Blogging is one of my favorite ways to drive traffic to websites and engage with audiences.
But those of you who have been staying up-to-date on the newest marketing trends know video content has been on the rise.
Blog posts containing videos have triple the amount of inbound links compared to blog posts without videos.
It's understandable why you might be interested in starting a video blog.
Based on all these numbers, it's safe to say people love consuming video content. But establishing yourself as a prominent video blogger can be a daunting task, especially if you've never done it before.
There are many factors to take into consideration.
What kind of equipment should you use? How do you behave in front of the camera? How do you promote your new video blog?
You're not the only one who has recognized these video trends. Research shows businesses plan to add more content distribution channels in the next year.
Do you see a common pattern in the top three responses? All of these are platforms for video distribution.
If you need some pointers for launching a new video blog or improving your existing one, you have come to the right place.
These are the top 12 tips for running a successful video blog.
1. Invest in a high quality microphone
Audio is one of the most important aspects of your video blog. People need to be able to hear what you're saying.
Having a quality microphone can help make sure you're not wasting any time recording your video. Sometimes, you'll have poor video quality. It happens.
But even if your video sucks, you can always salvage the audio and use it for something like a podcast. Or you can use the audio to voiceover a presentation or something else that's not live.
Your computer has a microphone built into it, but you can do better. Cheap cameras also don't have the best microphones.
If you want to take your video blog seriously and do videos often, high quality audio needs to be a priority.
Which type of microphone should you get? I'll be honest with you: I'm not an expert when it comes to this type of equipment. You'll need to do some research yourself.
That said, you shouldn't have to spend a fortune on this investment. You should be able to find what you need for roughly $100 or less.
Just make sure you're able to balance your audio levels with the microphone. Test it out each time before you start broadcasting so you don't waste time recording audio that's unusable.
Know your environment. Where do you plan on recording the most?
There are certain microphones that are meant for different things, such as being in a large room with echoes, outdoors with high winds, or in areas with crowds and lots of background noise.
Find a microphone suitable for your broadcast environments. It's worth the investment.
2. Make sure you have proper lighting
We've all seen videos that look unprofessional. They can be anything from those low-budget local commercials to your family home videos.
It's unacceptable for your video blog to look like this. It's important for you to understand the concept of a basic three point lighting setup.
Sure, sometimes you'll be filming on the go. It's not always reasonable for you to be carrying around all the equipment with you.
But if much of your video blog content will be filmed in your home or apartment, you should definitely have these lights set up like in the example above.
Lighting can do so much for the quality of your videos. These are the three terms you need to get familiar with:
Your key light will serve as your primary light. For the most part, it's placed on the right side of the camera and should be roughly three feet higher than your eye level.
The key light will be the brightest of these three lights. Angle it at a downward angle so it replicates the sun and has a natural lighting effect.
Your key light will create a shadow. To fill that shadow with light, you'll need a fill light on the opposite side of the camera.
With two lights placed in front of you, you'll need a back light behind you so the lighting looks natural. Otherwise, you may have some dark shadows on your shoulders.
The back light should be diffused-it's the least bright of the trio.
You don't need to spend a fortune on your lights, but you should keep in mind that inexpensive lights won't last forever. If you're in this for the long haul, it may be worth it to invest now and save yourself some money down the road.
Whenever you're shooting outside of your home or office, you need to position yourself properly in relation to natural lighting resources.
Use the sun to your advantage when you're filming outdoors. Try to position your camera so that the sun is at the same angle as your key light.
3. Add captions to your videos
Not everyone will be watching your video with the sound on. That's why you need to add captions to your content.
You'll have much higher engagement rates if your video blog has captions. Videos with captions have 40% more views. Furthermore, the chances of a viewer watching your entire video increases by 80% if you make closed captions available.
Are you planning to share your video blog on Facebook? Take a look at these numbers:
As you can see, 85% of videos on Facebook are watched on mute. It makes sense that captions increase the viewing time by 12%.
Think about all the different scenarios under which someone may be watching your video blog. The viewers might be at work, at school, or in a room full of people they don't want to disturb.
Do you watch all videos with the sound on? Probably not. Make sure you add captions to all of your video blogs.
4. Get yourself a decent camera
Let's get back to talking about your equipment. In addition to a microphone and lights, you'll also need to have a reliable camera.
Again, I'm not saying you need to spend thousands of dollars. Just make sure you take certain factors into consideration before you make a purchase.
Depending on where you'll be filming, you won't always have access to a power outlet. Battery life is really important if you're filming on the go.
You should also consider the size of your storage cards. You'd hate to be in the middle of filming great content and run out of space on the camera.
The physical size of your camera should also be at the top of your priority list. Make sure it's small, easy to hold, and convenient to transport.
If you don't have your camera with you at all times, it's not the end of the world. You can use your computer or smartphone for some videos.
But if you are serious about becoming a successful video blogger, carrying a high quality camera with you everywhere you go will give you the opportunity to film great content any time you have some inspiration or see something that's cool and worth filming.
You should also know the video format that your camera records.
Popular formats include .mov, .avi, .mp4. This is important to know depending on how you plan to edit, export, and share your videos. You want to make sure the format can easily be converted.
5. Find the right screen capture software
Sometimes you won't even need a camera to video blog-well, at least not for all your posts.
If you want to show your audience how to do things on your computer, you'll need to be able to record your actions with software such as ScreenFlow.
You'll have to pay for the software, but it's worth it if you plan to do any screen recordings on your Mac.
PC users can use something like Camtasia.
There are other options, but these are my top choices for Mac and PC. You can use them as a reference point for price and features if you're shopping around.
6. Be personable and engaging
Part of being a successful video blogger means you need to have a great personality. Don't be shy, timid, or boring.
If you've got a sense of humor, let it shine.
Remember, this is your video blog. There aren't any rules when it comes to the type of content you're sharing.
Just be aware that anything you say or do could affect your personal and professional brand. I'd recommend staying away from controversial topics. But go for it if that's a risk you're willing to take.
Mix up your content so it's engaging. Nobody wants to watch the same thing every day, week, or however often you plan to upload a new video.
7. Give your audience a reason to watch
This relates to my last tip about engaging with your audience. You need to answer a few questions about the direction of your video blog before you start filming.
What is the point of your video? Are you teaching your audience how to do something? What are your qualifications?
Sure, video blogs can be entertaining, informative, or both. But you need to make sure your audience has an incentive to watch.
Unless you've got one of the best personalities in the world, nobody will be want to just listen to you talk about your day.
Understand what your audience wants, and give it to them.
8. Learn how to edit effectively
You'll need to know how to edit your videos before you publish them. Just don't go crazy with this.
Lots of cuts and edits don't look professional. If you've got a Mac, you can use basic software such as iMovie to get the job done:
It's great if you've got multiple iOS devices you'll be recording on.
For Windows users, Movie Maker is the free software for this purpose.
These tools are necessary because they can help you accomplish basic tasks such as trimming clips and piecing videos together.
You can adjust the audio and do other edits as well. Just don't go overboard with too many effects, or it will look unprofessional.
9. Encourage users to comment
Another way to keep users engaged is by enticing them to comment on your video blogs. This can be easy if you position your videos accordingly.
Ask for their opinions. Try to spark a discussion or a debate.
If you take a stance on a particular subject, say something like, “Well, let me know what you guys think in the comments section.”
Respond to comments as well. This is a great way to keep people coming back to your content even when you haven't uploaded a new video.
If you're handling this effectively, you could be getting new comments on videos you uploaded months or even years ago.
10. Host an interview
If you think your content is getting stale or you need to spice it up with something new, bring guests on.
Sure, people may love you. But seeing the same face over and over again could get old and boring.
Bring in an expert on a particular subject. Do you have any connections to an athlete, movie star, or some other celebrity? Even if they are a D-list actor, a fresh face can help you build hype for your video blog.
If you don't have those kinds of connections, ask your friends. I'm sure you've got someone in your circle or in your family who is funny and has a great personality.
It's all about keeping your content fresh. Don't think your video blog needs to be about you every time.
11. Distribute your content
Once you've recorded a video blog, you've got to get it into the hands of as many people as possible. YouTube is the best platform for video distribution.
All of my video content starts on my YouTube channel:
The great thing about YouTube is you can always repurpose your videos after you add them to your channel.
Post these videos to social media. Add video blog links to your website. Send video content out to your email subscribers.
If you've got a written blog as well, you should be writing about your video blogs and embedding links in your content to drive more traffic to your videos.
12. Keep recording
You won't use every piece of film you record. Don't be afraid to tape as much content as you can.
That's why it's important to have a camera with you as often as possible.
You can always filter through the content later and discard it if it's not that great. Or save it for a future broadcast.
Regardless, it's important you're always recording so that you don't miss out on any opportunities.
Telling your audience about an experience is one thing, but being able to show them the video of it will make your video blog that much better.
With video trends on the rise, it's a great idea to start a video blog. But with so many other people out there doing the same thing, it can be difficult to separate yourself from the crowd.
Take the tips I've outlined above, and apply them to your video blog if you want to be successful.
Start by doing simple things such as getting the right equipment and editing software.
After that, it comes down to your personality and marketing ability to get your video content out there for people to see.
Follow these tips, and your video blog will rapidly grow in terms of traffic, view time, and engagement.
Which tools, software, and principles have you used to drive more traffic to your video blogs?
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