As many of you know, I did my first video blog (vlog) last week and it was, um… less than polished. (Read: hilarious, and a bit of a disaster.)
Was it fun? Oh, yeah.
Was it anything I’d want to advertise beyond my circle of peeps? Not so much. I mean, hello? I had no forehead for most of the video!
An example of the BEFORE and AFTER:
Here’s 10 tips that would have helped things go smoother.
That’s geek-speak for “Read the freaking manual!” Had we bothered to read the instructions for our video camera, we would have known that the power plug was vital and guarded its location better.
Since we’ve only used the battery pack (and charged that), we didn’t realize we needed a separate power cable when we upload video. Oops!
I highly recommend you check all parts AND THE MANUAL of whatever equipment you use before you start. It will save you the hassle of doing what I did at the beginning of April: recording all your footage and then realizing it’s trapped in the camera.
2. Use a Mac
Renée Schuls-Jacobson, one of my favorite members of the More Cowbell Posse, made the observation that all this video business was easier on a Mac.
Hahahaha! I just made my son’s bar mitzvah video/photo montage. I also did the 5th grade graduation video (150 kids in 10 minutes with live clips). It’s fun. BUT you have to pick the right theme, Mrs. No-Head.
You are so cute! It was just fun to hear your voice. Nice job for a first effort. Oh, and I assume making vlogs is much easier on a Mac. One cable. Hahaha!
Renée rocks the videos – here’s a post on her fabulous blog “Lessons from Teachers and Twits” where you see her dancing in a series of extremely cute hats. 🙂
3. Use a Tripod
Rachel Funk Heller, another pal of mine, used to work at CNN and she almost had a hissy fit on Facebook when she saw my video.
Her (very valid) comment was, “OMG, I worked in the news for 20+ years…why didn’t you ask me?? I’d have told you to use a tripod so you could aim the camera where you wanted it.”
Yep, that tripod would’ve been a GREAT plan. I’m gonna get me one of those before I make Cowbell Camera, Volume 2.(We’re gonna get all fancy…)
Rachel also pointed out…
4. Lighting Helps!
Yeah, we were a bit dark when we were using the Android in the living room to get Hubby on the vlog. But dang did he look cute in all that soft romantic lighting!
You might want to plan out what you’re going to say in advance. The way it worked for me was a bit chaotic.
- As mentioned above, I’d already shot the footage and was waiting for Hubby to find the cable in the Man Cave.
- “V” day was fast approaching in the A-Z Blogging Challenge and I got a wild hair up my you-know-what to have “V” stand for vlogging.
- I shot the workspace and garden footage at 6 am before I got ready for work.
- At 9:30 pm, when I got home from work, we practiced in every room of the house and pretty much did the entire shoot by the seat of our pants.
Now do you see why the lack of forehead wasn’t super surprising? The cleavage was the biggest surprise *if you know what I mean*.
6. Understand your themes
Most video programs have themes that you can apply with cute frames around your face, or snowflakes or bubbles that float across the screen. You want to do a preview of how things will look when they’re finished BEFORE you upload to YouTube.
I’ll make a confession. I totally previewed, but since I’d just watched the video before applying the theme (and it looked great), I figured the preview was lying. Don’t do that.
To summarize: However the preview looks is how the video will look when you post to YouTube.
7. Stick to what you know
Right at “showtime” is NOT the time to learn new software.
Less is more. If you have to upload a phone video straight to YouTube or record it directly into your laptop’s video camera, do that. YouTube has some snazzy things you can add to a video like annotations (they’re basically notes to your viewer).
8. Stupeflix has a mean right hook
When I set up my YouTube account, I was issued a single credit for a program called Stupeflix. As I said in #7 – half an hour before you want to post your blog is not the time to be trying to figure out a video program.
Last week, I was calling it “Stupid Flicks” but really, it’s not that bad. However, you need to know the following:
- If you lock the video, you can’t get back into it. (You’ve already used your credit to make the video.)
- Stupeflix costs to use (personal plans range from $5-8/month). I’d think this cost might be worth it if you plan to make a lot of videos, particularly on a PC where all the bells and whistles aren’t built in.
- As I said above, whatever you see in the Preview is the “real deal.” Had I believed, I coulda had a forehead!
9. Know your space limitations in advance.
I had to post my garden video separately because there were space limitations I was unaware of in advance. (See how we come back to the “prior planning” thing??) I was only able to include ONE out-take, and I had to post my garden blog separately, because I just ran out of space.
Last, but not least, as I inserted photos I noticed they took up tons of space so it would have been smart to convert the photos to smaller files first too.
10. Drink a happy beverage first.
Whether that’s coffee, tea, or some sort of alcoholic beverage, is entirely up to you but you will be nervous the first few times you do this. Breathe and smile. People come to your blog because they like to visit with you, not because they’re going to make merciless fun of your vlogging attempts. (OK, some of them will.)
All these little tricks will make your video experience pretty painless, I promise. As my ROW80 pal, Ryan King, said in the comments, “Practice makes Perfect Cowbell!” I don’t know that I can really top that advice. 🙂
Have you done any videos yet for your blog? What tips did you learn? What are your biggest fears when it comes to doing a vlog? Enquiring minds LOVE to know these things here at More Cowbell!
I’ve had several of you ask me about online conferences in the past, and I finally found one! The 4th annual Self-Publishers Online Conference will be held May 8-10. I believe early bird pricing is over, but everything is cheaper than flying, right?