course there are some viable alternatives to You Tube in the video blogging world.  One of the best is Vimeo. Vimeo is much smaller than You Tube, meaning that there is a lot less rubbish clogging it up. It is a good choice if you’re looking for a more creative and constructive community. Features include a video school to help users improve their videos.

If you want to upload enormously long film, Veoh should be your go-to platform. There are no size restrictions on uploads, and so it attracts people who want to watch longer videos – very useful if you’re an aspiring film maker.

For more YouTube alternatives check out this guide on Mashable.

YouTube screen grab         Vimeo screen grab         Veoh screen grab

Free video editors

There are endless numbers of free video editing software. If you are a complete beginner then Windows Movie Maker is a safe bet, as it is supremely easy to use. You can drag and drop clips into the programme, where they are assembled into the correct order. Special effects are easy to apply, as are soundtracks, captions and credits. You can then either save the movie as a video file, or upload it directly to Facebook, YouTube and many other sites.

iMovie is also a good option for movie-making novices, and comes with Mac products as standard. Courtesy of tech buffs Apple, it is relatively easy to use with a simplistic timeline feature, and easy to apply effects. Like Windows Movie Maker, you can easily upload videos to social media.

If you aren’t a total newbie to video editing then you could give VideoPad a try. VideoPad can be used on Mac and Windows operating systems and has a complete interface in the style of professional editors with a double built-in screen, and a timeline for video and audio tracks.

The technical stuff: cameras, audio and lighting

The easiest way to film your posts is to use a webcam. Webcams are pretty standard in laptops these days, but some bloggers suggest using external webcams such as the Logitech Pro 9000 for better quality.

If you’re likely to be filming a lot of your vlog posts outdoors then make sure you invest in a decent digital camera, and use a tripod – there’s nothing worse than shaky film! The better quality your camera, the better your sound is likely to be, but you may also benefit from purchasing an external microphone and plug it into your camera, to eliminate wind and background noise.

Lighting can make all the difference to how professional your vlog post looks, particularly if you’re shooting indoors. Wherever possible take advantage of natural light, and make sure that the source of light is behind the camera. If you find yourself filming more and more vlog posts you could look into light lamps and rigs, but it certainly isn’t a necessary requirement for a beginner.

Content

So, you’ve decided on your platform and software, now it’s time to think about what you’re actually going to say or do in your video. Will it be a product review, a tutorial, or simply a personal update?

Whatever it is that you want to say, don’t be boring! The point of vlogging is to give your blog another dimension to show off your personality, so you need to think about how you want to come across just as much as when you are writing a traditional blog post. Think about the topics you normally blog about and what your followers are interested in, and go from there.

If you feel completely lost, try looking at other vlogs that you enjoy watching. Consider the details that you admire such as background or presenting style. It’s fine to take inspiration from your vlogging heroes, as long as you make those ideas your own.

Another good way to get started is to add an ‘about’ video to your side-bar. This can be a short clip welcoming visitors to your site and introducing yourself and the blog topics you cover. If you love watching vlogs you’ll have noticed that video ‘tags’, such ’10 things you didn’t know about me’ or ‘what’s in my handbag?’ are common – these can also offer a great starting point for your first vlog post.

Whatever you choose to blog about, let your personality shine through – it’s why your readers return to your site and video is simply another medium for expressing your thoughts and opinions.

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