By Liz Peckler and David Gutierrez
College is one of the most interesting periods of your life, and for that very reason, there is no better time to start your own video blog (vlog). If done right, vlogging can be a highly lucrative venture in addition to being a fun hobby, and it is a great way to document your experiences, share your thoughts and stories, showcase your skills and talents, and provide valuable data to the rest of the world. So, in case writing does not fit you, and photos do not seem informative enough – why don’t you grab your camera and create some videos for your personal blog?
If you are interested in how to get started and become a vlogger, here are the steps you need to take:
- Find your niche and do your research.
Finding your niche is the first and most important step to creating your vlog. You cannot just grab a camera and start recording whatever you feel like recording. The best vlogs are those that focus on a certain type of content because apart from giving the vlog a clear and recognizable theme, it also makes the vlogger an authority on his or her chosen niche.
Figure out what you want to produce on your vlog. Do you want to share cooking tutorials on quick and easy meals for college students? Are you thinking of doing a fitness vlog? Or do you just plan on sitting in front of the camera and talking about your academic struggles and daily experiences in college? Whatever niche you choose, make sure it is something you are knowledgeable and passionate about, and of course, something that you will be able to film while you are in school.
Once you have decided on your niche, take the time to do your research. Find other vloggers in the same niche and take notes on their content, on-camera personality, vlog format, posting schedules, and even things like what type of cameras or editing software they use. Remember that the purpose is not to imitate but to find out what works for others, as that will give you ideas on what you can do for your own vlog.
Another important element to research is your target audience. Find out what type of content they want to see and what they normally respond to. Read YouTube comments, take note of the types of videos that get the most views, and find out what people are saying on social media. Researching your audience will help give you ideas on how to tailor and package your content in such a way that makes it more appealing to your prospective viewers.
- Buy the tools and equipment you need.
If your vlog is just for fun, the camera on your smartphone or laptop will suffice. But if you are serious about your vlogging and would like to create your personal brand, start a following, and make some money from producing content, then you need to invest in quality equipment. Many YouTube vloggers prefer DSLRs to shoot their videos, but some also use mirrorless cameras or even action cameras for vlogging on the go due to the compact size and design.
Go online and read up on the latest camera options that are on the market right now. Check out online reviews or watch hands-on videos (there should be plenty on YouTube) that show the camera’s image and video quality. Once you’ve chosen a specific brand and model, shop around at online gadget stores. If your budget is tight, consider buying second-hand equipment to get the best possible price.
Keep in mind that you will also need to purchase other equipment, such as a tripod or a monopod (selfie stick), and maybe some type of video editing software if your laptop or computer doesn’t already have one.
- Build your social media presence.
Social media is important for building your personal brand and promoting your content. Build your social media presence early on, during the infancy stages of your vlog. It is an extremely effective marketing tool that will help drive views and engagement to your vlogs, so establishing a solid social media presence right at the beginning will help you gain more exposure, which in turn will make you grow much faster.
First, you have to choose your platform. Most vloggers use YouTube because it has a wider audience, but you can also choose other platforms to publish your content. You can use Periscope if you want to do a livestream type of vlog, or you can publish your videos to Facebook, if that is what you prefer. You can also upload your videos simultaneously to various platforms to ensure that your content reaches as many viewers as possible.
You also need to create social media pages for your vlog on relevant networks. Facebook and Twitter are of course the most popular choices, but most vloggers also like to take advantage of other social media platforms like Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest. When creating these pages, remember to be consistent. Use the same profile photo, cover photo, and name across all pages to ensure better brand recall. Most famous YouTube vloggers use the name of their channel as their Facebook name or Twitter handle to make it easier for followers to search for them on social media, as well as to establish their personal brand and online identity.
- Figure out the logistics.
Where will you film your videos? Who will edit and produce the final product? Do you need your dorm mate to act as your cameraman? How often will you post videos? These are just some of the questions you need to ask yourself prior to actually starting your vlog. It is always a good idea to plan ahead to ensure the best chances for success, and this holds true for vlogging as well. Before filming your first video, make sure to figure out the logistics: the where, when, how, and why.
Once you have figured out the basics, you may also want to think about creating a content schedule for you to follow. Some vloggers can be more relaxed about this, but given that you have classes, exams, and extracurricular activities to worry about, it is a good idea to map out a schedule that works for you.
- Film and publish your first vlog.
Now that you’ve gone through all the initial steps, you are ready to start filming your first vlog. Once you are in front of the camera, remember to be confident and authoritative. Allow your personality to shine through. While you should strive to showcase certain personality traits that will make you more interesting to your target audience, such as humor or eccentricity, the most important thing to remember is that you need to act naturally. Most viewers respond more to authenticity, so it is best to be genuine.
Also, because of the public nature of vlogs, you need to make sure that your everything you do and say in your videos are within the confines of the school rules. Always observe college rules and regulations (when in doubt, read your Student Handbook) to avoid penalties or punishment.
After you have successfully filmed your first video, all that’s left is to edit and publish it!
Liz Pekler is a travel photographer with almost 10 years of experience in the field. When she is not out exploring the world, she likes to share her knowledge about photography and travel through writing for blogs.