How to Video Blog – A Quickstart Guide to Get “Vlogging”

Some may say 2009 was the year of Twitter (I thought 2008 was but hey, that’s just me), but for this online marketer it was the year I learned how to video blog. In this quickstart guide I am going to explain why you are running out of excuses for not marketing with video, as well has how to get vlogging quickly, geekery and techno-babble excluded.

Why You MUST Start Video Blogging Now (Even if You Can’t STAND to See Yourself on Camera) I’m one of those people who used to cringe at the sight and sound of myself on camera. My voice always sounds different than I thought it did, and my Scottish-Welsh-Mennonite complexion always looks pastier than a scared pancake. I really started to run out of excuses for not video blogging though when lo-and-behold my new Macbook came with a built-in web cam (iSight).

Almost the minute I published my first video blog (or “vlog”) I wondered why I had waited so long to do it. Video blogging (or “vlogging”) allows online business people and marketers to achieve so many things that a (now) traditional written blog post just can’t. Consider the following:

Video blogging is fast. The time line from inspiration to publication is dramatically shortened. You get an idea for a blog post. Jot down your key points. Turn on the web cam and start yapping (okay, comb your hair first). It’s really that easy.

Video blogging creates intimacy with your readers. You might not be able to provide a warm handshake, but the sound of your voice and smile on your face adds a whole new dimension to the relationship. Body language is 60% of communication. Video captures meaning that words cannot.

Video blogging lends credibility to your message. Whatever you’re talking about in your video-whether it be a product pitch or an opinion piece or a how-to-by getting in front of the camera you’re committing to your audience in a deeper, more authentic way. And if you’re a shyster, well, this tends to come through as well.

Video blogging strengthens your brand. There is only one you. Until cloning humans is a common reality, it’s safe to say that video may be the most immediately powerful personal branding tool you’ve got at your disposal as a business owner and marketer.

Video blogging is affordable. Cheap like borscht yet potentially so rich in impact.

Duh, everybody’s doing it. Or will be. Fact is, your competition is getting on the vlogging bandwagon just like they got on the blogging bandwagon a few years ago. That’s not to say that you have to be on camera every time you want to write a post or blast your list. Not at all. But it does mean that people will increasingly be on the lookout for video clips of the “real person” behind the web. You’ve been warned.

How to Video Blog Quickstart Guide Video blogging really isn’t that difficult to do. Once you get the basics, it’s a matter of just digging in and doing it. The more videos you make, the more comfortable you will get with the process, and the more consistently you’ll publish videos. Like traditional blogging, it’s all about practice, consistency, and forming good habits.

Let’s get started:

(1) Purchase a web cam or camcorder. I like the webcam because I can literally see what I’m doing as I’m recording myself. That means I stay centered in front of the lens and keep my eyes focused in the right place. However, I’m pretty sure there are ways to hook up a camcorder to your computer so that you can see what you’re doing on a nice large screen. The Flip Mino HD and Sony Webbie are supposed to be decent and cost about $200.

(2) Video editing software will add polish, thought it’s not critical. Sometimes you’ll want to overlay some text or a URL onto your video as well as trim off the first few or last few seconds of your video.

(3) Get a YouTube account and claim your YouTube “channel.” YouTube just makes publishing and sharing videos super easy, super easy for you but more importantly, super easy for folks who what to republish your masterpiece. That’s because YouTube offers an “embed” code that people can copy and paste into their own blog posts, spreading your gorgeous mug even further across the web. That’s a good thing because video blogging is-like it’s older cousin-all about sharing. And do be sure to claim your own channel on YouTube once your account is set up. Mine, for example, is Easy-peasy.

(4) Um, you have a blog right? Okay, just checking.

(5) Get ready to shoot your video (preparation makes all the difference):

Short is better. 2-5 minutes is optimal. Anything shorter and you probably won’t communicate enough information to be useful. Anything longer and you might start to lose people.

Treat vlogging like blogging. Have a headline in mind plus a few key points. If you’ve got more to say, consider breaking the topic up into a series of short videos. Keep ’em guessing what’s next!

Be extemporaneous. That means, speak naturally as if you’re chatting one-on-one with a friend. Rehearse if you need to, but don’t try to memorize your content verbatim. This isn’t a presidential address; it’s really just a short, intimate conversation. It’s okay to look down at your notes, briefly. I do this sometimes if there is a specific point or quote I want to make sure I articulate correctly. However, your eyes should be focused on the camera (your viewers essentially) MOST of the time.

Ensure great overhead light if shooting indoors. My videos so far have turned out a bit dark and grainy; I’m pretty sure this is because half the halogens in my office are burnt out. (I hate ladders.) Direct sunlight doesn’t always work in an office environment, unfortunately, because it will hit your face sideways and cause weird, unflattering shadows. So you may have to draw the curtains.

You’re the star, not your backdrop. That means your office shouldn’t look like a war zone and the menagerie should be out of earshot (kids, animals, spouses…). That said, you don’t need anything special either, meaning you really only need to tidy up about 4 square feet of your office!

Women, wear makeup. Feminist as I may be, I’m realistic about how most women look on camera without makeup (or very strategic lighting). Do put on some mascara, cover up the dark circles, and add some color to your cheeks. It makes a huge difference.

Guys, comb your hair and trim the eyebrow and nose hair. ‘Nuff said.

(6) Take a deep breath and shoot the video. Shoot it again if you really sucked. Stop at good enough. The goal is not perfection but conversation. Got it?

(7a) If you have editing software:

Add your name and URL or some other important piece of identifying information to the bottom of the frame. I usually have this display for the last 15 seconds or so, but it’s up to you. Make sure the font is legible (Arial works great). I’m sure someone out there has also figured out the optimal amount of time to display your text and all that jazz, but hey, this is a Quickstart Guide.

Trim off any awkwardness at the beginning or end of your video. Maybe you were telling your cat to shut-up, or you were wiping your nose. We don’t need to see that stuff.

(7b) If you don’t have editing software: you’re in luck. YouTube offers the ability to add captions and annotations to your vids. I haven’t tried these out myself but they look pretty simple to use.

(8) Upload your video to YouTube. Just log in to your account and click the big yellow upload button in the top right hand corner. Once the video is uploaded, add a descriptive but short title, a short description of the video, and your tags (basically just keywords or other descriptive terms). Don’t leave these steps out. They help people find your video more easily; it’s also a courtesy because it allows viewers to quickly surmise what your video is about before they press the play button. Also be sure to allow comments which you can set to be moderated first. (Just like a real blog!)

(9) Publish your video on your own blog. As with any blog post, be sure to include all the usual elements that enhance usability and search visibility. That means:

Write a keyword rich, descriptive post title.

Write a short introductory paragraph stating what the post (video) is about. Use your keywords again if you can.

Add a meta description so your video blog appears enticing in the search engine results pages.

If you’re blogging software doesn’t add a title tag automatically-usually by using your post title-be sure to add one.

Snag the embed code from your video on YouTube to add the video to your post. This will allow for easy sharing (yay!).

(10) For Pete’s sake, market your video. Blast your list. Tweet about it. Share it on Facebook. Bookmark it on your fave social bookmarking sites. Do all the same things you would do with a non-video post to help it spread across the world wide web.

Remember, these are just the basics. The world of video blogging is ever-evolving right along with the current social media more videos you publish the better you’ll get at it. And if you get stuck on the technology, which is bound to happen at some point, there is always Google and yep, tons of techno peeps on YouTube too. The point is to start somewhere and keep going to build that momentum.

I can’t think of a more effective and meaningful way to quickly connect with both your existing audience and would-be followers. Not to mention, it’s just plain fun. (Trust me, you’ll send your first video to EVERYONE you know.)