In the beginning, there was the blog. And it was good. So good that amateur bloggers quickly saturated the market, while every marketing-focused brand launched a blog on its company website or through social media accounts.
As attention spans dwindled and audience fatigue set in, video blogging rose to prominence. It’s safe to say that 2017 was a year of unprecedented success for vlogging. Ever-improving broadband speeds have supported burgeoning quantities of streamed video content in glorious HD or 1080 resolution. The average consumer is reported to watch over 200 online videos each month, and visual content is 40 times more likely to be shared than written material.
Here is Midphase’s guide to becoming a successful vlogger, starting with the material itself…
Understand the market
Like blogging, vlogging is reaching the maturity stage of its product life cycle. To launch a successful vlog in 2018, you need something original enough to pique the attention of audiences with innumerable other distractions at their disposal. Are you aiming content at families, teenagers, teachers or executives? Are any niches not being filled, or do you have a unique insight? Study existing vlogs to determine average clip lengths, audience interaction, use of subtitles or animations, etc. Some vloggers might even offer pearls of wisdom in response to an email enquiry or social media message – if they don’t regard you as a potential rival!
Cover interesting topics informally
It doesn’t really matter if you’re naturally photogenic, or whether you’d struggle to make it as a voiceover artist. Audiences will forgive this – and more – if your content is distinctive and interesting. Even if your topic has been covered extensively already, such as reviewing beauty products, your material ought to stand out with a suitably quirky approach. Write a rough script to follow in a relaxed ad-libbing style, and run through a couple of rehearsals. You can always pause a recording, but a single-take performance will feel more successful – and look more professional. Be concise, and try to keep the running time below ten minutes per video.
Encourage guest contributions and change location
Even if you have a voice capable of filling a theater, solo vlogs soon become monotonous. Invite guests to join in, who will break up your narrative with different accents and delivery styles. Even relatives and friends bring new ideas to the table, potentially taking your script in unexpected directions. Impromptu moments are usually the most entertaining from an audience’s perspective, particularly if it’s obvious you’re enjoying yourselves. Equally, try not to film in the same location all the time. New backdrops provide more stimulation for audiences, and they also make thumbnail video clips stand out.
Consider launching your own website
There are plenty of vlog hosting platforms like Dailymotion and Vimeo, while YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine (behind parent company Google) for good reason. However, a dedicated website offers much greater scope for personalization. Freed from a third party site’s restrictions, you can add an About Me page, an FAQ or anything else beneficial to your vlog. A WordPress website is easy to assemble, even for people with no previous experience of web design.
Choose a dependable hosting partner
If you’re going down the bespoke website route, don’t ruin your hard work by cutting corners with second-rate hosting. Midphase is ideally placed to handle streaming video content, with hosting packages ranging from shared servers to WordPress-optimized packages. Audiences around the world will be able to view your content at any time, and we can even sell you the perfect domain name for your new enterprise.
Aim for the highest possible video quality
You don’t need to film your vlogs in 4K, but people will expect HD content. However, good picture quality also involves a bright environment with a well-defined background. Sound has to be clear and sharp, so invest in a unidirectional microphone that accentuates voices while filtering out ambient background noise. Mount your primary recording device on a tripod for extra stability, and try to position a smartphone or tablet in the corner for periodic cutaways. Editing software is readily available, and cutting between two camera shots is surprisingly easy. Add an opening title sequence (even a simple hand-made affair), and end the vlog with a caption containing your contact details. Add professionalism by overlaying copyright-free music onto these intro and outro bumpers.
Use social media to publicize new vlogs
Vlogging is a social media artform, so use other social channels to attract new audiences or inform existing ones about fresh content. Remember that guests or occasional contributors will usually promote your vlog through their own social media accounts, introducing it to new audiences. Create Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram profiles with the same name as your vlog – keep in mind that it may take a few goes to find a name that’s still available on every platform. Invite existing contacts to follow you, and reach out to established vloggers or key influencers. One comment or like from a high-profile individual could result in significant traction.
Generate content on a regular basis
Leading vloggers have built their reputations through regular uploads, on a daily or weekly basis. Occasional content uploads rarely maintain an audience unless there’s a celebrity angle, or the promise of exclusive content. Daily content generation is effectively a full-time job, but be aware that there are a thousand wannabes for every Zoella or PewDiePie. Few people will generate enough income for a dedicated career, and many of those who do effectively rely on either sponsored content or product reviews.
Interact with your audience
Vlogging is a social activity, and followers expect a degree of interaction. Try to start a debate or pose a question in each video, encouraging discussion in the obligatory comments section. Engage with the conversation, answering questions or triggering debate. Delete abusive comments or spam, and slap down troublemakers – doing so with wit and humor helps endear you to mainstream audiences.
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