If you’re trying to break into the world of vlogging, we don’t blame you. YouTube and other vlogging platforms have a reputation for turning average guys with cameras into full-blown celebrities, and some of them are raking in more than $20 million per year. Why is this field of work so endlessly appealing? In part, it’s because it doesn’t take a whole lot of time, money or equipment to get into. All you need is some well-selected video gear, something to talk about and a captivating personality. We’re here to help you set yourself up for a successful vlogging endeavor with all the right tools, beginning with the basics.
Step 1: Have an Act
We’re all familiar with the rise to fame of some noteworthy YouTube stars who went from average to celebrity status by amassing large numbers of followers. There’s the hilarious Jenna Marbles, who joined the YouTube community in 2010 and is still dominating the vlogging scene thanks to her authenticity and bold humor. Shane Dawson is a comedian, actor, writer and media personality who quickly rose to fame after posting videos on Youtube. Stars like Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber, 5 Seconds of Summer and The Weeknd were discovered on YouTube, so it’s no wonder why so many people want to make an impact with the help of these influential video platforms.
But, surprisingly, the highest-paid vloggers aren’t comics, musicians or performers at all. They are toy reviewers (last year’s highest-paid YouTuber was the 7-year-old kid behind Ryan ToysReview), makeup artists, video-gamers and regular people who just so happen to be really good at trick shots and stunts. The takeaway is this: talent comes in many forms, and with 1.8 billion monthly users on YouTube alone, there’s undoubtedly a community that will have some of the same interests as you. The key to coming up with a good vlogging persona and quality content is to be authentic and passionate about the things you care most about.
Step 2: Buy a Good Vlogging Camera
Now that you’ve nailed down the theme of your channel, it’s time to dive into the mechanics. After all, a collection of quality camera equipment serves as the video star’s paintbrush, so it’s not something that should be overlooked. Yes, it’s definitely possible to shoot high-quality video creations on your smartphone (and this gets truer and truer each day with the latest phone releases), but a separate camera is still the gold standard, and serious vloggers need one.
Spend some time researching the best vlogging cameras to get a good idea of what you’ll need for your vision. Here are some quick tips:
Your Smartphone is a Viable Option — If your smartphone has a high-resolution video camera and all the features you want, then you can easily employ it as your go-to vlogging camera. You’ll need to equip it with some accessories, such as those from our smartphone production kit, to get it up to snuff with more serious cameras, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what you can do with your phone. A mic, a tripod, some lighting and you’re golden!
Make Sure It Supports the Best Resolution— These days, quality is measured in resolution. To achieve full HD resolution, you’ll want to make sure you have a camera that creates photos and videos in 1080P (often labeled “full HD”), 4K Ultra HD or the highest resolution supported by your video platform of choice. Lower image quality cameras typically offer 720P resolution, which will produce a noticeably less high-quality video, but these cameras are generally much more affordable, so they can be OK for beginners and dabblers.
Choose a Camera with Built-In Wi-Fi — Nobody wants to bother with fishing out the right cord and manually transferring data from camera to computer after each filming session. Instead, purchase a video camera that has built-in Wi-Fi so you can easily drop your files into the cloud or wherever you want to store them. This is also ideal because it doesn’t require you to have as much physical storage on the camera or phone in the form of an SD card. When you start to run out of storage space, just offload your bigger video and photo files.
Let Your Needs Guide Your Choices — One of the biggest questions to ask yourself before investing in a camera is where you’ll be filming the vast majority of the time. If you plan on doing straight-on interviews at home, a good-quality camera with some extra bulk will be just fine. But if you intend on creating any out-in-the-field or on-site content, you’re going to want to select an option that’s lightweight and easy to take with you when you’re filming on the go, such as a small point-and-shoot or your smartphone with the right accessories.
Look For Features Geared Towards Vlogging— Besides built-in Wi-Fi and high resolution, good vlogging cameras should be equipped with features that make self-filming easier. For example, some feature front-facing screens so you can see your setup when you’re filming yourself. These flip-out screens now come on many high-performance video cameras, not just basic “selfie” cams. A good vlogging rig will also be equipped with a solid camera microphone (though you may still have to add an on-camera microphone, but we’ll cover more on this below).
Step 3: Pick Up The Right Vlogging Accessories
The camera is important, of course, but it’s the video accessories that really take a vlogger’s setup from basic to professional. The great thing about accessories, too, is that they can turn a simple camera you already own — even one you didn’t buy specifically to help jump-start your new vlogging hobby — into one that’s tailored for live-streaming, YouTubing or making sweet Instagram stories. Though there are many ways to ramp up your rig, the following accessories are crucial to a good setup.
A Tripod— Gone are the days of talking directly into your laptop’s webcam. These days, the top vloggers have perfected their ability to frame all sorts of activities, from talking directly into the camera to observing craft projects up-close to complicated setups involving moving cars and bikes. This is all done with a tripod, the device that mounts and stabilizes the camera to create professional, high-quality looking scenes.
A Microphone— Nothing’s worse than filming a visually perfect scene only to realize that the sound is off, rendering the footage unusable. Investing in a camera microphone will help ensure that your sound comes through crystal-clear and that everything you want to record is enhanced by high-quality audio. Shotgun mics are long, high-directionality microphones that don’t pick up extraneous sounds from the sides, so they’re perfect for applications, like vlogging, where you probably don’t have a sound engineer on hand. Lavalier mics, the small ones that clip onto your shirt, can be great for interviews and situations where your subject is moving a lot.
A Wind Muffler— If you’ve opted for an on-camera shotgun microphone, something to consider is that it won’t completely block out ambient noises, such as wind. Wind mufflers (otherwise known as windscreens) are handy accessories that go over your mic to filter out wind and other low-frequency noises, so all you get is the crisp, clear audio you intended to record.
A Video Stabilizer—Like poor audio, shaky video quality can give your final production a super amateur feel, so it’s something you’ll want to address immediately if you want to start off your channel with that high level of polish that sets apart so many highly viewed videos (and prevent your viewers from getting sick to their stomachs). The best way to do this is by using a camera stabilizer or rig, which allows you to either stabilize your camera on your body (for example, with a shoulder rig) or install it on a track or rail that allows you to smoothly slide the camera, creating seamless, stable movements.
Video Lights— Though you don’tneed any fancy lighting equipment to start a YouTube channel, it’s a real nice-to-have, especially if your channel relies on highlighting or reviewing products, unboxing or doing tutorials of any sort. If you’re filming a single focus, such as yourself or an item you’re reviewing, you will want to get familiar with a basic three-point lighting setup with a key light, a fill light and a backlight, perfectly illuminating your subject with no distractions. Beginners and those who like to take their show on the road may want to consider a portable light or an on-camera light.
A Matte Box— Another nice-to-have, the matte box is a device added to the end of a lens to block out the sun and other lights to eliminate glare and lens flare. It also serves the purpose of adding special filters in front of the lens, which is an awesome feature for those who like to play around with visual effects and coloring. Basically, if you want a professional-looking result or if you love to experiment with the look of your videos, a matte box is a must.
A Camera Remote— As you probably already know, a good portion of your life vlogging will involve you taking videos of yourself, at least until you amass enough followers and make enough cash so to hire an assistant. For now, though, you’ll want to set yourself up for selfie-filming with basics like a camera remote or trigger, which will allow you to hit a button to start or end filming, among other functions, and easily position your camera far from your set.
A Case— Clearly, creating polished, entertaining vlogs requires a bit of gear to get started. To ensure that your stuff stays in great shape and to keep it neatly organized so you can easily take it on the go, be sure to invest in a good quality camera case with room for all your vlogging accessories. Keep your bag or case well-stocked with extra batteries, backup SD cards and your camera charger.
A Great Solution: An All-in-One Smartphone Accessories Kit
Vlogging beginners may want to consider picking up an all-inclusive video accessories kit to get them started. Movo Photo makes some of the best, most well-equipped video accessory bundles for smartphones and DSLR cameras, so you get everything you need to start your vlogging career for one price. Here are some of our best video production kits for smartphones:
Deluxe: Movo HUGE Smartphone Video Production Kit V8 — Designed specifically for live-streamers, vloggers and those who want the ability to turn any space into a full-fledged film studio with their phone at the center, this kit comes with a rig, a tripod, various different microphones, video lights, a Bluetooth remote and more.
Middle-Ground: Movo Smartphone Video Kit V7 — For a more affordable option, go for our more bare-bones smartphone video bundle, featuring a grip rig, a stereo microphone, LED lights and a wireless remote control. This is a great option for newbies who want to see what their phones can do.
Economy: Movo PR-2-PM -- The most basic vlogging setup includes our PR-1 grip and VXR10 microphone. It's easy to use and setup, and perfect for any on-the-go creator.
DSLR Essentials: Camera Solutions You Can’t Film Without
For vloggers that are more camera savvy and don’t necessarily want to purchase an entire kit, we’ve listed the top accessories to help take your DSLR filming from average to exceptional:
Movo VXR10 Universal Cardioid Condenser Video Microphone — An affordable product with lots of benefits, this microphone is a great ad-on for your DSLR camera. Not only can it drastically improve sound quality, but it’s also universally compatible with other recording devices, making it a worthwhile investment.
Movo SVH5 Solid Aluminum Handgrip DSLR Video Stabilizer — As we mentioned above, a video stabilizer is a crucial vlogging accessory, so it’s important to find the best stabilizer for your camera needs. Enter the SVH5 Handgrip: another economical attachment suitable for multiple filming devices with a comfortable grip for a smooth recording process.
Vlogging is a surprisingly affordable, attainable hobby for anyone who has the personality and enthusiasm for it. Luckily, with the right vlogging accessories from Movo Photo, you can start producing professional-grade content in a flash, all without sinking in thousands of dollars. Let us guide you towards the best video accessories so you can start monetizing your hobby and raking in those likes and subscribers!
This month's Featured Voice is Florencia P. Marano, an Argentinian-Spanish director, and editor based in Los Angeles. Florencia took time out of her busy schedule to join us for an interview on her latest directorial work and her journey to becoming the incredible filmmaker she is today.