If you're a blogger like me and you're wanting to branch out, market yourself better, and rise to a challenge, starting a YouTube channel and shooting some videos might be for you! Last week, I shared how to start a YouTube channel for DIY, home decor and lifestyle bloggers like myself, and this week I want to continue that conversation and talk about how to make the videos that will be published on your channel.
If you read last week's post and want to dive in to the world of YouTubeing (it's totally a verb, folks!), did you do your homework? I asked you to start following some YouTube channels in your genre, study them, and decide what you liked about their channels and videos. What did you discover? Did you make a list of things that caught your eye that you want to try for your own channel and videos?
I'm constantly studying some of my favourite YouTubers in the DIY and home decor genre (you can find some of my favourites in my last post about YouTube) and learning new tricks.
I think it's really important to decide how you want your channel AND your videos to look and feel before you shoot your first video.
Decide on the structure of your videos even before you start filming. After watching many YouTube videos, I decided I wanted my videos to have a short catchy intro with an image and description of my project (sometimes with me speaking, sometimes with me voicing over some beauty shots), then a 10 second "bumper", the tutorial content (this is where it's mostly my hands doing stuff), and finally a quick "outro" with a prompt to visit my blog. You can see this structure in this video.
Now, I don't always follow this structure. I like to experiment a bit, and I find that different video structures work better for different projects and social channels. For example, I'm finding that videos with NO intro (maybe just a short title screen instead), NO narration (replaced by subtitles) and under 2 minutes work best for Facebook. For YouTube, I've had success with all sorts of video structures, but I think the most important thing I've learned so far is that you NEED to catch people's attention in the first few seconds somehow.
Also: I forgot to mention last week WHY it's beneficial to have a YouTube channel and not just post videos on Facebook or Vimeo or wherever. YouTube is it's very own social media channel with a whole new audience waiting to follow you! You WANT to gain subscribers that will follow you on your channel only, and then maybe they'll click along to your blog or other social channels through prompts you place in your video or video descriptions. It's a very interesting world, I'm finding. The people that frequent YouTube are often a very different crowd than you'll find on other channels. It's really fun & a whole new world! *insert singing on a flying carpet here*
So... have you decided on your video's structure? Now it's onto filming!
How to shoot your first video
To recap from last week's post, here are the most basic tools you'll need to shoot your first video:
- video camera (I use my DSLR which is a Nikon D3100)
- a mannequin or massive teddy bear for focusing your camera (or a person to shoot the video for you if you're not DIYing it!)
- a lapel mic
- a smart phone to plug your lapel mic into (IF your camera doesn't have a mic input like mine)
- a computer with video editing software (I use the free Windows Movie Maker)
Once you've determined the structure of your video, you'll have to decide on what you're going to say. I rarely write down much of anything for my scripts. I'll usually shoot my video, add in subtitles, and then do voice-overs later while I'm watching the video and use the subtitles as my prompts for what I'm saying. I have written scripts for a few of my videos, so then I'll practice saying the script over and over again until it's almost memorized. Then I'll keep the script nearby to reference if I forget. You want your speaking to sound natural! Don't forget to SMILE when you speak whether your face is on camera or off. It makes a HUGE difference. I promise.
Setting Up The Camera
I always set my camera up on my tripod when I'm filming. If I'm filming myself speaking, I'll set my camera up on my tripod and an estimated good spot. I put a mannequin or a massive teddy bear where I'll be sitting or standing, and then focus my camera on that. Then, I'll turn my video camera on, swap myself for my mannequin, and do a test shot. Then, I'll have a look at the footage to see if I'm centered and focused. Obviously this would be much easier if you have someone shooting for you, but I rarely do! If I'm shooting the tutorial part of my video, I'll set the camera up on my tripod and tilt it over and down onto either my white table or a large sheet of marble on the floor. I'll do test shots for this as well to see how focused and centered everything looks.
When I'm shooting a part of my video that features me speaking into the camera, I always use my lapel mic. I think good quality vocal sound is a MUST for videos, and a mic is really important. On some cameras, you can plug a lapel mic right into the side. I can't on mine, so I plug my mic into my cell phone and then pull that audio file into my video editor and sync up the sound and video. For the tutorial parts of my videos, I'll film the whole thing without a mic and I don't care about what happens with the sound. I mute it all when I edit at the end and do a voiceover while I'm sitting at my computer, so it doesn't matter if I'm coughing or sniffling or there's a toddler singing - it all gets muted. This is a really handy way to do sound if you're a busy mama like me!
Don't be afraid to start and stop filming your video constantly. If you make a mistake, stop your video and film again! That's the magic of filming... you can edit everything seamlessly together at the end. Video your project from different angles. This adds a ton of interest to your final product.
How to edit your first video
I use good ol' Windows Movie Maker to edit my videos. I have tried some paid editors, but so far nothing has stuck. I might graduate to a paid one soon, but for now Movie Maker works just fine for me!
To begin my editing process, I pull all of my video clips and my audio file into Windows Movie Maker. Next, I watch all of the videos and decide what I want to cut, what I want to speed up and what I want to leave as-is.
You'll have to fiddle around with your own video editor a bit to figure out how it works, but I find Movie Maker pretty easy to use. Cutting and pasting video clips, speeding them up or slowing them down isn't too tricky at all!
If you have a custom intro "bumper" for your video, you'll pop it in near the beginning of your project at this stage too.
I'll also add in captions at this editing stage - they're great for Facebook videos!
Narration is next. Once the video is edited to my liking visually, I'll record myself narrating the steps for my tutorial while I watch back the final video. I'll do this with my lapel mic, and then I bring the audio into my video editor and match it up.
The final stage for editing for me is music. I like to add it into all my videos! You can find a great free library of music in YouTube's own audio library here, or by simply searching YouTube itself for users that offer free soundtracks with either a mention in your description or within the video.
When my video looks and sounds the way I want it to, I save the whole thing as a high quality mp4 and it's ready to upload to YouTube.
How to publish your first video
Uploading your first video is easy - simply visit your YouTube channel and hit the "Upload" button in the top right!
While your video is uploading, you can edit its title, description and tags. Make sure to include a lot of key words in all of those so that your video is easily found on YouTube. Don't forget that you can add links in your video's description box, so include a link back to your blog, a specific blog post, or even affiliate links there.
Uploading a custom thumbnail is of UTMOST importance! Don't EVER use the thumbnail that's randomly selected for you. I find thumbnails with a beautiful clear image and a large, easily readable title work best. Design one with your favourite photo editing program in a 16 x 9 format, and upload it as a "custom thumbnail" while your video is uploading.
Set your video status to "PRIVATE" when uploading so that you can add a few more things to it before making it live.
After the video is uploaded, you can then add annotations and cards which are clickable links that overlay on your video. Click on either the Annotations or Cards button at the top of the YouTube video editor to add them. I like to put one speech bubble annotation at the beginning and end of all of my videos that links to my YouTube channel and asks viewers to subscribe to my channel. I also like to add "cards" that link directly to my blog or other related videos and spread them out over the duration of my video.
Once your video is uploaded, you've optimized it with a catchy title, description, custom thumbnail, annotations and cards... it's ready to make live! You can either publish it instantly or schedule it for later.
More YouTube channel tricks for beginners
Wow.... that was a lot about filming, editing and publishing YouTube videos! I could say a whole lot more, but I'll simply jot down a few more tricks I've learned about YouTube in point form. If you have any questions for me, please don't hesitate to ask in the comments below!
- Planning, filming, editing and publishing a video is a long process. Give yourself a lot of time to do it and a reasonable publishing schedule. I aim to post one video a week and that is definitely the most I can do at this point!
- Make one video, and then edit it in a few different ways to get the most bang for your buck on different platforms. Post a long version of it on YouTube, a short version of it on Facebook, and a small clip of it on Instagram!
- SMILE, SMILE, SMILE! And if you can't smile, pretend you're gushing to your best bud about your latest DIY and how much you LOVE it. And if you can't do that, make your hubby stare at you with his eyes crossed and his tongue out. You won't believe the difference smiling will do to the look and sound of your videos! It takes a lot of practice and I still need to smile more.
- Treat YouTube like a social network. Subscribe to other channels, comment on their videos, and network with fellow YouTubers.
- Be Yourself. If you're silly, be silly. If you're sarcastic, go all out. If you don't ever wear makeup, don't wear it for videos. If you love makeup, slap it on for your videos. Be YOU on your videos and your viewers will love it!
Your DIY Blog is a collection of information on my blog and my YouTube channel that explores how to have your own successful DIY & lifestyle blog. I've had many questions about blogging and how to turn it into a part time job, and I want to share the knowledge that I've gleaned from several years of blogging with you! I hope you find this series helpful and please comment below if you have any specific questions about blogging that you'd like me to cover.
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