So you want to get into video, do ya?
Well, I’m so glad to hear that because I think YouTube and vlogging are two of the greatest things ever!
About 7 years I got my first camcorder right before setting out on a backpacking trip to Argentina. I had never held a camcorder before, I had never edited a video, and I had never been in front of a camera…but I wanted to make videos. I was travelling with one of my best friends, Rebecca, and I decided we were going to document our two weeks across the country; easier said than done! When we weren’t laughing our heads off as we tried to recount the days events, we were ranting about one thing or another. Looking back, I both cringe at our amateur style yet love that footage because it’s what first got me hooked on vlogging. Our footage was raw, shaky, and it had a slight air of lunacy, but it so fun filming it.
It would take another 4 years before I met Sam and decided to start a YouTube channel with him (it’s kind of funny to look back and think that we started making videos together just 1 month after we started dating!), but I couldn’t imagine travelling now and not filming as I go.
We’ve now been making videos for over 3 years and while I wouldn’t consider myself a professional videographer by any means (our style is much more casual and laid back), I have learned a thing or two about vlogging and using YouTube during that time, so today I thought I’d share 10 YouTube tips for anyone thinking of getting into video. Let’s get started!
1. Be consistent about posting videos
The best tip I can give you is to get your stuff out there!
Making good videos takes practice and you’ll only get better if you keep at it. If you tell yourself “this video is not good enough”, “it still needs more editing”, “it doesn’t look like what I envisioned”, then you’ll never publish anything!
I can’t watch the videos Sam and I filmed 3 years ago because they look pretty bad – the outdated transitions, the zooming in and out, the awkwardness of being in front of the camera for the first time – but we shared those videos online, kept making some more, and I like to think we slowly improved along the way.
If you want to get into video you need to have a goal. That may be publishing 1 video a month or publishing 2 videos a week. Set a goal that you know you’ll be able to accomplish, and do your best to stick to it. You may not always feel 100% satisfied with the result, but it’s important that you get your video out there and get started on the next project.
2. Learn to press the delete button
What you take out is just as important as what you leave in.
Once of the things that can kill a potentially good video is too much of the same thing. Just because you shot 10 clips of the Eiffel Tower from slightly different vantage points doesn’t mean you have to include every single piece of footage in your video. Choose the best shots and then delete the rest.
If you show too much of the same and the footage starts to feel a bit repetitive, viewers will lose interest and move on to something else. Your job is to keep the viewer engaged, even if it means parting with some of your files.
3. Stop comparing yourself to others
There are always going to be channels that are more popular, more experienced, or more skilled than yours. You can either look at these channels for inspiration on how you want to film and what you want to achieve, or you can let it immobilize you with self-doubt and not publish anything, ever.
Obviously the latter isn’t what you want to have happen.
Just remember that every channel out there started in the very same place as you: no subscribers, no views, no audience. Yes, even the channels who have over 1 million subscribers and now make their living exclusively off of YouTube – they too were right were you are today.
4. Study movies, tv shows, and videos you enjoy
You can learn a lot of technique by watching videos and studying them. Whenever you see a cool shot or an unusual angle, ask yourself, “How did they do that?” and then rewind, go watch it again, and pay attention to the way the camera is moving.
One of my favourite travel shows is ‘Departures’ and I fell in love with it from the first episode because of the cinematography. The show chronicles 2 friends, Scott and Justin, as they travel around the world with their incredibly talented cameraman, Andre. If you haven’t watched the show yet, you need to get yourself on Netflix right away because not only are Scott and Justin really entertaining, but Andre is able to work some serious magic with the camera. The sweeping landscapes, the dramatic pans – sometimes it feels like he’s frozen time.
5. Don’t forget to do SEO on your videos
If you want your videos to actually rank on YouTube (which allows viewers to find you), you need to do a bit more than just upload your content.
I know so many YouTubers who shoot really great videos, but they don’t help their content rank on YouTube. Filming and editing may be 90% of the work, but it’s the final 10% that’s going to allow people to find you.
What does this mean?
1) Give your video a descriptive title.
You want something that explains exactly what your video is about and gets keywords in the title. “VLOG #1: Alohaaaaaa!!!!!” is not so great, but “Driving the road to Hana in Maui” might actually get you somewhere.
2) Use tags.
Tags are keywords that will help people find your video. Since we’re rolling with the example of “Driving the road to Hana in Maui”, you could use keywords like: Hana highway, road trip, scenic drive, coastal drive, Maui, Hawaii, travel. Get the picture?
3) Write a description.
Tell me what your video is about. Better yet, tell YouTube what your video is about. That little description box under your video gives you plenty of room to write a search engine-friendly description, so don’t be sparse with your words.
6. Don’t worry about having the fanciest camera out there
It’s not about the camera you have, it’s about what you do with your camera to tell a story.
That being said, two main considerations when choosing a camcorder or camera should be audio and image stabilization. Audio is really important because you want your viewers to be able to hear what you’re saying clearly rather than picking up muffled background noises, and image stabilization is also important because no one enjoys watching jerky filming that makes you dizzy.
These days Sam and I shoot with a camcorder because it suits our on-the-go style (it’s the Panasonic HC-X920 in case you’re interested), but don’t go off and get that just because it’s what we use. You really need to think about your filming style, the video quality you want, and the final result that you’re looking to achieve. For us that means shooting with a camcorder, but I know a lot of YouTubers who prefer the glossy / saturated footage you get with a dSLR.
7. Don’t neglect audio
Now that I’ve told you that you don’t need a fancy camera, I’m going to tell you to actually think about audio, because if there’s one thing that can completely ruin a video, it’s not being able to hear what you are saying. Biggest pet peeve!
Here are some pointers:
1) If you’ve just climbed to the top of some mountain and it’s really windy, don’t bother breaking into a monologue of how accomplished you feel because I won’t be able to hear it. What I will hear is that deafening wind that’s whipping you in the face, and it’s especially horrible when I’m wearing headphones. Be mindful of audio anytime you’re shooting somewhere windy so that your footage doesn’t go to waste.
2) If you’re shooting with an old GoPro, take it out of its case. It may keep the camera safe while you’re out surfing or jumping off cliffs, but if you’re going to talk, it sounds very muffled, and again, I can’t make out a word you’re saying.
3) If you’re shooting with your phone, make sure you’re not placing your finger over the microphone. Maybe this doesn’t apply so much to video (unless you’re filming with your phone), but it happens all the time with Snapchat.
Of course, this isn’t an issue if you’re just filming mood videos and then laying down a track, but if you’re going to be speaking into the camera, it’s something you really need to think about.
8. Use simple editing software
Since these YouTube tips are geared at people who are just starting out, I’m going to say choose a simple editing software that isn’t going to cause you a mental breakdown every time you try to edit a video. You don’t need to go out and buy Final Cut Pro; if this is your first time editing video, it’ll likely slow you down, confuse you, and leave you in a puddle of tears.
Guess what? Windows Movie Maker will do the trick! Yes, that’s the program that likely already came installed in your laptop, and if it didn’t, you can download it for FREE!
I think there’s a place for advanced video editing software, but it’s probably best to keep it simple if you are just starting out and have no prior editing experience.
9. Be social, share, and collaborate
YouTube is a very community driven platform so go out there and make some friends. Find channels you like and leave a comment – but not spammy comments like ‘Cool video!’ or ‘Awesome stuff, man’. Take a genuine interest in people and the content they are producing, and others will take an interest in you too.
Also, don’t forget to share your videos. If you hit the share tab underneath a video, you’ll notice that it can be shared across 13 different social platforms – that certainly gives you a lot of options! And let’s not forget the embed tab that allows you to share your video (perhaps on your blog) in custom sizes. If you want to get more views on your videos, don’t just upload them and then forget about them – get social!
Lastly, this is a community where people love to collaborate, so if you find a channel that has a similar niche, you could potentially reach out and see if you can work on a video together and cross-promote each other (once you get to know them a bit better, of course). Don’t just spring that on YouTubers the first time you visit someone’s channel; that’s like saying ‘I love you’ on a first date.
10. Try not to let negative comments affect you too much
The thing about social media is that anyone can say whatever they feel like saying and just hide behind a nameless gravatar.
Creating videos and sharing them with the world puts you in a vulnerable position. You are basically opening yourself up to an audience of complete strangers and giving them a glimpse of your life. It can be a bit scary because you never know who’s watching or what their reactions are going to be, but that’s a chance you take when creating video.
All you can do is create content you are proud of, focus on the positive words you get from viewers, and ignore anything that isn’t constructive.
And those are just a few of the things I’ve learned about making videos and sharing content on YouTube. Now I’d love to hear from you guys and what you think about video.
Do you enjoy making videos?
Have you encountered any specific challenges?
Do you have any YouTube tips you’d like to share?
You might also enjoy: How to start a travel blog in 10 easy steps!