Fancy having a go at vlogging? Tech journalist and creator of the YouTube channel Tech Spurt Chris Barraclough says it’s easier than you think…
Why should I start my own YouTube channel?
There are all kinds of different reasons for starting up your own YouTube channel. Some people do it to share their passions and knowledge with the world. Others simply want to vent about life’s little annoyances.
If you have a particular talent, be it playing an instrument or even playing video games, YouTube is a great way to advertise yourself and grow a following. Some of the more popular YouTubers are watched by millions of people every month, while the biggest vloggers are now fully-fledged celebrities with their own clothing brands and sponsorship deals.
YouTube reaches almost two billion people each month in over 90 countries, making it one of the biggest virtual stages on the internet. So whatever you want to make videos about, you’re sure to find an audience.
How much time does it take?
Managing a channel can take as little or as much time as you like. Hardcore YouTubers post a video every day, while others upload whenever they have a chance. However, if you’re hoping to build a dedicated following, it definitely helps to stick to a regular schedule. Even if it’s just one video a week, posted on the same day.
Of course, the amount of time you’ll spend creating each individual video really depends on your subject matter. If you’re putting together a directorial masterpiece involving on-location shooting, complex camera angles and special effects, you might be on it for days. If you’re basically going to rant at the camera about how rubbish everything is, you could be done in just a few minutes.
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Will I need to buy expensive equipment?
Not at all. Even the most basic smartphones these days can shoot Full HD video, while many can record at 4K resolution too. So if you’re working to a tight budget, you can get away with spending little to nothing. If you’re planning on shooting with your mobile, you can grab some accessories to help out. I’d recommend buying a smartphone tripod to hold the handset in any position you require, while you can also improve the audio quality with a plug-in mic.
If you’re serious about quality, try a DSLR camera. I use the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which is a couple of years old now, but still fantastic for video. Otherwise, if you want to shoot your more active exploits with hands-free convenience, you can’t go wrong with a GoPro.
Got any quick tips for improving video quality?
The two most important things to consider are lighting and audio. You should always shoot in a well-lit environment, and if you can’t afford studio lighting, try using natural illumination from a window. Just remember not to shoot against the light, or else you’ll appear as a murky mess.
For good quality audio, get a lapel mic and shoot your videos in a spacious room filled with furniture. Those uneven surfaces will help to prevent any pesky echo. If you have to shoot outdoors, get a mic with a muffler – sometimes rather horrifically referred to as a ‘dead cat’ – to dampen wind interference.
Do I need to learn how to edit video?
Editing video can seem like an incredibly daunting task if you’ve never attempted it before. Most editing apps such as Final Cut Pro and Premiere Pro are a hot mess of windows, menus and incomprehensible jargon, but don’t despair. You’ll find plenty of stripped-down, simplified editors out there, such as iMovie on MacOS and VideoPad on Windows, which come complete with built-in tutorials.
These allow you to quickly trim and stick together clips, which is all that most YouTubers will ever need to do. Just remember to save your finished video in a YouTube friendly format, such as MOV.
If you’re brave enough, you can even stream live to YouTube using your smartphone. Not only does that cut out the need for editing, but your viewers can actually interact with you, asking questions or throwing out comments. You have been warned!
What are the best gadgets for getting your YouTube channel started?
Chris’s pick of the essential kit that’ll give your YouTube videos professional polish
Manfrotto Befree Aluminium Travel Tripod
If you’re planning on taking your DSLR out and about for shooting, I highly recommend grabbing a Manfrotto tripod. This aluminium effort folds up impressively small, and is incredibly light to boot, yet there’s no compromise on stability. Perfect for throwing in a backpack, or taking on trips abroad.
If you want a dependable DSLR for shooting 4K video by yourself, the Panasonic GH5 is still a winner. It’s easy to use, boasts impressive stabilisation and packs in a surprisingly deep range of features for a reasonable price. Just remember to grab a spare battery if you’re shooting a lot of footage.
Joby GorillaPod Mobile Rig
If you’re keen to shoot videos with your smartphone or GoPro, then check out the GorillaPod. This flexible little fella can stand your mobile device upright on a desk for convenient hands-free shooting. Alternatively, those bendy legs can wrap around a post, handlebars and other slim objects, giving you full freedom.
Rode Lavalier Mic
To capture decent quality audio, you’ll need a dedicated external microphone. Thankfully, they’re pretty affordable. Rode’s Lavalier microphones clip to your lapel and cleanly pick up your voice, even when you’re stood a distance from the camera in blustery conditions. Rode also offers a range of other mics to suit all needs, including some designed for smartphones if you want to shoot on the cheap.
From £47, rode.com