How to start vlogging in 8 steps: A 2024 guide

Starting your first vlog? Learn the 8 steps and tools you need to build a successful (and profitable) channel.
January 22, 2024
Saphia Lanier
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Video content creators are the new superstars. They get views, hold prestige, and influence trends. And they make money. Goldman Sachs estimates that the creator economy will reach half a trillion dollars by 2027.

Of course, the majority of that moolah goes to a small handful of creators—most people don’t make that much. Still, it's the first time in history that ordinary people can become household names without a corporate conglomerate. And many of these video bloggers are raking in big bucks doing what they love: entertaining an audience.

If you want a chance at doing the same, it’s time to start video blogging. Learn how it works, with tips and examples from successful vloggers to inspire your first video.

What is a vlog?

A vlog is a video format creators use to share stories, product reviews, rants, and everything else in between. Vloggers use various platforms to publish their content, including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. 

Beginner vloggers use smartphones, selfie sticks, laptops, and lightweight editing software to start. Then, eventually, upgrade to professional vlogging cameras, microphones, and higher-end video editing tools to produce high-quality videos.

What makes a great vlogger?

Vlogs gained popularity around 2010, thanks to platforms like YouTube. Today, they are still a popular video format. The latest data shows that 65% of women between the ages of 16 and 34 watch vlogs every week, and 50% of men in the same age group.

You can develop the characteristics and many other skills that make a great vlogger with practice and experience. Here are the aspects you’ll want to understand before hitting record.

Authenticity

No one likes a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If your viewers sense that you're jumping on trends or switching your stance on a matter just to get more views, they'll leave. 

It's one reason some 90% of consumers are fed up with influencer marketing. They want real content from real people, not sponsored fluff. 

The most popular influencers these days are genuine and only promote products or services they truly believe in. These folks engage with their audience, listen to their asks, and follow through by publishing content that answers their questions or requests.

One example of an authentic YouTube vlogger is Casey Neistat. Not only is he great at storytelling, but he also makes a point to share his successes and failures. This goes against what most vloggers do to maintain their "perfect" image—and it makes viewers feel more connected to him as a result.

Image of vlogger Casey Neistat’s YouTube channel

Here's a video from Casey showing a vulnerable moment when he learned he could never run again.

Consistency

Say you publish vlogs twice a day for six months, then start posting without a schedule: maybe once a day for a few days, then once a week, basically whenever you feel like it. That won't fly. You've already led your subscribers to expect a regular cadence, and they anticipate and demand the same.

But cadence isn’t the only way you can show consistency. It's the quality of your content, the topics you discuss, and your characteristics. If you keep switching up your style and format, it'll throw people off and potentially lose your audience (mainly if they came for an earlier version of your vlogs). 

Ali Abdaal, a doctor turned entrepreneur and productivity expert, is a vlogger who helps viewers become more productive. Not only does he publish content regularly throughout the month, but he also sticks to the topics his audiences know and love.

Image of YouTube blogger Ali Abdaal’s channel

Engaging personality

Your audience won't watch a vlog if you're boring and dry. To keep them engaged, you need humor, likability, and charisma. The more intriguing you are, the more your audience will follow your videos.

Just don't go overboard. Your content and personality should be authentic and relatable to your audience. The key is making your videos feel like your listeners are sitting across from a close friend. 

One vlogger who does this well is Holly Gabrielle, a vegan traveler and science major who vlogs about life in general. Her personality is charming and genuine and makes you feel like you're along for the ride. 

Here's a vlog during her last days living in Cambodia:

Storytelling skills

Everyone loves a good story. Crafting compelling narratives that lure listeners until the end is a unique skill few master. But those who do will find it easier to grow and sustain a healthy following. 

Peter McKinnon, photographer and cinematographer, is the GOAT of storytelling. His vlogs aren't just woven into intriguing narratives, he also uses his cinematic skills to draw you in with fascinating scenes and visuals that enhance the story.

Take this example of a vlog that uses a cinematic approach to teaching his audience about photography:

Adaptability and innovation

One moment, your fans are into long-form vlog content; the next, they're binging on video shorts. Adapting to your audience's preferences is vital to remain relevant. 

But you don't want to ebb and flow with the trends—you want to be a trendsetter. Innovation is the name of the game and can keep you one step ahead (and apart) from the competition. 

MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) is a vlogger known for pushing boundaries with his channel, like in this vlog where he hires a real assassin to try to kill him:

Strong editing skills

Presentation is everything in video production. Poor editing skills can also hurt the viewer's experience. You look unprofessional if you don't cut scenes and paste them together smoothly, or if your overdub sounds and looks like a 1970s Kung Fu movie.

Two things go into a good editing job: the right skills and the right tools. Descript offers powerful editing features, including overdubbing that uses your voice or AI. You can also turn on Studio Sound, which makes your audio sound like it was recorded in a professional studio.

Now, you don't have to be a TikTok editing extraordinaire doing crazy tricks like some of the talented creators out there. But at minimum, you want to master video editing 101 techniques like cutting and trimming, transitions, green screening, and adding effects and filters. 

A videographer who does this well is Sara Dietschy, a vlogger and filmmaker with a keen eye and a knack for video editing. Here's an example of her clever editing techniques:

How to start a vlog in 8 steps

Now, for the fun part: creating your first vlog. You'll need to conduct research, develop a content strategy, and, of course, purchase the correct tools. 

Here's a step by step tutorial to get you started.

1. Define your niche and audience

Your first task in becoming a vlogger is identifying what you'll create content about and who you'll share it with. To find your niche, you don't have to search far. Begin by looking at your personal interests. 

Do you enjoy cooking? Maybe you like to knit? Or are you enthusiastic and opinionated about hot-button issues (e.g., relationships, politics, etc.)? 

Write a list of your interests, then order them based on which you love the most and could talk about day after day for years. If there's a common theme among your top picks, you can weave that into your channel, giving yourself a niche—and a target audience as a result.

Think about who would love—or better yet, who's already loving—similar content. Check social media groups, hashtags, and competing video content to see who’s talking about your niche and how, then tailor your content to that type of person. 

It can even help to invent a fictional individual that represents your audience: instead of women ages 18-34 who like romance novels, make your content for Chloe, a 22-year-old college student and barista in Pittsburgh who’s a Larissa Ione superfan.

2. Research your competition

Now that you know what you want to talk about and to whom, it's time to do market research. Look for other vloggers that cover the same topics. 

Pay attention to things like:

  • How long have they been around?
  • How many subscribers do they have?
  • How engaged are the subscribers (e.g., do they have one million subscribers, but only see 100k views)?
  • What formats and styles do the vloggers use (e.g., storytelling, diaries, shorts, etc.)?
  • Which platforms do they use, and which channels get the most engagement?
  • What's the quality of their content (e.g., recording, editing, delivery)?

Visit each channel you're reviewing and see if there are differences in the content and audience behaviors. For instance, do subscribers prefer long-form videos or YouTube Shorts? Do entertaining, high-production videos get more engagement, or is it the simple talking head videos? 

If you uncover gaps and weaknesses in your competitors' strategies, you can take advantage of them. For example, if many of your competitors create short videos that are just talking heads, you can also do short videos on similar topics but incorporate skits or memes to spice it up. 

3. Plan your content

Once you understand what your competitors are doing, and what your audience wants to see, you can begin planning your content. At this stage, you want to develop a list of main topics and then break those down into subtopics.

How you plan your content will depend on the type of videos you're doing. For instance, a longer form video can afford to cover a larger topic while video shorts allow for a single subtopic or even sub-subtopic. 

For example, if your main topic is "healthy meal prep for busy moms," you can do a whole long-form video that covers subtopics such as "quick and easy breakfast ideas," "meal prep for lunches," "healthy snacks on the go," and "family-friendly dinner recipes." Or, you can do a series of video shorts that each cover specific recipes, tips, and techniques.

Planning your content this way ensures you cover all aspects of your main topic while providing valuable and targeted information to your audience. This approach also allows you to create a content calendar, schedule your video releases, and stay organized in your content creation process.

Remember, addressing your target audience's specific needs and interests is key. By planning your videos strategically, you can deliver content that resonates with your viewers and keeps them returning for more.

4. Purchase your equipment

Your vlogging setup doesn't have to be fancy, but it needs to be good quality. At a minimum, you'll need a modern smartphone, a nicely lit room, and editing software. 

But if you’ve got the budget and want to vlog like a pro, then you'll need the following:

  • A good quality camera that can shoot high-resolution videos. DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras or mirrorless cameras with video capabilities are popular among vloggers because they offer superior footage, even without ideal lighting conditions.
  • A stable tripod to keep your camera steady while filming. Look for a lightweight, portable tripod that's easy to set up and adjust.
  • A good quality mic. Your camera’s built-in mic isn’t going to cut it. Consider an external microphone, such as a shotgun or lapel microphone, to capture clear, professional-sounding audio.
  • Proper lighting to improve the visual quality of your videos. Invest in a basic lighting setup, using softbox lights, ring lights, or LED panels, to ensure your face is well-lit and free from shadows.
  • Several memory cards or hard drives to store your vlogs. Purchase enough memory cards to back up all your content. Opt for high-capacity and high-speed memory cards or solid state drives (SSDs) to ensure smooth recording and effortless file transfers.
  • Portable power bank for life on the go. Consider a portable power bank that's powered by solar energy and AC chargers so you always have a way to keep your batteries full wherever you go.
  • A sturdy camera bag or case to protect your equipment while traveling or on location. Look for a bag with compartments and padding to keep everything organized and safe.
  • Video editing software for post-production. Popular options include Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and iMovie. These software programs allow you to edit your videos and export the final product in various video resolutions. However, if you're looking for a tool that does it all, along with features like automated transcripts and AI tools that remove filler words, check out Descript.

Depending on your vlogging style, you may also consider additional equipment, such as a gimbal for smooth camera movement, a green screen for special effects, or a drone for aerial shots.

5. Set up your recording space

Next, it's time to prepare your recording space for lights, camera, and action. If you plan to shoot in the exact location every time, then select a place that's comfortable, quiet, and offers excellent lighting. 

Here, you'll place your desk, couch, or other furniture you'll use to record. Your lighting should be positioned appropriately, depending on where you set up your camera and seating area. 

If the space has natural lighting, position yourself facing toward the window, so it's slightly off to one side. This will provide soft, diffused lighting. 

However, if you don't have the luxury of sunlight or will record at night, use fill lights to reduce shadows and create even lighting. Ring lights are a popular choice.

Example of a good recording space.
Sarah Dietschy

It's also a good idea to place fill lights at a 45-degree angle from your face, slightly behind your camera, to reduce shadows. Then, position your camera close enough to feel personal, but far enough so you can set the mood with your environment. 

6. Record compelling content

By now, you know your target audience and competitors by heart, and you’ve created a content strategy and a publishing calendar to guide your recordings. 

It's up to you whether you'll freestyle, use an outline, or script your shoots. These each have their own tradeoffs in editing time and delivery style, so consider your strengths, goals, and content before deciding.

There is good news: You don’t need to get it right in one take. Start shooting and keep going through your mistakes. Using video editing software, you can chop up your content and remove bloopers in just a few clicks. 

7. Edit and optimize your videos 

You're almost a vlogger. But before you hit publish, you’ll want to edit it to perfection (or at least your version of it). 

Here's how to prep your content for the public—and the algorithm:

  • Organize your footage. Transfer all video files from your camera or smartphone to your computer. Then, create a dedicated folder for each vlog to organize your files.
  • Import and arrange footage. Open your video editing software, create a new project, import the video file, and arrange the clips in the desired order on the timeline.
  • Trim and cut clips. Review each clip and trim out any unnecessary or boring parts. Then cut and delete sections that don't contribute to the flow or content of your vlog. Just make sure it has smooth transitions between clips.
  • Apply color correction and filters. Use color correction tools to adjust your footage's brightness, contrast, and saturation. The filters should be visually appealing yet natural.
  • Add text and graphics. Include text overlays, titles, and lower thirds to provide context or highlight important information.
  • Edit transitions and effects. Add smooth transitions between clips, such as fades, dissolves, or wipes. You can also experiment with slow motion, time-lapses, and visual effects to engage, not distract, your viewers.
  • Optimize video length. Aim for a video that’s short enough to hold viewers' attention, but long enough to feel fulfilling. Trim out any unnecessary or repetitive content, and avoid going off track. The right length will become clear to you over time in your analytics—when a video is too long, viewers will stop watching.
  • Enhance the audio. Adjust the audio levels to ensure clear and balanced sound, remove background noise or unwanted audio using noise reduction tools, and add background music or sound effects to enhance the mood. Descript's Studio Sound uses AI to give your vlogs professional-sounding audio.
  • Export and upload. Once you're satisfied with the editing, export your vlog in the desired video format and resolution. It’s a good idea to compress the video for a smaller file that uploads and streams faster. Descript allows you to export your vlogs directly to YouTube.
  • Add metadata and thumbnails. Write an engaging title and description for your vlog, including relevant keywords, tags, and hashtags. Then, create an eye-catching thumbnail that accurately represents your blog's content. 

Descript makes this entire workflow seamless, which is why notables like Conan O'Brien and Freakonomics podcasts use it for their podcasts. 

Image of Descript video editing app dashboard

8. Promote your vlog

Now that your vlog is up and running, you want to get eyes on your content. Promoting a vlog requires a combination of tactics that include SEO, collaborations, and social media. 

Here are a few tactics to try:

  1. Choose your top social media platforms: Share your vlog channel on all your social media accounts, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest. Use catchy captions and interact with your audience when they leave comments. 
  2. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your vlog titles, descriptions, and tags with relevant keywords. Create attractive and relevant thumbnails so people are encouraged to click on them.
  3. Collaborate with other creators: Every time you appear in front of someone else’s audience, they become your audience. Partner with other vloggers or content creators for shoutouts or collaborations. Appear as a guest on podcasts or other video content related to your niche to spread the word about your videos.
  4. Run giveaways or contests: Encourage viewers to share your vlog by running giveaways or contests with appealing rewards. The prizes should be relevant to your audience, but can include merch, gift cards, exclusive experiences, or event tickets. 

💡VLOGGING TIP: Invest in branding your vlog channel. It creates a memorable image for your audience so they recognize you when they see your content across various channels. You can create a free logo and channel banner with the available templates online. 

The best 5 vlog platforms

It's best to vlog wherever your audience is. Today, that means using one or more of the top video platforms. 

Here's an overview of each and why to pick them:

  1. YouTube: The most popular video platform and #2 search engine. It boasts over 2 billion monthly users and has a mix of male and female audiences between 25 and 44. It's ideal for vloggers across all niches and all levels of experience.
  2. Twitch: Amazon's leading livestreaming platform for gamers is also for folks who do IRL (in real life) content. Right now (a Tuesday evening), nearly 2.5 million viewers are watching streams at any given time, and over 110k active streams are going on at once. 
  3. Facebook: More than just a hangout for friends and family, it's also where people join groups and enjoy video shorts from their favorite vloggers. Facebook has 2.93 billion monthly active users, typically between 35 and 44 years old.  
  4. Instagram: Facebook's "sister" platform is well-known for its Stories and Reels, so it makes perfect sense to share your vlogs here. It also has impressive activity, with 2 billion monthly active users.
  5. TikTok: The king (or shall we say queen?) of short-form video content. The average TikTok user spends nearly 23 hours on the platform each month, with nearly 30% of users logging in daily. Also, 31% of its audience is between 25 and 34 years old, so if you're targeting that age group, it’s where you need to be.

How to monetize your vlog

The process for monetizing a vlog varies from platform to platform. It can take a lot of time and effort, so don't think you'll get rich quick (or even quit your day job in the first few months). 

If you're not in it for the passion, you may not stick it out long enough to see the fruits of your labor. So, on that note, here are the typical steps for getting paid as a vlogger:

  1. Build a solid viewer base. Create high-quality content and engage with your viewers to build a loyal following. Your viewer base will support your monetization efforts and give you more visibility as you grow. 
  2. Enable YouTube monetization. Once you're eligible, join YouTube’s Partner Program. Then, you can make money on YouTube through ads, channel memberships, and YouTube premium revenue. 
  3. Try affiliate marketing. Promote products or services you believe in to your viewers, but don't do it too often or it'll rub viewers the wrong way. Use affiliate links to earn commission per sale.
  4. Look for sponsorships and brand deals. Collaborate with relevant brands and negotiate sponsored content or partnerships. Develop creative and authentic content around sponsored products or services to maintain viewer trust and engagement. Disclosure of sponsorships is crucial to comply with advertising standards and maintain transparency with your people.
  5. Sell merchandise and products. Create and sell branded items or digital products to your audience. Try to make them relevant to your vlog. For example, if you have a travel vlog, then sell backpacks or other travel gear. 
  6. Create paid membership programs. Offer exclusive content and perks through paid membership programs to generate recurring revenue. You can make a Patreon, or go all out and create a video membership business with a platform like Uscreen.

🧠LEARN: How to become a YouTuber and get paid in 2023

Edit your vlog videos like a pro

To make your videos worth watching, you need a solid editing tool, regardless of your niche and platform. There is a lot to the editing process for a newbie vlogger, as you’ve read. 

Video editing software such as Descript makes it easy to customize and enhance your videos. It converts raw footage into professional-looking vlogs and has a ton of features to simplify the process. 

Descript is the best free video editor for new and seasoned vloggers. So whether you're creating social media content for TikTok or YouTube, we’ll help you deliver publish-ready content with features that:

  • Remove distracting background noise from your videos
  • Improve sound quality with Studio Sound
  • Fix mistakes in your speech with an AI clone of your natural voice 
  • Remove filler words and appear more confident 
  • Use screen recording functionality to film your screen with audio  

Create a free account today and experience the power of Descript first-hand.

How to start vlogging FAQs

What do you need for vlogging?

To begin vlogging, you will need:

  • Quality video camera
  • Video editing software
  • Tripod or stabilizer 
  • Lighting
  • A social media channel to post on (YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, etc.)

Do vloggers get paid?

Yes, vloggers get paid in several ways. Some earn money through video ads while collaborating with brands for paid sponsorships or selling their products and services.

How do I start vlogging and get views?

To get started vlogging and getting views, you'll need:

  • A niche and target audience
  • Quality equipment
  • Great video editing skills and software
  • Ongoing engagement with your audience

Collaboration with other vloggers and influencers to increase your reach

Saphia Lanier
Saphia is a B2B journalist filling the SERPs with helpful content on SaaS tools. When not writing, you’ll find her in the swimming pool.
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How to start vlogging in 8 steps: A 2024 guide

Video content creators are the new superstars. They get views, hold prestige, and influence trends. And they make money. Goldman Sachs estimates that the creator economy will reach half a trillion dollars by 2027.

Of course, the majority of that moolah goes to a small handful of creators—most people don’t make that much. Still, it's the first time in history that ordinary people can become household names without a corporate conglomerate. And many of these video bloggers are raking in big bucks doing what they love: entertaining an audience.

If you want a chance at doing the same, it’s time to start video blogging. Learn how it works, with tips and examples from successful vloggers to inspire your first video.

An audio/video editor that includes transcription, screen recording, and publishing.
Check out our useful, powerful tools.

What is a vlog?

A vlog is a video format creators use to share stories, product reviews, rants, and everything else in between. Vloggers use various platforms to publish their content, including TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. 

Beginner vloggers use smartphones, selfie sticks, laptops, and lightweight editing software to start. Then, eventually, upgrade to professional vlogging cameras, microphones, and higher-end video editing tools to produce high-quality videos.

What makes a great vlogger?

Vlogs gained popularity around 2010, thanks to platforms like YouTube. Today, they are still a popular video format. The latest data shows that 65% of women between the ages of 16 and 34 watch vlogs every week, and 50% of men in the same age group.

You can develop the characteristics and many other skills that make a great vlogger with practice and experience. Here are the aspects you’ll want to understand before hitting record.

Authenticity

No one likes a wolf in sheep’s clothing. If your viewers sense that you're jumping on trends or switching your stance on a matter just to get more views, they'll leave. 

It's one reason some 90% of consumers are fed up with influencer marketing. They want real content from real people, not sponsored fluff. 

The most popular influencers these days are genuine and only promote products or services they truly believe in. These folks engage with their audience, listen to their asks, and follow through by publishing content that answers their questions or requests.

One example of an authentic YouTube vlogger is Casey Neistat. Not only is he great at storytelling, but he also makes a point to share his successes and failures. This goes against what most vloggers do to maintain their "perfect" image—and it makes viewers feel more connected to him as a result.

Image of vlogger Casey Neistat’s YouTube channel

Here's a video from Casey showing a vulnerable moment when he learned he could never run again.

Consistency

Say you publish vlogs twice a day for six months, then start posting without a schedule: maybe once a day for a few days, then once a week, basically whenever you feel like it. That won't fly. You've already led your subscribers to expect a regular cadence, and they anticipate and demand the same.

But cadence isn’t the only way you can show consistency. It's the quality of your content, the topics you discuss, and your characteristics. If you keep switching up your style and format, it'll throw people off and potentially lose your audience (mainly if they came for an earlier version of your vlogs). 

Ali Abdaal, a doctor turned entrepreneur and productivity expert, is a vlogger who helps viewers become more productive. Not only does he publish content regularly throughout the month, but he also sticks to the topics his audiences know and love.

Image of YouTube blogger Ali Abdaal’s channel

Engaging personality

Your audience won't watch a vlog if you're boring and dry. To keep them engaged, you need humor, likability, and charisma. The more intriguing you are, the more your audience will follow your videos.

Just don't go overboard. Your content and personality should be authentic and relatable to your audience. The key is making your videos feel like your listeners are sitting across from a close friend. 

One vlogger who does this well is Holly Gabrielle, a vegan traveler and science major who vlogs about life in general. Her personality is charming and genuine and makes you feel like you're along for the ride. 

Here's a vlog during her last days living in Cambodia:

Storytelling skills

Everyone loves a good story. Crafting compelling narratives that lure listeners until the end is a unique skill few master. But those who do will find it easier to grow and sustain a healthy following. 

Peter McKinnon, photographer and cinematographer, is the GOAT of storytelling. His vlogs aren't just woven into intriguing narratives, he also uses his cinematic skills to draw you in with fascinating scenes and visuals that enhance the story.

Take this example of a vlog that uses a cinematic approach to teaching his audience about photography:

Adaptability and innovation

One moment, your fans are into long-form vlog content; the next, they're binging on video shorts. Adapting to your audience's preferences is vital to remain relevant. 

But you don't want to ebb and flow with the trends—you want to be a trendsetter. Innovation is the name of the game and can keep you one step ahead (and apart) from the competition. 

MrBeast (Jimmy Donaldson) is a vlogger known for pushing boundaries with his channel, like in this vlog where he hires a real assassin to try to kill him:

Strong editing skills

Presentation is everything in video production. Poor editing skills can also hurt the viewer's experience. You look unprofessional if you don't cut scenes and paste them together smoothly, or if your overdub sounds and looks like a 1970s Kung Fu movie.

Two things go into a good editing job: the right skills and the right tools. Descript offers powerful editing features, including overdubbing that uses your voice or AI. You can also turn on Studio Sound, which makes your audio sound like it was recorded in a professional studio.

Now, you don't have to be a TikTok editing extraordinaire doing crazy tricks like some of the talented creators out there. But at minimum, you want to master video editing 101 techniques like cutting and trimming, transitions, green screening, and adding effects and filters. 

A videographer who does this well is Sara Dietschy, a vlogger and filmmaker with a keen eye and a knack for video editing. Here's an example of her clever editing techniques:

How to start a vlog in 8 steps

Now, for the fun part: creating your first vlog. You'll need to conduct research, develop a content strategy, and, of course, purchase the correct tools. 

Here's a step by step tutorial to get you started.

1. Define your niche and audience

Your first task in becoming a vlogger is identifying what you'll create content about and who you'll share it with. To find your niche, you don't have to search far. Begin by looking at your personal interests. 

Do you enjoy cooking? Maybe you like to knit? Or are you enthusiastic and opinionated about hot-button issues (e.g., relationships, politics, etc.)? 

Write a list of your interests, then order them based on which you love the most and could talk about day after day for years. If there's a common theme among your top picks, you can weave that into your channel, giving yourself a niche—and a target audience as a result.

Think about who would love—or better yet, who's already loving—similar content. Check social media groups, hashtags, and competing video content to see who’s talking about your niche and how, then tailor your content to that type of person. 

It can even help to invent a fictional individual that represents your audience: instead of women ages 18-34 who like romance novels, make your content for Chloe, a 22-year-old college student and barista in Pittsburgh who’s a Larissa Ione superfan.

2. Research your competition

Now that you know what you want to talk about and to whom, it's time to do market research. Look for other vloggers that cover the same topics. 

Pay attention to things like:

  • How long have they been around?
  • How many subscribers do they have?
  • How engaged are the subscribers (e.g., do they have one million subscribers, but only see 100k views)?
  • What formats and styles do the vloggers use (e.g., storytelling, diaries, shorts, etc.)?
  • Which platforms do they use, and which channels get the most engagement?
  • What's the quality of their content (e.g., recording, editing, delivery)?

Visit each channel you're reviewing and see if there are differences in the content and audience behaviors. For instance, do subscribers prefer long-form videos or YouTube Shorts? Do entertaining, high-production videos get more engagement, or is it the simple talking head videos? 

If you uncover gaps and weaknesses in your competitors' strategies, you can take advantage of them. For example, if many of your competitors create short videos that are just talking heads, you can also do short videos on similar topics but incorporate skits or memes to spice it up. 

3. Plan your content

Once you understand what your competitors are doing, and what your audience wants to see, you can begin planning your content. At this stage, you want to develop a list of main topics and then break those down into subtopics.

How you plan your content will depend on the type of videos you're doing. For instance, a longer form video can afford to cover a larger topic while video shorts allow for a single subtopic or even sub-subtopic. 

For example, if your main topic is "healthy meal prep for busy moms," you can do a whole long-form video that covers subtopics such as "quick and easy breakfast ideas," "meal prep for lunches," "healthy snacks on the go," and "family-friendly dinner recipes." Or, you can do a series of video shorts that each cover specific recipes, tips, and techniques.

Planning your content this way ensures you cover all aspects of your main topic while providing valuable and targeted information to your audience. This approach also allows you to create a content calendar, schedule your video releases, and stay organized in your content creation process.

Remember, addressing your target audience's specific needs and interests is key. By planning your videos strategically, you can deliver content that resonates with your viewers and keeps them returning for more.

4. Purchase your equipment

Your vlogging setup doesn't have to be fancy, but it needs to be good quality. At a minimum, you'll need a modern smartphone, a nicely lit room, and editing software. 

But if you’ve got the budget and want to vlog like a pro, then you'll need the following:

  • A good quality camera that can shoot high-resolution videos. DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) cameras or mirrorless cameras with video capabilities are popular among vloggers because they offer superior footage, even without ideal lighting conditions.
  • A stable tripod to keep your camera steady while filming. Look for a lightweight, portable tripod that's easy to set up and adjust.
  • A good quality mic. Your camera’s built-in mic isn’t going to cut it. Consider an external microphone, such as a shotgun or lapel microphone, to capture clear, professional-sounding audio.
  • Proper lighting to improve the visual quality of your videos. Invest in a basic lighting setup, using softbox lights, ring lights, or LED panels, to ensure your face is well-lit and free from shadows.
  • Several memory cards or hard drives to store your vlogs. Purchase enough memory cards to back up all your content. Opt for high-capacity and high-speed memory cards or solid state drives (SSDs) to ensure smooth recording and effortless file transfers.
  • Portable power bank for life on the go. Consider a portable power bank that's powered by solar energy and AC chargers so you always have a way to keep your batteries full wherever you go.
  • A sturdy camera bag or case to protect your equipment while traveling or on location. Look for a bag with compartments and padding to keep everything organized and safe.
  • Video editing software for post-production. Popular options include Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, and iMovie. These software programs allow you to edit your videos and export the final product in various video resolutions. However, if you're looking for a tool that does it all, along with features like automated transcripts and AI tools that remove filler words, check out Descript.

Depending on your vlogging style, you may also consider additional equipment, such as a gimbal for smooth camera movement, a green screen for special effects, or a drone for aerial shots.

5. Set up your recording space

Next, it's time to prepare your recording space for lights, camera, and action. If you plan to shoot in the exact location every time, then select a place that's comfortable, quiet, and offers excellent lighting. 

Here, you'll place your desk, couch, or other furniture you'll use to record. Your lighting should be positioned appropriately, depending on where you set up your camera and seating area. 

If the space has natural lighting, position yourself facing toward the window, so it's slightly off to one side. This will provide soft, diffused lighting. 

However, if you don't have the luxury of sunlight or will record at night, use fill lights to reduce shadows and create even lighting. Ring lights are a popular choice.

Example of a good recording space.
Sarah Dietschy

It's also a good idea to place fill lights at a 45-degree angle from your face, slightly behind your camera, to reduce shadows. Then, position your camera close enough to feel personal, but far enough so you can set the mood with your environment. 

6. Record compelling content

By now, you know your target audience and competitors by heart, and you’ve created a content strategy and a publishing calendar to guide your recordings. 

It's up to you whether you'll freestyle, use an outline, or script your shoots. These each have their own tradeoffs in editing time and delivery style, so consider your strengths, goals, and content before deciding.

There is good news: You don’t need to get it right in one take. Start shooting and keep going through your mistakes. Using video editing software, you can chop up your content and remove bloopers in just a few clicks. 

7. Edit and optimize your videos 

You're almost a vlogger. But before you hit publish, you’ll want to edit it to perfection (or at least your version of it). 

Here's how to prep your content for the public—and the algorithm:

  • Organize your footage. Transfer all video files from your camera or smartphone to your computer. Then, create a dedicated folder for each vlog to organize your files.
  • Import and arrange footage. Open your video editing software, create a new project, import the video file, and arrange the clips in the desired order on the timeline.
  • Trim and cut clips. Review each clip and trim out any unnecessary or boring parts. Then cut and delete sections that don't contribute to the flow or content of your vlog. Just make sure it has smooth transitions between clips.
  • Apply color correction and filters. Use color correction tools to adjust your footage's brightness, contrast, and saturation. The filters should be visually appealing yet natural.
  • Add text and graphics. Include text overlays, titles, and lower thirds to provide context or highlight important information.
  • Edit transitions and effects. Add smooth transitions between clips, such as fades, dissolves, or wipes. You can also experiment with slow motion, time-lapses, and visual effects to engage, not distract, your viewers.
  • Optimize video length. Aim for a video that’s short enough to hold viewers' attention, but long enough to feel fulfilling. Trim out any unnecessary or repetitive content, and avoid going off track. The right length will become clear to you over time in your analytics—when a video is too long, viewers will stop watching.
  • Enhance the audio. Adjust the audio levels to ensure clear and balanced sound, remove background noise or unwanted audio using noise reduction tools, and add background music or sound effects to enhance the mood. Descript's Studio Sound uses AI to give your vlogs professional-sounding audio.
  • Export and upload. Once you're satisfied with the editing, export your vlog in the desired video format and resolution. It’s a good idea to compress the video for a smaller file that uploads and streams faster. Descript allows you to export your vlogs directly to YouTube.
  • Add metadata and thumbnails. Write an engaging title and description for your vlog, including relevant keywords, tags, and hashtags. Then, create an eye-catching thumbnail that accurately represents your blog's content. 

Descript makes this entire workflow seamless, which is why notables like Conan O'Brien and Freakonomics podcasts use it for their podcasts. 

Image of Descript video editing app dashboard

8. Promote your vlog

Now that your vlog is up and running, you want to get eyes on your content. Promoting a vlog requires a combination of tactics that include SEO, collaborations, and social media. 

Here are a few tactics to try:

  1. Choose your top social media platforms: Share your vlog channel on all your social media accounts, like Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Pinterest. Use catchy captions and interact with your audience when they leave comments. 
  2. Invest in Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Optimize your vlog titles, descriptions, and tags with relevant keywords. Create attractive and relevant thumbnails so people are encouraged to click on them.
  3. Collaborate with other creators: Every time you appear in front of someone else’s audience, they become your audience. Partner with other vloggers or content creators for shoutouts or collaborations. Appear as a guest on podcasts or other video content related to your niche to spread the word about your videos.
  4. Run giveaways or contests: Encourage viewers to share your vlog by running giveaways or contests with appealing rewards. The prizes should be relevant to your audience, but can include merch, gift cards, exclusive experiences, or event tickets. 

💡VLOGGING TIP: Invest in branding your vlog channel. It creates a memorable image for your audience so they recognize you when they see your content across various channels. You can create a free logo and channel banner with the available templates online. 

The best 5 vlog platforms

It's best to vlog wherever your audience is. Today, that means using one or more of the top video platforms. 

Here's an overview of each and why to pick them:

  1. YouTube: The most popular video platform and #2 search engine. It boasts over 2 billion monthly users and has a mix of male and female audiences between 25 and 44. It's ideal for vloggers across all niches and all levels of experience.
  2. Twitch: Amazon's leading livestreaming platform for gamers is also for folks who do IRL (in real life) content. Right now (a Tuesday evening), nearly 2.5 million viewers are watching streams at any given time, and over 110k active streams are going on at once. 
  3. Facebook: More than just a hangout for friends and family, it's also where people join groups and enjoy video shorts from their favorite vloggers. Facebook has 2.93 billion monthly active users, typically between 35 and 44 years old.  
  4. Instagram: Facebook's "sister" platform is well-known for its Stories and Reels, so it makes perfect sense to share your vlogs here. It also has impressive activity, with 2 billion monthly active users.
  5. TikTok: The king (or shall we say queen?) of short-form video content. The average TikTok user spends nearly 23 hours on the platform each month, with nearly 30% of users logging in daily. Also, 31% of its audience is between 25 and 34 years old, so if you're targeting that age group, it’s where you need to be.

How to monetize your vlog

The process for monetizing a vlog varies from platform to platform. It can take a lot of time and effort, so don't think you'll get rich quick (or even quit your day job in the first few months). 

If you're not in it for the passion, you may not stick it out long enough to see the fruits of your labor. So, on that note, here are the typical steps for getting paid as a vlogger:

  1. Build a solid viewer base. Create high-quality content and engage with your viewers to build a loyal following. Your viewer base will support your monetization efforts and give you more visibility as you grow. 
  2. Enable YouTube monetization. Once you're eligible, join YouTube’s Partner Program. Then, you can make money on YouTube through ads, channel memberships, and YouTube premium revenue. 
  3. Try affiliate marketing. Promote products or services you believe in to your viewers, but don't do it too often or it'll rub viewers the wrong way. Use affiliate links to earn commission per sale.
  4. Look for sponsorships and brand deals. Collaborate with relevant brands and negotiate sponsored content or partnerships. Develop creative and authentic content around sponsored products or services to maintain viewer trust and engagement. Disclosure of sponsorships is crucial to comply with advertising standards and maintain transparency with your people.
  5. Sell merchandise and products. Create and sell branded items or digital products to your audience. Try to make them relevant to your vlog. For example, if you have a travel vlog, then sell backpacks or other travel gear. 
  6. Create paid membership programs. Offer exclusive content and perks through paid membership programs to generate recurring revenue. You can make a Patreon, or go all out and create a video membership business with a platform like Uscreen.

🧠LEARN: How to become a YouTuber and get paid in 2023

Edit your vlog videos like a pro

To make your videos worth watching, you need a solid editing tool, regardless of your niche and platform. There is a lot to the editing process for a newbie vlogger, as you’ve read. 

Video editing software such as Descript makes it easy to customize and enhance your videos. It converts raw footage into professional-looking vlogs and has a ton of features to simplify the process. 

Descript is the best free video editor for new and seasoned vloggers. So whether you're creating social media content for TikTok or YouTube, we’ll help you deliver publish-ready content with features that:

  • Remove distracting background noise from your videos
  • Improve sound quality with Studio Sound
  • Fix mistakes in your speech with an AI clone of your natural voice 
  • Remove filler words and appear more confident 
  • Use screen recording functionality to film your screen with audio  

Create a free account today and experience the power of Descript first-hand.

How to start vlogging FAQs

What do you need for vlogging?

To begin vlogging, you will need:

  • Quality video camera
  • Video editing software
  • Tripod or stabilizer 
  • Lighting
  • A social media channel to post on (YouTube, TikTok, Twitch, etc.)

Do vloggers get paid?

Yes, vloggers get paid in several ways. Some earn money through video ads while collaborating with brands for paid sponsorships or selling their products and services.

How do I start vlogging and get views?

To get started vlogging and getting views, you'll need:

  • A niche and target audience
  • Quality equipment
  • Great video editing skills and software
  • Ongoing engagement with your audience

Collaboration with other vloggers and influencers to increase your reach

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