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How to start a vlog on YouTube

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Written by Becky T

Published May 04, 2023

For social media influencers, travel bloggers and YouTube vloggers alike, the digital world offers a platform to share and connect with other like-minded individuals and become more in touch with our own creativity. At the click of a button, we're able to showcase and celebrate our unique skills and talents to audiences of potential millions, and even make a living off it if we're lucky!

And with over 2.5 million monthly active users, YouTube is the second most used social media platform across the globe, second only to Facebook (datareportal, 2023), making it an ideal place to explore your creative expression through vlogging.

But on such a saturated platform, it can also be difficult to know where to begin when it comes to YouTube vlogging. What can you say that's different and how can you incentivise a loyal following to keep tuning in when there's already so much out there? To help you on your journey to becoming the next big thing, we've put together a beginner's guide on how to start a vlog on YouTube.

If you're looking for advice on how to get started with live streaming, we've got you covered!

Contents:

  1. What is a vlog?
  2. Identify your niche
  3. Create a brand
  4. Consider your audience
  5. Source the right equipment
  6. Plan & schedule content
  7. Film & edit your videos
  8. Post & promote your content
  9. Be yourself!

1. What is a vlog?

Technically, the word vlog refers simply to a "video blog", where instead of written content, the creator presents their thoughts and experiences in video format. This understanding encompasses a wide range of video content, from video essays to reaction videos, cooking channels to style advice.

However, on YouTube, the term vlog is often used to differentiate sit-down videos discussing 'external' topics from handheld 'day-in-the-life' or behind-the-scenes types of content which focus on the person filming as the 'main character'.

We'll keep our advice relatively broad in this article, whilst also noting those specific challenges that come with how to start a vlog in this more personal, on-the-move type of way.

image of a man YouTube vlogging himself on a beach
Image by AQVIEWS

2. Identify your niche

If you want to garner a loyal fanbase, it's a good idea to keep your content specific. Think about the content you consume, and what topics or genres you're best equipped to speak about. This expertise may come from what you do for work, one of your hobbies or interests, or how you manage certain aspects of your life. If you're struggling, ask a friend or family member what they think you'd excel at - sometimes it can be difficult to acknowledge our own qualities and those closest to us may have a better idea of what we bring to the table.

However, it's equally important not to go too specific with your niche. Whilst there's always room for fresh ideas and novelty, it's important that there is an existing appetite for your content on YouTube. It's easy to quickly run out of ideas if you decide to base your entire channel around how to care for a cheese plant, for example. You can always start off with something specific, and start to scope out as you grow. Just make sure that your brand identity and channel name allow for this growth and flexibility.

image of a woman vlogging herself showing a plant
Image by Sasha Kim

In this way, you should give yourself room to grow and evolve as a creator. You don't need to have it all figured out from your first video, just try to establish a good jumping-off point and then respond to your own motivations and your audience's demand. You might start off YouTube vlogging about your love for the Harry Potter franchise, for example, and through it discover that you have a knack for wider film theory and analysis.

Equally, you may find out that you don't love making content about your chosen subject as much as you thought you did, or you may simply grow out of it and change direction. Famous YouTube vlogger FunForLouis earned his initial fame as FoodForLouis, performing shocking food stunts, eating live tarantulas, frogs and roadkill. He has since rebranded and become a popular vegan cooking and travel vlogger. The point is, you're not a slave to your decisions and you can always change your mind - as with any career or creative endeavour, allow yourself to grow and evolve.

3. Create a brand

Once you've identified your niche, it's time to create a personalised brand. This encompasses all the technical bits, like creating a channel name, logo, banner and intro/outro. But it also means deciding more generally who you want to be, and what you want to be known for.

Of course, all of these things tie into each other, but the overarching theme that you should consider is - who is my target audience? How old are they and what are they looking to get out of my channel? A beauty channel whose target audience is young and looking for humour and entertainment will look very different from a beauty channel whose target audience is older and looking for practical and accessible information. Look to other YouTubers that you feel akin to and assess how they have curated an identity around these considerations.

image of a woman filming herself holding a lipgloss
Image by Anna Nekrashevich

Viewers tend to decide very quickly whether a video or channel is for them, and this isn't done by having it spelt out to them who you are - it's done by their own first impressions. Your visuals, your soundtrack, your video titles, those first 90 seconds of your video - these are the things that potential viewers will use to build up a picture of who you are. So think carefully about how you can inject your personality into these aspects.

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4. Consider your audience

So, we've discussed profiling your target audience to curate your brand identity. But this is just the top of the funnel, and considering the behaviours of your entire viewer base needs to be at the heart of everything you do, from those that have just come across your channel for the first time all the way to your die-hard fanbase.

The simplest way to see what is working is to track your views. Take note of what types of videos do well and what struggles to pull in the numbers. Of course, this isn't the whole picture, as some content may do well if it has mass appeal but won't attract consistent viewers or subscribers to your channel. Engage with your existing viewers in the comments and on other social media platforms to uncover what kind of content they want to see more of.

image of a smartphone with a viewership analytics page open
Image by Szabo Viktor

In this way, you not only want to expand your reach and pull in new audiences, but you also need to focus on retaining your existing viewership. People can be fickle online, and you need to remind them why you bring value to their life. This value usually either boils down to education or entertainment (and often both). In either respect, keep your content fresh and interesting, and always be on the hunt for new information and perspectives.

5. Source the right equipment

Sourcing the right equipment is an important part of how to become a vlogger. Whatever your niche, people have an appetite for high-quality video and sound. That being said, many YouTubers do use their smartphones, and in a world where Hollywood movies are being filmed entirely on iPhones, there's no reason why your YouTube vlog can't be.

Having said that, there are a number of excellent webcams on the market that include features such as automatic light correction and wide-angle capture which are designed specifically for vloggers and live streamers. You can also enhance your video camera set-up by switching perspectives through the use of multiple cameras on tripods.

If you're out in the world or want to film handheld, you're going to need a vlogging camera with a flip screen so that you can see yourself in the view-finder as you record. The Canon G7 X Mark II and Sony SV-1 are both strong options for this type of filming.

When it comes to choosing the best microphones for video recording, a USB microphone gives you a simple plug-and-play option for your home office, whilst Lavalier microphones are ideal for attaching to your body if you're filming on the move.

There are plenty of film equipment rental companies in London from which you can hire quality equipment if you don't yet want to commit to so many large purchases.

Video lighting is another important element when it comes to how to start a vlog on YouTube. Natural lighting can be your greatest asset but you need to be aware of how it shifts during the day, as you may look great when you begin filming, only to find that your face becomes obscured by shadows as the sun shifts throughout the day. To combat this, a good ring light will provide consistent, controllable lighting. Check out our guide to the best ring lights on the market right now to find the best one to suit your needs.

Image of a man filming himself on his smartphone with a ring light
Image by Los Muertos Crew

6. Plan & schedule content

When it comes to planning your content, the format of your video plays
a crucial role. If you’re filming a travel vlog or informal Q&A, spontaneity is
part of the sell, so don't spend too much time scripting as you want to allow for genuine reactions and responses as they happen. On the other side of things, if you’re filming a demo or step-by-step guide, then it's important that you invest time in mapping out a structure and script before you film.

In either case, try to at least map out the length of your video beforehand, as well as key points and an outline of the video structure. Attention spans tend to be short on YouTube and viewers have limited patience for waffle and aimless dialogue.

image of a woman YouTube vlogging as she takes notes in the notebook
Image by Mikhail Nilov

How often you post will depend heavily on the types of videos that you create, but whatever your time scale, you should try to keep to a consistent schedule. If you're producing video essays that take a long time to research and execute, then you may only be posting every few weeks to begin with, whereas if you're posting informal day-in-the-life type vlogs or reaction videos (that require a lot less preparation), you'll hopefully be in a position to post more frequently. In either case, consistency is more important than frequency.

If you know you've got a busy couple of months ahead in your private life, you can film videos in advance and schedule their publication time through YouTube Studio.

7. Film & edit your videos

Once you've nailed down your filming set-up and video script, it's time to break a leg and get filming! It's worth noting that the optimal aspect ratio for YouTube is 16:9 and you should aim for a minimum resolution of 1920 x 1080.

If you're YouTube vlogging in a home office or DIY studio, consider how you can align your backdrop with your brand - having your logo or channel name in the background of your video is an easy way to maintain consistency and push a subliminal reminder for viewers to subscribe to your channel. You can check out our list of background ideas for YouTube videos for some more inspiration, just remember to try and maintain a sense of consistency and familiarity.

Once you've filmed your content, you now need to edit it. Editing your videos can feel like one of the more daunting aspects of how to start a vlog on YouTube. There's no shame in hiring an expert to help you out (in fact, it's a great idea if you can afford it), but video editing might not be as difficult an endeavour as you might expect.

There is a wide selection of editing software available to creators. Adobe Premiere Pro, Apple Final Cut Pro and Da Vinci Resolve are just a few of the popular choices among YouTubers, but the ideal software will depend on your specific requirements.

image of a MacBook with video editing software on the screen
Image by Jakob Owens

You can even use AI video generators to churn out content quickly without the need for editing (or even filming in some cases). From auto-transcription to adding visual effects and animations, voice boosters to streamlining lengthy videos, generative AI has made making videos more accessible than ever before.

8. Post & promote your content

Now that you've filmed and edited your video, it's time to upload!

Your title should be intriguing and relevant, geared towards the specific desires of your audience. If you're targeting viewers that are seeking help and advice, use actionable terms like 'how to' or 'the best way to'. Try to keep your titles between 50-70 characters, and use relevant keywords in your titles and descriptions to optimise your content for search results. It's also a good idea to review and edit your auto-generated captions before uploading. Additionally, when creating content, consider the power of concise, engaging visuals to capture attention; learning how to make YouTube Shorts effectively can significantly enhance your channel's appeal and viewership.

Make use of YouTube's end screens feature to promote your content and encourage viewers to subscribe. Add previews to other videos that are relevant to a similar audience and if you have merchandise, you can even promote this here. YouTube Shorts are another way to promote your content and get your name out there - these short-form videos can be used to show browsing users what your channel is all about.

website landing page for YouTube Shorts

To improve your chances of success as a YouTube vlogger, it’s a good idea to invest some time into promoting on other social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, especially since 99% of YouTube users also use other social media platforms (Hootsuite, 2022). Most social media platforms nowadays encourage short-form videos, so you can post clips and excerpts from your vlogs to give viewers a taste of what you're about. Remember that social media platforms tend to prioritise native content (Instagram don't want people to click off to spend time on YouTube, for example), so adjust your content for each platform and try including the actual YouTube link as a pinned comment rather than in the post.

Once you've started to build a following, you can begin collaborating with other creators and brands. Be proactive and craft messages to various creators that you want to work with, presenting how you can add value to their videos and why their audience will appreciate your content. This doesn't always have to be on YouTube itself - you can still boost your visibility by collaborating with podcasts or TikTok creators, for example.

Finally, if you have the funds, YouTube Ads are a great way to push your content to a relevant and engaged audience. You can target these ads to users of specific genders, age ranges, parental statuses, and viewing tendencies.

9. Be yourself!

It might sound cliché but one of the most important things to remember as a creator in any industry is to be yourself. It's important that you retain a sense of privacy and establish safe boundaries between yourself and your audience, but at the same time, you should offer them a real, authentic piece of who you are. This will not only improve the quality of your videos and the engagement of your followers, but it will equip you with the stamina and stability to keep going. It's exhausting pretending to be somebody else, and if you do it for too long, you can lose sight of who you are and why you're valued.

image of a woman smiling as she films herself on her smartphone with a ring light in the foreground
Image by RODNAE Productions

This is less to do with personal details and identifying factors; plenty of successful YouTube vloggers conceal their identities entirely, and many more choose to reserve details of their private lives, including family, romantic relationships, and where they live and work. However, what every successful YouTuber has in common is their ability to drop all guards and reserves.

As easy as it sounds, this can be a difficult thing to do. But if you're vlogging about something that you're genuinely passionate about, you'll likely find yourself dropping the mask without even trying. It is this authentic, uninhibited part of ourselves that people find so captivating and engaging to watch, and will keep your followers coming back for more.

Wrapping up

So there you have it - all you need to know to learn how to start a vlog on
YouTube. At the end of the day, the best way to master any skill is to get stuck in and commit to the journey. You’re going to evolve as you learn, pivot to new perspectives, dip your toes in different genres and techniques, and maybe even backtrack and rebrand entirely. Do your best to set yourself up for success but accept and embrace the fact that you have a lot to learn and that the only way to do it is to start somewhere.

And if you’re looking for exciting and novel locations to enhance your vlogs and keep your audience engaged, check out the range of spaces we have available at Tutti!

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