How to start a video blog – the definitive guide

A lot of bloggers are more proficient in words than in person, so it’s not surprising that many haven’t taken the leap to video blogging. But they should. Video posts provide a great, unique way to connect with your readership. I’m still learning, but here are six tips that helped me get started:

1. Watch a lot of videos.
Write down what you find appealing and what you don’t like. I tend to like short videos with lots of personality. Pay attention to the video content, length, and the format.

Check out these places to start: Gary Vaynerchuk (Wine, Marketing),  Ill Doctrine (Hip-Hop, Political), Startup Lucky (Entrepreneurship),  Design for Mankind’s Dialogue (Art/Design), Momversation (Lifestyle & Mom Blogging), Brazen Careerist (Contest Announcements), Sam Davidson (Social Change & Motivation), and Shama TV (New Media Marketing).

There are many more out there, so feel free to share your own favorites in the comments as well.

2. Stop procrastinating on the technical stuff.
A big barrier is researching the right methods to use. Like, what camera should I buy? How do I transfer video to computer? What program do I use to edit with? What site do I upload it to? How do I embed it?

But these things are remarkably easy. Just trust me on this. If you can use blogging software to write, you can use a video camera to talk. I use a Flip Mino, Windows Movie Maker and Vimeo. You don’t need anything more to start. Even big media companies like Momversation have their contributors use Flip cameras. Fancy schmancy is out.

3. Create relevant content.
Video and written content is not the same. The content you present on video should be a better fit than if you wrote about it. Videos make it easier to be self-involved, so ask yourself, are viewers gaining value from watching?

I generally use videos to clarify or expand on previous posts, instead of presenting new information. This is because the medium is so different from writing that it’s sometimes difficult to present big ideas concisely.

Another good way to use video might be to start dialogue with your readers. Present a quick problem and ask your readers for input on the solution. Or use video to respond to comments in a more personal manner.

Whatever you do, make sure that your videos are good enough to stand on their own, whether they’re complementing the rest of your blog or are the main spotlight on your video-only blog.

4. You still have to write.
Your video should have a point if you want viewers to watch the whole thing. While a conversational tone is great, it’s good to either:

a) Write down two to three bullet points that you want to cover, and/or
b) Write your entire spiel out as if it were a speech

Don’t just ramble. I tend to jot down what I want to say (a page worth is usually one to two minutes in length), and then highlight the key points I want to remember. And okay, sometimes I just practice what I want to convey in the shower. Spontaneity is good too.

5. Practice in front of the camera.
Pay specific attention to your body language and how you present yourself. Video is, after all, a visual experience and viewers want to watch someone who is both authentic and engaging.

Take up space with your arms to project confidence (good for speeches as well), or frame the shot close to your face for a more intimate conversation. Emphasize your points and exaggerate your personality with your facial expressions for an energetic video, or keep your movements tight and slow if you’re trying to show authority.

Watch yourself, experiment and then re-record until you’re happy with the result. You don’t have anything to lose. No one is watching yet.

6. Post a video that’s not perfect.
Don’t worry about getting it right your first video. It will probably be too long, you’ll look like a huge dork, and the guys building a hotel next door will probably take the exact moment you’re recording to use their jackhammer. Whatever.

Look at one of Gary Vaynerchuk’s original videos and then look at one from last week. Big difference. HUGE. You’ll improve with time and confidence too.

Video Talk.